Monsignor Michael Becker, adjunct professor of homiletics, has received a national Catholic Press Award for the book he edited, A Life of Daring Simplicity, by Liturgical Press. The book received a third place award in the book category Pastoral Ministry.
Judges noted: “This is a very good book of daily meditations for priests. It is based heavily on Saint John Paul II. It is targeted to those priests of the Saint John Paul II generation.”
Monsignor Becker has been collecting material on the vocation of priesthood since 2004. He has compiled those reflections into a book of daily meditations, not just for priests and aspiring priests, but for any Christian who seeks an understanding of the priestly life.
The book was inspired by Saint John Paul II, who wrote an annual letter to priests, as well as by Saint John XXIII, and Monsignor Becker’s desire to create a collection that offered “everyday verse for those living the vocation to priestly life and ministry.” Saint John XXIII uses the expression “daring simplicity” in his Journal of a Soul. And while his writings and those of Saint John Paul II provide many meditations for reflection, the book also includes work from contemporaries, Church Fathers, and those living and observing the priesthood.
Reflection authors include Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, as well as Blessed Columba Marion, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, Adrienne von Speyer, Francis Cardinal George, Saint Polycarp of Smyrna, Blessed John Henry Newman, Thomas Merton, Basil Hume, and others. Saint Vincent Seminary faculty member Father Thomas Acklin, O.S.B., also has two meditations in the book, taken from his Unchanging Heart of the Priesthood.
Monsignor Becker begins each meditation with a scripture quote and ends with either a prayer or a question for further contemplation.
While the concept had been in his head for some time, it did not come to fruition until he attended a conference on homiletics and met someone there who encouraged him to publish a book on the topic.
“It took ten years to finish,” he said. And while the title dates to Saint John XXIII, he noted that it is also “very much in keeping with the vision of Pope Francis, who is showing great courage and daring in his call to reform the Church, and great simplicity in his manner of life.”
The book is available on amazon.com as a softcover offering as well as an e-book. It retails for $29.95.