How Satan is Stealing Prayer from a Generation
In contemplating the fact that conversion begins in the mind, I have recently though, as a spiritual director, about the uncanny destruction wrought there by video and television and how it has supplanted the role of the spiritual director or soul friend. As I write this, in fact, the Lord is calling me to be more vigilant in my use of the internet, as I too have a fallen nature. Technology itself is amoral and the internet can be used for good , but there is something global happening here that needs extreme vigilance.
The mind is where we are created in the image and likeness of God. In the solitude of that inner sanctum, accessible only to God and the soul, we "choose". There are no planes in the spiritual life. Each choice is a choice for God or away from Him. St Paul seeing the magnitude of "choice" pleaded with us - "be transformed by a renewal of the mind, that you may know what is the will of God, what is good pleasing and perfect (Rom 21:1-2). One of the characteristics of the mind is the ability to think in pictures, to form images, in sleep and awake. This imagination is formed by what we see and look at. It is filled by the sense of sight. Jesus proclaimed "the eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy,[ your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" Matt6:22
Images have meaning and content. Looking at them we can ponder God, His creation and His Word. Through them we receive communication from God. Each image of beauty is a personal "I love you" from God to the soul. If our eye is good we can perceive this and profit from it. Images communicate something deeply to the recipient. The artist knows this well. The poet knows too that the memory of images that fill the imagination give form to his words.
When television first came into society, Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan, remarked that the "medium is the message" in it's ability to form peoples minds. Others involved in the emergence of TV had deep misgivings and qualms of conscience about the sudden emergence of this technology on a people who for thousands of years had processed visual imagery from reality. Padre Pio was greatly disturbed by it and advised people to steer clear of it. The research of Herbert Krugman, adopted by the advertising industry, showed that the brain switches to a receptive daydream mode watching TV, becoming wide open to suggestion or brain washing.
Fast forward nearly 100 years from the invention of Television and we have a world awash with video imagery, some very destructive, which is changing the way people think perceive and interact, and even the very structure of the brain. The latter is particularly true when it comes to the scourge of internet pornography.
One of the things that most caught my attention, though, is how Satan is stealing the gift of prayer from a generation, through the internet. This first happens through the waste of the gift of time. I couldn't help noticing, also, how his mimicry of God also includes posture and attention. On one hand most people today can be seen in public with heads bowed towards their phones, a posture that would more often have been seen in people of prayer in times past. Except in this case it is dividing people from one another instead of bringing unity to the body of humanity. One only has to think of the medium used to spread the BLM protests last year. In the second place there is the picture of a gathering of people engrossed in a movie, not to be disturbed almost as one might fear to disturb a group of people in a prayer gathering. Video imagery seems to capture the attention almost the way God should in adoration. The final thought though is in regard to images. The flooding of the imagination with images at the level of todays social media leaves no room for the images that God might otherwise communicate. Unchecked it can destroy the mystical life of relationship with Jesus. Would the charisms, such as the word of knowledge or prophecy, also flourish more profoundly without the emergence of video? The only time Our lady ever mentioned a thing by name in Medjugorje was in regard to Television. She mentioned it several times. Notably on on June 16th 1983 she said "...avoid Television, particularly evil programs" I wonder what she would say if she ever addresses the subject of the internet?