ironphoenix (ironphoenix) wrote,

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A flip side

I'm a hatched and matched Catholic (not dispatched yet), and as a part of that, I occasionally give reflections on the Scripture readings at Mass. (Kind of like a sermon.) There are several of us lay people who do this, and a questionnaire has been circulated in preparation for an article about us in the Parish newsletter. I figured that this would be a good place to share some answers to those questions, since they'll be public record anyway.

I'm not going to go much into justifying my beliefs here; this is, after all, primarily directed towards my fellow Catholics. I'm just sharing it here as a way of offering a bit of insight into a side of me that isn't usually on the surface away from church, even though it's always there. This isn't the only side of me that I don't usually wear on my sleeve, but not everyone wants to know about all the others!

The questions are the numbered bits in italics.

1. What motivated you to become a homilist?

The short answer is that I was asked if I was interested. This kind of begs the question though; what may be more informative is the reason I said yes.

By nature, I try to synthesize things. Some people break things down and understand them that way; I try to bring things together into a coherent whole. It's an unusual way of approaching things these days, I find. It seems to me that this particular vision is meant to be shared, and that others may draw some new insights from it as I have drawn insights from others' visions different from my own.

2. How do you prepare to deliver the talk? Have you favourite sources for inspiration?

I usually like to have a lot of time (a month or more) to consider the readings. Over this time, ideas about what I should say and how I should say it come and go, so that I seldom end up giving the homily which comes to mind at first.

I remember a fair amount of what I read from scattered sources, and sometimes a particular book, passage or poem will come to mind during that time, but I don't generally start from anything more than the readings themselves and the textual notes provided in my edition of the Jerusalem Bible.

Before finalizing my homily, I always verify that what I intend to say does not contradict the Catechism, at least in my own interpretation. It is too easy to allow my own fancies to become entangled in the message which God wishes me to deliver, and this provides an opportunity for somewhat independent validation.

3. Has it been a learning experience, a benefit to you?

Very much. I have often liked reading C.S. Lewis' essays on religion, not because I agree with him on all points (I don't), but because he is very clear in his expression of those points. This clarity helps me understand more clearly what I do and do not believe. This is not only an intellectual exercise, but a spiritual one: my beliefs are not purely a logical construct, but incorporate my experience of God in numerous ways. Through the exercise of finding ways to express my experiences of God, I return to them and experience them more deeply.

4. A bit about yourself: your day job, your interests, your background?

I'm a married, fairly young, engineer and aikidoka. My wife is a writer and software developper. I work full-time for Nanometrics Inc., a company specializing in seismological systems, as an R&D Scientist in various aspects of system design. Meanwhile, I'm finishing my PhD in electrical engineering part-time at Carleton University. My wife and I practice Aikido, a martial art which emphasizes protecting both oneself and one's attacker from harm. I also read, play a wide variety of games, and listen to and play music.

5. Any other thoughts you would like to share?

A homily feels right to me when it integrates the three readings into a whole which is consistent with my own experience and with the overall message of God's love expressed throughout the Bible.
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