Just when some of us may feel as though there is an information overload and privation of privacy in the digital age in which we are living, an encouraging word from His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI comes our way. On Monday, as we celebrated the Solemnity of St. Francis de Sales and participated in the events of the March for Life, some of us were delighted to stumble upon this message for the 45th World Communications Day.
Many of us are only too familiar with the ways in which the boundless possibilities of the information age have served as a conduit for less-than-virtuous pursuits. From cyber-bullying and cyber-stalking to pornography and libel: we are well-acquainted with the "moving violations" along the information superhighway.
It is not without caution that Pope Benedict encourages the use of media for networking but it is a caution which we would do well to heed: one can never replace the tenderness of human contact, face to face encounters and live conversations with a computer screen and gradually slip into a state of isolation. That being said, we are encouraged to use the ever-evolving media to spread the Gospel message in new ways and to spread the hope of Christianity beyond our own -- often limited -- spheres of influence.
It is no accident that this message, prepared to be delivered on 5 June 2011 was issued on the day when we honor St. Francis de Sales. It is amusing to consider just what media tools St. Francis de Sales would use, were he alive today. We might be able listen to his homilies through podcast or perhaps we might subscribe to his blog. He would probably entertain spiritual questions and give advice over email. He might even carry a blackberry or iPhone when he travels so as to keep in touch with the many people who sought his advice. Perhaps he would have his own cafe press site with t-shirts and bumper stickers that say, "Be who you are and be that well" ... and mugs that read "There is nothing so strong as true gentleness and nothing so gentle as true strength." It is hard to imagine how exactly how this sharp mind and tender spirit would navigate today's digital age but one can safely bet that he would be making good use of the tools available to him, as suggested to us by Pope Benedict.