On the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of the Catholic press, it is by now a tradition for the Vatican to officially announce the theme for the year's "World Communications Day" (the only annual observance mandated by Vatican II!). This year's theme again highlights the place of social media in evangelization. Social media (under the rubric of "friendship") was the theme of the Communications Day a few years ago, and also the focus of the Holy Father's message for the Year of Priests, when Pope Benedict urged priests to be present and active as ministers of the Gospel in the new arenas opened up in cyberspace. This year, the Pope is calling for "truth and authenticity" in our online life. What a great focus in an arena where many people (especially the young) pretend to be other than they are... The theme is also reminding Catholics to be who they are not only in speaking or posting about "religious" topics, but above all in the everyday things of life. There is a "Catholic," "Christian" (that is, redeemed) way to relate to people, things, opportunities, etc. In a word: consistency. A life that in all its aspects matches the Gospel we say we believe in.
Sr. Julia is a good example of this. She has created a wonderful niche for herself with her many inspirational quotes on Facebook. (I also hope to catch her sometime with my video camera so her Best Catholic Books blog can be updated with some dynamic material.) Sr Julia's online persona is the real Sr. Julia, so she is evangelizing all the time, not only when she posts something "religious."
I've been grateful for the bishops' activity online as I prepare my Thursday evening talk on the new Roman Missal. The usccb website has layer upon layer of information, including ready-made handouts on different aspects of the Missal, a short video by Bishop Seratelli presenting the work, and a fabulous and very reflective talk by Archbishop Allen Vigneron on the issue of "pastoral translation." Granted, it's not social media in itself, but it is a great resource and I, for one, plan to make it social by processing it myself into bite-sized morsels for my blog--as well as by streaming the talk I hope to have ready by Thursday evening. (It will be on the Catholic Faith and Life ustream channel; I hope to provide the link and time to make it easy for you to join us live.)
What is your favorite form of social media? How active are you in it? What form does your evangelizing presence take?