The Holy Spirit had the Internet in mind at the Second Vatican Council. Undoubtedly he did, because, being God, he was not limited by time and space and in no position to be surprised. But, looking at the way the role of the laity was redefined, he certainly did.
Today’s dizzying array of new technologies means that laypeople are needed more than ever to bring the Church’s message into the world.
New technologies give anyone and everyone with a computer and a small investment the means to bring a message to the whole world. That means that wicked people will try to bring degrading messages to your family.
But it also means that tech-savvy Catholics can bring rich messages to your family.
Our series on online social networking is a perfect example. In two entries in the series, we warned you about problems families face on sites like MySpace and even Facebook.
But today, we bring you examples of new opportunities your family has because of the same technology.
Justin Stroh is director of family faith formation at Divine Mercy Catholic Church in Faribault, Minn., He is able to build an audience for his youth retreats and activities for kids in sixth through 12th grade in part through Facebook communities.
Stephanie Wood interacts with hundreds of youth worldwide as the host of a radio show for young adults on EWTN, and through NextWave Faithful, an online community for youth and young adults, as well as 4Marks.com.
Jeremy Stanbary has found Facebook and YouTube helpful in promoting his Catholic theater-arts organization, Epiphany Studio Productions.
The Dreadnoughters’ Facebook group evangelizes about Catholic teaching on human sexuality to homosexuals who want to be faithful to the Church.
Other innovative uses of technology abound, as Zenit recently catalogued.
Chris Wyatt started GodTube.com, a Christian alternative to websites offering video clips and assorted information. The site’s motto is “Broadcast Him,” referring to Jesus, a play on YouTube’s motto “Broadcast Yourself.”
The Vatican itself is practicing what Pope Benedict XVI has been preaching in this regard.
Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, is also making good use of the latest technology, with a dedicated website offering podcasts and video broadcasts on a wide variety of topics.
The main Vatican Web page is one of the most visited in the world, but perhaps fewer are familiar with the material available from a number of the Vatican congregations that have developed their own websites.
The site of the Congregation for the Clergy links a wide range of documents. The material includes collections of speeches and texts related to the role of priests, helpful aids for the preparation of homilies, and statistics on the numbers of seminarians and clergy.
The page also allows the content of each book of the Bible to be viewed along with cross references to homilies of the Fathers and doctors of the Church, as well as the magisterium, thus enriching for users the experience of reading sacred Scripture.
The Pontifical Council for Life and the Pontifical Council for Health and Pastoral Care also have their own websites, with specialized documentation, reports on their activities and congresses and links to further information.
The website of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace contains a wide variety of documents and speeches given by the council’s officials, along with the texts of some of the presentations given at the numerous meetings organized by the council on topical matters.
The Vatican City State also has its own dedicated page, with all sorts of material related to St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, along with useful information on Vatican offices, such as those selling stamps and coins.
Vatican Radio is no longer confined to the realm of short-wave transmissions, making available on its website a broad range of audio material ready to be downloaded by those interested in accessing the content via Internet.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has podcasts with the daily Mass readings on its website, as well as sections devoted to the saint of the day and a suggested daily prayer. A special Lenten resources section has an abundance of prayers, including texts for praying the Stations of the Cross, in both print and audio formats.
Within the United States, many dioceses offer abundant material. In a large number of cases, the greater part of the content of the local Catholic weekly newspapers is available via the Internet, including weekly column written by the local bishop. Increasingly the sites also have pages with audio and video content.
The Archdiocese of Boston has a link to the local Catholic TV, where video clips are available. Cardinal Sean O’Malley is also well-known by many for having his own blog, where his daily activities are chronicled. The Denver diocesan site not only offers the weekly newspaper columns of Archishop Charles Chaput, but also an audio recording of his Sunday homilies at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, along with a variety of audio files of media interviews done in the past couple of years.
“Humanity today is at a crossroads,” says Pope Benedict in this year’s World Communications Day message. And so is the media, “which offers new possibilities for good, but at the same time opens up appalling possibilities for evil that formerly did not exist. “
With more Catholics becoming aware of the evil and boosting the good, the world stands a better chance of taking the right path.