preach digital

Sent to preach in the digital age

Original article published on the site of the Friars of the Roman Province

The recent final document from the Synod of Youth includes important openings to the digital age: recognition of a new historical epoch and the need to under take specific studies in order to understand it.

§21 states firmly: “The digital environment is characteristic of the contemporary world.  Broad swathes of humanity are immersed in it in an ordinary and continuous manner.  It is no longer merely about “using” instruments of communication, but living in a highly digitalized culture that has had a profound impact on ideas of time and space, on self-understanding, on understanding of others and of the world, on how to communicate, to learn, to inform oneself, to enter into relationship with others ”.  

There is explicit mention of the existence of a “digital culture”, i.e. of a conceptual, linguistic apparatus typical of an epoch that has emerged with the  availability of digital resources. These new resources, first and foremost the web and social networks, are recognised as “an extraordinary opportunity for dialogue, encounter and exchange between persons, as well as access to information and knowledge.  Moreover, the digital world is one of socio-political engagement and active citizenship” (22). Despite the risks it entails (23; 24), the digital world, is recognised as an anthropological  context that is fruit of a particular culture that “is characteristic of the contemporary world” (21).

The Synod invites us to deal with the digital world, warning that to ignore it is to ignore the society in which we live and withdraw into places of resistence to change. The warning from the Synod priests is loud and clear: to continue with the same pastoral approach, catechesis or liturgy is to foster a field that is losing fertility. In fact, they explicitly affirm that “The digital environment presents a challenge to the Church on various levels; it is essential, therefore, to deepen knowledge of its dynamics and its range of possibilities from the anthropological and ethical point of view.  This requires not only entering into it and promoting its communicative potential with a view to the Christian proclamation, but also giving a Gospel flavour to its culture and its dynamics (145); indeed, they hope to see “dedicated Offices for digital culture and evangelization set up in the Church” with a view to promoting “ecclesial action and reflection in this environment” and “developing appropriate instruments of digital formation and evangelization” (146).

This is a momentous change from the documents of 2002 where it was stated that  the Internet “offers people direct and immediate access to important religious and spiritual resources—great libraries and museums and places of worship, the teaching documents of the Magisterium, the writings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church and the religious wisdom of the ages. It has a remarkable capacity to overcome distance and isolation, bringing people into contact with like-minded persons of good will who join in virtual communities of faith to encourage and support one another.” (The Church and Internet, §5); indeed, even more explicitly, the same document states: “Although the virtual reality of cyberspace cannot substitute for real interpersonal community, the incarnational reality of the sacraments and the liturgy, or the immediate and direct proclamation of the gospel, it can complement them, attract people to a fuller experience of the life of faith, and enrich the religious lives of users” (ibid.).

Since then both the digital world and the Church’s approach have changed: if, as the Synod says, the digital is part of “real” life, if the fragile boundary between online and offline has been destroyed and we are living in the mixed state of “onlife” (as Floridi would say), it is a matter of urgency that we reconsider the tools of analysis and investigation that we use in order to understand “reality”; it is necessary to advance and update theology, the Magisterium, pastoral practice, enriching them with data deriving from experience and reflection of and on the digital world, so that they may be able to respond to the questions of contemporary men and women in language that they understand.

This is a challenging task. In the universities the wish for this discussion is increasingly apparent, there is more and more work based on interdisciplinarity between the theology, philosophy and anthropology of the digital world. It is a challenge for the Order and for the Church: what should be the approach of projects that deal with the digital world? How can projects be fulfilled in the digital environment? What concept of Church emerges from the digital approach? How has the sense of the sacred been modified? Young people are not asking for a young Church, but for a Church that knows how to talk to young people, that knows how to inculturate the Gospel  in the digital context, in a word a missionary Church in this new environment.

This is the very challenge that St Dominic accepted when he sent his friars into the universities and immediately afterwards to preach to the people, on the problems of the people and in the language of the people. United in the holy preaching, friars, contemplative nuns and laity have changed the Church and offered answers to the urgent questions of the time. Today, that time is once again with us and we can fulfil our charism by preaching God to the digital Cumans e possiamo adempiere al nostro carisma predicando Dio ai cumani digitali.

Edoardo Mattei
Provincial Communication Officer

Sent to preach in the digital agehttps://www.fraternitiesop.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Esegesi-Digitale.pnghttps://www.fraternitiesop.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Esegesi-Digitale-150x150.pngRuth Anne HendersonMissionSlider,,
Original article published on the site of the Friars of the Roman Province The recent final document from the Synod of Youth includes important openings to the digital age: recognition of a new historical epoch and the need to under take specific studies in order to understand it. §21 states firmly: “The...
<!-- wp:paragraph --> <p><em>Original article published on the <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a rel="noreferrer noopener" aria-label="site of the Friars of the Roman Province (opens in a new tab)" href="https://www.dominicanes.it/predicazione/meditazioni/1470-inviati-a-predicare-nel-digitale.html" target="_blank">site of the Friars of the Roman Province</a> </span></em></p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>The recent final document from the Synod of Youth includes important openings to the digital age: recognition of a new historical epoch and the need to under take specific studies in order to understand it.</p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>§21 states firmly: “The digital environment is characteristic of the contemporary world.  Broad swathes of humanity are immersed in it in an ordinary and continuous manner.  It is no longer merely about “using” instruments of communication, but living in a highly digitalized culture that has had a profound impact on ideas of time and space, on self-understanding, on understanding of others and of the world, on how to communicate, to learn, to inform oneself, to enter into relationship with others ”.  </p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>There is explicit mention of the existence of a “digital culture”, i.e. of a conceptual, linguistic apparatus typical of an epoch that has emerged with the  availability of digital resources. These new resources, first and foremost the web and social networks, are recognised as “an extraordinary opportunity for dialogue, encounter and exchange between persons, as well as access to information and knowledge.  Moreover, the digital world is one of socio-political engagement and active citizenship” (22). Despite the risks it entails (23; 24), the digital world, is recognised as an anthropological  context that is fruit of a particular culture that “is characteristic of the contemporary world” (21).</p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>The Synod invites us to deal with the digital world, warning that to ignore it is to ignore the society in which we live and withdraw into places of resistence to change. The warning from the Synod priests is loud and clear: to continue with the same pastoral approach, catechesis or liturgy is to foster a field that is losing fertility. In fact, they explicitly affirm that “The digital environment presents a challenge to the Church on various levels; it is essential, therefore, to deepen knowledge of its dynamics and its range of possibilities from the anthropological and ethical point of view.  This requires not only entering into it and promoting its communicative potential with a view to the Christian proclamation, but also giving a Gospel flavour to its culture and its dynamics (145); indeed, they hope to see “dedicated Offices for digital culture and evangelization set up in the Church” with a view to promoting “ecclesial action and reflection in this environment” and “developing appropriate instruments of digital formation and evangelization” (146).</p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>This is a momentous change from the documents of 2002 where it was stated that  the Internet “offers people direct and immediate access to important religious and spiritual resources—great libraries and museums and places of worship, the teaching documents of the Magisterium, the writings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church and the religious wisdom of the ages. It has a remarkable capacity to overcome distance and isolation, bringing people into contact with like-minded persons of good will who join in virtual communities of faith to encourage and support one another.” (The Church and Internet, §5); indeed, even more explicitly, the same document states: “Although the virtual reality of cyberspace cannot substitute for real interpersonal community, the incarnational reality of the sacraments and the liturgy, or the immediate and direct proclamation of the gospel, it can complement them, attract people to a fuller experience of the life of faith, and enrich the religious lives of users” (ibid.). </p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>Since then both the digital world and the Church’s approach have changed: if, as the Synod says, the digital is part of “real” life, if the fragile boundary between online and offline has been destroyed and we are living in the mixed state of “onlife” (as Floridi would say), it is a matter of urgency that we reconsider the tools of analysis and investigation that we use in order to understand “reality”; it is necessary to advance and update theology, the Magisterium, pastoral practice, enriching them with data deriving from experience and reflection of and on the digital world, so that they may be able to respond to the questions of contemporary men and women in language that they understand. </p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>This is a challenging task. In the universities the wish for this discussion is increasingly apparent, there is more and more work based on interdisciplinarity between the theology, philosophy and anthropology of the digital world. It is a challenge for the Order and for the Church: what should be the approach of projects that deal with the digital world? How can projects be fulfilled in the digital environment? What concept of Church emerges from the digital approach? How has the sense of the sacred been modified? Young people are not asking for a young Church, but for a Church that knows how to talk to young people, that knows how to inculturate the Gospel  in the digital context, in a word a missionary Church in this new environment. </p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>This is the very challenge that St Dominic accepted when he sent his friars into the universities and immediately afterwards to preach to the people, on the problems of the people and in the language of the people. United in the holy preaching, friars, contemplative nuns and laity have changed the Church and offered answers to the urgent questions of the time. Today, that time is once again with us and we can fulfil our charism by preaching God to the digital Cumans e possiamo adempiere al nostro carisma predicando Dio ai cumani digitali.</p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph {"align":"left"} --> <p style="text-align:left"><em>Edoardo Mattei</em><br><em>Provincial Communication Officer</em></p> <!-- /wp:paragraph -->

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.