Blog-alogue Third Question: What Would Ignatius Do?

by Jim Manney

Meredith,

I had a thought after reading your answer to my last question in this blog-alogue about social media.  You talked about using social media to enhance our relationship with God and to help us serve and support others.  I thought that this was a very “Ignatian” attitude.

We like all things Ignatian here at IgnatianSpirituality.com, so how about giving us an Ignatian take on social media.  Can we use it to advance Ignatian values such as finding God in all things, being contemplatives in action, and living as men and women for others?  To put it another way, what would Ignatius do with it?

Jim

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Jim,

Your question about what Ignatius would have done with social media reminds me of some fun we had during the weekly Twitter-based church social media (#ChSocM) chat.  I asked, “If the first 12 apostles & the Marys had social media, which platform(s) would they use? Why & how?

Responses were brilliantly hilarious, revealing participants’ keen understanding about how  different and distinct social media tools serve different and distinct purposes.  Social media tools are not interchangeable. (Treat yourself to reading  a summary of the twit and twisdom from that chat here. )

Now you’ve got me wondering how St. Ignatius and two more favorite saints, St. Benedict of Nursia and St. Teresa of Avila, might have used social media.  My guess:

St. Benedict might have assigned some Scriptorium-bound monk the task of setting up a Facebook page to educate those outside monasteries about the Rule, and to provide a forum to discuss ora et labora (“pray and work”) in secular life. Given her penchant for snappy comebacks,  I’m thinking St. Teresa of Avila would have  had a robust, exuberant presence on Twitter.  (I could be projecting.)  As for St. Ignatius, my money is on him going for blogging, since it’s the perfect medium for telling stories about a life of faith in progress.

Contemplating this leads me right back to my earlier definition: Social media are online (or digital) technologies (or platforms) that can be used to generate and sustain conversation and build community.

Strategies for using social media, prayerfully developed in alignment with a particular charism, will advance that charism. And so, using social media to advance Ignatian values requires first knowing what they are, and then committing to  live every aspect of life in alignment with them. From there, it’s simply (?) a matter of choosing social media tools that fit the communicator’s style and skill set.

To paraphrase Ignatius, “All digital technologies can be seen as gifts of God, created for us, to be the means by which we can come to know him better, love him more surely, and serve him more faithfully.  As a result, we ought to appreciate and use social media tools insofar as they help us toward our goal of loving service and union with God. But insofar as social media tools might hinder our progress toward our goal, we ought to let them go.

Doesn’t this sound like something Ignatius would have written in a blog post? Clearly, it’s way too long for a tweet!

Meredith

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Jim Manney

Senior Editor at Loyola Press
Jim Manney is a popular writer on Ignatian topics (God Finds Us, A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer) as well as the editor of many books on Ignatian spirituality, including What Is Ignatian Spirituality? He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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March 5, 2012

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