Ten Commandments for Catholic Twitter

    1. You shall not click “Tweet” until you pray to the Lord your God.

We know it when we see it. We see others do it. We do it ourselves. Sometimes, we do not invite God into the tweet production process, and it shows. We tweet in vain. If God is not the writer of the text, then in vain do we write it. Is the tweet of God? If yes, click that enticing little blue button. If not, don’t.

Here’s a simple prayer we can use: “God, is this tweet for your greater glory? Does it reflect your love?” 

God’s still, soft voice in our hearts will tell us the answer. 

2. You shall not tweet in desolation.

St. Ignatius of Loyola identifies two sorts of movements in people’s souls: away from God (desolation) and towards God (consolation). If we are experiencing desolation, then we are distant from faith, hope, and love. It may not be the best time to make our thoughts known to the world. 

For example, let’s say you’ve had the worst day at work or school, followed by a car accident, concluding with a yelling match in your head with God (and/or yourself) for allowing it all to happen. You open the app and see a tweet that makes your blood boil. An evil grin forms and fingers begin to hit the keys so fast that you hardly know what you’re writing: you’ve crafted a reply that will make the devil look as wholesome as a kid from the Mary Poppins movie. Don’t do it! You’re in desolation!

An important exception (we Catholics love exceptions) is when we want to enlist our Catholic Twitter buddies in prayer support so that God can lift us out of desolation and into consolation. Fellow Catholics will be there for us when we need it. I see it happen all the time, and it warms my heart.

3. You shall rest from Twitter every seventh tweet.

Take a break every now and then. Jesus did. He went into the desert to pray alone with the Father. We need these moments away, too. There is no need to meet a daily or weekly quota of tweets. God will take care of the online Church in our absence.

While you’re away, try praying an Examen, a Lectio Divina, or an Imaginative Contemplation

4. You shall not split into factions.

Just as in New Testament times, we Catholics sometimes experience the temptation to sow discord by throwing our weight behind certain Catholic leaders while actively eviscerating others (see 1 Cor. 1:10-17). We sometimes go so far as to condemn each other online. It’s a trap! It does great damage to the body of Christ when we publicly dismember his body. Our union is ultimately in Jesus Christ alone. 

(Just the other day, someone called me a “heretic” on Twitter. This commandment is personal to me! We need less judgment and more dialogue.)  

5. You shall like your neighbor’s tweets as you want your neighbors to like your own.

There is no need to be stingy with a like or a retweet. Share the love. “Finding God in all things” means searching for God’s presence in the tweets of others. When you find God there, give it a like or a retweet or even reach out to others to let them know that the finger of God was at work in their Twitter game. 

6. You shall not commit Twitter adultery.

It’s not a dating site. You can’t fit your character into 280 characters. And don’t be trying to slide into each other’s DMs. There’s always Catholic Match or Catholic Singles if you are looking for a sacramental marriage, people of God. 

7. You shall tactfully denounce injustice and falsehood.

People are wrong online. A lot. Should we, therefore, denounce everything we think is erroneous on Twitter? No. Should we prayerfully discern if God is calling us to call out sin? Yes. 

The key is consolation/desolation. If you denounce in consolation, you’re in the clear. If you denounce in desolation, you’re in murky water.

Regardless, keep in mind that afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted is the work of a prophet, and all the baptized are prophets. So don’t be afraid to speak the truth in love. 

8. You shall crack that Catholic wit.

Twitter is a thinking space, and we Catholics are a thinking people. I have to confess that I’m not the best exemplar of this commandment, but you probably are! The Church and the world need your reparté, your clever takes, your biting humor–in love. The Sacraments sharpen the intellect, so it is no surprise that some of the greatest saints were also the wittiest. (You might even want to quote them in your tweets to spread their sassy wisdom.) 

Be like the saints, but on Twitter. Bring your A game. 

9. You shall preach the Gospel, but with fewer words.

“We proclaim your death, O Lord, and profess your resurrection, until you come again.” Let’s do it like it’s our job because, well, it is. Be funny. Be clever. Be generous with your hot takes. At the end of the day, though, tweet in the spirit of Jesus. 

10. You shall not be jealous of your neighbor’s tweets.

Some Catholics are really good at Twitter. You may find yourself comparing yourself to these phenoms and coming to the conclusion that you don’t measure up. In the Jesuits we call this nasty-but-all-too-human phenomenon “compare and despair.” It’s generally not a fruitful path to trod. 

Rather than “comparing and despairing,” I find it more productive to see a witty Catholic tweet or a trendy Catholic account and say to myself, “Wow. You’re good. Let’s be Catholic Twitter friends. Like and follow.” 

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I hope you’ve found these recommendations helpful. However, at the end of the day, my Catholic Twitter vibe may not be your Catholic Twitter vibe. If you have “commandments” of your own to share, comment! Peace be with you. See you on the Twitterverse.

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