Catholic Writers, We Have a Job To Do

12:53 AM

 


To my fellow Catholic writers, we have a job to do. 

We have been gifted, by Almighty God, with the talents of writing and/or story-telling. This talent is part of a cultural institution that is intrinsically tied to humanity itself. Stories reinforce cultural values and practices and even preserve aspects of history. 

It is one that we cannot afford to bury. The world needs our stories - stories about authentic Catholicism, virtues, and Catholic culture...the latter of which is in danger of dying. 

Why am I making such a big deal about this? 

Well...I'll be frank. I have gotten woken up a little myself. 

I browse LifeSiteNews daily - it's the only news source that I trust anymore. Recently I came across an article that made me really stop and think. 

It was an article about a preface that Archbishop Vigano wrote for an academic work about the restoration for a Catholic culture. Many of my "trad Catholic" readers will recognize Archbishop Vigano immediately, but as I know there are several readers that won't, I'll give a little background. 

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano is an Italian archbishop who serves the Vatican as a Papal Nuncio. A "nuncio" is an official emissary from the Vatican that represents the Pope in religious affairs - basically the equivalent of a diplomat. In Archbishop Vigano's case, he formerly served as the Nuncio for the United States...before he exposed a wicked cardinal named McCarrick and angered quite a few high-ranking people. In spite of this, His Excellency has been an eloquent, in a very blunt way, champion for tradition in the Catholic Church. 

(Archbishop Vigano is also known for writing in support of President Trump a couple of times within the past year, which has garnered some national attention.)

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. 

What caught my attention to this particular article was the fact that His Excellency outlines literature as a tool for a revival of Catholic culture and an aid to restoring a Catholic "memory". This is a concept that, as a public historian, I am VERY familiar with and one that I feel passionately about. 

(You can view the full article HERE. Fair warning, His Excellency writes in a dense style, and he has some politically incorrect views on Vatican II). 

Memory is basically tradition and past rolled into one. While it can be warped, it is an immense tool for understanding culture and history on a molecular level. 

Memory also figures into plotting and character development. For example, a scene where the family prays the Rosary strikes a chord with many of us. We recognize it, and we connect to it, as something that our family, friends and church community does. Even non-Catholics will recognize it sometimes, and connect it with memories where they were exposed to it. 

The scary thing that Archbishop Vigano points out is that the Catholic memory is declining drastically, which causes ignorance of the Faith, it's practices and even it's images. The nuances of Catholic art and culture are now unrecognizable to general society. 

It sounds unthinkable at first. But think about this: Do you see art being taught in schools? What about the material used in so-called "literature" courses? What university even dares to pick up Catholic texts without bashing them? Or even better.....where is the art in the churches?

 A common phrase that we Catholics bandy about is a quote from Scripture: "by their fruits, ye shall know them". Archbishop Vigano points out that we're dealing with a degradation of society; one that was created by evil forces that wish to strip all that is good out of society. 

So, how does advocating for good literature do any good against such forces? 

Stories have power. A lot of power. How much are we influenced by stories of others? I bet a lot more than we are willing to admit.

Three years ago, a group of us bloggers banded together to create Rebellious Writing, which advocated for clean literature in three key areas - language, abuse and lust. We recognized that the normalization of these evils was breeding a lot of problems among our generation. Although we didn't quite realize it, in a way, we were preserving a culture that could speak politely, and have healthy relationships. While we aimed to have a broad audience, our work heavily benefited Christian authors and readers. 

In this same vein, His Excellency argues that Catholic literature can stir the soul and bring it closer to God, much like a sacramental as well as preserve Catholic tradition. It is this potential of conversion that we must tap into as authors. Not to shove it down people's throats (heaven forbid!), but to create the ambiance and letting God do the rest. 

I have felt strongly about eliminating Catholic stereotypes in literature before, and now it's stronger than ever. I don't want my Church to be remembered as a object of ridicule, or worse, just another religious body. A Church with such rich legacy needs to be preserved. 

So, to my Catholic writers, do not hesitate to include Catholicism in your stories! Historical writers, look up Catholic liturgical traditions and saint biographies. Fantasy writers, check out J.R.R. Tolkien on how to sneak Catholic references into a fantasy world. Contemporary writers, investigate writers such as G.K Chesterton, and Flannery O'Connor. Bounce off of other Catholic writers in your community. 

Above all, avoid the fate of the steward of the buried talent (Mt 25:14-15, 18-19, 24-26). We have a job to do - to bring souls to God! Let us restore the Kingdom of Christ, even if our contribution is our little stories! 

Scribbingly yours, 

Catherine

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12 comments

  1. Amen, sister! This is so beautiful! Just the kind of wholesome encouragement and exhortation we Catholic writers need. I especially love what you say about memory and how images--not even arguments, but the ambiance itself--has power.

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    1. Thank you Megan! I thought it was timely considering what struggles us authors are going through. But I must give the bulk of the credit to His Excellency. Many of those thoughts were his ideas that I simply translated into laymen's terms :).

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  2. YES TO EVERYTHING! This is such a wonderful reminder, Catherine. It's so true that we need more literature that just...shows Catholicism as normal! Without stereotypes! I love your idea about creating an ambiance, especially.

    Even just looking at Catholicism in literature from the secular view of "representation" (which, I mean, isn't necessarily my *favorite* way of looking at literature), there is 'representation' of all kinds of minority people and cultures in modern writing (the d/Deaf, Indian-Americans, Mexicans...I could go on), but VERY little positive Catholicism representation. Which is sad for us as Catholic readers, because reading books about people *like us* is very powerful! I LOVE reading books where the characters are Catholic, or where Catholic themes are very much woven in (like LOTR) and it's sad that there are so few.

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    1. Thank you, Samantha!! And yes!! I'm always on the lookout for it and it's harrrddd. I really wonder why there is so little - are we that much persecuted or have people just not had the courage to write it? Or the little we have is so poor quality that people are turned off by it? Who knows. That's why we should be writing :)

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  3. AMEN TO THIS WHOLE POST!!! I love what you said about abolishing those Catholic stereotypes, and you're absolutely right - I don't want my faith to be remembered as an object of ridicule. Awesome post! :D

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    1. Thank you so much, Nicole! The sooner the stereotypes are gone, the better :)

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  4. AMEN!!! Thank you for such an inspiring post, Catherine! I've begun to feel a lot more convicted about this over the years. Some of the greatest works of art (not just in writing) have come from Catholic artists. We have a rich tradition of art and faith that's a goldmine of inspiration for the creation of new great works.
    I think it would be pretty incredible to see a revival of Catholic literature in the coming years, especially in regard to Catholic fantasy (there's so much we can do with that genre. I'm imagining a Catholic speculative fiction publishing company or a guild like the Inklings).

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    1. You're welcome Khylie! I'll agree with that and it's something I want to keep going.
      YES! I hope we can get a strong Catholic writing group going like the Siena Society so we can get a revival going!

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  5. 100% YES. Catherine, this post is truly inspiring! I hope and pray that this will reach and encourage many traditional Catholic writers! It's so true that our society just doesn't see what kind of beauty Catholicism has to offer. And it's our job as Catholics to bring it to people's attention. Godspeed!! JMJ+AMDG

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    1. Thank you Fawnabelle! I'm hoping that it will :) Indeed yes!

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How are you, dear friend? Come closer to the fire, and make yourself comfortable! I'd love to hear what you've been thinking about, even if it's an old post! I only ask that proper decorum be observed.

I always try to reply to my correspondence! Have a blessed day!
~ Catherine

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