Robert Barron | – Distraction and Useless Things

We’re all hyper-distracted, pulled in so many directions from our phones, to TV, to social media. We’re plagued by notifications, texts, pings, and alerts. Why do we put up with all these distractions? How can we avoid them? Bishop Barron shares how to fight back and find pleasure in “useless things.”

A listener asks how to prove there’s a transcendent dimension if it’s not mathematically or scientifically provable.

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About The Author

Bishop Robert Barron These are brief and insightful commentaries on faith and culture by Catholic theologian and author Bishop Robert Barron. The videos complement his weekly sermons posted and podcasted at

Comment (47)

  1. The topic discussed is very relevant in light of many challenges that families face today. The use of cellphones may seem to be harmless and certainly useful but when it's done in a most important moment for families to share their quality time together then it's a most distractive gadget ever developed.

  2. I was struck by how difficult it was for me to watch this video from beginning to end, only a half hour, without cutting it short by all of the distractions in my life and head! I love the idea that useless things are actually contemplative, so long as we go slow with them. The idea of savoring. Thank you.

  3. Bishop Barron I have a question for you, are we in the time of Chastisement? I see articles on YouTube, people say we must be in end times. Please give me your opinion. I love my Lord! I am a faithful Catholic, and I want to go to heaven. Thanks

  4. Love this discussion … it covers much that is problematic with digital. Cash + competition between businesses tends to drive insatiably the industry towards a tide of digital excess. Worse, digital is likely making much of the world poorer as money is poured into the hands of a few IT leaders

  5. HI, listening to this from Malaysia. Thank you. Just a suggestion: Can a video on how to help young people who are being lured into secret societies such a freemasons or other types of addictive activities that lead them away from God.

  6. I don't know how married people or Parents do it! As a Bachelor, I am able to leave work go home and eat dinner, then spend time by myself praying the Rosary, reading a great book or scripture and contemplating life. I'm not sure if I'd be able to do that if I were married, or had children at home. I pray for all the Parents and married couples out there, that You'll get a little time to reflect/pray/etc. with God.

  7. I would start by doing the following. Don't buy an i phone, maybe buy an Android or a simpler more limited device, you save money. Use your phone exclusively for calls, texts and the occasional e mail. Then use your PC or MAC for more complex applications such as something work related. Do not be afraid of leaving the house if you are simply going to do something relatively simple and that takes a short amount of time without taking your phone. People will panic if they go out for 15 minutes just for something simple like buying a loaf of bread or a bottle of soda and then they realize they left their phone at home even though they'll be back home in 15 minutes. Meditate on this. It is becoming extremely unhealthy that our cell phones in many or most cases own us rather than we owning the device. God bless. Mike.

  8. Also, be aware and know that the various marketing departments of various cell phone brands and such devices researched into addiction to gambling and the way a gambling addict responds to the game he plays and applied several of these characteristics to cell phone devices and apps. This is not a game and that "thing" in your pocket or in your hands is not a toy either.

  9. Great talk again from Fr. Barron! one thing I would comment, that although you may 'not know the people either side of you' on the flight, maybe there is an opportunity to do some apostolate with people you meet while travelling. I have had many great discussions during travels, bring Christ to my discussions. keep your eyes open for that 🙂

  10. Thanks for your video on this topic of useless vs useful things to do. I've been cracking myself up over my life with this question, I guess there is a contemplative side of me, wondering if what I've been doing, at any one time, is what I was supposed to be doing with my life. Through the grace of God, it just recently made sense to me that as long as I'm doing whatever I'm doing for the greatest glory of God, I should be alright, so even if I'm bored, don't try to disguise my boredom but acknowledge it, and if it bothers me to much, offer I'd offer my feelings to Jesus and ask Him to guide me. Anything we do for the grace of God, very much like St. Therese of Lisieux said, no matter if it is a small thing to do, give glory to God. To wrap up, don't be fooled by your own ego to dictate what you need to be doing or not, because even if it feels good for you, whatever you're doing, if you're not aware of the presence of God in you, it might be not worth doing after all. Bless you all!

  11. For years I would tell my family and friends there was mental and spiritual fortitude in catching the chicken, slaughtering the chicken. plucking all its feathers, washing and then preparing it for cooking. I'm not even sure if there are more steps, but I am aware that some of the monotonous chores from the past were beneficial to individuals. Same thing with washing each individual garment on the washboard. We're loosing our fortitude. Just read a publication about knitting, weaving and needlepoint. These types of activities help to strengthen us. I keep telling my grown daughters to "put the phones down" Thank you great discussion !! By the way I am a retired chemistry teacher saying to my students, "everything (the whole world) is based on mathematics!"

  12. A great Catholic tradition is to occasionally undertake a spititual retreat of either a weekend or a week, while residing in a spiritual centre. These are valued times during which silence reigns supreme. They are usually conducted by the Centre, under the guidance of a priest. Meditative talks are interspersed by Mass and other religious services, so that prayer leads to contemplation. A refreshing way to live, eat and pray alongside others in silence, apart from some self directed breaks when one can engage in conversation with another during a walk outside of the Center.
    No chance of distraction, only a slowing down of the soul. Try it, it can become addictive! Thanks

  13. For the question about God and how to proof the existence of a spiritual realm mathematically, any existing creation does not contains its creator by definition, so God and the spiritual realm are outside our universe, so our mathematical analysis not apply because the physical rules that we know only apply to this universe and are irrelevant to anything outside. Then God is not in another dimension because this implies his existence inside our universe, inside the creation, he is outside the creation, then any natural rule or mathematical description that we can conceive not apply to him, so God and the spiritual realm are outside and are unreachable by our understanding.