Learning and the New Media
Published: July 23, 2017
My dear Parishioners and Friends,
Summertime is passing by very fast, don’t you think? I just realized that school will start in Baton Rouge in just a couple of weeks! (Frankly, I don’t know why this has to be the case: when I was young school started the day after Labor Day and went until June 1 or so, providing a sensible three full months of vacation. I suppose the addition of a week-long “spring break” and now even a “fall break,” and the expansion of Christmas vacation, has been what cut into the calendar. But at the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man I’m not so sure all this “progress” is for the best. Ah, well, one of the good things about both celibacy and being in a parish without a Catholic school is that I really don’t have to worry overmuch about the school year!)
But even without school my daily routine does involve learning. I hope yours does too. One of the things I try to do each morning, after prayers – but still assisted by good, strong coffee! – is some study – often some Scripture study, or reading of some other formal theology, as I try to “keep up” not only with what the Church teaches but other truths “out there.” At some point each day I’ll rather invariably have some Tribunal paperwork to attend to, and boy, one can learn a lot from others’ mistakes!
At some point each morning I also try to “catch up” on what’s happened in the world overnight. I admit that I actually read the newspaper less and less, since nowadays the most current news is found on the internet. And I’m not just talking about secular information: news and information about and from the Church nowadays is most easily accessed “online.” I particular value the cruxnow.com site.
The Church has been trying to embrace electronic media for decades now. Pope St. John Paul II famously urged the Church to begin a new evangelization, writing in 1999 “For the new evangelization to be effective … knowledge and use of the media is indispensable.” The Diocese of Baton Rouge already had an active, effect television apostolate, website and newspaper in place; by 2009, the Vatican itself had caught up, and now has begun to use social media to reach internet users more effectively. Pope Francis has a Twitter account (@Pontifex). Priests and religious across the globe are making use of the latest in technological progress to do what Christ said to do: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15).
For these reasons our Parish has a website (cathedralbr.org), plus a Twitter feed (Twitter.com/CathedralBR) and Facebook page (Facebook.com/SJCathedralBR), in addition to The Carpenter. We’re very fortunate to be able to televise our Sunday and Tuesday Masses throughout the diocese, and put these videos on the internet. We’re trying to get our message out to everyone in every way we can think of. I’m the one, I think, who worries most about keeping everything up-to-date – with the expert assistance of parishioner Paul Miller (thedesignsmith.com), who did the lion’s share of the work on the website’s recent redesign, and Steve Lee over at CatholicLifeTV. If you are an experienced Twitter user, though, as well as active parishioner, we could use some assistance in “populating” our Twitter feed more frequently; could you help?
Of course this kind of thing doesn’t replace but instead leads to real personal contact. Watching the Mass on television does not fulfill one’s Sunday obligation to worship, for example, and confessions can’t be heard over the phone or the internet! Religion is more than onscreen words and pixels: we need really to hear, see, taste, touch, sing, smell and otherwise immerse ourselves in both the life of the Church and in the lives of each other in order to experience faith in its fullness. This is what all of our communication efforts try to do: point toward a fulfilling life of belief and virtue.
Sincerely in the Lord,