Here are some thoughts I have in light of observing increased sectarian hostility within the Catholic writing world. First, it might help all of us to remember that each of us has a unique mission as a writer. This is something I am learning as I continue to find my voice and where God wants me to serve Him with this gift *He* gave to me. I am not a mommy blogger. I tried and that is not my niche. There are far more creative and talented Catholic moms who fit that bill. My bent is to the more intellectual.
I don’t really consider myself to be an apologist and I am not an academic, even with formal theological study. I am somewhere in the middle and I am okay with that. God has called me to evangelize my fellow Catholics by sharing the good, the true, and the beautiful that is found within the Church, but far too many people do not know where or how to tap into those resources. I try to take people with me as I stumble, fail, and fall on the path to holiness. I also write for secular and Catholic sites on the Culture of Life because my own grief and pain is being used by God to minister to people in need. This is my minuscule (that’s even too big) section of the deep that is writing on Catholicism.
My point is there is room for different perspectives, talents, emphasis, and understanding. This does not include leading readers into scandal or heresy, as we will all be held accountable for those we drag down with us into error. Sectioning ourselves off from one another and creating “camps” within the writing world only sows division, discord, and scandal. How does that serve God? How does that help others and ourselves achieve holiness? Disagreement is inevitable, but are we disagreeing in charity and truth or anger with a smattering of truth? Part of the reason Confession is so necessary is because we do not fully know ourselves and we are masters of self-deception. We often do not understand our own motives. Anger is a difficult emotion to parse and order properly.
There is an obligation to point out error, but it should be done in charity and detachment. If we are relishing in another’s sin or error, or gossiping in a frenzy on social media, then we have become no better than those we desire to correct. I am a huge fan of intellectual discourse. It’s one of the reasons I struggle with Facebook so much. I am a rather isolated stay-at-home mom and I crave intellectual pursuits, but what I am observing these days is not discussion. Gossip is not a use of reason. It is guided by envy, pride, emotionalism, and sin.
I think all of us–including myself–need to be careful of the very real dangers of the sin of pride for a writer. We can quickly forget that our mission is the conversion and strengthening of souls on the journey to sainthood. God uses us for His purposes. Our writing is not to puff ourselves up or lord over others. Then we do become Pharisaical, as much as I dislike this overused reference at this point in time.
Being a writer is difficult because we take an onslaught of criticism and vitriol. All of us have to learn to let it roll off of our backs and continue in the mission. If a person is ranting and incoherent then there is no point in engaging with them at that point in time. All we can do is commend them to prayer, fast, or offer up our next Mass for them. The last thing we should be doing is falling into the trap of Schadenfreude. We don’t have to agree on everything and we don’t have to like the style of every writer (me included!), but we are called to love one another, and that includes respecting the dignity of each person made imago Dei.