Information Technology (IT) is in use all around us. People gather, process, transfer, manage, organize, retrieve, store, and display information electronically. Every minute of the day and night IT is being developed and used to handle information—from what is taking place thousands of miles away to what is happening in our own lives here and now. Without information technology, the news we hear and see tonight would be the news that took place yesterday or even the day before.
Whether or not we use information technology for our personal life, our family life, our community life, or our professional life, we cannot deny that it’s every day use and dynamic advancements strongly impact our relationships with the environment, with other human beings, and with ourselves. It is therefore not only important, it is necessary to reflect on how we respond to and use information technology.
In the Book of Genesis, all people are created in the image of God their Creator (Gen. 1:26). As a consequence, all people are creative. IT provides abundant opportunities to express our innate creativity in our daily activities of living and working together. With different opportunities available we are only limited by our interest and our imagination in learning how to use technology. IT can rouse our interest towards the common good or towards self-seeking interests.
Later in the Book of Genesis is the story of the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:1-11), where the children of Noah attempt to build a tower to the heavens. God, who jumbles their language, stops their unchecked creativity focused on power and vanity. Technology ought not to be used to prove what we can do with information. Our use of technology ought to be shaped by our spirituality and our traditions, our common mission, and our shared wisdom for the purpose of creatively and resourcefully caring for the earth’s valuable resources, one another, and our treasured heritage.
The scribe Ezra, in the Book of Nehemiah, was given the task of proclaiming and preaching the Law to the Israelites who were rebuilding their temple after many years of captivity in Babylon (Neh. 8:1-8). Faced with translating the Law from the language of the ancient Israelites to the language they learned from their Babylonian and Persian captors while in captivity, Ezra directed Levite priests to stand among the people and be an interpretive public address system. After the law was read, the priests translated and explained the words that were spoken and heard. The Israelites wept for joy because they finally understood the word of God that was given to their ancestors and promised to them. IT can be used to proclaim and preach the Good News today through words, images, and music that just might encourage us to cry out in happiness.
In the gospel of John, Jesus introduces to Nicodémus, a Jewish authority, the unpredictable nature of the Holy Spirit who, like the wind, blows where it will (John. 3:8). Without a doubt, Jesus’ words to Nicodémus raise questions about how the Spirit is guiding our Church today when it comes to using technology.
In 1948 Pius XII established a council to evaluate popular films and through the papacies of John XXIII, Paul VI, and John Paul II, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications was developed. This Council provides recommendations for the use of technology like making us aware of the “digital divide” between the rich who have technology and the poor who do without it. Reflecting on technology, Pope John Paul II advised that the “most essential” question raised by technological progress is whether each person can become more spiritually mature, more aware of the dignity of his or her humanity, more responsible, and more ready to help the neediest and weakest of people.
Because information technology is a way of encouraging the development of human beings and creating a better world, we cannot avoid it or ignore it. We are called and challenged to reflect on how we use it to serve every person in the world where we live.
The Church of St. Matthew currently uses information technology to stay connected through emails, on Facebook, and our webpage. This is made possible through the creativity and marvelous design work of Richard Schletty whose “neighborhood” paintings are on the East wall of our worship space and who cantors and accompanies us with his guitar at Masses. On our webpage, children can be enrolled in our Faith Formation Program and the cost for educational materials can be paid for on-line using a credit card. Donations to our parish can be done in the same way. Our weekly bulletins are the result of IT as are the schedules for ministry, annual financial reports, homilies, and reflections like this one.
Beginning September 2, a smart TV given to the Church of St. Matthew by the Teens Encounter Christ Retreat Ministry (TECH), will be placed at the rear of our worship space. Before the celebration of a funeral Mass, it can be used by families who are using a digital photo album to celebrate the life of a loved one. Before a weekend Mass begins and after a Mass has ended, information will appear that is intended to welcome visitors, publicize upcoming events, guide us to ponder the Sunday readings, challenge us to reflect on our Christian lives, limit after Mass announcements, and encourage us to imagine how information technology might be used in our future. Your comments, critiques, and digital creations are welcomed as together we use information technology to become more spiritually mature, more aware of our human dignity, and more ready to help the neediest and weakest of people.
Fr. Bob Kelly