Use all ways to communicate the Word of God

Most of us are not able to remember much about the homily after Mass. Visuals help us to remember information better. A homily delivered together with

May 16, 2018

By Joseph Raj
Most of us are not able to remember much about the homily after Mass. Visuals help us to remember information better. A homily delivered together with visual aids makes a difference, said Fr Dr Gilbert Choondal SDB, in his talk entitled Developing Engaging Communicators. It was facilitated by the Penang Diocesan Pastoral Institute in Penang, Ipoh and Bukit Mertajam from April 4 to 6.

Fr Gilbert is a Salesian Priest of Don Bosco (SDB) and holds a PhD in Catechetics and Youth Ministry from the Salesian Pontifical University, Rome. He is currently lecturing in Kristu Jyoti College, Bengaluru, India.

Fr Gilbert said that we communicate Jesus by being Jesus today. Pastoral communication is God’s work. Communication is sacred and it began with God himself. If he did not communicate, we would not be here. Jesus was an excellent communicator and experienced teachers listened to Jesus and appreciated Him.

St Don Bosco was a very skillful person and he used all possible skills, and even magic tricks, to attract the youth.

Emphasising the importance of pastoral communications, Fr Gilbert referred to Canon 779, which categorically states that Catechetical instructions should use all possible teaching aids and instruments of social communications adopted according to age, culture and conditions of life of the faithful. He added that Catechism should be made interesting and lively, without fear of using new technologies.

Fr Gilbert explained how Catholic statues, architecture, icons and other images which are highly symbolic, helped to communicate the faith in those early days when there was no written Word.

At the weekend stay-in programme on April 7 and 8 at Domus St Anne Bukit Mertajam, Fr Gilbert spoke on fake news and held a workshop on various pastoral communications skills.

Faith may be communicated through media techniques such as songs, movies, videos, media. art, magic, quiz and games. Fr Gilbert provided several examples on each technique. His workshop on Gospel magic and paper crafts was
creative and unique. The participants even learnt to make placards that could pop out with messages.

Today, digital devices like the TV, mobile phone and computers have become ubiquitous and upon whose altar many people worship, their new god. Digital devices have become accessible to the rich and the poor alike. The illiterate share a culture with the literate. People have become so addicted to digital devices until they can’t do without them. That is why Pope Francis in his Amoris Laetitia has advocated that families keep one hour in a week free of digital devices and spend quality time together.

It is our responsibility to teach young people how to use the media responsibly. This is called media education. Media education develops a person’s critical and creative thinking and understanding of the nature, techniques and impact of the message. It is also the ability to be able to discern the hidden agenda behind the message. All this takes time and practice.

We are people of truth, so we must promote truth. If we are not sure, we should not simply forward any messages we receive. We should not forward even chain letters, because our faith is not dependent on curses and blessings. Verify the news first. Where does the news come from? Who created it? Read beyond the headlines. Is it newsworthy? Check the date. Does it have a date? Use web tools to verify whether it is fake.

Fake news is everywhere. Not even the Holy Bible was spared. The crafty serpent created the first fake news by misinterpreting God’s command. Jesus was himself a victim of fake news. Pope Francis has also chosen the theme for this year’s World Communications Day The truth will set you free. (Jn 8:32). Fake news and journalism for peace on May 13.

Fr Gilbert ended his programme with a session on four types of prayer meditation which is a way of communicating with our Heavenly Father. Just saying prayers is infantile. However, meditation is a mature way of praying and we should teach our children how to meditate in Catechism classes.

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