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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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spiritual works


These books were privately published in very small numbers for parishioners and friends. I really did it just for fun. Much of the material is the same as found on the blog. I suffer from no delusion about being more than I am. However, while I may have few gifts as a priest, as the poor man I share what little I have.

The Reason for this Book

My initial intent was simply to make a booklet with basic prayers. However, it then occurred to me that many contemporary people may have an impoverished notion as to the meaning of prayer. This work seeks to offer a few insights into the importance and role of prayer as well as sharing examples of formal prayer. Given that at the time of this composition I was (and remain) the pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church in Mitchellville, MD, I have entrusted this effort to the Holy Family and the first essay explores how it is a model to the place of faith, witness and prayer in the Christian family.

Paradigm of the Holy Family

Given the many challenges to our faith and assaults upon the family, the Christian must resist a tendency toward cynicism and despair. Failing to live in a civilization made entirely new by Christ, we must do all we can to preserve and to protect our faith in the context of our churches and the family. Traditionalist critics give the assessment that a truly Catholic family and faith community is an oasis of hope within a world civilization which seems less entranced by Christ’s kingdom as it is by either a new kind of materialistic secular-paganism or by a fundamentalist Islamic extremism. Knowing our faith and living it out is crucial. People of prayer are important “signs of contradiction” in what would otherwise be either a godless world or one where a distorted god gives vent to human anger, ignorance and prejudice.


The Inspiration for this Book

I love old books. During one of my treasure hunts in a used bookstore, I discovered an ancient “penny-catechism” which defended the Catholic faith through an apologetic question and answer format. Some of the answers were lacking, but the questions were wonderful. It was missing both the front and back covers. The pages had grown brittle with time and literally broke apart, powdering to dust as I turned them. This anonymous work became the catalyst for an extended personal reflection upon the truths of our religion.

I wrote down the surviving questions, studied the answers, corrected citations, deleted inaccuracies and rewrote much of it with a mind to the present status of the Church. There may be very little if anything left of it in this book I have assembled; however, I wanted to say something of tribute and thanks to an unknown author long dead.

Now, as for this book, I should begin by saying what it is not. It is not a catechism; in no way is it a comprehensive compendium of the Catholic faith. Like many other such books, it is selective. Looking at the table of contents, there might seem to be some glaring omissions. My general focus or gravity here is upon sacraments and sacramentals.


How to Read This Book

This short work often cites fairly extended bible passages. A number of them were taken directly from the Lectionary used for Masses. It is for this reason that I would highly recommend the use of a bible as a reading companion to this book. I did not include all the passages for various reasons. However, chief among them was a desire for readers to brush the dust off their bibles and to open them. Admittedly, I also did not want a small book to suddenly become an enormous tome. The Scriptures play so heavily in this volume that I had originally intended to entitle it, BIBLICAL REFLECTIONS, but opted for CHRISTIAN REFLECTIONS instead. These are the thoughts of a Catholic Christian and of a priest who regularly reads, preaches and prays over God’s holy Word. My opinions might not always agree with yours. Nevertheless, I have earnestly tried to insure fidelity to Catholic teaching.

How This Book Came About

The evolution of this book was the result of a number of factors. First, I had kept a written record of various faith reflections and homilies over the years. This would provide much of the content. Second, I had already written a book on prayer and another on various questions pertinent to the Catholic Church and her sacraments. I felt negligent in saying little about the God for whom we yearn, the moral life and our calling as prophets or disciples. Third, I suddenly had the time to further compose and edit given that a blizzard had brought other work to a standstill. The DC area had received the most Winter snow since 1883! Fourth, I had originally intended a series of small booklets but decided on a single book with three overall headings: (1) God Reveals His Face to the Church; (2) Lord, Have Mercy on Us; and (3) Make Us a Nation of Prophets. I hope the reader will find some value in my poor words.


Teenagers and adults have enjoyed Fr. Joe’s Scary Stories for many years. Now it is your chance to read what all the fuss is about. It is a good safe way to celebrate Halloween time while not forgetting the more important ALL SOULS and ALL SAINTS DAYS. Why are his stories particularly scary? He says, it is because they are are TRUE . . . well mostly.

Before I tell my stories, some very personal, I remind the listeners about the important religious celebrations often eclipsed by the secular fun of gouls, pumpkins, and things that go bump in the night. November 1st is All Saints, when we remember those who have gone ahead of us into heaven. We beseech their prayers and follow their example of holiness. November 2nd is All Souls. We remember all those still in pilgrimage to the Promised Shore, especially the poor souls in purgatory. We pray for the dead because we love them and they remain a part of us.

Some might object to such stories, and if you are one of these critics, then put this book away. It is not for everyone. Trust our Lord and be not afraid.

However, I would argue that we might benefit from what is contained in this small volume. We are reminded that we are mortal and that we are engaged in a battle against powers and principalities, things seen and unseen.

Despite a few objections, the telling of ghost stories and the like has a long history among believers. Many themes in Christianity come to the fore: the resistence of the devil and the other fallen angels, life beyond the grave, the mystery of sin and death, the communion of the saints, prophecies regarding the end times and the anti-Christ, etc. Nevertheless, it may still seem particularly bizarre that a priest would annually tell scary stories, and yet, for many years that has been my practice in the month of October.

Why tell scary stories? We could also ask this of the inspired biblical authors, and yet believers regard the Scriptures as God’s living WORD to us, revealing himself and the message of salvation. Could it be that the light of the Good News shines all the brighter against the dark backdrop of human weakness and spiritual evil? I think so.

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