The Social Network Complex

Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus+, social networks are some of the most popular sites online. One aspect similar between them is the ability to post brief updates on your thoughts and life. It’s a quick way to find out what’s up with the people you’re most interested in checking up on. They could be anyone from your co-workers, friends, relatives or high school classmates you haven’t talked to face-to-face in more than 20 years.

There are many positive and negative aspects to social networks, but for now let’s just take the simple updates (also known as microblogs).

There seem to be a few general categories for these types of updates:

1.) Good news

2.) Neutral news

3.) Bad news

4.) Calls to action

Certainly it can be a fine thing to share the above types of news with others, but understanding the types you tend to write will help you better understand yourself and your thinking.

Do you tend to share the good stuff that happens to you? Does it make you feel a bit superior or feel better about yourself? Are you simply grandstanding without realizing it?

In regard to neutral news, to what end do you announce on the Internet your full itinerary for the day? Is social networking ingrained in you? Are you lonely and want to share the little things in your life with others through status updates?

Do you relate bad news for people to empathize with you? Is it a way to wallow in your own sorrows?

Do you promote candidates or issues you feel strongly about? Do you try to rally the troops? Out of all forms of status updates out there, these could be the most beneficial. Of course, it depends on how often you do it and if others in your social network are of the same mindset. But surely social networks have helped to strengthen people in their convictions as well as to divide them.

It’s one thing to know how you operate (be it with social networks or other aspects of your life) and it’s another to know why you operate a certain way. Take some time to think about why you post what you do. Think about the type of post you gravitate toward. It may help your personal improvement and attitude on life.

A Full Menu

Sue Brinkmann is a regular guest on EWTN Radio’s Women of Grace program. She is an author, journalist and the editor of the Women of Grace Journal: For Daily Prayer & Reflection. Sue is also a blogger for Women of Grace Breaking News and New Age Q&A.

The particular combination of topics she covers on the Women of Grace blog isn’t going to be found through many other sources. At the time of this posting, the articles available from the front page of the blog covers topics such as young Americans’ thoughts on taxing the rich, the FDA approving the first HIV prevention drug, acupressure and New Age games for children.

Reading about the darkness in our culture can make us discouraged but none of the topics are unimportant. Informing ourselves of what’s going on in the world and what we’re up against are responsibilities we have as Catholics. So even if means quick and sporadic visits to excellent Web resources like the Women of Grace blog, we’re still equipping ourselves to discuss pertinent topics with others and to know specifically where to direct our prayers.

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Fortifying Families by Empowering Parents

She’s a best-selling author, pediatrician and regular guest on Teresa Tomeo’s Catholic Connection radio program. And recently Dr. Meg Meeker was interviewed on the Today Show with Kathie Lee and Hoda, discussing her book Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters.

Dr. Meg emphasizes the important role parents play in the upbringing of their children. She speaks to the topics of sexuality, STDs and media entertainment, sharing her wisdom and knowledge to strengthen the next generation.

With so much confusion and distortion in our world today on how to raise healthy, godly families, Dr. Meg offers many resources to help parents understand their value and retain the foothold they need to help navigate their children through the stormy seas of our darkened culture.

Her books are directed toward fathers, mothers, and those trying to live a pure life.

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Prove People Wrong

Are there people in your life who don’t believe you can accomplish your goals or fulfill your dreams? is a Web site started by four college hockey players designed to motivate the underdog and encourage people to reach for the stars.

Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas is a prominent supporter of the movement. In the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs he himself became the oldest player ever to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, given to the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs MVP.

As Christians, we know that God is the source of our strength and hope. But as He expects us to do our best with the gifts that He’s given us, we are called to live life to the fullest, always with our neighbor in mind.

Through the Prove People Wrong Web site, human life is celebrated in a way often dismissed by much of our culture. One of the links at directs viewers to Matt Brown’s Web site. Matt was 15 when he suffered a serious hockey injury, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down. The Web site is a powerful testament to the love and support he constantly receives from his friends, community and even the Boston Bruins organization. isn’t just about defying the odds but about celebrating the life we now live.

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Fortifying Your Faith

For those interested in learning more about the Catholic Church and enriching their spiritual lives through listening to conference presentations, Lighthouse Catholic Media offers a great opportunity. Through their CD of the Month Club, you can have Catholic talks mailed right to your house. And many parishes throughout the U.S. offer the Lighthouse CDs by means of a kiosk display in the back of church.

The presentation topics range so widely that there’s something for everyone. Available talks include “A Walk Through the New Mass Translation,” by Dr. Edward Sri; “My Brother the Pope,” by Monsignor Georg Ratzinger; “Seven Reasons to be Catholic,” by Dr. Peter Kreeft; and “There is Life in the Womb,” by Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.

If you haven’t seen one of these kiosks around, consider helping to bring one to your church. It will not only benefit your spiritual life but also those of your fellow parishioners.

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All Things Chesterton

Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere.

To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.

There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person.

These are just a few of the priceless words of wisdom shared by Catholic convert and British writer G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936).

The American Chesterton Society Web site offers an abundance of resources on Chesterton, including local Chesterton societies, podcasts, and plenty of related items for purchase in its store.

If you’re looking for more information on this humorous literary genius and his writings, check out the American Chesterton Society for all your Chesterton needs.

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Bible Christian Society

John Martignoni is the founder of the Bible Christian Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to evangelizing the truths of the Catholic Church through the media.

John’s talks are free to download at the Bible Christian Society’s Web site. Even cassette and CD versions are available for free or for a small $3.00 shipping/handling fee.

Available presentations include:

* Marriage & the Eucharist: The Two Shall Become One

* Infant Baptism and Original Sin

* Sola Fide – Salvation by Faith Alone?

* The Communion of Saints

* Introduction to Apologetics

Before you zealously copy and e-mail any of his MP3 links to the fallen away Catholics in your life, listen to the presentations yourself to see if his approach and tone might be well-received. If you decide against it, at least from listening you’ll have a better understanding as to why the Church holds certain beliefs. And you’ll be able to relate the same sentiments through your own tone and words.

When I worked for the Catholic Radio Network’s Wichita affiliate, we brought John in for a conference. His talk entitled, “Was Hitler Right?” confronted the basic problems of accepting moral relativism. In essence, “How can you say Hitler was wrong in what he did if there is no absolute morality?” Good stuff.

John Martignoni is the host of Monday’s Open Line program on EWTN Radio from 3 pm – 5 pm Eastern. The encore presentation airs Monday night from 10 pm – 12 am Eastern.

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Links for Lent

If your Lenten penances don’t include lessening the amount of time you spend online, there are plenty of resources available to enhance your spiritual life while you’re browsing, checking Facebook and chatting on Skype:

What are your favorite online Lenten resources?

All Things Lent: Steve Ray on Catholic Answers Live

How did Lent start?

Why do we refrain from eating meat on Fridays in Lent? Why meat?

Is it true that fish is allowed because it is not an animal of sacrifice?

Steve Ray answered these and many other Lent-related questions during the first hour of Catholic Answers Live on Wednesday, February 22nd. He explained aspects of Lent that many Catholics and non-Catholics alike do not understand.

If you missed the episode, you can download it for free to your computer or MP3 player. Burn it to a CD and listen while you drive. What a great opportunity to learn more about our present liturgical season.

Steve Ray is a convert from Evangelical Protestantism. His books (including Crossing the Tiber and Upon This Rock), DVDs (The Footprints of God series and Keys of the Kingdom: Understanding the Papacy), and other apologetics material is available at his Web site.

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Why I’m Catholic

If you’re looking for a great online resource to help non-Catholics come home to the Church, Why I’m Catholic offers powerful conversion and reversion stories. Catholics from all over the world contribute to this Web site, sharing their journey of faith from a variety of Christian denominations, non-Christian religions and from no religion at all.

New stories are added frequently. The most recent conversion story came two days ago from Methodist convert Eric Sammons, in his witness, “From Ignorance to Bliss: My Journey to the Catholic Church.”

Sammons was confused by all the conflicting beliefs he discovered between Christian denominations. He was also troubled by the fact that he had no assurance as to whether or not a particular Christian faith contained all the truths revealed by Christ. By coming to understand and take the Catholic Church’s position on many controversial issues, he inadvertently drew closer to the Church Herself.

Though he resisted becoming Catholic, Sammons prayerfully discerned (with a Rosary, no less!) the Will of God, finally embracing Catholicism and making his way home to Rome.

Eric Sammons is currently the director of evangelization for the Diocese of Venice in Florida.

For his complete conversion story and many others, visit Why I’m Catholic.

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