Last week, for the first time in about 20 weeks over the space of the past two summers, I didn’t write a 13 Tuesday’s reflection on spirituality.
It’s not that I didn’t want to, or that I didn’t take time to think and reflect, I was just bulldozed under by things that required my attention right then, right there and then Tuesday passed. On Wednesday, I felt the earth quake. I wonder …
So, this week, I’ve gone to the reading room of the New York Public Library and hunkered down to write the 10th week of 13 weeks of reflections on 13 concepts framed by St. Anthony some 800 years ago.
St. Anthony was a famed preacher and a teacher and spoke of #Faith #Hope #Charity #Love #Zeal #Humility #Poverty #Prayer #Penance #Purity #Glory #Devotion and #Death. Last summer, and this, I look at one of the ideas, do a little research and post what I find here. This is not a religious trek, but one that lets me write with a bit more freedom.
This week’s topic is penance and I’m feeling that maybe I have to do some for not sticking to my schedule.
Earlier this month, I read that the website, RawConfessions.com, opened as a place for collecting people’s online and anonymous confessions. And, it allows these reading the confessions to share them and comment via other social media channelssuch as Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. Now, this idea is not new — PostSecret.com, where you send a postcard with a confession that is then posted online, has been around since 2005. Soon, PostSecret says it plans to offer a smartphone application for sharing your anonymous confessions (see http://www.postsecret.com/)
Then, if that is too much work, there is the the iConfess app, “Confession: A Roman Catholic App"or @confession on Twitter, with 500 followers. (The website that ported people’s confessions to Twitter http://kosso.co.uk/twitter/confess/ has apparently been shut down by the owner) but the confessions are still there, though some may not be suitable for family or work.
Unfortunately, the Vatican says electronics cannot replace confession direct to a priest, as only a priest can confer sacramental absolution, as I found on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Confession/104081179627489
Turning to Twitter and searching on the word, penance, I came upon the Twitter character @NFLJesus and this tweet:
Then, going further, I found out about the digital reformation movement addressed by Santa Clara University professor Elizabeth Drescher in the book: “Tweet If You Heart Jesus: Practicing Church in the Digital Reformation.” http://www.elizabethdrescher.net/
“New digital communication practices provide the opportunity to share the riches of ancient and medieval Christian traditions…while also opening our churches to the diverse spiritual perspectives of many believers and seekers…” Drescher says.
Drescher sees opportunity in embracing the new forms of communication.
Others see the opportunity in simply logging off. And, you know, there’s an app for that – the Sabbath Manifesto app, which exists to encourage people to log off the technology at least one day a year.
But, maybe that is all too much to consider. Then, eureka, I found it. Someone who gets it:
There, I think I have done what I needed to do.
The photograph illustrating this post is from Flickr and published under Creative Commons license. It is an illustration of Arjuna’s Penance, a story from the Mahabharata, one of ancient India’s two epic Sanskrit stories, of how Arjuna, one of the Pandava brothers, performed severe austerities in order to obtain Shiva’s weapon. The idea, which pervades Hindu philosophy, is that one could obtain, by self-mortification, enough power even to overcome the gods. In order to protect themselves, the gods would grant the petition of any ascetic who threatened their supremacy in this way - a kind of spiritual blackmail, or “give to get.” (This meaning of the word “penance,” by the way, is specific to Hinduism. Unlike the Catholic rite of penance, it is performed to gain power, not to expiate sin.)
Next week, a look at purity.