As October approaches, I realize that this blog, Reflections of a Canadian Churchman, will soon be two years old. When I began writing online, I had only a small idea of what I wanted this blog to be about. It seemed clear to me that a blog could be used as an outreach tool to connect with those in the parish family on both a broader and deeper level. Since then I have begun to realize that a site operates in two ways. The first way is as a tool of communication. Thus, I have used this site (and its sister sites - Sermons of a Canadian Churchman and Book Reviews of a Canadian Churchman) to communicate information, or more precisely, to proclaim the Christian message. This was always the primary goal in writing these online reflections and in posting my homilies. What emerged, though, was the discovery of another function of such a site, the building of relationships. Through this site I have had the opportunity to get to know, converse with (and yes even argue with), and to form meaningful relationships with many individuals whom I have never met. It has also been a means for reconnecting with others who now live far and wide; it has been an opportunity to connect at another level with the parish family; and finally it is a means to connect with those who, for whatever reason, cannot be present amongst the rest of the faithul for corporate worship on Sunday mornings.
I think this latter point is crucial. I have heard again and again from many readers that they find it very helpful to read a homily, a reflection, or an online study when it is just impossible to get to church. Many are traveling as the result of work or the new-found freedom of retirement, some are prohibited because of age or disability, others have felt hurt by the church and feel estranged and unable to return to the community, still others are in an emotionally difficult place and would rather "be apart" for awhile. Whatever the case, we all long for connection, and I am pleased that this site has helped people feel connected with God and with the Church as they travel along on their faith journey. Some people post responses on the site, many others send me personal messages. I treasure each one of them and the relationship that goes with words expressed, for in the midst of the written and spoken word is the Word made flesh, Jesus our Lord.
My original intent had been to post about once a week on this blog. I quickly realized that this was probably not realistic. I also wanted to post my homilies, so I opened another blog, Sermons of a Canadian Churchman. Later I added a third blog, Book Reviews of a Canadian Churchman. As I now look back on forty-one posts on the Reflections blog, sixty-six on the Sermons blog, and four on the Book Reviews blog, I realize that 111 posts in under just two years is slightly more than once a week, so I guess I have met my goal after all.
And so, as I approach the end of my second year of blogging, I thought I would offer some "coming attractions" for the months ahead for the three blogs.
Reflections of a Canadian Churchman
This site will continue to feature my occasional thoughts and reflections on topics in the life of the Church or issues that emerge in my own reading of Scripture or study of theology. It is also a place to address questions that readers send in. Last year's online study The Gospel of Mark Challenge was a great success, and so beginning this Friday, I will be posting the introduction of a new series, The Gospel of Luke Challenge, which will be the focus of the Reflections site throughout the fall.
Sermons of a Canadian Churchman
As we move toward the end of the liturgical year, I will continue to focus my preaching on St. Mark's Gospel. It is my hope that these homilies, as well as last year's thoughts on Mark from my Reflections blog, will form the core of a new book. As we move into Year B in late November, I will preach on St. Luke whenever possible.
Book Reviews by a Canadian Churchman
This page is dedicated to reviews of books either by Canadian authors or from Canadian presses on books of a spiritual, religious, ecclesiastical or theological nature. The next book for review will be Canadian sociologist Reg Bibby's new book on the so-called "Millennial Generation." If you know of a book you think should be reviewed or are an author or publisher interested in sending a review copy, my contact information can be found on the Book Reviews page (see link in right-hand sidebar).
Finally, thank you to all of you who have faithfully followed this blog and read my homiles & reviews over the past two years. I have been blessed that you have let me share my thoughts and reflections with you, but even more profoundly blessed by the conversation and reflection you have shared with me. My prayers are with you as we continue down the road together.
Fr. Dan Graves
Feast of St. Ninian, 2009.