Week 16, Monday. Evangelizing Thought of the Day (ETD)

DAILY SEQUENTIAL EXCERPTS from The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith – Instrumentum Laboris:

61. The Church is engaged in these areas created by the media and has, from the very beginning, utilized these means as a useful way to proclaim the Gospel. Today, in addition to the more traditional means of communication, especially the printed word and radio, which, according to the responses, have moderately increased in recent years, new media are increasingly becoming a major factor in the Church's ministry of evangelization, making interaction possible at various levels: local, national, continental and global. The potential for using both old and new media is clear, as is the need to take advantage of this newly created social space and introduce the vocabulary and forms of the Christian tradition. An attentive and shared discernment process is needed not only to better assess the possibilities of their use in proclaiming the Gospel, but also to understand properly the risks and dangers involved.
62. Indeed, the spread of the culture created by communications undoubtedly brings many benefits. Among them are: a greater access to information; more opportunities for knowledge and dialogue; new forms of solidarity; and the ability to foster an increasingly global culture which leads to a shared heritage of values and the better development of thought and human activity. This potential, however, does not eliminate the dangers inherent in the excessive diffusion of such a culture. Their effects are already being manifested in a deeply, self-centred attentiveness to individual needs only, and an exaltation of emotion in relationships and social ties, thus leading to a diminution and loss of the objective value of deeply human experiences, such as meditation and silence. It equally is leading to an excess in holding to one's individual thinking and a gradual reduction of ethics and civic life to appearance only. These dangers might eventually result in a so-called culture which is short-lived, immediately gratifying and based on mere appearance or a society incapable of looking to either the past or the future. In such a situation, Christians must be bold in entering these "new areopaghi", learning to evaluate them in light of the Gospel and finding the instruments and methods to ensure that, even in these places, the educational patrimony and the wisdom guarded by Christian Tradition is heard today. (Instrumentum Laboris, “Chapter 2: Time for a New Evangelization,” paragraph 61-62)

To the upright I will show the saving power of God. (Psalm 50:23, Mass).

Show favor, O Lord, to Your servants
and mercifully increase the gifts of Your grace,
that, made fervent in hope, faith and charity,
they may be ever watchful in keeping Your commands.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever.

When engaged with various groups discussing the Lineamenta, there were occasions when participants responded to statements with a respectful chuckle, a confused countenance or even an inquisitive and drawn-out “What?” Case in point: “The Church is engaged in these areas [communication] by the media and has, from the very beginning, utilized these means as a useful way to proclaim the Gospel.” I know a a good number of people, after reading this statement, said “Really?” At least in terms of their experience, some of the declarative statements in the Lineamenta and now in the Instrumentum Laboris as to what the Church is doing do not necessarily reflect reality in one’s particular geographical locale of Church. Others commented that when the Church would use some of these communication resources, they did not seek good input from acknowledged experts in the area and approached the task akin to ‘reinventing the wheel’ paying little to no regard to those who could contribute talent and thus make the Church’s use of technology more credible. Others mentioned that a attitude of minimalism exists even in the Church - 'just throw something up on the web, and that will be good enough' without any regard for the effectiveness of the project.

The task for credible and up-to-date use of communication technology is most urgent. Fr. Robert Barron, author of the famed Catholicism Series, has repeatedly noted that ‘others are telling OUR story’ and obviously when they do so, any reference or content of Gospel Truth is purely accidental. News travels at such speed today that if we as Church are not voicing Truth on a particular situation immediately, the spin-machines of contemporary media are already churning out a message. We end up behind the proverbial 8-ball not only trying to proclaim Truth, but to counter the destructive spin that is presented with all sorts of bling and glitz packaged into exceptionally short sound bites that most often are an affront to the human intellect. We need to take charge of OUR story and get that story out in all of its Truth AND liberating peace-filled joy! Our story is NOT the “gospel of no you can’t” (as is often portrayed) but the story of the encounter with the Person Jesus Christ Who came that we might have life and have it to the full ...  AND .. Who calls us to daily sacrificial conversion!

  • Like so many recommendations in the Lineamenta and Instrumentum Laboris, people nod their heads - 'Yes! we need to do this... or that... Let's have a meeting to discuss (and we all know the results). Without being simplistic, how do we as a Church effectively communicate the Person Jesus Christ in our world today?
  • How do we 'baptize' the Internet and use it credibly when resources for so many vital ministries of the Church are drying up?

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