As someone who writes for a living, just sitting at my computer feels awkward right now. The thought of writing with no keyword research, no title or formatting, no hope or intent of someone finding this article as the result of a Google search is against everything I’ve been taught. Just listening to my heart and focusing on the words as they come to mind is my only goal.
The idea seems so different, but yet it’s how I began as a writer. When I think about the list of my favorite theologians and Christian writers, I can’t help but feel a little jealous. They were able to create their writing style and voice without the added complications of trying to be found in the modern, technical world we live in today.
Hearing the Call
As I mentioned earlier, that’s how I began five years ago when I first realized my passion for writing about Scripture. Back then, everything started with a pen and a notebook. My writing tools were my Bible and the ability to hear that still, small voice as the ink began to flow. That was before I made one of the biggest mistakes of my life. That was before I allowed the idea of being a writer to become more important than the message.
Watching webinars on creating an identity for myself as a writer and learning the quickest techniques of being noticed became more important than theology classes and sticking to the plan. My goal became turning a hobby into a paycheck instead of giving a calling enough time to become a talent.
And the worst part, I succeeded. I was able to find customers who were willing to pay me to write about the service and products they provided. I allowed the thrill of having articles featured on websites such as Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, and Bleacher Report to become paramount over inspiring someone else to grow closer to God.
Walking Away Successfully
Instead of being as quiet as I could to hear from Him, I created as much noise as I could to blot out His voice. Notice I used the words blot out instead of tune out. When you tune something out, you give your attention to something else. When you blot something out, you replace what was there with something new, and it’s permanent. The new color becomes part of the fabric, a piece of what makes something what it is.
For me, this meant ignoring the calling I had been feeling towards the Roman Catholic Church and returning to a nondenominational congregation. Let me make myself clear. I am not trying to say one is right and the other is wrong. I am just saying that the Holy Spirit was leading me down a particular path and I did everything I could to get as far away as possible. I turned my back on what God was doing in my life, giving the enemy room to make a return.
Creating a New Beginning
Fast forward a couple of years, and here I sit, trying to figure it all out. Not far from a theology degree, just as close to the release of my first book, and one Easter away from confirmation. I haven’t written anything for awhile other than working on finishing the book and starting the next one, and I have this feeling of emptiness that is growing daily. I have been pondering the idea of starting to write about what I have learned over the years theologically and focusing my attention more towards the RCC. When I spend time picturing what this would look like, a fire consumes me I am unable to put out. I feel a tugging and leading in which I have never experienced before.
Up until this point, I have always written about how I interpret Scripture, something anyone with a pen is more than capable of doing. Because this has become one of my favorite means of meditation and listening to God, I’m sure that it will always be a part of my writing career, but God is telling me there is so much more He has for me to do, a whole different audience to reach.
Yes, inspiration can be useful and has a purpose. But, I’ll take knowledge and understanding over feeling inspired any day. When you inspire someone, they think about the possibilities of something different. However, when you teach someone something, they create change.
Making a Difference
A few months ago when I first started considering committing myself to the Catholic Church again, I put a lot of thought into both the positives and negatives of converting to Catholicism. I have felt this leading for some years now. I attended a private Catholic elementary school, and I have spent most of my adult life attending Mass and praying the Rosary almost on a daily basis, other than years I have done all I could to push God out of my life. This effort was due to a fear of failure. I’m not talking about a fear that comes with punishment. I am describing the fear that comes with failing at what one has been called to do. In my case, writing.
Back to my list. After spending time in both thought and prayer, there were only three things I viewed as negative about the RCC. Now, keep in mind. What I am about to list isn’t something I see in every Catholic, just several of them. As far as I’m concerned, that could easily mean I am hanging out in the wrong pews. However, I think God had me write these things down in my Bible for a reason. Not necessarily a reason. I would say more as a goal or a purpose.
What I See
When I look at the Catholic Church as a whole, there are three main things I see as missing. For starters, I do not see any evangelizing either within or outside the church. Yes, I am well aware of Scott Hahn. I have most of his books sitting in my office as I write this. I watch Father Mike Schmitz on YouTube on a regular basis.
The Catholics do have a few Billy Grahams of their own, but they are few and far between. In my opinion, that has to change, and until more people are willing to take on the task, there will not be enough change for people to notice. There is a need for more small groups where relationships form and mentors can be found. The rush to be the first one out of the parking lot following a service needs to end to greet and get to know those of us who are new.
I grew up as a Catholic without actually being one, so I am used to the routine. However, it’s a turnoff for anyone who can count on both hands how many times they’ve been to Mass. They come to feel like a part of something. However, seven times out of ten they’ll tell you they felt like an outcast, someone who the others didn’t welcome. How can the Church be expected to grow if this is the feeling newcomers receive?
The Church Needs Revival
Second, of all, I asked 50 Catholics within two separate closed “Catholic Groups” on social media what came to their mind when they thought of the Church and the word revival? After providing a definition for 37 of the people I asked, 41 of them said it is not a part of the Catholic faith. Several of them even went as far to tell me that each of the three previous Popes were against the idea.
When too much time over lapses without revival, flames begin to lose their spark. People lose passion. We are left with routine, making it impossible to grow. When something is no longer growing, it slowly begins to wither away.
Jesus isn’t Confined to the Eucharist
The most significant negative characteristic I listed was the lack of understanding and experience of a relationship with Jesus. Now, if you’re Catholic and you’re reading this, please allow me to explain before you decide to stop reading. The 50 people I asked about revival in the Catholic Church, I also questioned about experiencing a relationship with Jesus. The overwhelming response I received was, “I have a very personal relationship with Jesus. I receive communion every week.”
Before I go any further, I have fallen in love with the Catholic Church. I can’t wait to take part in the Sacraments. The feeling of something missing develops every time I watch others receive communion. I know after this Easter, I will grow closer and more intimate with Jesus than I have ever been before. However, this is not an experience that happens by simply receiving communion and praying every night before falling asleep. If you’re expecting to fully experience Jesus during a service inside of a building, then you’re missing what the Church is built on. You are missing its purpose.
I am not ignorant. I am completely aware that the Catholic Church does not need me. My goal is to simply do my part in making the Church look and feel more inviting for others. I want others to feel the Holy Spirit move through them how He does me when I enter the cathedral. I want someone to read something I write about the Catholic Church and say, “Yes, God is calling me to be a part of that. That is where I belong. It is my spiritual home.”