Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Finding God Along the Way: Questions and Conversations

One of my favorite books is 'Encounters with Silence' written by Father Karl Rahner, SJ. I encountered Rahner as one of the leading theologians of the 20th century while studying at LaSalle University. A real theology heavyweight, he served as an advisor at the Second Vatican Council - after doing battle with some Vatican theologians over the years. Much of what Father Rahner wrote makes for slow, deliberate reading, lots of notes, meaty ideas that make you think - and struggle a bit to understand.

'Encounters with Silence' is different; not quite one hundred pages long, this book is Rahner's conversation with God, about life, his vocation, how to pray, with chapter headings like "God of My Daily Routine" and 'God of My Vocation.' It is an amazing, intimate book, in that it holds the words of doubt and confusion that are part of all our prayer lives; Rahner, this giant of a figure in Catholic theological circles, had doubts and challenges which he laid out to God, who was clearly a personal friend on his journey of faith.  This little blog space will share my thoughts on how God wanders into my life, or more accurately, when I notice He has wandered into my life again.

Like all of us, I am on a pilgrimage here on spaceship earth. I'm a son, brother, father, uncle, cousin, brother-in-law, occasionally a golfer, musician, skier or coach - and a widower. Next weekend marks my 31st wedding anniversary, but I really stopped celebrating those after 2007, the year my wonderful spouse and best friend lost her battle to cancer months after our Silver Anniversary.  And so, my pilgrim journey is taking a road infrequently traveled, as in about ten weeks I will be entering Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University to commence study for the Roman Catholic priesthood. My story is a curious path, including being ordained as a permanent deacon in 2004.

In my ministry, as deacon, husband, father and friend, I focus on adults building strong relationships of prayer with God.  Personal conversations, contemplation rooted in scripture, or perhaps feeling God's presence differently when some familiar hymn opens up the scripture. As Rahner told many, we find God in all things, and especially in our daily routines.  All it takes is for us to pause for a little or a lot of time and look for Him.

I am joined on this road by many friends, but most especially by by three sons. My journey effects their lives, and their incredible support is why I can make a bold step in ten short weeks; these three young men, as they forge their own lives, where the first to call me 'Father' - more precisely 'Dad,' 'Yo, Pops,' or 'Papa Grogs.' It is my hope and prayer that this journey will result in my bishop and God calling me to serve them both as a priest; with confidence that God is leading me forward, I'll simply put one foot in front of the other, and link sacred days together into weeks and months. If you are reading this message, please keep me and all seminarians in your prayers - sort of a requirement for us, but we really do believe in the power of prayer, so I'll thank you in advance for those quiet moments when you ask Jesus and the Holy Spirit to guide our steps and ministry.  Know that I will be returning the favor, keeping all my readers in my daily prayers.

God of my life, I'm yours.


  1. My friend, please count me as a virtual companion on your journey. Your life and example have inspired me for many years, and I pray that I will be open to that inspiration for many more.

    Encounters is also one of my favorites. I remember when I first read it, giving up highlighting particularly meaningful parts. I would have underlined the whole book.

    One passage has stayed with me though:

    "Why have you kindled in me the flame of faith, this dark light which lures us out of the bright security of our little huts into Your night?"

    I admire your stepping out of the bright security in response to the flame of faith. May God reveal the richness of his calling to you as you leave the hut and journey toward what undoubtedly must be something wondrous and wonderful.


  2. Jim,
    I am so excited for you and honored to share in your new life adventure! The blog is a great idea and one that will
    not only let us know how you are doing but act as an inspiration to all of us. Thank you for sharing your journey
    with me. Your first entry has already got me thinking and praying for guidance in my own life's journey. I look forward to reading
    new entries and following you as you take the road less traveled!

    My thoughts and prayers are with you.