Archbishop: Give up phone time for Lent

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Archbishop Jason Gordon preparing the ashes as he officiated the Ash Wednesday mas at Our Lady of Perpetual Help church, San Fernando on Wednesday. – Lincoln Holder

RC archbishop Charles Jason Gordon has reminded people about the three traditional spiritual practices of Lent – prayer, fasting and almsgiving– and made a special call for youths to spend less time on their electronic devices.

To the younger generation, Gordon suggested: “Why don’t you make a real sacrifice, give up some screen time during lent for a period of time every day?”

“Put the phone down, do not touch it. Leave it alone and spend some of that time in prayer.”

He spoke at Ash Wednesday mass at the Our Lady Perpetual Help at Harris Promenade, San Fernando.

He said the last thing people often do before going to bed and the first thing as they wake up is to use their phones.

Gordon referred to Ash Wednesday, the start of the Lenten season, as a day of public penance for the universal church.

Lent is a 40-day period of penance that leads to Easter.

The archbishop added that it was rare that Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday fell on the same day this year.

Gordon added that the point of Lent is to sacrifice, giving up something good for something better.

Gordon said sacrifice is required for love and that there is no love without sacrifice.

He repeatedly reminded the packed congregation of the three spiritual practices associated with Lent.

“How is your prayer right now? Are you praying regularly on a daily basis? Do you have a routine in your prayer? When you wake up in the morning, do you give God the first bits of the day?” he said.

“Are we giving the first to God or the first to the cell phone? What are we doing? Let us, in this season of Lent, make a commitment to look at your prayer. Add to your prayer.”

He encouraged people to go before God with gratitude for all the wonderful gifts that he has given.

Gordon added, “Gratitude is really the opening out of the whole soul to God. It is the truest purpose in our living in Christ. A person of gratitude is always a spiritual person because it is from God that we come to gratitude. Could we make a practice of gratitude every day to God?”

“At the end of the day, before you get into bed, thank God for all the wonderful things he has done for you. Can we do that?”

Apart from calling on people to develop a rhythm of prayer, he also called for people to develop a rhythm of fasting.

He said fasting means giving up oneself to God and depriving one’s senses to be more tuned to God.

“Remember you are loved because out of love God called you into being,” he said.

He charged that people must be careful how they live, adding the purpose of living is love.

He also shared the importance of almsgiving.

Gordon said almsgiving covers a multitude of sins.

He suggested that if people are giving up something in Lent, like money, they could give it to people experiencing poverty or to an institution that deals with the poor.