Growing in our spiritual life means that we sometimes need to do hard things. Leaving Facebook was one of those things for me. I’ve posted before my main reasons for leaving, but as I’ve been gone these six weeks I’ve been working on attaining greater purity and rectitude of intention with regards to the use of social media, and I share these in the hopes that they may help someone else. But first this, from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Strong feelings are not decisive for the morality or the holiness of persons; they are simply the inexhaustible reservoir of images and affections in which the moral life is expressed. Passions are morally good when they contribute to a good action, evil in the opposite case. The upright will orders the movements of the senses it appropriates to the good and to beatitude; an evil will succumbs to disordered passions and exacerbates them. Emotions and feelings can be taken up into the virtues or perverted by the vices.
On becoming frustrated with the slowness and the challenges of pro-life work:
From Father’s homily a couple of weeks ago:
How do you respond when there are tensions in a group? Do you say “I’m fed up, enough for me?” Or do you work through the tensions, accepting that it’s refining, changing, like gold in fire, as you all grow in charity and holiness? Do we allow peculiarities/oddities to grate on us — do we grow in annoyance, or do we grow in affection? Do we recognize that it’s holiness in the making?
From a conversation with my daughter:
Once we’re in the pro-life movement, we just need to accept that people will never not need information and education. We may need to repeat ourselves a hundred times before a message penetrates, takes root, or moves people to action.
On being overwhelmed with human need and suffering, especially those I feel powerless to help with (like Paris over the weekend):
If certain problems are beyond our power to change, at least we can contribute the warmth of our friendship. True love can overcome any obstacle. – In Conversation with God
On becoming upset/annoyed at noise/content:
Jesus does not distance himself from sinners. The life of Christ is a continual reaching out to souls in need. Jesus intends to serve everyone, not only those who follow his call, but even those who seem completely hardened to the divine Word. – In Conversation with God, Volume 5
So much of social media is noise, and the Hide, Block, and Unfriend buttons make it easy to make judgments one shouldn’t make. Where engagement was uncalled for, prayer should have been my automatic response, but it often wasn’t. My knee jerk response was “I don’t want/need to see this.”
I curated my feed so that noise was minimized, but while practicing custody of the eyes and ears is essential, there is also the danger of objectification — “I only want to see/hear from you if what you’re saying/doing enriches me.” Instead of allowing the Lord to bless and sanctify each moment of encounter, I get preoccupied with the CONTENT, instead of the PERSON behind the content. I decry fakeness and demand authenticity, but even when authenticity is on full display I refuse to meet people where they are. I wanted those friendships, but only on MY TERMS.
On being exhausted:
This requires an intense spiritual stamina as compared to the passive state of daily mechanical work; but this stamina perishes in the long run if not refreshed by the eternal wellspring. – Edith Stein/St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Woman
In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. – from Isaiah 30:15
I didn’t recognize spiritual depletion because I had not stopped praying daily. My mistake was in assuming that that was enough. I had let it get to the point where I was practically running on empty and felt I had nothing left to give. But what I needed to do was to actively pursue the Lord, even more than before. Because of the work I was involved in, I needed MORE of Him, not less; certainly not status quo. Simply put, I couldn’t give what I didn’t have.
Mindfulness in the age of social media can be tricky, as the pendulum can swing both ways — we can engage too much than is necessary or helpful, but we could go the other extreme of excessive withdrawal from people. Balance can only be reached by a careful consideration of how we engage. As an introvert getting to that balance was important to me.
More helpful reading, if you like, on the next page: