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The Church as a Social Network

Jeffrey Bruno

Daniel McInerny - published on 01/16/14

In our use of social media, therefore, we seek the very things that are found par excellence in the Eucharist. We seek, that is,

1. A kind of Happiness, understood as an emotional connection to a network of “friends” always ready to hand (don’t my cat pictures make you smile?)

2. A means of finding our Identity, our “profile” or sense of authenticity (authenticity in the digital age was the theme of Pope Benedict’s message for the 2011 World Day of Communications)

3. The ability to wield a tremendous, if not always supernatural, Power (my wife once described her iPad as giving her a magical ability to do and know all things)

4. Access, it seems, to all knowledge and Truth (what can’t you find out via Google?)

5. Unity or connectedness (Seth Godin says we no longer in an industrial economy, but in a “connection economy” made possible by the Internet)

6. Beauty via a seemingly endless supply of attractive images (digital culture is even more image-based than it is word-based)

7. Eternity, a lifting out of the everyday (in going online we look for an experience, perhaps only in the form of 15 seconds of fame, that takes us beyond the flow of time)

It would be easy to multiple examples of how very far modern social media falls short in its Eucharistic imitation. But I think it’s perhaps even more valuable to focus on the fact that “social communications” is a Eucharistic imitation, the whole community seeking Holy Communion. After all, Blessed Pope John Paul II spoke of social communications as a powerful tool that “human skill is daily rendering more perfect.” The more we focus on the way in which social media can be made more perfect in its imitation of Holy Communion, the better will we be able to use it to proclaim the Good News “from the housetops.”  

Daniel McInerny is the editor of the English edition of Aleteia. You are invited to contact him at, find him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter: @danielmcinerny.     

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