Okay, this is a conclusion reached "early and often"--ever since my mom told me at 10 years old to stop reading a book and go play with friends (whom we were visiting out-of-state) I have known that I have a tendency to let reading take over my life. Nowadays, especially, it means that if I'm reading blogs and news on the Internet (or a Jane Austen novel, or the kids' astronomy textbook--but usually the Internet) there's very likely something else not getting done that needs to. You know the drill. Of course reading is a good thing, and some reading is necessary for our homeschooling, spiritual growth, functioning as a good citizen, friend, and well-rounded human being. All of that.
I'm not going to go any further into the tension of finding the right balance for intellectual and informative engagement proper to my situation in life. I am just going to say this: too many times I have used some idea of duty as an excuse for reading, and confused being informed with doing something. As in, "I need to know about this stuff [politics, curricula, spiritual warfare] so I can do something with it." So I read the latest posts in my reader and conclude that I have done my duty and need to go cook dinner. I do need to go cook dinner, but I'm fooling myself that I have helped in much any other way.
Nowhere is this truer than on the topic of prolife work. Our family does some prolife things--donate, pray, speak up. Reading about the latest trends; sharing powerful, true-life anecdotes; staying informed about local or national civic activism--these can all help.
But abortion is such a huge, confused, many-tentacled, tragic part of today's society--and it's so easy to be overwhelmed by the magnitude of this evil. A few years ago I stopped reading a well-known site devoted to prolife news because of the despair and helplessness that ensued in my head.
That doesn't mean I never read prolife news. Let's face it: we need to shine a light on this ugliness to dispel it. We also need to recognize that abortion has got to be one of those demonic entrenchments, to be driven out by prayer and fasting, in addition to our active work. In fact one of my most helpful conclusions to many of the stories I would read was, "I need to pray more." Then maybe I would say a Hail Mary and click away.
So I'm taking this small step.* It's just a step. But here goes. Every time I read the word "abortion" I am going to stop and pray. It will still be a quick prayer--but in a story or post like this one, for example, I will have already stopped four times to pray. This little step will achieve three things: 1) it will help me read less, like putting down your fork after every bite helps you eat less; 2) it will increase my offerings of petition and repentance, which is what all prayer is, and which the saints plead with us to make; and 3) it will reorient my way of thinking from one of frustration, hopelessness, and disavowal to one of penance, hope, and joy--from sin to Jesus.
Here are a few of the prayers I intend to use:
Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.
Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
*(And others, please God, to fight abortion that I won't necessarily be blogging about.)