From Patrick Smalley
Director of High School Faith Formation and Young Adults
In his most recent encyclical, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis points out the amazing technological advancements that have occurred in the past few hundred years which have greatly increased our quality of living. Thus, the ways in which we encounter and worship God have changed. Who could imagine a building like the one we worship in each week a few hundred years ago? Yet, here we are inside of our heated buildings protecting us from the blistering cold outside. Driving (not walking) to work, events, and even church inside of our heated cars that get 25 miles to the gallon. Whether we realize it or not, we’ve all benefited greatly from the advancement of technology in the way we experience our living God.
Pope John Paul II, during an address on World Communications Day, said, “The Internet can offer magnificent opportunities for evangelization if used with competence and a clear awareness of its strengths and weaknesses.” Even though this quote is from before the boom of modern smart phones, I believe this to be true of all technology that we use. Cell phones provide endless opportunities. The many forms of communicating through one device (your cell phone) are incredible, and they allow us to connect with others and share God’s love more regularly with more people. In addition, there are many applications that can be beneficial. During Mass you can follow along with the readings with a Roman Missal app, or a Bible app. This will engage your visual as well as auditory senses—which will allow you to connect deeper with the scriptures. You can take notes during a homily on a notes app. You can download praise and worship music or podcasts to listen to in the car throughout the week. Cell phones allow you to download eBooks; so you can have access to your favorite daily devotional wherever you go. You can use YouTube to follow sermons from a pastor or music from a worship band in another part of the world. You can stay connected to what’s happening at St. Ed’s each day of the week through our Facebook page or our website—even if you only physically come on Sundays. As you’re waiting for your next meeting to start, you can engage any of these in just a few minutes from the palm of your hand through incredible advancements in technology—through a God who has blessed our world with innovators who have challenged the way we interact with one another and encouraged our society to stay connected on a deeper level.
In his encyclical, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis reminds us that our Church is called to “go forth” and preach the message of the Gospel to all “…in the native language of each.” (Acts 2:6) In this technological world, new generations are growing up with technology as a part of their native language. So as the Church looks to move forward, just like those first Apostles, we must embrace, encourage and continue to learn new languages and new ways of communicating the Gospel message with future generations.
For Further Reading and to Learn More: “The Church and New Media (Vogt, 2011, OSV), “The Social Media Gospel: 2nd Edition”, (Gould, 2015, Lit. Press)