Fact one: When Jesus Christ decided to spread devotion to his Sacred Heart, he revealed himself from 1673-1675 to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a holy, sweet, obscure, young nun described by The Oxford Dictionary of Saints as ?patient and charitable, but also clumsy and impractical.?
Fact two: When Jesus Christ decided to spread devotion to his Divine Mercy, he revealed himself in 1931 to St. Faustina Kowalska, a holy, sweet, obscure young nun with only three years of schooling.
Fact three: Indeed, when Jesus Christ came into the world as God made flesh, he came through a holy, sweet, obscure young woman we now venerate as our Blessed Mother, Mary.
First conclusion: Jesus makes himself known in a special way through holy, sweet, simple young women.
Second conclusion: the Holy Spirit, working through what would seem to be the least likely of human instruments, is truly the original mass medium. Consequently, the Holy Spirit is in competition with our man-made mass media.
Regarding that first conclusion: How do we help a girl today to stay holy and sweet? In the world of MySpace and Facebook, is anyone really obscure any more?
Take, for example, my 10-year-old daughter, who is involved in Challenge, a girls? club that emphasizes faith, charity and service. She aspires some day to participate in our local Pure Fashion program, an eight-month program of faith formation that culminates in a modesty fashion show. These programs are excellent, and she enjoys them.
But what really gets her excited are the Disney movies and music aimed precisely at her age group: ?High School Musical I & II,? ?Camp Rock,? and of course, the omnipresent ?Hannah Montana.? We don?t even have cable television, yet in our home, these productions are all the rage.
The two ?High School Musical? productions quadrupled the Disney Channel?s profits in its first year; ?HSM II,? when it debuted in August 2007, became the highest-rated basic cable program in history. And, as a parent, what?s not to like about good, clean fun with upbeat music?
And yet ? there are indiscretions ? not in the movies, but around them. When the actress who played Gabriella, the female lead, suddenly became over-exposed on the Internet due to her own immorality and bad judgment, I felt angry, as if my own daughter had been violated. Because, in a sense, she had: here was her innocent, sweet-as-pie heroine, suddenly splashed across computer screens as a lust object.
If our daughters are to grow up to be the next generation of holy, sweet, simple young women that bring Christ to the world as only they can, must they have no part of the media universe?
Consider again ?Hannah Montana.? Here is life turned upside down and inside out. Miley Cyrus plays a character who gets ?the best of both worlds? (as her theme song proclaims), because during the day, she?s Miley Stewart, ordinary neighborhood girl, and only a few know that at night she puts on a blond wig to become pop sensation Hannah Montana. Who is it who doesn?t get the best of both worlds? The real-life Miley Cyrus. Not only is she an over-exposed media darling at age 15, but her parents consented to the egregious bad judgment of allowing her a semi-nude publicity shoot for Vanity Fair. The girl has repeatedly apologized for the photo shoot. Hmm. It seems to me it?s the parents who need to apologize ? to us and our daughters.
So, on to conclusion two: The Holy Spirit is the original mass medium. Is there anyone in all of history besides the Holy Spirit who has been able to take the small, obscure and holy and make it known throughout the world? To spread a message of love and mercy without song, dance, and glitz?
Isn?t it true that in a basic way, the other mass media compete directly with the Holy Spirit for a place in our day ? a place in our souls? The point is not that we need to shut out all the modern media. After all, a cloistered nun, Mother Angelica, created what is today the largest religious media empire in the world. The point is that we need a proper balance between modern media culture and our life of faith. We need the time and space for our hearts ? and those of our daughters and sons ? to be filled with the Holy Spirit and his unique messages.
Who knows in what way Christ will come to us through our daughters, if we can keep them holy, simple and not overexposed?
Jay Dunlap is a teacher in South Bend, Ind., and the author of Raising Kids in the Media Age.