Once there was a young girl named Jenna, who dreamed about walking in a beautiful enchanted city. Everywhere Jenna went in this city, she saw thousands of breathtaking sites. The main road through the city was truly the pathway to joy. The side roads were the ways to failure. The path to joy in the beautiful city offered opportunities that could make Jenna’s life richer, give her joy and best of all, enhance her journey with God. The only rule was that Jenna had to stay on the main road and not stray into those side streets where she could be lost forever. The moral of the story – Jenna needed to be very careful in her journey.
Good Uses of the Internet
In many ways, Jenna’s dream-story is like our own voyage onto the internet with the main road representing our way to heaven. The main road of the internet offers many wonderful opportunities. Many experts say the internet is one of the greatest inventions of all time. Many of us visit it daily to take advantage of all its good portions like interacting with friends via email, social networking and blogging. Sometimes we use it for work, home and school by “Google-ing” something, by checking out online stores; by listening to music – the list is very long.
Also, the internet can be a source for good information to strengthen our Faith, and a way to communicate with other people of the Faith. For example, I write childrens’ stories and spiritual reflections where I receive email questions and prayer requests from all points of the globe. I also use the internet extensively in religious education. In summary, the internet used properly has made our lives and our faith stronger.
Internet as a Source of Sin
Although it is a source for good, the internet can be an impediment to our spiritual journey and a source of sin. It is very important that everyone understand that there are very dangerous side roads on the internet that must be avoided – always! People’s lives have been shattered; especially in the cases of young people. Some have been abducted because dangerous predators are waiting for those who chose to take the “wrong” paths. The path of sin can be brought into our homes by the internet and we have to ensure that we never take those paths.
The most dangerous areas can be the online social networking. While they are usually loads of fun, you need to know that they also pose a risk to your safety. So before you join any of these online social sites, work with a parent or family member. I’m not saying you can’t join, but you need to be very careful about how you use them.
Internet Safety Ideas
Here are some ideas for young people wanting to stay on the main street of the information highway and use the internet for moral and responsible purposes while avoiding those side roads and areas that are near occasions for sin.
- Be Truthful and Honest in Everything. Please, let your parents know you are joining a site like Myspace.com. Ask yourself this question, “Can I show everything I do online to my parents?” If the answer is “no”, then you are taking the side roads to a sinful life style.
- Be Very Careful Using Pictures. You would be surprised at how much information can be assembled from pictures on social sites. For example, pictures where you are wearing school symbols and logos? Maybe you have a group picture of your friends with your church in the background. These can enable people to learn where you live. Please be careful!
- Don’t Ever Share Your Private Information. This means avoiding profiles that tell strangers where you hang out, your schedule, your last name, and anything else that could help someone with evil intentions to trace your identity and whereabouts.
- Keep All Of Your Comments and Dialogue Truthful. You need to live up to God’s plan for youthful living – not the ways of non-Christian friends. For example, make sure your online name gives the right message. I am proud to be a Permanent Deacon in the Catholic Church and my email address, FACEBOOK name and website all reflect that.
- Never Meet A Stranger in Person. Always tell your parents when someone wants to meet you. Even if someone wants to know more about your love for Jesus. There is never a situation where you should meet people, regardless of any pressure that is put upon you.
The Grace of our Catholic Community
Remember, you are never alone on the path to holiness. When each of us was baptized, we were baptized into the Catholic Community. This Catholic Community, including the Communion of Saints, is ready to help you on your journey towards holiness in God. One of the most obvious ways is to help you avoid doing wrong. Here are some ways to use the Catholic Community to grow in Grace and to avoid these occasions of sin through your internet experience:
- Begin each internet session with a prayer. Try picking a Saint to help protect you. Did you know that St Isadore is the patron saint of the internet? Look up his life and see if you can understand why he was chosen. Try this Prayer to Saint Maria Goretti… “Sweet and Loving Saint Maria Goretti, teach me to make my time on the internet a special time to grow closer to Jesus, as you did in your life. Implant into all the people that I meet online, a respect for modesty and purity. Through your intercession, help me to make of this internet session an opportunity to bring others to our loving Lord, Jesus by helping them spiritually. Grant that others may see in my computer work a reason to change their ways, if necessary, and that I may have the courage to resist any temptation to sinful conduct. Let others be led closer to Jesus and Mary by my work. Amen.”
- Find a “prayer partner” who can pray with you and ask you daily how you are doing in your struggle to use the internet for your good.
- Place a blessed statue or rosary on or near your keyboard or tape a holy card/prayer card to your computer screen. I have a rosary on a section of the keyboard that I rarely use (the number pad). It helps me in two ways. a)The visual sight of the holy rosary reminds me of Jesus as my focus in life. b)The grace from the blessed rosary works in mysterious and wonderful ways to help me.
The internet has wonderful possibilities for all of us. Remain on the main road to holiness! Don’t stray! We need to remember our universal call to holiness in all we do, especially when using the internet. On my part, I offer advice and assistance to anyone on any topic, but especially concerning the moral and chaste use of the internet.
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