Award-winning young adult author Deacon Patrick Jones talked to Christine Vincent about the need for the traditional parable.
Deacon Patrick Augustin Jones’ ministry looks a little different from that of most deacons. Serious traumatic brain injury prevents him from many of the traditional tasks of the diaconate. In spite of this impediment, his exuberant spirit, sense of humor and love of God keep him “running towards Jesus." In his writing, he is telling readers to do the same. Deacon Patrick is the award-winning author of two children’s books and two young adult novels. He graciously talked to me about his life and his writing, his concern about modern storytelling, and his call for the “traditional parable.”
Deacon Patrick was raised Protestant. He met his wife while attending the University of Denver where he studied Mass Communication and Women’s Studies. He has come a long way. Conversion to Catholicism happened at a Carmelite retreat in Crestone, Colorado, which Patrick attended with his wife. “God speaks to us through His fingerprints throughout creation,” he says, remembering the beauty of the desert landscape. The Jones Family which now includes four daughters made the Carmelite retreat a Christmas tradition. Eventually, a friar urged Patrick to become a deacon, and he entered formation. At the time, he had already suffered several concussions, each one leaving his brain more vulnerable.
In 2002, his world crashed. Another concussion injured Patrick badly. He is now suffering from dual-axis vertigo. He describes the sensory overload on his brain as 700 channels getting at him all the time. With such an injury, he should not be able to speak. However, God had other plans. Deacon Patrick speaks very well, indeed, and he writes even better.
When I talked to Deacon Patrick via Zoom, he introduced me to his “hobbit hole,” a simple, soundproof room he works in which keeps the attacks on his senses at a minimum. “I was not ordained with my class,” he says, ”but Bishop Sheridan decided to ordain me with special assignments. I serve Mass with accommodation. I am to pray for the Church and I am to minister to the brain-injured. I moderate groups.” He serves in the Diocese of Colorado Springs.
Deacon Patrick considers writing part of his prayer ministry: “Writing is praying. There is no difference.” One of his main concerns is to promote the traditional parable, a way of storytelling to counteract the negative influence of contemporary books and movies.
The vacuous entertainment industry has specific things they do,” he explains. “They have changed the idea of creating a story. They use narrative formulae which bypass our rational capacities going straight to our brain’s emotional response center. This kind of story is addictive. We are shown sin after sin after sin, without reflection.
Deacon Patrick suggests:
Do an examination of conscience for the protagonists of your book or movie. If the characters don’t show any striving towards virtue, discontinue reading or viewing.
He recommends the Scriptures as a storytelling model.
As writers, we are called to shepherd. We also have the power of the keys. Shepherding is what the parables do. A parable awakens the soul. We are sinners - deaf, dumb, blind and stupid. That’s why Jesus uses parables. He yearns for a deep abiding relationship with us. He gave us souls in order to recognize virtue and sin. Parables help us see how foolish we are, and they give us hope.
Deacon Patrick urges us to cultivate parable telling:
Parables break the cycle of addiction to thrills. While modern stories erode the margin where the imagination starts, parables help us grow new muscles in this area.
On his blog Shepherds and Halos: Catholic Parables on the Lost Art of Spiritual Warfare, Deacon Patrick tells parables about current issues concerning our Catholic Faith. He has created a group of lovable characters, some of whom also feature in his novels. Their adventures illustrate topics like abortion and the corona virus. The stories are simple but profound, startling and eye-opening. On the sister site Catholic Halos, you will find an important toolkit for spiritual warfare, a great resource for your kids.
Deacon Patrick would like to create a platform for parable tellers. If you feel similarly called, please contact him through CatholicHalos. One of the markets he envisions is the pro-life movement.
Deacon Patrick's Books:
Read my review of Deacon Patrick’s award-winning novel Defend The Tabernacle: An Action Novel About Chastity For Young Catholics
Deacon Patrick’s children’s books Anna and the One Mass and Luke and the One Mass are available on Amazon.com. Watch this lovely book video of Anna and the One Mass. The illustrated version of this book is sadly out-of-print.
How do parables help us reflect on a topic? Think about Scripture.
Copyright 2021 Christine Vincent
Images (from top): Canva Pro; all others courtesy of Deacon Patrick Jones. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Christine Vincent is a homeschooling mother of eight. She holds a M.A. in English and has been freelancing as a writer for over twenty years. When she began teaching her children, she discovered how difficult it is to find children’s books that will nurture the Faith. She launched her website BooksForCatholicKids.org to make the hunt easier for other moms.