Why You Should Join Awestruck, the Social Network for Catholics
Editor’s update: 2019-2-1: Awestruck no longer seems to be an active site. But the ideas expressed in this piece are still exciting to imagine.
If you’ve been following the unnerving trends on social media lately, you probably feel something similar to St. Paul witnessing in the Synagogues. Disinformation and aggression to his message, teachings and community keeps coming from all directions.
Facebook is one of our beloved haunts for fun, relaxation, information, and rallying around flags and fights. And cat pictures. But with the ethical-political climate steering ever off course, as it always will in a wealthy, non-ethical first world, Christians are left wondering if bolting or bracing is the answer.
I say both. Sort of.
Some feel that the newly touted ‘Benedict’ option recaptures the spirit of the founder of western monasticsm; isolation from negative influences allows for confirmation and strengthening of values. On the other side of the spectrum is the rising ‘Francis’ option, where through consistent good deeds, charitable witness and courteous dialogue, we continue to remain part of the discussion and contribute to the Great Commission.
I advocate perhaps not the happy median between the two, but one that kind of embraces both. Stay on Facebook. But join Awestruck too.
Come Share the Wine
A year or so ago, I fell in love with Al Martino’s rendition of ‘Come Share the Wine’ (lyrics). I was fascinated by changing the implication of ‘wine’ to the ‘Precious Blood’.
Take 5 and enjoy.
I feel that this song can speak perfectly to Catholics everywhere, especially with the challenges we face. If you skipped the video, here are the lyrics for reference;
The streets were dark and the night was cold and yet I walk alone
I saw the lights of a cozy place with lanterns all aglow
Somebody cried, “Don’t wait outside, come say, hello”
Imagine that ‘cozy place’ is a Church, or a network like Awestruck. We all join in the chorus, singing;
Come share the wine
No one is a stranger here, they’re your friends and mine
Everyone’s your brother, we’re a long way from home
And we need each other, have no fear, you’re welcome here
Read ‘Wine’ as ‘Precious Blood’, that as Catholics we are often willingly, daily connected to each other through the saving Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. When Christian communities are lived well, we’re all pilgrims a ‘long way from home’ who need each other, where ‘you’re welcome here’.
The rest of the song reinforces this theme, so I’ll leave you to enjoy it.
On to Awestruck
It started as an outlet for sharing Catholic media in South Africa, and quickly caught the interest of the local Catholic hierarchy. Within months, they were featured on EWTN’s “Life on the Rock” and have enjoyed a steady, gradual growth of guests.
Why join another social network?
Well, it’s simple.
Awestruck is defined as
awe·struck (ôˌstrək/) adjective: filled with or revealing awe.
And that’s how we should be as Catholics, filled with the awe of God. Till that happens, we run the risk of remaining catechumens who have memorized our Faith, living by rote, partaking in Divine Mysteries that slide off our souls like oil off a duck’s back, not penetrating into the innermost depths of our beings and transforming each one of us into the living presence of Christ.
What makes Awestruck such a cool option these days is that it’s like discovering a community where we’re all in love with the same Person, Christ Himself. In the way that LinkedIn is for making business connections, Awestruck is for deepening our connection to the Christian community worldwide.
Norman Servais, the founder, admin, general friend and tech support, doesn’t recommend that folk pull up stakes and hightail it into a new corner of Catholic-ville. That’s not his goal.
We aim to foster a culture in which Catholics consciously see themselves as disciples of Jesus Christ living according to his will and as apostles sent into the world to proclaim him to others. In doing so, we provide a friendly, online space for Catholics and those interested in the Church, to share their faith, views and experiences, as well as to network purposefully for the good of the Church.
Is it a Catholic Facebook?
No. We’re not attempting to “replace” any of the popular secular social networks but rather to help augment that experience.
In an time when cafeteria Catholicism is breaking down our culture and communities, Awestruck is rebuilding our community and culture by creating a cafeteria for Catholics.
Like any public cafe, tavern or dinner that you join, it’s going to be full of differing opinions, strong ideas, fun folk, passion, charity, silence and the sipping of a lot of coffee.
To that end, we are all adjured to live by the maxim: In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity. In the same way that we all keep our cool and our courtesy during the Sunday coffee hour, we are encouraged even more to do this online.
Awestruck is not Bunker Hill where we huddle together till we see the whites of their eyes. Think Beacon on a Hill instead.
It’s a place to meet new friends, get refreshed, and sally forth back out in the world, bearing the Holy Grail of the Precious Blood on our lips, in our hands, and in our awestruck hearts.
And friend me. :)
Quotes from Awestruck-ians
“I was hungry [more like starving] for real-deal Catholic friends that I could relate to—and feel so comfortable with, as well as cared for. And this place very quickly became a source of true joy for me, and where many have inspired & taught me (in many different ways)… A place where I found true friends, near & far, where I felt free [and safe! (…that’s huge)] to share my heart.” (eileenfrank)
“Awestruck for me allows the passionate ‘Catholic self’ to have a platform for authentic sharing, exploring, friendship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. Notwithstanding our diverse cultures, histories and languages, there remains a great connection with awestruckers the world over.” (Cris Riego de Dios)
“Not only to make wonderful like-minded friendships all over the world but to actually “live” the Faith and the Church, “live” “laugh” “grow” and “love” with fellow Catholics in a SAFE environment.” (Ana StPaul)
“I think the reason that I love to use Awestruck the most is because it gives me a practical way to see just how universal the Church is… it is so wonderful to see people from all over the world-certainly from all over the English speaking world-who you know are praying the prayer of the Church together each and every day, and you can put a name and a face with these folks. I’ve come to know who people are through Awestruck that I would never know from Adam otherwise.” (David Oatney)
“I have many friends with whom I share the faith, but I wanted to go beyond that. Awestruck has filled that need. It is good to meet many like-minded fools (for Christ!) like me. We love our Awestruck, it is our morning coffee, our double scoop of gelato, our daily multi-vitamin, our stairway to heaven.” (Jess Espinosa)
“I love this place. It’s where you can be all Catholicy and not worry about offending people. Whether it’s posting Vatican and Papal news, domestic Catholic news and so on, or sharing items of a solemn, sacred and holy nature, this is a place where you get a glimpse of the global nature of the Church. But in addition to that there’s a lot of general secular style activity here, although obviously not as much as elsewhere. There are various Groups on Awestruck that are not overtly Catholic (humor, tech and some literature and arts Groups), there’s the typical banter and good-natured fun amongst friends; prayer requests and commiseration as well, amongst everyone. To me this shows there is a broad appeal. We have interests outside the Church and the Faith and can safely share about them here. But the Catholic nature of Awestruck pervades everything.” (Paul Sofranko)
“I find Awestruck inspirational. Without it, life would carry on in the most secular, hungry for the world, money grabbing way possible. With it, I am inspired to try my best to live a life inspired by and dedicated to God. Every day I learn the most incredible things about my new friends, my faith, Catholism in the world. None of these I would have the time to do on my own, but here, my friends shine the light!” (Mark Eames)
“This is a phenomenal way – if not the best and easiest – to find all the Catholics out there on the internet. No more wading through descriptions or hashtags looking for the faithful Catholics in the bunch.” (Dominic de Souza)
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