“….aspire to live a tranquil life, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your own hands…” 1 Thes 4:11
To be Catholic is to be a learner, to be continually aware of the ebb and flow of life, of choices and consequences, of success and failure. It is to be able to embrace the core of Jesus’ message and to nurture faith as an inidividual and as a member of a community. There are a myriad of pathways, devotions, leaders and mentors, and traditions to choose from, and there is always the possibility of forging a new way. All of it is aimed towards the simplest of messages: to live a tranquil life.
To be alive in the 21st century is to be caught in the tsunami that is social media. Overwhelming by nature, that wave is contouring the culture in a whole new way. New patterns of behavior are emerging as devices become necessities rather than accessories; even small children carry phones, use them for games and entertainment and access information. To be marginalized now means to to be without the internet, a device or social media.
To be a 21st century Catholic means negotiating these realities. Catholicism is age-old, but it is lived out by each prson within a generation, a historical context. Today, that offers so many opportunities to focus on what it means to live, to choose life, to be purposeful and intentional. It means taking the time to deeply consider beliefs and how belief informs actions and choices. It means thinking about how the world fits together and who fits where. It means opening to the possibility that what can be learned from one another is actually greater than what is given to one another. In other words, it is about understanding self and others. It all requires, demands, focus.
Believing that the Beatitudes are an invitation to softly shape perspective, that the Letters of Paul are hints about how to live and the Gospels capture the essence of Jesus’ message is empowering. But it also means learning those words, taking the time to visit and re-visit, to re-discover depth and explore new layers of understanding. It means very consciously knowing how there is always more to learn in every arena of life. There is a humility to the process, and a forgiveness for each failure. There is movement to this kind of faith and discovery and resilience and courage are required to sustain all that.
Choosing how to live this out in the contemporary environment links to action steps, to making deliberate choices about how to spend and share time, how to relate and interact with each other, how to reach out and how to receive. That includes dealing with social media and digital devices in a broad and deep context of faith. It means approaching each challenge with the confidence that the best of Catholicism can endure to the next generation in our care and sustain us in the waves of uncertainty. Aspiring to the tranquil life, embracing the work before us and minding every choice makes it possible.