In 2011, there’s still a market for greatest story ever told

| January 6, 2011 | 1 Comment

The Catholic Spirit website,, is one way The Catholic Spirit is using technology to spread the Gospel message.

Let me tell you a story: Once upon a time, God came down to earth as a man named Jesus, a human being just like you and me. He went about the countryside doing good.

He also told stories, stories that held lessons.

The lessons Jesus taught are lessons our world still needs to learn today, and that’s why in 2011 there is a Catholic media organization named The Catholic Spirit Pub­lishing Company right here in our midst: Somebody needs to tell the stories.

Somebody, somehow

Somebody needs to keep passing along the “good news” that Jesus Christ was born a man, lived and loved, and died to atone for the sins of the world, your sins and mine.

Somebody needs to keep teaching the lessons that Jesus’ parables taught.

Somehow we need to have a constant, consistent reminder that before he left, Jesus established a church to carry on the work he started.

Somehow we need to keep telling the stories of God alive in the world today through his church — you and I — the people of God.

But how? How will the story be told?

Can’t rely on others

Back when this newspaper was started 100 years ago, Archbishop John Ireland did so because he felt the Catholic story wasn’t being well told in the media of the day. A century later, not much has changed in that regard.

According to Amy Mitchell of the Pew Research Center, the mainstream media marginalize religion: Religion to secular media is an event, a story, an image; it is not a way of life.

Coverage is episodic; mainstream media fall all over themselves to cover the pope’s visit, then the next day couldn’t care less about the pope or anything else Catholic.

Faith to the mainstream press is really only important when there is controversy.

Secular media rarely dive into personal issues of faith. They won’t ask the deep questions, such as, “How does personal faith impact your decision-making?”

For 85 years, the answer was The Catholic Bulletin; for the past 15, it’s been The Catholic Spirit.

Two major changes

Of course there’s been a century of change since that first issue of The Catholic Bulletin in 1911. But in 2011, two stand out: The audience and the means to reach the audience.

No longer a primarily poor and immigrant church, ours today is a mostly better-off and well-educated one. While there are closed minds at both ends of the ideological spectrum, the majority of Catholics — burnished through freedom of the American culture — are open to hearing rational thinking from many perspectives; then they’ll make up their own minds about what they’ll agree with or agree to.

We — yours truly included — are far too influenced by our secular culture. The need to “fit in” is still strong.

For a church to influence us — to have our faith impact our decision-making — requires a relationship of trust, first of all, and the sexual abuse crisis has gravely undermined that. Continued transparency in all the church does can rebuild that trust.

In order to influence Catholics in today’s society the church also needs to continue to communicate — to tell its story, tell Jesus’ story — in many ways through many avenues.

While black type on white paper told the story for decades — and still does — the barrage of technological advances offer so many new ways to teach the Gospel, to explain why the church teaches what it does, to touch both the mind and the heart, that not to use it as well as newsprint would be very poor stewardship.

Mission hasn’t changed

As Catholic newspapers have for 100 years, Catholic media today — through websites and video and smart phones and iPads and Facebook and Twitter and whatever comes out next, as well as through printed publications — will have the same charge:

Through the years Catholics have clipped articles from The Catholic Bulletin and The Catholic Spirit and tacked them on their refrigerator door.

How great is it that today they can read that same article in the paper or on the website, see it on Twitter on their smart phone, and with a few clicks send it to every one of their Facebook friends?

Jesus’ story is still the greatest story ever told, and modern technology will help our church tell that story in new ways and to greater numbers of people as The Catholic Spirit moves into its second century.


Category: Editorials, Featured