Pope Benedict XVI has issued a timely message for this year’s World Communications Day: The work of bringing the world to God must involve silence as much as it involves words and actions.
It’s obvious that humanity has taken a turn for the noisy in recent years. The explosion of technological tools has transformed the way we live, work and communicate.
For many of us, new technologies and new forms of social communication have invaded every corner of our lives.
But, as many people have discovered, we seem to be no better at communicating with one another, and, in many ways, we are worse.
How many times, for example, has an innocently made joke been misinterpreted by the receiver of an email or an erroneous judgment been forwarded or reposted countless times on Twitter or Facebook?
And with the new media and personal electronic devices allowing us to be on a constant news feed, where has all our time gone? Time that we used to spend with people.
Enter Pope Benedict, who, while giving his blessing to new media used well, has been able to remind the world that we can live very well without it. After all, he became one of the world’s leading thinkers in the late 20th century not by running to Google and Wikipedia.
But in his Message for the 46th World Communications Day, he implores us to create a sacred space in our daily lives devoid of the constant chatter that assaults our hearts.
“In silence, we are better able to listen to and understand ourselves,” he writes. “If we are to recognize and focus upon the truly important questions, then silence is a precious commodity that enables us to exercise proper discernment in the face of the surcharge of stimuli and data that we receive.”
Silence is also vital to evangelization, he points out. Bringing the Gospel to others must remain primarily a personal endeavor. We can write the most beautiful blogs about Catholicism, but the fire of faith is spread throughout the world from person to person, as from one spark to another. Especially today, in societies that have become highly impersonalized, it is incumbent on disciples of Christ to be there for those who are searching for answers.
We first grow in faith through prayer — a process that is impossible without creating within ourselves the silence that we need to hear the voice of God. And then we offer ourselves to others, who seek the face of God — even when they don’t know it is God they are searching for.
If we can listen to them, silencing the noise in our own hearts, we create an essential bridge for them to cross over to the Truth.