Yesterday I was privileged to spend some time with my friend and fellow blogger, The Ironic Catholic. Part of our conversation centered around the so-called “New Evangelization” and how it relates to social media. I say “so-called” because in many ways the New Evangelization is the same as the old. While we ought not overlook the great opportunity to communicate via the internet, it can never replace the simple sharing of the good news that comes from one person sharing with another. Christianity is about the Incarnation after all. As blogging has become more of a regular part of ministry for me, I have spent more time considering how to best use these new tools in sharing the Gospel message. The internet has grown to be an important place in my life for sharing the faith with others and hearing their thoughts and stories. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and my own blog, have introduced me to many new people who are fellow Christian travelers on the way.
It makes me happy to know that Pope Benedict XVI encouraged priests to make use of the tools of modern technology in order to spread the Gospel. His direction is not something new in the Church. Inter Mirifica, Vatican II’s Decree on the Means of Social Communication encourages the same.
The Catholic Church was founded by Christ our Lord to bring salvation to all men. It feels obliged, therefore, to preach the gospel. In the same way, it believes that its task involves employing the means of social communications to announce the good news of salvation and to teach men how to use them properly.
It is the Church’s birthright to use and own any of these media which are necessary or useful for the formation of Christians and for pastoral activity. Pastors of souls have the task of instructing and directing the faithful how to use these media in a way that will ensure their own salvation and perfection and that of all mankind.
It is amazing to me that a document that was promulgated in 1963 can speak so clearly to the reality of today. The council fathers were truly ahead of their time and listening closely to the Holy Spirit when they debated the issues of the council and produced these documents as guideposts for the Church.
What I am finding through my interactions with others via these new forms of social communication is that it allows me to interact with many people I would never meet under normal circumstances and begin relationships that sometimes lead to real life interaction. New technology is allowing me to speak to people who may never enter the doors of my Church, but who are important nonetheless in the eyes of God. I am being given the opportunity to share my own faith and to grow through conversations with Christians and non-Christians alike.
There are certainly limits to online interaction, but from where I am standing the potential for building relationships via new technology are endless.