40 Reasons Why It’s Cool to be Catholic #8 The Internet

Now, wait just a minute, deacon.  The Internet is NOT  Catholic.  Wasn’t it invented  by Al Gore?

Bear with me for a minute and I’ll tell you why I think the Internet makes it cool to be Catholic.  When Jesus formed His Church, just before his death and resurrection, there were only the twelve Apostles and a handful of disciples to spread the faith.  Evangelization was strictly a one-on-one matter.  Matthew’s Gospel ends with Jesus, after his resurrection, telling the eleven “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”  (Matthew 28:19-20)  Obviously, since baptism was part of their mission, they traveled the world, preaching the Gospel and baptizing new Christians.

That was pretty much how it worked until 1450 when Gutenberg’s printing press made it possible to mass produce the written word.  Of course, most people still didn’t know how to read, but for those who could, a whole new world of evangelization became possible.  Still, one-on-one evangelization continued with those who lacked the ability to read.

It would be another 500 years or so before mass evangelization became possible with the invention of the radio.  Suddenly a speaker in a studio could speak to thousands of people at one time.  Many early radio programs focused on religion with the Catholic Church a primary source of programming.

The next advance in wide-spread evangelization would come much more quickly.  Still in the 20th Century television sets started appearing in people’s homes.  Who can forget Servant of God Bishop Fulton Sheen, who began his broadcast ministry on radio but who saw television as a new and better way to preach the Gospel to millions at one time.  His TV show dominated Tuesday night television from 1951-1957.  He won two Emmy awards.

In 1980 a nun from Alabama had the idea of starting a Catholic cable channel.  Mother Angelica’s EWTN is seen all over the world.  As of 2008, EWTN reached 146 million homes in 147 countries.

And that brings us to the Internet.  The World Wide Web is an amazing medium.  It contains a lot of bad stuff but the good stuff far outweighs the bad.  Using your home computer or laptop (or even your smart phone) you have access to all the greatest Catholic writers and preachers in the world.  As I mentioned in my post on the Church Fathers, the web gives you instant access to all the great Catholic writers.  Whether you want to read Augustine’s works, which are on-line, and in the public domain, which means you can download them for free, or modern Catholic thought-leaders like Matthew Kelly or Father Robert Barron are more your speed, it’s all right there.

There are hundreds of Catholic blogs where you can read the thoughts of Cardinals, bishops, priests, and even lowly deacons.  In fact, if you have something to say there’s nothing to stop you from hosting your own blog or podcast at little or no expense.

Social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn are another source of Catholic information and conversation that’s yours at the click of a button.  Email lists link groups of like-minded Catholics in an on-going conversation.  Boundaries of geography and distance are suddenly gone.  I have Facebook friends and LinkedIn contacts all over the world and you can too.  I follow the Pope, Cardinal Dolan, and my own Archbishop Carlson on Facebook.  I also follow dozens of other deacons.  Nearly every Catholic parish has a web site and many are on Facebook as well.

Who could have imagined as recently as ten years ago that all the great works of the Church would be available right in our own homes?  Besides great writers, the Code of Canon Law, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and all the documents of Vatican II are on-line in searchable formats.  You can read and search the Bible, in any translation you can think of, on the web as well.  You want to see exactly what Jesus said to the woman at the well?  Do a Google search for “woman at the well” and you’ll get over 70 million hits.  It’s just that simple.

In 2002, Pope John Paul II wrote, “The fact that through the Internet people multiply their contacts in ways hitherto unthinkable opens up wonderful possibilities for spreading the Gospel.”

Pope Benedict XVI wrote in 2010 on the occasion of the World Day of Communications, “The world of digital communication, with its almost limitless expressive capacity, makes us appreciate all the more Saint Paul’s exclamation: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel” (1 Cor 9:16)” 

Just this week, there were 1,200 tweets on twitter concerning the Holy Father’s visit to  Cuba in the 60 minutes prior to the Papal mass.

No, the Internet isn’t Catholic but it is catholic, which means universal.  But it’s the most exciting tool for evangelization and education ever invented.  And we’ve just scratched the surface.  Who knows what miracles will come along in the next few years?   One thing’s for sure, it will be exciting.  Hopefully the Catholic Church will be at the forefront of anything that’s new.  For more information on the Church in the digital age, I recommend Brandon Vogt’s excellent book, “The Church and New Media”.

After all, the Pope is online and so am I.  If that’s not cool, I don’t know what is.

PS.  No, Al Gore didn’t invent the Internet.

One Response

  1. Now if I were just more adept at using it!!

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