Why do we need Catholic fiction?
First of all, because the soul of Catholic fiction is that God exists and works in the lives of sinful, fallen people who have totally rejected Him–and that He does this out of love, regardless of how forcefully a character tries try to shut Him out. And we need to know that.
Secondly, because Catholic fiction points to our true identity as human beings, which is that we are not just happenstance entities placed on Earth. We are God’s children, created by Him and made in His image and likeness, and that we have a greater purpose here. And hopefully, Catholic fiction does this through stories in which we can see ourselves, and with language and imagery that points to the divine in each one of us.
And then, thirdly, Catholic fiction attracts us to what we lack on Earth, something larger and more beautiful than what this material world can give. And honestly I think in their hearts most people know this. It may not be the underpinning of a lot of fiction as much as other subjects are, but the yearning is definitely in every person though they may have crusted it over with ‘stuff’ that our culture says we ought to have. And this is an innate yearning that only the divine can satisfy. People are seeking the beauty of God, whether they classify it as such or not.
What is the key characteristic of Catholic fiction?
The Sacramental aspect of the Catholic Church. We are bound by the Sacraments of the church and believe that they are instruments of grace. Think of our definition of grace—an outward sign instituted by God to give grace. Then go to a quote from Flannery O’Connor about making belief believable:
From the Sign to the thing Signified
From the Visible to the Invisible
From the Sacrament to the Mystery
The power of literature is sanctified by Jesus Christ through His parables— through fiction. The prodigal son was a figment of God’s imagination—a work of art, a story told by Jesus to illuminate certain truths. Love over Hate. Forgiveness over Retribution. Gratitude and Humility over Ingratitude and Self-importance. The Prodigal son, as a character in the story, embodies much more than just a self-centered person who did wrong. He is an example of humanity. He was self-centered, and he choose wrong things. Yet God continued to love him. One theme in the story is that continuing love. It is the theme of the books we write, and it is the theme of a Christian life as well.
The Catholic sacramental view of life is one that sustains and supports at every turn the vision that the story teller must have if he is going to write fiction of any depth.
Copyright 2016, Kaye Park Hinckley