Ignatian websites all over have finished celebrating their month, culminating in Thursday’s feast day. While my internet Ignatian-oriented friends are recovering and resting, maybe I can pick up some small slack.
Ignatius geeks know the man was a ceaseless writer. Some seven-thousand letters are credited to him. That’s what, about ten a week during his years after the founding of the Society? In comparison how long has it taken any of us to write our last seven letters?
I stumbled across this letter of his to Pierre Favre, and it struck me for the lessons for bloggers and blogging. I found several excerpts to be instructive, so this post is likely to be extended into a second, and possibly a third.
First, the practice of writing a “principal letter,” something that anybody can see and read. Kind of like the modern blog post. One’s friends are alerted to the arrival of a new post if they’ve “friended” or “bookmarked” your site. But any random person can stumble along, thanks to search engines or even a stalking urge in a stranger.
I recall having frequently told you and, when you were away, having often written, that each member of the Society should, when they write to us here, write a principal letter which can be shown to others; that is, to anyone at all. We dare not show some letters to friendly eyes who wish to see them, because of their lack of order and the irrelevant items they contain. Now, these friends are aware that we have letters from this one and that one, and they feel offended if we refuse to let them see these letters; thus we cause more disedification than edification.
Have a purpose in writing, we are urged. I’m thinking St Ignatius sounds very much like a blogger. He would affirm posts on what we are doing, especially when it is in service to God and others.
(S)ee to it that your letter writing be directed to the greater service of His Divine Goodness and the greater advantage of our neighbor. In the principal letter put down what each one is doing regarding preaching, hearing confessions, giving the Exercises, and other spiritual activities, as God makes use of each for the greater edification of our hearers and readers.
And what if there’s nothing much to tell? Write of something in brief, and save the “irrelevant” details for private correspondence.
If the soil you are working be unproductive and there be little to write about, put down briefly something about health, your dealings with others, or such matters. Do not include irrelevant details but leave them for separate sheets in which you can write about letters received and the spiritual consolation they have given you, items of news, especially about the sick, business matters, and even some words by way of exhortation.
That seems to be enough for now. Check the link for the full letter. Next up, a methodical approach on how to write–instruction that seems even more applicable to what some of us do online.