Welcome to the fourth annual edition of OSV’s Guide to the Internet.
In the past, we’ve given you our picks for the best Catholic places to go on the Web, along with OSV readers’ choices of must-visit websites and blogs.
Although there are hundreds of great Catholic sites and blogs out there, the Internet’s reach is ever-evolving, with social media connecting users with one another around the world and Amazon.com’s ebooks outselling their traditional counterparts.
So, this year, in recognition of the Internet’s ever-growing presence in our lives — not just in our home and office computers, but in our cars, our TVs, our phones, our pockets and our purses — we’re taking a look at the apps, ebooks, enewsletters, Twitter feeds and other electronic amenities that bring us news and information, give us a good laugh and overall help us to better understand the world as Catholics.
In addition, three tech-savvy Catholics reveal their “go-to” places — Catholic or otherwise — on the Internet.
May your surfing, texting and tweeting deepen your faith!
What is it?
abbreviation for Quick Response code. It’s a two-dimensional barcode that is readable by a QR code scanner, including QR scanner smartphone apps. The information encoded could be text, a Web address, images, video, maps, etc.
How to read a QR code: If you have a smartphone, search for “QR reader” in the app store (many are free). Run the app and hold the phone’s camera over the QR code to read it.
Tablets and iPad: A tablet (or tablet computer) is a mobile computer with a size and weight bigger than a smartphone yet smaller than a laptop. It often uses a virtual or touch keyboard rather than a physical keyboard.
An iPad is a line of tablet computers developed by Apple Inc.
Angry Birds: a popular puzzle game for touchscreen smartphones and tablets. Players use a slingshot to launch birds at green pigs stationed on or within various structures, trying to destroy all the pigs to move onto the next level.
Google+: A new social networking service operated by Google Inc. that integrates social services such as Google Profile and Google Buzz, plus introduces new services to connect with others and organize groups of virtual friends. It is being called a rival to Facebook.
Groupon and LivingSocial: websites that offer discounted gift certificates each day for one product or service at local or national companies.
Church & new media
Best places to go for a laugh
Known as “The Catholic Weird Al,” Alexander has a knack for taking secular pop songs and turning them into clever, purely Catholic parodies.
McDonald, who entertains audiences around the world with tales of being Catholic, such as her ventures into the confessional and visits to Rome, considers comedy to be her own form of evangelization.
Lino Rulli’s radio show podcasts
Rulli delivers amusing social commentary and self-deprecating anecdotes via his daily show “The Catholic Guy” on SiriusXM Radio and his weekly show “Lino at Large” on USCCB Audio. Free podcasts for “The Catholic Guy” are available at www.linorulli.com
, and “Lino at Large” podcasts are available at www.usccb.org/audio
. Both are also free on iTunes.
Priests/Men & Women Religious:
National Right to Life Committee @nrlc
Americans United for Life @AUL
Amazon.com’s Kindle store:
Free Catholic Ebooks (www.freecatholicebooks.com) offers the following titles, among others:
“True Devotion to Mary,” by St. Louis de Montfort
“Summa Theologica,” by St. Thomas Aquinas
“The Imitation of Christ,” by Thomas a Kempis
“The Inner Way,” by John Tauler
“Calvary and the Mass,” by Archbishop Fulton Sheen
“The New Mass”
Created by Cale Clarke, director of The Faith Explained seminars, this app walks users through the new English translation of the Roman Missal that will be introduced Nov. 27. $2.99 at the iTunes
“3 Minute Retreat”
Daily reflective prayer retreats from Loyola Press. Available for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. $.99 at the iTunes
Liturgy of the Hours and Mass reading for the current day, along with main Catholic prayers and information about saints of the day. Free at the iTunes
Developed by the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, the app includes Divine Mercy prayers, information about St. Faustina Kowalska. Free at the iTunes
Way of the Cross
Prayers and meditations are taken from the Vatican’s Via Crucis devotions. $.99 at the iTunes
Visitors can enter into drawings to win free books, DVDs and other Catholic resources.
Catholic Online: Options include daily readings, latest videos, saint of the day, top headlines and prayer requests (www.catholic.org/newsletters/
New Advent: E-newsletter sends out hot headlines from Catholic websites, bloggers and periodicals on a daily basis. Subscribe at www.newadvent.org
Our Sunday Visitor: Free updates on OSV Newsweekly, Parish Life and Teaching Catholic Kids at osv.cm/baeRpc
USCCB: Get news on the new translation of the Roman Missal, updates on what’s happening at the USCCB and tips and advice from foryourmarriage.org
With more than 3,000 songs in its library, the Internet radio station plays music by Catholic artists 24 hours a day, plus podcasts on Catholic praise music, rock music and soul music with “DJ Jedi.”
Hourlong podcast features contemporary Catholic music and artists, plus reviews of new Catholic CDs and videos.
Find music in a variety of styles, including contemporary, liturgical, seasonal and instrumental, and download songs cheaply from artists such as Father Stan Fortuna and Chris Padgett.
Popular music search engine allows users to listen to free music online, including Catholic artists such as Matt Maher, Ceili Rain and The Priests.
: Internet radio station offers music from several Catholic artists, including Sharmane.
My day is full of interactions with many other online Catholics on Twitter, Google+, Facebook and some of the Catholic forums and blogs I frequent. A lot of the news I find comes straight from these interactions. But there are a few Catholic sites and apps I use to fill in the blanks or get some inspiration.
Catholic News Live:
Both a website and an iPhone App (disclaimer: I created and maintain it), Catholic News Live (www.catholicnewslive.com
) pulls in news and blog posts from many of my favorite Catholic news sources (including OSV!). I often open up the app on my iPhone or iPad to browse through the day’s top stories.
Crescat and The Curt Jester:
I have subscribed to the Crescat (thecrescat.blogspot.com/
) and The Curt Jester (splendoroftruth.com/curtjester/
) since I found those two sites, as they often have content that puts a smile on my face, as well as interesting takes on current news and events.
Definitely not a Catholic website, but since I try to follow all things tech, Ars (arstechnica.com/
) offers me the most philosophical approach to tech news and happenings. It’s one of the few websites where the comments on articles are often more enlightening than the articles themselves. They also offer some moral or philosophical tech-related posts from time to time, which I enjoy very much.
New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia:
I often search the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia (www.newadvent.org/cathen/
) for both background information (especially when writing material for LOLSaints (www.lolsaints.com
)) and leisure reading. Its online publication of the Summa Theologiae is one of the easiest to read, and I often spend some time reflecting on one of St. Thomas Aquinas’ articles to complete a blog post (for example, “The Abortion Debate — It’s All About the Beginning” (www.lifeisaprayer.com/blog/2005/abortion-debate-its-all-about-
Jeff Geerling is a computing, Web and media consultant who is the creator of LOLSaints.com and lifeisaprayer.com.
I love Catholic media! Especially the kind that is readily accessible via the Internet. Searching for kindred spirits there is what brought me to the world of blogging in the first place. Honestly, I don’t have enough time to enjoy as much Catholic media as I would like. After all, if I just consumed Catholic media, I could never create any for you to consume at my blog, Why I Am Catholic. My excuse is the same one it has always been: I’m a Catholic, a husband, a dad, an employee and THEN I am a Catholic blogger, too. Sometimes, after all of that, I even get to eat and sleep. What follows are five of my favorite online places that I visit, enjoy and use regularly.
This is the online version of the prayer of the Church. Called the Daily Office, it is also known as the Liturgy of the Hours. I first heard of this resource while reading Thomas Merton’s autobiography and I wondered what in the world he was talking about. Of course, he wrote of the bound versions, which are kind of pricey. Universalis (www.universalis.com
) hosts it for a much more manageable cost for the cheap, budget-constrained and frugal: Free!
Google books: I’m always using this free resource (books.google.com
). It was around the summer of 2007 when I first learned of it. Early in 2010, I noticed that I could “add” books to an electronic shelf there. I promptly started building a collection, named it the YIMCatholic Bookshelf
, and now I find it indispensable. It is in the public domain, has more than 870 books available (in full view) and is fully searchable for any name, word or topic. Many selections are downloadable, too.
It’s a rare day that I don’t spend some time at this website. There is much more to New Advent (newadvent.org
) than just the online version of the Catholic Encyclopedia and the works of the Church Fathers. Editor Kevin Knight also puts up a list of “must-read” blog posts written by Catholic bloggers, other Christian bloggers and posts from the news media (Catholic and secular) as well.
Catholic and Enjoying It:
This is the blog of author and Catholic apologist Mark Shea (markshea.blogspot.com/
). I like his style, his sense of humor and his ability to write clearly about the paradoxes presented by following the Church in the modern world. He’s a huge fan of G.K. Chesteron, who also had the ability to share the Catholic faith seriously, but with charity and humor.
This is another Google site, and it’s the second-largest search engine in the world (after parent Google). On Mondays, I write posts sharing music. Being able to embed these videos into my posts is what makes this feature possible. And I’ve been able to find every type of music on YouTube (youtube.com
), from Christian hymns sung in Arabic to the latest rock ’n’ roll music. If it’s not on YouTube, it probably doesn’t exist.
Frank Weathers maintains the blog Why I Am Catholic (yimcatholic.blogspot.com), an online gathering for Catholics and those discerning entering the Church.
I’ve found that Facebook has become a great way of communicating with friends and colleagues — Twitter, not so much, but I’m working on it. RSS feeds on my iGoogle dashboard from News.va, OSV.com and CNA serve as primary sources of news. Beyond this, there are several standout sites that I often visit that consistently challenge and delight.
Mornings begin with coffee in the cup and New Advent on the screen. It’s become my morning newspaper. I have learned to trust Kevin Knight’s discerning mind and heart when it comes to “fishing” in the digital sea for daily news and commentary. What is really refreshing about New Advent (www.newadvent.org
) is that it doesn’t slavishly depend on a “pundit clique” for all commentary. Never boring, Kevin listens for that unique voice crying out in the Internet desert, which keeps the content authentically relevant and interesting. Did I say I love the “Online” Bible with the Greek and Latin lexicon … priceless.
This is not your local college classical station. With live streaming online from London, this is the best of the best. Palestrina, Mozart, Faure, Glass and Williams are the rock stars. There’s nothing “snobbish” about the presentation; Hildegarde is as mainstream as McCartney. I love hearing the weather report for Wales, the drive-time traffic for London, the listeners calling in for requests and Pavarotti singing the “Ave Maria.” This site, in many ways, is my musical heaven. Visit promo.classicfm.co.uk/blog/
We have need for a clear and articulate apologetic for Catholic social teaching. Two decades ago, a much-needed industry of Catholic apologetics sprung up, catechizing the faithful Catholic and providing the tools to defend and share the faith. Although this was (and remains) vitally important, today’s Catholic needs to move beyond sharing “why I am a Catholic” to “how I am a Catholic” if we are ever to be bright lights in this darkened world. Omar F.A. Gutiérrez, of Regnum Novum (www.regnumnovum.com/
), has a breathtaking command of the social doctrine, and combined with a clear focus on Christ Jesus rooted in prayer, daily he offers how this teaching can aid us all in the “secular challenges” and “culture wars” we face.
Beginning to Pray:
This is a gem. Simple and to the point, Anthony Lilles regularly gives a glimpse into the interiority of prayer and its ability to surge our heart toward heaven. I need a spot on the Web that allows me the chance to grow in that relationship. Wonderful resources and direction to other sites as well can be found here. “In the world, not of it” … that’s the goal. See beginningtopray.blogspot.com/
Charlotte was Both:
In a world now full of words, where on the Internet people race like storm chasers from one topic to the next, when we gather around a moment and pick-a-little, talk-a-little, talk-a-lot, pick-a-little more, Charlotte was Both (amywelborn.wordpress.com/
) is where it stops and reflection is allowed to occur. Growing in wisdom everyday, Amy Welborn knows the value of a moment. The word count is significantly reduced; instead she captures the moment with an image. Stop, observe, ponder, learn and grow … shouldn’t we all be doing this? More often than not, what God has to teach us is right in front of our eyes … if we just stop, like Our Lady, and ponder the moment.
Kris McGregor blogs and podcasts at www.discerninghearts.com.