As the conversation continues about technology and the Church, those advocating it’s uses encounter a lot of objections. The objections interestingly seem to be pretty consistent. It came up again last night in a phone conversation and today online, and a question has been going through my mind for a while now . . . would St. Paul have objected to email? Heck, would he have objected to many of the technologies we have available to us today? After entertaining thoughts that seem silly (oh, you do not want to be in my head sometimes . . . believe me) of a an older scraggily man in a tattered robe clicking away on a keyboard to send an email, flying on a plane, holding and typing on an iPhone, etc.; I can only come to one conclusion . . . St. Paul would have been the biggest user and advocate of technology for the mission of the Church today. He would have been sending emails at lightening speeds (in twos obviously . . . the first being the scolding and the second the apology for the first and further explanation. Just kidding.). He would have been the biggest social networker and media user. He would have had the most “Frequent Flyer Miles”. All this seems silly, but there is a point. Bear with me.
Then we only need to ask ourselves, “Why?” Why would he be? In fact why did he do everything he did? Obviously it wasn’t for the luxuries. It wasn’t for the fame (The title saint wasn’t even invented yet, and you have to be dead to get it). It wasn’t for comfort. It wasn’t for getting “sign ups”. It wasn’t even for getting more donations. In fact, his life got far worse than he originally had it as Saul. Why would he endure all that he did and give up so much comfort, status, and luxury in his time? This is what drives atheists bonkers about Christians by the way. So why? The answer is simple. Saul encountered The Truth when he was knocked to the ground and blinded on that road to Damascus. Those scales fell from his eyes when the Lord knew he was ready to really see again. And Saul saw (say that twenty times). That Truth is so powerful that his very being was pushed to bring that Truth to the world at whatever cost to himself. He used every resource available to him to do so. So if he would have had what we have today he would be using it, and that’s our real reason and drive today too.
A fellow parishioner said something last night to me in a conversation she had with a Priest, “Do you know what ‘www’ stands for?” He looked at her a bit strange and she replied, “World Wide Web.” That’s how easily we can connect and reach others today. We have the resources and capabilities at our disposal today that the Apostles would have thanked God for over and over.
Hold onto your seats for this paragraph and please don’t stone me.
The purpose of websites and social networking/media within our parishes isn’t to get more people in the pews or more donations in the collections basket. It’s to build stronger Eucharistic communities (thank you to Father John Freund for that terminology). We do that through strong and routine faith-filled connections and interactions. Attendance and collections are a result. If you want to understand this better simply ask yourself why do people come to Mass on Sunday and put money in the basket? They don’t have to. They want to for various reasons. They contribute because they want our parish communities to have the resources available to do the good work it does. They don’t contribute because it’s a “cover charge” or installment payment towards getting into Heaven later on. (By the way, other things we do that drive atheists nuts about us.)
Social media, social networking, websites, blogs, so forth and so on are all powerful mechanisms we have available to us today to share and bring that Truth as we have found it to others at a height/depth and distance never believed possible before. We can deliver and present the message as witnesses like never before. Yes; the training, time, and understanding of how to use these may seem difficult at times. BUT we owe it to our communities and our mission to make the time and put forth the effort. We owe it to our selves and communities to stop saying, “We can’t/shouldn’t.” and start saying, “We can and we should.” We have the teachers, doers, and providers available to us. Just look at all that Liturgical Publications offers!
It’s not about us not being able to “afford” to put these pieces in place and use them, it’s that we can not afford not to. It’s what we are called to do and to do it with the best resources available to us.
So the next time you wonder if your parish should have a Facebook page, a website, or use mass email; ask yourself . . . would St. Paul have used that?