Finding and Serving our Neighbors in a Digital Age

Howcan I communicate through digital/social media a Church that is open to all, brings warmth, stirs hearts?

5)"Effective Christian witness is not about bombarding people with religious messages, but about our willingness to be available to others 'by patiently and respectfully engaging their questions and their doubts as they advance in their search for the truth and the meaning of human existence' (Benedict XVI, Message for the 47th World Communications Day, 2013). We need but recall the story of the disciples on the way to Emmaus. We have to be able to dialogue with the men and women of today, to understand their expectations, doubts and hopes, and to bring them the Gospel, Jesus Christ himself, God incarnate, who died and rose to free us from sin and death."

Am I willing to listen and dialogue with others, to be patient and respectful in engaging the questions and doubts of others online?

Of course, answers to the questions of how much and how we use our technology tools have to be balanced within the realities of our digital responsibilities to our families and jobs, and perhaps that it is the biggest challenge: how to put Jesus Christ into the center of it all.

Pope John Paul II, who wrote twenty-seven World Communications Day messages, had three imperatives for all communications—truth, common good, and dignity of the person—as is beautifully laid out in John Paul II: Development of a Theology of Communication by Dr. Christine Mugridge, SOLT and Sister Marie Gannon, FMA . In that text, Mugridge and Gannon delve into John Paul II's thought on communications and how Jesus Christ taught that communication is a moral act.

It seems to me that Pope Francis is asking us to be reflective of communications as a moral act with his insertion of words like "service," "merciful," "wounded on the side of the road." Radical? Maybe for some. Challenging? For sure. But we can do it, with God's help. As he explains, "The revolution taking place in communications media and in information technologies represents a great and thrilling challenge."

This brings to mind the Servant of God Dorothy Day who said, "The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?" Day, who cared for the poorest of the poor during the depression, died in 1980. I would bet she never used a computer, but she was a journalist who knew the power of words, and hers can most certainly apply to our "connectivity" today.

It appears we have a choice: to revolutionize our media usage with our heads and hearts and act to make it good within our own abilities, or to let it slowly, sneakily, surreptitiously rob our "humanity."

In childhood, some of us were taught a morning prayer: "All for thee sweet Jesus, all for thee, every move I make, every breath I breathe no matter what I do today sweet Jesus is for you."

Perhaps now, we need to insert "every digital device I launch, every online connection I make, every text I send, every message I write, every photo I post, let it be all for thee Sweet Jesus, all for thee. And the good of my neighbor." And as Pope Francis writes, "Let our communication be a balm which relieves pain and a fine wine which gladdens hearts."

3/11/2014 4:00:00 AM