Many saints would have jumped at the chance to have an instant way to communicate God’s Truth with millions of people. Today we are privileged to have that sort of communication at our finger tips via the internet, so how can Catholics take advantage of it? One young computer geek who is now on his way to canonisation illuminates the way ahead for us, with the wonderful example of his life. Carlo Acutis may have only been 15 when he died, but he lived a life of holiness and took advantage of his skills with computers to tell people about God, by creating a comprehensive catalogue of Eucharistic miracles.
Read more about him and how we can be inspired by him, in this extract from Online With Saints:
How do I avoid an addiction to social media? I am more of a geek, can I serve God on my computer?
Blessed Carlo Acutis – 1991-2006 – Italy – Feast: 12th October
Carlo was a computer geek. He was born in London, England, and grew up in Milan, Italy. His great passion was computers, and he had a vast knowledge of programming. He created websites, designed leaflets and edited films or comics. He also found time to do volunteer charity work in an orphanage and with elderly people. He loved to joke and laugh, but also tried to treat everyone well. The most important thing for him was: ‘To always be close to Jesus, that’s my life plan.’
From an early age, he had a great devotion to the Eucharist and tried to attend Mass every day, first surprising his parents, then taking them with him. He called the Eucharist ‘my highway to heaven.’ Before or after Mass he prayed in front of the tabernacle, where the sacrament of the Eucharist is preserved. He also had a great love for Mary, and often prayed the rosary. Probably this is why, in 2006, he was able to accept his diagnosis of acute leukemia with such faith and calmness. In his prayer, he offered his pain to God for Pope Benedict XVI and the Church. He died a few days later at the age of 15.
There are various reasons why social media can be addictive, for example:
- You can feel obliged to interact because of real or presumed peer pressure.
- With so much going on online, it is easy to fear missing out on something.
- A ‘like’ can make you feel good, but the lack of it can make you uncertain.
- Seeing others on an outing without you can make you feel excluded.
- Comparing yourself to others can boost your self-esteem, but the contrary is also true.
Do you notice that most of these reasons are linked to your ego and your self-image? It is good to realise who and what you are in yourself, and in the eyes of God, before comparing yourself with others. Carlo said: ‘All people are born as originals but many die as photocopies.’ You are unique, so a comparison with other people only brings you part of the way. Be yourself! When you are happy with the way God created you, you will look at yourself, the world — and social media — in a different way. It is easy to spot what you could have had, but much more gratifying to look at all you are and have right now.
# URGENT OR IMPORTANT?
Another point Carlo made is that we spend so much time on superfluous things, while often forgetting what is really important — your relationship with God, or visiting someone who is lonely, for example. Reacting on social media seems urgent, for your phone gives you notifications all the time. But is it really that important? Only you can answer that question. Considered calmly, you might have wanted to spend some of the time you used to check out new posts or interact online differently. Be happy with who you are, without comparison with others, and choose consciously how you use your time. Your computer skills can be of great use for proclaiming the gospel online.
# NOT ONLY GEEKS
Carlo had a great desire to share his faith with others. For example, he built a website about Eucharistic miracles. He used his computer skills and experience with modern means of online communication to speak of the love of God online. You can do the same — in your very own way. Every Christian is called to help share the faith with others, wherever you are. When you spend a lot of time online, it is only logical to speak of the faith there too. You can like, share and retweet contributions by others, for example by Pope Francis, Tweeting with GOD (or even CTS). Or share an impressive quote by your favourite saint, like those in the app Online with Saints. Be inventive, for social media develops so quickly that your input is very much needed. What contribution can you give right now?
‘I believe many people do not really understand the value of Holy Mass. Because if they were to realise the great treasure that the Lord gave us – offering himself as our food and drink in the Holy Eucharist – they would go to church every day to participate in the fruits of the Sacrifice which is being celebrated there. And they would renounce so many superfluous things!’
[Carlo Acutis, www.carloacutis.com]
Find out more about Carlo Acutis, including the information he compiled about Eucharistic miracles, or follow his cause for canonisation, on his official website.
The above blog is an extract from Online With Saints.