The teens in our parish’s Confirmation class were required to go to a communal penance service. I can’t say very many of them were excited about it. Including my 15-year-old. She seems to forget, between visits to the Confessional, what a great blessing it is! But this time, her experience was wondrous! And she won’t soon forget.
She spent about 15 minutes talking to a priest we had never met before. By the time she got out, the Confession line was gone. Her friends had disappeared. The church was quiet and the Sacristans were straightening up the pews.
We drove home in the darkness without much conversation…she was texting. But as soon as we walked in the door, Brigit couldn’t seem to stop talking. She was animated as she shared bits of the conversation she had with the priest.
He told her about a couple of young men…he had helped to raise them before entering the priesthood. Now that they are living farther away, Father texts them every day. He shares Bible verses. And they text back, “I will make someone happy today” or “I will share my faith today.”
The Holy Spirit has a way of making magic happen. This is how the Spirit worked. My daughter shared this story because it intrigued her. It made the priest seem more human, with life experiences like ours. He does texting! He helped raise kids! That’s an interesting fellow. That night I realized I could follow-up on that story. I sent a text of a Bible verse to both of my children the next day.
Brigit wrote back, “I’ll try to make someone happy.” The next day when I sent another message, she wrote, “I SHALL make someone happy.”
Then her brother, who is far away at Notre Dame, decided to take the initiative. He sent the Bible verse before I did. And the next day, Brigit got up early to check her Bible. She wanted to be the one to share. She was excited about Romans 12:2—“Do not be conformed to this age…”
The verse she shared is about our call as Christians to resist the temptations of the world. It occurred to me that the cell phone is one of those huge temptations. But we are working to transform the use of it.
This Advent we are texting from the Bible as a family pact–to listen to his Word and try to live it. I can’t think of a better use of the so called “smart” phone.
Thank you Father, the visiting priest. And thank you Holy Spirit. We are getting ready for Jesus! And now we have a new Advent tradition! Maybe Lent too!
copyright 2014 Judith Costello