Friday, January 24, 2014

Pope Francis on communication as encounter, my Top 10 list!

the Two Francises, from Michael O'Neill McGrath, OSFS,
via James Martin, SJ on Twitter
"We must do all by love, and nothing by force."
~Francis de Sales,
patron of writers,

Today is the feast day of St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622), a French bishop whose writing had a profound influence on people like Therese of Lisieux and John Bosco. 

I am continually surprised by Francis de Sales’ insight, depth, and humility in his writings, and I’m thankful for his prayerful backing as the official patron of writers and journalists—and I would add, bloggers, podcasters, publishers, and all communicators.

In his message for the 48th World Day of Social Communications, dated and released for today’s memorial of St. Francis of Sales, Pope Francis calls the Internet a ‘gift from God,’ which should be used for solidarity.

“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.”

The more I read, the more I see that these two Francises must already be tight friends, which is to say, they are both clearly close friends of Jesus!

In honor of St. Francis the Sales, I’ve taken the liberty of making a Top 10 list of Pope Francis’ statement, because, who doesn’t like a Top 10 list?  [a link at the bottom will take you to the full text].

Pope Francis on true communication as encounter
my Top 10 List:
  •  #10   [M]edia 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. 
  • #9   The internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity. This is something truly good, a gift from God.
  • #8   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. 
  • #7   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. 
  • #6   We should not overlook the fact that those who for whatever reason lack access to social media run the risk of being left behind. 
  • #5   While [social media] drawbacks are real, they do not justify rejecting social media; rather, they remind us that communication is ultimately a human rather than technological achievement.   We need… to recover a certain sense of deliberateness and calm. This calls for time and the ability to be silent and to listen. 
  • #4   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'
  • #3   It is not enough to be passers-by on the digital highways, simply 'connected'; connections need to grow into true encounters… 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.
  • #2   Christian witness, thanks to the internet, can thereby reach the peripheries of human existence
  • #1   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… 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?
 +   +   +   +   +

To read the full text -- “Communication at the service of an authentic culture of encounter,” Pope Francis’ message for the 2014 World Day of Social Communications --go here.

Coincidentally, did you know that World Day of Communications was the only world day established by Vatican Council II (Inter Mirifica, 1963)? We won’t officially celebrate it until the Sunday before the feast of Pentecost (which falls on 1 June 2014)—our “world wide” proclamation of the Gospel!  Isn’t that appropriate?

this one of St. Francis de Sales hangs in my office wall!