Every Lent, I can count on a large number of my Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and fellow Snapchatters to fall silent for 40 days. Some announce their departure on Fat Tuesday, but most just log off unceremoniously and disappear. I get the rationale behind giving up social media for Lent. For many of us, our endless news feed scrolling represents a large consumption of time that could probably be better spent. Thus, for a certain age demographic, it seems to have replaced “giving up chocolate” as the default Lenten observance. But, I’m begging you, please don’t delete your apps this Lent. Instead, use your social media presence as a Lenten observance in itself, as a means of evangelization, and to aid in your own personal spiritual growth. Here are some suggestions that can help you make social media platforms an integral part of this coming Lent:
Share your own Lenten Journey
From Ash Wednesday to the Easter Vigil and a whole lot of Lent in between, so much of our Catholic tradition is on display like it is at no other time during the year. Social media is a great avenue to share our traditions with friends that may be unfamiliar with the faith. For example, in my home parish of St John / St Thomas Aquinas of East Lansing, Michigan, we have a candlelit Eucharistic procession between our two Churches that goes right down MSU’s sorority row on the evening of Holy Thursday. That is not something you see everyday! Social media can also serve as inspiration to those fellow Catholics that have been struggling with their own belief and practice in recent times.
Support your Catholic friends
To the above point, it can be intimidating to share your faith among many of your friends and followers who are not Catholic. Make it a point then to support your Catholic friends who are sharing their Lenten activities via social media. Retweet, like, share, comment on, or simply read the postings of your fellow Catholics that are accompanying you on this pilgrimage to Easter.
Use social media as an invitation
I have found that some friends may not take it upon themselves to initiate an act of charity, or attend a Church event, but they’ll join me if I invite them. Whatever extra things you are doing for Lent, invite your friends along. Whenever I donate blood, I always invite my online friends to do the same. Sometimes it’s just that little nudge of a Facebook post that sparks people’s interest. Whether you are volunteering with a charity, attending the parish fish fry, praying the Stations of the Cross, or going to an extra weekday Mass, see who else might want to come with you.
Clean your digital house
Over time, it’s inevitable that we accumulate voices in our social media feeds that take us further from Christ rather than closer. For me, it’s the classic car and hot rod sites that over time share more pictures of scantily clad women than vehicles. Or its the news commentators that exploit their platform to sow division and stir up controversy. Use this season of preparation to take a critical look at all of the content you scroll past on any given day, and unfollow, unfriend, or unlike any that are not a great influence in your life.
Follow your favorite Catholic accounts
Chances are, your favorite Catholic social media accounts have a lot of Lenten inspiration to go around! At Busted Halo, we have a lot planned for Lent that we don’t want you to miss out on. We will once again be running our popular InstaLent Photo Challenge and invite you to share your creative photos and reflections. Our #DailyJolts continue throughout Lent, and we’ll offer many other reflections, articles, and opportunities to learn about Catholic Lent traditions. Remember to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Hopefully the above gives you a few points that you can put in to practice as we enter this Lenten season. I’m looking forward to accompanying you on this journey online.