Monday, March 07, 2011

Cardinal Mahony: Temptations on the Internet

With Lent fast approaching, Cardinal Mahony has an excellent piece up on the temptations of the internet. Specifically, he correlates the three temptations Jesus faced to three different kinds of temptations on the web.

This is really good stuff.
. . . The Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent always focuses upon the temptations which Satan offered to Jesus. We are all familiar with the story and the outcome.

However, if Jesus lived in 2011 and was tempted by Satan, what would be today's points of temptation? Where would Satan take Jesus today?

Exactly where he tempts us to go: Straight to the internet.

With all of its great advantage as a marvelous font of information, knowledge, and connectivity, sadly the internet has also become infected with a terrible "virus"--the Satan Virus.

Let me propose three internet temptation "sites" where Satan might take Jesus, and let's reflect ourselves on whether we have been tempted similarly.

First internet site: Where can I exert personal power over others, becoming my own god? How can I get even with someone, or even demean and destroy their reputation? There are too many sites which allow people to attack others viciously, posting all kinds of dribble and hurtful stories and accusations. The only purpose here is to demean, belittle, and harm someone else and their reputation. It's called "cyber bullying" among other things, but can become so destructive that some people who are so victimized even take their own lives because they can't stand it anymore.

My Lenten Question: Have I ever done something like this--whether in jest or in a destructive manner? Do I fully realize that once I launch such destructive material into cyberspace it cannot be retrieved--ever? Then I need to renounce this form of destruction of others. This Lent, let's refrain from this sites as an act of fasting from evil. Our Lord Jesus Christ will bless us!

Second internet site: Where can I destroy the innate human dignity of another person, and exploit them as objects of sexual exploitation? Sadly, internet pornography has taken a massive and ugly grip on the internet, and led to sites of the crudest degradation of the human person. New activities such as "sexting" are increasingly replacing normal communications between people, degrading everyone involved.

My Lenten Question: Do I visit internet sites which focus almost entirely on sexual degradation of men? Of women? Of children? Then this Lent I must seek God's grace to say "no" to such perversion which destroys the dignity of the human person. This form of fasting from degrading evil will bring us a deeper freedom as children of God and as brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ.

Third internet site: Where on-line do I squander my financial resources in addictive behavior that wastes money? Do I visit on-line betting sites? Do I respond to pop-up ads and buy things that I don't need? Do I waste my family's money with frequent purchases of the latest electronic gimmicks? Do I purchase endless numbers of Apps for my phone or laptop? Satan relishes our out-of-control internet spending since too often these purchases become my gods.

My Lenten Question: Am I an internet buying addict? Do I monitor my on-line purchases? Do I discuss these purchases with my spouse or friends? Do I set limits on the amount of time I am on-line? Do I understand that self-control in internet purchases is a true form of fasting? This Lent let's resolve to abstain from needless on-line purchases. One way to do that is to keep a piece of paper next to our computer, and when tempted to buy something, just write it down instead of making the purchase. Let a week go by and review the list; do I really need that item? In most cases, our response will be No.

LENT 2011 As we begin once again our Lenten Journey, may each of us be truly honest about our ventures into cyberspace and the internet. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, what changes do I need to make in my use of the internet? How can I abstain from the evil websites and focus more fully upon websites that uplift the human spirit after the example and model of Jesus Christ?

Recall those marvelous words in the Letter to the Hebrews: "Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus!" [Hebrews 12:2] If we use this Lent to keep our eyes constantly fixed on Jesus, then the temptations and the evil will fall from our sight.

Together let's make this a truly astounding Lent!!!


John Bergsma said...

Good for Cardinal Mahony. Truly edifying words.

Unknown said...

I know this is a nitpick: "if Jesus lived in 2011 and was tempted by Satan.."

Jesus does live in 2011... he rose from the dead, is present in all of the Masses being said around the world. The devil only tempted Christ in the first place because it was permitted.

The purpose of the exercise was good. The cutesy "dribble" that proceeded the exercise served no real purpose, and was misleading.