Taking a “selfie” with an iPhone or an iPad is very popular and it’s not just young people who do it. I get lots of requests at Confirmation from sponsors, parents and even grandparents for “selfies.” Recently, a woman in her 30s was trying to get the perfect selfie. She climbed over the barrier of a jaguar enclosure at a zoo in Arizona and the animal reached out and swiped at her arm. What some people do to get a selfie!
Who is the focus of a selfie? The one who is taking the photo. It’s all about the self. Notice the emphasis on “i” in iPhone and likewise in “i”Pad. A selfie is all about the “i.” It’s about ME.
This got me thinking that the season of Lent is a most appropriate time to take a “spiritual selfie.” What is that, you ask? A “spiritual selfie” is not taken with either an iPhone or an iPad, but involves a self-examination, a serious look inside yourself. A look into your heart; into your soul. It is sometimes called an examination of conscience. What does it show? What is seen about you? What picture of your self emerges?
A spiritual selfie can result in great personal growth. It’s sort of like doing a spiritual inventory. There are many people who have lost their souls and others who are in danger of losing theirs but none have lost their smart phones. The season of Lent invites us to this examination of self or conscience.
The three (3) traditional pillars or disciplines of Lent — Prayer, Almsgiving (charity), and Fasting — are a recommended measure for a spiritual selfie. These practices can open ourselves beyond the self. Doing them encourages spiritual growth and leads to a fuller life in Christ and in the Church. So, have a look inside yourself and measure where you are against these Lenten practices.
PRAYER. Time with God. Dedicated time just to be with God. Time alone with the Lord. Quiet time. Time set aside from the daily routine. Away from the noise, the troubles, the usual, in order to be strengthened by God whom we can meet in the silence. Time for me and God.
The daily Mass Scripture readings for the 40 days of Lent can help with this. They are especially selected by the Church to open up for us the mystery of salvation, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Slowly read them. Sit quietly with them. Allow a word or a phrase to capture your thoughts. Let it stay with you. Reading Scripture is a wonderful way to pray. Or, get yourself one of those Lenten booklets that contain a reflection for each day of Lent. It can be a useful daily guide.
Some people go to daily Mass during Lent. The highest expression of prayer, the Holy Mass, to be with Christ in this prayer of offering, petition and praise. A very popular devotional practice during Lent is the Stations of the Cross. Following the Lord in His final earthly days. Taking a spiritual selfie about prayer in your life is a very valuable practice.
FASTING involves personal sacrifice … giving up … Fasting is an offering to God. Jesus fasted. Our fast has a purpose which is to empty ourselves and focus on God. It can be a fast from food, from sweets, liquor, entertainment, social media, texting. It’s about going without. Its purpose is to remind us of the millions in the world who go without on a daily basis and to teach us to depend on God. To fill up ourselves on the Lord. The sacrifice of fasting unites us with the sacrifice of the Lord by which He gained for us salvation. Along with fasting Catholics are called to abstain from meat on the Fridays of Lent. Is this being kept? Fasting and abstinence are not just a matter of diet, but a reminder that we are in constant need to overcome sin.
CHARITY. Donating, time, talent or treasure. Reaching out to others with goods or money especially for the poor and the suffering. Charity is all about giving to another in the name of Christ. There are many opportunities for doing charity. Let me suggest one that is close to my heart: The House of Charity – Bishop’s Annual Appeal, which supports so many much-needed ministries in our diocese. Such as Catholic Charities with offices in each county in the diocese where people can go for assistance and help for every problem imaginable. Catholic Charities helps all peoples regardless of religion, race or income. The House of Charity supports our seminarians who are in excellent institutions of formation and learning. The education of a future priest is costly. Our youth and young adult ministries providing programs and gatherings for adolescents; Campus Ministry Programs for college students. Saint John of God and Archbishop Damiano School where special children are served with such care and love. These programs and other organizations receive generous assistance through the House of Charity.
Don’t allow Lent 2019 to pass without taking a spiritual selfie to examine your life in Christ. We need to pray. We need to fast. We need to do charity. And, we need to examine ourselves or take a “spiritual selfie” to how we are doing with these Lenten practices.
Finally, the Sacrament of Penance, the Confession of sin should follow a “spiritual selfie.” To receive the mercy and forgiveness of our loving God who sees into us and through us without the use of an iPhone or an iPad.