The Means of Communication
Communication is a matter of paramount importance for a human being, because he is by nature social. Without communication in neither family nor society, there is no education and man does not develop his personality. And communication is even more important for the Christian, because Jesus Christ has willed that between Himself and His faithful there should be a union so great that it should be like that which is in the bosom of the Holy Trinity: “I do not ask only for these (the Apostles), but also for those who, through their word, shall believe in me, that they shall all be one. As Thou, Father, are in me and I in Thee, that they shall also be one in Us, so that the world believe that Thou hast sent me” (Jn. 17). From thence, this brings about communication and union with God, which likewise brings about communication and union with our fellow men: charity, the divine love which has as its object both God and our neighbor. Without communication there is neither Church nor salvation.
For this reason is there also a fundamental importance to the means of communication. Yes, we are using this expression on purpose, since there is so much talk nowadays about the media of communication. What is the principal means of Christian communication? The principal means of Christian communication is the Eucharist. Men have always united themselves to God through sacrifice and have communicated with one another by sharing a supper, and the Eucharist is both: divine sacrifice and divine supper, by which the Christian unites himself to God and to his brethren, becoming a member of the mystical body, whose head is Jesus Christ. The Eucharist is the Sacrament of ecclesiastical unity, the means that engenders, increases, and strengthens the divine society which is the Church. A pure and simple sign, capable of being understood by the simplest of intellects, and at the same time most efficacious, for under the sacred species of bread and wine are the true Body and Blood of Christ present. And, by way of explanation of this sign of divine love, by which Jesus Christ gives Himself to the Father as victim and gives Himself to us as our food, the Church sets the jewel of the double consecration in the liturgy of the Holy Mass, by which we are formed in true Catholicism, and from which flows all of that most rich Christian culture. The means of Christian communication is truly the Eucharist.
But there are also the means of human communication, which insofar as they are not used in a Christian way, deserve to be called means of worldly communication, and which in these latter times have been perfected in a truly astonishing manner. Now, then, these have been integrating men in a society which is also universal—it is now possible to say so—which constitutes a true anti-Church, whose invisible head we can already guess: Satan. And today, the principal means of communication is the smartphone (in English, which is the sacred language of the worldly anti-liturgy), the cunning little telephone which constitutes a sort of anti-eucharist by which people communicate in this inverted society. This is today, because perhaps tomorrow everyone will already have a chip in their brains and 666 on their foreheads. This is an anti-traditional society in which everything changes at an ever-increasing pace.
You are perhaps ingenuous enough to be taken aback by the exaggerated antagonism that we make between the cell phone and the Eucharist. Do you perchance not notice how these little devices trap and captivate, tearing away from prayer, the family, good friendship? How many times is not a conversation interrupted by the sly little voice of the cell, or we see a person speaking alone into space in the middle of a gathering? It is not for nothing that we ask that cell phones be turned off upon entering church: it is in opposition to Our Lord. And much more than what one is wont to recognize.
The Anti-Christian Revolution
The link between the progress of the means of communication and the advance of the anti-Christian revolution are very clear. The process we are living began in 1300 with the ill-named humanist Renaissance, when so many Christians left off putting God in the center of their lives and began to put themselves there. But it is a recognized historical fact that this anthropocentric movement was decisively influenced by the invention of paper and the printing press, and the consequent reduction of the price of books. Cultured men no longer wanted to have as their teachers the priests and theologians, but to gain access to the fountains of wisdom by themselves: to the Bible and the ancient philosophers.
Two centuries later, in 1500, the propagation of translations of the Bible and of easy books by self-styled theologians provoked the ill-named Protestant Reformation (the names of this history has been given by the revolutionaries), all of which could not have occurred without the systems of paper manufacture and the printing of texts. The same and more must be said of the French Revolution, which took place in another 200 years, in 1700 (now the historians began to call things by their names, although good Frenchmen do not like the adjective). It was made possible by the flood of magazines and very simple little pamphlets, which denigrated the Christian order without bothering with so much argumentation as even the Lutheran heresiarchs still did. Notice that the greater the richness of the means of communication, the greater the poverty of the content being communicated.
Two centuries later we come to the Second Vatican Council, in 1900, through which the modernist revolution infected the very hierarchy of the Church. Well then, this was the Council of the press, in which the council Fathers paid more attention to the journals than to the Holy Ghost. It is a plain fact of the conciliar reform—which is no more than the infection in the Church of the anti-Christian revolution—could not have been possible without the modern means of communication: the rotary printing press, which vomits millions of newspapers every day; radio, which aturde with its incessant chatter; and television, which maddens the imagination with its vertigo. Newspapers knocked at the door, the radio entered the home, and the television placed its smoke chair at the head of the family’s dining room table. Catholics, were then no longer able to think.
But the means of communications on which we rely today are vastly more powerful and they are not merely at home, but they have entered our pockets! Today, not only are the libraries of the world in available in the cell, but everyone is called to be an author; not only may one listen to the incessant voice of the radio, but all are encouraged to become channels that talk without a pause; and not only is the mouth foolishly open before the television show, but everyone is a star invited to act. If we leave naivete behind, what shall we expect will happen when we see how powerful are the instruments with which Satan can rely to possess the minds of men?
Eight Disquietudes of Smartphones
We priests never cease to be astonished by the manifold injuries caused by these little demonic devices. We are astonished, frightened, and moreover, if we are not horrified as we should it is because they have occurred little by little and one ends by getting used to it. Let us try to make a list of the evils, which are sometimes so grave that it becomes awkward to describe them, but we believe that we must be quite clear.
The disquietude of impurity, One carries in one’s pocket a vast print-audio-video library with an almost infinite selection of pornography to access, which it is not necessary to go through the embarrassment of standing in line at a movie theater of ill-repute, nor to show one’s sad face before a cashier at a kiosk that draws money from the misfortune of others—it suffices to press a button. One lives in a perpetual occasion, with a bag of dirty gasoline in one’s hand, ready to burn with the spark of the first temptation. What virtue is not needed not to end up on fire?
The disquietude of immodesty. In the male there is more of the temptation to see; in the female, of being seen. To be seen but not touched. And in her pride, the young lady wants to be seen without it being noticed that she is showing herself, as if by chance. Well, then, the little screen offers her the most calibrated and systematic way to build up vanity and scale down shame, because it permits her to manage her image and seems to her to be a protective fence. There are some that are still shocked by the filth of the reality shows, and who knows what else, while there are millions of tiny video cameras that record everything, the entire society is showing itself in the same way. The parents are unconcerned when the boyfriend has an open window into their daughter’s room.
The disquietude of seduction. A seducer has at his disposal the best means to access his prey. The young lady values herself enough not to stand and talk to a stranger, but who can restrain herself from reading a text? Nobody allows just anyone to approach their daughter to whisper into her ear—or into their husband’s or their wive’s—but the cell phone manages to do so. Worse still are all the anonymous conversations, because it is alluring to deal with the pervert or the prostitute; just as Eve was allured by the knowledge of good and evil. And these little devices allow one to enter into these infernal regions with the apparent certainty that one can leave in an instant, by the tap of a finger. But one regularly hears how, like a young mouse hypnotized by a snake, a girl walks to the house of her strangler.
The disquietude of greed. The desire for things grows infinitely. Already, the credit card was an occasion of unrestrained expenses that few can control, for which one had to keep compulsive shoppers at home. But now, there is no need to go to the stores to go shopping, the cell phone is a showcase of everything that is for sale in the universe, to be bought in installments with a click. And the minimum expenditure for communication itself. Poor Traditional Catholics with their numerous children, how can they pay for a cell phone for each of them? In times past, children begged for a quarter for candy or for trading cards; now they beg for a cell phone.
The disquietude of irreality. Humanity has by nature always suffered from the conflict between appearance and reality, because faces do not always manifest what is in the soul, and almost all cover their real personality with the mask of an artificial persona. How hard it is to get to know one’s own brother! But now, the virtual stage in which the entire society is acting, intensifies the problem to a true collective madness, a mass drug addiction, or worse, a type of social diabolical possession. After thorough consideration, we do not believe that we exaggerate. The sophisticated virtual appearance creates illusions that are very difficult to dispel. Today, even our good faithful believe to have virtual friends, virtual apostolates, virtual charity, and the distance to the reality can be enormous (we only warn, not condemn). A sad confidential fact: we are sure that a great part of the priests that have left the Society in recent times, did so having allowed themselves to be trapped by an illusory virtual brotherhood. If this happens to us in our priestly family, it happens no less to you, dear faithful, in your own families. Or is it not so?
The disquietude of thoughtlessness. We have already shown how, with the increase of the means of communication, thinking diminishes. He who reads a little reflects a lot, and he who reads a lot ponders little. (Let it be understood that we are not against the habit of reading good books)! And if the letter exhausts the spirit, how much more does the talking and moving picture! Today, one has 1,000 movie theaters in one’s pocket, carries on 1,000 conversations, has 1,000 breaking news stories bombarding the brain. There is not a second left, no longer to contemplate, but to think. The boiling over of imaginary activity becomes obsessive and tends to suppress all properly intellectual activities. Demonic possession does not take place differently.
The disquietude of spiel. There are some who wish for the intellectual life and discover the virtual university environment. But to the irreality that ails them is added another sin: it does not know authority [disregard for authority]. It does not matter who knows something; everyone has a right to teach. It is like an immense town square, the Agora of the new Athens, where anyone brings his soapbox. Hundreds of thousands speak and millions listen (because there is no blog without visitors), but nothing is taught and nothing is learned, because whatever true things might be said are scattered in an ocean of nonsense, and nobody trusts anything.
The disquietude of freedom. The internet is the illusory triumph of freedom of expression. We have even heard it from a priest, “Newspapers and television are controlled, but on the internet one may speak.” What a false illusion! The enemy of man knows how to lose ten to gain a million: Let the little traditional Padre say whatever he wants, I’ll just take care that he has 1,000 others all speaking at once, for and against Tradition. Let everyone go to the Agora of Athens to learn the truth!
Let us stop here, but know well that the list of evils could be much longer.
If Our Justice is No Greater
Our dear families live, at this point, a certain Pharisaical hypocrisy, of which we priests are not totally exempt. The attachment to cell phones is so great, and the evils that it brings are so shameful, that what is certainly recognized in the confessional, is not mentioned at the family dinner table and it becomes difficult to treat from the pulpit. But Our Lord warns us, “If your justice is not greater than that of the scribes and pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven (Mt. 5).” Let us not act like the ostrich, closing our eyes before the disease that ails us. If the press opened the door for the Protestant Reformation, if radio and television made the conciliar revolution possible, what new epoch is the internet and the smartphone ushering in? We must do something.
The truth is that the Catholic attitude before the world and its things is not one of physical separation, as in the Old Testament, or as do the Menonites today. Our Lord said it, “I do not ask you that you remove them from the world, but that you deliver them from evil” (Jn. 17). The saints printed books and pamphlets, and today they will use those little devices, because the evil is not in electronic circuits, but in the use that is made of them. It is a matter of using the things of this world with Christian virtue, taking the good and eschewing the evil. It is not a universal solution to resolve never to use a computer or a cell phone; that is a material remedy that generally makes things worse.
But the humility to acknowledge that one is inclined to evil due to original sin is also very Catholic. We have but little virtue, for which one should not propose behaviors that can only be kept up with heroic virtue. We need to avoid occasions of sin as much as possible, and behold, that is what the cell phone is.
What to do? The same measures are not prudent for everyone, not everyone is capable of the same, for which it may even be counterproductive to give a general formula.
There is a false illusion of safety by having a cell phone, when, in fact, people are more often assaulted so as to steal them—place your trust in your guardian angel, who is not virtual reality.
When it is necessary to use then? It is useful not to have personal cell phones, but family cell phones that one takes when necessary.
Don’t use them at home, but when going out, leaving them at the entrance, like the umbrella.
Block wi-fi connection in the home.
Ah! Why go on, no measures taken are enough if one does not detest the source of so much evil! One should speak evil of it, give it the reputation it deserves, fight against the spell under which it casts us. The Eucharist or the smartphone. The one draws us upward, the other sinks us into the base: that is the real opposition. If we do not turn it off, we lose Our Lord.