Do you ever hesitate to scroll through news on your phone or actively avoid doing so? The 24/7 nature of media can be overwhelming, even for me, a journalist.
How can we navigate the news without losing our inner peace?
As Catholics, “we are challenged to be people of depth, attentive to what is happening around us and spiritually alert … citizens of the digital world … as we seek to share with others the beauty of God,” Pope Francis reminded us in his first message for World Communications Day.
In this effort, I offer four tips to help you to prayerfully consume media well.
Journalism matters. It’s important to know what is happening in our communities, Church, and world. We should know what legislation is up for a vote. We should learn about the latest efforts putting the corporal works of mercy into action. We should stay up on the goings-on on Main Street, at the state capitol, and in Washington and Rome. You can do so via digital, print, and TV means via National Catholic Register, EWTN TV, and other outlets.
Pray as you read or watch.
As I edit and write stories, I pray for the sources and organizations we feature in our articles, blogs, and commentaries. I pray the headlines: for the Pope on his latest trip, for that natural disaster or this tragic event. Prayer matters, as the Damar Hamlin story illustrates. I pray in thanksgiving when good news is shared: Young people flock to see Christ in the Eucharist; a miracle baby survives; someone finds faith; a new saint is canonized or a cause moves forward — and the enduring legacy of the pope emeritus. If you read about something and want to know what the Church teaches about the subject, head to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, learn more about Catholicism, and peruse papal teaching on the Vatican website.
Share good news.
Post informative, uplifting links on social media or text headlines to your friends and family.
As Benedict XVI noted 10 years ago in his last message for World Communications Day, always released on January 24th to coincide with the feast day of the patron of journalists, Saint Francis de Sales, “Effective communication, as in the parables of Jesus, must involve the imagination and the affectivity of those we wish to invite to an encounter with the mystery of God’s love… In social networks, believers show their authenticity by sharing the profound source of their hope and joy: faith in the merciful and loving God revealed in Christ Jesus. This sharing consists not only in the explicit expression of their faith, but also in their witness, in the way in which they communicate ‘choices, preferences and judgements that are fully consistent with the Gospel, even when it is not spoken of specifically.’1 For those who have accepted the gift of faith with an open heart, the most radical response to mankind’s questions about love, truth and the meaning of life — questions certainly not absent from social networks — are found in the person of Jesus Christ… Ultimately, however, if our efforts to share the Gospel bring forth good fruit, it is always because of the power of the word of God itself to touch hearts, prior to any of our own efforts.”
It’s okay to step away.
Sometimes we need a break. I do as a journalist. Put down your phone or computer or tablet, and pick up that beloved well-read book again or start a new one. Find your rosary and put it to good use. Attend adoration and Mass. Partake in God’s creation. Talk with family and friends. Sit with Scripture. While away from words, commune with the Word.