I have been smiling my way through Monsignor Richard Soseman’s book, Reflections from Rome: Practical Thoughts on Faith and Family.
I‘m just sorry–so sorry!–that I didn’t tell you about it earlier, before Lent began; but you know, it’s not too late to add it to your repertoire during this season of reflection and renewal!
I first met Monsignor Soseman (“Mons” is his on-line handle) in May 2011, when I was in Rome attending the Vatican Blogfest. Mons, a priest from the Diocese of Peoria serving as an official with the Holy See’s Congregation for Clergy, came to a party on our hotel rooftop; then, he was kind enough to invite some of us American bloggers to join him for Mass early one morning in the crypt level at St. Peter’s Basilica.
I‘ve learned more about him since then through social media, and have come to appreciate his photography and his unique “insider” insights into events at the Vatican. “I’m celebrating Mass at St. Peter’s,” he writes to his friends. “How can I pray for you?”
He’s shared a few of his wonderful photos from the Eternal City, which have brightened the pages of my blog from time to time.
More recently, he has talked with me at length about his work with the Fulton Sheen Foundation and the lengthy research process that goes into preparing the Positio, the collection of evidence obtained by a diocesan inquiry into Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s heroic virtues in a form suitable for presentation to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. (Watch this spot later this week for my reports of our conversation regarding that process and the alleged miracle which has just been approved by a board of seven medical experts.)
But in Reflections from Rome, I’ve gotten to see his heart.
The book is a collection of brief reflections, two- or three-page stories, like a modern-day Aesop’s Fables (or a brief yet poignant weekday homily). Each vignette can help the reader to discover something, to appreciate something, to understand something, to become something that will help to improve his disposition and strengthen his faith.
I chuckled over some essays: “French Fried Bird Beaks” and “Toothpaste, Orange Juice and the Morning Offering” and “Is Sleep Justified?” I reflected on the last paragraph in each essay, showing how the simple things in everyday life–like football and radiators and Velveeta Cheese–teach us about God.
And if my recommendation hasn’t convinced you that you need to read this book, let me mention the noted clergy who have enthusiastically endorsed it: Cardinal Raymond Burke, Bishop Joseph N. Perry (Chicago), and Bishop Robert F. Vasa (Santa Rosa).
Cardinal Burke said of Monsignor Soseman,
“Like Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, for whose Cause of Beatification and Canonization he has labored, Monsignor Richard Soseman has sought to use modern means of communication in the service of the new evangelization. In these reflections, originally written as web logs, he draws on his experiences as a priest both in rural Illinois and in Rome to convey the truths of the Catholic faith in an accessible and appealing manner. May those who read the present collection of reflections be inspired and encouraged in the daily living of the Catholic faith.”