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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sacramento bishop urges easing up on tech devices for Lent - Sacramento News - Local and Breaking Sacramento News | Sacramento Bee

Sacramento bishop urges easing up on tech devices for Lent - Sacramento News - Local and Breaking Sacramento News | Sacramento Bee

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This story is taken from Sacbee / Our Region

Sacramento bishop urges easing up on tech devices for Lent

Published Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2010

Bishop Jaime Soto is the first leader of the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento to use a laptop, browse the Internet on his cell phone and read a book on Kindle. He regularly e-mails his priests and reads religious blogs.

But starting today, the first day of Lent, Soto will begin a 40-day, virtual "fast." The bishop is calling on the area's 900,000 Catholics to join him in cutting back on their online connections.

"The computer, or the iPhone or Facebook, have become addictions for many people," Soto said. "During Lent we should look at everything we do and think: How can we exercise moderation?"

Lent is the season of reflection, repentance and spiritual discipline for Christians. The observance begins today, Ash Wednesday, and ends Easter Sunday.

This year, in addition to reminding Catholics to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays during Lent, Soto is asking followers to fast from "needless television, video games, Internet use and social entertainment," according to the 2010 Lenten Regulations and Admonitions. He is not seeking a ban – just restraint.

The rules were posted on the diocese's Web site last week.

The Catholic Church has embraced new technologies in recent years, with Pope Benedict XVI welcoming them as "a gift." Last month, the pope urged priests to use digital communication to preach the Gospel. The Vatican has a YouTube channel and a Facebook account. Several bishops blog.

In his two years as the spiritual leader of the diocese, Soto has urged the faithful to use technology. Most parishes have Web sites. Men training for the priesthood in the diocese now blog about their experiences at Santissimo Sacramento – "The Most Holy Sacrament."

"It demystifies the whole seminary process. … Some people are surprised that we blog; they think we live in a cave or something," said Brian Soliven, 29, a seminarian interning at St. Rose of Lima Church in Roseville. "The blog gives people a peek into our lives."

He said technology will play a vital role in his ministry. Nowadays, he said, the first impression most people have of a parish is not when they walk into a church. "Their first impression is the church's Web site."

While encouraging followers to use media to communicate their message, church leaders also have become increasingly aware that technology can be misused. The pope has warned against "obsessive" virtual socializing. For some, it has taken the place of human interaction, said Bishop Soto.

"People should become less plugged into their iPod and more plugged into the people around you," Soto said.

As she walked out of noon Mass at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Gloria Hernandez said she was glad to hear the bishop asking for moderation during Lent.

As the mother of three teenagers who are constantly texting their friends, she said she is not sure how they will react to the bishop's call. "Giving up meat for them is not a problem. It's probably easier than giving up their cell phones."

Soto, who carries a bag full of his latest technological gadgets with him when he travels, understands.

He calls his PDA "indispensable," and he signs onto his computer first thing every morning. But cutting back during Lent will give him time to reflect on how he is using technology to further his ministry and communicate God's message, he said.

"I want to have more time in prayer and not be distracted by what's in my inbox."

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Dedication to Jesus
Lord Jesus Christ, take away my freedom, my memory, my understanding, and my will. All that I have and cherish you have given me. I surrender it all to be guided by your will. Your love and your grace are wealth enough for me. Give me these, Lord Jesus, and I ask for nothing more. Amen.
St. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556)

St. Teresa of Avila
“For mental prayer…is nothing more than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us. The important thing is not to think much but to love much…Love is not great delight but desire to please God in everything.”

St. Thérèse of Lisieux
"...So I sought in holy Scripture some idea of what this life I wanted would be, and I read these words: 'Whosoever is a little one, come to me.' It is your arms, Jesus, that are the lift to carry me to heaven. And so there is no need for me to grow up; I must stay little and become less and less."

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.