Lamps of the Tradition

Lamps of the Tradition is a collection of short, easy to read reflections on twenty aspects of Catholic culture and practice.  Beginning with lessons from the garden, thoughts on recycling, and the importance of gestural piety, Lamps takes the reader on an illuminating and lively, personal journey through the ordinary experience of being a Catholic.

            With a look at things like liturgical music, prayer networks, and reading the psalms, as well as popular feasts like Ash Wednesday and less well-known prayers like the “Te Deum” and “Anima Christi,” Lamps throws light on Catholic practices both familiar and perhaps unfamiliar. 

            Written for the ordinary person in a tone and style appropriate for families, Lamps nevertheless enlarges the reader’s perspective as it sheds light on attitudes toward devotions, habits, sacraments, and particular Catholic beliefs.  All too soon the reader finds Lamps concluding with a humorous reflection on the saints and two thoughtful meditations on the Blessed Virgin and the rosary.

Lamps of the Tradition

  • About the Author

    Ed Block was born in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.  His father was a master-welder who worked field construction throughout the American West in the 1950s and early 60s.  The family settled in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he attended Nazareth Hall, the minor seminary high school for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.  He attended St. Thomas College, graduating summa cum laude in 1967.  After a year of graduate school at Stanford University on a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, he spent two years in Malawi, Central Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer, teaching at a boarding secondary school.  He met his future wife, Mary Helen, who was a lay mission volunteer.  

                On his return to the U.S., he completed his Ph.D. at Stanford, married Mary Helen, and after a year in Germany on a Fulbright Fellowship, taught at Oregon State University before accepting a tenure-track position at Marquette University, where he taught for thirty-five years.  He and his wife raised three daughters.  He retired from Marquette as Emeritus Professor in 2012.  Throughout his career he has been active in his community and parish, serving on the National Ski Patrol for twenty years, doing two terms as a Parish Council President, a PTO co-president, a parish newsletter editor, and the editor of a scholarly journal for seventeen years. 

                He began publishing articles on practical spirituality in 1998, a year after his first (religious) poem was published in CrossCurrents.  Since then he has published dozens of spirituality.  He has also published over fifty poems in journals like Spiritus and Review for Religious.  In 2005 he edited and published a collection of essays, Glory, Grace and Culture: The Work of Hans Urs von Balthasar (Paulist Press). In 2016 he published a first collection of religious poems, Anno Domini, and, in 2017, a second collection – of secular poems -- titled Seasons of Change.  A long-time fan of the late Minnesota novelist, Jon Hassler (author of Staggerford, A Green Journey and North of Hope, to name just three), in 2019 he published Jon Hassler – Voice of the Heartland. He was interviewed on local public radio stations on the publication of all three books.  His reviews, interviews, short story, and essays on literary topics and the spirituality of everyday life have appeared in America, Image, Commonweal, St. Anthony Messenger, Logos, U.S. Catholic, and a variety of other journals.  He continues to write, facilitate book discussions at his parish and other local gatherings, tend a garden, and enjoy retirement with his wife in Greendale, Wisconsin.  

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