Hi there Catholic Family Podcast listeners and readers! Back yard-reading and blessings of the summer of 2009. Just in time for summer, we finished installation of a covered deck over our concrete patio and we’re already using it. Last Sunday, we had dinner out there – with a ceiling fan slowly pushing a gentle breeze above us. I also took the paper and some reading material out there.
Now – one of my habits – and it does annoy some folks when I underline sentences in books that I own. Sometimes I dog-ear the pages as an aid to find the underlines. All of a sudden I feel like Andy Rooney telling you about this habit of mine. Do you do this? Or are you a Ph.D. purist about books: don’t bend the spine, don’t write in them, leave the dust jackets on, etc.?
Let me tell you about two of the books that I have really abused. I do this to recommend books you may wish to take on a vacation with you. I’m hoping that you do take some inspirational reading with you as well as some escapism reading.
For inspiration – I recommend these two books:
-Living the Catholic Faith – Rediscovering the Basics by Archbishop Charles Chaput; Servant Publications, Ann Arbor, Michigan (and)
-Grace in Every Season – Daily Reflections (Through the Year) with Catherine Doherty; Madonna House Publications, Combermere, Ontario, Canada.
There are probably no books in my relatively dense library of books – no books which are more underlined and dog-eared than these two. Here’s why and here are examples.
For Archbishop Chaput (who is the bishop that ordained me) – he lays out a wonderfully readable book that invites and challenges the reader to look at the Catholic faith they profess. And from a guided way of looking at faith aspects – the bishop asks you to pray and consider your reply. Here’s an example from page 136 of Chaput’s book in a chapter titled “The Family As Leaven:” (In a series of recommendations or ideas for the Catholic family, Archbishop Charles says): “Sixth, teach your children to develop the virtues of the heart. Help them to value fidelity instead of broken promises; patience instead of restlessness; simplicity in place of confusion; humility instead of pride; courage in place of cowardice; honesty instead of excuses; forgiveness in place of revenge; a hunger for justice in place of apathy. And seventh, teach your children to revere the sanctity of life.”
Whether you are yet to have children… or you have them and this is a handful to expect from where you are… or if you are a grandparent who does occasional babysitting, these are suggestions and challenges that can lead to loving Catholic Christian hearts in young people. One other quote from the Archbishop that I have used many times in my preaching: “… God doesn’t need ‘nice’ Christians, Christians who are personally opposed to sin, but too polite to do anything about it publicly.” BINGO!
Now Catherine’ Doherty’s book is a wonderful daily inspirational and reflective sort of book. Most topics are about one page.
And it’s on a variety of things to ponder and let wash over your satisfaction with where you are and what you’ve been doing. There are about 310 pages in this book – and I’d guess I’ve dog-eared 200 pages… maybe more. I’ve written about this particular topic here at Catholic Family – it seems so apropos for mulling over during summer: “Christian recreation is truly re-creation, a renewal, a re-gathering, a re-collection… it doesn’t mean doing nothing… Recreation is to re-create, to make new. It is done with God, for God, for his honor and glory.” The rest of Catherine’s reflection is about things that one might do on vacation – done with an eye to becoming a new person when you return to home and work. Let me assure you that swimming, sunning, reading a book – these are all part of her examples of God-based re-creation. Imagine swimming for God!
As I complete this column for you who visit the Catholic Family website – I will take your intentions with me as I leave for a while. My wife Dee & I will be doing some marathon driving; we don’t mind too much. We’ll be in Springfield, MO visiting our daughter and family. I’ll go to Franciscan University in Steubenville, OH for an annual priest and deacon retreat and conference. Dee will go on to Bedford County, PA to visit her mom and family and I’ll join them when I finish my retreat. And finally, we’ll leave the east coast area and drive to San Antonio, TX for the Catholic New Media Conference, sponsored by SQPN. You know you’re invited – and many famous podcasters will be there. [We may have to stop near College Station, TX and help midwife a baby while David is away. I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV… but I’m up for this assignment! Pray for the Sweeney’s, okay?]
Blessings. See you in July! Happy Re-creating! Deacon Tom