Monday, January 24, 2011

Not just another "manic Monday"

What prevents today from being "just another manic Monday," at least for me, is that it marks the seventh anniversary of my ordination as a deacon, which apart from my marriage, my own baptism, confirmation and being brought into full communion (Easter Vigil 1990), along with the birth of my children, is the most significant thing that has ever happened to me. So, to my brother deacons of the Diocese of Salt Lake City who were also ordained 24 January 2004 by then-Bishop George Niederauer, I say happy anniversary and ad multos annos! On this date, too, I remember our brothers who were ordained with us and who have gone home: Gerry, Aniceto, and Scott (Chisholm), as well as our brother, Deacon Bob Quintana, ordained in the second class of deacons for our diocese, who passed away last week and whose funeral is tomorrow (thanks to Deacon Silvio Mayo for the correction concerning the class of deacons to which Deacon Qunitana belonged).

Since I have already mentioned now-Archbishop Niederauer, who celebrates the sixteenth anniversary of his episcopal ordination tomorrow on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, it is opportune to point out that today is also the forty-fifth World Communications Day. What links all of this, in addition to the fact that part of my diakonia (and by no means the main or most important part) consists of my various on-line activities, is the fact that Archbishop Niederauer, who is truly a master communicator, sits on the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. Formerly he served as chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Communications. World Communications Day falls each year on the Feast of St. Francis de Sales because he is the patron saint of the Catholic press, writers, as well as journalists. While not officially proclaimed, St. Isidore of Seville, back in 2003, was proposed as patron saint of the Internet. As I mention in the caption under his image over on the right, whoever gets that job has her/his work cut out.

Each year the Holy Father issues a message for World Communications Day. In his message, promulgated today, Pope Benedict reminds those of us who take an active role in what Pope John Paul II described as "the Areopagus" of our times that "[t]o proclaim the Gospel through the new media means not only to insert expressly religious content into different media platforms, but also to witness consistently, in one's own digital profile and in the way one communicates choices, preference and judgments that are fully consistent with the Gospel." To me this says that Christian witness does not only consist of what we say, but how we say it; the necessity of communicating the truth with love (i.e.,agapé) (Eph. 4:15).


In his message the Holy Father succinctly describes what I hope, at least to some extent, this blog already does and what I pray it will more fully do as time goes on, namely recognizing "that the truth which we long to share does not derive its worth from its 'popularity' or from the amount of attention it receives," but communicates the truth "in its integrity, instead of seeking to make it acceptable [by] diluting it," thus providing "daily nourishment" instead of just being "a fleeting attraction." "The truth of the Gospel," the pontifical message continues, "is not something to be consumed or used superficially; rather it is a gift that calls for a free response." Above all, "[e]ven when it is proclaimed in the virtual space of the web, the Gospel demands to be incarnated in the real world and linked to the real faces of our brothers and sisters, those with whom we share our daily lives. Direct human relations always remain fundamental for the transmission of the faith!".

His conclusion, in true Benedictine (i.e., Ratzingerian) fashion, sets forth both the significance and the potential for on-line activity: "In the final analysis, the truth of Christ is the full and authentic response to that human desire for relationship, communion and meaning which is reflected in the immense popularity of social networks. Believers who bear witness to their most profound convictions greatly help prevent the web from becoming an instrument which depersonalizes people, attempts to manipulate them emotionally or allows those who are powerful to monopolize the opinions of others. On the contrary, believers encourage everyone to keep alive the eternal human questions which testify to our desire for transcendence and our longing for authentic forms of life, truly worthy of being lived. It is precisely this uniquely human spiritual yearning which inspires our quest for truth and for communion and which impels us to communicate with integrity and honesty."

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