Text It Later

Are you a texter? Chances are good that most people around you are. Yesterday I was discussing with a co-worker the priority texting holds in our society. We agreed that it’s hard to resist a text. He put it well: It’s like receiving a small gift. You want to open it!

Certainly the problem isn’t in texting itself but in how it is utilized. Do you feel compelled to check a text as soon as it comes in? Do you resist the temptation if you’re working or at lunch with a friend?

How about putting your phone on silent when you’re out with others? (I just received a text message while proofing this sentence. I shall resist checking it — at least for a few minutes! — to help me practice what I preach) That could be one way to fight the temptation to read and answer texts immediately.

It becomes a little more difficult when you are on-call for work or waiting to hear from a child who needs to be picked up from an activity. But whatever circumstances surround your life, consider how you can refrain from viewing and responding to texts as often as you do, particularly when it is not courteous or appropriate. I may also add that it is a simple way to practice self-control and make a sacrificial offering to Our Lord for a special intention.

To help you battle against texting while out with others, keep in mind that the human-to-human relationship at that moment is more important than the words on your phone screen.

I hope this helps. I have to go read my text message now.

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Not Just A Contraception Issue

If you listen to only secular media, the Health and Human Services (HHS) Mandate sounds like solely a contraception issue for the Catholic Church.

But there’s so much more to it, and Catholic media outlets have done a great job in covering the problems with this mandate. As someone involved in Catholic radio specifically, I’ve heard many programs with knowledgeable guests interviewed to explain the various aspects of the HHS Mandate.

Catholic Connection with Teresa Tomeo offers the headlines of the day and discussions from a Catholic perspective. Teresa and the rest of the crew at Ave Maria Radio do an excellent job keeping Catholics aware of the gravity of the situation.

Johnnette Benkovic and Fr. Edmund Sylvia on EWTN Radio’s Women of Grace also discuss the impact this mandate would have on religious freedom. They explain how the issue is not so much about contraception as it is about the government trying to force Catholics to violate their conscience.

And on Calling All Catholics, produced by the Station of the Cross Catholic Radio Network, Fr. Leon Biernat from Our Lady of Pompeii Catholic Church in Lancaster, New York, discussed on a couple of occasions the HHS Mandate and how we can get involved in standing up against it. He also brought to light how the mandate not only includes coverage for contraceptives but also sterilization and abortifacients, which are not discussed as much in the secular media.

If there are people in your life whose daily fill of news comes only through secular outlets, there are countless resources you can share to help them understand the HHS Mandate more comprehensively and learn how it would affect our country’s religious freedom in the coming months and years.

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Prayer For Those In Media

When it comes to media, it can be easy to fall into a woe-is-us mentality, complaining about those in the business far more often than praying for them.

It can get very discouraging, and we can feel like the odds are stacked against us. Sure, we might see a conversion here or there, but it seems like the converted are in the minority. But remember that each soul is a soul for the Lord. And each soul will influence others.

We can only do our part and let God touch hearts in His good time. Let us pray together now for those in media:

Father, in a world deafened by a cacophony of sounds, may all be able to hear Your whispering voice. We ask this for all who work in media, the press, radio, television, the Internet and film. May they cherish truth more strongly than their own prejudices and personal agendas. May they present truth in a way that will enlighten hearts rather than inflame passions and conflicts.

We pray for the artists and musicians of the world. May they utilize their talents to give You glory and in the process receive the recognition that they deserve. May they expose the horror and error of sin and the beauty and truth of virtue. We ask this, Father, in the name of Your Son, our Divine Master, the Way, the Truth and the Life, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

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The Dream And the Media

“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today in the United States we honor the life and legacy of civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr.

But what we may take for granted is the technology available at the time to help spread his message.

Through newspaper, television and radio King’s preaching reached our entire nation. We will never know this side of eternity just how much of his influence and success came through the use of mass communication.

In God’s amazing Divine Providence, we honor King and the equality he stood for less than a week before the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. King’s assassination, in fact, came just five years before the decision.

After repenting for her own abortions, Dr. Alveda King began to follow in her uncle’s footsteps by preaching equality for all.

Whether you’re off from work for the national holiday or busy about your usual Monday tasks, take a moment to pray for the soul of King, his assassin and for the equality of all, born and unborn.

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There’s a Catholic App for That

With Christmas recently passing, many of you are busy playing with your new toy – iPad, iPhone, Android phone, Kindle Fire, etc.

And with the new technological opportunities at your fingertips, there are more ways to help you learn about and grow in your faith.

Check out the apps below to see which may help you improve your spiritual life in 2012:

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I’m Standing Beside You. Can You Hear Me Now?

With the countless distractions cell phones offer (apps, texting, Internet — you can still make calls, right?), have we forgotten the people in the room?

We can find ourselves (or the people with us) interacting with the phone more than with family and friends. Smart phones are especially used unwisely in face-to-face settings. They seem to rob from the current relationships and give to the digital ones, in particular, through Facebook –  updating your status, uploading photos from a trip and “checking in” wherever you are. But, hello, someone is standing right here.

It’s easier to realize how rude it is when you’re staring at the people with their heads down. But when you’re the one tapping away, it seems rather harmless. The person standing there is isolated while you’re involved in the World Wide Web. As with any fun electronic device, the phone has its place. And the extras can be helpful – looking up a restaurant phone number on the Internet or finding where you need to go by using the GPS.

But if you’re sharing quality time with a loved one, make that extra effort to be courteous. You can always upload that second or third or fiftieth picture to Facebook after your time with others.

The discipline can also apply when you’re out alone. This is more of a personal preference, but I enjoy embracing my surroundings and the experiences before me without being glued to my phone.

It can be tempting to update your location every time you set foot in a new city or let your friends see how amazing it is where you are. But if you succumb to these enticements you can really miss out on the beauty of God’s creation and the reflections and revelations He has in store for you.

Do you find yourself falling into the phone trap when you’re out with others? How can you use this new year to improve your phone etiquette?

Media Resolutions for the New Year

Internet, television, radio ….

As the Grinch said of all the Who girls and boys in the cartoon version of the famous Dr. Seuss story, “All the noise, oh the noise, noise, noise, noise!”

This year is coming to a close in just a few short days. Think back on your media habits of 2011 and how regularly you used social networks like Facebook and Twitter, how many hours per week you spent watching television, DVDs and Netflix, and how often you had a constant noise in your home or car through the radio.

All these lovely distractions and forms of relaxation can make our lives feel more comfortable, but have you been too dependent on it all over the past year? Or past years?

Now is the time to consider even just one or two simple ways you can cut a bit of media out of your life for the new year. Something truly ironic to say on a media blog, but everything should be in moderation.

Spend some extra time in prayer and some simple time in silence.

And by the grace of God….

I’ll talk with you in 2012!

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Just Bring Your Carry-On

I flew to Minnesota this past weekend to visit some friends. We spent hours at the colossal Mall of America in Bloomington. As the largest mall in the United States by number of stores, MOA is home to more than 520 stores, as well as an amusement park (Nickelodeon Universe), an aquarium (Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium) and a Lego play area.

To throw that experience on top of the relentless societal advertising pile, I feel like I’ve reached the pinnacle of commercialism this holiday season!

Walking around the MOA created a sense of need (or at least strong desire) for all the shiny, cute, fancy you-name-its out there for display and purchase. Thankfully, I only brought carry-on luggage, so that helped keep my number of purchases low. Even though I’m not a big spender, I still felt the tug for the stuff I wouldn’t really use or need. When would I ever be going to all those fancy parties that require the attire the window mannequins love to model?

If you don’t see something frivolous, chances are you won’t miss it. But when it’s on display in the malls and TV commercials, you start to feel like you need it. Women are drawn to the mall atmosphere and the chipping away at the credit cards during a day of shopping. Men are seduced by fewer but more pricey purchases, courtesy of the Almighty Electronics: sound systems, large LCD HDTVs, and gaming systems.

So what are we supposed to do? Stay away from malls? Avoid people with the cool new gadgets? Only if you think it best. But another possible option is temperance. It’s self-control and going in with a plan you intend to stick to, should you find yourself able to master your desires. It’s the mental equivalent of bringing only your carry-on.

If you struggle with over-spending, remember this line from the Act of Contrition:

I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.

If you’re planning a trip to the mall, arrange your outing an hour or two before you have something else scheduled. Then you’ll know you don’t have a lot of time to linger. Or choose just one store to stop in per mall trip. It can help you from finding an infinite number of amazing items you didn’t realize you just couldn’t live without.

If your kryptonite is technology, keep a separate savings for the electronics. That way you won’t go into debt over the mega purchases. It’ll also give you something to work toward, and you’ll feel even better about your cool new thing.

Resolution time is coming up, right? Here’s one for your new year — self-discipline in materialism.

What helps you keep your spending in check?

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