Nov. 20-26, 2003
Take His Advice
By Connie Cissell/ SUN editor
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Father Champlin’s newest book recommends slowing down; reflection
Not many things come with a guarantee these days. Father Joseph Champlin’s latest book, however, begins with one. He tells readers that if they consistently read the suggestions in his book and meditate on the contents, and they do not feel less stressed, they can write him at the address listed in the afterward and he will return their money — a novel idea that just might work. What began as an idea has bloomed into a promising new book that arrives just before the Christmas season. For Father Joseph Champlin, life’s twists and turns and ideas that blossom and bear fruit are nothing new. Father Champlin, rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, has taped radio spots for more than two years now advising listeners on how to live in today’s stressful world. He tells a little story he has picked up along his own journey and his message reminds folks to take time for the little things. Sometimes his messages make listeners laugh; sometimes they make them cry.
Author of nearly 50 books, his publisher suggested he work his radio spots, which air on WSYR radio and are also reprinted weekly in Eagle Newspapers, into book form. The result of this “spiritual voice in a secular world” is an easy to read, easy to carry and attractive little book entitled Slow Down. Father Champlin will sign copies of this book on Thursday, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. at Barnes and Noble, 3454 Erie Blvd. in DeWitt. He will also present an Advent reflection on the same topic at St. Joseph Church in Camillus on Dec. 3.
Before he began the radio project, Father Champlin put together a focus group to determine topics that affect society — forgiveness, grief, love, parenting and more. The key element that kept resurfacing, he said, was stress. He developed his radio spots, “Spiritual Suggestions for a Stress-filled Society” because people really need them. “People are into spirituality today,” Father Champlin said. “They are very much into prayer, but not into religion and not into going to church.” His radio spots and newspaper articles work as evangelization in a world where people are hungry for prayer, spirituality and relationships, he said. “The book is not wishy-washy stuff,” Father Champlin said. “It talks about the nature of heaven and spiritual things that people can relate to on a different level, on any level.”
The book is one that people could pick up, open to any page and find something that relates to their life. It is appropriate for people coming from any religious or faith background. In Slow Down, Father Champlin numbered days up to 101 and he takes topics from everyday life, writes a short story about them, followed by a spiritual suggestion and then a Psalm that relates to his original idea.
Father Champlin tells a story about a young woman who was pursuing a doctorate in psychology. She called herself “an agnostic,” but was intrigued by the Catholic Church. She sought out a priest to talk with about an incident that had happened 10 years before. She warned him that she did not want absolution because she did not believe in confession and she did not want counseling because she was a professional therapist. After she discussed what had happened, the priest said, “Sometimes, when we have made bad choices we cannot undo the harm done or make up for those poor decisions. But that is okay, because it makes us rely totally upon God for forgiveness and strength.”
Father Champlin’s spiritual suggestion that follows this starting-over story is, “If a dark part of your past plagues you, let it go and depend totally on God for mercy and strength.”
After writing books on everything from marriage to stewardship, the words in this little book that captures brief moments may resonate longer and louder for audiences everywhere.