I spoke earlier this month at a local parish’s women’s group, and I had promised in a few days to post the notes (much like I did for my talk at the “Finding Your Fiat” conference.)
Much to my regret, it’s been more than a few days, but I am finally uploading these notes.
I combined two concepts for this talk, as the organizers asked me to speak on both “Reading (as a) Catholic” and “Great Catholic Memoirs.” So I first outlined and discussed some “Reading Catholic Rules” with general principles and take-away ideas for being a well-rounded and savvy reader; and then shared a number of Catholic memoirs for ideas to get started. You can click on this sentence see images and links to the Catholic memoirs (and more!) on a Pinterest board I created a long time ago sharing Catholic memoirs.
Most of all, I want to encourage the women I spoke with, as well as anyone reading this, to be a Catholic reader, and to encourage you to take the time to read.
Reading Catholic Rules (along the lines of Michael Pollan’s “Food Rules.”)
Even the English philosopher Sir Francis Bacon had food in mind when discussing books:
“ Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.”
*A Catholic reader knows “you are what you read,” in the same way the expression, “you are what you eat” works for food.
*A Catholic reader filters everything through a Catholic worldview.
*A Catholic reader goes with her strengths, but is not afraid to stretch.
*A Catholic reader is social shares books and love of reading with others, just as eating in family or community is better for us.
* A Catholic reader recognizes and rejoices in beauty.
* A Reading Catholic collects quotes like recipes.
Great Catholic Memoirs:
Sir Walter Scott wrote, “There is no life of a man, faithfully recorded, but is a heroic poem of its sort, rhymed or unrhymed.”
A well-told memoir like the ones shared here you offer testimony to the heroic in life.
Classic memoirs would be works like: St. Augustine’s Confessions, St. Therese’s “The Story of A Soul.”
Modern Catholic memoirs, my definition: I would say any autobiographical book by a Catholic, or someone with a Catholic vision. Sometimes, faith takes center stage, sometimes it is just an element in the story, but the well-told stories–even with flaws, either in the person or the way the story is told–can still provide reflection for that “heroic story.”
Some Catholic memoir categories:
Two memoirs by” insiders” in Church affairs
My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir by Colleen Carroll Campbell.
The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities, and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church by John Thavis
Two traveling memoirs:
Jesus: A Pilgrimage by Fr. James Martin, SJ
Running with God Across America by Jeff Grabosky
Four memoirs about tough times:
Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilabagiza
Three memoirs — voice of experience:
I Alone Have Escaped to Tell You: My Life & Pastimes by Ralph McInerny
Treasure in Clay by Venerable Fulton Sheen
The Ear of the Heart: An Actress’s Journey from Hollywood to Holy Vows by Mother Dolores Hart and Richard DeNeut