When I was 27, I was cast as Louisa, the 13-year-old daughter, in a semi-professional production of The Sound of Music. Physically, it made sense especially since I looked at least 10 years younger than my actual age. My friend Beth who was shorter and even younger looking than me was cast as Brigitta, the 11-year-old.

We were also the only Catholics in the entire cast. Which proved to be an incredibly fortuitous.

As Beth and I sat out in the empty auditorium during tech rehearsals watching the nun scenes, we noticed that none of the nuns knew how to make the sign of the cross. None. Somewhat sheepishly, we approached the director to let him know that every Catholic—and Christian—in the audience was going to notice this unless it was fixed. Not the first thing you want to read in a review! She and I spent the next 20 minutes or so teaching them how to make the sign of the cross correctly—top to bottom, left to right, like you read a book.

It would have been easier to start with at least some nuns who knew what they were doing. But that wasn’t the priority, but it was important.

Starting points aren’t always logical or obvious. When casting the musical, the ability to sing and act were far more important concerns. But not the only ones. With Lent approaching, sometimes we get distracted by what seem to be the more important starting points for our practice for the forthcoming 40 days. What am I going to give up? Do I want to focus on Stations or daily Mass? What charity do I want to devote my resources to? Will there be an exemption to celebrate St. Patrick’s and St. Joseph’s Days? (Very important in Chicago.)

This week’s collection of CatholicsRead titles remind us that the best and only starting point really is Jesus. Here are six different approaches.

Start with Jesus from Loyola Press is an essential for an effective and sustainable approach to parish renewal and to all who are curious about developing a relationship with Jesus.

Where better to find Jesus than in the The Great Adventure Catholic Bible from Ascension?

Thirst from Paulist Press mines the story of the Samaritan woman at the well as we go to the well to meet Jesus and Jesus goes there to find us.

Go on a journey of spiritual awareness with Jesus in His sufferings with Through His Wounds We Are Healed from Catholic Book Publishing, especially if you or someone you know is experiencing challenges, illness, or any form of suffering.

Encounter Christ is a whole new way with Joe Paprocki’s latest, Under the Influence of Jesus from Loyola Press.

Explore the hope that characterizes Lent and Easter in the stories and reflections in What Are We Hoping For from Paulist Press.



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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.

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