Young People and Media. That young people may learn to use social communication media for their personal growth and in preparation to serve society.
Last May Pope Benedict said that we should not be surprised by the popularity of the new communication technologies. Our human desire to extend our friendships by any and all means reflects our participation in the “unifying love of God, who desires to make of all humanity one family” (Message for World Day of Communications, 2009).
This month the Holy Father asks us to pray especially for the young people who use the new communication media, like mobile phones and computers connected to the Internet. The Pope’s approach toward these technologies is overwhelmingly hopeful, not fearful.
What an opportunity for young people all over the world to grow in holy love for one another! What an opportunity to promote a worldwide “culture of respect, dialogue, and friendship.” What an opportunity to engage in a “genuine and mutual searching for truth … to promote understanding and tolerance.” And what an opportunity to proclaim the “Good News of a God who became man, who suffered, died, and rose again to save all people.”
For “life is not just a succession of events,” the Pope continues, “it is a search for the true, the good, and the beautiful.” Only in them do we find happiness. “We must not allow ourselves to be deceived by those who see us merely as consumers in a market of undifferentiated possibilities, where choice itself becomes the good, novelty usurps beauty, and subjective experience displaces truth.”
So, while we pray for the good the new media can do, let us also pray against evil. We ask that our young people will not use these media to lie, to abuse, or to exploit others. We ask too that they will be protected from the lies and abuse of peers and predators.
May the new media enable young people to grow in wisdom and grace as they prepare to serve society in this challenging new century.
How do you and will you use social communication media to reflect God’s unifying love?
1 Timothy 4: 12 — Let no one have contempt for your youth, but set an example for those who believe, in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.
Christian Unity. That every believer in Christ may understand that unity among all Christians is necessary for effective proclamation of the gospel.
During the month of January the Pope often asks us to pray for Christian unity. When we do so, we Catholics are joining with other Christians in celebrating an annual octave from January 18 to 25 for unity among Christians. The tradition is more than 100 years old.
This year the theme is “You are Witnesses of These Things.” The phrase comes from the words Jesus spoke to his disciples just before he ascended into heaven: “Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things” (Luke 24: 45-48).
This month the Pope emphasizes that Christian unity is essential for the proclamation of the gospel. Disunity among Christians undermines the credibility of our witness to the world. How can we preach reconciliation through Christ if we who are baptized oppose one another? Our message of one Lord, one faith, and one baptism cannot abide the scandal of our divisions.
Our divisions generally originated in doctrinal differences, but they are often perpetuated by prejudice, ignorance, fear, and other attitudes which should have no part in a Christian’s life. These are things we can change, but we cannot abandon true doctrine.
Urging Christians to unite, Pope Benedict reminds us of St. Paul’s admonition to “hold fast to the traditions you were taught” (2 Thessalonians 3:15). We should strive to agree on “normative apostolic teaching.” All Christians should seek communion with the Church in every age. We should embrace objective truth that relies neither on subjective experience nor empirical science, but is founded on the “teaching which indeed underlies the inspired word of God and sustains the sacramental life of Christians today” (Homily at an ecumenical prayer service, New York City, April 18, 2008).
Let us join the Holy Father in praying that we will all obey the Spirit which calls us to be one in the Lord.
How might you join with a non-Catholic Christian to witness to the truth of Jesus Christ?
1 Corinthians 2: 12-13 — We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the things freely given us by God. And we speak about them not with words taught by human wisdom, but with words taught by the Spirit, describing spiritual realities in spiritual terms.
Prayer of the Month
Lord, pour out upon us the fullness of your mercy, and by the power of your Spirit remove divisions among Christians. Let your Church rise more clearly as a sign for all the nations that the world may be filled with the light of your Spirit and believe in Jesus Christ whom you have sent, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
-From the Mass for Unity of Christians