Each Sunday before Pentecost (May 21 this year), the Church celebrates World Communications Day, honoring social communications media as God’s gift to humanity, with great potential for evangelization. World Communications Day reminds the Church to embrace media technologies for the proclamation of the Gospel and the spread of goodness and serves to educate her sons and daughters to be critical thinkers when engaging media messages.
In this year’s message, Pope Francis addresses “Speaking with the heart.” Jesus once warned the Pharisees that what makes one unclean comes from the heart. “For from the heart come wicked thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness and blasphemy” (Matthew 15:19). Of course, if our hearts are filled with joy, compassion, love, gratitude and forgiveness, then those very qualities will overflow into our lives and communications with one another.
To be better communicators of God’s love, both in our words and in our lives, Pope Francis presents a few challenges for us within this digital age:
Purify one’s heart. If we are to speak the truth with charity, we must purify our hearts. Our hearts will never be totally pure due to sin, but we strive to grow in virtue each day. The Holy Father states, “Only by listening and speaking with a pure heart can we see beyond appearances and overcome the vague din which, also in the field of information, does not help us discern in the complicated world in which we live.”
Ask: What in my heart needs to be purified so my communication uplifts others?
Communicate cordially. There are too many examples currently of when our communication is far from cordial. To the disciples on the road to Emmaus, Jesus speaks cordially from His heart, respects their suffering and doesn’t impose Himself on them. What He does is lovingly open their minds to the profound meaning of what has happened.
Ask: Is my communication cordial, exuding inspiration and compassion?
Be authentic. The Holy Father presents St. Francis de Sales as a model of communication that comes from love. St. Francis was convinced that “in order to speak well, it is enough to love well.” This 17th-century Jesuit believed that “we are what we communicate.” Authentic communication has suffered in a culture marked by outrageous behavior. “Speaking from the heart” means being real in our communications.
Ask: Am I being authentic in my communications, especially online?
With these challenges, Pope Francis calls all people to grow in a way of communication that speaks the truth from the heart, “which is essential to foster a culture of peace.” Only when we speak from the heart can the “miracle of encounter,” as the pope calls it, take place.
Daughter of St. Paul Sister Hosea Rupprecht is the associate director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies, a ministry of the Daughters of St. Paul.