Christ is Knocking
In his message for World Communications Day, which was released on Sunday, Pope Benedict urges priests to make good use of the expressive power of digital media to “introduce people to the life of the Church and help our contemporaries to discover the face of Christ.” The Pope sees the world wide web as providing a space in which priests can gather with those who are not yet fully committed to the Gospel: “Just as the prophet Isaiah envisioned a house of prayer for all peoples (cf. Is 56:7), can we not see the web as also offering a space – like the ‘Court of the Gentiles’ of the Temple of Jerusalem – for those who have not yet come to know God?”
In a powerful image, Benedict suggests that the Internet and other modern media provide a new means for priests to reach people with Christ’s saving message:
In this way the Word can traverse the many crossroads created by the intersection of all the different “highways” that form “cyberspace”, and show that God has his rightful place in every age, including our own. Thanks to the new communications media, the Lord can walk the streets of our cities and, stopping before the threshold of our homes and our hearts, say once more: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me” (Rev 3:20).
The Pope emphasized the role of priests in modern media because the theme of this year’s forty-fourth World Communications Day (which is to be celebrated in May) is meant to coincide with the current Year for Priests. Therefore, the theme is “The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word”. But, of course, the use of modern digital media to proclaim the gospel is not limited to priests: “This development likewise represents a great opportunity for believers. No door can or should be closed to those who, in the name of the risen Christ, are committed to drawing near to others.”
It goes without saying that this is a project dear to CatholicCulture.org. We have the same purpose: “To embody the universality of the Church’s mission, to build a vast and real fellowship, and to testify in today’s world to the new life which comes from hearing the Gospel of Jesus, the eternal Son who came among us for our salvation.” We receive countless emails from people who first discover Christ and the Church through our web site, or who are strengthened in their Faith by the information and resources we provide. Other users of CatholicCulture.org, who are already deeply committed and highly knowledgeable Catholics, use the site to keep up and to support their own efforts to strengthen the Church, spread the Faith, and transform the culture.
Granted, an online community is no substitute for the real thing, nor does the computer possess the power of the sacraments. We seldom get to meet the many people who use CatholicCulture.org, not even those with whom we communicate regularly through email. But there is a bond nonetheless, the bond created among all those who have opened, or are in the process of opening, their doors to Christ. Pope Benedict knows that in our local communities that bond is not always as strong as it should be, and he also knows that no matter how strong that bond is locally, we are all now immersed in a digital culture. St. Paul said that Faith came through hearing, but he did not mean that in a restrictive sense. What he meant was that Faith comes through the communication of the Word of God.
Every one of us has a role to play in that communication. Involvement with CatholicCulture.org is one way to fulfill that role, and together we can make an enormous difference in the world. “I renew the invitation,” says Pope Benedict, “to make astute use of the unique possibilities offered by modern communications.” In the new space opened by digital media, he calls us to be “enthusiastic heralds of the Gospel.” In response, let's make a point of renewing our commitment. Digital media may seem impersonal at times, but it is still an effective way to communicate a very personal truth: Christ is knocking at the door for only one reason. He wants to come in.
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