Nov 9, 2017

Does Pope Francis like cell phones? It all depends . . .

How many cell phones are too many?  When is it not appropriate, in fact a distraction, to use your cell phone camera?  Considering the "phones without boundaries" practice of today those questions may need to be pondered by some.  What's wrong with just taking a quick snap; a "Kodak moment" that would not be repeated or that I want to remember?  

Well, if you're attending Mass at the Vatican, particularly one celebrated by Pope Francis, you might want to reconsider that opportunity. Now how often does that happen in your life?  A recent statement by our Holy Father makes a very good point that I think is a lesson no matter where you may be attending Mass and no matter who may be the main celebrant. "During Mass, lift up your hearts, not your cell phones," Pope Francis gently chided the crowds in St. Peter square.  "Mass is not a show!"  Great point and right on your Holiness.  

While in our parish and others as well, we now have to remind everyone before Mass begins to please turn off your cell phones.  Who wants to hear the strange ringing of a phone during the reading of the Gospel or be tempted to answer the latest text that just came in or that you have been wanting to respond to?  Are we so obsessed to think we have to answer every call and text immediately? The point is made that the Mass is a living encounter with our Savior Jesus Christ in his Word and in the Holy Eucharist.  It isn't a show or entertainment, it is sacred worship and a place, and in a sacred space, in which we communicate with the living God and give thanks for his mercy and forgiveness.  

I distinctly recall attending the first World Youth Day in Rome in 1984 I believe. Among the speakers was none other than now St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, at that time no doubt a Saint among us.  We were in a crowd of about 5,000 youth as she spoke.  I so wanted to hang on her every word and we were situated close enough to her that we had a never to be forgotten view. In fact, after Mass which followed her message, I was able to briefly speak to her and shake her hand.  Other priests in attendance took advantage of that opportunity as well.

Yet, during her entire message, the constant click and flash of cameras, not cell phones at that time, continued in an endless distraction.  This holy woman continued as if it were silence and peace.  My frustration was clear:  "Put away those cameras and listen to her message! Take one quick flash then put down the camera! Do you hear or remember anything she is saying? This is no rock star but a living Saint and how often would you meet such a person?" I'm not sure that I absorbed her message due to the constant clicking and flashing of 5000 people. If I sound a bit miffed, I indeed was - sorry. Myself and the other adults with us quickly brought this to the attention of our youth and they thankfully put down their cameras. So I fully understand Pope Francis' request and reminder.  

No rock concert, no football game in overtime, no long lost friend, but the Lord Jesus Christ.  Yes, obviously how often does one attend a Papal Mass at the Vatican?  So, wanting to catch that moment is understandable.  Yet, his deeper reminder to us is very much considering and respecting.  

Think before you flash.  Where am I?  Can it wait till later?  Why am I here at all?  What do I really want to remember about this moment?  

Peace and here's the article below: