the book fiend

The book: Letters to a Young Catholic by George Weigel

What's it about?
Weigel's book is both a spiritual and physical travelogue written as a series of letters. The book takes readers on a journey through the Catholic Church by taking them to various historic Catholic sites around the world. Weigel visits standards like the Holy Land and the Vatican. Weigel also visits locations like the manor where Brideshead Revisited was filmed and the pub where G.K. Chesterton liked to have a drink. At each stop along the way, Weigel explains the significance of the location itself to the Catholic faith and ties that in with a Catholic theme. For example, the letter on the Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem discusses the importance of Mary and her role in the Catholic Church.

What did I think?
This is one that I will read again. And again. And again. While each letter can be read independently or even out of order, I read them in order. I recommend reading them this way; the letters build on each other and Weigel references concepts he elaborated on in earlier letters. In the future I will probably just read the chapters as needed but the first time through, definitely go in order. Onwards to the content! I was born and raised in the Catholic Church. That didn't stop me one bit from "experimenting" in college. I tried on agnosticism, atheism, a modern spiritualism, & various forms of Protestantism before coming back to the Church. Something about the Church just felt right to me so I constantly found myself returning to Mass. For years, I struggled with intellectual doubts and questions. I'm not an ivory tower intellectual by any means, but I do love to learn and have always been prone to introspection and a good deal of pondering about things. So in the wake of the job tragedy, I decided to take a friend's recommendation and pick up this book. Weigel answered a great number of the questions that I had. The book does a good job of painting a more complete version of Catholicism: it doesn't just focus on the Saints or the Sacraments or any one area. Weigel instead tackles larger topics like Catholic worldview alongside topics like Mary and the Sacraments. Of course Weigel can't tackle every topic and every question. That would be one massive book. The book relies heavily not only on Weigel's own experience but core Catholic texts and important Catholic authors. After reading it, I have quite the list of books to read next. At the end of the day, Weigel's book is both informative and inspiring.

Who should read it?
Everyone! I would especially recommend this book for two main groups: 1. Catholics (duh), and 2. those who have serious questions about the Catholic Church.  Many people are terribly misinformed about the Catholic faith or draw their information from faulty sources. This is partly our own fault, which is why I am so thankful I read this and I recommend that other Catholics read it. Trust me--at some point in your life, someone will tell you about some Catholic "belief" that just isn't true. It's happened to me many times. Beyond that though, a lot of this information I didn't know myself so it's a really good way for us Catholics to learn more about our faith. For those who have serious questions: give this book a read. Put aside any judgments and doubts and just read. Give it a chance. Give the Church a chance. I think you'll see that it's not quite what you think it is.

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