There is some good spiritual advice that I once was given: don’t try to judge what is in the heart of another person – only God can see into the heart – when we attempt to read the heart of another we, in fact, just reveal what lies in our own hearts.
I have often found that the secular media’s coverage of Church and papal events falls short – revealing not so much the story or the honest truth but rather something much less. One does sometimes wonder if the coverage is in fact more of a reflection of the media and its concerns than that of the Church itself.
Now, here I think it important to make a specific point, the Church is not above the purview of the media. The media in our society does have the right to consider, evaluate and put forward news regarding all institutions in society. This is the role of the media. It must be acknowledged that the role of the media in bringing to light the abuses and institutional mismanagement in the sex abuse scandals has been critical in providing the momentum needed for honest scrutiny and reform of standing practices.
But there is a nuance to Church “news” that often the mainstream media seems to just miss. Recently, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, sent an advent message to those involved in social communications in Latin America with the invitation to consider the value of silence in helping to frame an approach to the news. Obviously, the message is written from a Christian viewpoint and makes use of Christian imagery but the value of the discipline of silence to help bring balance speaks across all lines.
Below are some quotes from Archbishop Celli’s message. The quotes are taken from a summation of the Archbishop’s message found at zenit.org. (Full text: www.zenit.org/article-31238?l=english)
The Vatican official recommended hushing the “flood of concerns and noises that so often drag us endlessly.”
“Silence,” he said, “is like a blank screen on which we can project the film of our daily life to see it clearly. If we project it on a wall full of pictures, books and objects, with a background of noise, we will understand little. […] In silence we hear the voice of God. In this way we will be able to be genuine bearers of his Word — as Mary who, ‘kept all these things in her heart.'” ...
“However,” he said, “if we dedicate time to choose the ingredients and to prepare the dinners and meals we will share over the holidays, must we not also prepare, and even more so, what we will communicate through radios, newspapers, television programs and Web sites? What can we give that is substantial, if our life is filled only with repeated words, with little depth and contents? Let us dedicate time to the Lord whom we are awaiting this Advent.”
It is good advice. The discipline of silence helps to bring balance and a deeper awareness to all the stories of life.
For people seeking a more balanced and knowledgeable presentation of the Catholic Church I would recommend supplementing what they hear and see on mainline news shows with other resources. One of the great values of our internet age is that we are no longer limited to the mainline media and its approach.
Two good internet resources that I find helpful are:
http://www.zenit.org (a daily or weekly internet dispatch on Church news)
Catholic TV – videos from events in the Church – primarily papal and Vatican events. These can be accessed and subscribed to via http://www.youtube.com/.
I am sure that there are many other fine resources out there that help to give a more balanced perspective.
Below is a clip from Catholic TV on the perseverance of patience in this world. It is a good message for our day.