I recently joined the Catholic Writers Guild. As a newbie CWG member, I regret that I wasn’t able to participate in the Catholic Writers’ Conference Live! in August. The chosen theme of Writing and the New Evangelizationis not only timely but essential for all Catholic writers today, in whatever genre(s) we write. Hanging out with other Catholic communicators is a great way not only to network but also to be inspired to live our specific calling as Catholic writers.
And we all need that inspiration to persist in the writing adventure. Who are your favorite Catholic and Christian communicators? My list of prolific, passionate writers — drawn from both today and yesterday — is huge. My top five are constantly changing, depending on what I’m currently reading. From Bl. John Paul to St. Catherine of Siena, from Thomas Merton to St. Augustine, from Venerable Fulton Sheen to Flannery O’Connor. And the list goes on… (It’d be great if everyone shared their favorite Catholic writers in the comments below.)
Recently, several outstanding Catholic communicators who have influenced me have crossed over to eternity: Pierre Babin, founder of CREC who taught and mentored so many Catholic communicators; Cardinal John Foley, who tirelessly supported Catholic communicators and served for many years as the President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communication; and this past week, Scripture scholar Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, who influenced me most profoundly with the pastoral letters he wrote as Archbishop of Milan on media and faith. Although they are now outdated (having been published in 1993), Communicating Christ to the World develops the approach of the Church towards social communication in a way that is still accessible and relevant today.
What all of these great Catholic communicators have in common is their passion in seeking to live and communicate what they believe. The witness of their lives—whether from a farm hidden among peacocks or from the steps of a public pulpit in New York—gives an undeniable power to their words.
This power is the grace of God. But the transparency in their lives which allows the grace of God to “speak” through their words—that’s their work. And it’s our work as well. Both the document on the Year of Faith, Porta Fidei, as well as the “Lineamenta” or draft document for the Bishops’ Synod on the New Evangelization, emphasize the importance of witness as the first evangelization. In last week’s Gospel (Mark 7) Jesus remonstrates with the Pharisees about their hypocrisy, inviting them to transparency of life, where their lives “match” the message they preach.
Attention to craft and audience, creativity, intelligence, persistence, and intuition are all key elements to the writing life. But as Catholic Christian writers, we have an even more important work: to grow in this transparency of life. Because it’s when we allow God to work through us, that we fulfill our call as Catholic writers.