Last week in an address to the Seminary community at Mundelein Cardinal George highlighted the pastoral importance of listening. He stressed that listening to God’s people helps you to hear their fears, their needs, their desires, their shortcomings, and all of the things that can help you lead and pastor them. This got me to thinking about the importance of conversation in the New Evangelization.
While it is extremely important to broadcast the true message of salvation in every way (print, web, social media, DURING THE HOMILY) people are just a bit more complicated than being just consumers of salvation data. They need to gnaw on it, play with it, work it out in their own way. They need to have conversations about it.
I was recently reading a post on Fr. Barron’s Word on Fire regarding the Japan tragedy and a young woman named Monica posted a question in the comments. It was a thoughtful question and was written by someone who looks to be genuinely seeking truth. Unfortunately, as of this writing, the question has gone unanswered. I think this is real shame. Now I’m not trying to pick on WOF, I think they’re doing great work but I think our view of the New Evangelization when it comes to new media needs to now embrace the social side of the web. People are smart. They’re thoughtful. They have questions. Who is going to answer them?
Unfortunately allowing comments on a faith based blog can be a Pandoras box. The anonymity of the internet turns comments sections of websites into a historical record of some of the worse of our human nature. But then there’s women like Monica, who see it as a way to connect with the author and pick their brain. In this case, the author (or a chosen proxy) needs to be willing to answer Monica. I think there’s something true about our need for conversation in the New Evangelization. When evangelization is seen as a conversation you assent to the inherent dignity of the questioner, and in doing so we start to preach the gospel – without using words.