Interview with Bear Woznick

We recently were able to interview Bear Woznick the author of Deep in the Wave: A Surfing Guide to the Soul. Bear Woznick is quite an interesting individual and we were honored to be able to feature this interview on My Catholic Blog for all of you to check out. Bear holds multiple Master World Tandem surfing titles, co-founded the World Tandem Competition Tour, is a private pilot, plays the ukulele, has a black belt, rides a Harley, and is a novitiate oblate of the Benedictine Monastery of Oahu. SurfingAfter checking out this awesome interview about Bear’s book, his inspirations, and his life make sure to connect with him on the  various different social platforms he is on. You can connect with Bear in the following places.

Facebook fan page : BearsWave.com

Blog Talk Radio: Deep in the Wave AdventureCast

Twitter: @BearsWave

Your book Deep in the Wave: A Surfing Guide to the Soul came out in July of 2012, what did it mean for you to be able to share your life’s experiences with a larger audience?

The response from the readers is what astounded me. I was very vulnerable and transparent in what I wrote so as readers responded to me they felt comfortable sharing with me things in their lives few people knew. It allowed me to see the depth of spirituality and longing in people that might otherwise never have opened up to me or anyone.

What made you want to share your experiences in the form of a book?

I had been challenged by friends that I needed to write this book. They had seen the impact I have had on people one on one, helping them to see their dreams and their gifts and bringing those together to pursue the mission and abundant
lift that God has for them, first by going deep with God and then through servant leadership and touching others life. I felt like I was able to take my readers one by one with my out on an adventure and then set them out on the edge of the
exposed reef of their heart and let them plumb the depths of themselves and then hear God’s voice whispering to them, encouraging them, drawing them and nudging them into a deeper walk.

What do you think people can take away from reading about your life and experiences?

Everyone who reads this book can find themselves in the stories and can in some ways locate themselves on their particular “Ascent of Mt Carmel”. They find encouragement in those days of great surf, big wipeouts, long hold downs and
worst of all when there is no surf at all, that God is there with them as their faithful surf guide, patiently bringing them Deeper in the Wave and deeper into union with him.

Personally, my favorite chapter of the book was “Wave of Healing”. Your encounter with the whale and the whole experience at Rincon was riveting. How did that humbling day in heavy surf change your perspective on life?

The humbling, the greatest gift of God, to bring us to an end of ourselves so that we can find ourselves, to bring us to that deepest place where “deep calls to deep as the waters roar” that place where we learn “when I am weak then I am strong”
That merciful place where all we can do is bend a knee before God, that place of humbling is where we most clearly see God and perhaps where see his gaze rest upon us. That place where no word other than “You” can come from our lips as we see him who sees us, only God can bring us to that place and perhaps through cooperation with his grace we can stay there Deep in the Wave.

The way in which you weave stories of surfing and its trials into personal stories about your life and family is flawless. Are these two things as seamlessly joined as they seem when it comes to your life?

Perhaps Teresa of Leseux learned much as she gazed upon a little flower. I learn everyday as a waterman an insight from God. That is my garden where “God walks with me” in the cool of the day. I sense his pleasure, his closeness and a great sense of adventure permeates my soul for his will is always the most radical adventure possible.

So on top of holding multiple Masters World Tandem surfing titles, being a private pilot, having a black belt, and playing the ukulele. You are also a novitiate oblate of the Benedictine Monastery of Oahu. How do you find time to have so many  passions in life?

I am very careful with the word “Passion” St Augustine taught us that the Latin root for that is the same as “pathology.” People sometimes say to me “you are quite driven.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Driven people
are empty people in a mad rush to fill emptiness with more emptiness. But true passion born out of the marrying of the desires God has places in our hearts with the gifts he has given us is a recipe for a full rich abundant life. I would say I am drawn or led but certainly ndeep in the waveot driven.

I have learned that the time taken going to mass or in prayer is always returned tome, never a waste time. The same is true as I pursue the enjoyment of physical adventure. It also brings me life. These both invigorate and empower our souls. So for those who are production oriented who say “how can you find the time for this or that,” I just think “God has made you a human being not a human doing.” I learned in my ninja training that life is about balance. Being out of balance in a fight or in life is precarious.

You update your blog www.BearsWave.com on a weekly basis, are active on Facebook and Twitter (@BearsWave), and have a weekly podcast. If any of our readers are looking for other ways to interact with you what would you suggest?

To “like” our Facebook Fan page it is called BearsWave.Com

Great things are happening in our Multi-media outreach. We are excited to be a part of Tampa Bay’s Catholic Christian Rock radio station SpiritFM905. People can download their smartphone app or listen on line to our “Deep in the Wave” four minute segment on Fridays at 5:35 East Coast Time. They can also listen in on BlogTalkRadio.Com/BearsWave too. We have all of our archived segments there. In April or May we will begin our new hour long BearsWave AdventureCast there as well. We are already in production for that. They will be able to chat with us live or even call in. I will talk story with adventurous people about their greatest experience and biggest wipeouts and then go deeper and discuss those same areas in their deeper personal life and will draw spiritual and life lessons from those. I am also on several episodes of TV’s Clean Break NBC’s Esquire TV channel (formerly G4). It is a reality adventure show where I serve as the mentor or a Big Kahuna to young men on adventure to find their hearts..

As far as the future, I really sense a call from the Lord “I will make you a fisher of MEN.” Through my DeepAdventure Ministries, God is calling me to target men. The cool thing is that actually women really identify with the message and are
often the first to discover it but then they bring the men in their lives to the message. Men respond more to the wild adventurous voice “Crying out in the Wilderness”. I feel God is calling us men to be courageous not macho, to bravely lay down our lives in servant leadership. Men are sitting on the sidelines too much. Women are so willing and able and make it so easy for us to abdicate our part in that responsibility. “Convert the men to convert the family, convert the family to convert the church, convert the church to convert the world.”

I want to offer DeepAdventure weeks out here in Hawaii too where we bring about ten men and their sons, if they have any who are old enough, out here to Hawaii for a week long Adventure where they have a chance to step out of their comfort zone in many ways and in the process go deeper with God and with each other. I could see filming this for an Spiritual/Adventure reality show on EWTN.

We will continue to produce more books and video of course.

Mahalo for the chance to share this with your readers.

Bear

Make sure to check out the following Youtube video featuring Bear Woznick doing some tandem surfing and is also a trailer for his book Deep in the Wave. Really cool stuff!

Propose an Extraordinary Product – Guest Post by Elaine Menardi

Today I wanted to share a guest post that Elaine Menardi of LanePlane was so gracious to write for us here at My Catholic Blog. I highly recommend reading this post and also heading over to Elaine’s site afterwards to download a copy of her free eBook Theology of Social Media.

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Confessions of a Science Nerd

I am often asked how I got into all this tech and social media work. I try to be honest from the get-go by confessing that I am a science nerd at heart. I started my professional career in corporate engineering. Then I accidentally stepped into the ministry world and never got out.

Retreats, camps, youth groups and sacramental classes became my work… but it was inevitable that science would break through at some point. Plus, I have two young adult daughters who are themselves, digital natives. The best chance I have of maintaining strong relationships with them is to be interested in what they are interested in. Most of that comes from what is happening in cyberspace. So I try to keep up because it’s important to me that we stay connected.

As my years have passed in ministry, it’s also been a valuable learning curve that has helped me stay in tune with young people. One of the key elements to successful youth ministry is understanding youth culture. It’s vital to be able to speak the language and know the popular themes going on in their world. It creates common ground to walk on and talk about. If you know Gangnam style dancing these days, then you have lots of fuel to make jokes with teens and young adults.

How the Relationship Changed

The internet has changed our world profoundly. We already know and feel this intuitively. Online shopping and buying alone created an entirely new model of business and competition is fiercer than ever. Do you know that even the US Postal Service has online pricing that’s cheaper than going to the walk-up window? I was astounded to discover this.

Comment boxes on websites and blogs turned Web 1.0 into Web 2.0, giving people the opportunity to engage the conversation with businesses where they made purchases. Then social media took off and transported us to a whole new level and the ability to converse online blew everything right off the charts.

The result of all that momentum eventually changed our everyday relationships. When computers and internet became more generally accessible, companies designed more portable devices that allow us to take our instant-internet-access with us everywhere. Where we were once satisfied to interact with one person or even a small group, now we have the ability to invite the whole world into our lives and friendly coffee chats at Starbucks. Where it used to be us and a friend or two, now it can be 10 or 20 or 100 people, from all kinds of places all talking at the same time.

And I’m personally grateful for those evolved technologies. It gives me an inexpensive option to connect with my family when we live in four different places, including a college student who is currently studying abroad in South Africa this semester. Technology and social media are gifts!

While there are unhealthy ways to consume this gift, on the whole, many would side in favor of the great advantages these tools give us in everyday life and work. The ability to spread information and opinion adds value to our lives.

How does this relate to New Evangelization?

First of all… what is New Evangelization?

The Synod on the New Evangelization just concluded at the Vatican last October and the world is eagerly awaiting the written documents that are expected to come. In a nutshell, the goal of the New Evangelization is ‘re-proposing the Gospel to those who have experienced a crisis of faith… a serious crisis of faith due to secularization.’ Go to the USCCB site for more: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/new-evangelization/.

The call to every Catholic is to renew our relationship with Jesus and the Church.

Some will be quick to point to technology and social media as the cause of this crisis of faith but that’s not accurate or fair. The whole of American culture has shifted over the past couple of decades. Many factors have contributed to changing values and beliefs including: transient lifestyles due to economic crises; separation of extended families; declining marriage rates and increasing divorce rates that change family structures; affluence and expanded social circles; and an ever-widening gap between poverty-stricken and economically-viable income classes.

Technology and social media have allowed us greater immediate access and awareness about how all of these factors have affected culture and contributed to a crisis of faith.

So how do we turn the tide?

Propose an Extraordinary Product

One way is to start using social media to connect the Cyber-Body-of-Christ. To take our values and our faith out into cyberspace in a whole new way. You might be thinking: There’s already a lot of religious talk out there on the web. Yes… there is… and much of it is very good and changes people’s lives.

But the goal of the New Evangelization is to make it personal. To ‘re-propose’ the Gospel in such a way that our relationship with Jesus is renewed. Status updates and links to Scripture verses, even YouTube videos with insightful wisdom are all wonderful and necessary. But until we make it personal by investing our time and energy in the relationships with our family, friends and those we serve in ministry, even good media just becomes consumed media.

If we put ourselves in the Parable of the Sower, we must become sowers ourselves and prepare the soil and nurture the seeds so they will sprout and grow.

This is how the New Evangelization will come to life. When we go to people one-by-one like Jesus did and invite them to ‘Come follow me’. It starts with relationship. Social media gives us a great avenue to develop and nurture those relationships.

Auxiliary Bishop-elect of Malta, Charles J. Scicluna, gave this quote to The Sunday Times (Malta) {http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20121123/the-new-bishop/-The-Church-is-here-to-propose-not-impose-.440902} on October 14, 2012: “We have a product which is extraordinary and we have to get our act together to bring it to as many people as possible. The way we [communicate] things at times is a total disaster and we have to be humble and say, ‘we need to do better’. We need to start using language that people understand… We need to tell people we are not here to impose, but that we are here to propose.” Great words timed perfectly just as the Synod was occurring.

Feed Their Hunger to Change the World

The best homilies that I ever hear tell me who I am in light of the Gospel. A few Sundays ago, we had readings from Isaiah 62—You are my delight; 1 Corinthians 12—There are many gifts but the same Spirit in all; and John 2—the Wedding Feast at Cana. The message I heard that day was: Offer your gifts to God and they will be transformed from water into wine. God changes the world when I give my best gifts.

Most people have a deep desire to make the world a better place. It requires all of us giving those gifts to make good change happen.

We must share our extraordinary product in a new way for the New Evangelization to become vibrant and dynamic in this post-modern age. How do we do that?

1. Feed people’s hunger to change the world. Keep sharing media that fills and inspires the heart and soul. Not only quotes or pictures or Scripture passages… but also look for motivational speakers and humorous wisdom.

2. Tell our personal stories. This is one of the most powerful evangelization tools. Share the highs and lows, the success and failures, the doubts and discoveries. Be sure to highlight where God was present in all these hidden corners of life.

3. Invest in the relationship. Relationships are not all about preaching. Be personal and whenever possible, make if face-to-face. Don’t let social media be the relationship, but use it as a tool to deepen the relationship.

And finally, a great quote from Fr. Ed Hays. Even though he didn’t say it the context of New Evangelization, it fits well in our discussion.

“Any dream worth giving your life for that you can see in your lifetime isn’t worth giving your life for. So you’re always living out a dream, a hope, an aspiration, that you won’t see, but if it’s a great one, worth your life, then it’s worth it.”

Such is the call of the New Evangelization.

Elaine MElaine Menardienardi is a tech-geek and Catholic ministry social media strategist. She solves problems and makes ideas happen. Her prime directive is to connect the Body of Christ online.
She is a seasoned ministry veteran who has served in Catholic parish/diocesan/national youth ministry circles for 23+ years. She has great expertise working in mission dioceses in rural and small town ministry.

Elaine works with Catholic parishes teaching the theology of social media to help them create strategies that connect the Body of Christ locally and globally. You can reach her at: http://laneplane.com/ and receive the free eBook: Theology of Social Media.

Interview with Josh Baker

We recently had the privilege to interview Catholic author Josh Baker. Josh was the grand prize winner of the Xulon Press Christian Choice Writing Contest, and chose to have his wonderful book Please Don’t Remove MarGreat’s Glasses! published. This book is Catholic fiction, which I believe is a very underdeveloped genre that could potentially be a wonderful tool to evangelize with. We touch on that topic in this interview, as well as others including Josh’s inspiration for his book, Josh’s faith, the Xulon Press contest, and even Josh’s favorite Biblical verse. This is a great chance to learn about a truly unique and terrific person!

By leaving a comment on this post you are also entering yourself to win a signed copy of Please Don’t Remove MarGreat’s Glasses! The contest will be open until this coming Friday (02/01/13) and a winner will be selected/informed by 5 PM of that day.

Catholic author Josh Baker signed copy of bookTo watch a video trailer about Josh’s book Please Don’t Remove MarGreat’s Glasses you can visit his blog at MarGreatsGlasses.com. You can also find links to follow Josh on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, as well as to purchase the book!

Your book Please Don’t Remove MarGreat’s Glasses! came out in November of 2012, what was your inspiration for this book?

The main inspiration for, Please Don’t Remove MarGreat’s Glasses! was my desire to provide hope and clarity to young people entering adulthood who are questioning their faith, have abandoned it altogether, or are distressed by secular messages contrary to their beliefs.

Is there a reason that you chose to write this book for the intended audience of young adults?

I feel it is critical to evangelize to young people, and to do it in terms they can relate to. The enemy certainly knows this as evidenced by today’s mainstream television programming and popular music. In this digital age, we cannot be complacent and rely solely on traditional means of evangelizing. The book does a great job addressing common misconceptions and misrepresentations of our faith in contemporary language and presentation which young adults will find credible and engaging.

You were raised Catholic, but abandoned your faith after high school for some time. Thankfully you have returned to the Church now. How has this experience affected you as a person?

Being someone who was once seduced by secular thinking, I have an intimate understanding of the mindset of those who reject our faith. When the Lord woke me from my stupor, I was as far from God as I had ever been. I held harsh, intolerant positions, backed by self-serving motives. If you were to tell me three years ago that I would today be an active, repentant disciple of Jesus Christ, I would have scoffed and sent you on your way. Knowing that God loved me, even when I was disrespectful and disobedient – that He loved me so much that he pulled me out of a ditch – has been an overwhelming, life-changing experience. When I encounter a spirited non-believer, my heart bursts with compassion because I’ve walked in those shoes and I know God has great plans for them if they would receive Him. My reversion back to Catholicism has brought about a tolerance and love for my follow man that I never had before. My experience has made it clear to me that Jesus wants a personal relationship with every living soul, especially those in most need of His mercy.

Do youPlease Don't Remove MarGreat's Glasses reflect some of your own personal struggles with faith in Timothy (the main character of Please Don’t Remove MarGreat’s Glasses!)?

Like Timothy, I am very fond of science and technology. And similarly, I developed an attitude that one needed to choose between science and religion. This attitude is prevalent in today’s scientific community, which I find very odd. You’d think that as one unraveled the intricacies of the human genome, studied the interoperability of the circulatory, skeletal, muscular, and nervous systems, analyzed the uniqueness of our fingerprints, witnessed human reproduction, that they would be left in awe – not denying the creator. It was more convenient (for my lifestyle) to defer giving credit to God when I could lean on the convenient assumption that all would be explained by science – eventually. Timothy exhibits a similar attitude.

You were the Grand Prize Winner of the Xulon Press Christian Choice Writing Contest. How did you come across the contest and what helped you to win it?

My whole life, I have always loved to write. After my renewal of faith, I often recorded the day-to-day graces I experienced. Late-night, after everyone was in bed I’d meditate on whatever had transpired that day. During one of these late-night reflections, the character Timothy Clement, and God’s plan for him came to me. Over the next few weeks this vivid story of Timothy’s journey of faith flowed out. Before I knew it, I had a lot of unexpected material. I wasn’t sure what I would do with it – in anything. Self-publishing was gaining traction and so I did a basic inquiry into what options were available. I quickly realized that self-publishing required a significant budgetary commitment that I was not in any position to make for casual late-night ramblings. Several months later the representative who had answered my inquiries about publishing opportunities at Xulon Press contacted me regarding a Christian Choice Writing Contest. I decided to enter one of my short stories, but ultimately, I did not win, or even place for that matter. In April of last year I entered another Xulon Christian writing contest with a short Easter story. I had come home that day around six p.m. and saw an email in my inbox announcing that the contest was ending that same evening at midnight. I figured I might be able to crank out a short story in time – but then I noticed that the deadline was six p.m. Eastern time leaving me just three hours! I hunkered down and got to work on a short Easter story. I ended up submitting my entry just minutes before the deadline- with very low expectations since I hadn’t adequate time to polish it. The next morning I received a call informing me that I had won the Grand prize which was a book publishing package! I just about fell off my chair! There truly was no limit to the Lord’s mercy. Over the next four months I finished assembling the book and submitted the completed manuscript for production in October of last year.

Do you have any advice for Catholics who are looking to get more involved with writing?

Write more Catholic fiction! Catholic bookstores are filled with many wonderful books providing important teachings about our faith. We are very fortunately to have such an abundance of Catholic resources available to us. However, I would love to see the anemic genre of Catholic fiction develop and spread the message of our faith to a broader audience. In this year of faith Pope Benedict XVI has called us to not only rekindle our relationship with Jesus, but also share the good news of the Gospel. I think Catholic fiction is a worthy manifestation of the New Evangelization.

If you could choose only one Biblical verse as a favorite, which would you choose and why?

1 Cor 12:4-11 because it shows how God has a plan for each of us. He has blessed us with unique talents that allow us to be instruments of His will, if we choose.

Brothers and sisters:
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God
who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for some benefit.
To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom;
to another, the expression of knowledge according to the
same Spirit;
to another, faith by the same Spirit;
to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit;
to another, mighty deeds;
to another, prophecy;
to another, discernment of spirits;
to another, varieties of tongues;
to another, interpretation of tongues.
But one and the same Spirit produces all of these,
distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.

What can we expect next from Josh Baker?

I am currently working on a series of MarGreat comic strips for children learning about their faith. They are a humorous, but tactful attempt to engage young people and drive home Catholic fundamentals.

Additionally, I am working on a new faith-based mystery that explores the ethical conflicts faced as new advances in genetic-engineering are achieved. It will have you guessing right up to the end!

Interview with Michael Seagriff

We recently had the honor of interviewing Catholic author Michael Seagriff. Michael is a Lay Dominican who has devoted his time to helping the cause of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration grow. He also led a Prison Ministry for a decade. We had a chance to talk to Michael about these experiences, as well as his his book Forgotten Truths to Set Faith Afire!: Words to Challenge, Inspire and Instruct.

Michael Seagriff Catholic author

Your book Forgotten Truths to Set Faith Afire!: Words to Challenge, Inspire and Instruct received the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval in 2012, what inspired you to put together this collection of inspiring and instructive quotes?

There were a number of reasons. Whenever something I read struck me spiritually, I wrote it down on an index card. Over the years I accumulated thousands of these cards – words which had touched my heart, stirred my soul and changed my life. I was convinced they would do likewise for others who read and reflected on them. This collection of eternal wisdom fills a great void in the Church – a need for catechesis and evangelization. The book presents essential and often forgotten truths of our Faith in mouth size bites – a few quotes at a time. As a Lay Dominican I am required to share the fruits of my contemplation – hard to do that if I just kept these treasures on index cards in my desk drawer, Finally, and most importantly, because God persistently prompted me to do so.


You include quotes from the Bible, different Popes, saints, priests, and just regular people in your book. This is a really large base to draw from, why did you choose to do that?

When I became hungry to learn the Truth, I read as much and from as many sources as I could get my hands on. Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Papal encyclicals are obviously essential reads for anyone seeking to grow in their faith and love of God. After Vatican II we mistakenly got away from the written spiritual treasures left behind by so many of God’s great saints. I wanted others to discover these valuable gems. There are saints and prophets among us today whose work has much to offer as well. The book contains an extensive bibliography for those wishing to go more in depth than the limited quotations I have complied allows.


Forgotten Truths to Set Faith Afire!: Words to Challenge, Inspire, and Instruct includes seventeen different chapters that cover a plethora of topics. If you had to choose just one chapter as a favorite,
Forgotten Truths to Set Faith Afire Words to Challenge, Inspire and Instructwhich one would it be and why?

That’s tough and I’m going to cheat and pick two, since both are really inseparable: – Chapter XII – The Source, Center and Summit of Our Catholic Faith which focuses on the Eucharist, Eucharistic Adoration and the Sacred Heart, and Chapter XIII – The Greatest Event On Earth Each Day which discusses the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and our Priests. Why these two?

The Eucharist, as Sacrament, Liturgy and Real Presence, must be everything to a Catholic and especially to our priests. Nothing less is acceptable to our God. The crisis in our Church today centers around the loss of reverence for and belief in the Eucharist. We must rediscover a sense of awe and amazement in this great Gift because It is the means through which God intends to transform all of us -clergy, religious and laity – into the saints He created us to be.


How has being a Lay Dominican affected your life?

Although I will remain a work in progress until my death, my Lay Dominican vocation has completely changed my life. Among many other things, it has provided me with a solid spiritual framework from which to work out my salvation, gave me a zeal and concern for the salvation of other’s souls, created an insatiable appetite to learn and share the Truths of my Faith, enhanced my ability to pray, re-invigorated my love for the Eucharist, Eucharistic Adoration, the Mass, the Rosary and our Blessed Mother, fuels and inspires my writing, and has helped me immensely in my vocation as husband, father, grandfather and friend. Have I left anything out?

If your readers are interested, they can find out more about the Lay Dominican vocation at: http://www.3op.org/.

You have spent a long time promoting Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration and led a Prison Ministry program at one point. Can you talk a little about these experiences and what they did for you and your spiritual development?

Sure. Let’s start with Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration. More than 20 years ago, a friend invited my wife and me to get up on First Fridays each month at 2 AM to be with our Lord. We had never participated in Eucharistic Adoration, did not really understand it, and could not see how we could possibly get up so early in the morning and function at work the next day. We thought our friend was crazy, but we went, mostly out of Catholic guilt.

Our lives have never been the same. Ten years later, I came to believe that one hour a month was simply not enough! I helped our former parish and another nearby parish initiate Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration and for more than a decade now someone has been with our Lord every hour of every day at both of these parishes. So many lives have been changed! So many souls saved! Four years after our Chapel opened, a total stranger gave us a Monstrance that had been blessed by John Paul II the Sunday before he died!

I am a much different person today than I was before making a commitment to weekly adoration. I have a deeper and more profound love for God, my wife and my family. I think more often of others before myself. I still offend God but am quicker to seek the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I love Mass and the Holy Eucharist.

My hunger to know and share the Truth, my vocation as a Lay Dominican, the inspiration to write Forgotten Truths and to create a blog all originated in the Presence of our Eucharistic Lord. I would not trade a second of the time I am blessed to spend with Him for anything.

Eucharistic Adoration is not a ministry; it is not limited to a special few. It is the premier devotion among all of the Church’s devotions. It is the fuel that sustains our faith and enables us to love others on God’s behalf. God deserves our Adoration. He is entitled to it.

What follows are links to three frank and challenging articles that I have written and shared over the years in an attempt to interest others in this essential devotion:

Unlock Doors Before It Is Too Late

Reflection on Unrequited Love

Prison Ministry

At a time of great personal and spiritual struggle in my life, a friend invited me to a weekend retreat. He promised me that I would not regret going. He was right. That weekend God became very real to me.

So when another friend later invited me to come to prison with him, I accepted his invitation hoping that God would use me to make Him real to someone else who was in need of experiencing His unconditional love. He did.

Amazing what God can do through simple sinful men who come to prison and simply treat their “brothers in green” with the dignity and respect they deserve as creatures made in the image of a loving God, let them know God loves them, is ready to forgive them and able to transform them into new men – men of God and of Faith.

The following example illustrates how powerfully God can work when we simply love someone on his behalf.

On one weekend we had a “Charlie Manson” look-alike at our table. They could have been twins. He meant business. He had intentionally come to the program with filthy clothes, smelling as if his body had never been touched by the cleansing and aromatic qualities of soap or deodorant. There was no way we would accept him, he thought. As difficult as it was, we did. Throughout the day, he challenged us and questioned us and then he began to listen.

When “Charlie” returned the next morning, he was clean shaven, freshly showered and wearing impeccably pressed green pants and white shirt. He was physically different. He joyfully interacted with us. He started the second day at least exteriorly different then he was the previous day.

He finished the day in the arms of a team member, crying uncontrollably and joyfully, having reconciled with his forgotten Lord through the Sacrament of Confession and having received Him in Holy Communion for the first time in twenty-seven years.

What can we expect from Michael Seagriff moving forward into 2013?

I am working on three books. One is a compilation of articles I have written and presentations I have made over the years in an attempt to encourage a greater reverence for and belief in the Real Presence of our Lord in the Eucharist and to promote Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration. The second book is a mini-memoir of some humorous, serious and unique life experiences. The last is a novel involving a lawyer who shares his Catholic faith for the first time with a client as the two contest three successive criminal prosecutions and try to thwart a prosecutor’s attempt to send this man to prison for the rest of his life.

I will continue blogging at http://harvestingthefruitsofcontemplation.blogspot.com/ and promote Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration.

God willing, I will attend both the Online and Live Conferences of the Catholic Writers’ Guild this year. Hope to see you there.

Finally, I want to thank you Brendan for this interview and for the opportunity to share a little something about myself with your readers.

I am very thankful that I was able to interview Michael, and I hope that you all enjoyed learning about him and Forgotten Truths to Set Faith Afire Words to Challenge, Inspire and Instruct. I encourage you all to visit Amazon and pick up a copy of this book today!

Cravings Book Giveaway Winner Announcement!

I just wanted to write a post and thank everybody who visited this blog last Wednesday for Mary DeTurris Poust’s blog tour. We got some really great comments, and even if you didn’t comment we hope that you truly enjoyed the interview! It was a pleasure to interview Mary and to be able to share some information about her new book and inspirations as an author with all of you.

As promised we enteMary DeTurris Poustred all the names of those who commented on the interview to be given the chance to win a copy of Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God. We decided to go with the old fashioned method of writing the names on a piece of paper and drawing from a hat. Our lucky winner was a commenter named Nancy Ward! We are very thankful for all of the comments that were left on the interview. If you didn’t win and still would like a copy of the book, you can find it on Amazon here.

I also wanted to thank Mary DeTurris Poust for including My Catholic Blog on her blog tour. It was a true honor to be a part of something, and Mary is such a wonderful person! You can (and should) visit Mary’s blog Not Strictly Spiritual often for more updates from her.

What Kind of Relationship Should You Have with Your Spiritual Director

Having a spiritual director is a good way to focus and grow as an individual. They can help you to resolve issues in your life, give you guidance, and to pray together. Talking with somebody about things that are on your mind is always a good way to feel better.

I read a post recently that asked the question, “Can I be friends with my spiritual director?”, and I thought that was an interesting thought. Surely you will be close with your spiritual director because they offer you guidance and meet with you often. However, there are boundaries to the relationship and this post outlines them properly.

Interview with Mary DeTurris Poust

Today we have the absolute privilege of hosting Mary DeTurris Poust’s blog tour here at My Catholic Blog. Mary’s blog tour is part of the launch for her latest book, Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God.

My Catholic Blog will be giving away a copy of Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God to a lucky commenter on this post. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post to be entered into the contest. We will be picking our winner on Monday January 14th.

Also in addition to the book giveaway, Ave Maria Press is giving away a $100 Williams-Sonoma gift card. You can enter to win it here and may do so once a day until the 20th of January!

Mary DeTurris Poust

Cravings offers a Catholic perspective on the relationship that exists between food and spirituality. Mary shares her own individual experiences with food, and also the experiences of other Catholics. By using these examples she paints a perfect picture of how Catholics can create an approach to eating that works for them. To make the connection between spirituality and food Mary believes that, “the physical hungers that lead to constant snacking and high-calorie meals often mask something much deeper, a spiritual hunger that can never be satisfied with anything we buy at the grocery store.” You can learn more about Cravings, Mary’s inspirations as a writer, and her other work as well in the interview below. Mary DeTurris Poust is an extraordinary individual and we are so happy that we could interview her on My Catholic Blog.

– Where did your inspiration come from for Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God?

Initially the inspiration came from my publisher, Ave Maria Press. My editors believed in this topic and in my ability to write about it, so I have to thank them for their vision and their confidence in me. Once the book progressed from idea to reality, however, my inspiration came from the people who shared their stories with me. With every story, I became more and more convinced that this book could really help people get to the bottom of their food issues while strengthening their relationship with God. And I experienced that in my own life. I followed the practices I outline in Cravings as I wrote the book, and I noticed a dramatic shift in my spiritual life and in my relationship with food.

– I can see how food and self-image are closely related, but where do you see God as fitting into that picture?

I don’t see God so much as fitting in as holding it all together. We absolutely cannot face food or self-image issues without bringing God into the picture and without delving into our spiritual life. We often separate our lives into compartments: my physical self (where food fits in); my emotional/mental self (where self-image fits in); and my spiritual self (where God fits in). When we try to tackle just one area without the others, something – or someone – suffers. So we need to look at our lives from a more “holistic” place and really start to see how one area affects the others. Are you hungry for potato chips, or are you hungry for happiness, for peace, for self-acceptance? When food becomes a substitute for something else, we run into trouble. I think many people in our society are hungry for something more in their lives, and that involves getting to know God on a deeper level, not getting to know Ben & Jerry. So God is intimately and critically involved in our relationship with food and our self-worth.1-59471-305-7

– What is the main message that you hope readers will take away from Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God?

If I had to sum up my hope for this book in one line it would be this: I want people to come away from Cravings knowing that they are loved by God for exactly who they are right at this moment. That doesn’t mean they might not want to improve in some areas or work on issues that have been plaguing them, but that they know deep down that even if they don’t lose the 20 pounds, even if they never fit into their old jeans, even if they continue to battle whatever demons drive them to use food (or alcohol or shopping or gambling or any number of things) as a weapon against themselves, they are beautiful and beloved in God’s eyes. We are “wonderfully made,” as we hear in Psalm 139. When we can learn to start from that place of love and acceptance, powerful things begin to happen. The bonds of self-hatred and food obsessions are broken.

– When did it dawn on you that writing was something you truly loved?

I had been a good student in English or language arts classes as a kid, although I didn’t love to write and I certainly didn’t see it as a career path. Then in my freshman year at Pace University, my English professor (a Catholic sister, even though it wasn’t a Catholic college) suggested I might want to think about writing as a major and a career. It kind of blew me away. I don’t know if that thought would have entered my mind if she hadn’t planted the seed. And so I declared English as my major with writing as my concentration. I really planned on using my writing in a business field – marketing, advertising, public relations, but then I walked into my first college journalism class and everything changed. I knew I wanted to write for newspapers or magazines and set out to make that happen.

– You have written in several different forms including newspapers, magazines, journals, reports, and books. Do you have a preference when it comes to writing or do you enjoy it all? What are some similarities and differences that you have found?

I really have written for just about every type of publication, all the things you mentioned and then some. Prayer books, annual reports, cable TV scripts, fund-raising appeals. You name it and I’ve probably written it. When I started out, my first love was feature writing for newspapers, especially personality profiles. I loved meeting people and then telling their stories. In more recent years, my writing has taken a decidedly spiritual shift. I wanted to write less about the business of the Catholic Church – controversial issues, latest happenings, etc – and more about the heart of the faith. That transition was really prompted by the time I spent writing “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Catholic Catechism.” That book project was as close as I get to a “conversion experience.” It made me want to focus my writing on helping people walk the spiritual path. That being said, I do think my many years as a journalist paved the way for this. I continue to write for newspapers, magazines, and other publications even as I write my books, and I try to blog daily at my own blog, Not Strictly Spiritual. The common thread in all of it is honesty and a willingness to put myself out there in front of my readers. No matter what I write, I write from the heart and from my truth.


– For anybody who hasn’t seen the TV show, Guided by Grace, that you co-host, can you explain what the show is typically about?

Well, this is a very new show. We’ve got three shows in rotation right now with three new shows slated for February. Television is new for me, so this was a leap of faith, but I am loving it so far. Telecare (out of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, N.Y.) wanted to produce a show that would be a Catholic version of “The View.” So we have four women talking about issues that are important to us, our families, and our faith lives. It’s like having a conversation in your living room, and that’s what I hope viewers get from it – that we’re inviting them into a conversation. Although it airs in the tri-state area (NY, NJ, CT) right now, it is available for live streaming and in the archives at www.telecaretv.org


– So Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God is your sixth book to be published. That’s awesome and impressive! What can we expect next from Mary DeTurris Poust?

Right now I’m focusing on getting the word out about Cravings and my other new book, “Everyday Divine: A Catholic Guide to Active Spirituality,” which came out just a few weeks before Cravings. That book focuses on weaving prayer into everyday life, and that’s something I’d like to write more about on my own blog Not Strictly Spiritual (www.notstrictlyspiritual.com) and for other publication. I’m also hoping to do more speaking engagements and retreat-type events related to Cravings and Everyday Divine because I think part of the power of those books is putting them into daily practice, and sometimes that takes a little push. I’d like to give people the push they need to take that next step on the spiritual path. And I’d like to walk with them. I always tell people that just because I’ve written all these books doesn’t mean I’ve got it all figured out. I’m on the journey, too, and talking to readers – in person, by email, on my blog – is a gift and a blessing.

Interview with Brendan Barth

Author Brendan Barth lives in San Francisco, California with his wife and teaches at a Catholic school. He is the author of Andrew’s Christmas a children’s book about Christmas. The thing that I loved about Brendan’s book was that it is faith based and that is something difficult to find today. We had the pleasure of interviewing Brendan Barth about his inspirations and about Andrew’s Christmas.

Catholic Author Brendan Barth

So your book Andrew’s Christmas came out in 2011, what were your inspirations for creating a holiday themed book?

The inspiration came from teaching; my students came in hardly knowing anything about the origins of the Christmas story, from the Infancy Gospels to how the traditions came to America. So I set aside some time to do a unit plan on the history of Christmas, because if these smart Catholic students are so clueless on the history, how can they be confident about how they, in their present lives, view the season in relation to their faith?

What is the one thing that you want young readers to take away from Andrew’s Christmas?

That Christmas isn’t about commerce, and not to let that divine spark in all of us be dulled by media. This is a time for reflection and redemption, to be better people all year long. Hopefully, it’s a message that will connect also to the parent who is reading the book to their child.

Andrew's Christmas by Brendan Barth It seems that so many holiday books focus on things other than the birth of Christ. What inspired your focus in this book?

Because it’s in the name: CHRISTmas, meaning Rite of the Anointed One. If we as people of faith don’t have this in the forefront of our minds and actions, the reason of the season becomes meaningless. So then people write books on reindeer or gift wrapping.

When did you begin writing and what made you want to continue doing it?

I always loved to write, whether it was letters, stories, even papers for school. If I don’t write every day, I feel bad. And to this day, I believe writing is the most elegant way to express an idea that is lasting.

Where did the idea for Andrew’s journey through the tree’s ornaments come from?

The idea came at a Christmas party at a good friend’s house. His six year old child at the party was bored by all the adults and their conversation, and he sat me on the couch and wanted me to tell him a story. We were looking at their Christmas tree with the angel on top, and I just riffed about what if we became really small and could have an adventure in the tree? He liked the idea, and we just did it. His name, by the way, is Andrew, and he and his family are true faith filled Catholics, and an inspiration to me personally as well as in my writing.

Will there be more children’s books or other books to come from Brendan Barth?

Yes! I have eight more planned based on the Andrew character on topics such as fear, faith, family, and Easter. The next one, hopefully out soon, will be on prayer.

You can find out more about Brendan Barth on his website or by following him on Twitter!

Interview with Charlotte Ostermann

Charlotte Ostermann, a Catholic convert, is a freelance writer and editor. She is also a veteran educator, poet, homemaker, humorist, and spiritual mentor. Her newest book, “Catholics Communicate Christ: How to Serve the Catholic Church as a Writer” came out two weeks ago, and we had the pleasure to interview her about her new book and some of her inspirations!

 So, your Kindle Book, “Catholics Communicate Christ: How to Serve the Catholic Church as a Writer” was released on November 7, 2012. What prompted you, or inspired you, to write this book?
I went to the Catholic Writers Guild LIVE Conference in August, and was profoundly grateful for all the encouragement I received. As I drove home, my heart just overflowed with the desire to share that encouragement, and some of the great practical advice, with others. I know how it feels to be very hesitant and unsure about ‘self-promotion’ as a writer who wants to give God the glory. At the conference, humble men and women, and godly priests assured us all that, if God gives the message and the skill, then we ARE honoring Him if we do everything we can to get that message into people’s hands, computers, consciousness! Something inside me opened up – I say I ‘got over myself’! As I reconsecrated myself, and my writing, to Mary in the days that followed, this booklet became a reality.

How long have you been writing? And how did you get started?

I’ve been writing since I was a child! I don’t know what it feels like to go through life without turning everything into words – experiencing life as narrative, wanting to share what I learn with others, turning passion into poetry. As a non-Christian, I never wrote professionally. After I became an evangelical Christian, I wanted to write – to share the Good News – but God seemed to hold me back. After I became a Catholic, I felt so glad He had caused the seed to ‘fall into the ground’ for a time. I needed to mature, to have my writing burned into my very being, to be purged of self and error as much as possible so that Christ-within-me could shine. My hubby took all the kids to Colorado for a two-week camp out fifteen years ago, and in that at-home quiet time I began to write and haven’t stopped since! One of my first Catholic venues was Canticle magazine, and Envoy published my conversion story, “A Closet Catholic Comes Out’. Since then, that writing retreat has been the annual event I most fervently look forward to! Russ, God bless him, has taken kids as young as two so I could have this amazing experience.

In your Amazon biography, you mention you live on a “farm wannabe” north of Lawrence, KS. What do you mean by “farm wannabe”? I’ve never heard that phrase before.

Ha! If you knew what lame ‘farmers’ we are, you’d see what I mean! We get the importance of sustainable agriculture, organic food, distributist initiative, and all that, but we are city-raised and pretty lazy gardeners, so it is truly a ‘Patchwork Farm’ (our new name for it). Most of our activities are in town, so we don’t feel like ‘real farmers,’ yet the land is here and I think it sort of hopes we’ll grow up. There’s a big garden, chickens who do actually lay eggs for us, two goats that my daughter will be milking in the spring, and some ducks we call ‘farm props’. As Chesterton said, “Angels fly because they take themselves lightly”!



Why do you feel it is important to find more writers in the New Evangelization?

Here’ s the huge truth: EVERY SINGLE PERSON stands at the intersection of a unique set of realities. Only he or she can fully respond to those realities, and to those people. Everything we writers are saying is already ‘out there’. None of it is original with us. We are all re-writing truths you could get from a hundred other places. But each of us is speaking for a new audience. The Gospel hasn’t been realized fully until it is realized, re-presented, made real through each of us. If you deal in words, you MUST get the truth of what God has done for you into words!! Some writers are going to be true ‘artists’, but many, many more will simply be human beings – ordered to words not necessarily because we are artists with words, but because we are humans created in the image of the Word. The use of words is a critically important skill in the New Evangelization because it is, in itself, a recapitulation of the human person!

You mention that our words can help “stem the tide of destruction”. How do you, as a writer yourself, stay motivated to continue writing and spreading God’s word?

Well, I think of the architect Gaudi, in his last years, working on the Sagrada Familia. He was asked a similar question and said that if he did not create, did not do this work, he would die. I feel the same way. I simply do not know how I would live without shouting about the hope that is in me, the joy that overflows from me, and the destiny that is mine and yours and everyone else’s!!

You mention the Catholic Writers Guild. How has the Guild helped you develop as a writer?

Frankly, the Guild hasn’t helped me develop as a writer so much as helped me feel I am in a community of people who understand this Thing I Do! In the ‘real world’ of daily life, there are not a lot of people who understand the drive to be creative, to give oneself with abandonment, to do work that is essentially lonely because of a love for people. People misunderstand and reinforce our own hesitations and inhibitions. They hurt us and that’s a challenge to deal with, because we have to stay vulnerable to keep giving. In the Guild, we have others who understand the various struggles of the writing life, and who can help us stay the course. Since it is solidly Catholic, we don’t have the different issues that come up among fellow writers who understand writing, but have no comprehension of what we go through when writing is a religious kind of vocation.