February - 2015


All Things Are Possible: An Interview With John Michael Talbot
Joe Philip
The Infinite Value of 'Having A Mass Said'
Patty Knap
Book Review: The Grace of Yes
Mark Phillips
1 of 3 articles

All Things Are Possible: An Interview With John Michael Talbot

Joe Philip

Whether about TV or music or the Mass, John Michael Talbot wants to remind us that we are made for mission because we are made to love—and to love like Christ.

Currently the host of his own television show, “All Things Are Possible,” Talbot began his public career as part of Mason Profit, a country folk-rock band that toured and released well received albums with multiple-labels, including Warner Brothers. After the band disbanded, Talbot started a spiritual journey that exposed him to the writings of religious figures from around the world.

However, it was the Gospels and the words of Jesus that struck him in a way that nothing else had. “They weren’t just words of a historical figure, but the words of Jesus spoke to me as a living person. His words were alive and I was drawn in to know Jesus more and more.” Convicted that this encounter was not just an experience but an opportunity for change, Talbot prayed for guidance on what he should do with his life going forward. God responded, “Play your music and I will open and shut the doors.”

Following this encounter, Talbot has been creating community, playing music, leading worship, making CD’s, touring the world, creating and sustaining humanitarian efforts, and leading revivals and parish missions. Like his hero, Saint Francis of Assisi, Talbot is on a mission to help to rebuild the Church, one brick at a time. And as someone who now shares his journey regularly with his audience on his show, Talbot took some time to provide an interview for Shalom Tidings to share to parents, parishioners, and priests.

We need to remember that we cannot give what we do not have. In “Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel), Pope Francis talks about how each of us must really live what we say we believe. Parents are called to actively live the Gospel, which means living it joyfully. If they do this, even though kids may struggle, rebel and doubt, they will always crave that joy their parents have. Without this kind of living faith, the content of the Creed is not appealing.

This is most evident in the typical experience many people have at Sunday Mass. It is not about “saying words, mumbling the songs, and shuffling around looking at your watch before you go up and receive your Jesus “pill!” We do not go in for a weekly check-up. We are going in to receive the Eucharist—Jesus Himself—because it is the most powerful source of joy there is in the universe!

Children need to experience this first in their parents at home and then in their parents at Mass before anything else. Joyful parents, even if they do not have all the answers to every question of faith, are teaching the next generation how to fully participate in our faith—we are present to Jesus and His presence gives us joy.

It is often the case that people complain about the quality of music at their parish. However, if we want better singing, we should be the first and loudest ones singing! Compositions can always get better, but that is not our job in the pews. Our job is to sing and worship. In other words, “clean your side of the street.”

You miss out on the encounter when you spend time blaming people. We are there to give. So is God. We are there to give our hearts to God and “praise and worship is an upward motion.” So raise not only your hearts, but your hands! We do this to symbolize how we are letting go of what we hold onto. We surrender our struggles and let the old fall away because God is there to give us new things. He is there to give us everything!

So in giving God praise, we are freeing our hands and hearts to receive from God all the graces of the Eucharist!  This is what many young people are really looking for. They want the Sacraments and they want to be energetic (which is sometimes sound and sometimes silence) and engaged! If this is true, then “we have to take the best of the Protestant world and the fullness of truth—the best of the Catholic world, and reach our culture for Christ!”

“Share your faith.” Faith, the substance of things hoped for but not yet seen, can be made visible through witness. This means that every priest ought to share why they became a priest, often, and with everyone. Priests need to keep sharing why they gave up marriage and having kids. They also need to share how they are married and have children—as spiritual fathers!”

What mega-churches are looking for is what every Catholic priest can provide—to gather God’s children to the table, proclaim the Word and then prepare the table and give that Word, the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity for the people to participate in! Sharing the Gospel from personal experience will make people hungry for the meal!

We have had ten years of bad news and people who have felt frustrated or discouraged are ready for Good News. They are ready to get excited about their faith again. So even though the record industry has changed and people do not buy music like they used to, the reason why Talbot records less and visits parishes more is because, “people are ready for revival…and I’m God’s cheerleader. I’m God’s fool!”

Secular humanism is not cutting it and the Church has something better to offer. That something is ready to raise the dead and get dry bones back on their feet and alive again! Parish revivals need to “meet people where they are at, inspire them, and there’s got to be music that takes can take them deeper…What I love to do when I’m invited to a parish is to make parish events a mission to let people laugh, weep, and experience conversion because the Lord’s at work!”

JOE PHILIP is a theology teacher and retreat coordinator for Powers Catholic High School in Flint, Michigan. He holds his M.A. from Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. He and his wife, Tara, travel and share their love for Jesus and the Church by leading and speaking at retreats. They are happy parents to two young children, a girl and a boy. Follow Joe on Twitter @joephilip101.