For several years, I have been the usual author of the Foundations of Faith article that appears in each issue of The Compass.
“Where do you get all those ideas for that column?” is what people most often say when we are first introduced. The range of topics that have been explored has been broad: from prayers to vestments to sacraments and sacramental, even animals in the Bible.
- The truth is that lots of ideas come to me from just as wide a variety of sources. For example, the article on sick crosses (May 2, 2015) came because I bought a sick cross about 25 years ago from a Catholic bookstore. I had never seen one before and, after learning what it was, thought it might be a good item to have around the house. (Turns out that it was there when I needed in on the night my mother died.)
- The article about the Russian icon of the Old Testament Trinity (May 22, 2015) came because my cousin — who is currently stationed in Serbia with the U.S. Foreign Service, sent me a copy of the icon as a gift a couple of years ago. I have always found Eastern Christian icons to be interesting and wanted to learn more about this one.
- The article on the Siena, Italy, horse race (July 4, 2014) came from reading a book for youth about Renaissance-era horse races. The real races, run on July 2 and the feast of the Assumption, date back to medieval times.
- An article about Easter carols (March 29, 2013) came from hearing Rosemary Clooney’s “Eggbert the Easter Egg” from 1952. Holiday carols actually go trace back to St. Francis, using traditional French dancing tunes to tell Christmas stories. Handel used one of Francis’ carols in his “Messiah’ composition.
- The story on Pope Paul VI’s gift of miter rings to bishops following Vatican II (June 21, 2013) came from seeing an article about such a ring for sale on EBay.
So, my ideas come from all sorts of places — books to music to what’s hanging on the calendar in front of me. And, of course, unusual traditions or events readers might send my way might catch my imagination as well.
Natural curiosity and a love of research pull it all together. Finally, a topic has to be intriguing: If I’m not intrigued by a topic, the article I write about probably wouldn’t be interesting to read about either.