Teaching and modeling safe and healthy digital media practices is an increasingly important part of good parenting- you may be one such good parent visiting this website for this very reason. But from the perspective of Christian tradition, can we also think about what it is to model digital media communication that is not only safe and healthy but also faithful? What does it mean communicate faithfully in and through the digital media? How can our online presence illuminate the lives of others with the Good News of Jesus Christ?
In the recent papal encyclical Lumen Fidei (Light of Faith), the Pope offers a meditation on the virtue of faith. Among the many beautiful verbal images in this document is one metaphor that compares faith to a light that “draws us into itself, inviting us to explore ever more fully the horizon which it illumines, all the better to know the object of our love.” (LF 36) Living faithfully is living in this light, seeing the world as illuminated by it, and sharing it with others. Lumen Fidei compares faith to a candle-lit vigil, such as the Easter Vigil liturgy, where the light passes from the Easter Candle to one taper and to the next, gradually illuminating the whole gathering with a gentle but undeniable glow, and inviting the faithful into the Light of Christ that shines from the darkness of the tomb toward the glory of the resurrection.
Election of Pope Francis — Photo Credit: Michael Sohn / AP
How does this image relate to the light that glows from the screens of our various digital devices? Although the digital medium is the greatest and most fascinating uncharted territories of our time, living in the light of faith online is really not so different that living faithfully face-to-face. On and offline, Christian people of faith are called to live in the Light of Christ, see the world by it, and strive to bring that light to others, especially those who dwell in the darkness of suffering, isolation, despair.
Yet, the digital media afford new opportunities for the light of faith to shine. The scope of outreach through the digital media is vast: like one taper candle simultaneously lighting and re-lighting thousands of others in an infinite network. This is an impressive, almost overwhelming image – how does a person of faith bring Good News to this?
Following the wisdom of Lumen Fidei, the questions below might be a helpful way to reflect on a faithful approach to digital communication. Next time you post, tweet, comment, tag or share your way around your social network, pause and ponder:
· How does the Light of Christ draw you in at this moment?
· How might you perceive this website/social network/interaction as illuminated by Christ’s Light? How would Christ see what you see?
· Where do you perceive darkness that yearns for the light? How might you share the light of faith in the manner you communicate today through this digital medium?