Blessed Carlo Acutis was only fifteen years old when he died of leukemia in 2006. Yet this teenager made a huge impact on his community, living out holiness in our modern world. He had a gift for turning the most ordinary tasks into acts of love - including the way he used technology.
Carlo wouldn’t have heard the term ‘media mindfulness,’ but he lived it in every sphere of his life, creatively bringing his Catholic faith into his media usage. Here are a few tips from this saint-to-be on how technology can help us get to heaven:
- Recognizing technology’s potential for good: Carlo was not oblivious to the dangers of the media. Yet he was convinced that if people used communications technologies well, they could become a great force for good in our world today--conduits of God’s grace. Carlo’s mother said, “Carlo was the light answer to the dark side of the web. My son’s life can show how the Internet can be used for good--to spread good things” (Carlo Acutis: God’s Computer Genius, viii).
The media are tools that can be abused for evil purposes, but they are not evil in themselves. In fact, Carlo was quite convinced of the opposite. Inspired by the media spirituality of Blessed James Alberione, he saw modern instruments of communication as gifts from God that could make a positive difference in people’s lives.
What comes to mind when you think about current media and technologies? Are there areas where you see God at work here?
- Keeping media usage in balance: Carlo loved to play video games (Pokémon and Mario Kart were some of his favorites). But even though he enjoyed them, he also recognized their addictive potential. He did not want them to take up too much of his time and attention, so he set limits for himself on how long he would play each week. This disciplined approach let him have fun with his favorite games but also left him free to do the things he found more important: spending time with family, community service, and prayer.
The media is a gift from God, but like with all good things, it needs to be used in moderation. Carlo made the choice to set healthy limits for himself that allowed him to use technology freely without risking it dominating his life.
What role does the media play in your life? How does it help or hinder you in living out your deepest values and desires?
- Finding opportunities to use the media for service and communion: Carlo was fascinated by coding, studying college textbooks on the subject from the time he was nine years old. As he developed his personal talents for working with computers, he shared them with others. He was happy to teach people the skills he had learned and put them at the service of his community, creating websites for his high school and local parishes. In this way, his knowledge of technology let him help those in need and build relationships with people.
Every type of media we use comes with its own gifts and challenges. Carlo was able to use his understanding of technology to assist the people around him, helping others to become more media literate.
Can you think of a time when either the media or your skills with technology have influenced a relationship in your life for the better? How might God be calling you to help others and build community through these gifts?
- Using the media to spread the Gospel and lead others to Jesus: Carlo lived his faith through his engagement with technology, finding creative ways to use the media to help people encounter God. One of his major passions was researching Eucharistic miracles from around the world and creating a website where people could learn more about them. He had been so touched by the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist that he wanted to share this with as many people as possible. The internet, he discovered, was the most effective way to reach the people of today, and so that was what Carlo used.
We’ve all encountered the power of the media and different communications technologies. Carlo was firmly convinced that this power should be put at the service of God and the Church to spread Jesus’ saving message.
What does it mean to you to be a disciple of Christ in a digital age? How can you concretely invite Jesus into your online presence and media habits?
You can learn more about Carlo by visiting his webpage (http://www.carloacutis.com/en/association/presentazione) or exploring his life’s story in Carlo Acutis: God’s Computer Genius, the book that inspired this article! (https://paulinestore.com/carlo-acutis-gods-computer-genius-qs1006217-198514.html)
Our guest blogger is Sr. Allison Regina Gliot (@sister_allison). She is from Falls Church, Virginia, has a degree in Theology and Religious Studies from the Catholic University of America, and made her First Vows with the Daughters of St. Paul in July 2021. She’s been a fan of Carlo Acutis ever since she realized that he loved video games as much as she does.