Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Evangelizing on the Internet

The Church has called us to a right us of all forms of communication, including the fastest growing one, the Internet.

“Society has a right to information based on the truth, freedom, and justice. One should practice moderation and discipline in the use of the social communications media.”( CCC, 2512)
One of the most valuable tools at our fingertips is the Internet. In the last ten years there has been an explosion of good websites aimed at Catholics and non-Catholics in order to evangelize them. We must continue to take advantage of this medium of communication.

The first way the Internet can be used is by making your own website. If you do not have experience in this area, there are many guides both on the Internet and in book form to help guide you through the process. Once you learn a few basics you can have a simple website up and running within a few days. There are even places to “host” your website for free.

The second way the Internet can be used in evangelization is by using already existing websites. You can email friends the web addresses to good sites and then discuss articles with them. You can also find enough good reading to literally last a lifetime. You can study the Bible in Greek and Hebrew, read Catholic classics, study the Church Fathers, learn about the liturgy, etc. I would warn you that there are some sites that are as harmful as the good ones are helpful. So, do not accept everything that claims to be “Catholic” as the truth of the Church.

A third way to use the Internet is to post messages on social networking sites, bulletin boards or join chat sessions. There are thousands of Catholic and non-catholic websites where there are open forums made for free discussions of topics. I spent five years doing this kind of evangelization. There were hundredes of other people who posted and thousands of those who just read the boards. It was a great way to reach out to these people.

I personally know of several people who returned to practicing their Catholic faith because of discussions on websites as well as a few who came into full communion with the Catholic Church. But, I have also experienced the bad side of the equation. You must be careful how you phrase your ideas in written communication. Sarcasm can drive people away from the Lord and I have learned this the hard way. Also, be careful to cite your sources, even on the Internet. You don’t want to pass someone else’s work off as your own, even if it is not your intention to do so.

As you probably know the Internet is full of good and useful things. It is also full of evil. We can sanctify the Internet if we use if properly and with love and virtue. If you have a problem with the internet (such as pornography) then make sure you are careful to guard against anything leading you into sin. The number one use of the Internet is for pornography.