From the moment Jesus commanded that the Gospel be preached to the ends of the earth (Mt 28:9), communications has been at the heart of the Church's mission. People's experience of the Church occurs through communication: sharing the faith, preaching the Word, celebrating the sacraments, serving the poor and marginalized. As the central expression of our faith, the liturgy is an appropriate place to draw attention to the modern means by which we communicate with one another and to ways to use these means in the service of the common good. This resource offers suggestions for highlighting the media, what the Second Vatican Council called "gifts of God," in a prayerful, liturgical context.
Liturgical Feasts for Highlighting Communications and Media
The Church offers us numerous feasts throughout the year to pray for those who work in the entertainment and information media. Please consider a special celebration of the means of social communication—and those who daily work in the media—on one of these feasts:
- St. Francis de Sales—Jan. 24 (authors, Catholic press, journalists, writers)
- St. John Bosco—Jan. 31 (editors)
- St. John of God—March 8 (booksellers, printers, publishers)
- Annunciation—March 25
- St. Mark the Evangelist—April 25
- World Communications Day—third Sunday of May; in 2002, May 19
- Pentecost—in 2002, May 19
- St. Bernardine of Siena—May 20 (advertisers, communications personnel, public relations)
- SS. Peter and Paul—June 29
- St. Clare of Assisi—Aug. 11 (television)
- St. Augustine of Hippo— Aug. 28 (printers)
- St. Gregory the Great—Sept. 3 (musicians, singers)
- St. Matthew the Evangelist—Sept. 21
- Gabriel—Sept. 29 (broadcasters, radio and television workers, telecommunications workers)
- St. Luke the Evangelist—Oct. 18
- St. Cecilia—Nov. 22 (musicians, singers)
- St. John the Evangelist—Dec. 27
Old Testament Readings
Gn 1:1-9, 24-27
In the beginning . . . God created the heavens and the earth.
2 Sm 23:1-5
The spirit of the Lord spoke through me; / his word was on my tongue.
Go up onto a high mountain, / Zion, herald of glad tidings.
The Lord has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly.
The spirit of the Lord fills the world.
Psalms and Responses
Ps 19:2-3, 4-5
R/. Their message goes out through all the earth.
R/. I announced your deed to a great assembly.
I made no secret of your enduring kindness to a great assembly.
R/. The earth is filled with your richness, O Lord.
R/. Lord, send out your spirit and renew the face of the earth.
New Testament Readings
But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses.
They were all filled with the holy Spirit.
There [is no] other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.
He rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord.
The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this and glorified the word of the Lord.
The love of God has been poured into our hearts through the holy Spirit.
But you are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit.
And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach?
1 Cor 12:1-7
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit.
1 Cor 12:3-13
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.
2 Cor 4:1-6
For we do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord.
We have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the holy ones because of the hope reserved for you in heaven.
1 Pt 3:8-17
Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.
"Go, and teach all nations, says the Lord; I am with you always, until the end of the world."
"Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel."
You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.
I am with you always, until the end of the age.
The seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.
"Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature."
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, / because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor."
"He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High."
"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; / my spirit rejoices in God my savior."
In the beginning was the Word.
He breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the holy Spirit."
The suggested intercessions may all be used together for a special liturgy, or particular intercessions may be chosen for use throughout the liturgical year.
- For parents, that enlightened by the Holy Spirit, they may teach their children wisely to choose the true and constructive messages from among the many offered by the media, let us pray to the Lord.
- For young people, that as hope-filled witnesses of Christ, they may reject whatever in the communications media leads to darkness and despair, let us pray to the Lord.
- For those who own and invest in the media, that they may understand the good they can do by spreading the gospel message and promoting its dissemination, let us pray to the Lord.
- For creative people like producers, directors, writers, and photographers, that they may recognize the world's need for hope in God, and that they may do all in their power to communicate that hope, let us pray to the Lord.
- For journalists, that they may use their talents to draw attention to the needs and hopes of the poorest and weakest sectors of the local community and of the whole human family, let us pray to the Lord.
- For Christian communicators, that they may be men and women of prayer, so that having first experienced hope in their own lives, they may be empowered by the Holy Spirit to become credible witnesses of hope to others, let us pray to the Lord.
- For public officials, that their efforts will promote the common good through just and fair laws that allow all of God's people to be heard by means of the media, let us pray to the Lord.
- For all the people of the earth, that the communications media may be a forum for the exchange of truthful information, constructive ideas, and sound values, and so create and sustain a human community based on justice and charity, let us pray to the Lord.
In Christ There Is no East or West
We Have Been Told
Gather Us In
Psalm 98: All the Ends of the Earth
In addition to highlighting communications themes with parishioners throughout the church year, pastors are encouraged to consider inviting local representatives of the media to a special liturgy or devotional service. Television and radio station owners and operators, reporters, cable system operators, and others could be encouraged to come pray for God's blessings on their work. The public could be invited to come pray for those who work in the media.
Begin with a suitable music selection chosen from the list above.
Leader: May God, who sent us his Son as the herald of salvation and who continu-ally pours the Holy Spirit of truth into our hearts, be with you all.
All: And also with you.
Leader: The wisdom of God is beyond imagining and his goodness, a boundless treasure. He unfailingly enlightens our minds to open up new and better means of sharing with each other all kinds of information, ideas, and aspirations. The discoveries of technology, if used properly, can be of great service to the human family, not only to bring help in times of need, but also as resources for education and entertainment and even for spreading and building up the kingdom of God.
Choose a scriptural passage from the preceding section.
Choose a psalm from the preceding section.
The presider may give those present a brief explanation of the biblical text so that they may understand through faith the meaning of the celebration. (See sample homily included at the end of this resource.)
Leader: A proper use of the available communications media contributes greatly to the progress of the human family. It is also in complete accord with the plan of God, who wants us all to be bound closely together in a union of truth and freedom. Let every tongue, then, proclaim God's wonders.
Reader: Please respond, "How wonderful are your works, O Lord!" OR "Blessed be God forever!"
Blessed are you, O Lord, eternal Wisdom, who enlighten our minds and support our endeavors by your blessing. Let us bless the Lord: R/.
Blessed are you, O Lord, who move us to continue to seek the things that are unseen through those that are seen. Let us bless the Lord: R/.
Blessed are you, O Lord, who never cease to reveal the secrets of your power to those who search for you. Let us bless the Lord: R/.
Blessed are you, O Lord, who urge those who search the mysteries of nature to discover you and to praise you as the author of nature. Let us bless the Lord: R/.
Blessed are you, O Lord, who chose to reunite in Christ your children whom sin had driven apart and to make them one family throughout the world. Let us bless the Lord: R/.
Blessed are you, O Lord, who wish the Gospel of the kingdom to be preached to all peoples, so that all might know you, the only true God, and him whom you have sent, Jesus Christ, your son and our Lord. Let us bless the Lord: R/.
Leader: Let us pray.
Lord God almighty,
we humbly praise you,
for you enlighten and inspire
those who by probing the powers
implanted in creation
develop the work of your hands
in wonderful ways.
Look with favor on your servants
who use the technology discovered by
Enable them to communicate the truth,
to foster love, to uphold justice
and to provide enjoyment.
Let them promote and support
that peace between peoples
which Christ the Lord brought
for he lives and reigns with you
for ever and ever.
Leader: May God, the Creator of all things,
who never ceases to work his
wonders among us
enlighten our minds,
so that we may know him more deeply
and strive always to spread his truth and peace.
by Bishop Robert N. Lynch
In this age of instant electronic communication, I still marvel, as we read the Gospels, at the effectiveness of Jesus' manner of communicating with his disciples. Granted, while he had no access to high-speed connections and no color monitors to summon up pictures of things about which he wished to teach, he still availed himself of the most effective communications techniques of his time. For example, to illustrate a major point in his teaching about human sinfulness and failing, he reached down and drew a line in the sand.
While he had no color pictures to make his point about faith, he pointed to something everyone knew something about: a tiny mustard seed. Countless times he told stories to get a point across, and though we call them parables, they are at heart the tool of a very creative and effective communicator.
Take an abstract idea, wrap it in everyday experience, and teach. Thus salt and light, water, soil, content, and receptivity all became tools of communication for Jesus. He used what was available to him, not only putting it to his own use but using it as the most powerful means of presenting his teachings.
To this day, we do not need the means of modern communications to understand his teaching; but I am absolutely certain that were he present, he would make use of them. Why? Because it is precisely what he did in his age and in his time. If he had not, our faith would be bereft of some of the finest images humankind has had offered to it. Let me offer one example. Jesus led his listeners in a very elementary architectural lesson when he talked about a wise man building his structure on rock and the foolish man building his on sand. One did not need a Ph.D. from Jerusalem University to conjure up those images to understand what the Lord was speaking about, and one did not need a degree in theology to understand that one of the principles of faith in God is that it be built on a solid foundation and that it be able to withstand the vicissitudes of shifting times and circumstances. It is a masterful example, easily grasped, available to even the unlearned, and applicable to one's own life.
Communicating the faith today to a larger universe of listeners is the task of the Church which Jesus left. Not to make use of the means of mass communication would be unfaithful to Jesus' own approach to communicating. What we can do, if we have the wherewithal and the creativity, is to deliver the fundamental truths of our faith in Christ, in the Church, in one another, in stunning ways to many people at one time. If Jesus were to be present today, he would certainly make use of a PowerPoint presentation of even very elementary concepts.
The Catholic Communication Campaign offers the Church an opportunity to teach as effectively as Jesus did, to more people, with greater impact. It is a manner of making the Gospel present in our day in a way that captures the minds and hearts of its recipients in the same way as that wonderful line in the sand, that first stone in the hand, that virgin's lamp out of oil. Our blessing today is that we can take the teaching and present it to vastly larger audiences, far more quickly, and with even greater emphasis. We should communicate as Jesus did but in our modality which today offers.
Bishop Lynch is the Bishop of St. Petersburg, Florida. He also served as Chairman of the Bishops' Committee for Communications from 1997 through 2000.
Excerpts from the English translation of the Book of Blessings © 1988, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. are used with permission. All rights reserved. Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No part of the Lectionary for Mass may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.