Pope Benedict's General Prayer Intention this month is for all those working in communication media: that they may respect the truth, solidarity, and dignity of people. The Message he wrote for the 45th annual World Communications Day, which will be celebrated on June 5, is also timely: "Truth, Proclamation, and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age." This past weekend I participated in the annual conference of the Institute on Religious Life and the theme was "Go Make Disciples: Utilizing the New Media for the New Evangelization." In one workshop I learned that 50% of Americans have a Facebook account and 1/12th of the human race has one, making Facebook users the third largest nation in the world, after China and India. And then, on May 2, 150 Catholic bloggers gathered in Rome at the invitation of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and the Pontifical Council for Culture. Communication certainly seems to be on every one's mind these days.
The Internet has been a blessing for the Apostleship of Prayer. We've been able to get information out to people much more quickly than in pre-Internet days. When the Holy Father has an urgent prayer request, we can join him more easily in that prayer by sending an email out to all our members inviting them to pray with him.
I'll be honest: I know how to use some of the media but not much of it. I call myself a "techno-weenie." I really don't know what MP3 files are, I don't have an iPod, and I've never listened to a Podcast. Or have I?
Recently the National Jesuit News blog interviewed me via telephone and posted nine minutes of the interview as a Podcast on its site. In the interview I talked about my Jesuit vocation, how I came to know about the Apostleship of Prayer, and some of the exciting things we are doing these days.
One of those exciting things involves World Youth Day. On Sunday the logo of the Apostleship of Prayer was flashed on the giant screens in St. Peter's Square before the beatification ceremony. We are one of the sponsors of the "Love and Life" site for English-speaking pilgrims at World Youth Day next August in Madrid. You can see the video at the "Firm in the Faith with Mary" Facebook page.
I don't know if I'll ever catch up with all the communications technology out there, but it's good to work with others who know how to use it. Let's pray with Pope Benedict that we all make good use of the media.