Proposing, Not Imposing, Faith
In our daily work here at Liguori Publications, we often discuss how to best write about our faith. A big part of writing effectively about faith is recognizing how crucial the internal journey is. That spiritual journey within is our theme for this issue. In addition to Liguorian, Liguori also publishes parish materials and books for individual Catholics, whether they are in or out of the pews. In all of that work, we seek to emulate in a couple of important ways the work of St. Alphonsus Liguori, the founder of the Redemptorist congregation, which operates our publishing house. St. Alphonsus was a bishop and moral theologian who preached in Naples in the eighteenth century. He was fervent about delivering the word of God to people using common words that everyone could understand. This resonates with me because I’m a former newspaperman. I was taught to write in simple, clear language—not talking down to people, but acknowledging that they’re busy and want to get the news quickly. Fr. William J. Byron, SJ, author and an American priest of the Society of Jesus, holds two theology degrees, a doctorate in economics, and over two dozen honorary degrees. Christine Holliday is a freelance writer for local publications in Toledo, OH. She is a lector and eucharistic minister at St. Patrick of Heatherdowns Church in Toledo. Jennifer Leeper, an award-winning fiction author with a bachelor’s in journalism, works as an advertising copywriter and lives with her husband and son in Kansas City. Her online presence includes Twitter@JenLeeper1 and jenniferleeper.net. Alphonsus also asserted that preachers should start by speaking and writing to people where they are. In that sense, his preaching and his writing were not, well, preachy. Instead, he respected the faith journey that had brought people to where they were. It was at that point where he started. I’ve seen this approach sometimes summarized like this: The faith should be proposed, not imposed. As Pope Benedict XVI said a few years ago: “[T]he Church does not impose but rather freely proposes the Catholic faith, well aware that conversion is the mysterious fruit of the Holy Spirit’s action.” Our challenge as Catholics is to make that proposal, to live lives that demonstrate our faith, to speak and write clearly about our faith, and to allow room for the spirituality within to grow.
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