Thursday of the 2nd Week of Advent

Yesterday I posted that the Holy Father had joined Twitter, an excellent example of how we can all use social media to evangelize.  One tweet in particular caught my attention.


Screen shot 2012-12-12 at 11.21.22 AM


How do you interpret this?  I think this quote shows how poorly written English can express a point of view.  Is he saying that since we live in a world without hope we can’t live our faith in Jesus?  If so, it’s a very disturbing thing to say.

Or, is he saying that, since we do live our faith in Jesus, this is most definitely not a world without hope?  I think it’s clearly the latter.

Those of us who write and speak about our faith must be careful with our choice of words.  Since Benedict tweets in several different languages, I’m sure someone in his office translated this thought into English.  Even though he is the Pope, he still has to work within Twitter’s 140 character limit.  That’s why I seldom use Twitter myself.

We can all be thankful that the Holy Father is taking the time to communicate with us via this new medium.  I’m pretty sure that Jesus would have a Twitter account, a facebook page, and a web site.

Wednesday of the 2nd Week of Advent

12/12/12 and the Holy Father Tweets

Today is the twelfth day of the twelfth month or the year 2012 or 12/12/12.  There’s no particular significance to the day except as a curiosity of the calendar.  It is worth mentioning though that this won’t happen again in most of our lifetimes.  The next triple number day will be January 1, 2101 or 1/1/01.  So if you enjoy this sort of thing, today is your day.

Maybe the most significant thing about 12/12/12 is that it’s the day that our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI joined Twitter.  As I write this, he has posted five times in six hours and has 840,750 followers.  I don’t know if that’s any kind of record, but it’s very impressive.  Sadly, many of the comments to the Holy Father’s tweets so far have been negative and hateful.  That should be a lesson for all of us.  When we put ourselves out there, proclaiming the Good News, we’re going to attract haters.  I say this from personal experience.

Like the Benedict, we’re called to ignore the negative, hang on to the positive, and continue to fight the good fight.  If you’re into Twitter, I hope you’ll follow the Holy Father and show your love and support.

Stop the presses!  In the time it took me to write this, the Pope has tweeted two more times and now has 845,766 followers or about 15,000 more in about ten minutes.  Considering that it’s still early morning in a big part of the world, I suspect he’ll have 1,000,000 followers before the day is over.

Follow the Holy Father on Twitter.

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.