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I had another article written for April and then Pope Francis was elected. When Benedict XVI announced his resignation I was at first taken aback. My next reaction was gratitude that—as Cardinal Dolan of New York had said—Benedict XVI had shown us that Christ is the head of the Church. His resignation was an act of faith and trust. I sensed that the “joy of believing” was reawakened in me, the joy of believing Benedict XVI had wanted for each Christian as a result of this Year of Faith. There is a freedom that comes with trust when the person is as trustworthy as God!

Then Pope Francis was elected. Once again I was taken aback. He was the first Pope from the American continent, the first Jesuit Pope, and the first Pope to take the name Francis. How could I not but rejoice with the “joy of believing” when the Holy Spirit had sent up (with the white smoke!) practically a banner message that God is very much with us!

Verbum Domini helps us reflect on the power of the Spirit to bring about the mystery of Pentecost even today: “The greater our openness to God’s word, the more will we be able to recognize that today too the mystery of Pentecost is taking place in God’s Church. The Spirit of the Lord continues to pour out his gifts upon the Church to guide us into all truth, to show us the meaning of the Scriptures and to make us credible heralds of the word of salvation before the world…the Apostle John reminds us – so that ‘our joy may be complete’ (1 Jn 1:4) (Verbum Domini, no. 123).

In the Note with Pastoral Recommendation for the Year of Faith, there are suggestions that we celebrate the Year of Faith with a great sensitivity to using art, media, and creative language: “The contemporary world is sensitive to the relationship between faith and art” (II.6). It urges us to renew “creative dialogue between faith and reason in the academic and artistic communities” (III.8). The document reminds that “all the faithful, called to renew the gift of faith, should try to communicate their own experience of faith and charity to their brothers and sisters” (IV.10) Art, media and creative language are tools to help us rediscover and to share with others the joy of believing.

So, practically speaking, what could that look like? Some of the latest communication tools found on the Internet are Tumblr, Instagram, Vine and Pinterest. These are all about photos, drawings, art, videos, expression, pithy sayings, short quotes and dreamscapes. They tell a story about the person posting. Christians using these means of communication are telling the story of their Christian witness, whether they realize it or not. They reveal how strong (or not so strong) a place joy and faith hold in their hearts. God even, in a sense, could be said to reveal himself through a person’s posts, and shares, and likes.

Keeping up with all of these new technologies could become a distraction. What really opens our hearts and minds as believers using these social media tools is prayer. There are so many ways to enter into prayer even using these new forms of social media. We can pray over the pictures posted on Tumblr and Instagram, for example, just as we can pray the evening news. Here are some prayer jump starters: We can ask ourselves “What are these pictures saying? Where are the questions being asked? What stirs my heart and why?” After asking these questions talk to God about your response to the pictures and posts or meditate more deeply with a matching scripture passage.

St. Augustine heard the words, “Take and read,” and these words led to his conversion. It was an audio invitation to pick up the letters of St. Paul. Saint Francis of Assisi “upon hearing that the disciples of Christ must possess neither gold, nor silver nor money, nor carry a bag, nor bread, nor a staff for the journey, nor sandals nor two tunics … exulting in the Holy Spirit, immediately cried out: ‘This is what I want, this is what I ask for, this I long to do with all my heart!’” (Verbum Domini, no. 48)

We can ask ourselves: What words coming through today’s media can be transformed into creative language that reflects God’s Word…a Word that answers humanity’s deepest longings? What creative art projects help us celebrate the good news in our culture? Where are the signs of the gospel hidden in our society?

Let us take the basket off of the lamp so that it brightens the whole room! Now is the time to remove purple cloths from the crucifixes and states in our churches and let the beauty of Christ inhabit our culture. Now the time to rediscover the joy of believing! As Pope Francis said in his homily at the Easter Vigil: “May he open us to the newness that transforms, to the beautiful surprises of God. May he make us men and women capable of remembering all that he has done in our own lives and in the history of our world. May he help us to feel his presence as the one who is alive and at work in our midst. And may he teach us each day, dear brothers and sisters, not to look among the dead for the Living One. Amen.”

by Sr. Margaret Charles Kerry, FSP

Share what you have deepened about your faith with a child: click here.

Sample chapters for intermediate children and teens:
Lent-Easter Book: Is Jesus Alive?
Teens Share the Word: Compassion makes a difference

Reproducibles for primary age children click here. 

For further reading:

The Lent-Easter Book     The Word of the Lord
  For intermediate children and teens:

Saint Francis of Assisi - Gentle Revolutionary     

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