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Week Five Challenge: SmartVirtue

Don't give up!!

It's been four challenging weeks, but let's keep going. As Holy Week rapidly approaches, we take up our next challenge: Virtue.

Here are this week's #SmartVirtue Challenges:


The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines the virtue of prudence like this:

CCC 1806 Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it; "the prudent man looks where he is going." "Keep sane and sober for your prayers." Prudence is "right reason in action," writes St. Thomas Aquinas, following Aristotle. It is not to be confused with timidity or fear, nor with duplicity or dissimulation. It is called auriga virtutum (the charioteer of the virtues); it guides the other virtues by setting rule and measure. It is prudence that immediately guides the judgment of conscience. The prudent man determines and directs his conduct in accordance with this judgment. With the help of this virtue we apply moral principles to particular cases without error and overcome doubts about the good to achieve and the evil to avoid.

"Right reason in action"?? That sounds like something I need to google from my Smartphone. What the heck is "prudence" and what does it have to do with our phone habits? Let's break down the first sentence in this definition, one phrase at at time:

  • disposes practical reason

Prudence helps us get our minds right. And in two more weeks, we will need all of the help we can get!

  • to discern our true good

Get our minds right to truly discern. Discern is not just a fancy word for decide. It carries a weight with it... a weight of prayerful consideration. It takes patience and thought. It takes humility to ask the Lord for clarity--for help! What is the true good?

  • in every circumstance and

And not just some of the time... all of the time.

  • to choose the right means of achieving it...

As we discern our true good we reach a decision point. What are we going to do in this particular situation? And how are we going to do it? Prudence, the "charioteer of the virtues" is the vehicle that leads us to goodness as we develop new and healthier habits in our lives.

So what does this have to do with our phones? Everything.

Technology, telephonic communication, global connectedness, social media, distraction culture, FOMO, comparison joy-thievery... none of these things are going away. What has to change is our reaction. Jack Canfield teaches many awesome life skills in his book The Success Principles, but one of my all time favorites is this simple formula: E + R = O [Event plus reaction equals outcome.] If we want to change our Outcomes, we have one of two variables to address: the EVENT (which is typically out of control) or the REACTION (which is typically in our control). We can't change the way technology is reshaping the world, but we can change our reaction to that seismic shift.

We turn to the virtue of Prudence as we move beyond this challenge. It's all fine and good to make a little phone fast here, try to use our phones for good there, have a day or two where we remember not to break the first three major rules (why is it SO HARD?!), but which of these rules or penances or Lenten-like promises that we have made will have lasting power in your life? Where will we find change? [By asking Jesus? You guess.] Sure, Jesus is always the answer, but also, learning how to discern our true good. Is it prudent for me to continue the same unhealthy patterns of phone usage that I have grown accustomed to until the next #SmartFreedom Challenge comes around? If I don't take steps to change my Reactions, how will I ever change Outcomes? Here are some questions to ponder as we move into our last two weeks. Today's Challenge is to take the time to discern our true good in regard to our phone usage:

(1) Should I be on social media? Why or why not? What good is it adding to my life? Is it a source of peace? joy? Does it help me to experience interior freedom? Where are the negatives? Are certain apps and sites worse for me than others? If I cannot limit myself, should it be removed altogether? What alternatives am I not considering?

(2) What 3 things take up the most time on my phone? Can these three things be accomplished in other ways (e.g. phone calls or in person communication instead of texts, conducting business on a computer instead of my phone, removing all forms of "entertainment" from my phone like streaming services, games, pornography, etc.)? Where does my phone cause me to sin?

(3) How much time a day do I spend in prayer? If I am seeking my true good, can it be found without prayer? [Spoiler alert: No] If I think that I am too busy to pray, what can I eliminate from my life immediately to make some room for Jesus?


Today we just call to say "I love you!" Look at your recent texts. Today the challenge is to pick up the phone and call those we contact most. Enjoying a laugh in real time rather than simply adding HAHAs and crying laughing emojis to your next text will be a breath of fresh air!


Today we call our Mom... Mama Mary! Let's pray the #SmartFreedom Rosary.

NOTE: If you cannot find your rosary do not use your phone as a substitute... God gave us 10 fingers.

Here are your intentions for each mystery:

1st Mystery: Pray for the intentions of your contact list.

2nd Mystery: Pray for your social media followers + those you follow.

3rd Mystery: Pray for those whom you have ignored this week when looking at your phone.

4th Mystery: Pray for those who do not have the technology to be in touch with the ones they love.

5th Mystery: Pray for the lonely.

BONUS: A well-prayed rosary buys us at least 20 minutes of smartphone freedom!

[P.S. Offer your Hail, Holy Queen for the others journeying with you on this #SmartFreedom adventure. We need it!]


Take 20 minutes today reflecting on what #SmartFreedom could look like in your life. We recommend you take this reflection in Three Steps: (1) Imagine the future. (2) Reflect on Hope/Discouragement and Selfishness. (3) Make a plan.

Imagine life after Lent. What fasts are no longer struggles? Which good practices have become habit? Imagine what life is like when you're FREE from always needing your phone in hand. What is your prayer life like? What about your relationship with your family? your friends? your coworkers? your community? your neighborhood? the outside world and all of God's beautiful creation? Where is there peace?

Hope keeps man from discouragement... do you know what keeps man discouraged? Smartphones. Seriously? of the 1000s of images you see each week, how many truly bring you steps closer to Heaven? How many drag you in the opposite direction? How much does your viewing of social media destroy your self-worth, as the joy-thief comparison waves its ugly head (with a perfect blowout)? Jesus said if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out... If your phone causes you to be discouraged, take your eyes off of Heaven, and take others that you love down with you--put it away. You do not need a drain on goodness in your hands! Hope preserves man from selfishness. Here is a follow up question for your Challenge Reflection: How does my phone make me selfish? How does it make a game, a text, an email, a slack, a snap, a latergram, a story, an anything become more important that the person sitting in front of me? How does our selfishness further isolate me from the community? How can I break this cycle of self-absorption?


In order to truly teach us some moderation--to ensure our will's mastery--we will turn our phones OFF for 4 hours. Here's your modification (which is my favorite part of any exercise video)... if weekdays are too difficult for this big of a sacrifice, you can turn it off Saturday or Sunday instead... but each day you wait you have to add 30 minutes. So 4 hours today or 4.5 hours tomorrow or 5 hours the day after that. Pick your poison. NOTE: Don't forget to let the people in your life that love you know your phone will be off... otherwise they will be filing police reports before hour 3!


You have been working very hard on your #SmartFreedom Challenge. Today we pray for the fortitude to talk to the people in our life that make our #SmartFreedom more difficult to obtain. Who in your life keeps you chained to your phone? How would you begin a conversation about that? Who in your life needs to think about detaching from his or her phone? What can you do to help? What act of courage do you need to make to set an example? to make an invitation? to be the change you want to see?


Revisit last week's Corporal Works of Mercy Challenge. Which day did you skip? Which challenge do you want to give another shot? Finding a way to use our Smartphones for Justice is a great way to add more virtue into our lives, purifying some of those Smartphone attachments.


#SmartFreedom Challenge Checklist:

  • No phone while driving.

  • No phone during meals.

  • No phone in the bathroom.

Week Two we added Three Additional Practices (if you failed miserably, try again this week!):

  • No phone as an alarm for waking up in the morning.

  • No phone one hour before bedtime.

  • No phone for one hour after you wake up.

Last week we add one more challenge: No Phones while conversing with other people.

  • Example: Human Person walks up to you and starts a conversation. Phone goes in your pocket or purse.

  • Example: Your daughter has a question about something. Phone goes in your pocket or purse.

  • Example: Your son can't find his shoes, again. Phone goes in your pocket or purse.

  • Example: Your fill in the blank says fill in the blank to you. Phone goes in your pocket or purse.

  • This challenge is not limited to friends and family... checkout girls, bag boys, receptionists, mechanics, donut shop workers (bless them), government employees (even those at the DMV), co-workers, zombies, husbands, other people in the #SmartFreedom Challenge, etc.

REPEAT WEEK 3’S Prayer Challenge: Less posting + More praying.

The only way to find our Identity in Christ is to spend some time in relationship with Him.

  • MONDAY: Phone goes off for 10 minutes. Take this 10 minutes for uninterrupted Prayer.

  • TUESDAY: Phone goes off for 20 minutes. Take this 20 minutes for uninterrupted Prayer.

  • WEDNESDAY: Phone goes off for 30 minutes. Take this 30 minutes for uninterrupted Prayer.

  • THURSDAY: Phone goes off for 40 minutes. Take this 40 minutes for uninterrupted Prayer.

  • FRIDAY: Phone goes off for 50 minutes. Take this 50 minutes for uninterrupted Prayer.

  • SATURDAY: Phone goes off for 60 minutes. Take this 60 minutes for uninterrupted Prayer.

Week Four: Pause before spending money through your phone... ask yourself how you might better use your resources.

#CorporalWorksofMercy #Money #SmartFreedom

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