Browsing Tag

Ash Wednesday

Catholicism, Mission, The New Evangelization

In Defense of #Ashtag

February 18, 2015

There’s some hand wringing going on about #ashtag. Some see the #ashtag trend taking a sacred ritual designed to remind us of our mortality and twisting it into a self-centered exercise that profanes the sacred and misses the point of the day entirely. I disagree.

And as one of the people who helped bring #ashtag into popular usage (I wrote a very popular blog post encouraging its use for the FOCUS blog last year), I believe I have a unique perspective on this whole thing, and a small scrap of authority in regards to it all.

I’ll share my thoughts on some of the main arguments against #ashtag, then share some thoughts on the positives of #ashtag.

Argument Against 1: It’s Self-Centered, and Lent’s All About Dying to Self

I chalk this one up to the unfortunate connotation of the word “selfie.” Taking a selfie, no matter what the day, does not necessarily mean the one taking it is all into themselves. It means they’re taking a picture of themselves, probably to save a memory of what they’re up to. And with the convenience of smartphones, it’s easy (and fun) to take a picture of yourself. Could the person be taking a picture of themselves because they’re all wrapped up in themselves? Certainly, but it would be a mistake to assume such a motive is behind every selfie.

Argument Against 2: It’s Makes Our Fasting and Prayers Public, and Jesus Says To Not Do That

So do ashes on our foreheads. Or a crucifix on our necklace. Or saying grace before eating at a restaurant. Or priests and sisters wearing their habits or clerics in public. Or having a Mary statue in your yard. I would never skip going to the gas station on Ash Wednesday because I didn’t want people to see my ashes and end up “showing off.” In a similar way that I live part of my life at the gas station, I live part of my life online, and showing my ashes there is just sharing a part of me.

 

Why #Ashtag is a Good Thing

As we increasingly live online, our faith comes with us. Social media, at its best, connects people, forms communities, and encourages us. The beauty of twitter isn’t seeing how many retweets your timely joke gets, but is instead in the creative expression of ideas in such a short format. Facebook serves the user best not when used to quantify social standing and self-worth by counting how many likes a post received, but instead when it connects the user to other people, real people, who offer encouragement and companionship in life.

#Ashtag doesn’t say, “Look at ME! See how holy I AM?! Don’t you love ME?” It says, “I’m Catholic. I’m a sinner. None of us can do this alone. We need Jesus and each other.” It’s no different from filling your car at the gas station or saying hello to a neighbor at the mailbox on Ash Wednesday.

I think the #ashtag conversation is a referendum either on how people view Lent or how people view social media, maybe both.

Yes, Lent is a season of penance and fasting, but throughout the season we are encouraged by the Church to approach our sacrifice and penance with joy. We can rejoice, and even boast our weakness, because it is our strength in God.

Our use of social media reflects how we live our lives. Both Pope Francis and Benedict XVI have called the Church to embrace social networks and the opportunity they provide to bring connection to the human family. Posting an #ashtag picture is an exercise in joining with others in the family on the journey to Easter.

If anyone out there wants to post their #ashtag picture because they want to get a lot of likes or they hope it will increase their status in the eyes of certain people, then you might want to examine your motives. If you want to join in the Lenten conversation online and come together with your brothers and sisters, then post away. And if anyone out there doesn’t want to post an #ashtag picture, then by all means, go ahead and don’t post one. I’m not trying to convince anyone to post one, just adding to the conversation by saying, “I think it’s totally fine to post these pics.”

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Catholicism

#ashtag

March 5, 2014

 

Here are our ashes from mass today! I got the #mushroom shaped and Jonathan got the #cross shaped.

What did you get? For more shape possibilities, check this blog.

ashes

 

Here’s a pic of the whole gang at the Denver Support Center:

work ash

May Lent be a time of growing closer to Jesus and father from the things keeping you from him! God bless and have a fruitful Lent!

Mission

Lentsanity!

March 4, 2014

Jonathan here. One of the projects I’ve been working on a lot lately with FOCUS has been Lentsanity, our campaign to help you make this Lent the best one yet. I’ve had the opportunity to work on a lot of the really fun aspects of the project, including:

Two of the first three blog posts of the campaign. Check them out!

An Illustrated Guide to Lenten Fasting & Abstinence

The 8 Types of Ashes You Might Get on Ash Wednesday

The Meat Police

I wrote the script and starred in this fun video.

phone with Lentsanity appThe Lentsanity App

I found an app company to work with, worked out all the details and kinks in creating and deploying our app, and now I’m updating it with content as Lentsanity rolls on. The best part of the app? It will pop up a notification before lunch and dinner on Fridays during Lent to remind you not to eat meat! (Make sure to say YES to push notifications, or you won’t get the reminders!)

It’s available for both iOS and Android. Download it today by searching for Lentsanity in your app store or by visiting focus.org/lentsanityapp from your smartphone.

Daily Dose

Each day of Lent (except Sundays) we’ll be posting a short reflection to facebook and to the app. I got to write the reflections on sacrifices. They’ll be published throughout Lent, so be sure to check those out as they come out.

Keep up to date with everything Lentsanity by liking FOCUS on facebook, following FOCUS on twitter, and by reading the FOCUS blog. We’re also collecting everything at focus.org/lentsanity and in the Lentsanity app.

Mission

Lent is here!

February 13, 2013

 

[For the much better post relating all the exciting things Jonathan is working on for Lent with FOCUS this year (including an updated infographic, please see this post.]

 

Lent is a time for deepening conversion within our hearts. It’s a time we are reminded of what’s most important in this life. Some people choose to give up something, add something, or a combination of both.

I am proud of Jonathan for designing the chart below! Yes, it reminds us of some of the Lenten “rules” but please don’t see them as strictly rules, but as a means to grow in your relationship with Christ. They are designed to help us be intentional about our conversion, to create space in our hearts for the Lord. Let Him transform you this Lenten season. For more information on entering into Lent, check out this blog. 

[edit: info graphic has been updated to the new 2014 version.]

lent-infographic

Check out the rest of Lentsanity at focus.org/lentsanity.

Download the Lentsanity app by searching for Lentsanity in your app store, or visiting focus.org/lentsanityapp from your smartphone.