Wednesday, September 14, 2016


Years ago some seminaries used to teach seminarians how to smoke.  It was for a very good reason.  It slowed conversation down and gave the man time to think.  As something important is being laid out by a spiritual directee he would prepare a pipe.  When the person asked a question (and not always do immediate answers come to mind) he might say, “Let’s see,” as he takes the first couple of puffs on his pipe to get the tobacco going before he opened his mouth to say something.  This was valuable thinking and processing time.  Now that time is gone and filled with chatter or awkward silences.

Instant gratification isn’t always a good thing.  (In fact, it seems it is more often not that case than is.)  I had to open a Facebook account in order to start a Go Fund Me page for our new school and have discovered a whole new world of ways people can get in touch with me.  Shwew!  This is just on top of all the other ways people can get in touch with you no matter where you are . . . in a car . . . in the golf course . . . in the middle of Mass . . .

The temptation is to read (or listen) and respond immediately.  Thinking time is drastically reduced.  Yes, I am old enough to remember when snail mail was the only means to get a written text to someone.  If you had to write something to someone on an unpleasant topic, you had to gather your writing materials, write - perhaps redraft - maybe have to go buy a stamp - walk to the postbox - hold the letter in the mouth of the box thinking, “Should I or shouldn’t I?  Last chance,” before dropping it in.  All this was thinking time.  (Sometimes it was stewing time.)

I know, everybody wants an answer right now.  But it might be wise to not to hit the send button right away.  Think about it.  Maybe overnight.  Say a prayer about it.  Ask for guidance.  Read it again in the morning.  

It’s better for you than taking up smoking.


Baron Korf said...

As Gandalf explained the habit to Saruman: “You would not wonder if you used this herb yourself. You might find that smoke blown out cleared your mind of shadows within. Anyway, it gives patience, to listen to error without anger.”

Nan said...

Silly priest! Your birth didn't precede the teletype machine! There may be other mechanisms that predates it.