Catholic tradition holds us to three Lenten observances: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. For most people, though, it’s all about the fasting and the sacrifice. “What will I be giving up this lent.”
A new trend that is gaining popularity is to give up Social Media, such as Facebook, for Lent. This can seem like a worthwhile sacrifice, if we were to approach social media as if it were just technology and devices. But the truth is social media is relationships. I would no more give up my relationships for 40 days than I would give up family or church. I do recognize that the problem for some is that they have gone to the extreme and thus neglect their face-to-face relationships. For those folks it would be time to implement a Lenten Fast or a scaling back. Just like our rules of fasting for Ash Wednesday or Good Friday We cut back to one main meal and the rest light meals.
I would like to take a new approach. First, let’s stop for a moment and take a look at what it is we are called to do during Lent.
“We can begin to embrace this call by fasting from or "giving up" material things, including foods, that are superfluous to our basic needs; "taking up" habits that are directed to helping and caring for others; and "lifting up" our brothers and sisters who are in need through prayer and devotional practices.” – From the USCCB.org - Lent: Give up, Take-up, Lift-up!
When I read those words, I see an opportunity for us focus on the ways that we can take these three disciplines of giving up, taking up and lifting up, and integrate them as part of our Lenten social media plan.
In Pope Francis' message for Lent, our Holy Father writes
“The Lord asks us to be joyous heralds of this message of mercy and hope! It is thrilling to experience the joy of spreading this good news, sharing the treasure entrusted to us, consoling broken hearts and offering hope to our brothers and sisters experiencing darkness.”
With our intentional, deliberate and focused usage of our Social Media this Lent, we have at our disposal a powerful medium to spread the Good News, to share the riches we have been entrusted, to console the broken hearted and to offer hope to those in darkness. Don't give up your social media this Lent. Instead, let's make a Lenten pledge to use our Social Media privileges in positive, evangelizing and loving ways. It’s time for a new SOCIAL MEdia pledge this Lent. Does anyone want to join me?
by Cyndi Marlow
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I boarded the Cruise Blog Lines and headed out to sea: Someone throw me a life jacket...Please!
Call me Ishmael. Some (months) ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world (web).
I don't recommend diving in uncharted seas, especially when you don't know how to swim.
I started this blog with the intent that I would share my faith in the spirit of the new evangelization. I am not doing this blog to make money. I have no plans to begin placing advertising or sponsors on this blog. I do not have a book that I am selling or promoting. I do not say those things to judge or to criticize those who want to make money or have a book they want to promote. A blog and a web page on the internet are certainly a viable means of doing both. So, if you are someone seeking to earn an income from a blog, you are free to disembark the boat at this port of call.
My goal, truly, is to reach out and to share my faith, but more important than that to try to empower and help others to do the same. I do want to make this disclaimer upfront: I am not a web design guru or a social media expert. I am just someone willing to share what I learn as I learn it. And being the stubborn gal I am - I always learn it the hard way!
So, here is the advice I wish I had told myself before I boarded the Cruise Blog Lines and headed out to sea of web blogging:
Ask yourself the old standby of the 5 W's and 1 H. The, Why, Who, What, Where, When and How. And for my purposes I am going to make one slight change, to think of Where also as Which.
Why are you going to blog?
This should be the first thing you ask yourself. And then the next thing you should do is pray about it and make sure that this is something you are being called to do. There can be no grandiose illusions. People expressing their opinion on the web are not in short supply. By some estimates, there are upwards of 150 MILLION blogs out there. You can't enter into this wanting large numbers of followers or subscribers. You simply cannot judge the impact of what you say or do by the number or the comments (or lack there of). Don't let any of that stop you from focusing on what it is you feel called to do.
Who is your blog audience?
Try to envision them as if they were someone sitting right in front of you. What does this person need or dream about? What is it they do? What is their life story? What is it they want and how are you (with God as your captain) going to help them?
What are you writing/blogging about?
If you do any research at all, it won't take long before you realize that there is probably already more than one blog or blog post out there that is very similar, if not the same as, the subject or "niche" you plan to write. You can't let that deter you. You don't need to be the first. You just need to be different. You have a voice. It is a unique voice. Rarely, if ever, will you have an idea that is 100% original. But it can be your unique interpretation and vision. Everything we are is a fusion of our past experiences, beliefs, relationships and so much more. All of these things make up the lens through which each of us sees the world. The topic may not be original but the lens through which you interpret it is one of a kind. Don't be afraid to share what you see
Which blog platform and web hosting will you use?
This is huge. And this subject alone had me floundering at sea....begging to be rescued. These are going to be your two toughest decisions (and they can be two separate decisions, depending on the route you take) . I have no easy answers for you. Only more questions: How computer savvy are you? What is the learning curve for the platform you are using? How much time can or will you be able to devote to learning about how to use your platform? Do you know your skill levels well enough to know when you are in over your head? Do you want to spend money? Are you willing to have advertising placed on your site? Advice on the web is plentiful. And it is all different. After much research and after actually trying out some blog platforms. I chooseWeebly for both ( please note I do not receive any financial benefit by stating this). In my next blog post (Why Use a Lot Where a Little Will Do) I will elaborate and share more on my reasons for this decision and why I went against the grain. You do remember I am pretty stubborn, right?
When are you going to do your blog?
If you are like me and you already have a full-time job, then you are going to need to plan when you are going to be able to devote time to your blog. Have no illusions with this as well. It will take time. Do you have it to offer?
How will you make your blog happen?
If you have opted for a platform or web hosting that involves a purchase, how do you plan to pay for this? The second "how" you need to think about is how will others (outside of friends/family) find your blog ? This is where you will need the knowledge of others who know the inner workings of social media and marketing. Spend some time reading blogs and following those in the know. How do you know who knows? I'm working on that myself ....it takes a lens of discernment to be able to wade through all the info and find those that are knowledgeable and share information that is relevant to your needs.
I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I'll go to it (blogging). There is much to learn about this raging sea. Someone throw me a life jacket. Please!
P.S. I have a confession to make. I have never read Moby DIck.
Now that's Evangelization!
It 's been many years now since the story first surfaced and went viral. A 92-year-old woman, Pauline Jacobi, witnessed God's saving grace to a man who intended to rob her and then proceeded to talk him out of his would be plans. Now that's evangelization! Somehow I missed the story when it first happened and have just recently stumbled upon her great example of evangelization. A story so inspiring that, thanks to our modern media, the video continues to circulate today.
When, watching the video of her story below the first thing I noticed was the Bible verse she was quoting. So I did a quick internet search and found it
"My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land". 2 Chronicles 7:14 NAB
A fitting verse for the predicament that Ms. Jacobi found herself in. After watching the video for the third and fourth time, I kept finding myself pulled back into the story. I did some checking. I found Ms. Jacobi made it to heaven in 2011. I couldn't find anything about the man who perpetrated the almost robbery. Yet, I still couldn't let the story go. I kept feeling drawn back to the Bible verse
So I went back and opened the Bible and read the passage in its entirety.
"Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually " 2 Chronicles 7:15-16
Aha! I needed to see those words, for they were the inspiration that I needed to finally move forward and publish this blog. I had been postponing the publication of this blog for months now, worrying about whether I was using the best platform, whether I had the logo just perfect and about whether I had anything of value to add to the blogging world.
Prayer is all around us. Countless prayers and testaments of faith are offered in the vastness of this digital land. He has chosen and consecrated this house, this (not so) new world of the web, that his name may be there forever. With open eyes and ears, we will encounter unending opportunities to witness to all in this digital land.
Thank you, Ms. Jacobi for letting God use you that day and for all the days yet to come as your story lives on in the vastness of the web. After all, to paraphrase you a bit, Jesus is in this digital world with us and goes everywhere we go.
And so there go I...
Evangelizing the digital continent!
We each may be only one person, but together we are
all part of one body.
What is Embedded Faith? Simply put, this is a "gralog" (graphics + blog) providing images and thoughts to evangelize the digital continent.
Click to find out more.
How do I download
To download any image, just right click and choose "file save as".
Can I use your image on my website or publication?
Yes! All images are creative commons and are free to use. Credit or a link to this site is appreciated.
Images may not be sold.
Find me on Instagram! @embeddedfaith