How to use social media like a saint

Girl reading smart phone

How to use social media like a saint


In my first mini-bio at the Alpha Canada website I said “I’ve always wondered how St. Paul would use social media. What would his tweets look like?"

As new mediums arrive (and as Pope Francis joins them!), I wonder even more. How would all the saints use social media?

Many people I know avoid social altogether. They see how some people use it to excess, or for narcissistic purposes, and they want none of it.

Others embrace it to the extreme, sometimes uncritically, allowing it to take up much of their waking hours.

Like Goldilocks, we need to try to get it just right.

Because there is so much good that can come through the use of social media!

What good, you say? Would saints really use it, you say?

Glad you asked. Here are 3 secrets to using social media like a saint.

1. Saints look for every new way to get the Word out

Saint Paul went into Athens to the Areopagus, the place where people gathered in crowds, and got up on a platform and spoke, using the common reference points of the people there, their own religious practices (cf. Acts 17:17-34).

Where today do crowds gather? Let’s see, there are 320 million people on Twitter… 400 million on Instagram…. 1.59 billion on Facebook...

You get my point.

This is why St. John Paul called the internet a “digital Areopagus.” This is the new place where ideas are exchanged.

And wherever ideas are exchanged, Christians need to be sharing our message! The message that Jesus loves you; that you are created with purpose and not some random result of chance; that God proved his love for you in Jesus’ death and resurrection; that whatever your past, whatever your wounds and brokenness, you can receive forgiveness and healing and be in relationship with him.

All you have to do is ask. 

Saints can’t keep quiet about this message and are always looking for a hearer (or reader) to gently share it with.

Examples of how to do this are in another post, but the point here is that saints get the Word out!

* EN: We are called to be instruments of God’s mercy and tenderness. * PT: Somos chamados a ser instrumentos da misericórdia de Deus, da sua ternura. * ES: Estamos llamados a ser instrumentos de la misericordia de Dios, de su ternura. * FR: Nous sommes appelés à être des instruments de la miséricorde de Dieu, de sa tendresse. * ITA: Siamo chiamati a essere strumenti della misericordia di Dio, della sua tenerezza. * DE: Wir sind gerufen, Werkzeuge von Gottes Barmherzigkeit und Zärtlichkeit zu sein. #pontificalmissionsocieties, #obrasmissionáriaspontifícias, #obrasmisionalespontificias, #Oeuvrespontificalesmissionnaires, #Pontificieoperemissionarie, #Misericordia, #Misericórdia, #Barmherzigkeit, #Miséricorde, #Mercy, #Tenerezza, #Ternura, #Zärtlichkeit, #Tendresse, #Tenderness

A photo posted by Pope Francis (@franciscus) on

2. Saints look for new ways to get holy

Saints look to be recipients of good influence. They look for great examples of people living the faith out in the world and see what they can emulate.

Within social media there are some great examples of Christian witness. Some that come to mind include Pope Francis, Cardinal Tagle, Sr. Helena Burns, Marcel LeJeune, Andre and Angele Regnier, and so many others!

There are also a number of amazing Catholic blogs, podcasts and channels out there that can help a person grow in and deepen their life of faith. Hopefully this one helps you in some way! Others I personally enjoy are Catholic Answers Live, Swimming in the Dark at Aleteia, The Just Measure, and Bishop Barron’s Word on Fire.

This isn’t even to mention some of the great apps to help you grow.

Bottom line, if you ain’t growing you’re shrinking. And social media can be a channel of growth in your life, even growth in holiness!

Start small tip: If you are on social, check out some of the sources I mentioned above. If you aren’t, maybe consider dipping your toe in by starting a Twitter account.

3. Saints don’t drift, they swim

On the flipside, one of the most noticeable characteristics of social media is that it can suck you in and eat up a lot of your time. There is no limit to the data there, and there aren’t the traditional breaks that we are used to in traditional media (eg. commercial breaks, the end of the show, etc.).

This can lead us to drift in our use of social media. Do you know what I’m talking about? When you log on and aren’t exactly sure why, and you scroll with no destination in mind? You're just kind of surfing as the clock tics by.

My wife did a recent social media fast and found that she was spending hours a day scrolling on social media. It had become an escape from the mundane. It was a rude awakening, and she realized it was time for a big change.

Saints do not drift when they are online, they swim. What I mean is they are intentional about why they do something. They think about what they are engaging in, how long they will do it for, and why.

They go against the tide of endless scrolls and clicks.

But they don’t abandon social media altogether because they see that the capacity within it is inherently good. Social media enables new conversations with people, encountering new perspectives and even making valuable new introductions.

To leave all this behind is to ignore the modern marketplace, where people (especially the young) are focusing their attention.

Saints don’t do that! They meet people where they are and invite them to an encounter with Jesus. They think of how to do that using modern channels.

Do you find yourself drifting more than swimming? Maybe it’s time to reevaluate your relationship with social.

Start small tip: Start measuring your use of social media with the stopwatch on your phone. Are you comfortable with the amount of time spent there? What is the result?

Social media is here, whether we like it or not. And there is a lot to like about it! We need good, holy people to be a part of the online discussion. And if you are intentional about how you to it, it can even be a two-way street, helping you learn and grow as you continue your journey of discipleship.

Are you ready to use social media like a saint?

Please share this post! And you may also enjoy: Why You Should Be a New Media Missionary

Saints do not drift when they are online, they swim. i.e. They are intentional about what they are doing — Josh Canning

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