June 3rd, 2012
9th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Feast of the Most Holy Trinity
Do you really want to be my Facebook friend?
by Trevor Thompson, Director of Pastoral Ministries
“All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?”
Eleanor Rigby, by Paul McCartney and John Lennon,1966
Undoubtedly there have always been lonely people, but new research suggests that we have never been lonelier, and that this loneliness is making us mentally and physically ill. There’s a great article in the May 2012 edition of The Atlantic called “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” that details how our omnipresent new technologies lure us toward increasingly superficial connections—broadening our connections while discouraging meaningful and deep relationships. This article echoes the fascinating book by Robert D. Putnam called Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (2000) that names trends in American life that have caused the decline in interpersonal networks. Our use of social media would fit right in with Putnam’s diagnosis. Thankfully, since I am no slouch when it comes to Facebook, researchers are not all of the same thought about whether Facebook is making us lonelier. Nevertheless, the Beatles’ lyrics continue to haunt me.
Today the Church encourages us to consider that the God we worship is a Trinity of persons. This is fascinating in light of the research on loneliness and meaningful relationships. In other words, what we believe is that God is, in fact, a web of connections that are meaningful and deep. I keep asking myself questions: What does it mean to believe that the mystery we call “God” is this kind of relationship? And what does it mean that this God desires to be in a meaningful relationship with us? And what does it mean to belong to a community who continues to gather, ask for forgiveness and healing, and share a meal so that we might live more meaningfully lives like God? If we took this seriously, perhaps we would spend less time broadening our connections and more time deepening them.
Here at St. Francis of Assisi we have an opportunity to meet this Trinitarian God and share life with the person sitting next to us in the pew. We cannot do this by just coming in the door or even by attending Mass regularly. However, there are ample opportunities to experience belonging here. I frequently hear that new members, even folks who have been coming here for four or five years, have a hard time forming relationships, but once they are engaged, they often report that they are more fulfilled. I encourage you to investigate some volunteer opportunities or join a small group like Men’s or Women’s ministry. I’m also here to help you find your place. I’m not talking about getting you more Facebook friends; I’m talking about welcoming you more deeply into the life of this Trinitarian community.