Benedict: @Pontifex Does Real Theology in 140 Characters – UPDATE

(Image shamelessly cribbed from Lisa Hendey’s post)

Pope Benedict XVI launched his first tweet today, on this feastday of Our Lady of Guadalupe, to much fanfare.

And then — like the rest of us — he found the act so ridiculously fun and ingratiating that he did it some more! And yes, he is answering questions:

Q: How can we celebrate the Year of Faith better in our daily lives?
A: By speaking with Jesus in prayer, listening to what he tells you in the Gospel and looking for him in those in need

Q: How can faith in Jesus be lived in a world without hope?
A: We can be certain that a believer is never alone. God is the solid rock upon which we build our lives and his love is always faithful

Q: Any suggestions on how to be more prayerful when we are so busy with the demands of work, families and the world?
A: Offer everything you do to the Lord, ask his help in all the circumstances of daily life and remember that he is always beside you

That’s theology, baby! “Offer it up”: a concept as old as the church itself, is the Pope’s advice and it is sound theology. Because we are so busy being ironic, or determinedly sloughing off tried-and-true spiritual practices for something more trendy (although that may finally be changing) we forget that the practice of “offering it up” — offering up the stress and struggle, and too the joy — is a powerful and efficacious habit that immediately brings us into union with Christ.

In this article by Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Sister Maureen Fiedler didn’t think the pope would be able to do much on twitter, saying, “I don’t think you can say much that’s theologically profound in 140 characters or less…”

Seems Benedict has proved her wrong. But then, as the great Matt Archbold points out in Elizabeth Tenety’s roundup of blogger reaction:

Have you ever noticed that all the Beatitudes are 140 characters or less.

•Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

•Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.

•Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted.

So, it seems that Benedict’s presence on Twitter is, quite unsurprisingly, going to be a continual (and needed) admonishment to look to Christ, look at Christ, talk to Christ, talk with Christ, befriend Christ, be Christ to others.

That sounds like a very fine and salvific message for a shepherd to deliver to his meandering, distracted sheep, even as — because sheep are notoriously stupid — so many of them are responding with variations of “sod off” or trying to shock or offend His Holiness, or vent at him.

It’s interesting to see folks indulge themselves like that; lashing out at an 85 year old man — or tweeting risque pictures to try to shock him — reveals a great deal about the people who do it, but if folks think they’re hurting the pope, they should think again. All they’re doing, when they try to shock, or vent, is opening the door to their own salvation. They’re only prompting Benedict to pray directly for the healing of their souls, as the Vicar of Christ encounters their need.

Seen in that way, it’s impossible to take offense at these tweets; easier to see them for what they are: cries from the shadows, by sheep in search of their shepherd but wounded, and cold — and so very afraid — that they do not know how to trust.

This is fascinating. The Holy Spirit uses the most confounding of tools and people to work the will of God — always, always. So much talk today about 12/12/12 and the silly Mayan “end of the world” fixation, but this is no end. Today is a tremendous beginning. Bravo to Benedict, who is one a most attentive shepherd and obedient servant.

Lots of coverage of the Papal Tweet, and yours truly is quoted here or there (and in what’s linked above), mostly because, as you know, I neither sleep nor shut up, so do take a look around, because a lot of New Media Catholics are being asked to opine on this yes, momentous, event:

Father Robert Barron, who, like Kathryn Lopez, is in Rome for the conference on the Church in America (I am jealous) took some video!

Michelle Boorstein: Pope just a tweet away!

Ironic Catholic having fun!

Check back — I’m going to look around the blogosphere and update this into a bit of a roundup later this afternoon! Meantime, check out the twitter feed of Benedict XVI and don’t forget to #askpontifex a question!

UPDATE:
I love this piece by Cathy Grossman in USA Today,
in which she makes not of the real people behind the questions that Benedict answered, today:

At noon, he addressed a mom who asked: “Any suggestions on how to be more prayerful when we are so busy with the demands of work, families and the world?”

Benedict replied: “Offer everything you do to the Lord, ask his help in all the circumstances of daily life and remember that he is always beside you.”

[...]

Then, about an hour later, he answered the first of thousands of questions sent to him in the past nine days. It went out to someone who asked in Spanish, “How can we celebrate the Year of Faith better in our daily lives?”

Benedict replied: “By speaking with Jesus in prayer, listening to what he tells you in the Gospel and looking for him in those in need.”

Jose Calderero, a writer based in Madrid, claimed authorship of the question, said Claire Diaz-Ortiz,. Twitter’s manager of social innovation, who managed the event for the social media site at the Vatican.

The pope’s next answer went out, prompted by a man who asked in Portuguese, “How can faith in Jesus be lived in a world without hope?”

The pope replied, “We can be certain that a believer is never alone. God is the solid rock upon which we build our lives and his love is always faithful.”

The final question, posted around noon, was “from a mom in the USA” who asks “how to find time for prayer as a busy person,” Diaz-Ortiz said.

So far, the Vatican is not naming exactly whose questions the pope is answering. But many could find a personal connection.

Read it all

And, as ever, check out Rocco Palmo.

This cracked me up!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Peggy m

    The pope’s tweets are such beautifully succinct truths. I especially appreciate his reminder that “a believer is never alone”. That was something I knew from my childhood through college years, but have allowed myself to become so distracted that I have at times felt (nearly) hopeless.

    One good consequence of the recent election is that I have pulled back from so much that distracted me, and am returning to my earlier state when I had a better grip on the things that matter. God does not change, and He is always here.

  • Ann

    They really are great. I love this one:
    By SPEAKING with Jesus in prayer, LISTENING to what he tells you in the Gospel and LOOKING for him in those in need.
    So simple, but it says everything.

    Wouldn’t it be funny if Benedict ends up being remembered for one of his 140 character tweets when he has written countless words of exquisite prose in his long productive life.

    Looking forward to more pearls.

  • http://aspecialmotherisborn.blogspot.com/ Leticia Velasquez

    In those simply worded but profound tweets, I hear his voice, calm but loving, passionate about the conversion of souls yet sensitive to their free will. I am looking forward to checking up on @Pontifex every day.

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