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Pope warns against excessive use of internet

By Sarah Mac Donald - 07 August, 2014

Pope Francis selfie“Time is a gift from God” and like other gifts it must be used well, Pope Francis told 50,000 young altar servers who were in Rome on pilgrimage.

The Pontiff warned them that many people waste too much time in useless things such as chatting on the internet or on their mobile phone.

He said the products of technology should simplify and improve the quality of life, “but sometimes take attention away from what is really important.”

The pilgrimage was sponsored by the German bishops’ conference, and the huge group included tens of thousands of Germans aged 13 to 27, and altar servers from Austria, Switzerland, Lithuania and northern Italy.

The five-day pilgrimage included Masses and talks focusing on the freedom God gives to people and the challenge of using it well.

Speaking about time management, Pope joked with the young pilgrims, “but you’re German and you do this well.”

For the first time in his pontificate, the Pope gave a short public homily in German. It is a language he learned in the late 1980s when he worked on his doctorate in Germany.

During evening prayers with the young people, he said, “God showed us that he is a good father. How did he do it? Through the incarnation of his Son, who became one of us.”

Pope Francis also held hands with some of the young altar servers in St Peter’s Square. Discussing the misuse of freedom, he warned them that it “can transform into slavery, slavery to sin.”

“Dear young people, do not use your freedom unwisely. Don’t squander the great dignity of being children of God that has been given to you.”

The Pontiff’s tips on how to use time well follow on his top ten tips for happiness and a more fulfilled life which include turning off the TV.

In an interview with the Argentine weekly ‘Viva’, the Pope called on families to “turn off the TV when they sit down to eat because, even though television is useful for keeping up with the news, having it on during mealtime doesn’t let you communicate with each other.”

He said people will also be much happier when they stop trying too hard to bring others round to their way of thinking – including on religion.

The Pope reminded people that the church grows “by attraction, not proselytising”, and added that the best way to get through to anyone was with “dialogue, starting with his or her own identity”.

Pope Francis’s secrets to happiness (courtesy Catholic News Service)

1. “Live and let live.” Everyone should be guided by this principle, he said, which has a similar expression in Rome with the saying, “Move forward and let others do the same.”

2. “Be giving of yourself to others.” People need to be open and generous toward others, he said, because “if you withdraw into yourself, you run the risk of becoming egocentric. And stagnant water becomes putrid.”

3. “Proceed calmly” in life. The pope, who used to teach high school literature, used an image from an Argentine novel by Ricardo Guiraldes, in which the protagonist — gaucho Don Segundo Sombra — looks back on how he lived his life.

4. A healthy sense of leisure. The Pope said “consumerism has brought us anxiety”, and told parents to set aside time to play with their children and turn of the TV when they sit down to eat.

5. Sundays should be holidays. Workers should have Sundays off because “Sunday is for family,” he said.

6. Find innovative ways to create dignified jobs for young people. “We need to be creative with young people. If they have no opportunities they will get into drugs” and be more vulnerable to suicide, he said.

7. Respect and take care of nature. Environmental degradation “is one of the biggest challenges we have,” he said. “I think a question that we’re not asking ourselves is: ‘Isn’t humanity committing suicide with this indiscriminate and tyrannical use of nature?’”

8. Stop being negative. “Needing to talk badly about others indicates low self-esteem. That means, ‘I feel so low that instead of picking myself up I have to cut others down,’” the Pope said. “Letting go of negative things quickly is healthy.”

9. Don’t proselytise; respect others’ beliefs. “We can inspire others through witness so that one grows together in communicating. But the worst thing of all is religious proselytism, which paralyses: ‘I am talking with you in order to persuade you,’ No. Each person dialogues, starting with his and her own identity. The church grows by attraction, not proselytising,” the Pope said.

10. Work for peace. “We are living in a time of many wars,” he said, and “the call for peace must be shouted. Peace sometimes gives the impression of being quiet, but it is never quiet, peace is always proactive” and dynamic.

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