This coming Sunday between Ascension and Pentecost is observed annually as World Communications Day. Tomorrow will thus be the 47th annual such World Communications Day.
In his World Communications Day message, issued last January, Pope Benedict XVI offered “some reflections on an increasingly important reality regarding the way in which people today communicate among themselves... the development of digital social networks which are helping to create a new ‘agora’, an open public square in which people share ideas, information and opinions, and in which new relationships and forms of community can come into being.”
“Believers,” Pope Benedict observed,“ are increasingly aware that, unless the Good News is made known also in the digital world, it may be absent in the experience of many people for whom this existential space is important. The digital environment is not a parallel or purely virtual world, but is part of the daily experience of many people, especially the young. Social networks are the result of human interaction, but for their part they also reshape the dynamics of communication which builds relationships: a considered understanding of this environment is therefore the prerequisite for a significant presence there… In social networks, believers show their authenticity by sharing the profound source of their hope and joy: faith in the merciful and loving God revealed in Christ Jesus. This sharing consists not only in the explicit expression of their faith, but also in their witness, in the way in which they communicate ‘choices, preferences and judgements that are fully consistent with the Gospel, even when it is not spoken of specifically’ (Message for the 2011 World Communications Day). A particularly significant way of offering such witness will be through a willingness to give oneself 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. The growing dialogue in social networks about faith and belief confirms the importance and relevance of religion in public debate and in the life of society.”
Everyone recognizes the enormous impact of our ever evolving contemporary communications technology on virtually everything about the way we live. The simple, self-evident fact about all technology - starting with how to make a fire - is that it is a tool, something we use to make our lives and the world around us better or worse (or some combination of both). While obsessively wanting to have every newest model phone or tablet may be as adolescent an impulse as wanting the latest and fastest model car, it's all a matter of where it fits in to the larger picture of one's life, how it enahnces (or not) one's capactity for quality relationships - and how it contributes to a more human world and to the permanent planting of God's kingdom in it.
Speaking of the mission of the Paulist community, Paulist Founder, Servant of God Isaac Hecker, famously said: “Our power will be in presenting the same old truths in new forms, fresh new tone and air and spirit” (“Personal Sanctification of the Paulist and His Standard of Perfection”).