Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Some thread, Pope2You, New Areopagoi

Folks around the Diocesan Centre and the Archdiocese in general have noted some of us wearing bits of YARN around our wrists or, in my case, on my lapel. It hearkens back to the Montée Jeunesse/Youth Summit wrap-up ceremony before the Closing Mass in Quebec on Monday.

Noting that the missionary St. Paul was a weaver (tent-maker), the idea presented was that he saw all Christians as bound together in the Body of Christ. The Glorified Cross (symbol of the Risen Lord) had laid at its base large balls of coloured yarn that were thrown out into the assembly, each member of which was asked to link to the woolen thread by laying their hands on it: it was a powerful symbol of the relationships that had developed over days, weeks, months and years among those participating.

Next, we were urged to break a piece of yarn that would remind us of the ties that bind and remind us of our connections in times good and bad. And of our commitment to gather together again at the Youth Summit 2010 Montée Jeunesse.

The theme of this year’s 43rd World Communications Day is “New Technologies, New Relationships”.

Pope Benedict’s Message—which he referred to in English at today’s Wednesday Audience—also grounds the Vatican’s decision to launch a new Web Platform called Pope2You that has both Facebook and iPhone applications:

"This coming Sunday, the Church celebrates World Communications Day. In my message this year, I am inviting all those who make use of the new technologies of communication, especially the young, to utilize them in a positive way and to realize the great potential of these means to build up bonds of friendship and solidarity that can contribute to a better world.

The new technologies have brought about fundamental shifts in the ways in which news and information are disseminated and in how people communicate and relate to each other. I wish to encourage all those who access cyberspace to be careful to maintain and promote a culture of respect, dialogue and authentic friendship where the values of truth, harmony and understanding can flourish.

Young people in particular, I appeal to you: bear witness to your faith through the digital world! Employ these new technologies to make the Gospel known, so that the Good News of God’s infinite love for all people will resound in new ways across our increasingly technological world!"

Is this an attempt to get the message to youth and those open to the new means of communication directly and unfiltered?

This morning’s first reading from Acts 17 was about Paul’s speech in Athens at the Areopagus: a place of public discourse and interaction. Paul’s powerful and challenging sermon did not seem to be very effective: only Dionysius the Areopagite and Damaris turned to faith in Christ. Yet, even this kind of limited success (one-on-one; two-by-two) can issue in great fruitfulness like the leaven in the dough, the mustard seed that becomes a tree.

Pope John Paul II referred to the new areopagoi of our day and of the Church's challenge to spread the good news of the Risen Jesus as Paul had by his proclamation.

One of the new methods of going to the areopagoi of today (university campuses, new media, new communities to serve the Church) is that of peer-to-peer evangelization such as Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO) a dynamic body of young lay evangelists--single and married--evangelizing the future leaders of Canadian society and the Church in Canada.

Founded twenty years ago at the University of Saskatchewan in Diocese of Saskatoon, CCO has been carrying on an intensive summer mission "Impact Canada 2009" in its cradle city this summer.

Among those who gave up their roots in the Prairie Heartland to move the head office of CCO to Ottawa three years ago are Jeff and Renee Lockert and their four children: Issac, 11, Claire, 9, Abigail Jane, 7, and Bridget, 3. I joined them for supper this evening at their home in Orleans.

Jeff is the President of CCO and he and his family will join founders Angele and Andre Regnier and family in Saskatchewan in late June. Over a barbecue with shishkabob, rice and salad, we shared our concerns for the future of CCO (a new French-language mission will begin at Laval University this fall), family life education and other joys and sorrows of Catholic life. I went home uplifted by the zeal of these disciples of Jesus who have dedicated themselves to the mission of Christ for today.

The areopagoi may change from age to age, but the challenge to proclaim Christ in a wide variety of ways continues.

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