Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
One line only
by Father Michael Savelesky, for the Inland Register
(From the Feb. 2, 2006 edition of the Inland Register)
Decades ago, I remember reading in my eighth grade Junior Scholastic booklet that by the 21st Century nearly every household in the nation would own a computer. I remember greeting that tidbit of news with rolled eyes and a brief chortle.
A glance around home, school, business and even sports field nowadays, however, offers more than ample evidence that that wild projection is far more a reality than anyone could have imagined.
The projection championed in my Junior Scholastic was made in the days when computers were composed of a myriad of tubes, wires and plugs – sometimes filling a huge room. Today we can carry a computer in the palm of our hands – the omni-present cell phone – which even that roomful of gadgetry from my childhood could not match in power and production.
More and more each day, our activities center on the computer. For some, this slice of modern technology is the source of a livelihood. For others, it is an almost indispensable tool of education. For millions, it is a primary source for entertainment, bookkeeping and information storage and retrieval.
Modern technology, however, does not come without its requirements for appropriate care. A visit to a parishioner brought home the point.
The household computer was on the fritz. I was asked to fix it. Having left my holy water at home, I had to settle for a feigned effort at the role of an over-priced technician: $40 just to set down my tool bag!
“Bill us,” they said.
By chance, as I was faking a great knowledge of computers, little Cheryl had returned to the den from her cookie-making project in the kitchen. The scrambled computer screen immediately betrayed the problem to my well-trained (or at least well-meaning) eye. After all, I had learned in technician school (of life) that a computer (and other highly sophisticated equipment) should be fed by its own electrical source through a dedicated line. That is, the source of electricity cannot be cluttered by other equipment, especially not the type that broadcasts its own electrical interference. Included on that list would be things like egg beaters, TVs, toys, and flickering lights, all commonly found in the typical American home.
A quick experimental disconnect of the mixer in the kitchen and (with further exploration) a space heater in the entrance way fixed the family’s computer problem. I became a hero – a hero whose price went up to $60 an hour!
“Bill us,” they said.
This scene was still fresh in my mind later that week when I found myself leading a day of prayer for a small group of adults. The memory of my home visit made for good application of the word of God.
The Gospel passage I had chosen to focus on for the day was the narrative of Jesus at the Last Supper, praying for his disciples to be “consecrated in truth.” He prays that his disciples not be taken out of the world, but that their concentration on the ministry of the truth of the Gospel be the full focus of their lives.
A quick inquiry of the group informed me that two-thirds of them had computers at home. I told them of my visit and, after offering a few examples which depicted various “noisy” sources competing for good power from our human Coulee Dam, they caught on very rapidly to the notion of a dedicated line.
The application to discipleship with Jesus was easy – for them, as well as for any of us. The call to discipleship is a call to dedication. That dedication in many ways must be single-minded. It cannot be in competition with other sources hungry for our energy. Certainly, it cannot be disturbed by whatever in our lives produces the kind of interference which distorts the fruits of the Kingdom which Jesus prays that we produce in abundance. In itself, dedication to Jesus and his Gospel does not mean the denial or rejection of other good things in our lives. The possession of a home computer does not necessitate the elimination from the home of every other kind of appliance.
Dedication to the Lord and the service of the Gospel to which each of us is called in baptism, however, does call for a dedicated line, just like a computer. (Unless you’ve gone wireless – but not without similar problems!) There must be a “space” in the life of the disciple for direct feed from the love of God. Sometimes it takes an explicit, conscious choice to install a dedicated line for the protection of our home computer systems. This kind of explicit choice also is often the challenge to the disciple of Jesus who might well find that life is spattered because of too many competing distractions.
The more pure the relationship between the Lord and our hearts, the sharper our lives come into focus and the more productive we become in the work of the Kingdom.
(Father Savelesky is pastor of Assumption Parish in Spokane. His book, Catholics
Believe, is available from Harcourt Religion Publishers.)
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