Summer hiatus (June 14 – August 14)

{if you wish to receive posts again when I resume, please feel free to submit your email over here —>}

A random “Far Side” comic that well sums my deepest math-phobic fears. Taken from calculushumor.com

This is my 897th post since I began. Hard to believe. My son said to me the other day when he saw me typing, “Dad, that your Blog?” “Yes,” I replied. “Don’t you ever run out of things to say?” I said, “Well, why don’t you read them and tell me if I do.”

I have discerned that the Lord is calling me to a hefty bloggus interruptus, and though it sounds sinful I promise it’s not. It is a grief for me to stop, and a friend of mine warned me that I will probably lose a lot of readers. I have family vacays coming up, I am teaching a course in July on Liturgy and priestly spirituality, I am leading 2 retreats, I am preparing for a new course to teach this Fall at the seminary (Pastoral Theology) and bracing for a new year as Academic Dean (administerium meum est ad mortem). Then there’s sleep and such.

Discernment very often is about judging limits that protect one’s own personal limitations and primary vocational responsibilities. Such limits ensure that I do not become unfaithful to the few good things God is calling me to do by doing other good things He is not calling me to do. It’s among the Evil One’s favorite tactics, and the one most easily rationalized.

Right Gratitude

I truly love this template. It permits me to paint on a digital canvas the theological storm that swirls about on my “inscape,” mostly within my imagination. As I frequently say, I am never not amazed that people find in Neal Obstat a source of spiritual nourishment. For me, there is no higher purpose I could imagine for any of my theological work than for it to become viaticum, food for the journey to our Father’s house. Deo gratias, “Thanks be to God”!

I must say that since I began writing this Blog in 2010 I have had more fresh theological insights than in the previous twenty-something years of theological study combined. Part of that is the natural gift that comes with the discipline of writing — as you write, you express and create ideas. But another part, I am convinced, is that the impulse to write daily, the superabundance of fresh insights, flows (on better days) from the Lord for you. So many times this or that idea will seize me in the midst of a relatively innocuous task – taking out the garbage, sitting in a budget committee meeting or while I’m taking a shower (tmi) — and it will not leave me alone until I write it here and edit it for posting. Not in an oppressive way, but with a gentle insistence that remains until the task is completed. Now and again, some kind reader will leave a comment that affirms they “needed” a certain message, or received a certain grace from what was said in a post. That makes it all worth the labor.

In this, I find confirmed again and again a truth my first spiritual director drilled into me long ago:

Tom, if people some day compliment you on your work, on your teaching, and they thank you for this or that grace they received through you, I want you to say to yourself at once, “How much God must love them to give me these gifts!” Because any gift you have been given is not about you, Tom, it’s about them; it’s for them. If you make the gifts about you, think you’re special because you have them, then those gifts are ruined and they will become the very reason for your condemnation. But if you make them about others, then they will sanctify you. Remember what I told you: the premier sign of holiness is humility; and the premier sign of humility is that others’ needs and welfare populate your thoughts more than your own do. And remember, if God can speak through Balaam’s jackass [Numbers 22:21-39] he can even speak through you…

A new patron saint.

“Balaam and the Ass,” Pieter Lastman 1622. Taken from morenormalthannot.com

Favor?

If I might ask 2 final favors from you:

1. Who are you? Though I enjoy immensely the steady stream of comments from a core of a dozen or so friends and other people whom I feel I know a bit, I always wonder who is out there on the digital continent reading. If you could leave a brief comment here sharing who you are, I would be grateful!

2. Kindly pray for me and my family. I will include you in my daily prayer for a new Pentecost:

Father in heaven,
renew your wonders in our time,
as though by a new Pentecost,
by sending down your Spirit upon us.
Grant that by the same Spirit
your holy Church in [name your diocese],
praying with one mind and one heart
together with Mary, the Mother of Jesus,
and guided by Sts. John XXIII and John Paul the Great,
may make present in our world
the kingdom of your Divine Son:
a kingdom of truth and life,
a kingdom of holiness and grace,
a kingdom of justice, love, and peace. Amen.

[I adapted this from Archdiocese of Detroit prayer found here]

Yad Vashem

Let me leave you two texts — (1) Pope Francis’ awe-inspiring words spoken at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial during his recent journey to the Holy Land and (2) Pope Benedict’s equally awe-inspiring words spoken at Auschwitz (which I have posted before). Note the remarkably different, yet complementary, vantage each takes on the same mysterium iniquitatis, “mystery of evil.”

+++

Address of His Holiness Pope Francis
Visit to the Memorial of Yad Vashem
Jerusalem, 26 May 2014

“Adam, where are you?” (cf. Gen 3:9).
Where are you, o man? What have you come to?
In this place, this memorial of the Shoah, we hear God’s question echo once more:
“Adam, where are you?”
This question is charged with all the sorrow of a Father who has lost his child.
The Father knew the risk of freedom; he knew that his children could be lost…
yet perhaps not even the Father could imagine so great a fall, so profound an abyss!
Here, before the boundless tragedy of the Holocaust,
That cry – “Where are you?” – echoes like a faint voice in an unfathomable abyss…
Adam, who are you? I no longer recognize you.
Who are you, o man? What have you become?
Of what horror have you been capable?
What made you fall to such depths?
Certainly it is not the dust of the earth from which you were made.
The dust of the earth is something good, the work of my hands.
Certainly it is not the breath of life which I breathed into you.
That breath comes from me, and it is something good (cf. Gen 2:7).
No, this abyss is not merely the work of your own hands, your own heart…
Who corrupted you? Who disfigured you?
Who led you to presume that you are the master of good and evil?
Who convinced you that you were god?
Not only did you torture and kill your brothers and sisters,
but you sacrificed them to yourself, because you made yourself a god.
Today, in this place, we hear once more the voice of God:
“Adam, where are you?”
From the ground there rises up a soft cry: “Have mercy on us, O Lord!”
To you, O Lord our God, belongs righteousness;
but to us confusion of face and shame (cf. Bar 1:15).
A great evil has befallen us, such as never happened under the heavens (cf. Bar 2:2).
Now, Lord, hear our prayer, hear our plea, save us in your mercy.
Save us from this horror.
Almighty Lord, a soul in anguish cries out to you.
Hear, Lord, and have mercy!
We have sinned against you. You reign for ever (cf. Bar 3:1-2).
Remember us in your mercy.
Grant us the grace to be ashamed of what we men have done,
to be ashamed of this massive idolatry,
of having despised and destroyed our own flesh
which you formed from the earth,
to which you gave life with your own breath of life.
Never again, Lord, never again!
“Adam, where are you?”
Here we are, Lord, shamed by what man,
created in your own image and likeness,
was capable of doing.
Remember us in your mercy.

Address by Pope Benedict XVI
Auschwitz-Birkenau, 28 May 2006

To speak in this place of horror, in this place where unprecedented mass crimes were committed against God and man, is almost impossible —and it is particularly difficult and troubling for a Christian, for a Pope from Germany. In a place like this, words fail; in the end, there can only be a dread silence — a silence which is itself a heartfelt cry to God: Why, Lord, did you remain silent? How could you tolerate all this?

In silence, then, we bow our heads before the endless line of those who suffered and were put to death here; yet our silence becomes in turn a plea for forgiveness and reconciliation, a plea to the living God never to let this happen again.

I had to come. It is a duty before the truth and the just due of all who suffered here, a duty before God, for me to come here as the successor of Pope John Paul II and as a son of the German people — a son of that people over which a ring of criminals rose to power by false promises of future greatness and the recovery of the nation’s honor, prominence and prosperity, but also through terror and intimidation, with the result that our people was used and abused as an instrument of their thirst for destruction and power.

This is the same reason why I have come here today: to implore the grace of reconciliation — first of all from God, who alone can open and purify our hearts, from the men and women who suffered here, and finally the grace of reconciliation for all those who, at this hour of our history, are suffering in new ways from the power of hatred and the violence which hatred spawns.

How many questions arise in this place! Constantly the question comes up: Where was God in those days? Why was he silent? How could he permit this endless slaughter, this triumph of evil?

The words of Psalm 44 come to mind, Israel’s lament for its woes: “You have broken us in the haunt of jackals, and covered us with deep darkness … because of you we are being killed all day long, and accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Rouse yourself! Why do you sleep,O Lord? Awake, do not cast us off forever! Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression? For we sink down tothe dust; our bodies cling to the ground. Rise up, come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!” (Psalm 44:19,22-26).

This cry of anguish, which Israel raised to God in its suffering, at moments of deep distress, is also the cry for help raised by all those who in every age — yesterday, today and tomorrow — suffer for the love of God, for the love of truth and goodness. How many they are, even in our own day!

We cannot peer into God’s mysterious plan — we see only piecemeal, and we would be wrong to set ourselves up as judges of God and history. Then we would not be defending man, but only contributing to his downfall. No — when all is said and done, we must continue to cry out humbly yet insistently to God: Rouse yourself! Do not forget mankind, your creature!

And our cry to God must also be a cry that pierces our very heart, a cry that awakens within us God’s hidden presence — so that his power, the power he has planted in our hearts, will not be buried or choked within us by the mire of selfishness, pusillanimity, indifference or opportunism.

Let us cry out to God, with all our hearts, at the present hour, when new misfortunes befall us, when all the forces of darkness seem to issue anew from human hearts: whether it is the abuse of God’s name as a means of justifying senseless violence against innocent persons, or the cynicism which refuses to acknowledge God and ridicules faith in him.

Let us cry out to God, that he may draw men and women to conversion and help them to see that violence does not bring peace, but only generates more violence — a morass of devastation in which everyone is ultimately the loser.

Pope Benedict XVI entering the Auschwitz camp. Taken from bp.blogspot.com

Pope Francis praying at the eternal flame, Yad Vashem. Taken from yadvashem.org

91 comments on “Summer hiatus (June 14 – August 14)

  1. Hunter says:

    Hey Dr. Neal! My name is Hunter and I am a sophomore at Franciscan University 🙂 I read your blog posts every day and I am so incredibly thankful to the Lord for blessing you with the gifts you use to serve people like me! A friend of mine who also reads your posts every day had shared so many amazing articles with me a year or two ago that I had to subscribe myself haha. Your daily blog posts are so impactful for me as they call me on to greater holiness and give me something to pray for, a reason to intercede for another, or a mystery to ponder on a consistent basis. I am so grateful for what you do and I also completely understand the need you have for a break! Enjoy it brotha 🙂 And soak up the gift that is life after Christ has risen!

    Thanks again and God bless! John 3:30

  2. Br Patrick says:

    Tom, It’s a joy to read your posts. They are part of my study/spiritual reading. May the Lord bless and keep you, your family and all whom you love and serve. Br Patrick

    • It is a joy to know you are out there bringing the Church to life each day by bearing Christ, and to know I play a tiny role in that. I am with all of you in spirit on 7/5. Great joy for the Church!! Pax, Tom

  3. Jennifer says:

    Enjoy your summer! I am Jennifer. I am mom to four wonderful, sometimes wild (okay, often wild) beautiful kids who just so happen to have an incredible dad. We are a bunch of native Torontonians who recently moved to New Brunswick, Canada. God is so good and I love so much that I, with all my faults and failings, have been blessed with the opportunity to teach my children about the God who made them and loves them and to watch with glee as I see that they are getting it. I will keep you and your family in my prayers. May God continue to bless you and your work.

  4. Mary Reitz says:

    Please include me when you resume your posts. Thank you, Mary Reitz

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  5. Tom, thank you for your thoughtful posts. I find them inspiring, thoughtful and always a great learning experience. I am an active member of my parish serving as a Catechist, lector, parish council member, etc. I frequently share your pieces on our parish Facebook page so value the content you provide!

    Wishing you a restful and rejuvenating summer and looking forward to your return in the Fall.

    Thank you and God bless you and your family!

  6. Kelly Bert says:

    Hello! May God continue to bless you! I am Kelly, mom to three wonderful children and wife to Aaron. My friend introduced me to your blog and praise God for that! I’ve only starting reading it since Easter. I will miss your daily insights, but understand!! Looking forward to you coming back! Please include me on your new list! Enjoy this time. May The Lord bless you.

  7. Abigail says:

    Hey Dr. Tom! My name is Abigail and I will be a sophomore at Truman State University. My mom sent me the link to your blog a couple of years ago, and now I have a folder for the blogs that especially speak to me. You have a beautiful gift and I am so thankful that I am able to deepen my faith by learning from yours. Have a fantastic summer!

  8. DismasDancing says:

    I’ll apologize in advance for the lengthy comment:

    “Let us cry out to God, with all our hearts, at the present hour, when new misfortunes befall us, when all the forces of darkness seem to issue anew from human hearts: whether it is the abuse of God’s name as a means of justifying senseless violence against innocent persons, or the cynicism which refuses to acknowledge God and ridicules faith in him.

    Let us cry out to God, that he may draw men and women to conversion and help them to see that violence does not bring peace, but only generates more violence — a morass of devastation in which everyone is ultimately the loser.” (Pope Benedict)

    “Adam, where are you?”
    Here we are, Lord, shamed by what man,
    created in your own image and likeness,
    was capable of doing.
    Remember us in your mercy.” (Pope Francis)

    What a magnificent concluding blog before your summer hiatus. Thank you for all of it, especially the two pieces I have included above, and for the candor in sharing the cautionary comments by a former spiritual director. I will keep those words near and dear, for they complement well the memory of a kindly, humble, grade-school nun who incessantly drummed into our young psyches, “Pride goeth before a fall!”

    I share a good deal of what I write with close friends and family. It would be very easy to allow the gentle breath of complimentary feedback to evolve into a raging hurricane of inevitable and fully destructive self-satisfaction that would snuff out the ability to see and comment on the mundane things of real beauty. Most of us might ignore those but for the grace of God Who graciously allows us the “vision”, if you will, to glean from their presence in our lives something worthwhile in life that will change us—for the better. Much like magnetism through its immutable property that opposites attract, I am drawn irrevocably to the “positive” of God’s creation that is “good”, because God, Who is all good, made it from nothing—even the mundane. In that I marvel. Because you often make me take a second look, you help me marvel at so many other things that I have missed.

    Although I have penned some fiction, I am moved by real events and real people, choosing to offer comment/opinion/insight, etc. on them rather than invent them. Many years ago, while I still worked in the private sector, I attended the funeral of a woman who died from cancer at the age of 39, leaving behind husband and their three children. She was a well-known, popular, and beautiful person. Pictures and the chatter of attendees lent credibility to that observation. As I prayed before her casket, I overheard more than a few times, “How I wish I had told her how beautiful she was!” or “She was such a great friend. I should have told her how much she meant to me!” “I wish I had let her know how much I love her!” How pitifully sad. How outrageously sad! When I left the funeral, I promised myself that I would not be one of those folks who so pitifully mourned the fact that they failed to let someone know the impact they had on my life. That philosophy is fraught with a bit of peril and must, obviously, be executed with a bit of judgment. But since that funeral years ago, I make it a habit to let folks know how much I appreciate them. And, because the spoken word can often be ignored as insincere, I most often make it a point to put it in writing. I am humbled immensely by the outcome of that philosophy.

    You know a bit of my Marine Corps background through my responses to your blog posts. You might have guessed that I hold strong reverence for the traditions and values of the Corps and the fact that, because of its history in that light, the Marine Corps has always owned a well-earned, good reputation throughout the world. In retirement, ALL those who have served with honor seem to develop a sense of kinship akin to fraternity brothers and sorority sisters that overrides former service loyalties. Certainly there are good-natured rivalries that one will always hear when a group of former military men and women gather. But the fact of duty, honor, country meant something special to each of us. That holds true, especially today. For me, as a Catholic, citizen, family man, and Marine, I always iterated my priority as God, family, country, Corps, and everything else—IF it matters. People would laugh if I didn’t make the Corps first; but putting God first helped keep priorities straight, if my sinful nature would not.

    With ALL of what is in the news these days, you must know that I, and my compatriots, grieve deeply over what is happening, both in the physical and political worlds and in God’s world. Christians being martyred around the world, dictators and tyrants dictating “do as I say, not as I do”, the “holocaust” of abortion. The Middle East exploding with some of the worst terror ever manufactured since the holocaust, Pol Pot, Stalin, Mao. Sadly, the list goes on. Thus, it is easy to bury my head deeply into the Psalms and remain there, wondering if My Lord will ever return. It is so easy to drown in the horror of it all and utter, as Jesus did on the cross, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Tears clouded my eyes as I read Pope Francis’s words spoken at Israel’s Eternal Flame. “Adam, where are you?” We are all Adam; and we have tasted far too much of the fruit of the tree of “the knowledge of good and evil.” We know it well. We do the evil far too well, and the good not enough, if at all.

    Several years ago, I wrote a meditation on the beautiful prayer, “Anima Christi”. Of the petition, “permit me never to be separated from Thee”, I begged Jesus to pluck me from the sludge pit of sin where I would otherwise be comfortable were it not for the fact that the Prodigal and I are brothers. Like that profligate young man, there is so much I have squandered, sinning against my fellow man and God, my Father. Like him, I come to realize where I must turn to escape the swine and return to real Love. While imagining Him reaching His arm toward me, the infinite depth of His forgiving eyes pierces me like a knife and I cry out to Him, “My God, My God, why have I abandoned You?” And He pulls me up, and pulls me up, time and again because while “my spirit is willing, my flesh is (indeed) weak.” Without Him, there is only slime, sludge, death.

    The magnificent pieces by Benedict and Francis remind me that today, and today, and today ever after, we all must cry out to Him and pray, MARANATHA! Come, Lord Jesus, come!

    Thank you my friend for your awesome inspiration. Have a blessed summer. I’d love to be able to attend one of your retreats. Any way to do that? I don’t live that far from NOLA. God’s blessings be with you and your family, always. A belated Happy Birthday to your bride. Peace. And please keep me on your list! Thanks.

    DD

  9. Pam H. says:

    I forward the posts I think are helpful to a priest friend who’s pastor of a mission in Tijuana. He’s not going to post a comment on here, but – since you ask – he’s reading you, too, and possibly forwarding.

  10. Evie Day says:

    Hi Tom! I have certainly been blessed by your blogging. It is a bit of spiritual direction in my inbox. My favorites have been the recent posts about creative gifts and His call to artists. How wonderful that our future priests are gifted with your openness and wisdom! I am better person for knowing you. Send your lovely wife my love. Team Day misses you guys! We have a small starting up business, it would honor us if you took a look. http://www.stabatmaterministries.com

  11. Sherri Paris says:

    Hi, Tom!! I will miss reading your blog for the next couple of months–but, I will most assuredly be looking forward to when they resume! I am always encouraged, uplifted, and challenged by them. God bless you and your family this summer and God bless all of the other tasks that our Lord has put before you to accomplish. 🙂

  12. Anne Baumhover says:

    Tom, I was lucky to hear you speak several times while you were in Des Moines. Who would guess a talk on the Catechism could make me laugh and cry? Thank you for sharing your joy, your passion and your incredible knowledge.

  13. Maggie McT says:

    Hello! I too enjoy reading your blog. I use a “nom de cyber,” but I’m happy to tell you who I really am if you email me directly.
    Many of your comments are deeply inspiring and I look forward to chewing my way through your posts. You challenge me to think and rethink about important matters, and how could any blogger do better? Many thanks, and have a beautiful summer.

  14. Marva says:

    Hello, Dr. Neal! I am very glad that you are hearing and doing the will of God. This time will probably be one of the best. You know how it is with Jesus. Once we get in, the ride is out of this world!!
    I am from Honduras, Central America. A small country with a very big heart. I sincerely enjoy your writings and your sharing with us what other people have told you (like the one you mentioned in this post). Like we say “get down from your horse”.
    Enjoy this hiatus. I know you will be spiritually renewed.
    Yes, I will like to keep receiving your posts.
    May The Lord keep you, and the Virgin Mary smile at you.

  15. Kristen Daigle says:

    Dr. Tom, my name is Kristen. I’m a junior in college in Louisiana. I heard you speak at a parish in my home town a few months back, and you completely blew my mind. You were there to speak on liturgy, but ended up telling us a beautiful story about Mother Teresa. I’ll never forget it. I read your blog everyday, usually before I do a holy hour. Your words ceaselessly pierce my heart. So much so, that I started a blog of my own. Thank you for your docility to the Spirit. Praying for you and for your family.

  16. Janis says:

    Tom,

    It has been a joy to read your posts as an extension of my fond memories of you and your family during my formative years of college in Tallahassee. As always, you leave me with food for thought and often challenge me to grow in faith. Blessings on you and your family during your hiatus and always.

    -Janis

  17. Ona says:

    When I first discovered your blog I was struck by the love and wisdom which shines in your words, and that kept me coming back day after day. It’s a good thing you had such a wise first spiritual director to caution you against vainglory, otherwise you might get a big head from all the nice comments! Have a wonderful break.

  18. mbtvalli says:

    Tom, I learned of your post via Heather King’s blog. My husband and I are transitioning to the “empty nest” here in Michigan. Your posts are a great gift for daily reflection. Thank you!

  19. Br. Clinton says:

    Tom! You posts are a blessed, second-best (and sometimes too much of a tease) to hearing you teach in person. I’m grateful for your holy insights… Know that y’all will be in my and the Bros’ prayers during these summer months. Peace!

  20. Bro en Spiritu says:

    tears tears tears!
    Tears of sadness, tears of gratitude, tears of joy!
    And tears of hilarity at the fact that you just used tmi in your blog post! Ever ancient, ever new, ever young!
    Sending graces your way from the misty majestic Carolina mountains!

  21. Paul Rose says:

    As Christ unfolds a journey to authentic dignity, know that our family will be praying for the release of the Spirit with you, Dr. Tom [via the aforementioned new Pentecost prayer]. Be blessed by the many Works of your summer! A spiritual master reveals and calls to our attention, “If, therefore, the Holy Spirit was poured out with such force on what was only a shadow, how much more on the New Covenant, on the cross, on the coming of Christ, where the outpouring and the intoxication of the Spirit took place?”

  22. tammy says:

    Thank you so much for all of the many words of wisdom that you share with so many of us in your blog. I don’t comment but I read and pray with every blog you post. I will miss it this month but am so happy that you can take this rest. Who am I, I am your grateful student, Tammy

  23. cloe roesler says:

    Incomprehensible God post of May 26 resonated thunderously. I’m keeping it close by for when I stray from center. Thank you for being God’s good scribe. May all of you have a happy and holy summer. –An 83 yr old granny in NO.

  24. nora says:

    I’m an academic living in the UK and check in here several times a week. I can’t tell you how often one of your posts touched on something I was pondering or articulated something I needed to hear. Thank you so much. Enjoy the hiatus and I hope you and your family have a lovely summer.

    • Thank you for your gracious comment, Nora, from across the Pond. From a fellow academic I am grateful to hear my work resonates with you in a timely way. A lovely summer to you as well. Godspeed.

  25. guadagirl says:

    Hi Dr. Neal! I am Jessica from Los Angeles CA, I am 31 year old woman who teaches catechism to youth going through the confirmation process (I have been doing this for 8 years, through the grace of God). I happen to learn about your blog through Heather King’s blog. I read hers daily too (but now it’s not daily anymore she is posting every other day or 3 to 4 times a week because of new opportunities writing for Tidings and an online catholic journal Aleteia). Your blog gives me great spiritual nourishment and you always challenge and helped me get closer in a deeper relationship with Jesus. Your girls are very fortunate to have great Father like you! I look up to you as a spiritual Father and you are a personal hero of mine. I hope to one day meet you as your writings lift me up. Happy Father’s Day! I always include you in my prayers at daily mass trust that I will continue to do so. You are a very busy man and thanks for writing and letting us be part of your life. I am bit sad that we won’t have any fresh writings of you to read but I’ll go back and re-read old post as your writings are so rich and full of wisdom that by re-reading i’ll find something new and enriching. Through the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary may you and your family and loved ones be blessed always!

  26. Sue Steverson says:

    I enjoy your blogs and would like to continue receiving them when you return.  My email address is steverson4287@comcast.net .    My name is Sue Steverson and I am a parishioner at the Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Tallahassee.  Although I remember your wife being our Music Minister at STM I don’t believe our paths ever crossed.  Everyone who knew you at STM still speaks very highly of you and your family and what a loss it was when you left.   Good luck with all the projects you are working on for the summer and I’ll look forward to your return. Peace~~  Sue

  27. Thank you so much for sharing so many of your gifts. I am especially grateful to you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to not only tutor me on my writing skills, but to do so in such a loving and gentle manner. That too, is a gift from God for which I am blessed. I can see that your recent retreat was beneficial for your discernment. Enjoy your time focusing on God’s will in your life you will be richly rewarded for your obedience. Thank you again, pax er bonum, Dawn

  28. I look forward to your daily blogs and often will write down one your points or inspirations on my to-do list to remind me that I had begun the day pondering larger thoughts. Your post of October 1, 2013, on Therese’s Little Way is printed out and I reflect on it several times a week. I am a convert (2009) and live in Okemos, MI, (Diocese of Lansing) part of the year, and now will also live in Bradenton, FL (Diocese if Venice), for the other part. You do have a very full summer ahead and I will pray for you, too, that God will allow you to continue in all your faithful endeavors and that you will be able, at the proper time, to return to your blog. Gratefully, Mary Alice

    • Thank you for this encouraging comment, to see God’s grace at work in you, and for allowing me to add you to my image of the blog community ‘out there.’ May God bless you richly, Mary Alice!

  29. You asked who we, your readers are. I am a 51 year old Catholic wife and mother of 1 daughter about to enter college ( St Peter’s University in Jersey City, NJ ) and a faithful reader of your blog. Most of the time I just read through it for enjoyment but occasionally I receive a wonderful insight and for that I thank you. I am one of those folks who believe that God still speaks to us through scripture and subsequently the written word, and so I ask that you continue your work for our benefit. Many of those you haven’t met look to you for guidance. We thank you. Have a blessed summer and I hope to hear from you again soon ( your blog, that is!). God bless😇

  30. I am a 51 year old Catholic wife and mother of 1 daughter about to enter college in the fall ( St Peter’s University in Jersey City, NJ). I am one of those folks who believe that God still speaks to us through scripture and consequently the written word and so I want to thank you for the numerous insights we, your readers have gleaned from your writings over the years. Have a blessed and ( hopefully ) relaxing summer with your family and I hope to be reading more of your work soon. God bless 😇

  31. David Ricke says:

    My name is David from Monticello, Florida. We are just outside of Tallahassee, but don’t get too excited about your Seminoles as we support our beloved Gators. I’m a life long Catholic who has recently re-discovered the greatness of our faith. My wife is studying to be a Spiritual Director. We have had many discussions based on her studies and Fr. Barron’s Word On Fire, which is where I found your wonderful blog. Good luck in your work and I look forward to reading your posts when you return.

    • Thanks you, David, for your comment! I am ecumenical so I embrace your Gator allegiance! 🙂 May God bless your wife’s studies for such an important ministry and bless you in your faith life. Thank you for commenting! Godspeed in Monticello — such a gorgeous town!

  32. tjstang says:

    Hi Dr. Tom,
    I think it was about 6-9 months ago that I came across your blog and I have been an avid reader ever since. I enjoy opening your post each morning to see what you are thinking and where the Lord is taking you. You continue to inspire me to be my best and to draw even more deeply to the Lord; it would be a blessing to be in some of your classes. Anyhow, a much needed rest I am sure but I will be looking forward to your return as the Lord leads you. I have been a life long Catholic (pre-Vatican II) and have grown tremendously over the years in my faith thanks to the constant tugging of the Spirit. My passion is to help people fall in love with Jesus and I am trying to help promote that by working in adult catechesis of my local parish. Thank you for helping me dig more deeply into our faith. Know that prayers are going up for you and your family from the little corner of Friendswood, Texas.

    • Thank you, from Friendswood, TX, for your gracious and encouraging comments! May God bless you and prosper your mission of helping people fall in love with Jesus. Peace and all good and know the prayers are gratefully received and reciprocated. Dr. Tom

  33. Kevin Lynch says:

    I would like to continue receiving Neal Obstat Theological Opining.  I enjoy it very, very much. 

    My e-mail address is kevjolynch1@verizon.net.

  34. Adam says:

    Hi Dr. Neal,

    This is Adam in Des Moines, I read you blog every morning, religiously. This blog has been a great blessing, I often take sentences out, or quotes you’ve shared, and pray with them throughout the day. You’ve deeply impacted the way I approach my faith, theology, and the living of my vocation as a husband and father. I thank God for the impact you’ve had on me, and for your friendship!

    In Christ,
    Adam

    • Adam, Thank you so much — that is an extraordinary compliment coming from you. God bless your beautiful family and I can’t wait to see you soon in the Holy Land of Iowa! Peace and all good, Dr. Neal

  35. Bill O'Brien says:

    Mr. Neal,
    I look forward to reading your blog daily. Somehow through the Spirit I feel not only a deep Amen with the Lord’s insights through you, but you’ve become a spiritual director of sorts for this part of my journey. I know you have probably many times had the experience of picking up a book or reading an article that you sense was just what the Doctor of our souls, or what Providence had prescribed for you. Well that is how it’s been for me with your blogging. Thank you!!! I will seek to remember you and your family in my prayers. I live in Orange, Ca. I’ve worked in religious education for the last 12 years or so and am currently in a CPE program and discerning chaplaincy work.

    • Bill, I am highly honored by our comment as such a role is among the most important in Christian life…so it makes me approach this Blog with a greater holy fear, which is good. Thank you for writing and my prayers are with you and yours are gratefully received. Blessings on your service to the Church in Orange.

    • Sherri Paris says:

      I totally agree with you! This blog inspires me! ☺️

  36. I am a wife & grandmother of 4 who lives in New Orleans. The first thing I do in the morning is read your blog. It is wonderful that you share your spiritual insights with us. Your love and thirst for God increases ours! Thanks and have a great summer. Maureen F

    • Thank you, Fellow New Orleanean! I am humbled to know people read what I write every day and benefit — it makes the work “easy” knowing it is lifting people up each day. Thank you for writing and be assured of my prayers. Yes, I will take in this summer rest! Peace and all good, Dr. Tom

  37. Hi Dr Neal,

    You know me as Kelly Reineke and as Whimsy. I’m from your sojourn in the Midwest.

    Your poetry always stretches me; it’s a side I didn’t see so much of in your presentations.

    My nickname is now InchwormByInchworm because I’ve started a wordpress journal for my fitness journey.

    So if you see me struggling to keep up with the 2 year old, I’m not just a big mama — I’m a big mama, sore from training!

    Wanna enjoy the van loads of granbabies when God sends them.

    • Kelly, so wonderful to see your name! How awesome you are the big mama sore from training and from keeping with with your family! May you see your children’s children in a happy and healthy long life. I miss seeing you and hope to again one day. Thanks for writing and I am encouraged to know my poetry stretches you. Yes, it’s something I don’t often show in my talks. Stay well and best to your husband. Send me by email your fitness wordpress so I can read it! tneal@nds.edu Peace, Dr. Neal

  38. Rosary Maker says:

    I am just a little green pea on the conveyer belt of life – or so I heard. Blessings –

    Tallahassee, Florida
    Lucinda

    • You heard wrong, daughter of the Most High loved from all eternity, cause of the passionate descent of God into hell and back again into the heavens to make a new home for you filled with peace and all good and lavish you with a salvation of everlasting covenant union with His Heart. Or so I’ve heard… 🙂 Blessings, Rosary Maker. tn

  39. amyansaturday says:

    Hi Doc…It’s Amy T….please include me when you return…until then, you will be missed! Your blog posts are a “light” onto my path on what has been two of the darkest years of my almost 50 years of life! Blessings over you and your family over the upcoming weeks! This hiatus will give me a chance to catch-up on the last month of your blog posts that I haven’t read but are neatly tucked in order in a gmail folder labeled “Doc Tom’s Wisdom”! Please include me when you return from hiatus!

  40. Laura T. says:

    I’m suffering from Tom withdrawal. One more month to go. 🙂
    Can’t wait to read your blog in August.
    Prayers.

  41. Laura T. says:

    I finally got around to reading your last blog post. Nice.
    You asked who we are….
    I’m a 42 year old cradle Catholic, wife and mother of two. My husband, through many years of patience and prayer, has decided to join the Catholic Church. He’s completed RCIA and is awaiting his annulment in the diocese of Charleston (prayers appreciated). We currently live in Raleigh, NC, where I struggle during Mass witnessing others engage in non-traditional practices than I experienced in Atlanta (my hometown) and South Carolina. I find your blog to be thought-provoking and comforting…my husband enjoys reading the entries I forward on to him, as well.
    I heard about your blog through Brandon Vogt…he posted one of your entries on Facebook and mentioned that everything you write is worth reading. High praise!
    Hope you have a great rest of the summer.

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