Dear Good People of Saint Mary,
I recently went to the website of a company whose services we use frequently, who have always given us great service, and saw below on the screen posts from people who had nothing but nasty, sometimes cruel, things to say about how they weren’t satisfied. I guess this sort of thing is very common. It is one of the reasons I use the internet only when necessary.
So I left a kind, grateful statement about how we had always received what we ordered in a timely manner and the quality of the work was always good. I went back there a couple of days later and found that several people had attacked my statement. I had posted my name as Fr. Don Rooney, and one person even attacked the Church on my behalf.
There is probably stuff being said about all of us in the cyberspace of non-reality that we are not even aware of. Maybe it is better that we not know: commit with me to live in reality and speak with people face to face. Give people the dignity that is due to them!
Life has to be lived face to face, or it isn’t life, and it isn’t human.
Love only exists in relationship, it isn’t some kind of an idea, or ideal. When Jesus says you must love one another, he presumes you are face to face. What counsel he would give us about blogs and comments if he were to appear today?
How do you fulfill Jesus’ command to love your neighbor when your neighbor is optional? Have we grown into a society that doesn’t deal directly with human beings anymore? More and more people today are uncomfortable with direct interaction with other people. I know one person, in his mid-twenties, who told me his best friend is someone he met on line. I asked him if he ever actually met him in real time. “No.”
You can live your “life” on-line, say what you want, be somebody else, speak with no filter. People say things they never would never say to someone face to face, things about other people, terrible things. You can ruin people and never be accountable. It becomes a habit of self-centeredness (because it’s only you and the screen) and then, slowly, it creeps into real life, this loveless approach to other people as concepts. People talk over each other as if the other person isn’t even there—just watch the evening news. Being desensitized to humanity on the screen leads to inhuman treatment of real human persons: consider the loss of respect for life, once unthinkable violence, even pornography. These become just “things” without regard to the reality that it is a person who weighs in the balance of our selfishness.
Once relationship is gone, we have destroyed the image of God, who is Relationship in the unity of three Persons. No longer we, I have something to say; I have the right to say it and it doesn’t matter to me to whom, or about whom, or at the expense of whom I say it – others have become faceless and not present, and I am no longer accountable.
We must reclaim this precious image of God in us – community, relationship of life, love. Otherwise we have become something other than Trinity. We have become something other than Human.
But, if you take the time to look into the eyes of another, really look while you talk, how can you not see them, and see yourself in the process? Remember Jesus’ stream of consciousness prayers when he prays to the Father? “I in you, and you in me…” He takes all that is his, all that the Father has given to him, and he gives it to us. This simple encounter, this connection, is the first step to restoring this likeness to God which is our identity from before the foundation of the world.
The world’s greatest need is to receive the Good News of Jesus Christ: life, love. How we are gathered into his Body, how God is indwelling in us. This evangelization (“new evangelization”) is the missing link to a humanity that has become dehumanized, is drifting, is seeking fulfillment in real relationship, not in the prison of isolation. How sad it must be to be one of these people who live most of their life in virtual reality.
This evangelization of the life and love of God, Father, Son, Spirit only happens through real, open encounter. Real, honest dialogue. Real, loving relationship. As we journey together to that Day when we will all be in God and one another in the perfect existence of heaven.
God bless you.