(Photo from Father Lawrence Lew, O.P. - God’s Excessive Love - Used With Permission)
" "You must speak to Jesus, not only with your lips, but also with your heart; actually, on certain occasions, you should speak with only your heart." — St. Padre Pio

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Forgotten Truths To Set Faith Afire! and Its Author Are Subject of This Month's Profile in the CWG Newsletter

Pardon the self-promotion but there is only one way to sell a book - let as many people and groups know about it!

I was privileged to be profiled in  this month's issue of the Catholic Writers' Guild (CWG) Member Newsletter. In the event you have not seen it or are not yet a CWG member, the Profile follows:

(Excerpted from CWG Member Newsletter Issue #52- July 2012)

Author and Lay Dominican

Maria: Michael, you recently had a book published “Forgotten Truths to Set Faith Afire: Words to Challenge, Inspire and Instruct.” Congratulations! When did you feel receive God’s inspiration to write this book? How did it “come to you,” as they say?

Michael: Over the past fifteen years, God placed a tremendous hunger in my heart to study the Truths of our Catholic Faith. During that time, I highlighted and made photocopies of thousands of passages from various articles and books that had opened my eyes, stirred my soul and spoke to my heart. Much of what I have read, I had written on index cards and stored them in my desk drawer.

Periodically re-reading this collection of timeless truths from Sacred Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as well as from the spiritual insight of Popes, Church Doctors, Saints, bishops, priests, sinners and regular folk has had a significant impact on my life and spiritual journey.
Although I did not gather these quotations with the intent of compiling them into a book, I came to realize that many Catholics do not hear, know or live the fundamental truths of their Faith. Others are prompted to learn more but feel they do not have the time to do so. I also knew as a Lay Dominican, that I should not hoard these “Forgotten Truths” in my desk drawer for my exclusive reflection.

God kept after me to share these truths with others, knowing they would be a fruitful source of contemplation. That is the purpose of this book, its twelve hundred quotations, seventeen chapters and one hundred and fifteen topics.

Maria: You are a member of a Lay Dominican order, and a retired lawyer. I mean, it’s like you were meant to write a book! Lawyers are great debaters and Dominicans are known for being great at apologetics. How did your past life experiences help you in writing your book?

Michael: I often tell people that I became an attorney before being Catholic really meant anything to me. When by the grace of God, the love of my wife and the direction of some holy priests I rediscovered the beauty of our faith and started sharing it with my clients, my life and the practice of law became more rewarding but, at times, excruciatingly more difficult – God expects us to put His law above man made law.

Lawyers read, write and research. We are always analyzing and trying to persuade others to the correctness of our client’s cause. As an Administrative Law Judge I learned to actually hear and understand what people were telling me. All of these experiences helped refine my writing skills and convince me that I should have a greater interest in my faith and the Truths of the Church than I did in the law.

As a Lay Dominican, I know each of us is called to become holy, to save our souls, and to allow God to use us to help save the souls of others. In fact, God has to be the center of all that we do, especially in our writing. We cannot compartmentalize Him – being one type of person in Church and a different one in our home, the courtroom, our office, or when we use our keyboards.

Maria: Was this your first book? What sort of obstacles did you face in the making and publishing of this book?

Michael: This is my first book. I had a concept and a desire to put this together but was afraid to start. My first significant break came when I joined a local writer’s group. Shortly thereafter, I stumbled upon the CWG website. I immediately joined, went to the live conference, met amazing people and great Catholic writers who cared more about nourishing my call to write than promoting themselves or their books. They gave me guidance, specific tools and references to a ton of extremely helpful resources. I actually made a successful pitch at my first conference thanks to the instruction I received from CWG members. Unfortunately, that publisher went out of business.

I did not want to wait two or three years in hopes another publisher would respond. So I decided to self-publish, having been exposed to that possibility at the CWG conference.

I had a decent experience doing so, learning quite a bit from the mistakes I made along the way. I know now what pitfalls to avoid. Do not “cheap out” on using a copy editor and professional proofreaders! Getting the book published is a lot easier than marketing it. Again with the suggestions and help of a number of CWG members and the presentations they made at the CWG conferences, I am slowly but surely navigating my way through this demanding process. The future of these efforts and of this book rests where it belongs – in God’s hands

Maria: CWG has several catechists as members. How has your book been received by catechists? The Amazon reviews are very positive. What else have you heard? Do you have any advice as well for catechists?

Michael: To all our faithful catechists: remember to be Catholic means to accept all that the Church teaches – not just those doctrines one feels comfortable with. Have the courage to share the fullness of the Truths of our Faith even the difficult and challenging ones. Anything less jeopardizes the salvation of souls.

CWG members, Donna Marie Cooper O’Boyle and Anne Costa, have written positively of this book. Donna and I are working on an internet interview and Sarah Reinhard is preparing a review. If there are any other CWG catechists (or anyone else) interested in reading and writing a review of this book contact me at mseagrif@twcny.rr.com. I would be happy to send a complimentary copy.

Forgotten Truths would be a great supplement to and/or follow-up resource for those participating in RCIA program, useful in adult formation and catechesis, and a wonderful resource for personal meditation and contemplation.

Priests have been challenged by some of the quotations in the book and find it a well of inspiration for homilies. Fellow writers view it as a great resource for quotations to use in their own work. Busy individuals and reluctant readers benefit from the wisdom of the ages set forth in small digestible tidbits. Practicing and lapsed Catholics and Christians from other denominations find it inspiring.

One priest friend was kind enough to suggest that his Bishop provide a copy to all of his priests.

Maria: Do you have any advice for CWG members who are hoping to write and/or publish their work?

Michael: Bottom line: Believe in yourself. Pray before and as you write. Keep writing and re-writing. Have others critique your work and use the resources available through CWG. Most importantly write only that which brings Glory to God.

Maria: What do you do in your free time? Do you have any plans for another book?

Michael I enjoy the extra time my wife and I now have. I love to read and am an avid fan of college basketball. I recently discovered an interest in photography. I welcome any time I can spend before the Blessed Sacrament or when I can lend a prayerful or physical helping hand. Spoiling Mia Emily, our most recently arrived granddaughter, has been a joy.

God willing, readers will continue to find spiritual value in my blog: Harvesting The Fruits of Contemplation.

I am compiling a book of my personal reflections in hopes that others will find spiritual nourishment and encouragement in them. I have been working on a novel in which an attorney shares his Faith with a client as they both struggle and suffer through three successive and unjust criminal prosecutions, trying to thwart a prosecutor’s unrelenting attempt to convict and sentence this man to life imprisonment.

Maria: Thank you! May God continue to bless you.

Michael: Thank you for all the work that you do, for this interview and for the blessing CWG has been to me, other writers and the Catholic Church.

(Post script: You can view a Book Trailer for Forgotten Truths To Set Faith Afire! and order a copy here.

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