Locked in our cells

It’s a terrible feeling — something most of us have experienced. The last time I misplaced my cellphone, I was in the middle of several busy assignments in Rome. In addition to phone numbers, photos and other important information, for me my smartphone — thanks to all the great apps out there — is also a mini production studio. All I kept thinking about as I was racing around my hotel room in a panic was the numerous interviews I had recorded and planned to air. Thanks to St. Anthony, I soon discovered that the phone wasn’t sitting in a coffee shop somewhere in the Eternal City. It was just hidden in a corner of my bottomless purse. But for a while, I was a nervous wreck.

Whatever one does for a living, being detached from our cellphones these days is like losing a part of ourselves. That’s why the words of Pope Francis, during his Angelus message on the First Sunday of Lent, really hit home with so many Catholics around the world. The pope, in reflecting on the Lord’s temptation in the desert, pointed out how Jesus was able to refute the devil and resist that temptation because of his love and knowledge of Scripture. If only, the pope lamented, Christians were as attached to the Bible as they were to their cellphones.

If we referred to the Bible as much as we do our emails or texts, then maybe we all could do a much better job of not only resisting temptation but making a difference in the lives of others. And wouldn’t it be a different world if we all became as unglued about misplacing our Bibles or daily devotionals as we do those phones? It would be an indication of what was truly important to us and what garners much of our attention. The Bible, he stressed, contains the word of God and is the most effective tool in fighting evil.

“If we always carried God’s word in our hearts, no temptation would distance us from the Father, and no obstacle would take us off the path toward good,” Pope Francis said.

The pope told those gathered in St. Peter’s Square that Satan did his best to try and divert Jesus from the path of obedience and humility, because he knew this was the way to conquer evil — and he wanted him to take the false shortcut toward glory and success.

“But the devil’s poisonous darts are all blocked by Jesus with the shield provided by God’s word,” he said.

He encouraged us, as he has several times during his pontificate, to consider carrying a pocket-size copy of the Gospels at all times.

That’s why, he said, “it is necessary to become familiar with the Bible: read it often, reflect upon it, assimilate it. The Bible contains the word of God, which is always topical and effective. Don’t forget what would happen if we treated the Bible as we treat our cellphone, always with us, always close to us.”

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I thought I was doing a pretty good job of keeping the word of God close to me. My husband and I have been praying with the daily Mass readings together practically every day since we came back to the Church. I’ve been involved in a number of great Catholic Bible studies at my parish over the years. I have done a fair share of my own personal study, especially in the area of apologetics.

And while my leather Magnificat jacket is a bit worn out and stuffed with various holy cards and favorite prayers, I have to admit the level of uneasiness I feel when I misplace it on occasion is nothing compared, again, to the sheer panic I experienced when my cellphone went missing.

“Always with us; always close to us.”

Lent is a good time to decide whether it will be the Bible or that darned cellphone.

Teresa Tomeo is the host of “Catholic Connection,” produced by Ave Maria Radio and heard daily on EWTN Global Catholic Radio and SiriusXM Channel 130.