Preaching in the Digital Continent

Preaching in the Digital Continent

(Artículo en español)

Presently the Order is being sent to preach in the ‘digital continent’, a realm that also needs to be evangelized. The technological advances present us with a powerful instrument for preaching. Internet and the social networks have turned into a new pulpit for the Announcement and to foster dialogue and interaction in a polarized and divided society [AGC Bonnoniae MMXVI 76; Cfr. 151-156].

This quote,[1] taken from the prœmium to the Acts of the recent General Chapter of Bologna, serves as frame of reference for these lines.

December 12, 2012, marked a milestone in the history of the Church when Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI sent the first tweet from his @Pontifex account, thus venturing to mission in the “digital continent”, a term he had used three years earlier when addressing the plenary session of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, on October 29, 2009.[2]

The digital continent, comprising more than three billion persons connected to the internet in the world[3] represents the new “continent of mission” for the Church, and more particularly for us Dominicans, whose mission is the devotion to the total evangelization of the Word of God.[4] “This information explosion provides twenty-first century Dominicans with a new pulpit, allowing us to bring the Gospel to people often beyond our reach, as well as advancing causes, such as justice and peace, which are rooted in our foundational charism”.[5]

Hence the recommendation [commendatio] of the General Chapter to the priors provincial, vice-provincials and vicars provincial to “explore and promote explore and promote the appropriate use of the virtual world (internet) as an instrument to listen to the trends and social needs of our time, and as a tool for preaching”.[6]

We hold in our hands an unimaginable tool, both to our founding fathers in the thirteenth century, and to Fr. Joseph Cardijn in the decade of the thirties of the twentieth century, when he developed the method of revision of life that led to the classic methodology of See-Judge-Act. This allows us to make a real-time, almost instantaneous reading of the signs of the times, contemplate them in light of the Gospel, and guide our preaching in an effective manner, reaching and adapting it to the social, political and economic environment of every corner of the planet. Thus the Web becomes a virtual “bridge” that connects us instantly with individuals, communities and cultures on all continents. The name chosen by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as a handle for his Twitter account points in that direction (Pontifex = builder of bridges).

Pope Francis, on his part, also encourages us to use these new tools: “Do not be afraid to enter the social networks”. At the same time he reminds us that it is not about bombarding the social networks with religious messages and memes, but the deep subject is to bear witness, making synthesis of life, between our lives and the Gospel.[7]

We have heard many times the phrase: Imagine what Saint Paul could have accomplished had he had at his disposal those tools! Yet we see all that he accomplished. How did he do it? It’s not about how he did it, but about what he did to achieve it. Precisely, “give testimony”.  And that is what we have to do. When we use the Web as a pulpit, as a tool of evangelization, it is not a matter of writing and publishing “beautiful messages”, our mission is to share with each person who reads us the answer to the question Jesus asked his disciples: “And who do you say I am?” (Mt 16,15); it’s a matter of telling the world, each reader, through our postings, what Andrew told his brother Simon: “We have found the Messiah” (Jn 1,41).

It is what social media has done since its inception, except now we all have that capability in the palm of our hands, on our mobile phones, our tablets, and our personal computers, with the ability to instantly reach millions of People around the planet.

But that capacity carries a great responsibility. We all know that this formidable tool in the wrong hands can be harmful and dangerous. As Catholic Christians and especially as Dominicans we have a commitment to the veritas. That imposes on us the duty to continue forming ourselves to ensure that our message is faithful to the Gospel and is consistent with the doctrine of the Church.

In addition, just as we must ensure that our personal preaching is a true reflection of our personal and community life, we must be very careful with our behavior in social networks so that, just like in the former, our personal pages are a testimony of our message of evangelization.

As we have said elsewhere,[8] the political, social, economic and religious environment in which we live and act is not far from the one that motivated Domingo de Guzmán more than 800 years ago to undertake his evangelizing mission. Our reality cries out for a transformation that can only arise from a change in the hearts of men. And this change is only possible through effective evangelization. The difference, and the advantage, lie in the new tools at our fingertips. Let us listen to the call of Pope Francis: “Do not be afraid to enter the social networks.”

[1] This is an unofficial translation from the original Spanish contained in the published multilingual Acts of the General Chapter of Bologna MMXVI.

[2] Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the plenary Session: In this way the Church carries out what we could define as a “diaconate of culture” on the current “digital continent”, moving forward to proclaim the Gospel, the only word that can save mankind. It is the task of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications to understand in-depth every element of the new media culture, beginning with the ethical aspects, and carrying out a service of orientation and of guidance in order to help the particular Churches to understand the importance of communication, which by now represents a fixed, inalienable aspect of every pastoral plan. Furthermore, it is precisely the nature of the new media that makes an action of consultation, of solidarity and of coordination possible also on a large scale and in the globalized dimension that has been assumed. This, beyond increasing the effective diffusion of the Gospel message, can sometimes prevent a useless dispersion of energy and resources. https://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/speeches/2009/october/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20091029_pccs.html

[3] La Nación, 13 de julio de 2015, http://www.lanacion.com.py/2015/07/13/mas-de-3-mil-millones-de-personas-conectadas-a-internet-en-el-mundo/; AGC Bononiae MMXVI 151.

[4] http://www.dominicos.org/familia-dominicana/frailes/carisma.

[5] AGC Bononiae MMXVI 151; ¿Quién es el laico dominico del siglo XXI?, en http://www.op.org/es/content/quien-es-el-laico-dominico-del-siglo-xxi.

[6] AGC Bononiae MMXVI 152.

[7] Cfr. http://es.catholic.net/op/articulos/56612/cat/162/el-continente-digital-gran-desafio-y-oportunidad-.html#o

[8] ¿Quién es el laico dominico del siglo XXI?, op. cit.

Preaching in the Digital Continenthttp://www.fraternitiesop.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Vaticano-iPad.jpghttp://www.fraternitiesop.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Vaticano-iPad-150x150.jpgHector L. MarquezEnglishSign of our timesSlider,,
(Artículo en español) Presently the Order is being sent to preach in the ‘digital continent’, a realm that also needs to be evangelized. The technological advances present us with a powerful instrument for preaching. Internet and the social networks have turned into a new pulpit for the Announcement and to...
(<a href="http://www.fraternitiesop.com/slider/predicar-en-el-continente-digital/" target="_blank">Artículo en español</a>) <em>Presently the Order is being sent to preach in the ‘digital continent’, a realm that also needs to be evangelized. The technological advances present us with a powerful instrument for preaching. Internet and the social networks have turned into a new pulpit for the Announcement and to foster dialogue and interaction in a polarized and divided society</em> [AGC Bonnoniae MMXVI 76; <em>Cfr</em>. 151-156]. This quote,<a href="#_edn1" name="_ednref1">[1]</a> taken from the <em>prœmium</em> to the Acts of the recent General Chapter of Bologna, serves as frame of reference for these lines. December 12, 2012, marked a milestone in the history of the Church when Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI sent the first <em>tweet</em> from his <em>@Pontifex</em> account, thus venturing to mission in the “digital continent”, a term he had used three years earlier when addressing the plenary session of the <em>Pontifical Council for Social Communications</em>, on October 29, 2009.<a href="#_edn2" name="_ednref2">[2]</a> The <em>digital continent</em>, comprising more than three billion persons connected to the internet in the world<a href="#_edn3" name="_ednref3">[3]</a> represents the new “continent of mission” for the Church, and more particularly for us Dominicans, whose mission is the devotion to the total evangelization of the Word of God.<a href="#_edn4" name="_ednref4">[4]</a> “This information explosion provides twenty-first century Dominicans with a new pulpit, allowing us to bring the Gospel to people often beyond our reach, as well as advancing causes, such as justice and peace, which are rooted in our foundational charism”.<a href="#_edn5" name="_ednref5">[5]</a> Hence the recommendation [<em>commendatio</em>] of the General Chapter to the priors provincial, vice-provincials and vicars provincial to “explore and promote explore and promote the appropriate use of the virtual world (internet) as an instrument to listen to the trends and social needs of our time, and as a tool for preaching”.<a href="#_edn6" name="_ednref6">[6]</a> We hold in our hands an unimaginable tool, both to our founding fathers in the thirteenth century, and to Fr. Joseph Cardijn in the decade of the thirties of the twentieth century, when he developed the method of revision of life that led to the classic methodology of <em>See-Judge-Act</em>. This allows us to make a real-time, almost instantaneous reading of the <em>signs of the times</em>, contemplate them in light of the Gospel, and guide our preaching in an effective manner, reaching and adapting it to the social, political and economic environment of every corner of the planet. Thus the <em>Web</em> becomes a virtual “bridge” that connects us instantly with individuals, communities and cultures on all continents. The name chosen by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as a handle for his <em>Twitter</em> account points in that direction (<em>Pontifex</em> = builder of bridges). Pope Francis, on his part, also encourages us to use these new tools: “Do not be afraid to enter the social networks”. At the same time he reminds us that it is not about bombarding the social networks with religious messages and <em>memes</em>, but the deep subject is to bear witness, making synthesis of life, between our lives and the Gospel.<a href="#_edn7" name="_ednref7">[7]</a> We have heard many times the phrase: Imagine what Saint Paul could have accomplished had he had at his disposal those tools! Yet we see all that he accomplished. How did he do it? It's not about <em>how</em> he did it, but about <em>what</em> he did to achieve it. Precisely, "give testimony".  And that is what we have to do. When we use the Web as a pulpit, as a tool of evangelization, it is not a matter of writing and publishing "beautiful messages", our mission is to share with each person who reads us the answer to the question Jesus asked his disciples: "And who do you say I am?" (Mt 16,15); it’s a matter of telling the world, each reader, through our postings, what Andrew told his brother Simon: "We have found the Messiah" (Jn 1,41). It is what social media has done since its inception, except now we all have that capability in the palm of our hands, on our mobile phones, our tablets, and our personal computers, with the ability to instantly reach millions of People around the planet. But that capacity carries a great responsibility. We all know that this formidable tool in the wrong hands can be harmful and dangerous. As Catholic Christians and especially as Dominicans we have a commitment to the <em>veritas</em>. That imposes on us the duty to continue forming ourselves to ensure that our message is faithful to the Gospel and is consistent with the doctrine of the Church. In addition, just as we must ensure that our personal preaching is a true reflection of our personal and community life, we must be very careful with our behavior in social networks so that, just like in the former, our personal pages are a testimony of our message of evangelization. As we have said elsewhere,<a href="#_edn8" name="_ednref8">[8]</a> the political, social, economic and religious environment in which we live and act is not far from the one that motivated Domingo de Guzmán more than 800 years ago to undertake his evangelizing mission. Our reality cries out for a transformation that can only arise from a change in the hearts of men. And this change is only possible through effective evangelization. The difference, and the advantage, lie in the new tools at our fingertips. Let us listen to the call of Pope Francis: "Do not be afraid to enter the social networks." <a href="#_ednref1" name="_edn1">[1]</a> This is an unofficial translation from the original Spanish contained in the published multilingual Acts of the General Chapter of Bologna MMXVI. <a href="#_ednref2" name="_edn2">[2]</a> Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the plenary Session: <em>In this way the Church carries out what we could define as a "diaconate of culture" on the current "digital continent", moving forward to proclaim the Gospel, the only word that can save mankind. It is the task of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications to understand in-depth every element of the new media culture, beginning with the ethical aspects, and carrying out a service of orientation and of guidance in order to help the particular Churches to understand the importance of communication, which by now represents a fixed, inalienable aspect of every pastoral plan. Furthermore, it is precisely the nature of the new media that makes an action of consultation, of solidarity and of coordination possible also on a large scale and in the globalized dimension that has been assumed. This, beyond increasing the effective diffusion of the Gospel message, can sometimes prevent a useless dispersion of energy and resources</em>. <a href="https://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/speeches/2009/october/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20091029_pccs.html">https://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/speeches/2009/october/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20091029_pccs.html</a> <a href="#_ednref3" name="_edn3">[3]</a> <em>La Nación</em>, 13 de julio de 2015, http://www.lanacion.com.py/2015/07/13/mas-de-3-mil-millones-de-personas-conectadas-a-internet-en-el-mundo/; AGC Bononiae MMXVI 151. <a href="#_ednref4" name="_edn4">[4]</a> http://www.dominicos.org/familia-dominicana/frailes/carisma. <a href="#_ednref5" name="_edn5">[5]</a> <em>AGC Bononiae</em> MMXVI 151; <em>¿Quién es el laico dominico del siglo XXI?</em>, en http://www.op.org/es/content/quien-es-el-laico-dominico-del-siglo-xxi. <a href="#_ednref6" name="_edn6">[6]</a> <em>AGC Bononiae</em> MMXVI 152. <a href="#_ednref7" name="_edn7">[7]</a> <em>Cfr</em>. <a href="http://es.catholic.net/op/articulos/56612/cat/162/el-continente-digital-gran-desafio-y-oportunidad-.html#o">http://es.catholic.net/op/articulos/56612/cat/162/el-continente-digital-gran-desafio-y-oportunidad-.html#o</a> <a href="#_ednref8" name="_edn8">[8]</a> ¿Quién es el laico dominico del siglo XXI?, <em>op. cit.</em>

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