Sunday, December 21, 2014

What happened fifty years ago?

2014 is an important anniversary for Catholic deacons as well as the larger Church.
Read here about just what is so important about this commemoration.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday, December 12, 2014

How is my book doing?

This is the first time that I have had a book on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle versions. However, the motivation for the book was to prompt men who are already active in lay ministry to consider strengthening their calling by responding to the deeper calling of ordination to the permanent diaconate. Maybe even the marketing message (largely by word of mouth) whether it leads to men reading the book or not, it might lead to that first discussion with the man's wife, then with his pastor, and finally with the director of deacon formation in his diocese. Even after this, the book is still very much worth reading and thinking about. Are you really sure?

Marketing has deep roots

How am I attempting to reach men who are most likely to consider a call to become a deacon in the Church? Let me introduce a little story.
When I was in Junior High I decided that I wanted to be a geologist. I had become enamored with certain kinds of rocks which exhibited what I now would describe as rational beauty. I first saw it in the petrified wood which I could pick up in a certain dry stream bed, The beauty in the pattern in the rock is retained from the grain of a tree limb as the cellulose is replaced by crypto-crystalline silica, retaining the pattern and even color of the original wood.
Then I saw geodes. Layers of crystals of different colors wrap around openings in the native rock, growing from out to in. I still am enthralled by them, to the benefit of rock and mineral shops.
In High School I became intrigued by contemporary TV advertising; this was the classic period of clever Volkswagen ads and promotions of other products and services: We're number two, so we try harder.
I went to college with a plan to major in marketing; rocks had faded away, at least temporarily. After a summer session and first fall semester, including introduction to business, bookkeeping and intro journalism with advertising option (along with other conventional intro courses) I found an opening in my spring schedule. There was nothing I could take that would satisfy the freshman curriculum, so I signed up for intro geology, as an elective. It was perhaps three weeks into that semester that I changed my major.
Going back to Junior High: I went to a youth day at the county seat's Congregational Church; it was to include both Junior and Senior High students from all of the Congregational Churches in our part of the state. I was disappointed to see that very few of High School members came, especially one guy who was four years older than I; he was a hero to me. I wasn't the only one who was disappointed at the turnout of the older students, either. Over lunch I was approached by the ministers of my own church and of the church in which we were meeting. They told me that one of the high school students had been expected to lead worship at the end of the day. And, they wanted me to take his place. It was the very same guy whom I admired so much. I, an eighth-grader, was taking the place of a senior! So, there I was, leading worship. I thought about becoming a Congregational minister, but I didn't think I had what would be required; I guess I didn't feel a call.
I became a geologist/geophysicist, teaching and researching, and still continue to do some research and publish the results. I also became a minister... just not in the Congregational Church.
And, advertising? I am now promoting my Every Man a Deacon?, targeting priests and emailing deacons who might know men who could be called to the diaconate, and, if their contact information is available, the men themselves.
I guess that each of my teenage impulses have found expression in my adult life.  
Oh, one more thing: the crystal patterns in a geode are fractals; my last geophysical article utilized fractals as the fitting criterion for plate reconstructions.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Science and Faith

A search for me as author on Amazon will produce links to three books, two of which are simply different formats, Paperback and Kindle of the same text, focused on a new, yet old, specialized ministry of Roman Catholic men. The third book is an expensive plate tectonics monograph.

What is it like to write books on such divergent topics? Is there a common thread lacing through each texts? Yes, there is.

However, it's going to require another book, which I've been working on for more than twenty-five years. The problem for me, however, is that I'm in the middle of another manuscript for still another book which has apparently been bumped to the front of the line, at least for now.

The Story of Wanda

Some three decades ago, in a southern diocese where we lived, my wife and I had been invited to a program of evangelization leadership training by a traveling priest, a gifted layman, and their team. Part of the gift of that experience was getting to know other Catholics from other parishes in the diocese. Upon completion of the training, we were sent back to our own parishes to implement the program we had gone through.
Many experiences came out of that program, including re-gathering of the leaders several months later. So it was that Wanda shared an experience that she and her girlfriend had. They were in a grocery store in their home town when they saw a young mother with her sick baby. They approached the woman and Wanda offered to pray for the baby. The mother said yes. They offered a simple prayer for healing of the baby and concluded their prayer with the sign of the cross. Immediately upon seeing the gesture, the woman pulled her baby back, saying, “Why do you make that sign? Don’t you know that he was crucified on a tree?” Wanda told us that she said to herself, “’Oh no, we’re in trouble here.’ The woman was obviously a Jehovah’s Witness.” So, she prayed quietly, “Lord what can I say?” The answer came quickly, as Wanda said, “I make the sign of the cross because I believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” With that they left. You see, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in the Holy Trinity. Rather than get in an argument with the young mother, Wanda and her girlfriend witnessed to a foundational belief of Catholics. What happened to the woman and baby, I don’t know. While we periodically saw Wanda and her friend, they had not seen the woman again, at least until after we moved from that diocese.
What I did not mention above is that Wanda and her friend were black. They belonged to a small church with black parishioners in their hometown.  Sadly, just a few years later, after their pastor died – he was a charismatic white man – their small parish was closed. At the last Mass in the little church, many of the white parishioners in the much larger church joined their new fellow-parishioners and escorted them to the larger church. A bittersweet experience was succeeded by a new journey of the clearly integrated new (for Wanda and her former parish family) parish. Similarly, the separate charismatic prayer groups were merged.
The story goes on...

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Who is called to be a deacon?

In answer to this post's subject, I have published a book entitled:

Every Man a Deacon? Who is called to ordination as a Roman Catholic deacon.

It is available in both paperback and Kindle.

You can preview the contents and in either format.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams

Beneath it all, he had class...
May he rest in peace and may the Lord have mercy on his soul.

Added August 28, 2018:

Two years ago Robin Williams' widow revealed the horrible illness, Lewy body disease, he suffered and which may well have led him to take his own life. She called it "The terrorist inside my husband's brain." 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Eye has not seen...

As has become my practice in recent years, I take advantage of websites which provide the prayers and readings from the Liturgy of the Hours rather than the designated volume. An American site, is the preferred service as it uses the readings from the American version, although I assume, for copyright reasons, it does not always produce the indicated hymn in the published Liturgy of the Hours (or Christian Prayer -- the condensed version). Sometimes is apparently down for maintenance or there are traffic issues, so I access which, while it utilizes other translations of the Liturgy, it has a smaller footprint and loads faster.

Today, the Feast in honor of St. Dominic. Universalis includes a familiar text of St. Paul's, designated for Friday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary time:
The hidden wisdom of God which we teach in our mysteries is the wisdom that God predestined to be for our glory before the ages began. It is a wisdom that none of the masters of this age have ever known, or they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory; we teach what scripture calls: the things that no eye has seen and no ear has heard, things beyond the mind of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him. These are the very things that God has revealed to us through the Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:7-10; taken from the Jerusalem Bible©; quotation with italics and bold are from the Universalis website)
The original New American Bible translation of the same text, taken from another site,, reads:
There is a certain wisdom which we express among those who are spiritually mature. It is not a wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away. Rather, we speak God's wisdom, mysterious, hidden, which God predetermined before the ages for our glory, and which none of the rulers of this age knew; for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: "What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him," this God has revealed to us through the Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:6-10a)
Meanwhile, provides the reading in honor of a priest-saint:  
To the elders among you I, a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and sharer in the glory that is to be revealed, make this appeal. God’s flock is in your midst; give it a shepherd’s care. Watch over it willingly as God would have you do, not under constraint; and not for shameful profit either, but generously. Be examples to the flock, not lording it over those assigned to you, so that when the chief Shepherd appears you will win for yourselves the unfading crown of glory. (1 Peter 5:1-4)
Returning to the reading of St. Paul's, how often do we hear someone quoting "eye has not seen...," and then uses the citation as an encouragement of all the blessings we will have in heaven (God willing). But, notice how the verse above concludes: "These are the very things that God has revealed to us through the Spirit. (Jerusalem) or  "this God has revealed to us through the Spirit. (New American). When Paul uses the plural second person, "we" or "us" he is not invoking a royal "we" but, rather, means all believers. God has revealed himself through Christ Jesus -- we already have an understanding; we already know so much. Or, is it too much? We have to avoid presumption, but hold to the truth: the way, the truth, and the life, and then God reveals himself to us that we become a dwelling place of the Spirit, indeed the Holy Trinity.