Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Objects and Evil Part 2: A Commentary on the Issue of Using Things and Social Media, or Why I Choose Not To Abhor Facebook

Hello Everyone.

In this second part, I am going to be telling you why I choose to still use Facebook, and perhaps give you more reasoning to consider why just pulling apart from it is NOT the best solution in reaction to its filth.

1) Trads Behaving Badly Behaviour: The SSPX and the Banishment of the TV from the Home
First reason why I will not be signing off Facebook and continue to use it: This kind of radical reaction to cease such an item is one that is similar, or exactly like those of the radical traditionalists, giving a negative impression of those of Traditional Catholicism.

Alright, so for those of you tuning in, the SSPX is a "fraternal organization" of traditionalists who are around the world, with seminaries and chapels/missions in a number of countries. They were formed by a Vatican II Council Father, Archbishop Marcel Lefevbre, in retaliation to the egregious liturgical and spiritual abuses made "in the name of Vatican II/Spirit of Vatican II" that were happening post-council. However, he consecrated four bishops without permission of the Holy See in 1988 (of which the Holy See under the Pope is supposed to consecrate the bishops), and put the society in a weird "no man's land". It's priests are valid but illicit in their ordinations, and while they can confect the sacrament of the Eucharist and can administer a valid baptism (under the Trinitarian formula,) and do everything according to the liturgy and the books of 1962, they are not in communion canonically with the Catholic Church. Further more, the laity attending their "Masses", can be brought into schism with the Church. You should not also consume their Eucharist, because it would be supporting schism with the Church. While they do give "lip service" to the Pope by not committing the heresy of sedevacantism (Yes, you are a valid pope, Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis), they call the Novus Ordo "Evil" thus denying it's sacramental validity and licitness, and are pretty much anti-"Novus Ordo" Church. Most importantly, They have no canonical/sacramental ministry within the Church, as restated by Benedict XVI when he released the excommunications of the 4 bishops illegally consecrated by Lefebvre.

Okay, do you get the picture? Basically their way of "living" is all pre-Vatican II, from their schools to their liturgy, to what they believe, etc. They may profess to all doctrine of the Church and the Magisterium, but their anti-"Novus Ordo" Church attitude (which also includes accusing the Pope of heresy in being a modernist in their 25th anniversary statement), as well as actions they have, as a society committed over the years (e.g. having an anti-Semitic bishop in the expelled Williamson, making an anti-Semitic statement last Xmas after a visit held in MY diocese and Illegally and INVALIDLY administering confirmations ...) is totally against our Holy Mother Church, and will only lead one off the narrow path. It is also important to say a number of traditionalists do support them, despite staying in the "Novus Ordo" church through licit Masses and means due to their status and the individual NOT wanting to be eternally damned by schism, in a Canon Law sense.

Summary picture: They give all Traditional Catholics a bad impression as being rigid, shaming people. WE ARE NOT ALL LIKE THAT!!!

Back to the Facebook issue. While I have not seen anything with regard to specifically Facebook from the SSPX (and in fact, their adherents are on Facebook and use it to push the SSPX propaganda/TBB views), there is a similar vein in their arguments with regards to the television. It was only recently with regards to a movie that puts their founder in a positive light that the SSPX relaxed their views on television and movies. However, at their core, and for the past 25 years, they held rigorist views on the matter. Let's look at their "literature", shall we?

Angelus: Online and Paper publication/Magazine
From an interview with then SSPX bishop Williamson:

"So then would you say that the Internet is a mix of both good and bad, while the television is almost all bad or at least useless?
Even on TV, there can still be some good things. Satan is not stupid. He's going to bait the hook with a nice, juicy worm.
Families, however, should undoubtedly keep the television set outside of the home. Period. Especially if there are young children. The television set must go.

From another Angelus Article:
"Objection: “I always think that Archbishop Lefebvre comes across great on TV!"    Response: “if you can't be present at the Bishop's Mass, then it is God's will.  But if you want to be there, then you will get your priorities straight and make some room in your activities so as to be able to go and see him.  TV is not a channel of God's grace.  It stultifies the sacred and belittles good, while enhancing evil.  You cannot televise Christ's Mystical Body.”

However, despite the SSPX's change in its stance on video this year (which I think, as a measure to try and shake off the "Bad press" they receive and look less oppressive to outsiders, in a bid for their adherency), I restate that it is still TBB in behaviour at its core,  and the criticism of its own members, or other TBBs of the SSPX, still demonstrate the TBB viewpoint with regard to the TV/Internet. Here's an example of one on line, showing that radical response (Chuck out the TV/Internet) as he/she is criticising the notoriously well known SSPX school, St. May's Kansas, for the junior girls promoting a showing of "For Greater Glory" about the 1920's Cristeros war in Mexico:

"One of our readers from St. Marys, KS just told us that the priests there are having their own junior high school girl class promote, as a fundraiser, the recent movie "For Greater Glory" to the adults and children of that parish.  She forwarded us their January 20th, 2012 parish bulletin on the right (yellow emphasis is ours). Besides the problem of tv/movie watching in general, the movie "For the Greater Glory" has problems.   First, it includes a scene with women in their underwear.  It is true, the underwear is 1920's style (and therefore mild compared to modern style); yet our innocent children have (hopefully) never seen any such thing, and therefore watching such a scene would be harmful to their innocence.  Second, the movie leaves the viewer ignorant as to the real nature of the Mexican conflict: Catholicism vs. Masonry.  The movie never mentions or even implies Masonry."

While perhaps For Greater Glory should not be seen by younger children, I will say that the comment clearly upholds the TBB standard of `The TV/Internet is wholly evil" as well as NOT explaining the context of the scene (The women aiding the soldiers/husbands/men, by stashing ammunition in the folds of their underwear, in order to give it to the resistance fighters because government surveillance would have made vehicle transportation and housing ammunition highly unsuccessful). Not to mention a nice side note of obsession with Masonry to boot. Might I also add the site that I got this quote from is "True - No compromise with Modernist Rome?" With a title like that, can I seriously  as a practicing Roman Catholic, spiritually and logically, give credence to someone like that?

Summary: The reaction of chucking out the TV/Computer/Internet entirely is associated with TBB behaviour, and makes a mockery of Traditional Catholics. I will therefore not subscribe to such a radical reaction.

2) Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis: Social Media and Evangelization.
The second reason I will not subscribe to such a measure to ditch Facebook (and other programs like YouTube and Twitter) and call it a plague of evil: Our Holy Father, Francis, is encouraging us to go out and Evangelize others and even uses social media himself to proclaim the Gospel and preach. Also, our Holy Father Emeritus, Benedict XVI, focused on the Internet as a new Frontier for Evangelization in his recent papacy.

We can start with our Holy Father Emeritus, Benedict XVI, in his recent speech May 17, 2013. This speech was prepared ahead of time, before the conclave this spring, when Francis was elected Supreme Pontiff, and hence is attributed to Benedict XVI.

Benedict XVI opens his speech on the 47th World Communications Day with this quote:
``Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As the 2013 World Communications Day draws near, I would like to offer you some reflections on an increasingly important reality regarding the way in which people today communicate among themselves. I wish to consider the development of digital social networks which are helping to create a new “agora”, an open public square in which people share ideas, information and opinions, and in which new relationships and forms of community can come into being. ``
I couldn`t have said it better myself. And my very blog means I am guilty as charged, Your Holiness Emeritus. Continuing on:
``.... These spaces, when engaged in a wise and balanced way, help to foster forms of dialogue and debate which, if conducted respectfully and with concern for privacy, responsibility and truthfulness, can reinforce the bonds of unity between individuals and effectively promote the harmony of the human family. The exchange of information can become true communication, links ripen into friendships, and connections facilitate communion. If the networks are called to realize this great potential, the people involved in them must make an effort to be authentic since, in these spaces, it is not only ideas and information that are shared, but ultimately our very selves ....``
Whoa! I think Benedict XVI just parroted my thoughts and what I said in the first post. See, even he, implies, that an object such as the Internet can be a good that can be used in one of two ways: for good, or evil. Further, such a tool, especially for the youth, is where relationships are being formed, maintained, etc. online. But most importantly in what I underlined, we are sharing our VERY SELVES. I reflect that we are not just sharing our physical selves, but also our spiritual selves, and shaping our ``selves`` while on there. What self are we sharing, one that respects our self-dignity and reflection as a Creation of God, or a false self, an incorrect self, one which affects other selves? Moving on ....
``.... The development of social networks calls for commitment: people are engaged in building relationships and making friends, in looking for answers to their questions and being entertained, but also in finding intellectual stimulation and sharing knowledge and know-how. The networks are increasingly becoming part of the very fabric of society, inasmuch as they bring people together on the basis of these fundamental needs. Social networks are thus nourished by aspirations rooted in the human heart .... ``
So even Benedict XVI, the Traditionalist favourite of our post-Vatican II popes, realizes that the internet and these social works (and their associated programs, e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), are a daily means of living, especially in the modern, technologically driven world. To tune yourself out, to me, is willful ignorance of the reality which our Holy Father Emeritus Benedict XVI is calling much attention to.
And now, a big one:
".... The challenge facing social networks is how to be truly inclusive: thus they will benefit from the full participation of believers who desire to share the message of Jesus and the values of human dignity which his teaching promotes. Believers are increasingly aware that, unless the Good News is made known also in the digital world, it may be absent in the experience of many people for whom this existential space is important. The digital environment is not a parallel or purely virtual world, but is part of the daily experience of many people, especially the young. Social networks are the result of human interaction, but for their part they also reshape the dynamics of communication which builds relationships: a considered understanding of this environment is therefore the prerequisite for a significant presence there .... "
Finally, what is Benedict XVI telling us Catholics to do with the Internet? He certainly isn't saying to dispel it as a cesspool of evil, rather:
".... In social networks, believers show their authenticity by sharing the profound source of their hope and joy: faith in the merciful and loving God revealed in Christ Jesus. This sharing consists not only in the explicit expression of their faith, but also in their witness, in the way in which they communicate “choices, preferences and judgements that are fully consistent with the Gospel, even when it is not spoken of specifically” (Message for the 2011 World Communications Day). A particularly significant way of offering such witness will be through a willingness to give oneself to others by patiently and respectfully engaging their questions and their doubts as they advance in their search for the truth and the meaning of human existence. The growing dialogue in social networks about faith and belief confirms the importance and relevance of religion in public debate and in the life of society ...."
This speaks for itself. Now what about the other guy? That 'modernist' Pope who just can't get a good day without some TBB site smearing him, Francis? Well, he himself is encouraging others to be concerned with applying the Gospel to other areas of society, including social Media. In his first ever speech which was given in FULL English, at the First Phillipine Conference of the New Evangelization, he said this:
"... Don’t get tired of bringing the mercy of the Father to the poor, the sick, the abandoned, the young people and families. Let Jesus be known in the world of politics, business, arts, science, technology and social media. Let the Holy Spirit renew the creation and bring forth justice and peace in the Philippines and in the great continent of Asia that is close to my heart ...." (Oct 18, 2013)
Further, look at all the social media the Pope/Vatican has engaged in to reach our "wired" generation:
News Media site -
Twitter: for the English, and for the Latin, !!!
Facebook: N/A? There are multiple groups and pages, though which one is "official" is uncertain.
Websites: (1) Vatican's official page:  (2) Pontifical Council of Social Communications for Youth -
Now, what did he tell other young people to do? Make a mess/Noise/Lio's! It comes from this speech he gave at WYD RIO:
".... Let me tell you what I hope will be the outcome of World Youth Day: I hope there will be noise. Here there will be noise, I’m quite sure. Here in Rio there will be plenty of noise, no doubt about that. But I want you to make yourselves heard in your dioceses, I want the noise to go out, I want the Church to go out onto the streets, I want us to resist everything worldly, everything static, everything comfortable, everything to do with clericalism, everything that might make us closed in on ourselves. The parishes, the schools, the institutions are made for going out ... if they don’t, they become an NGO, and the Church cannot be an NGO. May the bishops and priests forgive me if some of you create a bit of confusion afterwards. That’s my advice. Thanks for whatever you can do ...."
Now, some of you might say, "Uh, Francis told you to resist the TV in resisting things closed in upon yourself." Yes he wants us to resist worldly things, but does he say to ban them from our homes and societies if they are neutral goods or instruments? NO! He is telling us to resist worldly temptations, but to PREACH THE GOSPEL and make ourselves heard! In today's world, the equivalent of the megaphone is: The Internet and mobile, Internet capable phones!!!
Personal Evangelization: Summing it up with my personal example: Youth Ministry
My third reason, which is personal, for not ditching the Facebook: By not using Facebook, we lose a critical means to evangelize to others, and more importantly, to help our fellow youth live a Life in Christ, when the secular world (also on the Internet) is with them. This includes it as originally intended: A means to connect and to communicate with another living being.  
How can I put this succinctly? Well I'll use a personal example in my life. I am now involved in youth ministry, in an active capacity. I currently at one of my parishes are part of a teen youth ministry, whereby our main means of communication with the youth, outside of Mass IF they come to church, or in school if you are a priest/teacher/volunteer/student teacher, is the internet, via a Facebook Group (as well as our online profiles for direct messages).
In fact, as a regular old lay guy, employed in a hospital, I am reduced in being able to reach out to the youth because I am not in a position to be in a school, without good reason (e.g. parent, sibling, attending a play open to the community). You can't just show up at a school by any means to say hello. Between enforcement of visitor policies, cameras, the sexual scandals that have rocked the church, an overall increase in legal enforcement against crimes committed by children, etc. basically, someone like me can't really do what we used to do to maintain relationships with young people. Schools, are also funny business, and might not want "outside interests" coming into "their territory" to promote things, unless it fits with their ideals, or isn't truly 100% Catholic/will get the Ministry of Education on their backs. Worse, the young people themselves are "wired" constantly to mobile phones that text and are hooked to internet and download with great speeds that weren't present in a little device even a few years ago, not to mention video games for both sexes (yes, there are girl gamers out there, and they all aren't stereotypical "geeks." They are normal teenagers, and it's possible they are doing it with their male and female friends, and even are playing games typically oriented towards males). So they are "plugged in" a lot, and between their homework and such, it's not like the past where everyone's out and about in the neighbourhood.
Therefore, Facebook serves as a means of communication and a lifeline to these young people, and a way to, like our Holy Fathers have said, be a part of the lives of youth in our world, and to evangelize and preach the Gospel.
For my ministry, we have a main Facebook page moderated by the Head Youth Minister of the parish. While I am a member of the page, I can post content, but everything is observed by the head minister and approved or not. Also, we both have online profiles specifically for this ministry, with myself taking the additional step of a second profile that is ONLY for the youth, and will only have content appropriate for youth ministry. I even tell them, "I won't accept friend requests under my first profile." They MUST friend the youth ministry profile. Not that I don't want them to see the real me and know me, but I did that because: other youth ministers in the parish were doing it; I saw it as a safeguard for the youth; it keeps everything in one spot instead of going between two profiles (for reference); it provides a written, online record of messages, and so there is no question as to what our communication is for.  
But more importantly, why I keep Facebook, is that the 2nd profile serves as a means to spread the Gospel of Christ, AND as a lifeline for them as a Brother of Christ. Say an emergency happens whereby a young person in my charge doesn't feel they can talk to a priest, a teacher, their parents, etc. and they need someone to talk to. Let's use the extreme example of a whole bunch of garbage happens in their life, and they want to commit suicide. They don't want to tell their parents what's happening out of guilt or chastisement, and well Father is not around or is going bring fire and brimstone on them with their problems (which may or may not be their fault). It's 7pm and school isn't open, so no teachers. They don't know what a crisis center is or Kids Help Phone. They are approaching a bridge/overpass where they can jump off. They are depressed and they are not thinking straight, coupled with their biology (specifically, their pre-adolescent brains that need to be further matured). Say I choose to buck Facebook cause it's evil, regardless of my ministry. Thinking there is no hope left and no one to talk to, one of my charges kill themselves. We now have another Amanda Todd, another teen suicide, another soul whose salvation we don't know where they will be ... and a whole lot of people left behind on Earth, wishing they had heard his/her cries for help or given them a means to do so. AND THAT INCLUDES ME. I will be forever wondering and blaming myself for not helping them. I could have been there!
Now same scenario, but they have me on Facebook with messaging capability. At the last second, they contact me because of all this and online chat happens. It's easy for them to whip off a message on their phones, and chat online (with an attitude of ``privacy`` a.k.a. "mom and dad aren't here so I can be comfortable to speak freely"). I drop what I'm doing, and despite the time spent, I am able to help the young person realize they are valuable, they are loved by Christ, and all of us here in their lives, and help them with the slew of stuff that is causing them to consider ending their life. THEY DESERVE THAT MESSAGE. They might even request police/ambulance, even myself to get them wherever they ended up. LIFE SAVED. SOUL SAVED. And this could open them in future to the Gospel of the Lord .... just from one message. ONE MESSAGE AT A NEEDED TIME. CHRIST WAS THERE FOR THEM. I WAS THERE FOR THEM.
Kay maybe my scenario is extreme, and perhaps in future it will be just a minor problem, or just listening to their lives that will need a message to me, but that`s part of youth ministry, and part of my role as a Catholic and my witness to my Lord`s Gospel. Yes it might not be the heavy stuff, but Facebook is one of those means to minister to the youth, those very youth that are at the heart and forefront of the Church`s concerns. And should that emergency happen .... I may be the last hand outstretched of Christ's to that young person, the one that saves them from forever turning away from Him. May it never come to that though.
So let me repeat my three central points why ditching Facebook, all social media, is not a choice I will make, nor I`d encourage:
1) This kind of radical reaction to cease such an item is one that is similar, or exactly like those of the radical traditionalists, giving a negative impression of those of Traditional Catholicism, and even could be extended to Catholics in general.
2)  Our Holy Father, Francis, is encouraging us to go out and Evangelize others and even uses social media himself to proclaim the Gospel and preach. Also, our Holy Father Emeritus, Benedict XVI, focused on the Internet as a new Frontier for Evangelization in his recent papacy.
3) By not using Facebook, we lose a critical means to evangelize to others, and more importantly, to help our fellow youth live a Life in Christ, when the secular world (also on the Internet) is with them. This includes it as originally intended: A means to connect and to communicate with another living being.  
Now, by no means am I validating Facebook as inherently good. It`s a tool that can be used for good, or for evil. It would be better if Zuckerberg and company, did not lace it with the heavy financial involvement it does now in its advertisments and stocks. It would be better if heavier monitoring of the tool for malicious/inflammatory statements against Catholics and immoral acts happened, but we are not Zuckerberg and company.
Further, I have not denied that each and every one of us using the tool, must conduct ourselves accordingly online. That includes US. Yes, us Catholic youth, and what we reveal, even to only our friends and family, in our messages and pictures.
However, to deny total usage of the tool altogether, will severely cut and restrict your means of evangelization of the Catholic faith to the youth and secular friends (Unless of course, you don't care to evangelize, and like to restrict your interactions to your circle of 100 people you relate to Mon-Sunday.). I can guarantee that just limiting that evangelization to our already youth-deprived Catholic parishes, and the schools, or the few young people in your families, will result in a miserable failure, and a Church closed in on itself.
Latin Mass Side note: I will also say, that this will have a blowback on your ability to evangelize and help others Come to Christ, especially if you are involved in the Latin Mass like me. Summorum Pontificum was a big help, but in total, we conservatives, and especially us Latin Massers, have been able to successfully make the Catholic public aware of the Latin Mass, as we have been using online social media, including Facebook and YouTube. That also includes getting people to come out to the Masses when they are held, instead of restricting it to the "already converted" or your Latin Mass/Traditional friends. Considering one Latin Mass can make an impact, or a few over a string of occasions, why are you NOT using Facebook to do that? In addition, the "liberals" did not pick up early on, as to another form of media to spread their "lukewarm Jesus" ways, so we got the upper hand early, and now look at what's happening? A recovery in the church of Tradition and "t"raditions. Plus don't you want traffic to your Catholic/Traditional blogs? Your Facebook page connected to your blog directs traffic to the blogs.
So while it's up to everyone of us to spiritually discern if Facebook is helping or hurting our spiritual progress and our ability to do the Work of the Lord, taking a violent reaction of rejection, does not seem reasonable. There is too much at stake with the younger generations today, to merit losing a vital tool to the New Evangelization.
And that's my take on this issue.
Pax Tibi Christi, Julian Barkin,
Young person making messes on Facebook and the Internet in his ministries, and with Servimus Unum Deum.

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