This Lent I decided to give up a prayer app. I’d been using the Divine Office app to pray the Liturgy of the Hours for several years, and I saw someone post on Twitter about using only the breviary books during the season.
I made an exception for a few days while I was traveling for work, but otherwise I went the whole season with the books I’d barely opened since I found the app all those years ago.
The person who originally posted the idea (I can’t remember whose idea it was just now) said he wanted to combat laziness. I’m plenty lazy, which originally attracted me to try this practice during Lent, but I discovered something else this season that I need to combat even more.
I don’t live in the moment.
During my twice-daily Lenten ribbon-flipping with the big breviary, I found myself looking ahead to the next time I’d be using the book – and setting the ribbon in the right place before I moved on. I’m not meditating on the psalms during Lauds if I’m flipping two pages ahead to mark the ones for Vespers.
But that’s what I’m doing. It’s not even like I’m saving any time or doing something I can’t do at the start of prayers the next time.
It’s a way I can indulge my tendency to always worry about what comes next. Whether it’s meals or clothing or having gas in the car, I want to be prepared for whatever’s coming – and that comes at the cost of savoring the here and now.
While this tendency is definitely an asset in my editorial work (it’s April, and I’m currently collecting magazine articles for the fall issue and assigning articles for winter), it’s not necessarily a good thing in other areas of my life.
During the second half of Lent, I actively concentrated on not moving those ribbons to the next section during (or even immediately after) prayer. It just about drove me nuts, but I managed it.
Switching from app to book didn’t turn out to be too penitential, but leaving those ribbons alone definitely was.
Will I go back to the app, starting tonight? I don’t think so. I like using the book, actually. And it’s good for me to have the twice-daily reminder that I don’t always need to be looking ahead.
Except the part where I’m looking ahead for the sake of my eternal soul.
Copyright 2019 Barb Szyszkiewicz