As everyone loves to point out, there are times when Catholics feel as if they invented the concept of guilt.
As mothers, who has not tried to evoke feelings of guilt in our children? God knows, God sees, God is not feeling happy with you is He?
We use guilt as a leverage, as a means of bending others to do our will. We may not even know we are doing it, but it is a tool each and every one of us has used, will use, and in many cases perfect over the course of our lifetime.
And that is why I was so surprised when the editor of the Catholic Writers Guild newsletter created a small feeling of guilt in me. In the last few newsletters Maria begged for members to submit an article for the column titled “Saint of the Month”. She needed help, but for the past three months I have let the months slide by without even bothering to do the simplest of research.
Until today. The cutoff day, The last day to submit a saint to Maria. Why do we procrastinate in doing something for others? Anyway, because Maria elicited that kernel of guilt I went to do research and I located the perfect saint for today’s writer…St. Pammachius, whose feast day is August 30th. Born in the fourth century, we need his editing style more than ever.
St. Pammachius was a voracious writer who believed a more gentle tone in one’s writing could better influence others. Can you imagine if… in today’s hypersensitive world… the pundits, the newspapers, the bloggers, the twitterers, and all the other “instant” communicating typers out there made a conscious effort not to inflame the opposing side? Can you even begin to imagine a calm debate on important topics without the shouting and verbal assaults on one’s character? Can you imagine an internet filled with thoughtful and respectful discourse on daily events?
Maybe if writers of all stripes think of St. Pammachius’ edict to substitute angry rhetoric with gentle persuasion we as a country will be better off.