The Christian Catholic presence on the Internet is so important nowadays. A few years ago TV and radio were the massive means of communication. Today it’s clear that they’ve all come together in one: the Internet. Pope Benedict XVI, when speaking about social communication in 2009, urged youth with these words: “Dear Brothers and Sisters, I ask you to introduce into the culture of this new environment of communication and information technology the values on which you have built your lives”. We’re no longer speaking of the internet as merely a tool for evangelization, but of an environment, a common place in which we all encounter. So it’s important to keep in mind these 7 tips that we are sharing. They will help you improve your personal experience on social media and carry Jesus’s message to many of your friends.
1. Give Testimony of Your Faith
The key to this point is to always build. A Church that builds is a Church that raises the Kingdom of Christ on earth. One’s own testimony of faith transferred to others will radiate light. It’s not very common that a young person decides to speak publicly of their faith since, generally, they will receive only questioning or criticism. But this doesn’t matter. Attacks must always be met with Jesus’ teaching: love. The day will come in which we won’t know how to answer these criticisms or persecutions- that’s normal. We don’t know it all, but we can always humbly say something like: “I don’t really know, but I’ll look it up”. Our authentic life testimony will lead others to catch that “something” that the Christian has, which is Jesus Christ. God is always at the essence of our preaching. Don’t be afraid to speak of God on your social media! Encourage yourself to share your faith with others!
2. Be Constructive With Your Words
Having a public life online brings critics, opinions, comments and endless reactions. Our message is not always well-received. Sometimes, we are “attacked”, and I say “attacked” in quotation marks because I believe these situations can be turned into opportunities. Yes, every attack or offense is an opportunity to show what we are, to tell our neighbors that we love them, to be authentic Christians while being constructive with our words. It’s not hard, but it requires a great deal of humility and reflection, because a single moment can ignite rage in us, causing us to respond with a non-Christian attitude. We must pause and think things through, value them, remember Christ’s example and then act. Saint Alberto Hurtado used to say: “In all, love and serve”, it should be so in our lives, where love leads us to reach out.
3. Encourage the Discouraged
In my personal experience, I must say that this point is essential. As soon as we enter our social media apps or websites, we are bombed by all kinds of messages, sadly many of them negative, expressing discouragement and weariness in life. What can we do? Saint Francis of Assisi used to say: “O divine master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love…”. To place our attention on someone else is Christian behavior. Social media and the Internet in general will always be a great gym to strengthen faith, encouraging the tired, consoling the tormented, cheer the dispirited and giving hope to those who have lost it. But you must have a strong heart to avoid falling into discouragement yourself. Work out as a Christian at the gym of charity!
4. Avoid Meaningless Discussions
A sign of respect and humility is to listen when others speak and to stay silent when you don’t know the answer. Being a Catholic does not mean having all the answers. Sometimes, the best advice is to remain quiet and the best way to defend faith is silence. That’s why, if we don’t know a topic the best thing to do is be silent and avoid meaningless discussions that would lead us nowhere because of our lack of knowledge. However, whenever we can, we must make an effort to deepen our faith and get informed, even of the latest news regarding the Church, to avoid being caught unprepared. Always, honesty and humility. To say: “I’m unaware”, “I don’t know”, “honestly, I’m not clear on that particular subject” will always show humility. Leave the rest to the Lord. The greatest weapon we Catholics can wield is love, and, by loving, we will conquer.
5. Share Our Treasure: Jesus
What a great example converts to Catholicism set! They have met Christ face to face and discovered Him as a treasure, as their treasure. As Jesus’s parable in the Gospel: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hid in a field; the which when a man has found, he hides, and joyfully goes and sells all he has and buys that field.” (Mathew 13, 44). They have left everything to live in Christ. He’s the true treasure of our lives. A treasure that we can keep to ourselves, or a treasure that is shared. Sometimes, without words, we carry the message of love. “For we are to God the sweet aroma of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2, 15) Let our lives smell and taste of Christ. How cheerful the heart becomes when we take Jesus to others!
6. Don’t Lead a Double Life Online
The problem is when we lead a very showy or pretentious “social” life on the Internet. We might show ourselves as Jesus’s followers, authentic Christians, full of life and profound prayer, but in real life, there are only scraps of that faith. We party every weekend and do things that contradict our faith. Sometimes, we believe. Other times, we abandon. We say yes and later we deny it. Nowadays, we are public individuals, especially Christians (who are frequently put under a microscope). If on social media you’re seen as a pious person who is committed to God, and in everyday life you’re seen drunk and “living life” as if there was no tomorrow… something is not right. Sooner or later living a double life will end up driving more than one person away from faith… Being Jesus’ witness means being authentic, always living only one life.
7. Bring Light to Others
Our mission is often “to be the light amidst the darkness”. Without believing that everything in the world is wrong or dark (because it’s not), we must realize that, one way or another, we carry Jesus with us. We enlighten with our words, our gestures, our actions, our thoughts, our very selves. But to give light, we must be the lamp. Leading a “dark” life while being a Catholic is certainly not going to enlighten anyone. But always remember that Jesus left us the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and the Reconciliation, to revive the flame inside us. They can bring us back to the light, resurrect us from sin, to the life that is Christ. Don’t be afraid to turn to them, and you’ll be light to others every second of your life.
In the digital era, a true testimony will be something for your friends to lean on. Good is contagious. It spreads on its own. If each of us committed ourselves to living according to the Gospel, if we all gave a little, we’d get incredibly far and transform the world. In a tweet Pope Francis leaves us a very deep message:
“Do not underestimate the value of example, because it holds more strength than a thousand words, than thousands of “likes” or “retweets”, than a thousand videos on YouTube”February 23rd, 2017
In fact, an authentic testimony of Christian life, true, unmasked, sincere and eloquent will change the world. You want to be part of this change? Keep in mind these 7 tips, get going and be renewed. The Church needs you, Christ needs you… We all need you!
This post was originally published here. Translated by: María Isabel Giraldo