Lisette Carr is a French teacher, youth worker living in Dublin. She is currently studying for an MA in Marriage and Family at Maryvale Institute. She writes a blog about good things happening in the Catholic world at www.catholicismrocks.wordpress.com. With Collette, she is co-editrix of the GenerationBenedict blog.
On Shrove Tuesday, Collette and I had the idea for this blog. I remembered the ‘joyful noise’ that was made on social media about the Pope’s 2010 visit to the UK. I hoped that the GenerationBenedict blog would make more ‘joyful noise’ for Benedict, especially at a time when the media spotlight was on the Catholic Church.
In his 2009 World Communications Day message, Pope Benedict said;
It falls, in particular, to young people, who have an almost spontaneous affinity for the new means of communication, to take on the responsibility for the evangelization of this “digital continent”.
The GenerationBenedict blog has been a platform for young Catholics to share their witness. They have written about how Benedict inspired them and pointed them to Jesus Christ. When I have been talking about the blog, ‘inspirational’ is a word that, even though I have used it carefully, I have used it a lot, to describe the reflections from our contributors. In our culture of aggressive secularism and increasing hostility to religion, our contributors have bravely stood up and shared a part of their faith journey with the world. This can be quite daunting. I remember on Ash Wednesday, hovering over the ‘publish’ button as I published the first reflection, my own.
Through the gift of our Baptism, we become lights of the world. In his last World Youth Day message, Benedict acknowledges it can be a challenge to bear witness to our faith;
I imagine that you have at times found it difficult to invite your contemporaries to an experience of faith…
He tells young people that their witness will itself be a way in which God can touch the hearts of others. Over these weeks of Lent, our contributors have touched hearts by courageously sharing glimpses of their faith journeys with the world.
Michaela, a student in Birmingham, wrote about the counter-cultural challenge of living the Faith at university. Jenn, from Texas, responded to Benedict’s call to follow Christ by founding the ministry, Young Catholic Professionals. Majella, from Limerick, shared how Pope Benedict has inspired her to reach out to non-believers and people of other faiths.
Ben and Sarah honestly shared their struggle with infertility, and how Church teaching, and in particular Benedict’s articulation of this, gave them strength, courage and understanding, strengthening their marriage and deepening their love.
We don’t know what, if any, impact the blog will have on the lives of other people. I hope it will be a lamp, a small island of light and hope on the digital continent. Of course, in all of this, the Holy Spirit blows where He wills, and we probably cannot imagine who will be inspired by these reflections, or how. In March, someone came upon the blog by typing “was pope benedict a aunt Christ?” Maybe that person will have learned that far from being the anti-Christ, Pope Benedict is a humble and inspiring successor of St. Peter, one of the first to recognise who Christ truly was. In case you’re wondering, the Google search result referred to a post by Dominic, whose aunt called him to inform that tickets were available to see Pope Benedict! By this one serendipitous typo, that Googler got to came across Dominic’s inspirational account of his journey back to the Catholic faith.
As this blog draws to a close, I thank God for all our contributors who have bravely shared their stories with us, and I pray that He may continue to guide and inspire them in their different vocations. I say a special prayer for the seminarians who will be ordained this summer. I continue to pray for Pope Emeritus Benedict, as he embarks on the “last leg of his pilgrimage on this earth”. And I pray for his successor, Pope Francis, that he will continue steer the Barque of Peter with strength, courage, hope and love.