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MESSAGE OF POPE FRANCISFOR THE 48TH WORLD COMMUNICATIONS DAY

MESSAGE OF POPE FRANCIS
FOR THE 48TH WORLD COMMUNICATIONS DAY

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Communication at the Service of an Authentic Culture of Encounter

[Sunday, 1 June 2014]
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today we are living in a world which is growing ever “smaller” and where, as a result, it would seem to be easier for all of us to be neighbours. Developments in travel and communications technology are bringing us closer together and making us more connected, even as globalization makes us increasingly interdependent. Nonetheless, divisions, which are sometimes quite deep, continue to exist within our human family. On the global level we see a scandalous gap between the opulence of the wealthy and the utter destitution of the poor. Often we need only walk the streets of a city to see the contrast between people living on the street and the brilliant lights of the store windows. We have become so accustomed to these things that they no longer unsettle us. Our world suffers from many forms of exclusion, marginalization and poverty, to say nothing of conflicts born of a combination of economic, political, ideological, and, sadly, even religious motives.
In a world like this, media can help us to feel closer to one another, creating a sense of the unity of the human family which can in turn inspire solidarity and serious efforts to ensure a more dignified life for all. Good communication helps us to grow closer, to know one another better, and ultimately, to grow in unity. The walls which divide us can be broken down only if we are prepared to listen and learn from one another. We need to resolve our differences through forms of dialogue which help us grow in understanding and mutual respect. A culture of encounter demands that we be ready not only to give, but also to receive. Media can help us greatly in this, especially nowadays, when the networks of human communication have made unprecedented advances. The internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity. This is something truly good, a gift from God.
This is not to say that certain problems do not exist. The speed with which information is communicated exceeds our capacity for reflection and judgement, and this does not make for more balanced and proper forms of self-expression. The variety of opinions being aired can be seen as helpful, but it also enables people to barricade themselves behind sources of information which only confirm their own wishes and ideas, or political and economic interests. The world of communications can help us either to expand our knowledge or to lose our bearings. The desire for digital connectivity can have the effect of isolating us from our neighbours, from those closest to us. We should not overlook the fact that those who for whatever reason lack access to social media run the risk of being left behind.
While these drawbacks are real, they do not justify rejecting social media; rather, they remind us that communication is ultimately a human rather than technological achievement. What is it, then, that helps us, in the digital environment, to grow in humanity and mutual understanding? We need, for example, to recover a certain sense of deliberateness and calm. This calls for time and the ability to be silent and to listen. We need also to be patient if we want to understand those who are different from us. People only express themselves fully when they are not merely tolerated, but know that they are truly accepted. If we are genuinely attentive in listening to others, we will learn to look at the world with different eyes and come to appreciate the richness of human experience as manifested in different cultures and traditions. We will also learn to appreciate more fully the important values inspired by Christianity, such as the vision of the human person, the nature of marriage and the family, the proper distinction between the religious and political spheres, the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity, and many others.
How, then, can communication be at the service of an authentic culture of encounter? What does it mean for us, as disciples of the Lord, to encounter others in the light of the Gospel? In spite of our own limitations and sinfulness, how do we draw truly close to one another? These questions are summed up in what a scribe – a communicator – once asked Jesus: “And who is my neighbour?” (Lk 10:29). This question can help us to see communication in terms of “neighbourliness”. We might paraphrase the question in this way: How can we be “neighbourly” in our use of the communications media and in the new environment created by digital technology? I find an answer in the parable of the Good Samaritan, which is also a parable about communication. Those who communicate, in effect, become neighbours. The Good Samaritan not only draws nearer to the man he finds half dead on the side of the road; he takes responsibility for him. Jesus shifts our understanding: it is not just about seeing the other as someone like myself, but of the ability to make myself like the other. Communication is really about realizing that we are all human beings, children of God. I like seeing this power of communication as “neighbourliness”.
Whenever communication is primarily aimed at promoting consumption or manipulating others, we are dealing with a form of violent aggression like that suffered by the man in the parable, who was beaten by robbers and left abandoned on the road. The Levite and the priest do not regard him as a neighbour, but as a stranger to be kept at a distance. In those days, it was rules of ritual purity which conditioned their response. Nowadays there is a danger that certain media so condition our responses that we fail to see our real neighbour.
It is not enough to be passersby on the digital highways, simply “connected”; connections need to grow into true encounters. We cannot live apart, closed in on ourselves. We need to love and to be loved. We need tenderness. Media strategies do not ensure beauty, goodness and truth in communication. The world of media also has to be concerned with humanity, it too is called to show tenderness. The digital world can be an environment rich in humanity; a network not of wires but of people. The impartiality of media is merely an appearance; only those who go out of themselves in their communication can become a true point of reference for others. Personal engagement is the basis of the trustworthiness of a communicator. Christian witness, thanks to the internet, can thereby reach the peripheries of human existence.
As I have frequently observed, if a choice has to be made between a bruised Church which goes out to the streets and a Church suffering from self-absorption, I certainly prefer the first. Those “streets” are the world where people live and where they can be reached, both effectively and affectively. The digital highway is one of them, a street teeming with people who are often hurting, men and women looking for salvation or hope. By means of the internet, the Christian message can reach “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Keeping the doors of our churches open also means keeping them open in the digital environment so that people, whatever their situation in life, can enter, and so that the Gospel can go out to reach everyone. We are called to show that the Church is the home of all. Are we capable of communicating the image of such a Church? Communication is a means of expressing the missionary vocation of the entire Church; today the social networks are one way to experience this call to discover the beauty of faith, the beauty of encountering Christ. In the area of communications too, we need a Church capable of bringing warmth and of stirring hearts.
Effective Christian witness is not about bombarding people with religious messages, but about our willingness to be available to others “by patiently and respectfully engaging their questions and their doubts as they advance in their search for the truth and the meaning of human existence” (BENEDICT XVI, Message for the 47th World Communications Day, 2013). We need but recall the story of the disciples on the way to Emmaus. We have to be able to dialogue with the men and women of today, to understand their expectations, doubts and hopes, and to bring them the Gospel, Jesus Christ himself, God incarnate, who died and rose to free us from sin and death. We are challenged to be people of depth, attentive to what is happening around us and spiritually alert. To dialogue means to believe that the “other” has something worthwhile to say, and to entertain his or her point of view and perspective. Engaging in dialogue does not mean renouncing our own ideas and traditions, but the claim that they alone are valid or absolute.
May the image of the Good Samaritan who tended to the wounds of the injured man by pouring oil and wine over them be our inspiration. Let our communication be a balm which relieves pain and a fine wine which gladdens hearts. May the light we bring to others not be the result of cosmetics or special effects, but rather of our being loving and merciful “neighbours” to those wounded and left on the side of the road. Let us boldly become citizens of the digital world. The Church needs to be concerned for, and present in, the world of communication, in order to dialogue with people today and to help them encounter Christ. She needs to be a Church at the side of others, capable of accompanying everyone along the way. The revolution taking place in communications media and in information technologies represents a great and thrilling challenge; may we respond to that challenge with fresh energy and imagination as we seek to share with others the beauty of God.
From the Vatican, 24 January 2014, the Memorial of Saint Francis de Sales.
FRANCIS

 

Son of God Movie Review by Nic Haros

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Son of God Movie Review 

by Nic Haros, Director of Facebook Apostles.
February 28, 2014

Yes.  Now I can say that I’ve actually seen the Son of God movie and I can wholeheartedly recommend it to Catholics, Christians, and non-believers alike.  The scenes and dialogue from the movie (and the emotions it invoked) are still now playing on my mind.  I do have some thoughts on the movie, which I’d like to share. 

In summary, I was awestruck by the performance of Roma Downey (co-producer) as Mary, the Mother of Jesus.  Though missed by most, I think, this movie not only experienced the life of Jesus and His mission on earth, but also shed some light on the story as perceived by Mary.  I will develop that idea in a bit.

First, I’d like to respond to some of thoughts shared by you, Page Fans of Facebook Apostles.  All in all, those who have seen it have had a very good experience watching the film and most have liked it.  Some have “criticized” the movie (falsely, I think) on a number of points.

Most respondents have drawn comparison to other Jesus movies such as the Passion of the Christ and Jesus of Nazareth.  I think such comparisons (favorably and unfavorably) are unfair.  All three are very different movies though the subject matter is the same.  The Jesus of Nazareth movie was, in my opinion, a narrative of the events in the New Testament.  The Passion of the Christ was a cerebral film—it appealed just as much to our psyche as to our emotions.  Son of God, I think, was different.  Of the three movies, SOG presented the most hopeful ending and message.  The joy and peace of living and loving the Beatitudes is made known to following Christians to come and clearly offered a path of redemption by Christ.  The message of this movie was the universal call to all to Evangelize.  Not so with the other two films. Continue reading

Reinvigorating Culture by Russell Kirk

CultureReinvigorating Culture

by Russell Kirk

Anyone who pushes the buttons of a television set nowadays [written in 1994, Ed.] may be tempted to reflect that genuine culture came to an end during the latter half of the twentieth century. The television set is an immense accomplishment of reason and imagination: the victory of technology. But the gross images produced by television are symptoms and causes of our civilization’s decadence: the defeat of humane culture.

The contrast between the success of technology and the failure of social institutions is yet more striking when we look at any large American city. Some time ago I spent a day in Detroit, once styled “the arsenal of democracy,” latterly known as “America’s murder capital.” I have known Detroit ever since I was a small boy, and have observed the stages of the city’s decay over the decades. Except for some financial and political activity, and a little surviving commerce, about the foot of Woodward Avenue near the river, old Detroit is a dangerous wreck. The length of Woodward Avenue, up to Eight Mile Road and beyond, one drives through grim desolation: Beirut in the midst of its troubles might have seemed more cheerful. One passes through Detroit’s “cultural center,” the Institute of Arts on one side of the avenue, the Public Library on the other. Immediately north or south of those splendid buildings, immediately east or west, extends the grimy reality of a broken and dying city. “Culture” has become something locked into an archaic museum.

Detroit’s technology has produced immense wealth in goods—and still does so, if at a diminished rate. Detroit’s society has produced an inhumane quasi-anarchy. Take Detroit as an ugly microcosm of America, and one may perceive the pressing need for a recovery of humane culture.

Our inherited culture is involved in great difficulties. I suppose that most people nowadays will assent to that statement. Forty years ago, not long after the Second World War, I often encountered people who waxed indignant at my venturing to suggest the possibility of cultural decadence among us. It is otherwise now.

Sometimes, true, I come upon men and women who profess to be well satisfied with our world, and with their diversions—rather nasty diversions, not infrequently—therein. Yet these are not tranquil people: instead they bring to mind a poem by Adam Mickiewicz:

Your soul deserves the place to which it came, If having entered Hell, you feel no flame.

As marvelous innovators in the physical sciences, as wondrously efficient creators of technology, we moderns surpass our ancestors. But as for humane culture, we seem bent on destroying our civilization. Can anything be done by way of reinvigoration? Continue reading

YA HEY: Persecution & Salvation for the Coptic Christians in Egypt

I created this music video during the height of the slaughter of Coptic Christians in Egypt during August, 2013.  This film looks at the current persecutions of Christians in light of Catholic Revelation on salvation history and the redeeming merits of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Though this film addresses the Coptic Christians in Egypt may it stand as a symbol of hope for all persecuted in the name of Christ.

Justice Jennine Blasts Obama’s Handling of the Middle East

http://www.theminorityreportblog.com/2013/09/08/judge-jeanine-pirro-explodes-on-obama-over-syria/

Post-Prosperity II: Why Everybody Watched Bishop Sheen by John Willson

prosperityPost-Prosperity II: Why Everybody Watched Bishop Sheen

by John Willson 

 

Happiness, says the wicked Ambrose Bierce, is an “agreeable sensation arising from contemplating the misery of another.” (The Devil’s Dictionary, 1911)  There was so much misery in the world (at least misery that most people could agree was misery) from about 1930-1945 that, if Bierce were correct, one would expect to find more expressions of happiness than leap off the pages and images of post-WWII American culture.

The 1950s, so maligned by ignorant generations who didn’t live it, gave us the best picture of the contradictions the ambiguous idea of prosperity offered the world, perhaps in the history of what we still call Western Civilization.  Progressives hated the decade, being so stupid as not to see what Elvis and Marilyn and Arthur Miller and Tennessee and Marlon–and yes, their anti-hero, Tail Gunner Joe, handed them to take apart politically what the American Century had offered.

We were prosperous in that decade, although most of the fashionable economists–J.K. Galbraith, for example, who got rich telling us we were really poor, tried their best to make us unhappy when we thought we were happy.  They parlayed that into what Robert Frost called “pigging together” in the Great Society of the 1960s, which has ensured the decline of our prosperity.

The irony of all this is that the most popular person on the most visible proof of prosperity, television, was a Catholic Bishop.  America’s Bishop, his biographer Thomas Reeves calls him.  Fulton J. Sheen did “Life Is Worth Living” on the Du Mont network and ABC (in fact he made ABC) from February 12, 1952 until October, 1957 when he “retired” from television at the order of Cardinal Spellman of New York. He won an Emmy as TV’s most outstanding personality in 1952 and was heard by more people than any bishop in history, and watched by more people than “I Love Lucy” or “Gunsmoke.”  The idiots who have so far written histories of the 50s often group him with Norman Vincent Peale’s feelgood version of lukewarm dishwater Christianity, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Bishop Sheen brought Thomas Aquinas to the United States in his 1925 book, God and Intelligence (an astonishing book, a critique of all of modern philosophy from the perspective of a Christian Humanist).  He also devastated “Sigmund Fraud” in  Peace of Soul (1949) and wrote the best book ever written on communism (except perhaps for Whittaker Chambers’ Witness), Communism and the Conscience of the West (1948).  Before TV, he had intellectually marginalized the two great evil ideologies of the twentieth century.

Nor did he on television water things down.  He walked onto a spare set, dressed as a bishop, wrote “JMJ” at the top of a folding blackboard, and talked for twenty-seven minutes (he once said that a successful talk is of whatever length but best wrapped up with a two-minute memorized ending) about things that Americans knew in their hearts were important.  “Why Work Is Boring,” for example; or “Fatigue”; or “How to Talk”; or “Women Who Do Not Fail; or “Teen-Agers.”  He never talked politics, except to dissect the evils of ideology–about one in five of his shows, and he never identified himself as a Catholic.  About 70% of his audience was non-Catholic.  It can be well argued that he killed America’s historic anti-Catholicism with kindness.  I, as a 12-17 year old Episcopalian, rarely missed his broadcasts.  I didn’t know it at the time, but he gave me a pretty good grounding in Thomistic philosophy and an effective inoculation against 60s hedonism at exactly the time I was most receptive to things that teen-agers don’t want to hear.

Continue reading

MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE BENEDICT XVI FOR THE 47th WORLD COMMUNICATIONS DAY

Pope Benedict XVI

 

MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS
POPE BENEDICT XVI
FOR THE 47th WORLD COMMUNICTIONS DAY

 

 

 

“Social Networks: portals of truth and faith; new spaces for evangelization.”

[Sunday, 12 May 2013] 

 Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As the 2013 World Communications Day draws near, I would like to offer you some reflections on an increasingly important reality regarding the way in which people today communicate among themselves. I wish to consider the development of digital social networks which are helping to create a new “agora”, an open public square in which people share ideas, information and opinions, and in which new relationships and forms of community can come into being.

These spaces, when engaged in a wise and balanced way, help to foster forms of dialogue and debate which, if conducted respectfully and with concern for privacy, responsibility and truthfulness, can reinforce the bonds of unity between individuals and effectively promote the harmony of the human family. The exchange of information can become true communication, links ripen into friendships, and connections facilitate communion. If the networks are called to realize this great potential, the people involved in them must make an effort to be authentic since, in these spaces, it is not only ideas and information that are shared, but ultimately our very selves.

The development of social networks calls for commitment: people are engaged in building relationships and making friends, in looking for answers to their questions and being entertained, but also in finding intellectual stimulation and sharing knowledge and know-how. The networks are increasingly becoming part of the very fabric of society, inasmuch as they bring people together on the basis of these fundamental needs. Social networks are thus nourished by aspirations rooted in the human heart.

The culture of social networks and the changes in the means and styles of communication pose demanding challenges to those who want to speak about truth and values. Often, as is also the case with other means of social communication, the significance and effectiveness of the various forms of expression appear to be determined more by their popularity than by their intrinsic importance and value. Popularity, for its part, is often linked to celebrity or to strategies of persuasion rather than to the logic of argumentation. At times the gentle voice of reason can be overwhelmed by the din of excessive information and it fails to attract attention which is given instead to those who express themselves in a more persuasive manner. The social media thus need the commitment of all who are conscious of the value of dialogue, reasoned debate and logical argumentation; of people who strive to cultivate forms of discourse and expression which appeal to the noblest aspirations of those engaged in the communication process. Dialogue and debate can also flourish and grow when we converse with and take seriously people whose ideas are different from our own. “Given the reality of cultural diversity, people need not only to accept the existence of the culture of others, but also to aspire to be enriched by it and to offer to it whatever they possess that is good, true and beautiful” (Address at the Meeting with the World of Culture, Bélem, Lisbon, 12 May 2010).

The challenge facing social networks is how to be truly inclusive: thus they will benefit from the full participation of believers who desire to share the message of Jesus and the values of human dignity which his teaching promotes. Believers are increasingly aware that, unless the Good News is made known also in the digital world, it may be absent in the experience of many people for whom this existential space is important. The digital environment is not a parallel or purely virtual world, but is part of the daily experience of many people, especially the young. Social networks are the result of human interaction, but for their part they also reshape the dynamics of communication which builds relationships: a considered understanding of this environment is therefore the prerequisite for a significant presence there.

The ability to employ the new languages is required, not just to keep up with the times, but precisely in order to enable the infinite richness of the Gospel to find forms of expression capable of reaching the minds and hearts of all. In the digital environment the written word is often accompanied by images and sounds. Effective communication, as in the parables of Jesus, must involve the imagination and the affectivity of those we wish to invite to an encounter with the mystery of God’s love. Besides, we know that Christian tradition has always been rich in signs and symbols: I think for example of the Cross, icons, images of the Virgin Mary, Christmas cribs, stained-glass windows and pictures in our churches. A significant part of mankind’s artistic heritage has been created by artists and musicians who sought to express the truths of the faith. Continue reading

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