In the beginning was the Word.
Just one. Infinite, perfect. All-encompassing, all-embracing, all-generating. Through this Word the Father knows Himself perfectly, and knows as well every creature that He will draw out of nothingness into being in order to glorify Himself.1
Nowadays there are many words, in quantities that increase at a rate beyond comprehension. So a question that I struggle with as I begin, that has me struggling with whether to begin, is this: Why add more words?
There seem to be good reasons not to. Foremost of which in my mind is the goodness of silence in a world filled with noise and distraction. There is always something more to read or watch, and now I add to the pile. Will I lead someone into spending less time with family than he or she should have by writing here?
Secondly, I’m all too aware that others have far worthier things to say, or can say–and do say–whatever I have to say better than I. Years ago this lesson was brought home to me by the repeated experience of having sessions of writing what I thought were truly inspired and original thoughts, only to continue in my reading to find–at times in a matter of hours–the same insights articulated far more profoundly by someone else. Is it not plainly better to direct people to those writers than to ask them to spend what time they have on these rudimentary offerings?
Related to this is a third reason that causes me a certain amount of trepidation, not because I fear it coming true for me so much as I fear being disabused of it. It was the first reason Orwell gave as to why anyone would write: sheer egoism.2 If there is any success in my efforts it will be testified to by being the start of a conversation, part of which must be criticism and corrections offered to me both in good faith or otherwise. Such corrections are frequently difficult to take.
But in this regard the third reason not to write becomes the first reason why I should. To put one’s thoughts into fairly permanent form for the scrutiny of others is to risk being put down; but not to struggle through the process of expressing one’s thoughts is to stay down, and voluntarily. Above all, to be corrected justly is a blessing: corripiet me iustus in misericordia.3
Secondly, the humility that says that I might have nothing to say or add because others in fact say it better is a false humility. There is a kind of greatness in simplicity, and I am confident that the truly great are grateful for it. Moreover, this false humility is a kind of blasphemy: it dares to claim that God created something uselessly because other things He created are higher and capable of seeing more deeply. In whatever manner He desires each of us to glorify Him, He created us precisely to do so.
Finally: while I can’t say all things to all people, I can say some things to some people, and perhaps in a way that they had not heard before. Shammah was called great most notably, apparently, for fighting not on the entire field of battle, but rather for a small patch of lentils.4 Let me say what I have been given to say as well as I can, great or small.
If any of these writings going forward are of any help to anyone, God be praised. But if you have a spouse to talk to, or children to play with, or a Rosary to pray, I beg you: choose the better part. It will not be taken from you.5Footnotes
- ST I.34.3; John 1:3
- Ps. 140:5
- 2 Sam 23:11-12
- See Lk 10:42