Isn’t technology wonderful? This past week, I had a unique experience with my iPhone. Last Saturday I woke up and I had this notification on my lock screen: “Jim’s birthday is today? Call him?” followed by the phone icon. I was shocked! I didn’t know it was his birthday -how did my phone know?

Those of you who know me well, know I love details (in fact my dissertation had a footnote that almost took up an entire page!). And when I get someone’s contact information I put all of it into the contact app on my phone: name, email, cell phone, Instagram & Twitter handle, Facebook profile, birthday etc. And, after installing the latest IOS update, Siri has now added those birthdates to my calendar and, on their birthday puts a reminder up on my lock screen. And, interestingly enough, the reminder stayed on my lock screen until that day I later called Jim and wished him a happy birthday.

This idea of a reminder is incredibly Salesian. St. Francis de Sales, whose feast we celebrate next week, states in the Introduction to the Devout Life that the surest way to a holy and integrated life is to remember that God is present with us each and every day. He writes: “During the course of the day recall as often as possible that you are in God’s presence. You will see God’s eyes turned toward you and constantly fixed on you with incomparable love” (IDL II.12). St. Francis further reminds us that we don’t need to recite long prayers to remember God is with us. It can be as simple as sending a quick text to a friend. The text may only include 1-2 words or an emoji, but it shows our friends that we are thinking about them. We can do the same with God.

Jimmy Herrighty, one of our Oblate novices, has created a novel way to do this called a “digital reminder.” A millennial, Jimmy loves using his phone and, in order to stay in God’s presence, has put various prayers and images on his lock screen and home screen because, as he told me, “every time I grab my phone, I remember I am in God’s presence and I say a quick prayer before watching Netflix or texting.” The pictures in this post are some of the items Jimmy and his novitiate classmates Jonathan and Matthew, have used as lock screens on their phones.

If you’re looking for a new years resolution in 2019, why not find a picture that reminds you of God’s presence and make it your lock screen or home screen?
Then, each time you grab your phone you’ll get a digital reminder of God’s presence helping you remember that, all throughout your day, our God is with us.

~ Fr. Michael E. Newman, OSFS