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Like Beacons in the Night

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How do we share hope with each other in the way we communicate? And particularly, how do we communicate hope through our work as Vincentians? How do we, through our work together in the Vincentian mission and charism, communicate trust in the faithfulness of God, and in His boundless love for each of us?

Pope Francis asks us similar questions in his address for the 51st World Communications Day, celebrated this past Sunday, May 28th. Last Wednesday, I attended the Cardinal Foley Symposium held at St. Charles Seminary in Overbrook, PA. The event featured a panel discussion for the World Day of Communications that explored the rapidly changing means of communications with the advent of the digital and social media age, as well as how to share the beauty of God’s truth and love, in charity and hope, in a time often filled with fear, uncertainty and pessimism. Among the topics discussed was the idea that in this new media age, we are all broadcasters – we all have an increased capacity to share our experiences, thoughts, opinions and ideas with the world. Do we realize the potential impact of this, for good or for ill?

As casual broadcasters, the question of how best to communicate hope and trust is one we must all consider. As children of God, the sparks of life – of His life in each of us – to which hope and trust point are beacons of Him in this sometimes all-too-dark world, a world that daily cries out for His love. Pope Francis asks us to “offer the people of our time storylines that are at heart ‘good news’.” He reminds us that, “In Christ, even darkness and death become a point of encounter with Light and Life.” In the face of human suffering, do we shine bravely amid the dark tide of pessimism and despair and see even these things through the eyes of Christ? Christ who saw death transformed into life, and carries us into that glorious reality? It is a big task, no doubt – but not one beyond the work of God’s grace in our lives.

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In the words of Pope Francis, “Hope is born, a hope accessible to everyone, at the very crossroads where life meets the bitterness of failure. That hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts (cf. Rom 5:5) and makes new life blossom, like a shoot that springs up from the fallen seed. Seen in this light, every new tragedy that occurs in the world’s history can also become a setting for good news, inasmuch as love can find a way to draw near and to raise up sympathetic hearts, resolute faces and hands ready to build anew.”

When you are faced with suffering, with injustice, despair and all sorts of frailties of everyday life, remember that, “the Kingdom of God is already present in our midst, like a seed that is easily overlooked, yet silently takes root.” Brothers and Sisters, let us not “be robbed of the joy of the Kingdom by the weeds that spring up all about.” But let us proclaim the beauty of the hope, of the joy, of the truth of God’s love and faithfulness. Together, let us trust Him. I take this as my task in serving you and the Vincentian community in my work in communications, and it is my hope that you will take it as yours, as fellow ‘broadcasters.’

The full text of Pope Francis’s address for the 51st World Day of Communications can be found here.

More information on the 2017 Cardinal Foley Symposium can be found here.

Heather K. Salwach serves as Director of Communications of the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission.

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