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EDITORIAL | If we listen well, media can help us hear God’s voice and grow in faith

Media can be a wonderful tool for growing in faith, if we listen wisely

Twenty-five years ago, Tony and Teresa Holman bought WRYT 1080 AM and established Covenant Network Catholic radio. Their goal was simple: spreading the Good News through radio.

“We have a desire to reach out to people as much as we can, because our whole purpose is to share and evangelize the faith,” Teresa said.

The media landscape has changed considerably in those 25 years. The rise of the Internet has allowed people everywhere to both access and publish information at any time; social media connects us with people all over the world; we are inundated with news and opinions every time we turn on the TV or radio or open an app on our phones.

In his 2022 message for the World Day of Communications, Pope Francis focused on the importance of listening in our noisy world.

“On the one hand, God always reveals Himself by communicating freely; and on the other hand, man and woman are asked to tune in, to be willing to listen,” he said.

How we listen — and to whom — is important to discern, the pope continued.

“This is why Jesus calls His disciples to evaluate the quality of their listening. ‘Take heed then how you hear’ (Luke 8:18): this is what He exhorts them to do after recounting the parable of the sower, making it understood that it is not enough simply to listen, but that it is necessary to listen well. Only those who receive the word with an ‘honest and good’ heart and keep it faithfully bear the fruit of life and salvation (Luke 8:15). It is only by paying attention to whom we listen, to what we listen, and to how we listen that we can grow in the art of communicating, the heart of which is not a theory or a technique, but the ‘openness of heart that makes closeness possible’ (“Evangelii Gaudium” 171).”

Media can be a wonderful tool to help us grow in our faith. In Covenant Network’s 25 years, hosts and guests have touched countless lives. Msgr. Michael Witt makes Church history come alive. Patty Schneier gives space for faithful Catholics to share the daily joys and challenges of their vocations. Adam Wright’s morning show explores the “ordinary, everyday Catholic things” and energizes listeners to “go be holy today.”

As we listen to God, our media consumption can help or hinder us in hearing His voice. Do we “tune in” to people who devote their work to bringing truth and goodness to light (whether through a Catholic or secular channel)? Or do we choose to listen to pundits and Internet warriors who are fueled by generating clicks and retweets through outrage, exploiting an “us vs. them” narrative for their own popularity?

As we pay attention to what we consume, Pope Francis also encourages us to listen with an open heart, giving God room to speak through the experiences of other people.

“I think of the infinite curiosity of the child who looks at the world around them with wide-open eyes. Listening with this frame of mind — the wonder of the child in the awareness of an adult — is always enriching because there will always be something, however small, that I can learn from the other person and allow to bear fruit in my own life,” Pope Francis said in the message.

Today, you can listen to Covenant Network on 43 stations across five states (or around the world online). We’re grateful to every person who works to bring the Good News to our ears and eyes, across the airwaves and through other media. God “reveals Himself by communicating freely” — let’s remember to tune in.

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