I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Seagriff O. P. about his book, Forgotten Truths to Set Faith Afire!
Here's our interview:
Like many contemporary Catholics, I did not know my faith very well and did not think I had the time to do anything about it. But I began to read a little bit at a time. The more I read and reflected on Scripture and the works of great spiritual writers, the more I came to understand and value my faith. Over the years, I would write the words that most touched my heart and stirred my soul on index cards. Keeping these life changing “gems” in my desk drawer was not only selfish but contrary to my Dominican vocation. I had to share these truths.
Here's our interview:
I am from a working class Catholic family of seven children - born and raised in New York City (Brooklyn and Queens). Two of my brothers died – one of polio and the other of pneumonia, having lived during a time when there was neither polio vaccine nor antibiotics. My father came from a large family and ended his formal education during the Depression to help support his family. His lack of formal education made his earthly life more difficult. He did not complain. My father did everything he could to pass on his Catholic Faith and to assure his children a quality education – sending us to Catholic elementary school and Catholic high school. I was the only child blessed to receive a college education.
Altar boy and minor seminarian was I until I decided I knew better than God. I later dropped out of college to enlist in US Air Force where I served as a radio operator (primarily in air traffic control) for nearly 4 years, including tours in Philippines, Vietnam and Presidential Communications in Washington D.C.
I am eternally grateful that God gave me a loving wife and that he used her, a persistent and caring priest and our daughter’s first Holy Communion to bring me back to Him and His Church. The seeds of faith were nourished over the years by my participation in Cursillo, the Charismatic Renewal, Prison Ministry and most especially through Eucharistic Adoration. My vocation as a Lay Dominican and a rediscovered love for the Rosary created an insatiable appetite for the Truth, a hunger and deeper love for the Eucharist, and a zeal for the salvation of souls, including mine.
Following a heart attack in 2008, I retired from the practice of law after 30 years. Suddenly, I had time to write – something I always felt the Lord was prompting me to do.
Your book is lovely, Michael and the cover is stunning.What was your inspiration for this book?
Would you mind sharing a bit of your writing process for this book?
I simply took the index cards out of my drawer, placed them on my desk, and sorted them to see if there were any common themes or topics. It took me several months to go through that process. I was surprised to see how many different topics were encompassed by the thousands of quotes I had accumulated. There were simply too many to use.
How did you choose which quotes you would include?
That was the most difficult part of the writing process. There are many quotes not in the book that probably should be in it and some that probably should not have been included. Copyright issues, restrictions on the ability to use quotations from Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and space limitations added complexity to and prolonged the process.
I prayed constantly for guidance, adding and deleting quotations as prompted or suggested to do so. I wanted the selections to be diverse enough so that every one who read the book would be challenged, inspired and instructed. I made no attempt to make the topics uniform in length. A reader will easily be able to discern which topics were closest to my heart and the most significant in my spiritual journey.
I divided the 1200 quotations included in this book among seventeen chapters in a way that was similar to my own spiritual walk. I went through eleven drafts, seeking input and comments from priests and friends. Among the invaluable suggestions I received and followed was compiling a suggested reading list and including indices of topics and individuals quoted.
Have you received any feedback on your book you'd like to share?
Yes! In addition to your kind words and those of fellow writer, Anne Costa, posted on Amazon.com, the feedback has been quite positive and humbling. The Catholic Writer’s Guild (CWG) awarded Forgotten Truths To Set Faith Afire! its Seal of Approval and featured it in the “Member Profile” column of its July newsletter. The book was discussed in the Syracuse diocesan newspaper, several local papers in Central New York, on Catholic Lane.com and favorably received by my Bishop. As “word spreads”, I have been invited to speak at a number of parishes where the book and I have been well received.
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.
Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
Thank you for the opportunity to share this time with your readers.
This 366 page volume is one that you will use and refer to frequently. Priced modestly ($13.99 for soft copy), it makes a great companion during this “Year of Faith” and travels nicely on your Kindle or (with a free Kindle Book App) your android and i-phones for only $2.99. It is available through Amazon.com. and my blog (http://harvestingthefruitsofcontemplation.blogspot.com/).
There is also an informative book trailer that will give you a good sense of what the book offers: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mhS1aqdvQQ&feature=plcp).
If this book causes just one person who otherwise might have spent little or no time thinking of God and his/her relationship with Him to do so, my effort to compile these words of wisdom will have been richly rewarded. The value and future success of this book rests where it belongs – in God’s hands.
Thank you very much, Michael for sharing with us. May God bless the book, all who read it, and you and your family as well!