Advent Reflection

Dear friends in Christ:

This weekend we begin a new liturgical year with the Season of Advent. As we all know, it is customary for many people to make New Year’s resolutions with the beginning of the calendar year. This usually requires an examination and reflection of some sort. May I suggest that we do the same with the beginning of this new liturgical year? Specifically, I would ask that we look and see how we use technology and social media. There are many wonderful and positive aspects of this new technology, but there are also some concerns.
On the positive side, of course, is convenience. It is easier to connect and communicate with people all over the globe at an almost instantaneous rate. We can conduct business, keep up with family and friends, enjoy it as entertainment, and use it as a resource for learning and information. Spiritually speaking, we can use it to promote, proclaim and communicate the gospel and the teachings of the Church. We can use it to strengthen and deepen our faith and our understanding of the faith. We can also use social media and technology to strengthen the bonds of community. And there are many more wonderful and beneficial uses.
On the negative side, social media and technology should not and cannot take the place of real person to person interaction. Technology is a tool, just like the printing press or the telegraph were in their day. Social media and technology, like other forms before them, can be abused and misused. Some things to be aware of: Problem: Social Media and technology are very good at stealing our time. Texting, tweeting, e-mailing, surfing the net, etc. all take up time. The rate of speed at which things happen can distort the amount of time we spend with technology and social media. What seems like a few minutes turns into hours. “Facebook friends” are no substitution for time spent with real life friends. Wasted hours on line can never be replaced. Solution: Limit time spent using social media and technology. Go on a technology and social media diet. Have certain times of the day when everything is turned off. Real people, relationships and conversations are far better than virtual and digital ones! Problem: Cyber Etiquette. As we see too often, people on-line can be harsh, rude, cruel, crude, curt, and mean! Perhaps this is because of the anonymity or the instantaneous speed with which we can respond, or the limited number of characters we can use. Politeness and good will are many times scorned and trampled. Solution: Refrain from commenting on everything! Our two cents are often not even worth two cents, and most of the time they are totally unnecessary! Remember to be a Christian on-line. Develop and practice cyber charity and cyber manners. Problem: internet pornography. Solution: Block those sites with filters. Don’t go there! Seek some help. Go to confession and pray. Would you like it if it were your wife, daughter, sister or mother/husband, son, brother or father? The body is sacred and to be cherished and respected. Internet Porn has reached epidemic proportions and is destroying relationships, lives and families. Many are becoming addicted. If you or someone you know is addicted, seek some help. Don’t be afraid, and Problem: conflation. Not everything is important and not everything is of equal importance. Just like you don’t really need to see the photo of somebody’s recent enchilada plate, they do not need to see your selfie or read your post about every little thing in your day. Solution: Keep important things important. The virtue of prudence helps us discern what is important and what is of greater importance and what is not. Exercise and practice this virtue.

Technology and social media are great and useful, but not when they rule or dominate our lives. Jesus has set us free so that we can live life to the fullest, not to sit behind a screen or play on our phones all day. Use and enjoy these wonders, don’t become enslaved to them!

In Pace Christi,

Fr. Troy Gately