“Jesus loves you.” #JN3:16 #Easter #risn “Pray. Hope. Don’t worry.” #faith #believe “Preach the Gospel at all times” #Francis #peace #prayalways Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest and countless other platforms are filled with almost empty Christian one-liners and other messages. Oftentimes trite sayings are re-tweeted or shared along with some kind of exhortation to “spread the word.” Since you’re a Christian, you can feel guilted into supporting this sort of thing, to do your share of evangelization. Believe me, I’m committed to building up a Christian culture, but sometimes I can be downright ashamed of that content. In the most extreme cases it can feel like not sharing whatever image or quote “because you’re a Christian” is a denial of Jesus himself.
So what about social media evangelization? Is tweeting 140 characters going to convince someone of the Gospel? The Church refuses to be absent from the conversation—that alone tells us something important. Pope Francis (@Pontifex) has some 5.87 million followers on the English language account (over 15 million if all the eight language groups are added together). The Church is called to be leaven for the world, and that means continuing to share the light and hope of the Gospel message, even on the web. Msgr. Paul Tighe puts it this way, “If we withdraw, then we’re leaving those areas to the trolls. We’re leaving it to the bullies.”
While few people may think that the Church should absent herself from the “new media,” many might wonder what good it all does. Will seeing a Scripture passage in someone’s Facebook news feed actually help infuse a soul with an abundance of actual graces, even the grace of justification? It seems unwise to just close that door. The workings of Providence are mysterious, and the Creator loves using instrumental causes to achieve his aims. Far be it from this theologian to declare the internet an option banned from God’s playbook.
The Holy Father offers one helpful way to define our Catholic web presence in light of the following goal: building a culture of encounter. “The great challenge,” says Pope Francis, “the great challenge facing us today is to learn once again how to talk to one another, not simply how to generate and consume information.” Genuine evangelical encounters demand authentic relationships and true exchanges. This is our aim, then, to use the web to nourish these encounters, which prompted and directed by God’s grace, may bear fruit in countless lives.
But who can we look to as an example for how to do this? The innovations of the “new media” are by definition without precedent. Nonetheless, I think we ought to appeal to the life and teaching of Fulton Sheen. By mining the example of his life and teaching, we can deduce some principles to guide our e-preaching.
Source: Posted at Dominica Blog by Br. Patrick Mary Briscoe, O.P.