I’m Guest-Posting at CatholicMom.com

Mark Alves Excerpt on CatholicMom.comThe CatholicMom.com team assigned me a Gospel reading to write a reflection about.

And it wasn’t one of those easy readings.

My reflection begins with If this Gospel about unexpected visits and severe beatings doesn’t grab your attention, I don’t know what will.

They gave me a little more room on their site than I have with my daily reflections on Twitter that I share on @todaysreadings. Thankfully, given it was a challenging reading. Read the rest of my guest post reflection over at CatholicMom.com.

The reflection is based on the readings for the Memorial of Saints John de Brébeuf and Isaac Jogues, Priests, and Companions, Martyrs (Lectionary: 475, Cycle II, Year C Luke 12, 39-48 via USCCB).

If you’re looking for resources related to the Sunday Gospel, check CatholicMom’s Sunday Gospel Section.

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Explaining the Trinity to Geeks

Holy TriniTy ProtocolHow would you explain the Trinity to a geek, you ask? The concept I’m about to describe below is one I’ve ruminated over the years, wondering if it was helpful or if it was blasphemous. As another Trinity Sunday passed, I decided to publish it.

Reflection for Trinity Sunday

Think of the elements of a website. You’ve got the words and pictures, you have the underlying site structure and directory names, and then there are the links that connect. When you bring these separate parts together, the whole is much greater than the sum of the distinct parts.

The same principle is at work with the Trinity. While it’s impossible for our human minds to comprehend the infinite love of God, we can get a glimpse by looking at the persons of the Trinity.

So let’s take a closer look at how understanding a website can give our nerd friends some insight into the Trinity. Now we all know that in the beginning was the Word (that will represent our words and graphics). The Word was begotten by the Creator who designed our world. Together, those two form our webpages–words and structure. But the bonds between those two are so strong and interconnected that we have links that spring forth, in the form of the Holy Spirit, to help us to see connections that we would otherwise miss, to enter into a deeper understanding of God. Putting it all together, we have three distinct elements working together.

Now if this doesn’t work for you, there’s always Saint Patrick’s clover leaf analogy or a more formal definition of the Trinity. But for your web geek friends, try this one.

Use Google Alerts to Keep Your Church Home Page Fresh

Which would you rather hear?

“Hey, how did you know our pastor was going to be profiled in the paper?”

Or

“I’m surprised you didn’t link to that article about my ministry that was in the newspaper a few weeks ago.”

I don’t hear the second one anymore because I’ve been using Google alerts to find out immediately when my pastor, parish or website are mentioned in the media. The alerts are easy to set up. Once in place, you’ll get an email and a link whenever your topic of choice is in the news online.

My local Diocesan paper usually gets delivered on Thursdays or Fridays, but I receive the alerts on Wednesdays when my church is mentioned in an article there — sometimes before it can be found on the newspaper’s main page. I add a quick link and a blurb on my parish home page and now my visitors can have the latest news.

Here are some good topics to get alerts for:

  • Pastor’s name
  • Your church’s name (include variations if you don’t have a pithy name like St. Muffy’s) and city name
  • Your parish’s domain name
  • Church school; and major school programs that don’t already include your parish name, such as a homeless shelter
  • Other prominent staff or committee members

You may need to tweak yours at first, depending how common your pastor’s name is or if you are getting false positives on your church’s name. Once in a while I get a St. Charles Borromeo Seminiary (Pennsylvania) listing instead of St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church (Virginia). We’re located in Arlington County, but that doesn’t always help differentiate news results for seminarians from the much larger Diocese of Arlington. But those are the exceptions.

In part 2 we’ll look at other options for receiving alerts when your church is in the news. I’d love to hear what topics you think should be on your church webmaster alert list.

Nominate Your Church for Site of The Year

Catholic webmasters — are you running a great website for your church? Nominate it for church site of the year through AmericanCatholic.org (St. Anthony Messenger Press and Franciscan Communications). You’re allowed, nay, exorted, to digg your own work so enter today. The deadline is September 1, 2007.

St. Anthony also reviews a site of the month, some of which have been reviewed here, and webmaster features for each liturgical season. Check out their new blog.

Speaking of Faith and Globalization – Good News for Church Webmasters

During the return leg of a power weekend roadtrip from DC to Massachusetts for my brother’s wedding, I caught an episode of Speaking of Faith while stuck in Connecticut traffic. Good timing because my patience, if not my faith, was being tested. The featured guest was Manuel Vásquez who discussed globalization and faith, based on his book “Globalizing the Sacred.” The associate professor of religion at the University of Florida (Gainesville) described how the Internet elevates rather than overwhelms local religious events in a way that transforms both major and minor religions.

Here are a few excerpts from the show’s transcript. Vásquez described the 1996 apparition of the Virgin Mary in Florida that inspired the book. “…the Virgin appears in a bank building in Clearwater in the middle of a strip mall, this very beautiful image…soon this event becomes an event that, although started locally, it becomes globalized. … And you have the media right away sending crews to document it…it make[s] the rounds on the Internet.

“…Pretty soon you have tourists heading to Orlando to come and see the famous apparition of the Virgin. A makeshift altar is set up there for the Virgin. And you have immigrants who are working in the nearby fields coming in to celebrate in December, thinking that this is the Virgin of Guadalupe that has appeared there because the apparition who appeared and, you know, happened in December. And so you had this polyglot group of people coming together, and for us it was a fascinating microcosm of how religion is acting today in the world. Religion is entering these very fast and very widespread means of communication….

“…At the same time, [it’s] very much localized. So the global does not erase the local, but rather it is as if the local has been taken in through global media and beamed globally in such a way that now it becomes a shared space throughout the world…this is not just a unique event…this is indicative of the reality of religion today with globalization.”

Check out the transcript or podcast if you’re looking for inspiration for your church web team. Let ’em know how your local activities can extend and transform across the globe.