Praised be Jesus Christ! Given that it is deer season this weekend, this column will be slanted toward the women in our parishes . . . . I sure hope this is not sexist! First up is a list for all of you Moms who are trying to keep your family close while negotiating the pros and cons of modern technology. The following comes from the Religious Sisters of Mercy in Alma, Michigan and originated in a presentation they gave called “Safe technology use strategies.” Here are their main points: 1) Designate some times and spaces in the home as “screen- free.” This strategy can promote healthy family interaction. For example, no computer usage, TV, or cell phones during meals gives family members the chance to communicate with others. 2) Make the bedroom a screen-free zone especially an hour before bedtime. Even sleeping with a cell phone nearby has negative effects on sleep patterns. 3) Play fewer computer games. Computer games tend to isolate rather than build relationships. They also have an addictive effect, especially for adolescents; moreover, they contribute to an overly-competitive attitude and a desensitization to violence. 4) Play more board games or sports games. Take a walk! This kind of activity builds interaction and also combats obesity. 5) Be vigilant about what websites the children access. They can be exposed to negative things even by accident. 6) Prevent “virtual” friendships from taking precedence over the real ones. 7) If your child is engaged in social media usage, monitor the content carefully to ensure there is not material which could endanger the child. 8) Make sure younger children are getting the hands-on exploration and social interaction that fosters overall healthy development. Keeping up our all-women motif, next up are some hopeful stories of women leading the way to Christ. Maybe you’re aware of the pop singer Lady Gaga and that she had to cancel her European tour because of physical and mental health struggles. She is a Catholic who seems to be growing closer to God and she posted a picture recently of her praying the Rosary. Another pop singer by the name of Kesha has a song out right now titled “Praying” and the video is worth your while. It begins with a monologue of Kesha searching for the meaning of suffering and how God seems to be absent during such times. The video is hauntingly beautiful and makes it clear that Kesha is experiencing some sort of conversion. Again, here is a soul worthy of our prayers. Given the incredible influence these people have on our youth, it’s important that we ask God to give them the graces necessary for a deep trust in His providence for their life. Of course not all of our pop stars are experiencing spiritual awakenings. For example, Taylor Swift’s new song is titled “Look What You Made Me Do” and seems obsessed with the disordered desire for revenge. And if that’s not troubling enough, the song’s title makes it clear that the subject is a victim who is in no way responsible for the retribution (after all “you made me do it”). On a lighter note, Meghan Trainor seems set on solipsism (basically an extreme form of egocentrism) with her new song “Me Too.” The first time I heard it on the radio I started laughing because I thought we had pretty well hit rock bottom with self-promotion. But let’s give Trainor her due: never before has someone sung with sincerity “If I was you I’d wanna be me too.” Crazy stuff! But if you’ve seen the PetSmart commercial with dogs accompanied by this song you know that even such drivel can be funny!
May our prayers win the grace of deep and ongoing conversion for all of us, especially those most in need of God’s love!
Your friend in Christ, Father Martin