Catholic Writers- How To Avoid Being Dead Right

Decades ago, I read an insight by Jean Vanier, a Canadian Catholic philosopher and theologian, “You can be right. You can be dead right and bring death to everyone around you”.  These words stripped bare my arrogance, profoundly affecting the way I expressed my faith to others and especially the way I wrote about the Catholic faith.

Writers Wield Power

Words have power, a terrifying power to influence others. One lie or the words of one bullying tweet have the potential to go viral, enraging, or misleading thousands, if not millions of readers. Even truth, if expressed with arrogance can instigate similar chaos. Words matter. Tone matters. Even a message of  Christian hope can be lost when writers are not prayerful disciples of the Living God, writing with the heart of a servant.

Writers have the ability to destroy as well as the ability to educate, heal, and lift up. We must learn how to communicate and engage with our adversaries in a spirit of mutual respect because everyone is a child of God, whether they know it or not. It is God who converts and convicts; we are simply called to tell our stories, inform, or communicate our perspectives. We must witness in love, without sinning against those who have yet to experience the joy of the Eucharist or a deep relationship with their Heavenly Mother.

Reaching Out

Initially, when I first stepped outside of my little blog to write for other sites, I wrote for secular and Protestant sites and felt I had to hide my Catholicism. When I finally wrote about my Catholic faith, I was immediately grilled and interrogated by shocked readers and co-authors. Yet God had His own agenda and through the moderator, a process of forgiveness and unity began. Of course, the site decided to simply ignore my Catholicism and centre on my love of God.

When I discovered Catholic sites and was accepted as a writer, I was thrilled to finally be free to write about my faith without filters. I felt as if I was defending my faith in my territory, surrounded and protected by other Catholic writers.

Protestant vs. Catholic Articles

Sometimes Catholics view other Christians as their adversaries, rather than their separated brethren.  Part of this divide is rooted in how we express ourselves. Sometimes we get lazy and slip into Church lingo, writing in a foreign language which other Christians, never mind unbelievers, do not understand. The challenge is to witness to the validity of our Catholic spirituality with a mature love, without ridiculing our Protestant brothers and sisters, using universal terms when possible.

To complicate the difficulty of reaching across the divide, Protestants insist the Bible alone is the inspired Word of God, demanding every spiritual opinion and conclusion be backed by biblical authority. In an attempt to purify the Church during the Reformation, Protestants discarded thousands of years of teaching, wisdom, and revelations. They are closed to Catholic references to tradition in their writing. However, since the definitive books of the Bible were not decided until after 300 AD, Catholics understand the Holy Spirit taught man through tradition, as well as Holy Scripture. Even scripture tells us to uphold tradition:

Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours. (2 Thessalonians 2:15)

I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold fast to the traditions, just as I handed them on to you. (1 Corinthians 11:2)

But these verses quoted arrogantly in arguments based on sophistry only served to strengthen my Protestant position before I converted to Catholicism. My heart and mind were only transformed by a combination of Holy Spirit inspired books and the direct intervention of God, not by man’s mental gymnastics. Good writers simply plant the seeds of faith; God produces the harvest in souls.

The Church Triumphant

Some Catholic authors write as if they belong to the Church Beleaguered, not the Church Triumphant.  Many Christian articles tend to be either defensive or angry attacks against adversaries.  Some religious writers retreat, focusing only on like-minded souls, writing for a small, mutual admiration society. The rest are tempted to quit when it seems like the world is wearing a spiritual blindfold. In an online conversation with me, Victor S. E. Moubarak articulated the dilemma of Christian writers today:

Many Christian are busily writing their blogs daily wondering who is visiting them, or whether their efforts are having any effect on anyone. We all write for different reasons.  Some genuinely want to put some positives out there in a negative and dark internet full of bile and cynicism. Others write for pure vanity. Whilst others wonder whether to bother to continue writing or whether they should just give it up. The latter would be a pity because it would turn off yet another of the little lights of hope that shine in a dark internet that mirrors today’s secular society. (To read Victor’s books and blog click here.)

Protestants and the secular world desperately need to hear the perspective of Catholics on pressing issues, especially on the sanctity of human life. However, most religious authors write in a small niche, read mainly by fellow Catholics, and perhaps a few other critics we would secretly love to block. However, it is past time to repent, to make a 180-degree turnaround, and to start writing in sync with our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is time for Catholic writers to decide to fulfill our Divine Mandate with joy.

Listen, and Then Write

If Catholic writers want to be effective agents of change, addressing large issues like world peace, abortion, and the state of the Church with articles which will touch hearts and move secular mountains, we have to break out of our Church microcosm and listen to the rumblings in the world and in the wider Body of Christ.

Most of all, we must become in sync with God and with what He wants to do in and through us. It is time to start writing like children of God, people who only write what their Heavenly Father tells them to write. Only then will our words be imbued with power, the kind of power which will actually affect hearts and stimulate action. David Torkington (a Catholic Stand columnist and the author of ‘Wisdom from the Christian Mystics – How to Pray the Christian Way’) states:

there is only one way forward for the serious searcher who wishes to be transformed into Christ in this life, and that is, in the words of St Teresa of Avila, “There is only one way to perfection and that is to pray. If anyone points in another direction then they are deceiving you”.

I would add there is only one way forward for the Catholic writer and that is to pray first and then write.

10 thoughts on “Catholic Writers- How To Avoid Being Dead Right

  1. Hello,
    I read your article on Lost Socks and raising 9 children
    We have 5 children-all adults. Our oldest daughter committed suicide in 2018. Since then we’ve experienced other trials especially with my health. I was looking up articles on lost socks because I’m presently obsessing about it. I know it’s OCD related but I need to let it go and trust God’s sovereignty in big and small things. Please pray for me
    God bless you

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Jennifer, I was so sorry to read this. I hold you before Our Lord in prayer. And I hope life gets a bit easier for you and your family. All we can do is trust God, though at times it’s just so hard.


  2. Dear Melanie, thank you for your insights. I am blessed to edit both Catholic and Protestant books and I have come to believe that when the Lord is working in someone’s life we are all blessed. God bless you!


  3. Dear Melanie, I stumbled across your site while looking for something else and loved what I found. I am not at present a catholic as I was baptised into an Independant Evangelical church and earlier confirmed into the Anglican Church. I have left church because I am so disappointed with the humanistic attitudes to the sanctity of life etc and been interested in the Catholic Church for some while. What holds me back is the thought of being disallowed from Holy Communion as I am divorced and still uncertain of the attention to Our Lady ( I was educated in a convent and the nuns terrified me I should add) and seemingly sidelining Our Lord and the work of the Holy Spirit. Thankyou for allowing me to express these things and the sense of deep respect to the holiness of our shared Christian Faith .


  4. Dear Elaine, I’m not sure if it’s OK for me to comment, but I just affirm you for sharing your thoughts. I think Our Lord is very concerned about each of His children, born or unborn, and is deeply grieved by the loss of any innocent life. I would encourage you to ask God if he is perhaps drawing you to the Catholic Church and if so, there is nothing to fear. He will guide you I believe and as He has promised, He works all things together for the good. God bless you and welcome!


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