My name is Barry Schoedel. I work as an Associate Director in the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge. I converted to the Catholic Faith when I was 29 years old after about ten years of seeking truth. During this journey I studied philosophy and practiced meditation and contemplation as much as I could.
I contemplated going on to get a PhD in academic religious studies but was drawn more and more to the study of Catholic theology. This led me to study for a graduate degree in theology at a Benedictine institution, St. Meinrad. I was drawn to St. Meinrad primarily because of the beauty of the pastoral setting and liturgical prayer of the Divine Office.
After this for two years I completed the coursework for an MA in Philosophy at Gonzaga while in seminary. I voluntarily withdrew from seminary because I was quite ill from what I now know to be Crohn’s disease. So I was forced to abandon the study before passing comps and writing my thesis because of the practical demands of living in the World as a layman and having to move away from Spokane. I have worked for the Church since then. I consider my philosophical orientation to be Thomistic and I also have a decent grasp of both Western and Eastern Philosophy.
I view my life through the lens of moral reform and awakening to the love of God. After a period of struggling to live a better life in my late teens and early twenties, and a near-death experience through a car accident where I was critically injured, I began recovery from a substance-use disorder.
I have lived a sober life since February 28th 2003 by the grace of God. It was during that early period of recovery where through a mix of suffering and grace I slowly awakened to the truth that there was a personal and loving Creator that was guiding me and helping me. I continue to seek to deepen my relationship with God and to grow in humility, that I may evermore live in wonder at the gift of life and love.
“I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the foremost. But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience” (1 Tim 1:12-16a).
My views here are my own personal reflections. As a practicing Catholic I always seek to write and live within the communion of faith and when I fall short it is out of my own lack of understanding, or perhaps passions I am blind to. For these moments I apologize in advance. The ultimate end of this blog is to be at the service of heart of Christ and His mystical body, the Holy Church. May each member of the body contribute in such a way that each uniquely communicate the love of Christ that we may be a sacrament of salvation in the World
This blog is especially dedicated to those who are existentially suffering, who experience a deficit of love and because of that find themselves bound to thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors that only compound that suffering.
I am thinking of those who are lost in darkness and pain, who feel estranged from the love of God. This writing it meant to be an act of reparation united to the Heart of Jesus for all of these. May we together seek that love that reconciles – the love that the Jesus communicates to the lost sheep. May the angels rejoice in heaven as together we turn anew to the all-merciful Lord.
This title of this blog is inspired by Benedict the XVI whose papal motto was, Cooperatores Veritatis, or Cooperators of Truth. The writings of then Fr. Ratzinger, especially his book Introduction to Christianity, I will be eternally grateful for. He helped me to understand the beauty and reasonableness of the Christian faith.