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Social media is not an electronic parish

Lent leads us to Easter so we need to visit churches and interact with priests and community members

Father Peter Nguyen Van Cao

Updated: March 17, 2023 04:18 AM GMT

Vicar-general Father Anthony Nguyen Van Thang places ash on the heads of the faithful in Hanoi Cathedral on Ash Wednesday on Feb. 17, 2021. (Photo: tonggiaophanhanoi.org)

A Catholic wanted to meet a parish priest but was asked to go online to see him.

The story went viral on social media where many people called on priests to meet people offline for pastoral care.

Lent is a time when Catholics are called to return to themselves but they also need to get involved in pastoral activities to return to the Church, community, parish, and especially to the Temple of the Holy Spirit in each Christian to be transformed by God.

The community is a place where formal activities take place among people that are both corporeal and spiritual. It is not enough just to change our minds and return to God in the inner way as we need to take part in activities to build God's visible and spiritual temple, with an interactive nature.

There are many signs of laziness and indifference to community-based activities, failing to develop a visible community for spiritual temples.

Nowadays, people talk much about the word interaction which seems attractive and trendy, but they fail to notice who and what is the real instrument of interaction among Christians.

Priests and parish communities are used as divine instruments of direct and real salvation

Interacting with God's real tools and instruments brings benefit and salvation to the table, as the old saying goes: Xứ có vàng không bằng làng có Cha, meaning an area with gold is not as good as a village with a priest.

A parish with a resident priest is a God-given instrument so the Church does not need an online pastor and parish even though it is a wonderful invention by people.

The internet is absolutely outstanding and highly useful for various activities, but it is only a tool invented by man not to bring about God's direct salvation.

Priests and parish communities are used as divine instruments of direct and real salvation and are God's invention that is always timely and more important than ever. The faithful have to receive it directly.

In the past, a woman suffering from a discharge of blood for twelve years tried to touch the fringe of Jesus' garment and was made well, today it is absolutely essential for people to touch the Church's visible instruments and tools rather than touching keyboards and smartphones.

Although many people are physically present in a community, only a few of them realize that they are moving away from their parishes and communities when they are trying to search and share everything online to satisfy their curiosity and personal opinions.

The spirit of a synodal church sometimes becomes a slogan through interesting articles and beautiful pictures, and practices also seem to be done online.

Social media is not a real tool for administering salvation from a distance

Social networks are tools, but priests and parishes are instruments that God uses to store and administer salvation through prayer, liturgical services, and reception of the Sacraments. Therefore, those who hold themselves aloof from parish-based activities and prefer to work online keep themselves away from divine grace.

The Church uses social media to serve those who are physically incapable of gaining direct access to Church activities. Catholics can use social networks to broaden their understanding of the Church and show communion with the Church at a distance.

Every Catholic also needs to understand that social media is not a real tool for administering salvation from a distance. Social media and electronic devices are only necessary tools for some possible pastoral activities but are not means of salvation.

Throughout the history of salvation, God has always used his direct visible instruments to contact people and help them directly touch the very sure salvation, not as possible things. A person who has trained in a ministry for years is different from material things created in a short time.

Lent leads us to Easter so we need to visit churches and interact with priests and community members to get the blessings of the Risen Jesus Christ.

A synodal church does not just stop at the electronic place but needs to go to places that truly bring salvation to each person through pastoral activities, pious acts, prayer, and reception of the Sacraments in sub-parishes and parishes.

In doing so, we will set up real communities that are full of life and energy, not virtual.

This article was summarized and translated by a UCA News reporter from a Vietnamese article published at tonggiaophanhanoi.org here. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.

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