Steve Jobs and the New Evangelization Print
By Fr. C. J. McCloskey   
Sunday, 29 April 2012

As a priest, part of my job description is to be an agent of the New Evangelization that was proclaimed by Blessed John Paul the Great. Only a few years after leading the Church into the third millennium during the Jubilee year of 2000, his mantle fell to Pope Benedict XVI, who also proclaims very seriously the Church’s evangelical mission. I assume that the great majority of my readers are serious Catholics who in these challenging times are as eager as I am to see the vision of Bl. John Paul realized and continued by Pope Benedict XVI: to see the Church recover and flourish in growth and fidelity, in particular in what was once known as the West.

      Which brings me to the case of Steve Jobs. Let me be clear, I am not postulating Steve Job’s cause for canonization. His biography will convince the reader that he suffered from emotional wounds from his early childhood as an adopted son and, to put it mildly, that sensitivity, generosity, and compassion did not stand out in him as particular virtues. To his credit, he was not particularly avaricious and lived modestly. He entered into a late marriage that produced several offspring. Have mercy on him; after all, he was a product of California in the 1960s, not exactly a breeding ground for saints.

Nonetheless, we evangelizers or modern-day apostles, if you will, can learn from him. The following quotations are from Steve Jobs. The words following each quotation are my comments.

  • “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who did so.” Isn’t that our goal? To change the world for Christ?

  • “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” Isn’t it true that if we are good at what we do professionally or within our family, people will pay more attention when we speak to them about Christ and his Church?

  • “We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life. Life is brief, and then you die, you know? And we’ve all chosen to do this with our lives. So it better be damn good. It better be worth it.” Do we work at our spiritual life and try to deepen our knowledge of the Faith and put it in action?

  • “Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.” Are we ambitious to go after the best people to bring them to Christ without any fear of failing?

  • “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” Given that God is on our side, why should we allow ourselves to get discouraged?

  • “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.” Whether in our spiritual or apostolic life, we are always, as St. Josemaria put it, “Beginning and beginning again.”

  • “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?” Steve Jobs’ famous question to John Sculley, former Apple CEO. Like Steve we should welcome challenges and long for greatness. After all we have the only product – our Faith – that everybody truly needs.

  • “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me . . . . going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful . . . that’s what matters to me.”

  • “Almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” We should look forward to death and meditate on it frequently, as Christians who look forward to our reward, but still know that we are accountable for the gift of faith that we have received and are now to share with others, in word and deed.

Jobs, who once memorably described death as “very likely the single best invention of life,” departed this world with a lingering look at his family and the simple, if mysterious, observation: “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.” Who knows what he saw?  After all, he died at 3 p.m. (the hour of hope) on the Feast of  St. Faustina.

May God have mercy on his soul, while we use some of his insights and practices in our great commission to carry out the New Evangelization, which will change the world in a way never dreamed of by Steve Jobs when he said, “I want to put a ding in the universe.”

 
Fr. C. John McCloskey III is a Church historian and research fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute in Washington, DC.
 
 
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