People go to the Internet and social media for many different reasons, some of them casual and very superficial and others very profound. In Silence and Word: the Path to Evangelization, Pope Benedict’s message for the 46th World Communications Day (May 20), the Holy Father points out that
Amid the complexity and diversity of the world of communications, … many people find themselves confronted with the ultimate questions of human existence: Who am I? What can I know? What ought I to do? What may I hope? It is important to affirm those who ask these questions, and to open up the possibility of a profound dialogue, by means of words and interchange, but also through the call to silent reflection, something that is often more eloquent than a hasty answer and permits seekers to reach into the depths of their being and open themselves to the path towards knowledge that God has inscribed in human hearts.
The Holy Father also writes:
The fundamental question of the meaning of human existence finds in the mystery of Christ an answer capable of bringing peace to the restless human heart. The Church’s mission springs from this mystery; and it is this mystery which impels Christians to become heralds of hope and salvation, witnesses of that love which promotes human dignity and builds justice and peace.
And he writes in the same document:
Attention should be paid to the various types of websites, applications and social networks which can help people today to find time for reflection and authentic questioning, as well as making space for silence and occasions for prayer, meditation or sharing of the word of God. In concise phrases, often no longer than a verse from the Bible, profound thoughts can be communicated, as long as those taking part in the conversation do not neglect to cultivate their own inner lives.
In his message, the Holy Father urges all communicators to find a balance between silence, contemplation and speaking in order to engage in the kind of dialogue that will bring peace, hope and happiness to their own lives and the lives of those they encounter and engage on the Internet. In light of the Holy Father’s message we might ask these questions:
- Do we see our presence on the Internet as a ministry?
- Do we prepare for this ministry with prayer and contemplation?
- Do we respond to questions of heart and faith with an invitation to quiet reflection or meditation on sacred scripture?
- Do we recognize that a warm, human response to even the most casual question, may lead to deeper conversations later on?
- When we are on the Internet, do we see ourselves as “heralds of hope and salvation, witnesses of that love which promotes human dignity and builds justice and peace”?
You can read the Holy Father’s entire message here.