Monday, October 8, 2012

Joyful "Journey"

"Are you nervous?" The question came from Bill Bateson, one of the staff members of the Coming Home Network, as he helped me get acclimated to the set of Marcus Grodi's long-running EWTN program "The Journey Home" this morning.

"Not too nervous," I said honestly. "Like Queen Esther said, 'if I perish, I perish.'"

I have indeed been nervous when on programs such as the "TODAY" show and "Fox News Live"—shows designed for experienced "talking heads" who know how to get in, spout their three talking points, and get out.

Today was different. For one thing, I knew that friends, as well as the wonderfully welcoming "Journey Home" staff, were praying for me. Moreover, having seen "The Journey Home"—particularly the beautiful episode featuring my friend Jeffry Hendrix—I knew that I would not be under pressure to "sell" myself. All I had to do was show viewers what it looked like to have an encounter with Christ for the first time. It would not be all that different from the times I shared my conversion story within my talks about healing sexual wounds with the help of the saints. In fact, it would be easier, because I would have the guidance of a host who for the better part of twenty years has been helping people share their journey (or return) to the Catholic faith.

If anything, the level of difficulty of a "Journey Home" interview could be compared with that of the "mining exam" in Peter Cook's famous monologue: "They only ask you one question: 'Who are you?' And I got 75 percent on that."

On television, Grodi has always struck me as one of those rare contemplatives in the world. He is alert, to be sure, with great gifts for listening well and asking meaningful follow-up questions, yet at the same time he exudes a peaceful calm. I was very happy to find today that he was exactly as I had imagined.

Before the taping, when I told him about the "theology of wounds" that is at the foundation of My Peace I Give You, Grodi told me what he believed were some of the most important sections of the Bible on redemptive suffering. His choices intrigued me as they were not the ones people normally mention first when discussing the topic. One was Romans 8, particularly verses 15-17: "When we cry, 'Abba! Father!' it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him." The other was the whole of the Book of Revelation, because, he pointed out, it is all about the promises God makes to those who conquer—i.e. to those who conquer through suffering with Christ, as the Romans verse directs us to do.

If you would like to mark your calendar, the episode with my interview is set to premiere November 12 at 8 p.m. Eastern.

Interested in saints and spiritual healing? Check out my Patheos blog, Feast of Eden.