Monday, August 17, 2009

Why I am on Twitter

Many people have asked me why I use Twitter, so I decided to write up this blog post. The reason is somewhat related to the title of my blog "voiceintheareapogaus."

A year or more ago some of my former students from the Heights (a school in Washington, DC) "friended" me on Facebook. I rarely used it but from time to time I accepted requests or invited someone else to join. I even put up a few pictures. One day I decided to look to see if another former student of mine -whom I had been in contact with from time to time- from the late sixties was on Facebook. He was and I decided to send an email to him through Facebook. Lo and behold he answered. The answer came via Twitter. In his reply he mentioned that he and his brother whom I also knew) used Twitter for these kinds of messages. So I decided to sign up for Twitter to keep in touch with them. (TweetDeck tells me that this was in February) The first was @jamesoreilly and the second @timoreilly. The latter is well known in internet circles. I didn't really know much about Twitter or what it could be useful for.
When I signed up I listed Tim and James as people to follow and on the set up page I looked through the list of people to follow and decided to pick the founders of Twitter (@jack; @ev; @biz and a few other similar types. I still follow them and have learned a lot from their tweets, even if they don't even know I am following them.

My first followers were internet marketing types some of whom I still "follow" such as @charlesyeo and @mariaandros. Twitter is a cool tool for this kind of business enterprise and I wish them well. In the meantime I have picked up a few more of these "followers" with an odd assortment of others whom I am not sure why they bother to follow me. A significant portion of my small "followers" are "Catholic" related types. I hope they profit from my Tweets; some indicate that they do and a few RT me, which is appreciated.

When I began I had no idea what I wanted to accomplish or say in 140 character "tweets." It was Charles Yeo who suggested that I use my tweets to preach. In fact I set for myself the goal of sending out a daily tweet "homily" in 140 characters or less. (I try to base them on the daily mass readings from the Catholic liturgy or something related to this.) Shortly after I began, one of my followers spoke appreciatively of my homilitweets and I adopted that word as my hash tag. Thus far I don't think I have missed a day without a "homilitweet" (even without the #, since it eats up characters.) I am not sure who reads them, although occasionally a "follower" will RT or make a comment. They also go to my "friends" on Facebook. The daily homilitweets are the principle "voice crying in the wilderness" of this blog. I wish that they reached more of the vast audience of those who are wrapped up in the cares of this world for whom they might serve as a whisper of the spirit, but that is not up to me. I do not desire to become a "popular" spiritual figure on Twitter.
In addition to the daily homilitweet I occasionally put up opinions of a religious nature, trying to avoid any label other than "Catholic." Often I RT someone else's news or opinion piece. This strikes me as one of the best uses of this kind of service. I have also experimented with voice tweets and pics, as well as occasional links to homilies recorded at Mass. I am still learning.
My basic objective is still to make God present in the world of internet communication and to reveal his loving face in Jesus Christ with the prayer that some will be moved by the Spirit to be attentive to his inspirations.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

St. John Chrisostom

From a homily on Matthew by St. John Chrysostom, bishop
Salt of the earth and light of the world
You are the salt of the earth. It is not for your own sake, he says, but for the world’s sake that the word is entrusted to you. I am not sending you only into two cities only or ten to twenty, not to a single nation, as I sent the prophets of old, but across land and sea, to the whole world. And that world is in a miserable state. For when he says: You are the salt of the earth, he is indicating that all mankind had lost its savour and had been corrupted by sin. Therefore, he requires of these men those virtues which are especially useful and even necessary if they are to bear the burdens of many. For the man who is kindly, modest, merciful and just will not keep his good works to himself but will see to it that these admirable fountains send out their streams for the good of others. Again, the man who is clean of heart, a peacemaker and ardent for truth will order his life so as to contribute to the common good.
Do not think, he says, that you are destined for easy struggles or unimportant tasks. You are the salt of the earth. What do these words imply? Did the disciples restore what had already turned rotten? Not at all. Salt cannot help what is already corrupted. That is not what they did. But what had first been renewed and freed from corruption and then turned over to them, they salted and preserved in the newness the Lord had bestowed. It took the power of Christ to free men from the corruption caused by sin; it was the task of the apostles through strenuous labour to keep that corruption from returning.
Have you noticed how, bit by bit, Christ shows them to be superior to the prophets? He says they are to be teachers not simply for Palestine but for the whole world. Do not be surprised, then, he says, that I address you apart from the others and involve you in such a dangerous enterprise. Consider the numerous and extensive cities, peoples and nations I will be sending you to govern. For this reason I would have you make others prudent, as well as being prudent yourselves. For unless you can do that, you will not be able to sustain even yourselves.
If others lose their savour, then your ministry will help them regain it. But if you yourselves suffer that loss, you will drag others down with you. Therefore, the greater the undertakings put into your hands, the more zealous you must be. For this reason he says: But if the salt becomes tasteless, how can its flavour be restored? It is good for nothing now, but to be thrown out and trampled by men’s feet.
When they hear the words: When they curse you and persecute you and accuse you of every evil, They may be afraid to come forward. Therefore he says: “Unless you are prepared for that sort of thing, it is in vain that I have chosen you. Curses shall necessarily be your lot but they shall not harm you and will simply be a testimony to your constancy. If through fear, however, you fail to show the forcefulness your mission demands, your lot will be much worse, for all will speak evil of you and despise you. That is what being trampled by men’s feet means.”
Then he passes on to a more exalted comparison: You are the light of the world. Once again, “of the world”: not of one nation or twenty cities, but of the whole world. The light he means is an intelligible light, far superior to the rays of the sun we see, just as the salt is a spiritual salt. First salt, then light, so that you may learn how profitable sharp words may be and how useful serious doctrine. Such teaching holds in check and prevents dissipation; it leads to virtue and sharpens the mind’s eye. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor do men light a lamp and put it under a basket. Here again he is urging them to a careful manner of life and teaching them to be watchful, for they live under the eyes of all and have the whole world for the arena of their strugg