.- As his college newspaper grew increasingly leftist, then-student Joseph Koss helped launch a campus newspaper with a conservative perspective. Fast-forward five years through law school, a revival of his faith and a move from the Detroit metro area to the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska in late 2009, and Koss was struck by the realization that again heâd lost his voice. This time he launched a blog, âDefend Us in Battle.â
âI was never really a writer. I donât really even consider writing a strong point. Iâm more of a commentator, trying to send a message,â Koss told the Catholic Anchor. âIâm trained as a lawyer. Iâm trying to present facts and arguments to convince people of new ideas, or old. Iâm an advocate of the faith.â
With the Vatican now embracing social media and the U.S. bishops galvanizing the populace to speak out in defense of the church, cyberspace is ripe for evangelization. The Web delivers a pulpit and a boundless audience to bloggers like Koss on the Kenai Peninsula, and Tiffany Borges and Mindy Goorchenko in the Anchorage area.
They feel called to counter the pervasive misinformation, anti-Catholicism and immorality thatâs competing for followers among the same worldwide audience, and they all feel inspired by Pope Benedict XVIâs recent urging for the faithful to utilize the Internet as an untapped frontier.
âOur Holy Father encourages us to do it (blog), to be Catholic online and to use the social networking sites for evangelization, and to share our joy and provide another voice in what can be such a degrading place,â said Goorchenko, a nurse and mother of five young children who still feels it is important to make the time to regularly blog.
âWhen I donât feel like posting anything, I definitely feel motivated by Pope Benedictâs encouragement to keep doing it, to fulfill that mandate,â she said.
âWe need to bring a soul to the Internet,â expounded Borges, whose new blog âLox Populiâ was picked up in its infancy by New Advent, a compilation of noteworthy Catholic blogs worldwide.
âCatholicism has to have a forum there (online),â Borges added. âIf weâre silent about topics that are uncomfortable or delicate, then the other side â for lack of a better word â wins.â
Proselytizing online is simultaneously simple and daunting. Anyone can publish a blog, but to preach publicly about theology and church doctrine is to assume a certain amount of authority and accountability. One could be wrong. Or, one could be right and suffer the consequences.
Some of Borgesâ relatives defriended her on Facebook. A priest rebuked Koss. But other priests have reposted his blog, and his writings have tallied up to 121,000 views.
âThe hardest part is making sure that what Iâm doing is godly and benefiting Christ, the church, the pope and my fellow Catholics,â Koss said. âEvery blogger wants readers and has personal and ego-driven reasons for writing because they think what they have to say is important. When youâre dealing with the faith, you have an even higher calling, a higher duty and a higher responsibility.â
âItâs inevitable that the new evangelism will happen there (in blogs and social media),â Goorchenko said. âWhen I see somebody reach my blog from a country like China or Vietnam or a place that is hostile toward Christianity, that is very exciting to me.â
These emerging bloggers spread the Word in different voices. Borgesâ âLox Populiâ, â the title is a play on the Latin words vox populi (voice of the people) with a nod to her love for lox â is witty and sassy yet jovial, a style she describes as âbarroom apologetics.â She created the blog in January in part to continue the fun she experienced writing a Christmas letter. While her blog title and tone may be playful, in two months Borges has tackled rabble rousing topics from the Pill and feminism to homosexuality.
âThere are moments when I think, âThis is too crass or too scrappy,â but with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I believe it will be OK,â she said.
Koss, who grew up in a non-practicing Catholic family and rediscovered Catholicism at Ave Maria School of Law, mostly analyzes current events from a âmilitantly Catholicâ viewpoint.
He strives to be a âwarriorâ blogging with a sincere desire to save souls, if even just one. The masthead of his âDefend Us in Battleâ page features Saint Michael the Archangel and an ominous scriptural quotation.
One popular post of his in 2010 opened with, âWe are at WAR. This is not puffery. Our souls and the souls of those that we love are in mortal peril.â
More recently, he posted, âI write what I believe, and I try and make sure that I align those beliefs with the heart of Christ and the mind of the church.â
Goorchenko takes an inviting personal approach to âThe Devout Lifeâ blog, infusing the fellowship of a neighborhood Bible study or parish social.
Since converting to Catholicism in 2009, the practiced âmommy bloggerâ fairly recently shifted from anecdotes about her five children to reflections on Catholic life.
She started âThe Devout Lifeâ as an outlet to share her observations while reading âIntroduction to the Devout Life,â a manual by Saint Francis de Sales about living devoutly and growing in virtue while busy raising a family.
A recent post described her familyâs commitment to forego electricity on âWilderness Wednesdaysâ during Lent. Her blog currently functions as a virtual reading club discussing Vatican II documents.
âMany people who are curious about the church are not going to step into one. I write it for not only Catholics but non-Catholics who may be open-minded and interested in learning about the Catholic faith and spirituality,â Goorchenko said. âMy purpose is to present a window into the daily life of a Catholic to explore how we live in the world without being of the world, and to convey the joy of being a Catholic and encountering Christ and the sacraments.â
Borges, a 2005 convert, said lay bloggers are uniquely suited for evangelization. Priests have an established following, but they must evaluate the risk of alienating members if their homilies are too austere. Journalists are censored by editors and media conglomerates. Bloggers, however, are unrestrained.
âThis is a serious role,â Borges said. âIf itâs not useful to someone, then itâs just detracting from time with my family and promoting my own opinion.â
Goorchenko agreed. âWe have to remember that thereâs a person on the other side (of the screen) who is using this technology to feel connected and find meaning in life. If we can make ourselves available in that strange online space that is still relatively new to everyone, we have a special opportunity to connect with that human being and bring Christ to that person in some way,â she said. âItâs a whole new frontier.â
Posted with permission from the Catholic Anchor, official newspaper for the Archdiocese of Alaska.