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World Communications Day 2013 (pdf), by Brenda Drumm.
World Communications Day 2013
What is World Communications Day and when is it celebrated?
World Communications Day is a very important date in the calendar of the Catholic Church because it was the only worldwide celebration called for by the Second Vatican Council and it has been celebrated each year since 1967 on the Sunday before Pentecost.
It will be celebrated this year on Sunday 12 May.
What is the theme of this year’s World Communications Day message?
His Holiness Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus chose a very current and relevant theme for World Communications Day 2013: ‘Social Networks: portals of truth and faith; new spaces for evangelisation’.
What are some of the key points from this year’s WCD message?
His Holiness Benedict XVI, our Pope Emeritus made some very important points about social networks in this year’s message:
‘Social networks are nourished by aspirations rooted in the human heart. People are engaged in building relationships and making friends, in looking for answers to their questions and being entertained, but also in finding intellectual stimulation and sharing knowledge and know-how.’
One of the very interesting points in this year’s message relates to young people and the danger in dismissing social networks as some virtual reality space where young people hang out and this is something that we have seen happen.
Benedict XVI said:
‘The digital environment is not a parallel or purely virtual world, it is in fact part of the daily experience of many people, especially the young. The Church if she is to have a significant presence on social media needs to have a considered understanding of social networks which are reshaping the dynamics of communication. So if we want to engage with and evangelise, especially the younger generations then we need to understand social networks and have an active presence on them.’
This year’s message also reminds us that there can be a negative side to social networks which many in the Catholic Church have been on the receiving end of in recent times.
‘In the digital environment too, where it is easy for heated and divisive voices to be raised and where sensationalism can at times prevail, we are called to attentive discernment. We are reminded that Elijah recognised the voice of God, not in the great and strong wind, not in the earthquake or the fire, but in a still small voice.’
He invites us to persevere in the spread of the Gospel on social media:
‘Even though at times it can be difficult on social networks we need to trust in the fact that the basic human desire is to love and be loved and to find meaning and truth.’
Benedict XVI reminds us of is that we should always be conscious that behind social networks and virtual conversations are human beings searching for the answers to life’s questions. He reminds us that social networks offer our contemporaries opportunities for prayer, meditation and sharing the word of God.
‘But these networks can also open the door to other dimensions of faith. Many people are discovering thanks to a virtual contact the importance of direct encounters, experiences of community and pilgrimage.’
Benedict XVI even hinted at the importance of using tweet-ups (meetings which are created using Twitter) to bring people together for prayer or liturgical celebration:
‘There should be no lack of coherence or unity in the expression of our faith and witness to the Gospel in whatever reality we are called, whether physical or digital.’
How important is social media for the spread of the Gospel, for evangelisation?
‘Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation’ is a well-known verse from the Gospel of Mark and of course it is natural for those who have faith to want to share it with those they meet in the digital world.
This year’s World Communications Day Message looks at how social networks are being used to spread the Gospel.
‘Effective communication, as in the parables of Jesus, must involve the imagination and the affectivity of those we wish to invite to an encounter with the mystery of God’s love.
‘Christian tradition has always been rich in signs and symbols – images of the Cross, icons, images of Mary, Christmas cribs, stained-glass windows and pictures in our churches. Benedict XVI in this year’s WCD message reminds us that a significant part of mankind’s artistic heritage has been created by artists and musicians who sought to express the truths of the faith.’
My own Facebook Timeline and Twitter stream are full of Gospel and other scripture quotes, images and prayers because I have chosen to wear my faith on my virtual sleeve so as to connect with those who share my faith and beliefs. It’s like dropping a pebble into a pond and watching the ripple effect of the words, images and signs of faith that I have shared on my social media pages, spreading out to others far beyond my own circle of friends. That is what His Holiness benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus has asked of us in this year’s World Communications Day Message:
‘… believers show their authenticity by sharing the profound source of the hope and joy: faith in the merciful and loving God revealed in Jesus Christ.’
The full text of this year’s World Communications Day message can be read here.
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