Lent, texting, the Vatican and YouTube

I gave up sugar for Lent. Not all forms, just the obvious ones. I thought this would surely be the biggest sacrifice I could offer, and the area in which I most needed the discipline because I’m addicted to it. I’m a stress eater, I’ve discovered, and the more chocolate in the stress-reducer, the better. I’ve also discovered, in this attempt, that I have very little self discipline. In the 10 days since Ash Wednesday, I’ve broken the fast twice. (Still pretty good for someone who was eating dessert everyday, but somewhat disappointing that I don’t have the gumption to just say no to temptation.)

I’ve got company across the Atlantic I fear, because some bishop’s in Italy asked the faithful in their dioceses to give up texting and iPods for Lent, encouraging them instead to make communication “real.” They apparently are having a very hard time with it. As a mother of a 19 y/old, I can relate: If I gave up texting for Lent I’d be giving up her. So, I guess I’ll stick with chocolate… Talk on the new digital media and the community it creates (or, as some might argue, destroys) is all the rage in Rome as the Vatican called bishops and priests from 82 countries to the Holy See to study the challenges and possibilities posed to evangelization by new communication realities.

Some people might think it odd that the Vatican is looking at this. And they might also think that nothing but a new litany of “thou shalt nots” could be in the offing. I have a little more hope. I personally think some of the always-connected-but-not-really “new media” have a lot of downsides. We’ve morphed from being present to each other to “friending” each other. There are thousands of middle and high schoolers bullied online every day. Then there’s the guy I know who discovered that his wife was having an affair in World of Warcraft and the woman I know who discovered her husband had a not-so-innocent second life in Second Life.

So maybe, in our haste to tweet everyone our latest update (is ANYONE really so important we need to know his/her every thought/action?) or get Linked In with people we hope will help us find a job, we should take a minute to listen to what Rome might say instead of instantly (like an IM, which, as you surely know, is so yesterday) dismissing it because it comes from people we see as hopelessly clueless. And, if you want to hear what they might be discussing, visit the Vatican’s YouTube site.