TCC Reads: I Like Being Catholic

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First Communion

I Like Being Catholic is a fun read. Take into a hot bath. Carry it with you on the bus or train. Put it by your bedside for those times when you wake and need something light to help you go back to sleep.

The editors, Michael Leach and Therese J. Borchard, have chosen a kind of People Magazine approach to Catholics willing to talk about the role of the Church in their lives. There are pictures of sports figures and celebrities (Babe Ruth compares being Catholic to “a batting average, it sets a standard by which I can measure myself.”) There are black and white pictures of little girls and boys dressed up for First Holy Communion and only slightly older girls and boys in wedding clothes, religious habits and vestments as they step into the next stages of their Catholic lives.

There are lists of Catholic movies and books and pieces of music. There are stories from converts and stories from comedians. There is this explanation from a longtime Unitarian who seems surprised to find herself in the Church, “My heart got stuck in the daily Mass.”

Bob Newhart recalls being confused by the commandment not to “covet thy neighbor’s wife.” He thought the priest was saying, “Thou shalt not cover your neighbor’s wife,” and he says, “You can cover all the other wives in the neighborhood, and you’re home free. But the minute you cover your neighbor’s wife, you’d better get to confession.”

There are reflections on Catholic education and Catholic saints. Rosemary Haughton writes, “The saints can be strange, often uncomfortable, stubborn, hard to get on with, even wrongheaded. But the compassion of Christ rages in them. Without that, there is no real church. With it, there is reason to be Catholic.”

And that is the real reason to pick up this slim volume. Amid the mind and eye candy, there are treasures. H.L. Mencken, looking at the Church from a far distance, writes, “The Latin Church, which I find myself admiring more and more despite its frequent, astounding imbecilities, has always kept clearly before it the fact that religion is not a syllogism but a poem.”

After all, as Milwaukee auxiliary bishop, Richard J. Sklba says, “Whenever you go to Mass, you run the risk of falling into grace.”

– Melissa Musick