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Recently, while working at my computer in Santa Barbara, I encountered a confounding problem and decided to call Brandon Vogt, who is not only the excellent content director at Word on Fire, but also a trained engineer and tech whiz. After trying in vain to talk me through the problem, Brandon said, “Look, let me just take over your screen.” And with that, he pressed some buttons in Atlanta, where he was attending a conference, and then commenced to move my cursor around the screen, click on all the right settings, and resolve the difficulty.

Though I had seen him do this before, I was, once again, impressed by this long-distance maneuver. Displaying my utter lack of scientific expertise, I asked, “Now Brandon, is this being done through the phone lines or is outer space involved?” I’m sure he was suppressing a laugh, but he patiently explained that when we send data over the Internet, the data is broken down into invisible electromagnetic waves, which are then passed through miles and miles of cables, telephone lines, and sometimes satellites. What’s remarkable, he explained, is how the same cables and satellites handle information from billions of computers, phones, and other devices simultaneously.

At this point in the conversation, Brandon remarked, “You know, I’ve often thought it analogous to the communion of saints.” “You’ll have to unpack that for me,” I said. “Well,” he replied, “people always seem puzzled that the saints in heaven can hear and answer millions of prayers without being omnipotent; but yet, something similar is happening all the time through our technology. Each second we send and receive an unfathomable amount of data through our cables and satellites, yet they handle it. The relatively small number of intercessions we pray each day pales in comparison.” “Ah,” I said, “wouldn’t that make for an interesting column!” So at Brandon’s prompting, here is a little reflection on prayer and the communio sanctorum.

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