I gave up Facebook for Lent and find, as I found last Lent, that it's surprisingly easy to go cold turkey -- so easy, in fact, that I feel, as I felt last year, that perhaps it was the wrong sacrifice. And yet, my days haven't become more productive, exactly, and I wonder what spiritual benefit I'm accruing, if any. Or is the point of Lent to accrue spiritual benefit, or is that a secondary effect of drawing closer to God? Am I even drawing closer to God? Lent is actually very much like ordinary life, in fact, in which no bright lights signal my spiritual path, no voices guide me, and as usual, I have to rely on my own discernment.
I've realized that the reason I'm not more productive even though I've cut out Facebook is because I was on Facebook a lot while nursing. Well, I'm still nursing a good portion of the day whether or not I'm scrolling through posts on my phone. Perhaps it would have been a more demanding sacrifice if I'd set strict limits on my browsing time. And now, since I'm not nursing in front of the computer either, I'm not reading blogs as much as I used to, and I feel like I've become oddly insular and lost my connection with the larger world, even though I still read the paper. In fact, I feel like my ability to write is slipping, in terms of focus and agility. And so I hesitate to write anything, and so skills atrophy further. Perhaps it would be a discipline to have a set amount of reading and writing time each day, but is that necessarily a spiritual discipline? Or since all aspects of life are connected, does any kind of increased discipline have a spiritual component?
Lent is, in short, a time of refinement, and I'll probably be refining my practice all the way to Holy Thursday. Something I have added is using all that nursing time to finally ready and chew on The Four Cardinal Virtues, by Josef Pieper, and in conjunction with that, to read Father Copleston's History of Philosophy, Volume 2, Part 2, on Thomas Aquinas. Pieper is drawing a great deal from the Summa in his study of virtue, and I'd like to read some of the original, but I'd like a curated introduction. Can anyone recommend a good introductory book of selections from the Summa?
I also need to refine my practice of prayer, which is currently a scattershot of intentions and unfocused meditations throughout the day. Maybe it's time to just buckle down to my stumbling block, the rosary. I can keep company with St. Therese, who said, "Reciting the Rosary costs me more than using an instrument of penance. I feel I say it so bad; in vain do I strive to meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary; I am unable to fix my attention For a long time I was sad because of this lack of devotion which surprised me, for I love the Blessed Virgin so much that it should be easy for me to say in her honor prayers which please her so much. Now, it saddens me less; I think that the Queen of Heaven being my Mother, she must see my good will and be content with it."
I hope I evince enough good will for God to be content with it! There's another goal for the rest of Lent.