Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

40 Days and 40 Tweets Social Media Sites Being Used to Spread the Word during Lent. Even the Pope Is in on the Action

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

40 Days and 40 Tweets Social Media Sites Being Used to Spread the Word during Lent. Even the Pope Is in on the Action

Article excerpt

Catholics struggling to maintain symbolic sacrifices through the penitential season of Lent are in luck this year. Pope Benedict XVI himself is offering daily encouragement via Twitter, a tweet a day for 40 days.

Which is great, unless Twitter is the very thing you gave up for Lent. People do that sort of thing nowadays, when cutting ties to social media can be far more mortifying to the worldly soul than abandoning chocolate.

Still, maybe it's better to give up chocolate and stick with Twitter and Facebook. That's because those sites, thanks to the efforts of tech-savvy clergy and laity, have enriched the observance of Lent, the prayerful period of abstinence and almsgiving leading to the celebration of Easter.

This was Pope Benedict's first message on Twitter, which allows users to post messages up to 140 characters: "Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works" (Heb 10:24) #Lent #Pope2You."

"I actually tweeted him back," said Joseph Moussa of Easton, a DeSales University junior who follows the pope's Twitter feed and sent his regards to the 84-year-old pontiff earlier this week.

Sitting at a cafeteria table with three other students, all of them poking at iPhones or laptops, Mr. Moussa said following the Holy Father on Twitter makes perfect sense in an age where relationships can quite literally be woven out of thin air.

"Most of us are on Twitter," he said. "You go on Twitter and [the message] is right there in plain language, in 140 characters."

"Short, sweet and to the point," said junior Kaitlin Morton, an acting and directing major from Horsham, Montgomery County.

Indeed, the many facets of the Gospel message -- love thy neighbor, do unto others -- can be rendered in tweets with characters to spare.

There is more room to stretch on Facebook. …

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