Photo of Dr. Paul Camarata taken from his twitter. Happy February everyone! Can you believe it's already the second month of the year? Crazy. Anyway, as a treat, I finally have the interview with Dr. Paul Camarata, who does the SaintCast podcast. For a brief bio/commentary, please read my previous blog post here. Sorry it's taken some time. Busy schedules on both our ends happened but, hey, good things come to those who wait. lol.
First of all, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview. I was excited to be able to pick you as the speaker because, as someone who loves learn about saints, I've found your podcast (The Saint Cast) very helpful. My first question is, what inspired you to start the podcast?
When Pope John Paul II died in April of 2005, something 'touched' my soul. I don't know if it was the soul of JP II, the Holy Spirit, or what, but I experienced a 'mini-conversion,' so to speak. My wife and I had our marriage blessed by him in 1986, when we got to sit with the newlyweds in St. Peter's Square during a general papal audience on our honeymoon. I had the blessing of being able to see him several times on trips to Italy with my wife and eldest daughter, so I had a special place in my heart for this courageous man.
I was a cradle Catholic, always very faithful. But in the days after his death, I instantly deepened my prayer life, and began devouring anything I could get my hands, eyes, and ears on from a Catholic media perspective. I found podcasts and stumbled upon several great Catholic podcasts. I began reading more and more lives of the saints. I suddenly realized why the Church hold these people out for us to admire, learn about, and emulate. In a previous career, I was a broadcaster, and I thought this would be a great way to merge the two interests. That's how the SaintCast was born.
You are very knowledgeable on all things saints, way more than me and I'm a saints geek (often called a walking encyclopedia on saints). Was there a particular saint or experience that made you want to learn as much as you could about the saints? Any special devotions to a particular saint or saints?
Well, I've always been interested in the saints. I was raised a cradle Catholic, and lived in a small town in western Kansas where our parish community was staffed by the Capuchin Franciscans. They were an integral part of our parish family life, and my folks were good friends with many of the Capuchin community. So I knew a lot about the life of St. Francis as a youngster, and attending high school with the Capuchins, and being a part of their formation program in high school, I learned more about him and the Franciscan ideal. My high school was called Thomas More Prep, and so I learned a great deal about the great St. Thomas More. I have been to the places where both of these men spent most of their lives - Chelsea and London, England, and Assisi. I have always had a special devotion to these two holy men, and Padre Pio, as well. I've read a number of biographical works about Padre Pio, and have held him up as a model of outstanding Christian prayer life. The more we learn about the saints, the more the yearning to try and become one.
I spent time in Italy in college, speak Italian, and have been back a number of times. There are many saints and saintly places in Italy, and I've tried to take my kids, one at a time, on a tour of some of the saintly places in that great country, when they each complete 8th grade.
You are a great example of a faith Catholic, with a hectic schedule, who still manages to put his faith and family first. That seems to be a rarity in today's society. What's your secret? Any special devotions (such as the Rosary) that you do while "on the go"?
No secret really. I wish I had more time in the day to devote to prayer and family. I don't seem to need as much sleep as many people, so I often do some of this while others are sleeping. I don't pray enough, but I'm trying. I try and pray the Liturgy of the Hours when I can - at least Morning/Evening/ and Night prayer, many times using the PrayStation Portable podcast from SQPN while driving to and from work. I love to read especially the 2nd reading from the Office of the Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours. It's usually a reading from a Pope or one of the Saints or Church Fathers, and often has great advice and topics on which to meditate. I think it's kind of a hidden gem, and easily overlooked as it's probably one of the least of the hours prayed by the laity. I've got a bunch of prayers bookmarked on my iPhone- wow, some great Apps there. Maybe I can address that below.
Anyway, I never can seem to get enough prayer in. I'm lucky to get 30-45 minutes a day. I try to steal away during the day to the hospital chapel between surgical cases. It's really tough in today's world to find that much silence in a day - but I think it's really essential. I mean Padre Pio sometimes said over 30 complete Rosaries a day. It's no wonder he had visions and knew the will of God for him!
You often mention your family in your podcast. We often hear about Catholic moms and how they bring up their children. As a Catholic dad, how important has it been to you to helped your children grow in their faith?
It's a bit tough, because I don't get near as much 'face time' with the kids as my wife. I am blessed with a truly saintly wife. She gives so selflessly of herself expecting absolutely nothing in return, and getting essentially no thanks or appreciation. My children's growth in their faith is almost entirely due to her influence. That being said, I try to help them in their faith journey when I can. We talk often, essentially daily, about the saint of the day, and how they practiced their faith and lived lives of Christian virtue. I've been blessed to be able to send them to Catholic schools for their entire education. My father died when I was 14, and at the time I was the oldest of 6 children. I think it left a huge hole in the lives of my siblings, especially the girls in the family. I've tried, therefore, to be as big a part of their lives as I can, being involved in Catholic scouting, coaching basketball and baseball teams, and staying involved in their school work and activities. I firmly believe that both girls and boys need the constant presence of mothers and fathers for their spiritual and emotional growth.
Lastly, is there any advice you'd like to give to the blog readers (some of who are as young as 15 years old; most of whom are in their early 20s to early 30s) on how to keep the faith alive despite having a busy life?
One word... Prayer. I find that when my life gets too busy, when I neglect my prayer life, it's too easy to succumb to temptations, and to stray from the Christian ideal. Taking time out to talk to God, to listen to God and his plan for your life, and to always ask that your life is in tune with His will for you. Pick out a short reading or prayer then take some time to meditate on it. Find a time and a place for prayer... in total silence. It's increasingly harder and harder these days to find it... get up early, stay up late, or steal away during the lunch hour. But dedicate a fixed amount of time every day and it will do wonders to keep your faith alive!
One last thing. believe it or not, my iPhone really helps me in my daily prayer life and devotions. For those with iPhones and iPod touches (and I'm sure there are comparable Apps for other mobile devices)... there are some really cool Apps out there. My favorites...
iPieta, an App with not only the entire Bible in English, Latin, and English-Latin side by side, but also the entire Old and New Catholic Liturgical Calendar, literally hundreds of prayer in English and Latin, including the Mass, All of the Church Council documents and Papal encyclicals, books by many saints including the complete works of St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. John Vianney, St. Louis Marie de Montfort, and many others, The complete Summa Theologica (English and Latin), and the lives of many saints - all in one App!
iBreviary - the entire Liturgy of the Hours, in English, Spanish, French, Latin, Italian
iConfess - a great Examination of Conscience before Confession
Mass Times - takes your current location or zip and finds the nearest Catholic Church, Mass times, directions, daily readings, etc.
Popes - every pope's biography, picture, etc.
iCatechism - the entire Catechism
St. Josemaria - a great devotional
Patron Saints - a great saint biography App with cool things like lighting a virtual candle and seeing who else in the world has lit a candle recently for that saint.
I would like to thank Dr. Paul for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions. I am definitely taking a lot out of his answers (especially the suggestion about taking time out to pray in complete silence) and I hope that my fellow readers do as well. :)
Please check out The SaintCast podcast either at the website or on iTunes (through which I am subscribed). I guarantee that you will learn little tidbits on saints that you didn't know. For example, do you know who the patron saint of the daily grind is? No? Well, Dr. Paul does and he has recently talked about him.
I hope to blog more often (especially since classes are starting up for me next week and thus will be at home more often than not), but don't hold me to that. As Jose in the movie Bella says "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans."
As always, thanks for ready and God Bless!