During my time working at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in the early 2000s, people—friends and colleagues as well as strangers—would ask why I stay Catholic. Mind you that my first few years there included 9/11 and the clergy sexual abuse crisis, events that would challenge anyone’s faith in a loving and omniscient God.
Remaining Catholic is not like having a job that starts out fulfilling but devolves into a stressful drag that one day I resign from and start another. Staying Catholic is about a wholehearted “being-ness” that is almost cellular in its depth. It’s part of my identity and not something I can easily change.
That doesn’t mean I don’t struggle. I have subjected both my personal and professional friends over the years with my frustrated rants. It pains me when we as a Church fall short of the Gospel, but then someone or something reminds me that the journey of conversion is long and ongoing.
This week’s crop of CatholicsRead ring loud and clear about what being Catholic means. It is Scripture and tradition. It is the community of saints and accompaniment. It is ritual and seasons. Unfolding Sacred Scripture: How Catholics Read the Bible, The Gospel of Luke, and The Life of Jesus Christ: Understanding the Story of the Gospels lead us through the Scriptures and how we as Catholics read and live them. This is an especially important moment in history to remind ourselves of the path that Jesus set before us and how we are called—and daily challenged—to follow it. So much of Jesus’ life is about the choices put before him and why and how he made them.
Though the Odds Be Great or Small, Community by Henri Nouwen, and On Retreat with Henri Nouwen: Engaging Life’s Big Questions present a football coach and Henri Nouwen as examples of small “s” saints whose lives outline a path that many can follow. Both model the perseverance that it takes to remain on the path of the Christian life.
Adore, a beautifully illustrated reflection on the four themes of vigilance, preparation, nearness, and Emmanuel during the Advent season, leads on the seasonal journey to the light of the Nativity. Advent is so often overwhelmed as the secular celebration of Christmas is overlaid it so much so that Christmas apparently ends on December 25 rather than begins there. This offering gives us deep reminders of how to keep to the path of the season despite the other messages that we receive.
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.