Today everyone seems to be talking about mindfulness, a transcendentalist type of meditation, mostly as a way of relaxing and de-stressing our lives. But mindfulness has a much broader meaning, too. It can be a meditative glance or an inner growth in awareness of our everyday experience, especially in our digital culture. That is a media mindfulness. It’s exactly what we teach from the Pauline Center for Media Studies (PCMS), a media mindfulness strategy, which is media literacy that integrates our faith formation practices with our digital media experiences.
This past week five people from various parts of the country, all with diverse backgrounds, came together to learn how media mindfulness can change our perspective on popular culture and our way of living out our faith through an intensive Media Literacy course. Ryan Casey, a Paulist Fathers seminarian from Illinois, said of the experience, “I came with a deep love and appreciation for media and popular culture. This course helped me to see that this love represents a deeper calling. By looking at these things through the lens of faith, I am now ever more sure that God is alive in our media and technology today. He waits on us to use it to serve."
Sr. Rose teaches the group
Sr. Hosea Rupprecht, the PCMS East Coast Regional Director, began the course with the key questions of media literacy education and brought that into the understanding of faith formation. She did so using various media—film, television, advertising—to illustrate how media are constructed and developed for monetary gain. She also gave examples of how media speak of values which can be a starting point of dialogue between faith and popular culture. Sr. Nancy Usselmann, Director of the PCMS, then presented theology of popular culture, or cultural mysticism, a way of understanding how God is present in the culture and its artifacts, such as film, television, social media, music, etc. The course also addressed the history of the Church and media, philosophies of the media, character education, virtue ethics in social media, pop music and media mindfulness, as well as the overall theory and praxis of media education.
Sr. Hosea covers the basics of Media Literacy
A catechist and Faith Formation Director of his parish in Austin, Texas, John Osman, said that the course helped him in his ministry. He said, “The Pauline Sisters combine their expertise in theology and pastoral practice with media theory and application to train pastoral leaders.” He goes on to explain, “I have not only learned new teaching methods and techniques related to media but have also gained a considerable number of new media resources.” Another participant, an author and media producer, said that this course is, “a necessary course for all catechists as the media today is not only one of the primary informers of the human soul but also a primary daily activity of the average American.”
Sr. Nancy gives a panorama of Church teaching on media
The Media Literacy Course has been running every summer for the last ten years and has schooled dozens of teachers, catechists and ministry personnel in the integration of faith and our digital media culture. The Church’s documents since Vatican II have emphasized the need for media education within faith formation, not only suggesting its inclusion, but making it mandatory for a person of faith to flourish within this 21st century.
The dates have already been set for next year’s course (July 15-21, 2018), so keep a lookout on our website for registration information. In the meantime, we will be posting online courses in media mindfulness on our website by the end of 2017, for those who cannot come to Los Angeles.
A life of integration is a peaceful and centered life. When we can be conscious and aware of the media’s messages we can make more informed choices about our media usage and truly begin to see God at work in the longings and desires of humanity that popular culture yearns to communicate. This is our starting point of dialogue between faith and culture—the human person. And this takes media mindfulness.