Fr. Tom Bartolomeo
Faith in a seed
By Fr. Tom Bartolomeo
July 26, 2018

David Thoreau, author of the most published book in America, Walden or Life in the Woods, also wrote, Faith in a Seed. How well he described the myriad ways seeds change our environment, landscape and geography. Long before Thoreau or his admirers lived Jesus compared the power of faith to a seed in "the kingdom of God":
    "Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit," John 12:24
A naturalist like Henry David Thoreau would explain that a grain of wheat or any seed without light and water "remains just a grain of wheat" unless the germ within the seed's endoderm and husk breaks out, grows and displays God's creative power in the world. There are awkward moments for all of us when we wander outside our familiar surroundings or make a retreat with people we don't know. We may fear a stranger we meet, perhaps the sower in the parable of the sower and the seed, Jesus spoke of. What will become of all the seeds he scatters?
    "A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled, and the birds of the sky ate it up. Some seed fell on rocky ground, and when it grew, it withered for lack of moisture. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew, it produced fruit a hundredfold," Luke 8:5-8.
"Some seed" is sown on rocky thin soil which immediately springs up and dies of thirst. Then, some seed is sown and the wind carries it into a briar patch where it can hardly breathe, take care of itself in a crowd wishing he had landed on some weed-free nourishing soil where he could thrive, have seeds of his own and contribute to the community of seed growers in the world. But what a risk. And he hadn't taken into account the seed that fell on hard ground,"was trampled" and later taken by "birds of the sky." That would be the worst possibility, he thinks. Thoreau, however, would say, they were the lucky seeds which the birds released after consuming their endoderm and husks disbursing them in far off lands to prosper.

© Fr. Tom Bartolomeo


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Fr. Tom Bartolomeo

I am the founder and director of the Families For Families Retreat House, a refuge for anyone who wants to rethink his or her life in a quiet non-demanding environment in an historic house c.1709 when life was less complicated. I am also and primarily a Catholic priest having been a college and university teacher, business-owner and executive among other things. I received my Bachelor's and Master's degrees in English literature from Saint John's University, Jamaica, New York and completed post-graduate studies at Kansas State University. Contact me at


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