Why Youtube* is Good for the Church

*And Facebook and Twitter and …well, all social media.

But I’m going to stick with video sharing for this post because of an interesting conversation I had with a wonderful priest and friend of mine. You see, this particular gentleman is camera-shy. Try as I might convince him otherwise, he doesn’t like the idea of his homilies or talks being recorded. But he has a reason for it. His argument is that when he is presenting, what the Holy Spirit communicates through him is meant for those he is talking to. The people in that room have heard exactly what they needed to hear because he was an instrument for that message to be communicated.

I think we all know what that’s like – having a homily shake you to your core because of the simple Truth of it.

But my priest friend argued that such things should not be recorded. It devalued the specialness of the moment and feeds the consumerist mindset of our generation.  (“Oh, I don’t have to go to that. It’ll be online tomorrow and I can watch it when I feel like it.”)

I see his point. But I think he is missing a far greater one.

Even in the earliest of Church history, the works of the great thinkers have been archived and shared. The church can recognize the divinity in the them. That’s how we got the books of the Bible, after all. Sure, once upon a time Paul just thought he was writing some letters to some people who needed to hear what he had to say. But he probably didn’t know that almost 2,000 years later his words would still be guiding the whole of the Christian people.

Today, we simply embrace a new medium instead of the papyrus of old.

I emphatically believe that not all of the wisdom that the Lord wishes to share with us is that which is researched, outlined, and carefully prepared for publication. Rather, sometimes the best and most profound observations are those which are spoken extempore. (As they say, being spur of the moment gives more room for the Holy Spirit to work.)

As a perfect example, I point to St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Doctor of the Church. He lived in the 4th century, and his writings are some of the “most precious remains of Christian antiquity.” But they weren’t all purposefully written just because that’s what important theologians do. Rather they were written down after he had spoken them in addresses. I’m sure if they had internet back then, they would have been uploaded, too.

Just as Christ, after His baptism and the coming upon Him of the Holy Spirit when forth and defeated the adversary, so also with you. After holy Baptism and the Mystical Chrism, having put on the full suit of armor of the Holy Spirit, you are to withstand the power of the adversary, and defeat him, saying, ‘I am able to do all things in Christ, Who strengthens me.’

-St. Cyril of Jerusalem, 350 AD

As a very modern example, I think of the recent article by Jennifer Fulwiler on Fr. Jonathan Raia’s homily against contraception. If the parish hadn’t recorded and published their homilies online, how many people would not have been able to share in Jennifer’s experience?

Preservation is one of things the Catholic church does best. Just think of the monks in olden times transcribing scroll after scroll by hand, the establishment of universities, and the vast archives in the Vatican library. The Church Militant must not be afraid to utilized modern technologies like Youtube and podcasting in order to preserve the Divine Wisdom that is revealed to us daily.

The best part I think is the ability social media sites give us to share the Wisdom the Holy Spirit gives us. We must be good stewards of it and not hoard what was meant to be shared.

Especially since what little recordings we have of my friend, the priest, might someday be used in the cause for his canonization. Just sayin’.

  • http://twitter.com/ritamgs Rita (Garcia) Suva

    Agreed Laura! I happened to catch a Relevant Radio discussion on this topic today… Aside from book-writers, we may lose a whole generation of moving, thought-provoking homilies, theological exchange and faith sharing of our priests and bishops. I know that when I pray the Divine Office or when I read old letters or homilies of bishops, saints and blesseds from throughout the centuries, I thank God that someone had the wisdom and thought to preserve and record them.
    I know that I occasionally take hand-written notes during homilies of Masses that I attend, but how wonderful and beneficial to my spirituality it would be to re-listen and re-watch the Holy Spirit inspiring the words of another.

  • http://lindsayloves.com/ Lindsay

    I’ve never thought about recording homilies and making videos as the 21st-century version of St. Paul’s letters. It makes sense, though. As I have been known to say, “I’m all about growing in humility, but sometimes I just really am awesome.”

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