Pope Benedict on Communication in the Digital Age

Pope Benedict on Communication in the Digital Age

Did you see this?

Pope Benedict’s message for World Communication Day: Truth, Proclamation and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age

Many bloggers have highlighted the Pope’s warnings about “the tendency to communicate only some parts of one�s interior world, the risk of constructing a false image of oneself, which can become a form of self-indulgence,” and “the danger that we may be less present to those whom we encounter in our everyday life” and “the risk of being more distracted because our attention is fragmented and absorbed in a world �other� than the one in which we live”. You’d almost get the idea that the Pope is saying we should stay off line. But what really grabbed me was his invitation and exhortation to Christians to participate in social media:

I would like then to invite Christians, confidently and with an informed and responsible creativity, to join the network of relationships which the digital era has made possible. This is not simply to satisfy the desire to be present, but because this network is an integral part of human life. The web is contributing to the development of new and more complex intellectual and spiritual horizons, new forms of shared awareness. In this field too we are called to proclaim our faith that Christ is God, the Saviour of humanity and of history, the one in whom all things find their fulfilment (cf. Eph 1:10). The proclamation of the Gospel requires a communication which is at once respectful and sensitive, which stimulates the heart and moves the conscience; one which reflects the example of the risen Jesus when he joined the disciples on the way to Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:13-35). By his approach to them, his dialogue with them, his way of gently drawing forth what was in their heart, they were led gradually to an understanding of the mystery.

In the final analysis, the truth of Christ is the full and authentic response to that human desire for relationship, communion and meaning which is reflected in the immense popularity of social networks. Believers who bear witness to their most profound convictions greatly help prevent the web from becoming an instrument which depersonalizes people, attempts to manipulate them emotionally or allows those who are powerful to monopolize the opinions of others. On the contrary, believers encourage everyone to keep alive the eternal human questions which testify to our desire for transcendence and our longing for authentic forms of life, truly worthy of being lived. It is precisely this uniquely human spiritual yearning which inspires our quest for truth and for communion and which impels us to communicate with integrity and honesty.

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  • Oh, Melanie, I wish I was closer to help out! I, too, long for some nice church ladies to just show up sometimes… one of the strangest things about moving to MA and experiencing the chronic back pain is realizing how few people out there are willing to offer CONCRETE help. smile I hope that when I’m older someday, I don’t forget to help out young moms I see in church.

  • I think your lists will be super helpful for your mom and sister.  Menu plans (since you know what the kids eat) and grocery lists to go with it.  Excellent!  And the household needs…by being specific, they can really know they helped bring order to your home and peace to your soul while you are recovering.

  • I suspect there might be that kind of concrete help out there in my parish; but I’m not good at tapping into it. I’m such an introvert to begin with and then since we’ve been here I’ve either been pregnant or dealing with a small baby. I suspect there’s a lot of networking that women engage in via the parish school. But not so much for moms with preschoolers. When it becomes feasible I would love to organize some kind of new mother support system in the parish. But by definition a new mother is the last person to be in a position to do that.

  • The cleaning is the hardest part. After Brigid was born, a friend of mine found a part-time cleaning lady to come to my house in the mornings for a few hours to clean. It was wonderful. I did pay her; in Shenzhen she cost me $100 a month. It was wonderful not to have to worry about the toilets and floors for a few weeks. Of course, it only worked because Randy had already moved to Beijing. If he were still around it probably wouldn’t have happened. He doesn’t like strangers in the house.

  • Melanie, when we lived in Indiana, our parish had an Elizabeth Ministry group that was older mothers mentoring young moms – and sending over casseroles and a care package for new babies. I don’t know if this organization is still around, but it always sounded like something I’d like to get involved in (but at the time I had a baby and 4 other kids under age 7 and we lived there only about 14 months while my husband was in grad school.) 

  • Hi, I’m a total stranger to you, but from my experience the church ladies can be a mixed blessing. After major surgery, I had a rota of women from the parish bringing me meals for a few weeks, and how wonderful that they wanted to do it.

    On the other hand—and I feel so ungrateful saying this!—it was not perfect. Ladies would wake me up with a phone call in the middle of the afternoon asking what we wanted to eat that night. They’d bring the wrong kind of food (somebody put the word out that we were all vegetarian, when in fact it’s only my 11 year old daughter and she had said she’d be willing to give it up for the duration that people were bringing us food), so not only were we getting a lot of heavy casseroles, but they were almost always tuna! We’d specify a time we needed dinner—in order to get the kids out the door to activities in the evening, and the dinner would almost always come super late, often so late I’d have to scramble to cook the kids something myself and then be left with a steaming tray of tuna casserole on the counter that no one was around to eat. AND, not only did they come through the door 45 minutes after they’d said they would, just as we were trying to hustle the unfed children out the door to choir practice or whatever, but they’d then seem really taken aback when I did not want to stop and visit with them and socialize. By that point I was exhausted and just wanted to sit down and rest! And then there were the leftovers to contend with and the process of getting containers and utensils back to people…

    I felt—and feel!—awful about how ungrateful I was and that was yet *another* source of anxiety: between the actual unevenness of the “service” and the stress and self-recrimination I felt afterwards, I actually found the whole deal more trouble than it was worth.

    Like you, I’m a very private person and I find socializing—much less assertively telling people about dietary needs and time restrictions and the like—extremely stressful.

    All of which is to say, though I understand why you might well wish to be more plugged into your parish, or wishing for more of a support group, perhaps you are not missing out on as much as you think! Enjoy the closeness of your mother and sister and husband and wonderful children, and all be well…

  • Emily,

    I’ve heard of Elizabeth ministries—only ever from people in other states never round here.

    If our parish does have such a program, it’s a very well kept secret. Which is one of my major gripes about parish life in general. In Massachusetts, as a newcomer in a parish it is very difficult to break into parish life. (At least in the two parishes I’ve been a member of.) Many activities and groups are simply not advertised in the bulletin and if you aren’t a part of the word of mouth, then you’re out in the cold. At our last parish, for example, there was a St Vincent de Paul chapter. They ran a resale shop in the church basement. But they never advertised meetings or recruited members. It was a bunch of older ladies and they did things their way and I only even knew the group existed because Dom told me about them.

    That’s the kind of thing that happens around here. I suspect—though don’t know for sure—that there is a lot of networking and word of mouth stuff but no one ever seems to think of forming an official ministry or that these things need to be announced so that new people can join.

    It’s been a complaint of mine since moving here that parish life feels very insular and not welcoming to newcomers. It was only when I married Dom, who was very active in the parish, that I really started feeling like I belonged and started knowing people. We’ve been two years in our “new” parish and I still often feel an outsider.

    Is it any wonder there are so few people in RCIA, so few converts? The Catholic culture is very different in Texas, and I suspect much of the South.

    Kathryn, LOL! I’d love for you to just come over and have tea with me. I’d be so tickled to watch Cherub and Bella and Sophie playing together.

    Pat, I can definitely see the mixed blessing of receiving help from church ladies. I’ve written elsewhere about my own struggles with accepting imperfect help.

    Just because it’s family doesn’t mean the help doesn’t mean it’s flawless. I’ve also battled with guilt and ingratitude and self recrimination (and pretty much all the negative emotions you describe) at the imperfect help I do receive from my family.  It is especially hard to be so constantly irritated at having things large and small not done my way. And I love them, very, very much, which almost makes it harder because it does put a strain on those relationships.  I won’t go into the laundry list; but the irritations are many and match yours with your church ladies. At all the little annoyances that fill me with stress even as I know I can’t get along without them.

    Fortunately my mother is very understanding and forgiving. Sadly, she has much to forgive.

  • Things to do from the south shore in Feb. with small children.  Nice little museum at the Audubon society at the Blue Hill.  If you can get a museum pass from the library, perhaps, the Aquarium (yes, it’s still pricey, but they do love it).  Same thing with the Children’s Museum (although I admit to never going there again after I moved to the suburbs).  The MFA is free for those under 17, which means with a library pass for an adult, it’s affordable, and there are lots of neat parts for little kids (Egyptian sculptures and musical instruments spring to mind).  If I think of more stuff, especially free stuff that’s close to you, I’ll come back…  And, yes, I have done this stuff by myself with two or three small children and/or a baby.

    I am so sorry about your parish.  This is how our WINGS program got started…

  • I read that when Jennifer linked to it too!  And it was only a week after I had my first, so I was feeling extra sympathetic.  Mostly because we’ve just moved in, so I did most of the unpacking.  My mom came up for a while after my son was born, but neither she nor my husband knew where anything was!

    I sympathize with feeling stress because of the strain on your close ties, as well as having much to forgive.

  • Hi Melanie, where do you live? You can email me if you would like to. I’ve been reading your blog for a while -don’t know how I found it. I graduated from UD in 2000. I live in the DC area, but my sister and sister-in-law live near Boston. They probably couldn’t go very far, but if you are any where near Milford, MA, please let me know. They are excellent cooks!! I know you are shy, but maybe God wants you to meet one of them! smile Ok – I know this is a long shot b/c I don’t know where you live, but let me know. Just realized this might seems weird to you. Sorry if so.

    My first baby (now 3!) is Anthony Francis!

    Rosemary (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address))