"There are many saints whom God sets up for the salvation of souls, and from whose faces he causes rays of glory to stream for the enlightenment of the most blind...There are also an infinity of others who, having been created to shine in the heavens give no light in this world, but live and die in profound obscurity." Father Jean Pierre de Caussade, "Abandonment to Divine Providence"
As part of my Advent preparation and penance, I have been reading the spiritual classic "Abandonment to Divine Providence." I picked it up, well, downloaded it to my Kindle, when it was recommended to me by my confessor (OK, the random priest who heard my last confession). I had complained mostly that my confessions seemed dry accounts of things I shouldn't have done. That I was sorry for them. But that I didn't feel sorry for them.
As all good confessors can, he used the opportunity to convince me of what I already knew--that my spirituality is too much in my head. That while I can explain the doctrines of the Church better than the average Catholic, I needed to start letting my faith permeate the rest of me, especially my heart. Having verified that I am an avid reader, he recommended "Abandonment" and specifically the new volume by Ignatius (available here) that includes Father de Caussade's letters of advice to individuals about specific problems they were having in their spiritual lives.
Naturally, for someone inclined to the logical proofs of Aquinas, this has been a tough read. The progress bar on my Kindle shows that I am only fourteen percent of the way through. But, it is also not a book meant to be devoured in one sitting and I am using my difficulty as a way to pray through each of the sections.
The above quotation caught my attention because it spoke to me about my reasons for doing the things I do and why I am sometimes dissatisfied with things I love doing. I love teaching, but it is a field that offers little personal reward beyond inner satisfaction. And, I love teaching the kids who are struggling whether because they have learning disabilities, are handicapped by bad parenting, or just don't get the subject. But, unlike teachers of advanced level classes who are remembered fondly by their students in later years, I am quickly forgotten because many of my students will always struggle and will engage a long line of educators, mentors, etc.
My writing is similarly unheralded while also lacking the underlying noble purpose of my teaching. In my first post of this blog, I spoke of writing in the past to be read. In other words to be known. For most writers, fame and fortune would be nice, but we'll take the first one if we can't get the second. And, if we can't get either, we'll settle for an large engaged audience. All three are immensely unlikely for the Catholic author who wants to write about Catholic things. But, as in teaching, I sense there is something worthwhile about it, that I am called to it.
The past twenty years have shown that there is a Catholic market for apologetics which was found and fed by Scott Hahn and a few others. And, in new media, some valiant efforts have been made by Mother Angelica, Father Roderick Vonhogen at SQPN, and Lino Rulli, who does "The Catholic Guy," a very funny show on in afternoon drive time on SiriusXM's The Catholic Channel.
But for the writer who wants go beyond apologetics, especially for the novelist, the audience has yet to be found. I realized this several years ago when I was engaged online with Catholic authors around the country and watched each throw in the towel or transfer their efforts to secular writing after some significant efforts. And, yet, after a long dormant period, I still want to write. The impulse, the drive is still there. And, so I blog with the stated intention of writing to write.
And, maybe, I already have the audience I'm supposed to have.