Facebook profiles swarm with news, photos, and videos of our holidays. How beautiful are the places we have visited! How good we felt in the company of those we love! How adorable our children are against the background of those exotic landscapes! Everything is immediately documented and shown on our Facebook wall. Some people even make selfies with the Holy Father. It is fine. Technology provides us with all those beautiful possibilities.
In the general euphoria of our holiday shares, it is worth, nonetheless, to be a little more sensitive towards people who probably want to – but cannot – travel as much as we do. Towards those who are now suffering because they have lost a person they loved. Towards people who would like to have children, but cannot. What can they feel and think when they see our happiness?
In the era of information aggressiveness, a fair amount of transmitted news seems to be not merely necessary, but even salvific. The monastic tradition knows this virtue as discretion, the art of applied sensitivity. It is not fair to increase pressure on other people; yet, very often, we contribute to it while doing to others what we want to avoid being done to ourselves. When someone asks us something, often we reject, explaining that we are busy, etc. More often than not, the person who asks, after having overcome so many fears – is rejected and remains alone with his/her problem. St. Benedict, in verse 13 of the chapter XXXI of his Rule was recommending to the bursar, if he or she cannot grant what is asked of them, to give at least a charitable response. Showing at least a certain degree of understanding is an art of love towards the neighbour. Despite the many narcissistic kinds of behaviour around us, we must remember (understand) always that we do not live alone. Our words, actions, and decisions cause various reactions. In the era of the media’s omnipresence, everything we communicate becomes an immense field of influence we can have: of the good we can transmit, as well as of the evil we can provoke. Having this awareness, is in itself a message to transmit almost with every click on the social networks. Often smaller than words, but potentially much stronger and, hopefully, more comforting…
Br. Bernard Sawicki osb
Coordinator of the Monastic Institute of the Pontifical Athenaeum Sant’ Anselmo