Writing is true life, real life, if we as Christians write to glorify God and build up His Kingdom. It is a life of faith, even as we write faithfully about the Faith, for we learn even as we write and that which we write is of service to anyone who cares to read it — Christian or not, faithful or not, and even after we die and must give an account of our finished and perhaps unfinished works.
St. John of Kronstadt, who cautioned against novels and the theater as frivolous distraction, was nonetheless himself a writer. He wrote an extensive diary which contains : “Moments of spiritual serenity and contemplation, of reverent feeling, of earnest self-amendment, and of peace in God.” If we read his contribution to spirituality, the book known as My Life in Christ, not only do we learn about the Church but we get to know St. John — his love of God, his time and place, his priesthood, his unique self as created and blessed by God and his written work in obedience to God.
Yes, a faithful life, true and real, with the gift of written language as expression and testament, authentic in experience while understood rightly according to the ways of God, and given forth in service to neighbor and enemy alike. Let us listen to St. John of Kronstadt.
There is, my brethren, a true, real life, and there is a false, imaginary life. To live in order to eat, drink, dress, walk; to enrich ourselves in general, to live for earthly pleasures or cares, as well as to spend time in intriguing and underhand dealings; to think ourselves competent judges of everything and everybody is — the imaginary life; whilst to live in order to please God and serve our neighbors, to pray for the salvation of their souls and to help them in the work of their salvation in every way, is to lead the true life. The first life is continual spiritual death, the second — the uninterrupted life of the spirit.
My Life in Christ, Part II, p. 12
St. John of Kronstadt
Truly, an uninterrupted life of the spirit, as the words and sentences flow, as one composition follows another for as long as God sees fit for us and for the sake of others, and perhaps a certain phase or style of writing until it has reached a level of completion of thought or purpose, and then life continuing uninterrupted in a different form of service. We are not slaves to writing — for it is a process — and we do not idolize our own works — for they are intended to please God. Moments of spirituality are given expression, and the expression itself becomes a moment of spirituality in the life of the reader — for God has connected us. We are connected to St. John of Kronstadt, and he to us, for we have our being in the God Who created us and mercifully united us in the Church.
To be a faithful writer is to stand before God and to be merciful to others. Let us give words that heal and strengthen, that unite across times and places, that promote salvation and interrupt spiritual death. Let us offer our words as an act of responsive and nurturing hospitality, under the guidance of God, not from tainted imaginings about self and world but from purity of heart, and of one accord with the mind of the Church. Our words will outlive us, and therefore may they be life-giving to those who remain on earth. We can say, not in judgment but in appreciation, that St. John of Kronstadt gave life and inspiration to the generations which came after him. Sometimes, I feel that I could spend the remainder of my days reading and re-reading My Life in Christ and never write another word of my own.