The Internet as a Source of Grace
by Deacon Thomas Frankenfield
Once there was a young girl named Mary, who dreamed about walking in a beautiful enchanted city. Everywhere Mary went in this city, she saw
thousands of breathtaking sites. The main road through the city was the
pathway to joy. The side roads were the ways to failure. The path to joy in
the beautiful city offered opportunities that could make Mary's life richer;
give her joy and best of all, enhance her journey with God. The only rule
was that Mary had to stay on the main road and not stray into those side
streets where she could be lost forever. The morale--Mary needed to be very careful in her journey.
Good Uses of the Internet
In many ways, Mary's dream-story is like our own voyage into the internet
with the main road representing our way to heaven. The main road of the
internet offers lots of wonderful opportunities. Many experts say that is
was one of the greatest inventions of all time. Many of us visit it daily to
take advantage of all its good portions like interacting with friends via
email, chat rooms and blogging. Sometimes we use it for work, home and school by "Google-ing" something, by checking out online stores; by listening to music--the list is very long. Also, the internet can be a source for lots of good information to strengthen our Faith, and a way to communicate with other people of the Faith. For example, I write children's' stories and spiritual reflections for our own Holy Spirit Interactive where I receive email questions and
prayer requests from all points of the globe. I also use the internet extensively in religious education. It summary, the internet used properly has made our lives and our faith
Internet as a Source of Sin
However, even though it is good, the internet can be an impediment to our
spiritual journey and a source of sin. It is very important that everyone
understand that there are very dangerous side roads on the internet that must be avoided at all times. Peoples lives have been shattered, young people have been abducted and dangerous predators are waiting for those who chose to take the wrong paths. The path of sin can be brought into our homes by the internet and we have to insure that we never take those paths.
The most dangerous areas are the online social sites like chat rooms, and
Myspace.com. While they are usually a lot of fun, you need to know that they also pose a risk to your safety. So, before you join any of these online social sites work with a parent or family member. I'm not saying you can't join but you need to be wide awake about how you use them.
Internet Safety Ideas
Here are some ideas for young people wanting to stay on the main street of the information highway and use the internet for moral and respectable purposes while avoiding those side roads and areas that are near occasions for sin.
- Be Truthful and Honest in Everything. Please, let your parents know you are joining a site like Myspace.com. Ask yourself this question,"Can I show everything I do online to my parents?" If the answer is "no", then you are taking the side roads to a sinful life style.
- Be Very Careful Using Pictures. You would be surprised at how much
information can be assembled from pictures on social sites. For example,
pictures where you are wearing school symbols and logos? Maybe you have a group picture of your friends with your church in the background. These will lead people to where you live. Please be careful!
- Don't Ever Share Your Private Information. This means avoiding profiles that tell strangers where you hang out, your schedule, your last name, and anything else that could help you be traced by someone who has evil intentions.
- Keep All Of Your Comments and Dialogue Truthful and Decent. You need to live up to a God's plan for youthful living-not the ways of
non-Christian friends. For example, make sure your email name gives the
right message. I am proud to be a Permanent Deacon in the Catholic Church and my email address reflects that role. My email address is
RevMrTom@cox.net because I want everyone to "exactly" who I am.
- Never, Ever, Meet A Stranger in Person. Always tell your parents when someone wants to meet you. Even if someone wants to know more about yourlove for Jesus. In this case invite them to go to your parish or youth group. There is never a situation where you should meet people, regardless of any pressure that is put upon you.
The Grace of our Catholic Community
Remember, you are never alone on the path to holiness. When each of us was baptized, we were baptized into the Catholic Community. This Catholic
Community, including the Communion of Saints, is ready to help on your
journey towards holiness in God. One of the most obvious ways is to help
you avoid doing wrong. Here are some ways to use the Catholic Community to grow in Grace and to avoid these occasions of sin.
- Begin each internet session with a prayer.
- Try picking a Saint to help protect you. Did you know that St Isadore is the patron saint of the internet? Look up his life and see if you can understand why he was chosen.
- Try a Prayer to Saint Maria Goretti! Sweet and Loving Saint Maria Goretti, teach me to make my time on the internet a special time to grow closer to Jesus, as you did in your life. Implant into all the people that I meet online, a respect for modesty and purity. Through your intercession, help me to make of this internet session an opportunity to bring others to our loving Lord, Jesus by helping them spiritually.
Grant that others may see in my computer work a reason to change their ways, if necessary, and that I may have the courage to resist any temptation to sinful conduct. Let others be led closer to Jesus and Mary by my work. Amen.
- Find a "prayer partner" who can pray with you and ask you daily how
you are doing in your struggle to use the internet for your good.
- Place a blessed statue or rosary on or near your keyboard or tape a
holy card/prayer card to your computer screen. I have a rosary on a section of the keyboard that I rarely use (the number pad). It helps me in two ways.
- The visual sight of the holy rosary reminds me of Jesus as my focus
- The grace from the blessed rosary works in mysterious and wonderful ways to help me.
The internet has wonderful possibilities for all of us. Remain on the main road to holiness! Don't stray! We need to remember our universal call to holiness in all we do, especially when using the internet. On my part, I
offer my advice and assistance to anyone on any topic but especially
concerning the moral and chaste use of the internet.
If you are tempted or pressured to take a dangerous side road on the information highway, you can email me.
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