Lent… is about conversion

Lent is a time for prayer, reflection and discipline for Catholics the world over. Leading up to Holy Week, we are publishing personal reflections from Jesuits across the globe, in different ministries of the mission. Our last reflection comes from Fr Robert Ballecer, a Jesuit working in the Communications Office of the General Curia in Rome.

By Robert Ballecer, SJ

More than just a remembrance, Lent challenges us to recall the sacrifice of Christ, then respond to that sacrifice by increasing our faith: truly seeing those around us, taking in the world beyond the bubbles of our daily lives, becoming more open to the movement of the Holy Spirit and listening to its call. Lent finds us where we are and, if we are willing to let it, brings us closer to God that we may build His Kingdom on Earth: conversion.

But what does that mean in a digital world?

How do we see the others around us when we are mostly alone? How do we take in the world when we spend so much of our time isolated? How do we respond to the Holy Spirit when the voice of Christ is drowned out by an endless feed of competing and contradictory messages from our devices? How do we build the Kingdom of God on Earth when our daily lives are spent escaping from it?


I am a child of a generation that truly believed that science and technology could make the world a better place, so for most of my Jesuit life I have struggled to answer those questions. From teaching programming to inner-city students in Chicago and Los Angeles, building communications networks in Asia and South America, parish youth ministry in San Jose and Honolulu, to media work in DC and San Francisco - my vocation has called me to reach out and spread the Gospels in an emerging digital world.

For six years I worked as a broadcaster and producer for a network called “This Week in Tech” located near San Francisco, in California. It was a bold business, taking what once had been the exclusive domain of multi-billion-dollar media conglomerates and putting it into the hands of a mix of young professionals and industry veterans who provided a unique experience: smart content that celebrated knowledge, didn’t pander, and provided not just reviews of gadgets, but in-depth discussions about how technology was changing our world.

It was work enabled by Leo and Lisa Laporte - the owners of TWiT - who encouraged me to represent my Jesuit and priestly identity as long as I provided knowledge. Though skeptical at first, with many people around me questioning why a man in clerics was speaking about Science and Technology, it was only a few weeks before the audience realized a man of faith could ALSO be knowledgeable about the world and share their same passions.

It was a ministry of WITNESS, that led to an “ah ha!” moment in which their views of what was normal or even possible with faith was questioned: a conversion.

Now in Rome, I continue that work of provoking conversion among an audience that is increasingly cynical about goodness. It is the witness of faith in digital form. Lent, and the hope for conversion that it represents, is my answer for ministry in a digital world.

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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