Every couple Fridays or so I like to share some curated links from around the web, along with any good books I might be currently reading, great quotes I’ve happened upon, and always the best in Catholic journalism from recent weeks. I hope you can take a few minutes with a hot (or, lukewarm, realistically) cup of coffee or beverage of your choice and enjoy a sampler platter of my favorite recent clicks.
This week has been surprisingly great. I’m shaking my head in wonder at it because it’s Lent, first off, and also because my kids had 3.5 days of school and so we’re currently in a summer vacation simulation complete with shirtless water play and it is a balmy 50 degrees outside. My children are all consummate born and bred Coloradans who take the temperature as more of a recommendation as opposed to oh, reality, I guess – and so they read 50 as closer to 68 than 32, apparently.
If one more child strips in the backyard, however, I will call the authorities for the neighbors and save them the trouble.
Okay, but the other reason this week has been grand? No social media. I always forget how bad I feel for the first 24 hours or so and then how incredibly good, calm, and productive my daily life seems to become. Do I miss Instagram? Certainly. Is the world suffering for my lack of hot takes on Twitter? Almost certainly, no. I’ve even upped my game this year and put blogs on the restricted list, not because I see blogging as social media per se, but because I find myself getting a little over indulgent in that department whenever I cut out the other stuff.
My mind feels clearer, my prayer comes easier, and I’m getting a lot more housework done during the day, even with kids home. The house isn’t clean, or anything, but the clothes and dishes are.
I’m reading an engaging book right now with a clickbait title (How to Break Up With Your Phone) but which is written in a very sane and approachable manner. No hysterics or unattainable asceticism, just some practical advice, real life solutions, and some helpful insight on the addictive nature of lots of the tech we’ve all sort of opted eternally “in” on, signing up for the next platform, downloading the next update, moving to the newest model, etc., as they became available. It’s sobering but also practical stuff.
I’m waitlisted (and cheap) for a library copy of Cal Newport’s new title, Digital Minimalism, which I know I am going to deeply and passionately love based on how I feel about his “Deep Work,” which really was a life changing book for me. I’m hoping and guessing this new book will be a good tool to help me to refine my own views on the fine line between all you can eat buffet and starvation diet when it comes to tech and media. I want to use these new tools well, and more than that, master their use so that as my kids come of age, I can both instruct them and model for them what a healthy balance looks like.
Have you listened to the latest episode of CNA newsroom? I ain’t a podcast gal, and that has not been a problem with this production. The episodes are short, sweet, witty, occasionally emotionally devastating, and I always feel better for having heard them. Kind of the way I feel after listening to Fresh Air on NPR, absent the existential angst frequently produced by, say, listening to NPR. High production value and good storytelling + authentic Catholicism is what I’m getting at.
Two weeks ago I escaped for a long weekend in Phoenix at the Blessed is She retreat, and guys it was LIT. And appropriate called “Shine.” The talks were beautiful, the homily at the closing Mass was profound, and there were hours of praise and worship and adoration. What more, truly, could anyone ask for in a retreat setting? If there is an opportunity for you to go on one of their upcoming retreats, run, don’t walk.
Speaking of that phenomenal homily, the priest (whose name I don’t even know) did basically an exegesis on the role of women in the story of salvation history going from deep Old Testament through the very end of the Acts of the Apostles. It was beautiful, and he said something that has really been stirring in my heart ever since. I’ll paraphrase because I didn’t take notes during Mass, but he basically laid out the story of salvation history as God saving and redeeming humanity and raising up nations and calling out leaders through the fiats of courageous, holy women. And then he said this: “when mothers come to me and ask,’Fr., how can we save the Church? What is the Church going to do about this present crisis?’ I say to them, YOU are going to save the Church. You are the Church. We are all the Church, but it will be women who rise up and turn the tide both within the Church and within the culture.”
Still unpacking what that means for me, specifically, but it really lit a fire in my heart. I’ve been reorienting my day to begin, before my kids are up, with prayer. My kids, remember, are all most or less-ish sleeping through the night and I’m not pregnant, so this is the first time in about a decade I’ve made it happen. It has been life changing, and I don’t take it for granted because I know how variable parenthood is, and that our schedule could change overnight. Still, if you can carve out 20 minutes early in your day for silent prayer with the Lord, I highly recommend it as the single best thing you can do for yourself. Or rather, the best thing you can let Him do for you. I’ve been using this book, this method of prayer, and as of this week, this Lenten journal.
Still figuring out what the almsgiving portion of Lent will look like for us. I’d like to do something a little more tangible with the kids, but not do it for them, you know? This explainer on the whys of Lent was really helpful for me after I frankly botched explaining the ins and outs of fasting to my kids earlier this week.
I really want this case to be settled so that Sheen’s cause can move forward. Our world needs a saint like him NOW, not in another generation or two. Praying that this is a step in the right direction, but also not holding my breath given the two previous appeals. Bonnie, mom to miracle baby James – now handsome little boy James – is a dear friend, and their story needs to go global.