Social Media - An Extension of but Not a Substitute for Being Together
is no substitute for being with them on Christmas day, it is still a blessing.
Still, these new avenues of social networking cannot replace the need for people to personally share thoughts, ideas and experiences. There is a strong need to continue what Holy Scripture calls koinonia - "coming together" or "fellowship."
In the Acts of the Apostles St. Luke writes, "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers." (Acts 2:42)
The "fellowship" or "koinonia" of the Church began with our Lord Jesus Christ. The apostles became first witnesses of His presence on the earth. As St. John wrote in his first epistle, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of Life." (I John 1:1)
The apostles had more than a virtual encounter - they journeyed with the Lord, hearing his words, watching his actions. Their encounter was truly up close and personal.
This same dynamic has continued within His Church from that point on. We are able to come together with the successors of the apostles for teaching, fellowship, Holy Communion and prayer.
As an avid supporter of new technologies and social media, I am excited with the emphasis on this area from our Pope. We need to harness these technologies for the new evangelization. In a world where the secular media has often turned a deaf ear to the Church and even sought to attack her, the new media gives us the ability to take our information directly to the people.
Scholar and communications theorist Marshall McLuhan always spoke of media as "extensions" of an individual. The printing press was an extension of one's hand, radio an extension of one's mouth. As extensions, various media can extend the influence of an individual's ability to communicate with others. When we see these as extensions, we realize they are merely tools we have to expand influence. For Catholic Christians, this means the ability to extend evangelization to another level.
I was also very pleased to hear the Pontiff's wise counsel concerning the problems we can encounter. Too often well-meaning Christians, Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants, can experience a major disconnect and act online in a manner that is not in keeping with Christ and may, in fact, be sin.
At the same time, however, we must never let these social networks become a replacement for the real coming together of the Church.
Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and the CEO/Associate Publisher for the Northern Virginia Local Edition of Catholic Online (http://virginia.catholic.org). He is a former Archbishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church who laid aside that ministry to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: social media, social networking, Randy Sly, new technologies
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