Evangelization Inspiration from Pope Francis
Social media provides catechists with an effective method of sharing the Catholic faith. Prudent decision making on how and what to share requires the Holy Spirit. In 2014, during Pope Francis’ general audiences, he presented a series on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Reflecting with him, I find that wisdom, understanding, counsel, courage, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord are gifts that can also guide us to share our faith on social media.
Pope Francis tells us that “the gift of wisdom … teaches us to see with God’s eyes, to feel with God’s heart, to speak with God’s words.” Typically, social media users lay bare their lives for all to see. People’s struggles, questions, and even celebrations impart valuable data toward planning ongoing catechesis. The gift of wisdom supplies insights to not only respond with compassion when sharing on social media, but also to create programs or materials that benefit our parish communities.
The gift of understanding, Pope Francis explains, “opens our minds, [The Holy Spirit] opens us to understand better, to understand better the things of God, human things, situations, all things.” The Gospel is essential for learning the things of God, and understanding is essential for reading the Gospels. Posting reflections for the daily or Sunday Gospel is an easy way to share the faith. CatholicMom. com or Crossroads Initiative offer quality reflections shareable across many social media platforms. Additionally, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) provides a link for the Daily Mass Readings. (Editor’s note: Catechist magazine offers daily Gospel reflections in our Facebook feed and weekly reflections in The Sunday Gospel you can share with your students. The reflection questions may also be suitable for your social media use. See page 10.)
Counsel (Prudence, Right Judgment)
Counsel, according to Pope Francis, “is the gift through which the Holy Spirit enables our conscience to make a concrete choice in communion with God.” In this age of “fake news,” our social media accounts need to be sources of reliable information. Verifying credibility before posting and disseminating safe resources are two ways to accomplish this goal.
“This gift,” Pope Francis affirms, “must constitute the tenor of our Christian life, in the ordinary daily routine. … We need to be strong every day of our lives, to carry forward our life, our family, our faith.” An old adage asks, “If you were on trial for being Catholic, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” How about your social media feeds? If someone visited your Facebook or Instagram accounts, would it be evident that you are Catholic? Everyday faith moments posted among the cat videos and crockpot recipes convey an authentic witness of faith.
“The knowledge that comes from the Holy Spirit,” Pope Francis says, “is not limited to human knowledge; it is a special gift, which leads us to grasp, through creation, the greatness and love of God and his profound relationship with every creature.” An eye-catching photo overlaid with a quote from Scripture, a saint, or an excerpt from the Catechism captures this gift. Pixabay.com’s free images coupled with Canva.com build engaging social media graphics. (Editor’s note: Feel free to share the many memes that Catechist magazine posts in our Twitter and Facebook feeds each week. Or download the 50 catechetical memes we created for our fiftieth anniversary in our Handbook Planner here: Catechist.com/50-quotes/.)
“Piety,” according to Pope Francis, “indicates our belonging to God and our profound relationship with him. [It] stirs in us above all gratitude and praise.” Our partaking in the Eucharist exemplifies our profound belonging and thanksgiving. #MyMassTakeaway is a social media campaign created by Sara, owner of the blog, To Jesus, Sincerely. Sara intends it to be “a summary of the thoughts and reflections [we] bring home from Mass.” With this example of simple evangelization, you simply post what you gleaned from Mass on Facebook or Instagram along with the hashtag #MyMassTakeaway.
Fear of the Lord
In Pope Francis’ concluding audience on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, he preached:
“Fear of the Lord allows us to be aware that everything comes from grace and that our true strength lies solely in following the Lord Jesus and in allowing the Father to bestow upon us his goodness and his mercy. In allowing us to pray for one another, God displays his goodness and mercy. St. Paul writes, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men” (1 Timothy 2:1).
Several years ago, I had the idea to use Facebook to gather prayer requests for my weekly holy hour. I simply posted, “Going to Eucharistic Adoration today. Can I pray for you?” When I opened my Facebook app to pray, I found more than 100 prayer intentions! It’s humbling to witness how many believe in the Lord’s goodness to answer prayer. Not only do I continue this practice, but I have seen it adopted by others.
How do you use social media to share the faith?
ALLISON GINGRAS, M.Ed., is a Catholic writer, speaker, and founder of ReconciledToYou.com. She holds a Master Catechesis Certificate from the Diocese of Providence. Allison contributed to Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion (Ave Maria Press), Created to Relate Journal (WINE: Women in the New Evangelization), and A Special Mother Is Born (Westbow Press).
ILLUSTRATION: T.S. PHOTO: GIULIO NAPOLITANO/SHUTTERSTOCK
This article was originally published in Catechist magazine, March, 2018