I just read a great editorial in the Catholic Sun, the Phoenix Diocesan paper, about the use of new technologies for Catholic evangelization. It notes that it is necessary for the Church to be in the midst of these technologies, as they are used by many people.
But it also notes,
[F]or all these new Web sites and their interesting takes on rewriting our English lexicon, they are merely another step in helping us get to a place of greater importance.
Archbishop George H. Niederauer of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ communications committee and a participant at the Vatican seminar, got to the heart of the matter: the ultimate focus should be on the liturgy and the eucharistic celebration.
“So the center of faith is not going to be the Internet,” he said. “But the Internet is going to be a wonderful vehicle for people to climb that summit — to the experience of the Eucharist, of Church and faith — and it’s going to be a place that can help that flowing forth as well.”
This is a very important point. As much as blogs, facebook, twitter and other technologies can give one a sense of community, they are not true communities in the fullest sense of that term. As humans, we are both body and soul, and the “bodiless” community that the Internet fosters is not a complete means to meet the needs of human community. Note the terms used to designate the Internet – “ether,” “cloud” – these words reflect a one-sided part of the human experience, and we need to be careful not to let this tool become our primary means of communication and community. There is no “2nd Life” except the afterlife, and in that life, we will eventually receive our (glorified or damned) bodies.
Catholicism, at its root, is a sacramental/incarnational religion. Our salvation occurred when God – a Spirit – became man. It should be remembered that none of the sacraments of the Church – not even confession – can be administered via the internet. The Church resists the Gnostic heresy which wants to separate body and soul, physical and spiritual.
Furthermore, as Catholics, we are not just part of a community, but a communion. The communion that is founded upon the Eucharist and realized in the local parish is the most complete and foundational community that man can be part of. That includes even “bad” parishes. The Eucharist is the bond that unites Catholics into a deep unity that goes beyond mere social commonality, and through the Eucharist, one is intimately connected to his or her fellow Catholics in a way that even a familial bond cannot provide.
Technology can be a wonderful tool, but it must be seen as the means to the end, which is union with Christ and through him union with others through the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. Nothing – nothing – will ever replace that as the “source and summit” of our life here on earth.
Not even a blog.