The Great Lenten One-Hour Cellphone Fast of 2022

“If our ‘interior cellphone’ is always busy because we are ‘having a conversation’ with other creatures,” says Cardinal Sarah, “how can the Creator reach us?”

Cellphone
Cellphone (photo: DrMedYourRasenn / Pixabay / CC0)

Every commercial, infomercial and ad offers a one-hour or less solution to our problems. These products and services promote effortless ways to improve our bodies or minds. They offer quick solutions to anything that ails us or affects us. So, it is time this Lent to offer the “Great Lenten One-Hour Fast of 2022” that will help our souls. The good news is that it will free us up from worry and anxiety, transform our prayer life and help our souls. All of this you can accomplish with almost no effort or work on your part. It’s easy to do. 

But wait, there’s more: If you accept this offer before midnight tonight then this benefit will also help your family, friends and your entire parish. All this and more with one simple act that will take an hour or less. Now that’s fast!

Imagine a fast that could have an impact on that holiest of holy events in the world — the celebration of the divine liturgy known as The Mass. 

How can we all fast the same way, at the same time, to the benefit of ourselves and each other and the liturgy as well? To do this, we must first consider the importance of silence to us as Christians and as well the importance of silence as an integral part of our divine liturgy. It is there at Mass that heaven meets earth. The Catechism calls it the Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper, the Breaking of the Bread, the Eucharistic Assembly, the Memorial, the Holy Sacrifice, the Holy and Divine Liturgy, Holy Communion and the Holy Mass. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. 

An integral part of our path to God is to be able to hear him. In his book The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise,Cardinal Robert Sarah said:

Silence is difficult but it makes a human being able to allow himself to be led by God. Silence is born of silence. Through God the silent one we can gain access to silence. And a human being is unceasingly surprised by the light that bursts forth then. Silence is more important than any other human work. For it expresses God. The true revolution comes from silence; it leads us toward God and others to place ourselves humbly and generously at their service.

So here is the Great Lenten One-Hour Fast of 2022: Leave our cellphones in the car during Mass for the rest of Lenten season. Do not just turn the phone to silent. Do not just turn the phone off. Remove the phone from our physical presence by leaving it in the car during Mass for the remaining Sundays of Lent. If you are a daily Mass attendee, then leave it in the car every day throughout Lent. In his book, Cardinal Sarah also stated, “If our ‘interior cellphone’ is always busy because we are ‘having a conversation’ with other creatures, how can the Creator reach us, how can he ‘call us?’”

If you find it difficult to extricate the phone from your bodily presence, ask a loved one to help remove it for you from your hand, pocket or purse. Promise your phone that you will be right back as soon as you can after Mass, and then you can even enjoy conversation with friends after Mass without any interruption. If being physically removed from your phone for that long causes you anxiety, then focus on the following prayer the priest says after the Our Father:

Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil, graciously grant peace in our days, that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

All those important emails, texts and phone calls you miss during the Mass will be there for you when you get in your car. While I do not have statistical proof of this point, I do not think that theft of cellphones from church parking lots during Mass is a statistically significant risk. If you really want to offer this sacrifice of technology expand the fast until you get home from Mass. Sainthood awaits you.

A few years ago, a priest in Italy was frustrated enough by cellphones in Mass that he installed a cellphone jammer that blocked cellphone signals inside the church. He relented due to loving his parishioners and their attendance at Mass even with their interruptions. The point is that priests do not appreciate the distraction of cellphones in Mass any more than we do. So, we can help them out too by this one-hour fast program. We should not complain about the lack of reverent liturgical music or less-than-hard-hitting Catholic homilies if we are contributing to the lack of reverence by our own actions. Our priests love us. God loves us too, but he loves us too much to leave us as we are. 

My analysis, again without any statistical support, suggests that it takes only each person’s cellphone to ring once during Mass every three years in order to ensure that at least one phone rings during each Mass. Regardless of the statistical computations it should be clear to every person of normal hearing acuity that it is nearly a guarantee that one phone will ring or buzz loudly enough for the bulk of the congregation to hear the endless variety of rings, buzzes and music from phones besides the Church bells. The one-hour fast is the easy cure. Then enjoy the silence within the divine liturgy without hearing cellphones ringing this Lenten season.

Nicaraguan police place Bishop Rolando José Álvarez under house arrest Aug. 4 at the diocesan chancery in Matagalpa, Nicaragua.

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