By Richard Meek

The Catholic Commentator  

Father Joshua Johnson admittedly never enjoyed writing, not as a high school student, nor as a seminarian.  

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As someone who once shuddered at the thought of even writing a term paper, the idea of becoming a best-selling author appeared ludicrous. Yet, Father Johnson, pastor at Holy Rosary Church in St. Amant, recently reached the pinnacle of Amazon’s best selling list with the release of “Broken + Blessed, An Invitation to My Generation.”  

The book rapidly rose to the top spot on Amazon’s Christian book list.  

“I never thought there would be a day when I would write a book until it started coming up in prayer,” he said. “It gives me joy to know that God can use me.” 

Using personal experiences as the foundation, Father Jonson said the book is an invitation for Catholics who are struggling with their faith or perhaps have left the church. He noted that people are “broken and blessed,” hence the title.  

“We’re all imperfect, we’re all sinners, hopefully striving to be saints,” he said. “If you and I can receive the love of Jesus, then when we receive the gift, the proper thing is to share that gift with other people as well.”  

The book offers practical tips on how to love the church the same way “Christ loves us in the midst of all of the mess.”  

“The Lord invites us to the messiness of the cross, and he enters into the messiness of (our) lives, and that’s where intimacy happens,” said Father Johnson, who was ordained to the priesthood in 2014. “And whenever we can have that kind of intimacy with God, we can have that kind of intimacy with our brothers and sisters. We’re going to see the church is not a museum for saints but recognize it as a hospital for sinners like you and I and that we’re broken. We’re all there for the same reason, to be healed over time. And that healing happens.”  

Father Johnson said the Holy Sprit initially invited him to write a book several years ago, so he began to pray about the possibility. But he also added the caveat with the Lord that “I’m not going to approach anybody about writing a book, so if you want me to write a book, I want a publishing company to reach out to me and ask me.”   

He soon had his answer. When praying before celebrating a wedding in Lake Charles, he received an email that Ascension Press was interested in him writing a book.  

“And so that’s when I first started the conversation,” Father Jonson said. “I put it on the backburner and worked on some other projects in the meantime.”  

During this past fall, dialogue with Ascension Press spawned the idea of writing a book for reaching Catholics who were feeling marginalized by the church. In February, Father Johnson begin writing and the ideas immediately began to tumble onto the page.  

He altered his morning schedule, awakening at 4:30 a.m. to pray and work out, and then write. By 7:30 he was in the confessional at Holy Rosary administering the sacrament of reconciliation.  

“I didn’t want to do any writing during hours of operating here at Holy Rosary,” he said. 

By April the book was at the publisher, an amazingly short time for an author to complete a work, especially a novice. 

Father Johnson said writing helped him recall his own experiences in the church, significant events that he had forgotten. He said when he was writing “things would just come out, and I was able to process them and bring the spiritual direction. And some of the connections I was able to make have been really helpful.”  

Through writing, he came to realize Jesus is enough, recalling many experiences in his rather short ministerial life when he was able to witness Jesus working in the lives of others. He was also able to meet with people who were struggling with their faith on their own levels, recalling a time when he was distant from his faith.  

During his ministerial life Father Johnson continues to direct people to Jesus for guidance, whether it is to resolve a personal conflict or a doctrinal or moral issue. 

“They would eventually come around and say ‘I get it now because Jesus helped me,” he said. “That has inspired me to continue to do my ministry that way and to remember when I (meet) people who are in difficult situations in their faith to trust that if I pointed them to Christ that he would do the work because he’s a living God. He will bring them to where they need to be.  

“Give it to Jesus over time and he will work it out.” 

Although the book was written before the most recent revelations of clergy abuse, Father Johnson calls his work “prophetic” because he addresses “the scandals of the church, including the sex abuse scandal, racism and slavery.” 

“I had no idea that the scandals were going to come to the surface again but this book is a perfect response to help people right now,” he said.  

The book is currently available on Amazon and AscensionPress.com but should also be available in bookstores in the near future.  

Bitten by the writing bug, Father Johnson said he is planning a second book, although the exact topic remains under discernment.