Gotta have these boots. Now. Right Now.

Dianne Alfaro sat in a pew in the back of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, her head bowed during Mass on Sunday morning. She cast her eyes down as the hymn “Jerusalem My Happy Home” swelled around her.

As the words “Hosanna in the highest!” echoed in the cathedral, she never looked up. That is, until she finished buying a pair of black boots off the internet on her iPhone.

“At some point, the priest during the Mass says, ‘Lift up your hearts.’ He does not say, ‘Lift up your cellphones to take pictures,’” Pope Francis said last week during a general audience at St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, where he urged Catholics to leave their phones home.

But during Sunday Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, it seemed either the pontiff’s message had not yet reached across the Atlantic or the churchgoers were not listening.

Beside a font of holy water, tourists took in the Mass via the screens of their phones, some mounted on selfie sticks. By the entrance, devotees stood praying, but every so often phone-holding hands would pop up above the crowd to snap a picture. One man stood in the back, hunched in what appeared to be deep devotion — to select the perfect photo filter for his picture of the cathedral’s eaves.

In the pews, most people pored over the missals. But a surreptitious few checked email, planting their phone between the pages of the Psalms. One woman strode boldly through the nave as the organ played, her earbuds in, video chatting all the while.

“It’s probably a trend they should embrace,” said Edward Zhong, 25, a doctor visiting from Australia with his brother Mark, 21, who spent much of the homily taking pictures. Dr. Zhong suggested the church might go so far as create an app for use during Mass. “They probably could access a greater demographic — people who are born with an iPhone in their hand.”

Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, said that some churches already offer apps, a trend he does not approve. “There are enough occasions for our mind to wander during Mass; we shouldn’t be using these artificial things that take us away,” he said. […]

But as the Mass ended, Ms. Alfaro, shoes newly purchased, was unrepentant. She finds her connection with God, she said, on her own time, in her own way. And as for internet shopping in the pew, she added, “It’s not a sin.”

~ Sarah Maslin Nir, excerpts from Pope Says No Phones in Church. Parishioners Keep Scrolling. (NY Times, Nov 12, 2017)


  • Post Inspiration: Thank you Karl Duffy via Mindfulbalance: “How much does a person lack in him or herself who must have many things?” by Sen no Rikyū (1522 – 1591)
  • Photo: Nordstrom


  1. Wow! Not sure if that is the right word, but it is amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cell phones have become an addiction. Mine is broken and I don’t miss it at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Most of us are guilty of being a slave to the screens these days! I am a millennial and I have lived in a time where there were no cell phones, no internet. My dad will still take our family to trips to destinations not on the map. No prior hotel reservations, booked cars. We enjoyed every trip! Now, I am not very comfortable thinking f going somewhere without any booking!

    Its amazing how technology plays such a big role in who we are, what we say. But when I go back home (India), I am surprised to see that there are still so many people who are living a very happy life without being exposed to much of technology. Newspapers are still the primary source of news and cell phones are still the primary source of contacting folks who are not in your neighborhood!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. These boots are made for walking… A study claims that we touch our cells phones 2, 617 times a day and extreme users up to 5, 400 times a day and apparently multitasking is hard on the brain. Bring on the mindfulness or a little mindful walking with the boots! Amen!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ll try to stay away from a religious perspective, but it is just another example of how we can’t allow ourselves to “be in the moment.” Now that I am no longer on-call all the time, I have tried to lessen my dependency on instant data and one way is to switch to airplane mode when I go to church. What is the purpose of going to church (or anything for that matter) when you do what you were doing before you walked in the door? To this old, boring white guy, it’s just another illustration of the disintegration of our society and it saddens me.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Ray, yes. You’ve triggered my recollection of several passages that relate directly to your wisdom:

      There are some people who drive everywhere and admire nothing. How grateful I am that I actually do see, to my own consciousness, the quarter of an inch that my eyes fall upon.

      ~ Alice James, The Diary Of Alice James (Northeastern University Press ed edition, April 8, 1999)

      So when you do not listen deeply to something, you do not know it clearly; when you do not know it clearly then you cannot plumb its essence, and when you cannot plumb its essence you cannot perfect its practice. The general principles for listening are to empty the mind so that it is clear and calm: discount moods and don’t be full of them, have no thoughts and no rumination. Let the eyes not look at random, let the ears not listen at random. Concentrate the vitality of the mind so that it builds up and the inner attention is fully consolidated. Once you have attained this, you must stabilise and preserve it, and must extend and perpetuate it.

      – Lao-tzu, Wen-tzu: Understanding the Mysteries: Further Teachings of Lao Tzu (Shambhala Publications, Sep 29, 1992)

      We can ask ourselves how many times in all of these decades have we been missing in action, have we not shown up, either for ourselves or for others? What opportunities and experiences have we denied ourselves, lost in our own imaginings? What richnesses have gone unseen and unnoticed? Are we here now? We spend our life searching for marvels, minds swirling with memories and possibilities, and miss the ones right here in each and every moment, in life’s endless disclosures. Present, we look. Present, we see. Present, we receive and give and be. Mindful presence not only allows us to stand open before the suffering we may face, adding noting to it, no story, no self-pity, no reactivity and only the healing mind of compassion, it allows us, also, to deepen and increase our experience of joy.

      ~ Kathleen Dowling Singh,

      Liked by 4 people

  6. I can’t imagine being in that cathedral, and not being “in the moment”. Sacrilege.

    Side note…I made a donation years ago while there, found out that 90% of their income comes from tourists. Still on their mailing list.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “Mindful presence not only allows us to stand open before the suffering we may face, adding noting to it, no story, no self-pity, no reactivity and only the healing mind of compassion, it allows us, also, to deepen and increase our experience of joy.” That word….joy.

    Remember your post on Benjamin Zender, conductor of music and all things joyous and shiny…remember? shiny eyes? Remember…”Who am I being that my children’s eyes are not shining?”


    Liked by 2 people

  8. Incredibly funny post, incredibly sad too…..

    I experienced once, during a service, that when somebody’s phone was ringing (and the person searched high & low and very long to answer…. and DID answer ((for God’s sake!!!)), God’s servant of the moment stopped his sermon to say: Well, let’s all be quiet so that that person can finish their phone call in peace! I’m quite sure that at least that one person didn’t put their phone on in any further service!
    It’s beyond anything I can say but it’s also sadly common. EVERYTHING has to be filmed, recorded, every fart has to be acknowledged and divulged, it’s really upsetting.

    Having said that I’m also guilty of having left my phone on by error. But happily nobody called me; now I make it a priority to put it on silent every time I want to be unbothered. Or leave it at home, which is more and more the case. I do not WANT to be attainable at all times, by everybody.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. We all make excuses for our behaviors/addictions/choices, but there has to be personal accountability. Do your shopping at home, or on the train. Anywhere else. Is there any place where the sacred can still be encountered and protected? Please!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. If Mass wasn’t so boring and rote – if it veered off the well trodden path of the Patriarchy – it might be more relatable to its congregants. Just saying. And for those people on their phones? Why not get out and commune with nature instead of doing the obligatory thing? Without your phone? I am certain you will discover God there.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve seen it at church before as well…too many times to count and I think it’s very sad. I am guilgty of having my phone with me, but never like that…sad that we’ve come to this…

    Liked by 1 person

  12. What can be said, David?! It’s a sign of the times; it’s everywhere!
    In the local mall, recently, my man K had to, on a couple of occasions, put his arm out to prevent a younger person, eyes glued to their phone, from walking right into us! Doesn’t surprise me that there are so many accidents happening because of this obsession.
    Sad, but true – reality is losing it’s appeal for many.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. 🤣🤣😂


  14. I think there have to be sacred spaces – whether one is religious or not – but defined as such. To lose those places and deny those moments winnow away our ability to really connect to anything. Just my thinking..

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it. Don’t buy boots in church. – Mary Oliver 💕

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Reblogged this on Bright, shiny objects! and commented:
    Another interesting aspect of our obsession with smartphones…

    Liked by 1 person

  17. wow.
    just, wow

    Liked by 1 person

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