In his letter “Missionary migrants in the virtual world”, Fr. Flavio Peloso helps us to understand how St. Luigi Orione ” used the mass media to evangelize.
Some ideas from Don Orione
The communicative outlook of Jesus recalled above, are found also in Don Orione. He was a saint, a true man of God, to a profound level; communicative, both for the beautiful life of God, which he lived, and also for his capacity of daily incarnation which spurred him on towards charity - passion for ‘Souls’, for the good of his neighbour.
In order to avoid personal misunderstandings of religious life, our founder insisted very much on formation: “We must be saints, but such saints that our holiness does not belong only to the devotion of the faithful, neither that only of the Church, but captivates and bestows upon society such splendour of light, such life of the love of God and of men, that the saints of the Church, but saints of the people and of social wellbeing.
To be “saints” is the essence to be communicated, it is the life, and content. Without content nothing is communicated, to anyone. “Avoid words: of speakers we have filled our pockets”, be they those of the pulpit and those thrown at us from the internet.
To be “saints of the people and of social wellbeing” is our way in order to communicate. It requires attention as to the audience and even more it implies incarnation, style, popular language, made real. “Are these new times? Let us go forward conquering them with ardour and an intense spirit of apostolate. Let us not hesitate: let us throw ourselves at new forms, at the new methods of religious social action, with firm faith, but with a magnanimous spirit. All good initiatives should be in modern forms, so as to sow and reap Jesus Christ in society”.
Having said this, looking at Don Orione, one can then attempt to describe the greatness and creativity of Don Orione “communicator”: he was a vivacious and efficacious writer, a passionate conversationalist, a stirring preacher; he was a convinced user of the means of communication, founded magazines and printing press, spoke on radio, established a press office in 1938, thought of the first popular university, and other major enterprises. About this much has already been written.
We today ought and should live the same apostolic passion communicating it with new and potent means of information.
At the time of Don Orione, the one great means of mass communication was the printing press. “The printing press is the first means, and ought not to be forgotten about, but spurs us to concern ourselves about it so as to raise it and make it holy”. This was his attitude.
It was mentioned that he established a “press office” in 1938. “A press apostolate for the people by me dreamed of for many years, a press apostolate for the little ones, for the humble, for the hordes of farm workers, of workers, the work of the good press for the workers for the salvation of the people. The press is a great force: it is the great orator which speaks by day, by night, which speaks in the city and in the suburbs, even to the forgotten mountains and valleys. Where does the printing press not reach? (…) How much good does the press accomplish, when it is in good hands, when it is placed at the service of God, of Church, of Country! May our Congregation turn its back on such a power? Are we not obliged to concern ourselves with it in order to sow and reap? With the popular press we will bring Christ to the people and the people to Christ”.
It is an apostle who speaks in this way and not a prompter of novelty and of modern means. We could substitute the “press” with the word “internet” and the text of Don Orione, of 1938, would apply to us in 2013. It shows us the attitude we ought to have before the new and popular instruments of communications of information. In the same letter there is also another very valid and actual criterion: Don Orione calls us to have: “Firm and sound principles of faith and towards all that pertains to doctrine of the Church, mindful of the rule: unity in all things necessary, liberty where there is doubt, in all things charity! Always precise and clear, flee from affected styles, like those of antiquated times, which are sound, free from staleness”. It is a clear invitation to update ourselves, to modernize our thoughts and practice.
If you would like to read the whole letter, visit: http://www.donorione.org/Public/DocumentiContent/201.docx