Catholic Media Association
June 9, 2021
‘It’s been said many times, many ways’ that the pandemic has disrupted our lives, and has changed forever how we live and work. For example, prior to the pandemic, I encouraged pastors to install livestreaming capabilities in their churches, to invest in better websites, to make the presence of their parishes felt in a salutary way on social media, and to move from outdated ministry platforms to newer, more effective ones. Similarly, I urged parishes gradually to shift from paper envelopes, and to move towards EFT’s and other electronic giving portals. Many in church leadership saw the light before the pandemic, though not all. Now, almost everyone sees the need for these things. Tragic as it was, the pandemic brought about change, more quickly than usual.
Through my work with Chris Gunty and The Catholic Review, I am aware that, as Catholic media professionals, you face similar challenges. Chris and his team have transformed The Catholic Review into an attractive magazine, even as they have produced a constant flow of relevant digital content, and have expanded and deepened the presence of this local Church on social media. All this they are doing amid the many challenges the Church is facing, whether it is the cloud of scandal that continues to hang over the Church, or the deep polarization of society, or societal debates about what constitutes news. Amid the din, it can be hard to get people’s attention, even that of the People of God. I know that all of you are deeply engaged in addressing these challenges, and while approaches, strategies, and resources may differ, you and I, amid the shifting sands of culture and technology, are ‘anchored in hope’ as we seek to share the Good News of Redemption with as many people as possible.
Anchored in Hope
In our daily work of mind, heart, and hand, we are convinced that Jesus, our Risen and Exalted Lord, has triumphed over sin and death and now pleads for us at the right hand of the Father. Thus, no human need, no need of God’s People goes unnoticed by this Savior who became “like us in all things but sin”, and who understands far better than we, the human nature that he assumed. Whether it is the immigration crisis at our southern border or societal inequity, or violence in our cities, or the crisis in family life, or declining belief in the Eucharist, or the vulnerability of the unborn and the frail elderly … name a need, a crying need, and we can be sure the Lord is pleading on our behalf, even as his Spirit transforms us into responsible agents of his mercy, love, and justice. Thus the Letter to the Hebrews, referring to Jesus’ intercession for us, says: “This we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm, which reaches into the interior, behind the veil” (Heb. 6:19).
In other words, even as we encounter, describe, and seek to address life’s problems, already we are anchored firmly in heaven ‘where Christ is seated at God’s right hand.’ Genuine hope gives us the wisdom and love “to read the signs of the times” and to describe what we see and hear, not through the lens of ideology, partisan politics, or personal animosity – but rather through the clear and truthful vision that faith affords us. This is only a professional requirement for any Catholic journalist but above all, a deeply personal matter, for hope is “an anchor of the soul”. Without it, we can easily become so awash in controversy that we are swept away.
Hope Opens Our Eyes to the Good
It may still be axiomatic that ‘bad news sells more papers and brings higher ratings’ – but if we are anchored in hope, we will not see it quite that way. Without blinding us to the problems and divisions that exist, hope opens our eyes to the good that is going on all around us: works of mercy, evangelization, education, charity, and so much more. These works are carried out not by nameless, faceless bureaucracies, but rather by those whom Pope Francis calls, “missionary disciples” – those who bear witness to the Risen Lord, not so much by their words as by their deeds. Let us not forget, that the Risen and Exalted Lord who pleads for us in heaven, also pours out upon his Church, through his Spirit, an abundance of gifts and ministries that are bearing the good fruit of the Gospel. Thank you for telling their stories, for introducing us to heroic fellow Catholics, for helping Catholics and many others, not to be jaded or cynical but hopeful, convinced that despite our weakness, the Risen Lord has indeed ‘overcome the world.’
Today we also remember colleagues who have spent their professional lives conveying the Good News and sharing news about the Church in a spirit of charity and transparency. We thank God for their talent, their generosity, and their unstinting labors even as we pray that they will see in full reality that which saw partially yet reported on with integrity, always with an eye on the Church’s mission. May these faithful friends and colleagues rest in the peace of Christ and may they pray for us who continue to labor in the vineyard of the Lord. Through their example of fidelity, let us find encouragement to anchor our lives, both personal and professional, in “the Lord of all hopefulness, the Lord of all joy” and may God bless us and keep us always in his love!