Two months ago, I committed to building a website for the sole purpose of blogging. On my About page, I said that I would ”write about matters that generally attract my attention––religion, culture, politics, the military and news items occasionally out of left field.” I also stated that I was a former atheist who converted to Catholicism and that more times than not, I see the world through spiritual lenses––colored a bit by irreverence and satire.
Twenty-five posts later, on subjects that fit squarely within my 5 “boxes” (for example, my Catholic conversion, movie-making and society, political wars, my Marine Corps past, and abortion), my overarching motivation, purpose and underlying theme have become manifestly clear.
To Glorify God!
I would suspect that most readers are aware of the Internet’s reach and power. But to dig around in the Google Analytical weeds has been fascinating. For instance, my posts have “visited” 82 countries, 2,100 cities and been viewed by thousands of folks. I can ascertain percentage of first time readers, which posts are popular, average time spent on the site and a wealth of other statistics.
However, here’s the important point. This world-wide coverage is NOT directly proportional to the merits of my posts. It speaks instead to the extraordinary power of the Internet and the willingness of like-minded people to spread the word.
Two influential people come to mind. Kevin Knight (New Advent) and Tito Edwards (Big Pulpit) have been extremely charitable in linking some of my posts on their websites. Why is this key? I’m not famous, I don’t have a visible platform, and I’ve never done anything particularly nefarious online (sex tapes seem to be de rigueur in launching successful careers – see Kim Kardashian – 16 million Twitter followers – Oy Vey).
I’m just a flawed sinner in California trying to contribute to God’s kingdom. Nevertheless, Kevin and Tito’s desire to present different voices and evangelize to the world are the primary reason anybody beyond my family has viewed my site. I wholeheartedly support their sites, click on many of the links and am stunned at the high level of discourse and intelligence presented. If more Catholics knew about their sites and made it their duty to periodically check in, we could change the world.
Which brings me to my challenge.
The USCCB teaches that a charism is the identifying trait of a religious community. “Charisms are gifts of the Holy Spirit given to an individual or group for the good of the whole Church. Every religious order has a special charism which forms their identity and mission. The charism is the motivating spirit that is the heart of a religious community.”
But I’m a layperson. Can I even have a charism? In wandering around the web, it didn’t take me long to find the answer. The Catherine of Sienna Institute provided the following two questions and answers.
WHAT IS A CHARISM OR SPIRITUAL GIFT?
- Charism is simply the Greek word used in the New Testament for “favor” or “gratuitous gift.” Charisms, or spiritual gifts, are special abilities given to Christians by the Holy Spirit to enable them to be powerful channels of God’s love and redeeming presence in the world. Whether extraordinary or ordinary, charisms are to be used in charity or service to build up the Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2003).
HOW DO CHARISMS OR SPIRITUAL GIFTS DIFFER FROM NATURAL TALENTS?
- Charisms, or spiritual gifts, differ from natural talents in two important ways. Charisms are not “inborn” or inherited from our parents, but are given to us by the Holy Spirit, whom we received through baptism and confirmation, two of the three sacraments of initiation. Charisms are also supernaturally empowered. They are focused outward and enable Christians to bear results for the Kingdom of God above and beyond our normal human abilities.
- As disciples, we offer our entire selves, including our personalities, natural talents, education, life experience, and background to God to be used for his purposes. Our natural talents can become wonderful tools for God’s purposes, and sometimes an already existing natural gift is transformed by the Holy Spirit into a supernaturally empowered charism. But when we serve God, we are not limited to just the gifts with which we were born! Some charisms may seem ‘extraordinary’ (such as prophecy, healing, or discernment of spirits) and others quite ‘ordinary’ (such as administration, service, hospitality, or mercy), but all charisms are supernaturally empowered. We use our charisms together with our natural talents and all that we are to serve God and our neighbor.
At the risk of being decapitated, I’m going to stick my neck out and state that writing may be my charism. Holy Spirit, if I’ve missed the boat on this, please tell me. Although I’m not entirely confident in my writing abilities, I remain committed and will hopefully become better. But I’m struggling somewhat with direction.
So, my specific challenge to readers is this.
To the question of charism, what should I be writing about? Where can I best serve God and my neighbor? Should I continue in the same vein as represented by earlier posts, i.e., stay the course? Should I emphasize some of my “boxes” and de-emphasize others? Are there perspectives on issues that aren’t getting Catholic airtime? Can you offer suggestions to help me in my effort to accomplish God’s will?
This post is about finding the right voice. To the extent you can help me, I will be eternally grateful.