Looking in the mirror: an examination of conscience for Catholic communicators

Today’s Gospel reading from Luke 16:1-8 is Jesus’ story about the crafty steward who is praised for being enterprising. This morning, I couldn’t help but connect it directly to Catholics and people of faith working in the media.

As a Daughter of St. Paul working directly in the media, I am aware of and support many other Catholics and Christians who work in the media. There are many good people of faith making many wonderful efforts to transform culture with faith-based media productions that illumine and inspire with the truth of the Gospel. I could make a long list…which perhaps I should post, as each of us needs all the encouragement and support we can get. (Too often, we feel that we are working alone, sailing our tiny boats of faith directly into a tidal wave of a popular culture that seems obsessed with selfishness, greed, and death.)

However, despite the great efforts that are being made, I still find these words of Jesus sadly prophetic when it comes to people of faith using the media: “For the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light” (Lk. 16:8). Are we really doing all we can? Are we as eager to proclaim the Gospel as the stereotypical producer who is driven to make a quick buck delivering an audience to an advertiser?

I ask this question of myself first of all. And I suspect the answer to come in my prayer later today will be, “No, I’m not doing all I can.”

Let me clarify. It’s not that I’m not trying hard. But today’s Gospel raises other questions for me, questions like: Do I take initiative? Do I know the forms of media well enough to use them effectively? Am I willing to make the hard choices, to discern well, to take risks, to learn something new? Do I focus my efforts? In other words: Am I, as a media artist, really doing all that I can to transform our culture of death into a culture of hope?

The question becomes bigger when I raise this question for the Church. Are we, as Catholics and as Christians, supporting each other and uniting our efforts in communication? Are we really doing all that we can together to renew our world with the Gospel?

You might think with all of these questions that I’m being scrupulous or hard on myself. Or that I’m being hard on the Church. I disagree.

The Founder of the Pauline Family, Blessed James Alberione, encouraged us to always “strain forward” like St. Paul. We can’t be satisfied with what’s been done, but are called to respond to the needs people have now. Today, the media themselves are constantly developing. If my call is to communicate Christ, then I constantly need to be thinking and praying about the spiritual thirst of humanity, the opportunities that are out there, and how I can reach out–today, tomorrow, next year–to offer the joy of the Gospel to those who thirst for the waters of life.

I’m not asking myself these questions to drive myself (or anyone else) crazy. I’m asking them to help me open up to the ever-newness of the Gospel and the workings of the Spirit. Sometimes when I’m busy, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut, or to feel that the call to witness to Christ is a burden. Questions like these can help me to see things afresh and stir up my enthusiasm. Because the reality is that this call to radiate Christ in our lives and in the media is actually an amazing gift that blesses us in far more ways than we could possibly share. In trying to discover a new way of articulating the hope that Christ has placed in me (whether in a tweet, blogpost, or book), my hope is strengthened, deepened, and enlivened.

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