When I was young, the anticipation of a “big” future birthday came with images in my head of what it would be like having pierced ears (age 12), driving a car by myself (age 16), and voting for the first time (age 18). The next set of important birthdays included less awe and wonder.

The decade markers of 30, 40, and 50 have had less to do with commonly-shared life experiences and focused more explicitly on making the decade to come meaningful. In my 30s, I got the theology master’s degree I had always wanted but wasn’t ready for right after college. In my 40s, I committed myself to a professional goal and chose jobs that led in that direction. In my 50s, I studied American Sign Language, one of two skills that I had always wanted to learn well.

Now headed toward 60, this week’s group of CatholicsRead titles speak to me in a way that they probably wouldn’t have even a couple of years ago.

If I could give a title to the coming decade, it would be Let This Be the Time: Spiritual Essentials for Life’s Second Act (Twenty-Third Publications). As I watch different people age, it has become exceedingly clear that our lives are not split into only two acts, but as many new acts as we have the courage and energy to write. Janet Schaeffler offers a great reminder in this book that we are always in the process of becoming as long as we are willing to take the opportunity to continue to grow and discover new things and meanings.

President Biden embodies the title of Schaeffler’s book in many ways, but perhaps most of all in his Catholic faith, especially Catholic Social Teaching. Dr. Massimo Faggioli, in Joe Biden and Catholicism in the United States (Twenty-Third Publications), does what he does best—stands at the juncture between his expertise in history and theology to discuss our current president as a Catholic, a politician, and a Catholic politician.

Two other titles declare clearly and succinctly what this next act in life should be about. In Return to the Root (Ave Maria Press), bestselling author Joyce Rupp guides us toward the essential—what is at the root of our lives and what keeps us rooted—breaking through the chaos and leading us to peace. Twenty-Third Publications’ Delve Deeper: Exploring the Sunday Gospels in the Year of Luke is a terrific challenge to go develop a more conscious faith response and bear witness more in my daily life to the Gospels.

To coin a phrase, “Let this Advent be the time,” the time to awaken a deeper encounter with God during this season of preparation. Ascension offers a lovely resource, Rejoice! Finding Your Place in the Advent Story, to help us step into the story of Advent (and outside the craziness of Christmas celebrating during those weeks!) and look at how this season can reshape us for the future.

As I have watched other people in my family and circle age, I have tried to mentally jot down the lessons that they are teaching me. My mother at 83 still works full-time as a hospice chaplain, driving all over southern California, and accompanying patients and their family members through the end of the life of a loved one. Maybe that is why OSV’s Saintly Moms: 25 Stories of Holiness appeals so much to me. Like my mom, these women’s stories break open the breadth of what motherhood and holiness are.

There is no better companion than Mary, and Catholic Book Publishing’s Mary Day by Day is a daily resource toward discovering, maintaining, and deepening the connection with Mary through prayer, meditation, and reflection.


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Therese Brown is the Executive Director of the Association of Catholic Publishers. She holds a master of arts degree in youth and liturgy from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. She previously served as senior marketing specialist at United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Publishing Office. She is the author of Graced Moments: Prayer Services for the Lives of Teens (World Library Publications). She resides in the Baltimore area.

Readings for life’s second acts
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