Bishop Barron reminds me of a seed pod that’s taken root, germinated and blown by the wind across the land. All seedlings from this one root is scattered across the land sprouting fresh roots that’s vibrant and green. His messages awakens all sleeping Catholics, and inspires them into joining him in sharing the wonderful message of Jesus.
His institute, Word on Fire Institute, is also a wonderful starting point and support for all those like myself who seeks deeper insights into how to evangelize, as well as an understanding of the nature of our society, it’s demographics, and how at the crux of new technological developments to spread the word of God. It also gives those who wants, a deeper theological foundation. The community is wonderfully supportive as well.
Father Mike is one of my favorite evangelist. His upbeat message, humor and sarcasm, grabs the attention of the most lackadaisical teen (my two children follow daily his Bible in 365 days) and “Nones.
I hope both Bishop Barron and Father Mike helped answer some of your questions.
On a personal note, and as I have talked about in previous postings, after my first steps towards Holy Mary in praying the Rosary, I now run to Mother Mary like a little child, seeking within her embrace -comfort. In my most desperate hour, Holy Mary is there for me and calms my heart so that I can see more clearly my beloved Jesus.
Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
How do I talk to God?
I love my daughters’ definition about prayer. Her answer is so simple and succinct, “I don’t pray, I talk to God.” Her little statement enlists from me much food for thought. Each of us have our own journey with God. The very fact that it is immensely personal, makes it unique and different for each of us.
How do I start? Relationships in life takes time to build. Prayer is very much the same. When we meet someone, not all of us have the skills to effectively communicate with ease. I am an introvert, and simple conversation is a source of stress for me. Being able to talk with ease is also relationship building. Trust is also one of the important foundations in relationship building.
When it comes to prayer, it is easy to say, “Jesus, I trust you!” Living it takes time. Blind trust is not something all can do, and like our relationships, it requires time and effort. Often, it is only during a crisis or when we are suffering that we call out in prayer. For many this is how prayer and talking to God starts.
How often have we called to God when we are scared? How often have I called to Him for help when the tunnel ahead looks dim? Yeah, I call to God when I was facing a crisis! This changed when I made the conscious decision to draw nearer to God, and turn away from my life of sin. Seeking for forgiveness, and then asking God to take the lead. “Help me be the person you meant me to be, ” I recall praying.
The video link below is one of the best discussions I have seen on prayer, and explains it much better than I would. I can only reiterate that prayer is an important part of my own spiritual growth and walk with Jesus Christ.
The video link is a very good start in understanding why prayer is an important part of our spiritual growth and relationship with our Almighty.
Our youths today spend a great amount of time online. They communicate by adding “likes” to postings on social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat. There is minimal communication and interaction. As we move farther away from communicating in the physical and towards communication via online, we also lose the skills to communicate, that is to talk, to share our thoughts and ideas. Today’s communication becomes etherized in images, emojis, or one liner.
As I have discussed in other post, we live in a Hybrid world that fuses the real with online realities. There are many apps available to help us with prayer, and I have linked a few below. Why use an apps? Prayer apps are a great way to integrate prayers and conversations with God into our prayer life. We already use devices, and some of these apps like Our Story – Hallow is a great way to start. There are 1 minute mediations for those who literally don’t have the time to pray. They can over time develop into longer prayer time. What is important is to start, and if it means starting from a 1 minute meditation, then why not?
When you feel you don’t have time to pray, it usually means you need to talk to God. Go small and build up your prayer life. The very act of taking that first step will lead to many more steps, and before you know it, you will feel the Hand of the Holy Spirit moving you towards greater depth in prayer.
Apps | Marians of the Immaculate ConceptionMary App. A complete resource for information on Our Lady and a guide to Marian devotion. Includes Marian prayers and an interactive Rosary. Free from the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception.www.marian.org
Divine Mercy App | The Divine MercyThe Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, who have promoted the authentic message of Divine Mercy since 1941, are pleased to release the OFFICIAL Divine Mercy App. This FREE app offers the complete Divine Mercy message and devotion in an easy to navigate format. The app has three main chapters with these features: (Screenshots from Android) THE MESSAGE Introduction towww.thedivinemercy.org
The Holy Rosary – Apps on Google PlayThe Holy Rosary that automatically selects the mysteries by day with beautiful illustrations that accompany prayer. In the application there are also The Divine Mercy Chaplet and the main christian prayers. For those who have Android 6 or later, go to SETTINGS \ APP, select the App The Holy Rosary, go PERMITS, and enable STORAGE. If you would like to report a prayer, devotion, etc., you can do …play.google.com
Praying the Rosary on YouTube:
This is also available on Apple music, which is easily download – free if you have the plan or at a cost of a few dollars. Great to listen to anywhere – car, walk, or walking the dog, etc.
In my daily life, I see how reliant my family is to technology. These days, my son takes all his courses from his local college via zoom. My daughter is in school every other day, and on days she is home, she has classes via zoo. When I need to communicate with my kids, it is via a text message. They are less likely to respond to my voice call but will answer my text. Go figure!
Covid -19 pandemic has basically forced a pendulum shift in how we go about our daily lives. Depending on the type of employment, many now work from home. I am one of them. Not only do I work online, but staff meetings as well as parent meetings are also online. In fact, in the last annual parent/teacher meeting I attended, I noticed much more participation. Why? Both teachers and parents had the ease of tuning in during a peak time from home. They were able to participate and follow along while continue to do family chores at home (cooking, eating dinner, etc.).
The physical and restrictions imposed on our churches should not be a negative experience. In fact, it has forced many who have not used online platforms in the past, to scramble and build from the ground up a system by which to not only share the world of God, but to maintain important and valued programs for children, youths, adults, families, and the elderly. Going back to a grassroot level and reaching out to volunteers from the community to help with unfamiliar technology has been a challenge for all. In fact, I feel that going back to basics is an important process in identifying what is most relevant and lets us shed away the irrelevant. I genuinely believe the hand of God is upon us. He is guiding us to adapt, and as we (Catholics and the Church) maneuver, explore, and use the technology available for outreach. I personally do not think we will return to the old guard of the physical – that is going to the actual physical environment. If we do, it will be a novelty and on special occasion, but rather it will be a “hybrid” Pastoral approach.
All churches now must adapt to the reality of a blending of both the physical and digital means by which to spread the Gospel, teach, communicate with not only their parish, but to those around the world. Many who did not use YouTube or online platforms to preach, have had to adapt very quickly and explore the platforms available by which to do this.
I make this conjecture out of the experiences with my own children. I recall every all the effort and activities my husband and I have done as our children were growing up to introduce our children to a variety of experiences. One of them was the ambience of live concerts, music festivals, museums, art and cultural events. I recall one such evening at the Montreal Jazz Festival. Not only was it jam packed with people, but there was a lot of security and checkpoints to ensure the weeklong event went smoothly. My son asked us, “Why do we need to be here, when I can watch a live stream of this on YouTube?” “Phew!”, I thought. What viable answer to I have for him? Many wise words flashed through my mind before I answered him. “When you watch shows streamed on YouTube, you are missing out on the ambient feel and energy of the crowd”, all the while hoping my answer makes sense. Well, to my chagrin, my son informs me he will rather watch it in the comfort of home (his room) than amidst a crowd, to which his sister nodded in agreement. Sheesh! I recall looking into the night sky and asking God, “Really?” “Is this what’s become of our generation?”
This is the reality of our lives today. Many churches and religious organizations have come to this realization, especially considering how dependent we have become of our digital world of social media, or our online discourse and reliance on it for communication. Many have jumped on the online band wagon. Church at home seems to be the mantra these days. It is the realization that to reach out and spread the Gospel, they need to do so by reaching out on a social platforms. It is also the realization that our devices/online is a reality of our modern world – especially in the mist of a pandemic, government lockdowns and restrictions.
We live in a hybrid world – a fusion of the physical and the digital. Covid – 19 pandemic only accelerated this process into our daily lives. The social stage of it was already set when this technology was developed and infiltrated into our homes via our reliance on our devices.
My daughter participates in Teen Alpha offered by our local parish. It is zoomed weekly, and I am thankful for this forum is available for our youths. As with most teens of her generation, they are at ease using the internet and social platforms to communicate. It is actually easier for a generation that grew up along side YouTube, Tik Tok, Snapchat, Instagram to adapt to using Zoom or a hybrid that consists of online and real-life vehicles to learn.
My son and I participate in our local Alpha group also via zoom. I also participate in many online zoom groups. One group I look forward to weekly is examining the work of St. Thomas Aquinas – The Bread of Life. Zoom meetings like these gives me and others the opportunity to delve deeper into my/our faith. Just as there are online zoom meets for the rosary, and weekly meeting for Bible studies, etc.
Yes, our lives are changed forever.
The Hybrid Pastoral Approach the embraces and fuses both the physical and online realities that exists in our world today. Physical and online realities are here to stay. It can only be perfected. Hence, our Church leaders only need to fine tune the process, by adapting online technology and its various platforms to build, create and expand the physical space of the church into the home of every parish member and beyond its boundaries. The goals are not only to welcome every participant, but to invite new participants. It’s incentive is to create a Christ centered community that embraces one another with love. Another is to enable each to feel comfortable and safe in celebrating the daily Holy Sacraments, in celebrating our faith, and in developing our faith. It is reaching out and embracing all our young, teens, adults, families, and our elderly in a technology like zoom to bring us all together as one body under God.
On a personal level, I believe it is by the grace and mercy of Jesus, that we embrace the new technology in our political, social, cultural and post pandemic reality. The goal is to sustain the church, as well as secure and revive the foundations of Catholicism, and, to spread the word of God into every home. The empty churches we felt before the pandemic will only magnify post pandemic. The hybrid fusion of the physical church and online platform is the last bastion for a revival of the Catholic Church – for outreach to new souls, and to maintain and keep the faith alive of the old. It is a time for all Catholics to step forward to become active participants in faith.