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A bit on prayer

Today’s Office of Readings included a homily from St. John Chrystostom, bishop:

Our spirit should be quick to reach out toward God, not only when it is engaged in meditation; at other times also, when it is carrying out its duties, caring for the needy, performing works of charity, giving generously in the service of others, our spirit should long for God and call him to mind, so that these works may be seasoned with the salt of God’s love, and so make a palatable offering to the Lord of the universe. Throughout the whole of our lives we may enjoy the benefit that comes from prayer if we devote a great deal of time to it.
Prayer is the light of the spirit, true knowledge of God, mediating between God and man.

Henri Nouwen writes a great deal about prayer. I’m making my way through a collection of eight of his books. I thought The Genesee Diary was wonderful and I recommend it to anyone who’s curious about either Nouwen or the ins and outs of life in a Trappist monastery. The homily above finds loud echoes in the Little Way of St. Therese: do small things with great love, and you turn them into prayer. The larger Nouwen collection is also good, though substantial parts of the books so far seem to be written for an audience of priests and those who form them. I just started ¬°Gracias! - another diary, this time of his time in South America.

For Lent, I’ve left all social media behind. Wherever possible, I’m trying to leave the graphical Internet behind as well. I did this last year, too, and found the text-only web lends itself to a couple of good things. First, it’s a heck of a lot faster. I already filter our surfing with a pi-hole and run uBlock Origin in all of my browsers as an extra layer. But limiting the web to text-only browsers completely…well, speed is on a whole new level. There’s no javascript support, so most of the websites you’re likely to use won’t work quite right, or even render at all. Even so, I’ve found lightweight or text-only versions of just about everything I need: weather, news, research, and so on. I can read my mail with mutt, and there’s even a CLI twitter client which works pretty well, though I’m not using it. I do have to emerge from 1989 for work, though, but otherwise my main setup is retro-tacular. I already use vim for all of my editing needs, and irc is just as textual as it’s ever been. Emojis work even in the terminal.

In addition to being faster, I find it much easier to walk away from, which is important, since another Lenten focus for me has been to spend less free time in front of screens and more engaged in study, prayer, and family time. The online world is a constant visual assault. Strip everything back to elemental text and you really get a feel for just how bad it is.

Finally, it’s a nice bit of nostalgia. Folks my age and older still have the pre-Internet world in their living memory, and the early days looked just like this. So I’ll allow that maybe this is just a lot of old-geezer-wheezing. But…it really is faster and easier to leave. I mean, I’m not even kidding: I’ve seen one or two articles proposing the resurrection of gopher, and if you don’t know what that means, then it’s probably time. The sooner the better, I say.