What’s Most Important in Our Communication? 2019 Theme for World Communication Day

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

The theme for the 2019 World Communications Day chosen by Pope Francis is: We are members one of another” (Eph 4:25). From network community to human communities. Here is the full text of the brief statement from the Vatican:


Theme of World Communications Day 2019, 29.09.2018


This is the theme chosen by the Holy Father Francis for the 53rd World Communications Day, to be held in 2019:

«We are members one of another» (Eph 4,25). From network community to human communities.

The theme underlines the importance of giving back to communication a broad perspective, based on the person, and emphasizes the value of interaction always understood as dialogue and as an opportunity to meet with others.

This calls for a reflection on the current state and nature of relationships on the Internet, starting from the idea of community as a network between people in their wholeness. Some of the prevailing trends of the so-called social networks ask us a fundamental question: to what extent can we speak of a real community in the face of the logic that characterizes some communities on social media? The metaphor of the web as a community of solidarity implies the construction of an “us”, based on listening to the other, on dialogue and consequently on the responsible use of language.

In his first Message for World Communications Day in 2014, the Holy Father called for the Internet to be “an environment rich in humanity, a network not of wires but of people”.

The choice of the theme for the 2019 Message confirms Pope Francis’ attention to the new communications environment and for social networks, especially, where he is present in the first person with his @Pontifex account on Twitter and @Franciscus on Instagram.

Paolo Ruffini, Prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, commented on the theme in a brief interview with Vatican News. World Communications Day is usually celebrated the Sunday before Pentecost (which will be June 2, 2019), and the actual Message for the day will be released on January 24, the Feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of writers.


I particularly like the emphasis that the message (along with Ruffini’s comments) gives to the essential elements of a genuine human encounter, whether in person or online: dialogue and openness. In his comments, Ruffini pointed out that “the risk that comes with the times in which we live is that of building tribes rather than communities.” This risk has been mentioned before in other communications documents from the Church. In these times of growing polarization, to use media as a way to deepen our understanding rather than as a way to reinforce our own views is vitally important, and something that everyone can do to build up a culture of true dialogue and community.


In this 2016 message to the Pontifical Academies, the Pope talks about how artists, in their quest for beauty, can help to transform every day life: “To create works of art that bring us, in the language of beauty, a sign, a spark of hope and trust where people seem to give in to indifference and ugliness.” To speak the truth in love is the first priority of the communicator, but to speak the truth in a way that offers “a spark of hope” seems critical in our roles as communicators. We live in a time of fake journalism, of sensationalist reporting, of the pain and truth of victims of devastating crimes being manipulated for others’ agendas, of a lack of transparency on the part of institutions and persons in positions of great responsibility, of shattering accusations brought before the worldstage (not to the involved parties/communities) without a helpful process beforehand or afterward to resolve them. Any thoughtful person knows how much their words can affect another. Media and social networks multiply the power of just one word in ways unimaginable in the past. Trying to “keep up” technologically doesn’t meant that we have “kept up” ethically. How do we balance the news we publish/share/promote? How can we form ourselves–first of all–and our children–to carry this responsibility in a way that truly builds up the human family?

The Church offers us the principles in an easy-to-understand way in its World Communications Day Messages, but it is up to each of us as communicators to forge our communication in both content and style so that we always hold high the Truth–that Light of Truth that doesn’t just illuminate the darkness of evil, but offers the human family a way forward: a way of hope, respect, and justice.

Trinitarian Foundation of Catholic Media Spirituality

Every spare moment I have this week will be dedicated to final preparations for the Clay Pots Retreat for Catholic artists and media professionals. One of the things that I will speak about briefly, but do not have time to explore in-depth is how the foundation for all communication spirituality is found in the Most Holy Trinity. It’s terribly challenging to try to present the Trinitarian aspect of communication spirituality, because you need to delve into the theology of the Most Holy Trinity…and I always feel a bit uneasy treading where St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine found words inadequate…  Really doing justice to the Trinitarian foundation of communication spirituality would be not just a a weekend retreat, but a month-long retreat!

Father Thomas Rosica, CSB, is one of the Church’s most balanced and “to the point” communicators that the Church has today. He has a wonderful homily for the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity that explains how, for God, relationships and community come first:

Our God isn’t immovable. God isn’t alone. God is communication between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is the profound mystery that the liturgy for the feast of the Holy Trinity recalls: both the unspeakable reality of God and the manner in which this mystery has been given to us. The Trinity celebrates the peace and unity of the divine persons in whom the circular dance of love – “perichoresis” in Greek – continues. That unity is a dance of life and relationships, encompassing all aspects of human life.

Read the rest of Father Rosica’s beautiful, Scripturally-based homily here, and watch his additional explanation in the video below. Both are beautiful and profound, and can help us to ponder the mystery of our God in  a way that we, as ordinary people, can understand!


Potpourri of Resources on Communication Spirituality

When I’m working on more than two or three articles at a time (not a series), sometimes the writing well within seems to dry up. Each short article becomes progressively harder to write until I find myself on article 4 or 5 staring at a blank screen with no idea what to say. I know that I’m more comfortable writing long-form (books, screenplays, or even a series of articles about the same topic), but one advantage of writing shorter pieces is that I need to fill the well more often. Which means lately, I’ve been finding some interesting and helpful resources that I believe you will enjoy as well!

SrNancyHere is a list of her next articles:

A Sacred Look: Science-Fiction Seeks Redemption

  • A strong theme that frequently comes up in Pope Francis–and which I believe he encourages us to use in the New Evangelization–is “encounter.” I’ve written a little bit about what this means, but recently stumbled across this article in the Houston Catholic Worker that explains what “encounter” and “encuentro” mean to someone from a Latino culture. I found it very helpful to put into words what I was intuiting from reading the Pope’s frequent references to this term.
  • Our sisters in Italy have been publishing short articles on the media and now they’ve put them together on their website in English under the heading: Window on Communication. It’s an excellent series of articles on various topics connecting media and spirituality, written by a wide variety of writers.

Glad to be back to blogging…

Thanks for your patience as I gradually find my way back to blogging weekly. Here’s my update on just a few notable events—some of which have prevented me from blogging the past couple of months!

* Our Pauline digital apostolate has some new features: online novenas, courses, and retreats. I’m in the midst of preparing an online version of a few mini-retreats that I’ve given, which I hope will become available in the fall (on the Eucharist and on God’s love for us), but first we had to put in the structure and put together the website. There are already some wonderful resources there, especially some lovely ones by Sr. Kathryn Heremes.  Visit: www.lightalongtheway.com to check it out!

* A 10-day get-away in which I focused solely on completing the rough draft of my next book about discernment. I’m letting it sit for about 6 weeks to gain perspective, and then I’ll begin to revise.

* The privilege of guiding a seven-day retreat for a group of our senior sisters

* A trip to Rome to participate in a seminar on Pauline (apostolic) mysticism

* Continuing to develop plans for the Communicators’ Retreat coming up in October

It seems this is one of those times when the Lord is “stirring the waters” inside me, offering multiple opportunities to deepen the spirituality of communication from several perspectives: the writings of the Founder of the Pauline Family, Blessed James Alberione; the wonderful book In a New Light: Spirituality and the Media Arts by Ron Austin; the Pope’s Message for the 50th World Communications Day; and preparing for the seminar on Pauline mysticism which is, of course, all about the mysticism of communication. All of these have been wonderful companions during this time of reflection. In particular, I’m seeing the connection more clearly between:

  • the need to keep our gaze on Christ the Master-Communicator—including our thoughts and our hearts, our focused attention
  • the importance of attentiveness or “being awake” so as to live in the present moment (which includes Alberione’s insight about the importance of sanctifying our thoughts and attitudes)
  • the “spirituality” of encounter, wherein it is possible to discover the sacredness of every interaction with another person

In the eyes of Alberione, the call to holiness of life and holiness of communication are intimately connected and could be described as the “integration” of our entire person and life in Christ, Way, Truth, and Life; an integration in which we are transformed in Christ and thus all our communication is also transformed.

Called To Communicate Mercy—But How Do We Do It?

If you live in Boston, come and celebrate with us on April 24, 2016! http://store.pauline.org/landing-pages/world-communications-day-mass

If you live near Boston, come and celebrate with us on April 24, 2016! For more information, visit: http://store.pauline.org/landing-pages/world-communications-day-mass

It’s been a really full late winter/early spring for me! I’ve had to let social media “rest” for a while, and it may still be another month or so before I’m back consistently, but I want to take the opportunity to post when I have a few free minutes.

In January, I looked at Pope Francis’ Message for the 50th World Communications Day (while it’s actually on May 8th, we are celebrating on April 24thcome and join us if you live in the Boston area) from the perspective of listening. But I wanted to take another look at it more closely in light of its theme. It seems to me that, during this Year of Mercy, Pope Francis is looking at communication in its fullest meaning, in all areas of life, and in all the ways by which we communicate, but with a particular focus for us that we, as followers of Christ, are called to communicate mercy. It is, in a very real way, the Pope’s urgent call to all of us to use our power to communicate to:

  • build bridges
  • bring about and restore peace
  • promote mutual understanding
  • heal
  • include
  • speak the truth in a way that never intentionally ruptures relationships—the truth in love.

Pope Francis cautions us about exacerbating misunderstanding, and using inflammatory or judgmental language and gestures in a way that can divide or “stoke the flames of mistrust, fear, and hatred.”

One of the reasons I feel that communication spirituality is so important is how much time each of us spends every day communicating. I often start my workshop on communication spirituality by asking participants to think of all the ways they communicated and used the means of communication by noon of that very day. From listening to the weather on the radio, checking the traffic on a cell phone, greeting a loved one with a morning kiss, checking email as soon as we walk in the door of our office…the list goes on and on: we are constantly communicating! Now, we can also add in the multiple times a day that the average smartphone user checks their social media for updates.

In this year’s Message, Pope Francis takes a 360-degree look at communication that can be applied for all people of good will  and all levels of communication—from digital or technologically-enhanced communication to face-to-face interaction between individuals, to the close communication that happens within the intimacy of the family, to that of leaders whose communication affects groups or culture in important aspects of life, such as politics, institutions, or opinions. Religious leaders are particularly mentioned as having the responsibility to speak the truth in love, communicating mercy but never superiority or judgment of individuals.

Digital technology, especially social networks, are highlighted for their ability to exponentially multiply the effect of communication: “Social networks can facilitate relationships and promote the good of society, but they can also lead to further polarization and division between individuals and groups.” But I think the previous sentence in the Message goes to the heart of communication spirituality in our digital age: “It is not technology which determines whether or not communication is authentic, but rather the human heart and our capacity to use wisely the means at our disposal.”

The Pope concludes this exhortation to us to be authentic communicators by encouraging us to think about communication in terms of closeness. Communication that facilitates mercy is a communication that generates a closeness between individuals and peoples: a closeness that cares, comforts, heals, accompanies, and celebrates that we share a common humanity.

Here’s a link to the entire Message for the 50th World Communications Day. I’d love to hear your insights if you feel to share them!

I Finally Did It ! I Read Geekpriest–and This Is What I Enjoyed Most!

GeekpriestCoverI finally did it!

No, unfortunately I did not become a Jedi knight (unlike Father Roderick, who is holding a lightsaber!).

I finally obtained (note that I did not beg or steal, but borrowed…from halfway across the country!) a copy of Geekpriest: Confessions of a New Media Pioneer, by Father Roderick Vonhögen. I’ve been eagerly anticipating reading Father Roderick’s book for ages (yes, that’s since a whole two years ago when the book was first published by Servant Press/Franciscan Media). One drawback of eager anticipation is that it is easily disappointed. Not only was I not disappointed, but I was fully engaged and tremendously satisfied by this remarkable book.

Most Catholics who work in digital and social media are probably familiar with Father Roderick Vonhögen, the founder of the Star Quest Production Network (SQPN), which uses the media for religious information, evangelization, catechesis, formation, and education. Personally, I first “discovered” Father Roderick through a friend recommending his podcasts, and I continue to listen today. (One of my guilty pleasures is listening to his “Secrets of…” podcasts that explore some of my favorite stories–TV, films, and books.)

I wonder how many of us have actually read this book? A marvelous blend of personal anecdotes and insights on using new media, Geekpriest is delightfully informal and accessible. Anyone who works in Catholic media will enjoy, be inspired by, and learn from this treasure.

Read This Book! (or, My Favorite Parts)

The only way to do justice to this book is to read it in its entirety. However, I’d like to highlight a few of my favorite parts and insights that Father Roderick offers in the hopes of convincing you to read it. Also, all of the keys to communication that Father Roderick points out are actually carried out in his book. (Father truly “practices what he preaches.”) Chapter 1 is my favorite chapter because there he tells the story of his first experience as a new media pioneer (with Star Wars, no less!) and then outlines what he learned from his first foray into the internet as the “Star Wars priest.”

Here are a few of my favorite of Father Roderick’s communication principles, summarized in my own words:

  • engage with and make a personal connection with your audience; put yourself in their place and begin with the common ground you share, something that you are passionate about
  • use more than words: use stories, visuals, deeper content—whatever it takes to connect with whomever you wish to communicate
  • communicate within community: make your communication interactive, build a network, and communicate collaboratively; others’ expertise and insight will enrich both you and and what you communicate
  • use the “seeds of the Gospel” and longings of the human heart expressed in today’s culture to create a connection with the Gospel itself, and use that connection, that common ground, to evangelize

Throughout the rest of the book, it was both a delight and inspiring to see how Father Roderick carried out these and the other “key principles” that he highlights.

Read the Rest of This Book! (or, More Favorite Parts)

Chapter 2 is very much Fr. Roderick’s personal journey to faith and his vocation as a priest, paired with his discovery and comparison of sanctity and superheroes (a comparison I’ve made when talking to kids in a  classroom). The “Superhero Checklist” is not just a good checklist for vocational discernment (which I will highlight on my discernment blog), but also for how we live out our vocations.

Another of my favorite chapters is the Disneyland chapter, as Fr. Roderick dispels the Disney myth that we are the knights in shining armor (because, of course, it is Christ who is the Savior, not us!), and how he slowly and painfully learned balance in his priestly ministry. His “Disney examination of conscience” is a great way to introduce kids to the examination of conscience. His respect for the mythology of fairy tales and other forms of storytelling as ways which can help us to see with new eyes enlivens the entire chapter.

Chapter 4 tells the story of Father Roderick’s first podcast, and also the 5 “I’s” of Communication that he learned in a course on radio that he took at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and still uses today. They are invaluable for any form of communication—including conversations!

Discover the Rest of Geekpriest for Yourself…

The rest of the chapters follow the same pattern: a fascinating personal story from Father’s life, followed by life-lessons and in many cases, communication- or ministry-lessons. The entire book is so engaging and so personal in tone, that at the end of each chapter, I simply felt that I’d had a great conversation with Father Roderick and wanted to keep on reading. It’s one of the quickest nonfiction reads I’ve ever read, and I’ve already gone back and re-read it a second time…and I will re-read my favorite parts once more before I return my copy shortly.

A final note: if all communicators knew and practiced these principles of communication, boring religious media would cease to exist.

If you aren’t familiar with Father Roderick and his work at www.SQPN.com, do yourself a favor and check out his podcasts,  website, and above all his engaging book! 

Trinity as the Foundation of Our Communication

Andrej Rublëv's icon of the Trinity

Andrej Rublëv’s icon of the Trinity

The Feast of the Most Holy Trinity has gradually become one of my favorites of the entire liturgical year. (I think the process was so gradual because it’s really hard to give a good homily on this unfathomable mystery.)  One of the reasons I consider it a personal feastday is how the Pauline spirituality of communication is founded on our understanding of the Trinity:

In the Christian faith, the unity and brotherhood of man are the chief aims of all communication and these find their source and model in the central mystery of the eternal communion between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who live a single divine life (Communio et progressio, #8).

Our Founder, Blessed James Alberione, wrote a prayer to the Most Holy Trinity that concludes by asking that our entire lives may be a “Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.” The framework of Blessed James Alberione’s entire spirituality is the Trinity, to whom he connects not just salvation history, but our own personal salvation history: the stages of our spiritual lives.

After taking a seminar with Don Giuseppe Mazza on this topic vital to communication spirituality, I’ve always wanted to deepen it. So this summer I decided to put aside my favorite Theology of St. Paul by James Dunn (which I am gradually working my way through), and I picked up The Trinity by St. Augustine. I hope to follow it up with other theological works on the Trinity, such as various works of Rahner and Catherine Mowry LaCugna’s God with Us: The Trinity and Christian Life.

Yesterday’s beautiful readings emphasized that God–who is eternal Communion between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–seeks a profound relationship with us. In the first reading from Deuteronomy chapter 4, Moses points out to the chosen people that God “wants” them for his own. Psalm 33 makes this desire of God explicit, and the second reading from Romans 8, Saint Paul explains how closely we are called to be in relationship with the Most Holy Trinity. Finally, in the Gospel reading (Matthew 28) Jesus asks us to help everyone to enter into this intimate relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, promising a special closeness to us as we witness to him: “I am with you always.” Yesterday, I simply prayed in wonder that the Almighty God so deeply desires a genuine relationship with me and with everyone on the face of the earth.

Some beautiful reflections on the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity:

Fr. Robert Barron’s Homily for Trinity Sunday (Podcast and Youtube) and Fr. Robert Barron’s Top 10 Resources on the Trinity

Trinity Sunday: Is It Relevant? at CatholicMom.com, by Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Ph.D.


We can make an act of faith in God’s eternal communion of love and his desire to draw us into that embrace of love every time we make that most simple, most familiar, but most meaningful prayer, the Sign of the Cross.

St. Paul: Walking Beside the World

PaulandPeterToday is the third day of our triduum of preparation for the feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul. Pope Francis’s Message for 2015’s World Day of Communication has already been released, (which I hope to get to on Monday), but I’d like to conclude with a short reflection on last year’s message.

Towards the end of his 2014 Message, Pope Francis continues to apply his call to the Church to “accompany the world” on its journey specifically in the world of communication. “We are called to show that the Church is the home of all,” and “Let us boldly become citizens of the digital world. The Church needs to be concerned for, and present in, the world of communication, in order to dialogue with people today and to help them encounter Christ.”

For me, Pope Francis continues the calls that I heard so clearly from St. John Paul and Pope Emeritus Benedict: to truly and vibrantly engage with our culture! If we as Catholics indiscriminately avoid using the media, or we divorce how we live our faith from our how we use the media, then our media culture is greatly impoverished; even worse, it can become a void where the beauty, goodness, and truth of Christ are absent.

So what does it mean to “accompany” the world? What does it mean to walk at the side of the world?

For Saint Paul, it literally meant walking to new places to communicate Christ, and to sojourn in each place for extended periods of time, to “bring Christ to birth” in the people who received him. When he couldn’t be physically present, he would accompany them through prayer, by sending representatives who could encourage them, and through his active correspondence. It didn’t matter what difficulties Paul ran into: he never “abandoned” those to whom he proclaimed Christ.

A number of years ago, I was privileged to accompany one of our sisters on her journey towards eternity. During the last two years of her life as her illness progressed, I tried to be her “guardian angel,” helping her with the mundane tasks that had become too difficult for her, staying in touch with her family and updating them on her condition, praying with her when prayer became difficult. Accompanying her was a tremendous gift for me, as a human being and but also spiritually, as I witnessed God’s tender love for her and her wholehearted response to him, in the face of death. My problems–which before had loomed large–became inconsequential. Accompanying her enabled me to shift the focus from myself to her in a very natural, unforced way. In the last two months of her life, my primary concern became attending to her needs. Though I felt completely spent after her peaceful death, I discovered that accompanying her had been one of the greatest gifts of my life:

  • I witnessed how God worked in her and through her, and how she allowed that to happen
  • I received the gift of her love for me, even to her  last moments of consciousness
  • In being “stretched” to give of myself more fully in this new, accompanying kind of way, I discovered new things about myself
  • I received anew the gift of my life, rediscovering how precious I am and feeling inspired to fully live that gift

Accompanying the world would, I imagine, entail some of the same shifts for us today: taking the focus off ourselves, attending to others’ urgent needs, re-discovering ourselves as we give of ourselves in love more fully, and receiving the gift that others are for us and for the world.

* * *

There is so much more to reflect on in 2014’s Message, but at least my unpacking and reflecting on it here has helped me to deepen it. I hope that it’s also offered some helpful insights for you as well!

Saint Paul: Communicator Who Reaches Out

V&A_-_Raphael,_St_Paul_Preaching_in_Athens_(1515)On this second day of the triduum for the conversion of Saint Paul, we focus on a second theme in Pope Francis’s Message for World Day of Communications last year: going out to people on the periphery to bring the light of love and mercy. (Sorry for posting so late…I traveled from Boston to California today!)
Pope Francis has repeated many times this call of all the baptized to go out to those who are “on the margins” of human existence–spiritually, socially, economically, politically–any way that a person is excluded or alone. This call to go out, to reach out to others, has always been urgent but today seems even more so. For many of us, however, reaching out is not easy; it pushes us to go beyond our comfort zones.
Pope Francis lives this call to reach out to others with love, mercy, and truth. Saint Paul is one of the best all-time examples of living this call, as he tried to reach out to the entire known world with the Gospel, which required extensive travel at a time where traveling was not just exhausting but full of risks. In addition, he not only accepted non-Jewish converts (who were not so easily accepted in the earliest days of the Church), but sought them out. He was willing to undergo prison, beatings, persecution and even martyrdom, for the sake of bringing Christ to those who didn’t know him.
Reaching out to others requires going beyond our usual  comfort zone, which can be challenging. It also demands that we let go of our assumptions about others, to listen attentively to others’ hopes, doubts, expectations, and joys. In so doing, we break down walls. True dialogue builds unity; it means discovering that we and those with whom we dialogue are the same; that in our shared humanity, we are more the same than different.
Speaking from the context of communications (and having recently mentioned social media), Pope Francis encourages us:

May the light we bring to others not be the result of cosmetics or special effects, but rather of our being loving and merciful “neighbors” to those wounded and left on the side of the road…. Today the social networks are one way to experience this call to discover the beauty of faith, the beauty of encountering Christ. In the area of communications, too, we need a Church capable of bringing warmth and of stirring hearts.

Our reaching out is meant to be warm, tender, loving, radiating the beauty, truth, and goodness of God. When we read the letters of Saint Paul, we see how he uses language, imagery, and warmth to communicate his love in Christ. Scripture scholars tell us that Saint Paul used words in new ways, and even made up new terms to express the inexpressible mystery of living in Christ.
Simply reading the openings and closings of Saint Paul’s letters as he greets the various communities so warmly, often greeting people by name–reveals his tender warmth in communicating Christ’s love as it flows through his heart. (“I thank my God every time I remember you” Phil. 1:3.)
One of the passages that first showed me the tenderness of Paul’s pastoral heart is his prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21.

[I pray] that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fulness of God.  (Eph. 3: 17-19, RSV)

Our first communication is with God; having experienced the Lord’s tender mercy and truth, our next communication is with others. If we find it really hard to reach out to others, then a first step may be to pray for those on the margins in a tender and warm way, as Saint Paul does here. In his goodness, God will bless those for whom we pray, but will also bless us to increase the courage, wisdom, and grace we need to reach out further with his love.

Conversion of St. Paul Triduum: Prayers & Reflections

512px-Caravaggio_-_La_conversione_di_San_PaoloWhy do you persecute me? is the theme of the prayerful triduum reflection posted today on our Pauline prayer site. If you are interested in the theme of conversion or Saint Paul’s conversion/encounter with Christ, I highly recommend you visit and pray with Sr. Kathryn’s reflection. (Artwork is taken from one of the panels of the exquisite door of the Basilica of St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls in Rome.)

I also wanted to reflect further on Saint Paul as communicator, using Pope Francis’s Message for World Communications Day last year. (Here is my initial reaction to the Message, entitled Communication at the Service of an Authentic Culture of Encounter).

Encounter is the “takeaway” and big concept in Pope Francis’ Message. If, as Comunio et Progressio states, communication is a “giving of self in love,” then encounter is a wonderful way of exploring “how” we love when we communicate. Pope Francis picked a surprising image to describe communication as encounter: the parable of the Good Samaritan. He describes the characters that such an encounter should have:

  • healing (“Let our communication be a balm that relieves pain and a fine wine which gladdens hearts”)
  • going out to bring the light of love and mercy to those on the periphery of human existence–those who are excluded,  poor,  marginalized,  suffering
  • engaging in a dialogue in which we are available, listen attentively, understanding the doubts, expectations, and hopes of all–a dialogue in which we are true citizens of the world of communication
  • companioning others, walking at the side of the world

Saint Paul lives all of these aspects of communication profoundly. We can see this first characteristic of healing very much in the pastoral approach of his letters, in which he addresses the needs and questions of the local church. He is not afraid to delve into the questions and problems that are wounding the members of the Church, and he always assures his recipients of his love and above all, of Christ’s saving love for them.

In the Acts of the Apostles, some of Saint Paul’s apostolic missions begin with physical or spiritual healing (as when Paul cast out the demon plaguing the young slave girl in Acts 16, or healed the paralytic in Acts 14). Saint Paul himself began his life as a follower of Christ by being healed. After his encounter with Christ, Paul was healed from his physical blindness through Ananias; and of from his spiritual blindness through Baptism.

In his letters, Saint Paul also exhorts us to think and speak in a loving way, and to focus our thoughts and words on those things which uplift and inspire. If we add his emphasis on thanksgiving–not  just for spiritual graces but also for the people that he is writing to–must also have been not only encouraging, but healing for both individuals and as an opportunity to reconcile within the local churches. The attitude of giving thanks to God is healing for anyone who goes through challenges and struggles, and it seems that Paul shared this attitude not just for the sake of others, but also because it had become key for his daily prayer and work as well.