In section: Prayers and Reflections

The Influence of the Internet on Monastic Life

On the occasion of their General Chapter, held in Assisi in September, the Trappist Monks listened to a reflection on the place of the Internet in monastic life given by Salesians Franco Lever and Fabio Pasqualetti, respectively Dean Emeritus and Professor at the Faculty of the Sciences of Social Communication at the Pontifical University.

The two speakers pointed out that “in the case of communication by an Order or Congregation, it should be kept in mind that it is never the act of an individual or a single act;  it is an act of community. In a religious community, the quality of interpersonal communication depends on the existence or absence of deep relationships, mutual care, respect and friendship, the two Salesians explained. There must be a strong bond between people, a bond that comes from sharing ideals, from living together, working together, common prayer ... that lets you know how to say things.”

There is a need for “inner strength” which allows each religious to “maintain discipline in the time devoted to these media” and relies on the “ability to be rooted in the charism of the Order”.

Young people arriving at abbeys today “were born and grew up in a cultural environment that is dominated by the values of power and money, and have as their models what culture has to offer, often without the benefit of protection by the various educational players when in crises (family, school, church ...)”. 

According to Fathers Lever and Pasqualetti: “A young person who grew up with the idea that without his gadgets (Smartphone or tablet, or computer ...) and without being connected to the Internet, we cannot live, will have to become involved in a process that allows him to bring meaning to his life here and now, for himself and with people around him, without this continuous use of digital technologies. He will realize that he is a creature among other creatures, in a world that is fascinating even for God. He can learn to take a fresh look, with a new focus, and to feel alive and happy, even though he has only what is essential to the mission.” 

The two religious concluded with an issue specific to Trappist silence: “Silence is something foreign in young people's lives; they do not know what it means. For them, silence is something new. However, this does not mean that they are unable to grasp something new, to understand its value and to want to experience it.”

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