“..reflecting on the significance of the new technologies, it is important to focus not just on their undoubted capacity to foster contact between people, but on the quality of the content that is put into circulation using these means.” – Pope Benedict XVI’s Message for World Communications Day 2009 [full text here]
This week I attended a conference discussing how the Church embraces information technology in order to enhance its work of evangelization and catechesis. A “no brainer” as they say! As Christians, we are both leaven in as well as inhabitants of the “digital continent” to coin a phrase of Pope Benedict.
However, like all created things we also know that besides being realistic about what’s harmful, damaging and downright evil on the internet and social media, we also rejoice in its tremendous potential for good. St Paul reminds us to test the spirits as to find something’s true origin and worthiness. So here’s a thought – When we think of the word “digital” , it might be helpful to bear in mind its Latin origin, digitus (i.e. finger).
In Sacred Scripture, the “finger of God’s right hand” is a sign of the Holy Spirit. Our family life and households and daily lives are filled with all the devices of modern communications literally and often at our finger tips 24/7. On one level, that’s fine, but only in so far as our use of them is truly ‘digital’ that is to say, symbolic of the finger of God’s right hand!
But how do we know the Spirit is involved in our use of the technology? St Paul tells us to fill our minds with everything noble good, true and beautiful, so the litmus test for measuring our use of technology is simple – just check the influence of it all against the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 ” love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Pope Benedict declared in 2009 that the new technologies which bring new ways of relating must promote “a culture of respect, dialogue and friendship”. If the fruits of the Spirit signified by these hallmarks are not part of our daily occupancy of the “digital continent”, then we must pray for the wisdom to know the difference and act on it.
Switch it off or redirect its purpose to strengthen your personal and family life.
– Edmund Adamus
Director, Office of Marriage and Family Life – Diocese of Westminster