So there you are waiting in line before the pearly gates of heaven. Your number is called and good old St. Peter invites you to step through while a number of people look on in anticipation. You walk along, noticing the clusters of clouds that float by and the white mansions in the distance where the saints dwell tranquilly. Not knowing how, you suddenly approach a living room with white lazy-boy sofas, a coffee table and a large plasma TV. Jesus is sitting there waiting for you. He invites you to sit down and pours you a drink. “I’m finally here!” you think, rejoicing over your present situation.
Suddenly Jesus pulls out a piece of paper with your name on it and slides it towards you on the table. Below your name you see the words, “Google Search: A Precise History of Every Word and Phrase Investigated”. Your limbs go numb and your teeth start to chatter. Jesus only smiles. Then the negotiations begin … “Lord, I was just,… I mean, you know what I really wanted was… I didn’t mean to, but…” And on you go until you reach the apple of Eden and end up blaming everything on Eve and the female race.
The internet is a wonderful tool when used properly. Even Pope Benedict XVI said back in May 2005 that, “these important tools of communication can support reciprocal knowledge and dialogue” while encouraging the church to use the internet for evangelization. But, as it opens countless doors of opportunity, it also unlocks unlimited doors of temptation. Let’s face it, we are all human and share that natural desire towards sin and degradation. The same quote by the pope continues by saying, “This is why an appeal must always be made to personal responsibility; all must do their part to ensure objectivity, respect for human dignity and attention to the common good in all forms of communication.” We don’t always do what we should and there will always be moments when we fall, but we should watch out for the possibility of these small failures turning into bad habits.
The problem is that if I am searching for something it is a sign that I desire it. For, what you google is where your heart will be. And therein lies the question; what are you googling? Do you choose God and the respect and dignity of every person? Or do you fall into seeking self-pleasure and whimsical amusement? Coherence is the key to our search. For some the internet is no temptation at all. For others it is an obsession. We must know ourselves and seek help when needed. Some practical ways that can help are by having your list of searches and websites sent to your spouse. Or, show your children the same list and discuss it with them. There are several dioceses where two priests share this information with each other as a way to fraternally help them stay on track. That sounds wise enough to me!
We all need help in one way or another and for those who say that they are mature enough to do without these checks and balances there is a danger to confuse maturity with stupidity. When our time is up and we are sitting next to Christ in that relaxing lazy-boy, hopefully our google search will be a moment of rejoicing. But then comes the second part. With google behind you, Jesus then pulls out a DVD entitled “My Life” and pops it in as you sit back and watch it together. Well, good luck!
Thomas A. Flynn, LC studies for the priesthood in Rome. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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