Pastoral Message – February 25, 2024

Pastoral Message – February 25, 2024

By now, I’m sure you have heard of “Artificial Intelligence,” abbreviated as “AI”: the latest development in computer science which enables a computer to perform human-like tasks. This week I decided to put Artificial Intelligence to the test. I opened ChatGPT, an application which uses AI, and I gave it the instruction, “Write an inspiring paragraph about the season of Lent for the bulletin of a Catholic parish.” Here’s what I got:

“As we embark upon the sacred season of Lent, let us open our hearts to the transformative power of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. This forty-day journey invites us to reflect on our lives, to deepen our relationship with God, and to grow in love and compassion towards one another. In the quiet moments of prayer, may we find solace and guidance, drawing closer to the source of all grace. Through fasting, may we detach ourselves from worldly distractions and focus on the true nourishment of our souls. And in acts of generosity and charity, may we embody the spirit of Christ, reaching out to those in need with kindness and mercy. Let us embrace this season with courage and humility, trusting in God’s infinite mercy and the promise of spiritual renewal.”

Well, you and I “embarked upon” the season of Lent more than a week ago, but we’ll let the computer slide on that one. I like the part about “the transformative power of prayer, fasting and almsgiving”; these are indeed time-honored, Scriptural practices that are especially emphasized during Lent. I’m not a big fan of the word “journey,” but that’s a matter of personal taste. I do think AI is on target when it speaks about reflecting on our lives, deepening our relationship with God, and growing in charity.

But then AI goes into a series of sentences using the words “may we” again and again. Bad form! I do think it gives pretty good ideas on what prayer, fasting, and almsgiving can bring about in our lives. But then it wraps things up the same way that it began: with a sentence including the words “let us.” That is so cliché! But again, to give AI its due, the need for courage, humility, and trust is good.

All in all, I don’t think I’m going to ask ChatGPT to write my homilies any time soon. Is it at least a little amazing that it did make a number of good points about the season of Lent? It will be a lot more amazing if we put these things into practice. God will do wonderful things within us and through us, if we give him half a chance.

Fr. Philip

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