Easter is upon us, our day of redemption and joy as the grace of our Lord turns the despair of the crucifixion into the joy of the resurrection. This most important day of our faith is a celebration of life, both temporal and eternal, the fundamental gift that God has bestowed upon us. It is the Good News that we must proclaim.
Easter has been celebrated for over two millennia by Christianity. Its linkage to the life-affirming celebration of Passover gives it a heritage that goes back many more centuries, to the beginnings of humanity’s understanding of the one God who is the Lord of us all.
These are indeed venerable traditions and we should be rooted in the authenticity that comes with their age. Our faith is not subject to the winds of change or the whims of fashion. It is solidly anchored, the rock upon which our Church is built.
But that does not mean we should turn away from all the changes that our societies produce, especially as men and women use their God-given intelligence to link us together in ways that were unthinkable less than a generation ago. If used correctly, the latest technological advancements can help us honor our unchanging faith. It is our duty to constantly challenge ourselves to see that we are using them in this way.
When I was growing up, I would never have dreamed that one day I would have a computer in my home. Computers were huge things that scientists used to achieve remarkable results. Now, of course, not only can I sit down at my computer and type documents and solve math problems, I can also connect with people around the world—instantly.
In fact, the computer you probably have in your pocket right now—your cell phone—is many times more powerful than the one that helped men reach the moon on the Apollo flights. A growing number of people in the developing world have these powerful computers in their pockets too.
Lack of sufficient communication has held back people in many parts of the world. The expensive and complex infrastructure required for a phone system, including miles and miles and miles of cables strung on poles across undeveloped terrain, was lacking. But the advent of the cell phone means that it doesn’t have to be built.
Since cell phones were initially a luxury item in this country, we might think it incongruous to see poor people with them, or even with one phone shared by an entire community. But the cell phone is not a luxury for the poor. It’s an essential item and the only phone they’ve ever had. The phones are inexpensive. Rather than being tied to service contracts, they are pay-as-you go phones the users periodically fill up with minutes.
Elsewhere in this Briefing, you can read about how we are using cell phone technology to help protect the life and health of babies in India. This is only one way that these new technologies, which God has given us the ingenuity to create, can be used in the service of the ancient traditions we celebrate on Easter.
In fact, although some might not expect high-tech innovation from a faith-based group, Catholic Relief Services has been a leader in adopting and adapting technology to carry out our Gospel duty to help the world’s poor. We started a conference on that subject a few years ago that now attracts hundreds of people who are trying lift up the poor.
And of course at CRS we use these technologies to reach you as well. Perhaps this Lent you downloaded our CRS Rice Bowl app. Maybe you are one of our friends on Facebook or follow my account on Twitter.
The point is that it is our traditions, our morality, our faith that are ancient. The love for our Lord is immutable, but the way of expressing that has always reflected the times, whether it is in murals of Giotto, the Bible of Gutenberg, or the tweets of Pope Francis.
May blessings overflow,
Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo
President & CEO
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