#NotAshamed

I recently did a project with my students. I had them spend some time on their own reading through the book of Proverbs and write down some of the passages that really stood out to them. After they had chosen a few, I had them choose the one that they liked the best and rewrite it in modern day language, as if it was something they were going to put on Twitter. Finally, I had them find a picture that went with the passage and create a combination of the two that they could post on Instagram. 

This was a simple project that ended up setting the wheels in motion for an Advent challenge. After they had completed this assignment, I challenged my students to actually post them on Instagram and Twitter. I heard on several occasions either laughter, murmurs, or “I’ll write that my religion teacher made me post this.” I do not believe that more than a handful of my students actually posted their project.

All this made me start thinking why they would not want to post an assignment that they did so well on. There is really only one answer. They are ashamed of it. They are ashamed of being Christian. I do not know if any of them or any of us would outright admit that we are ashamed of our faith in Christ, but I think that most of us can think of a time in our life that we did not speak up and defend our faith, or a time when we sat by and let others put down our faith. It takes great courage to stand up for our faith in all instances. It takes great strength to admit our faith in Christ if we think others are going to look down on us or look at us differently. 

We use social media to share with others how much we like our dinner, how much we loved the newest episode of “Game of Thrones” or “Pretty Little Liars,” or how much we dislike the weather outside. We post pictures of our new shoes, our dogs or a selfie. Each day you can find something new trending on social media outlets. It could be the latest political cause, the latest celebrity scandal, or the latest movie release. 

As I began to prepare for Advent, this thought that we are sometimes ashamed of Christ was really weighing heavy on my heart. Advent is such a great time to re-center ourselves on Christ but often we get swept up in the business of shopping and decorating and cooking that we can lose sight on the real meaning of Christmas. I think if we make a conscious effort to focus on Christ at least once a day during Advent, it will help us to better use this season for what it is truly intended. 

We are doing a social media Advent challenge at Bishop Stang. I have challenged the students and the faculty to post on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram every day during Advent a Bible passage or a quote about Christ or faith with the hashtag #NotAshamed. I told them that every day I will check the posts and print them out and post them up on the bulletin board in the hallway.

This has added some extra work to my day, going through the social media outlets with #notashamed (and try not to be sadden by what some people are not ashamed of) and copy and paste them all but has it really lifted my spirits and made my Advent season so much more meaningful. It has been such a huge blessing to see so many people accepting this Advent challenge and being proud of their faith in Christ. 

So I put this challenge out to all of you reading this. I know that Advent is halfway over but what a great way to continue to prepare for the birth of Our Lord. This is also a great opportunity to use social media for good rather than bad or indifference. Social media can be a great tool for evangelization. Remember what St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for Salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16). Have a prayerful Advent and a blessed and Merry Christmas!

Anchor columnist Amanda Tarantelli has been a campus minister at Bishop Stang High School in North Dartmouth since 2005. She is married, a die-hard sports fan. She can be reached at atarantelli@bishopstang.com.

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