Yes, We Need Catholic Fiction!
Our Faith calls us not only to strive for holiness, but also to bring our world to conversion to holiness as well. Quite a tall order, especially given the fact that our society and “powers that be” are trying to push us as Christians “out of the Light”. With issues like abortion, human trafficking, redefinition of marriage, elimination of religious and conscience rights, and more, screaming at us from the headlines, it seems as though our response must be swift, decisive and persistent.
That being said, the burning question remains: What good is Catholic fiction? When we as Christians need to face these issues head-on and proclaim Jesus Christ boldly so that the world “gets it,” do we really have time to wade through stories and poetry to get our point across?
Yes, we do!
There is a place for didactic practices, but sermonizing and finger-wagging is not the way to win hearts. It was said once that apologetics by itself may win arguments, but rarely converts.
Which would you rather hear:
“You must have Jesus Christ in your life or else your life will go downhill and you will be lost forever!”
“When I was younger, I was lost. I didn’t want to hear about God or church or anything. Fast cars, hard drugs, that was the sum total of my life. I’d heard about Jesus and His sacrifice for me, how He bled and died so that my sins can be forgiven. But it wasn’t until I got into a car accident and saw the shards of broken glass in my skin that I finally understood that Jesus loved me and wanted me to be healed and saved.”
Both of these approaches are true (to one degree or another). I would be willing to guess that most people would be drawn toward the second one rather than the first. Why? The first gives ultimatums and threats. You can almost picture that finger wagging in your face.
The second one, however, is a story. It describes the very human experience of conversion, how God acts authentically, sometimes physically, in the lives of real people. While this little story is fictional, it could very well have happened. Yet, even if the example were a pure flight of fancy, fantasy, divorced from the everyday life of regular human beings. (Think Star Wars or Star Trek. How many of us wake up every day flying through space in a huge spaceship?) The Truth about human existence, human dignity can still shine through.
God still shines through! It’s almost like God is defying the sinful, fallen nature that the world considers normal by showing that He still exists and works in the lives of people who have totally rejected Him.
Regardless of how forcefully human beings try to shut God out of their lives, God still shines forth. He will still slay our idols, for our own good.
St. Irenaeus once said, “the Glory of God is the human being fully alive!” The only way we can realize our true identity is through God, in Jesus Christ. Just as Christ made a pure gift of Himself in His sacrifice, so we can find ourselves only by making a pure gift of ourselves.
Not quite getting it? Don’t take my word for it. Look for this Truth in stories: Go watch Star Trek II: the Wrath of Kahn; invest time in reading Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables (the novel is full of richness that the Musical and the movie only hint at).
Better yet: Go right to the Source and read – pray – the Gospels. You’ll encounter the story of God-made-man in Jesus Christ, and the story of our salvation.
Whether Harve Bennett or the other writers of Star Trek II, or whether Victor Hugo, meant it, God used these (and many more) stories to show – not tell – the Truth of salvation.
This is what catholiccreativity.net is all about: to show, through stories, “the Glory of God” in the “human being fully alive”.
For more examples of authors who do mean to let the Light of Christ shine through their works, check out the following:
These are only two of a legion of modern Catholic writers, intent on capturing the culture for Christ. For more examples, check out the Catholic Writer’s Guild.