Stop it. Right now. Don’t you click that “Deactivate your account” link.
Every year during Lent, a great number of young Catholic adults disappear off the digital face of the earth for 40 days, and fast from social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.). It’s a beautiful thing to offer up to God when we live in a world where social media is almost essential for what passes off as “communication”. However, I think this is why we shouldn’t leave Facebook during Lent. Does a knight leave the battlefield until the fight is over?
We live in a world where if you can’t say something interesting in 140 characters or less people won’t pay attention and keep scrolling. This is also a world where information can be spread instantaneously to a multitude of people. If the Apostles had access to an evangelization gold mine like this almost 2,000 years ago, they would use it to its full potential. Of course social media can only go so far when spreading the most beautiful and personal message of Christ’s love (what with the lack of real human interaction) but it CAN bring people to Christ.
I wonder about something. Christ, before He began His ministry, went to the desert for 40 days because the “Spirit immediately drove Him out into the wilderness” (Mark 1:12 NRSV) after He was baptized. Jesus ate nothing during the 40 days and was tempted by the devil. Our 40 days of penance, alms, and fasting is to prepare us for Easter, the joy of our faith. Jesus took this time of solitude before He began His three years of ministry, but after this Jesus did not relent evangelizing. Yes, Christ went off by Himself to pray in solitude many times but we do not hear of a yearly exodus during those three years. When Jesus stepped on to the battlefield for the salvation of all mankind, He did not abandon the frontlines.
In Jesus’ time the best places to evangelize were the streets, the homes of friends and strangers, the marketplaces. Jesus went to where the people were. This is where He witnessed and proclaimed.
Where are the people of today at? The one place where people of all age, race, and religion gather and flock to from all over the world? It’s social media.
Social media can be a great detriment to our personal life, relationships with friends and family, and to our prayer life with God. It can be a distraction and barrier from the real world and true human interaction. This is why most Catholics give it up for Lent (I actually gave it up for 10 months when I served with NET Ministries!). To take these 40 days to grow closer in our relationship with Christ and devote the time that we would spend on Facebook to the Lord.
That’s great. That’s beautiful. I’ve got something that will bring you close to Christ while bringing others to Him.
I challenge you to NOT give up Facebook for Lent this year. Instead, use these 40 days to WITNESS and PROCLAIM the Gospel to your friends through social media.
Post your favourite quote from a Saint, or a Scripture verse daily.
Share what the Lord spoke to you in your personal prayer that day.
Offer to pray for any intentions that someone may have and your friends can comment their intentions.
Invite people to Mass, Adoration, or Stations of the Cross and then some form of socializing afterwards by making a Facebook Event.
Retweet the Holy Father’s tweets! @Pontifex
There’s so many beautiful ways that you can evangelize using social media this Lent. But of course you need to feed yourself and sacrifice during this season of Lent. So limit yourself to an hour of Facebook a day, and spend that hour evangelizing through it. It’s a lot harder to practice discipline than stop doing something altogether. We need to practice more self-control instead of having a cut-and-run mindset. If we had a cut-and-run mindset when it came to interacting with anyone who wasn’t Catholic for fear of losing our faith, evangelization would never happen. Yes, we can witness to them by living out our faith but if we never proclaim it, we will never be effective evangelists.
On the other hand, if you know that you can’t handle it; self-control is not going to bring you closer to Christ, then give up social media by all means! However, I’m sure that through the grace of God we will be able to use social media to spread the Good News and not lose our souls in the process this Lent.
I will be keeping my Facebook activated this Lent to proclaim and witness to my non-Catholic friends. This is the 40 day Lenten Social Media Evangelization Challenge; Will you take up the challenge?
Share and get inspired by others using #SMEchallenge and #versolalto to show your creative Lenten Social Media Evangelization methods!