Translation Canon Tony Dickinson
Hegel wrote that reading the morning paper is a kind of realist morning prayer. Might we extend this thought by showing that the smartphone, People Magazine or the television have today replaced morning and evening prayer? Some theologians have tried to set things in order by showing that a Christian ought to hold the Bible in one hand and his smartphone in the other. Even better, would not the solution be to read the Bible on one’s smartphone?
In present-day culture it is difficult not only to read but also to be recollected. To practice hesychia (quietness) or the Jesus prayer (“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”), the spiritual teaching so characteristic of Orthodoxy. Because today’s society is on the way to putting people to sleep rather than waking them up. In the past in towns and in the urban countryside everything was set to work to wake people up; it was enough to turn and look towards the height to contemplate. In the City of God, St. Augustine’s project was to place the inner man at the base of the polis (The City). Today however, in suburbs weighed down by thirty-storey buildings, it is so difficult to contemplate or to remain awake in a world of news.
Doesn’t the task of Christianity consist more and more in helping people to rediscover silence? How? By rooting people more deeply in their most real existence. And that is in essence through their culture, but through a true culture. And then through prayer: we can grant ourselves every morning and evening, with the door shut and the smartphone in silent mode, a few minutes of silence even if it is only three. We must loosen our relationship to time, and take now and again the time to be astonished, to “make Eucharist” (in other words thanksgiving) in all things (1 Thessalonians; 5.18). As St. Paul asked to become awakened to the miracle of existence (beings, spaces, oneself) and this very wakefulness is the light of God, a reminder that he reveals himself by hiding himself, that he is mystery and love.
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