So what would move perfectly normal guys to give up the internet?
First, we as Capuchins are called to live a "Joyful Simplicity." While much of the world is now on the internet, at work, play, or even prayer, our charism is to strive to live a simple life. Secondly we are striving for a greater reliance on God. While God won't answer some questions as simply (or biasly) as Wikipedia might, the goal is for an overall submission to the Will of God - a mindset not often praised in an individualistic and too often greedy culture.
But we as Capuchins are also called to be a Gospel Witness, an example of Christ through the life and Rule of St. Francis of Assisi. While our lives of vows are one witness, our poverty and desire to disengage from social norms and excessive goods is who we are. Even in our Constitutions:
The Church recognizes voluntary poverty, especially in religious, as a sign of the following of Christ and proposes Saint Francis as a prophetic image of evangelical poverty. 59:3
With these focal points for our Lenten fast, I and two other Novices (including Matthew Janeczko, author of the blog New Sandals) have decided to give up the internet completely. This is how it will work:
1. The task is to go without the internet until Easter. That means no emails, no chat, no research, no Hulu.
2. Recognizing that we as Capuchins are a Gospel Witness and that our call is not only to a life of Penance but a life of Spreading the Gospel, I will continue to write one blog a week to chronicle this time. Matt has agreed to write as well, however he wishes not to blog; out of courtesy I will include his blogs here along with mine.
3. The task isn't just to not use the internet, rather to find more prayerful ways of spending the time that might ordinarily be spent here. There are plenty of books I need to finish, a few prayers that I haven't finished, and a Chaplet that I'm continuing my work with.
Quitting the internet did require a little planning.
For the first time, I used the Auto-Response feature on my email to let people know I wouldn't be answering until after Easter, along with information on where to mail or call me. I will also have moderation on for my comments here. Without any oversight, I wouldn't want anything "unseemly" posted without my knowledge.
I also realized that the internet is something I do unconsciously. I walk past the breakfast nook, grab some cereal, and think: "I should check my email." The guys here know of my intention to stay away from the internet; the use of force has been authorized should I try to break the fast!
Obviously there are times when I may have to log in. I'm waiting for a response from two colleges that I've applied to for the Fall. There are notices from my Province that need to be filled out, and just recently, I got an email that I never thought I'd ever get a response to. So I realize it will be hard to give up the internet, even with everything that's going on right now.
But we can't do it without your help!
We need your prayers. Not just us, but there are plenty of people in this world who have internet-related addictions: whether they are related to gambling, video games, pornography, or shopping. Along with these people, there are those who are victims of sexual exploitation, as well as those for whom the internet is a boundary (as opposed to a bridge) to God. I will be keeping these people in prayer. I hope that this fast will raise awareness towards these concerns.
So keep an eye out on Sunday, and may your Lent be a time of clensing as well as spiritual growth.
Peace and all good,
Bro. Vito Martinez, OFM Cap.
Capuchin Franciscans of the St. Joseph Province
Listening to Daughters by John Mayer as I have an important email to write on Sunday. Stay tuned!