So, those of you who follow us over on Instagram know that we binged a bit on "Autotune the Church" the other day. (Pray for the maker of the videos! I think I heard recently that he may be becoming a Franciscan Missionary.) If you haven't watched these videos yet...go! Watch them now! They are a perfect example of what the New Evangelization should look like.
One of them really stuck with me, though. A remake of One Direction's "You Are So Beautiful," featured Blessed James Alberione:
Who is this guy?! How haven't I heard of this saint?! Do you know the thrill of discovering a new saint friend? There is nothing like it. I literally feel quivery with excitement as I type this (nerd alert)!
So, I turned to my super scholarly source of choice to find out more about this Blessed, and discovered who he was and why he would be a great patron saint for me:
"Blessed James Alberione (Italian: Giacomo) (4 April 1884 – 26 November 1971), was an Italian Catholic priest, and the founder of the Society of St. Paul, the Daughters of St. Paul, The Pious Disciples of the Divine Master, The Sister of Jesus the Good Shepherd, The Sisters of Mary Queen of the Apostles, and other religious institutes, which form the Pauline Family. The first two groups are best known for promoting the Catholic faith through various forms of modern media." source
The founder of the Pauline Family! That means he is the one we have to thank for the wonderful Pauline Books and Media and the much loved Daughters of St. Paul. Please say you've encountered this order firsthand?!
At any rate, I think that he is a good patron saint for all of those who use social media, and his words have really got me thinking.
Pictures courtesy of an apple picking trip with Grandma and Granddad! Oh, and a belated 5th anniversary date. ;-)
If you haven't watched the video yet...please do! Right now!
The key line is,
"We need to put down the scissors of censorship, and pick up the camera and microphone.We need to speak in the language of our own time because God is so...God is so beautiful!"
I've heard it said before that, as people who know God's love, we need to live our lives in such a way that other people encounter His love, too, because our lives may be the only Gospel that some people ever read.
And this is where social media can be such a powerful tool.
Yes, social media is often misused. People use if for gossip, for spreading rumors, for bullying, for promoting things that should not be promoted, for judging others, for excessive distraction, for waging "Facebook battles."
Here I'm reminded of an analogy that my dad used to always give when I was growing up. My dad suffered (and survived, praise God) two heart attacks when I was ten years old. Since then, he has had to keep a powerful medication with him that he could take as a sort of "rescue" measure if he were to ever have another heart attack. He would sometimes pull out the bottle and say, "This medication could save my life if I were having a heart attack. Yet, the same ingredients, if misused, could make a bomb." His point? The most powerful things can often be a force for tremendous good or tremendous evil. Social media is an example of one such thing.
What I choose to share on Instagram, on this blog, etc. can uplift or tear down. I have read some wonderful reflections lately (I'm thinking especially of Haley's wonderful post) about authenticity online. Some of my best friends read this blog regularly, and I think they would say that what you see here is what you would get in real life. I tend to be one of those crazy INFPs who tends to look for meaning and beauty in things, even the rough around the edges things. So, the beauty you see here is not me being unauthentic - it's me sharing with you the beauty that I've seen. It's me sharing with you the glimpses I've seen of what is true, beautiful, and good. It's me sharing with you the glimpses I've seen of God.
There are lots of rough edges around my vocation, and around any vocation. Personally, I enjoy sometimes reading blogs and seeing pictures on Instagram that show the messy side of marriage and motherhood. Those messy moments are a part of my life, too, and I like knowing that I'm not alone in that craziness!
But, at the same time, some of the bloggers I know who best capture that insanity also best capture absolute beauty in the everyday moments (looking at you Amy and Grace!). We each have our place in the body of Christ. I, for one, know that when I try to copy others' styles of showing rough edges, I just look like I'm copying them. That isn't my style, so much as reflecting on the reality of my suffering and challenges and the meaning behind them. It's just my personality!
But I look at all these different styles and I see a common thread. Wherever there is a witness to beauty - funny beauty, frustrating beauty, or pretty beauty there is a glimpse of God. There is a glimpse of God's love, of His goodness. Now, there is religious art and there is also art in the world that is intensely beautiful but not explicitly religious. I think that both can lead us to God. I think the beauty of the Church is that we don't just point to songs and paintings and books about Jesus and say, "You have to listen to/look at/read these to know God!" Instead we point to everything that is beautiful and say, "Isn't this beautiful?!" And then, we are in awe of the fact that God is the source of all beauty. (It kind of reminds me of when Jen Fulweiler talks in her book about God being the source of all goodness and the role that played in her conversion)
We uphold beauty. We shine a light on beauty. We let the beauty speak for itself. We step out of the way, and we let God speak through the beauty.
Every picture I post here has a story behind it. Some even have painful, stressful, or anxious stories behind them. That is part of the beauty! Because once you see beauty here...
...you can see beauty anywhere and everywhere. You see beauty even in the moments of suffering, of messiness, of imperfection. You see beauty in the moments that are seemingly perfect, too. And you find joy and hope in both kinds of beauty.
"From heaven, I will look after those who use modern and effective media for doing good - in holiness, in Christ, in the Church." - Blessed James Alberione
Blessed James Alberione, pray for us!