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Saturday, August 02, 2008

The Internet and St. Thomas Aquinas

As I previously mentioned, I was wondering what my blog patron, St. Thomas Aquinas, would have to say about the phenomena of meeting and becoming friends with people via the internet. So I did some digging, and sure enough, I found another section of the Summa Theologica that was located with the Q Documents. My guess is that it was cut from the Summa because, at the time it was written, apparently there WASN'T internet so archaeologists were confused and didn't think the writings were authentic. (What I don't understand is that the people who like the "Q" theories think all SORTS of crazy things with no basis in ANY reality are true...but when they are faced with the prophetic wisdom of a great Saint they trample his writings into the dirt!)

Well, after laborious translations, I think I have finally found the answer to whether our current method of making friends is a good thing.

Whether using a tool called "the internet" to meet other people and travel great distances to meet them in person can be justified?

Objection 1: It is dangerous to meet people via the internet. As the true intentions of those with whom one may interact through a written medium cannot be properly ascertained, one should maintain friendships only with those with whom they have real contact each day.

Objection 2: It is especially dangerous to travel in order to meet other people, for the same reasons as set out above, but furthermore, it is MORE dangerous because then one is taken away from home which is a protective haven.

Objection 3: It is more virtuous to be cautious and aloof.

Objection 4: What is the inter net? We need only one layer in order to catch fish and we don't use nets to capture people. This question has no logic. No one meets other people through the use of nets!

ON THE CONTRARY I answer that, from the beginning of the written word, contact has been made with other people through the use of such words, prior to actual meetings. The Apostles, such as Paul, and James, sent letters to the various churches and visited them as well in order to preach according to his Divine Mission.

I answer that it can be justified to meet others via the medium of the tool yet to be invented called "the internet", for this tool will take the place of the laborious process of writing letters using ink and papyrus, sealing them with beeswax and a seal, and sending them via courier.

Reply to Objection 1: I answer that, while it may be true that contact via written word from afar cannot reveal the hearts of those with whom one corresponds, it is still a true contact. Truthfulness can be verified over time through the use of details and consistency in the writings presented from each correspondant. At times it is necessary to send ahead the written words, as in the case of St. Ignatius of Antioch who wrote letters prior to his martyrdom and whose letters were taken to heart by the peoples who had never made his direct acquaintance. Those who knew the Saint directly were only harmed when they followed in his heroic footstps and were martyred with him after willingly identifying themselves as Christians, then were fed to the lions. Thus, it was not the written correspondance that harmed the innocent, but rather, it was the Romans. Thus I answer that the internet is not dangerous; the governing bodies that shed the blood of the faithful are dangerous.

Additionally, the objection calls to mind the position of one who is cloistered and refrains from contact with the outside world. By necessity, humanity was designed by God to interact with others, and often with strangers and travellers. The act of traveling can be a pilgrimage in which the pilgrim must in humility submit to God's own designs, and the pilgrim must be willing to accept the assistance of strangers. It is further a grace for strangers to provide assistance to travelling pilgrims. Thus, I answer that the internet facilitates pilgrimages in a manner that is much safer than those which take place in our day.

Reply to Objection 2: I answer that, while home is a protective haven, it may be necessary for various reasons for one to leave that haven to visit other locales. In this process, while discernment is needed first, should the person in question accept the challenge to leave their haven, again the virtue of humility comes into exercise as the soul must learn to trust God for safety, and not those with whom one normally associates. Thus, it is clear that, rather than being dangerous, it is virtuous for someone to meet others via the internet as it causes one to grow in foundational virtues.

Reply to Objection 3: It would seem that being cautious is a virtue, yet the seeds of the Church was the blood of the martyrs. Thus, I answer that caution is not a virtue but a tool of Satan. Further, as our example for behavior belongs to Our Lord Jesus Christ, who was not aloof, but rather, took on our sins in order to free us from death, if we are aloof we are not in imitation of Him. Jesus tells us to "Take up your cross and follow me", which often means following Him away from what we think is safe; for we may also be called to be crucified, either where we live or, as in the case of St. Ignatius, in a circus in Rome. Travel to meet others, then, can lead to ultimate union with God, and this is a consummation devoutly to be wish'd!

Reply to Objection 4: The internet is a tool of communication yet to be invented, designed to take the place of the contemporary writing tools of our day. Further, it would seem that this objection has no logic, for Our Lord Himself met Apostles James and John while they were at their nets, and later directed Peter to "Duc en altum". Thus, it is clear that the use of nets has always been in place to facilitate important meetings especially with regard to divine mission.

I answer that, overall, it is clear that using the internet to facilitate meeetings with others is a continuation of the Apostolic tradition and ultimately unifies Christians all over the world. In the case where such meetings lead to martyrdom, this is part of God's plan and a necessary seed in order to plant holiness in an area of the world where Christendom has not spread. Discernment in this regard is necessary before embarking upon any pilgrimage in order that the right intentions and virtues be in place prior to making the trip.


So, there you have it. But I'm still not telling Mom what I did. She'd freak out!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Could you give this a little publicity please:

Saint Conleth’s Catholic Heritage Association invites you to honour the Holy Year of St. Paul by attending Holy Mass in the Traditional Latin Rite (Missal of Blessed John XXIII) on Saturday, 30th August, 2008, at 11 a.m., in St. Paul’s Church, Emo, Co. Laois, Ireland, followed by a tour of Emo Court House and Gardens.

For the past 15 years, St. Conleth’s Catholic Heritage Association has been working prayerfully for the provision of the Traditional Latin Liturgy in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin.

Please confirm your attendance to:

For further details consult:

God bless you!

Saint Conleth’s Catholic Heritage Association