I am conflicted about beginning a blog.
The life of a parish priest in Maine is fairly full - there is much to do. Furthermore, the Internet is full of various voices sounding off about all kinds of things. Is there really the need to add another to the fray? There is a degree of presumption in thinking that one's unedited and unscrutinized words are worthy of publication, digital or otherwise.
Yet, a number of people have asked whether they could access homilies online. And perhaps the most compelling of reasons I have entertained lately is that much of what needs to be heard and said by a Catholic priest does not seem to have a suitable forum in normal parish life. There are Catholic themes that simply do not lend themselves to the pulpit. When preaching at Mass, the priest's task is to reflect on the scripture for that given day, and to do so in a manner that will aid the spiritual, intellectual, and moral development of the specific congregation before him. This intrinsically limits what he says in a number of ways. First, he must strike a general tone so as to be at least somewhat comprehensible by most of the people who hear him. Second, he can't go on for too long, lest he lose their attention. Thirdly, when preaching he speaks with an authority linked to the Gospel just proclaimed, requiring that his words be more than mere opinion or musings, but have a certain seriousness and pastoral aim.
Finally, the homily is not conducted in our time as a dialogue - there is no give and take, no opportunity for questions, objections, or rebuttals. It cannot and should not take the form of a conversation.
And so a blog. Why Sparks and Stubble?
The book of Wisdom promises us that one day the souls of the just will dart about like sparks through stubble, and I have always found the image to be beautiful. There is freedom and a joy in the spark that wends its way through stubble. We are meant to seek that joy and freedom even now as we await redemption - to give witness to the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.
Another level of meaning for the title refers directly to the writings on this page: that some may be sparks of insight, but there will also be much stubble. It is an admission right from the start that much of what I think is stubble - young thought, not well aged or mature reasoning. Yet my hope is that there may be found some sparks of wisdom or knowledge among these lines, gleaned from some passage or painting, that will be of use to the reader.