Archive for the ‘New Media’ Category

Don’t get me wrong, I  love being Catholic. I love the church, the Magestrium, Pope Francis, and our traditions that have survived over two thousand years. One of the issues I do have is that we are loosing young people to the secular media and a relativist world. Our young people are not in the churches, they are online. With that in mind, I compiled a list of my favorite Catholic Media sites that I believe do an awesome job reaching out to young people in the church in efforts to bring them home:

downloadChastity Project

Perhaps I am a little biased in putting this on the list due to my work with them, but they are so deserving of being on this list. The project was started by Jason and Crystalina Evert who work to make resources available to students about the importance of chastity in a world that doesn’t encourage it.

They have traveled around the world spreading their message and run an awesome website where visitors can view their books and chastity resources, as well as a blog where writers (like myself) share their thoughts and reflections on chastity. Their work is so good and their message needs to be heard.

download (1)LifeTeen International

Life Teen is an organization that provides resources for parishes in developing a youth ministry program. I’m a big fan of their site because, like the Chastity Project, they post amazing blogs that cover thousands of topics about the faith. I visit the site and walk away learning something new about the faith.

It’s a great resource, it’s easy to navigate, and they are doing some great work for the rest of the world. It was launched out of Arizona in 1985 and now serves over sixteen hundred parishes in over 31 countries around the world.

imagesSteubenville Conferences

The Steubenville Conferences are headed by the Christian Outreach Office at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio. They host 14 youth conferences and 6 adult conferences every summer in which thousands and thousands of people come to hear amazing speakers, a one of a kind adoration experiance, amazing praise and worship, and (of course) an one on one encounter with Christ.

Luckily, the conferences don’t have to end at the end of the weekend. Most of the talks and homilies are posted online for those who don’t have the opportunity to go, or those who need to hear the message one more time. I like watching them when I’m lacking in my faith and need a reminder of my time and growth at the conferences.

Each talk is so fruitful and well done. It’s an organization that has brought and will continue to bring thousands back to the church.

primary_focus_logoFOCUS

Fellowship of Catholic University Students was founded in 1998 at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas by Curtis Martin to  evangelize to Catholic college students across the country. College is when most young people tend to leave the faith mostly due to seriously seeking an encounter with Christ.

FOCUS goes to their colleges and universities to change their hearts and and set their faith on fire.

logo-word-on-fireFather Robert Barron’s Word On Fire

I was introduced to Father Barron’s ministry very recently and it is quickly becoming one of my favorite resources for all things Catholic. Father Barron’s church is the media and he works hard to deliver the truth to thousands. He has amazing YouTube videos in which he discusses the church in the most basic terms and what makes him unique from other YouTube Channels, he reads every comment made on each video and tries to respond and answer every question on each comment.

His books are amazing and  his ministry is doing some serious good. It’s a must have resource.

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Infinite Bandwidth: Encountering Christ in the Media by Eugene Gan

Infinite Bandwidth: Encountering Christ in the Media by Eugene Gan

I want to get one myth out of the way before I begin answering this question: The media is not bad. I think many Catholics have the wrong idea that the media is corrupting the youth and will forever change society for the worse. I may by biases when I say this as a young person and a Journalism major, but that idea is false.

The media is awesome. Its is an amazing tool that can be used to bring the world together and better the Catholic faith, is used correctly. Even Pope Francis agrees,  calling social media and the internet “a gift from God“. If the Pope says so, it’s most likely true.

So what is the mind set that Catholics can use in order to use media the right way to better themselves and the church? Dr. Eugene Gan, a communications professor at Franciscan University, very kindly put a book together that identifies this mind set.

After reading dozens of doctrine about the media dating back to when the media was born, he was able to narrow it down to seven keys. The following only comes from what I’ve read in his book, I did not come up with any of these. It’s strictly from the Catholic church.

1. Balance

Do not rely on only one organization for your media entertainment. The point is to look at a variety of outlets in order to see various mind sets.

In news, look at a variety of angles to get the truth in reporting. No matter how much a news organization claims that they aren’t biased, there always will be a little bit of bias, it’s impossible to avoid. Look at various sources to figure out what is going on in the world if you want to get the whole story.

2. Attitude Awareness

Attitude awareness means to stay informed and on top of news and media. Listen for the message that are being presented. When looking at media, try to identify the perspective and agenda that the media maker has. Seek the message that is being shown.

For example, car ads try to sell cars by promising a particular lifestyle. Usually there is a man looking a little like James Bond in the car  wearing a really nicely fitted suit driving on an open road at top speeds. He pulls up to a valet and dramatically tosses them the keys while and attractive woman stands to the side oohing the man and his car. What kind of lifestyle is the ad promoting? They are essentially saying, buy our car and you’ll get the girl and a life of luxury.

3. The Dignity of the Human Person

All media should reflect, uphold, and enhance dignity. Pope John Paul II said that the “goal of all technological progress is to make man more human“. Media should enhance one’s understanding of culture and what makes humans unique.

For example, the movie Bella is the story of a man helping a woman find her worth and preventing her from aborting her baby. It enhances the dignity of both the woman and her child.

4. Truth-filled

The media can help convey the truth about God and humanity.  Truths are that God exists, redemption is possible, good and evil exist, and that there is a moral law. Keep in mind that the media can be truthful, but not accurate. An example of this is the Chronicles of Narnia. There is no such thing as Narnia, but the books reflect Christian morals.

5. Inspiring

Media should enlighten and raise questions among its consumers. Inspires people to transcendent lives and point our way to heaven and good. It should inspire people to pursue virtue and develop a relationship with the Lord.

For example, the 1946 holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life, starring James Stewart and Donna Reed inspires its viewers. The movie is about a young man who struggles to see his importance and is visited by an angel, who shows him what the world would be like without him. It teaches people their importance and inspires them to appreciate the people around them.

6. Skillfully Developed

Media must be well done with the latest technology and talented crew in order to get people’s attention. The problem with a lot of movies and books that Christian organizations come out with is that it’s not very well made. The script is cheesy, the graphics are off, and the acting is so-so. It doesn’t matter how good the message is. If it’s poorly made, no one is going to pay attention to it.

Mumford and Sons had really grasped this key. They play very good music that is unique to them that people love, but also has a good Christian Message.

7. Motivated by and Relevant to Experience

Media should reflect our feelings, thoughts, and actions. People tend to relate to messages that tell stories. Stories touch the heartstrings and force people to listen and understand better than straight facts. It’s why sitcom shows tend to be more desirable than news shows, because a sitcom tells a story rather than presents facts.

This sounds like the most cliche example, but it’s the best example in my opinion: Jesus told parables. He was preaching to audiences of thousands. He could’ve said that the father is forgiving to all sinners, but instead, he told the parable of the Prodigal Son, who stole his inheritance from his father, fell to a life of drinking and gambling, then went home to his father who welcomed him with open arms and celebrated his return home. The story got people to listen and understand.

So that’s all 7 keys? Think it’s easy to remember all of them? It actually is! Gan was clever and came up with a really cool acronym to remember all of them. Put all the first letters of the keys together and it spells BAPTISM.

Balance
Attitude of Awareness
Person (Dignity of)
Truthfilled
Inspiring
Skillfully Made
Motivated by Experiance

Mind blown by that acronym? I was…

One of the things that drives me crazy when talking with someone who isn’t Catholic (or particularly religious) is when they make the claim that the Catholic Church is boring, outdated, and needs to consider rethinking its teaching to appeal to the modern world.  Let me go on a quick little tangent here about why the Catholic church is awesome.

  1. We have a patron saint against oversleeping (Saint Vitus)
  2. There are a lot of us. With over 1.2 billion Catholics world wide, not to mention our buddies the angels and saints, we are not a force to be reckoned with
  3. Our protestant brothers like to say we don’t know The Bible, but guess who put The Bible together?
  4. We have awesome Popes. Pope John Paul II used to sneak out of the Vatican to go skiing in the Alps. Who said Catholics can’t have a good time?

That’s just to name a few things. Note that none of that mentions the Eucharist, how awesome Mary is,  or how awesome the Sacraments are. If I go into details on any of those, I’ll be talking all day… However, as a Catholic in a modern world, it is really hard to keep up with the church doctrine. There is over 2000 years of sacred writings and doctrines and writings from saints. It’s hard for me to find time to pick up my Bible, let alone read everything the church has released about every subject imaginable.

Part of that is also the way society runs now.  We are constantly on the go, go, go.  We can quickly access the things we want to know with a few clicks.  I have access to an unending amount of information and it sits comfortably in my back pocket.  When I want information, I want it now.  It takes a lot of patience to read, reflect, and interpret the documents that come my way. Usually it’s a quick skim of the first page and I’m done with no plans to think about it again.

In my personal, humble, unprofessional opinion, the Church isn’t utilizing a key tool that can be used to bring those who have lost the faith, back into church on Sundays. The tool that can be used to allow the voices of liturgical geniuses like St. Paul, St, Augustine, and St. Francis to be heard world wide, to make them go “viral”.

Obviously the church is trying. There is this adorable picture of Papa Benny trying to understand twitter:

Taken from abcnews.com

Taken from abcnews.com

Or this adorable picture of Papa Franny taking selfies with some excited Catholic youth:

theverge.com

theverge.com

We have our foot in the door when it comes to seriously using the media in a positive way to help us, we just have yet to bust down the door with our awesomeness.  Some people do have it figured out.  They’ve been able to use the media and modern technology.   For instance, Cardinal Sean O’Malley runs a very popular blog which attempts to appeal to the younger members of the Catholic Church or Jennifer Fulwiler, a woman who grew up a hard-core atheist, but became Catholic and recorded all of it in an inspirational blog about her journey.

The New Media is our new link to the Sacred Tradition. With the new media, we don’t need to spend hours translating the Saint’s words and writings, we don’t have to carry a 100lbs copy of St. Faustina’s diary when we can easily access it on our E-Readers, we don’t have to be helplessly confused about St. Augustine’s Confessions when we can get help from bloggers who have made it a mission to read and understand the texts with just a few clicks.

Jesus Christ promised to make his apostles “fisher’s of men” (Matthew 4:19) following his death, resurrection, and ascension. They went out and preached, some dying for the cause. Their words were heard around the world. The faith spread like wild fire. The new media is a bigger, stronger, thicker net and it will keep their lives and their words alive.  If used right, the media could be the key to giving the church its rightful place in human heart.

And remember

Taken from catholicmemes.con

Taken from catholicmemes.con

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