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     Proverbially, the squeaky wheel gets the oil.  However, in the case of a recently read book, A Squeaky Kneeler (squeaking on,) by Michael Robinson not only provides credibility to old adage, but also should indeed replace the application of oil with grace and perseverance.  This book celebrates the squeaky musings of Michael Robinson, a former Capuchin in the Franciscan Order and turns the somewhat disturbing “squeak,” into an opportunity to realize the infusion of God’s love and grace into the ordinary events that happen in each of our lives daily.  Kneelers, virtually unknown since the Second Vatican Council were integral to the prayer life of clergy, religious and faithful Catholics throughout the world. Today, the liturgical furniture makes rare appearances usually during the Sacrament of Penance, or in front of various shrines in order for pilgrims to stop, pray and meditate on the saint’s virtues and pray for God’s continued insistence. However, kneelers conform to the knees of the person that utilizes it and becomes not only a place of prayer, but a comfortable place where an individual can meditate, pray, contemplate or just observe the daily events that happen in their lives.  The kneeler is a virtual observation point for both the soul and provides a place from which one is able to observe the works and actions of the world and persons around them.  Michael Robinson uses the imagery of a “squeaky kneeler,” to provide glimpses into his own personal thoughts and insights regarding the actions of people and events going on around him.  Primarily, a kneeler is a place of prayer and contemplation.  Mike Robinson utilizes his “squeaky kneeler,” as a platform to recollect on events and individuals that deeply  have affected his life and continue to provide this service through the continued squeak of the responsive  kneeler each time the author either recalls critical events from the past or “squeaks,” regarding contemporary events that now effect him as a husband, father, author and a continuing important part of the People of God, all of whom are squeaking in our own ways about untold events known only to God and as intercessions for His Divine Guidance.

     There are positive and annoying aspects to a squeaky kneeler and the same can be applied to the lessons learned in our lives through both positive and negative experiences.  However, both ends of the spectrum of experiences are collectively the sum total of our physical and spiritual journey in faith as we live, learn and love as part of a larger community of faith, the Church. The squeak from each of us transforms from a cacophony of annoying tones into a well-orchestrated symphony of a collective praise of human lives in our pursuit of a better understanding of God’s existence.  Through recounting people, places, thoughts and events Michael Robinson inspires all of us to become, “squeaky kneelers,” that produce noises that could be considered annoying into harmonic sounds that ultimately provide life lessons for ourselves and all of the people we encounter on our Catholic eschatological journey towards Christ Jesus and participate in the final orchestration of Divine harmony with God through eternal life.

     Michael Robinson incorporates all sorts of experiences, with good Catholic theological principles into this well written and intimately disclosing work of his journey in life and faith.  He talks about his adoring dog, Rudy as an inspirational example of the canine’s fidelity, while his master (Michael) seeks professional and personal inspiration, direction, and practical employment in his life.  Which of us, has not relied in the unconditional fidelity of a canine companion, or for that matter the unconditional love of the Father as the constant motivation through His grace to continue on and deal with the triumphs and tragedies of ordinary and often difficult difficult moments of our daily lives.

     Mike Robinson even applauds the smallest events in life as transformational, the presence of a mouse in the house (which in itself could be the squeaky sequel to this book, to the engineering genius of Steve Jobs that was the inspirational power behind modern word processing and the entrance into the computer age of typography, to even the most mundane observation of the movements of clouds as indicative of positive influences and great, “squeaks,” that radically transform  the daily perceptions of our lives.

In reality, the work by Mike Robinson makes me laugh, cry, giggle and even gives me the opportunity to correlate similar events that I have experiences as a Catholic seminary student, a teacher, graduate student and author. Clearly, as indicated by Michael Robinson, SQUEAKS are intended to call attention to significant and important events that affect our personal, spiritual, and professional lives.  While the most basis kneeler, seems innocuous in the larger reality of life and the world, the need for kneeling in order to reflect on the majestic events happening all around us makes us aware of the endless line of influential individuals, events and activities that contribute to the great fabric that constitutes our temporal fabric of humanity, gifted to us for only a limited time by the Creator.

     Unfortunately, I have never personally met the author of the book. However, seemingly we share a similar and almost unconventional view of what we consider philosophically, theologically, spiritually, and humanly important as we live our lives.  Most importantly, Mike Robinson effectively uses the effects of pervasive love and faith in God, His Church and most importantly his loving family as the catalytic components that make Mike Robinson a man of thought and deep love, similar to Saint Anselm and the famous axiom, “Fidens quarrels intellectum,” (Faith seeks understanding!)  While we may not always achieve understanding about all of the significant and seemingly insignificant events that make the fabric of our lives a reality, Mike’s observations motivate me to keep vigilant, be persistent and grow to love, “squeaks,” however they manifest themselves in life, whether through people, events, pets and even the most insignificantly perceived opportunity to share grace and love by being both a “squeaker,” for others and most significantly a, “kneeler,” calling everyone to take time to live, love, pray and most importantly put away the WD40 and SQUEAK loudly to proclaim God’s glory and our desire to participate in His Divine live. Even if the disharmonious squeaking from all of our collective kneelers is not always the song of the melodic choirs of angels, with which we are most familiar.

     Mike Robinson’s book provides me personally with a reflective view of the importance of love, family and faith as the integral part of our daily lives as Catholics.  When you read the book, certainly, you will encounter similar sentiments and laugh, giggle and love when you pick out your antidotal favorite stories to integrate into your squeaking kneeler.

Mike’s book is available at


 Hugh J.McNichol is a Catholic author and journalist.  Hugh studied both philosophy and theology at Philadelphia’s Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary.  He also holds a B.A. in Philosophy from that institution. Hugh also studied at Villanova University in Villanova, Pa, holds an M.A. in Catholic historical theology, and is in the process of earning an M.S. in Church Management.  Additionally, Hugh is a part-time student at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. and anticipates completion of his studies in Catholic liturgical historiography.  Additionally, Hugh has plans to pursue an Ed.D at Immaculata University in Immaculata, Pa. Hugh writes frequently for multiple Catholic News Outlets on a regular basis, and has finished two books, to be released in Fall of 2013, The Stained Glass of Paula Himmelsbach-Balano and American Catholics during the American Revolution. 
Hugh is a member of the Equestrian Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, with the rank of Knight.  Recently, Hugh has been presented as a candidate for membership in the Knights of Malta. Hugh resides in Delaware’s Brandwine Valley with his wife and daughter.

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