Coffee Table Evangelization: The Catholic Catalogue

I’ve always had this problem where I get really nervous about talking about my faith with non-Catholics but at the same time I can’t keep quiet about it because it is who I am. I think I’ve gotten better with age. There was a point in my life when I stressfully felt like I had to convince people of the truth of my faith. But now, it’s more like this is a beautiful thing that informs every aspect of my life so it’s just bound to spill over into conversation wherever I am whoever I’m with.

Most of my friends growing up were not Catholic, and I remember them saying that they could never be Catholic because of all the things you would have to know.Now I think I understand. Looking from the outside in it does seem like there’s just so much seemingly superfluous stuff: all the patron saints and feast days and icons and statues and priests and nuns in strange clothes and titles of Mary (and what is it with Catholics and Mary anyway?). But at the time, the idea that there was too much to learn left me reeling. It was like saying you could never go to school because there was too much to learn. Or that you could never get married because there too much to get to know about a person. Too much to know and to love.

In college, I read Evelyn Waugh’s words on conversion and I wish I had known them before then, because it put into words those innate feelings I had:

“Conversion is like stepping across the chimney piece out of a Looking-Glass world, where everything is an absurd caricature, into the real world God made; and then begins the delicious process of exploring it limitlessly.”

And then I wish I had The Catholic Catalogue on hand. Not because I think everyone must be Catholic and must be Catholic this instant. (I think everyone should be wherever God wants them to be.) But just in case they were curious about all the seemingly superfluous stuff.

If conversion, as Evelyn Waugh makes it out to be, is the limitless exploration of a new land, The Catholic Catalogue, subtitled A Field Guide to the Daily Acts that Make Up a Catholic Life, is like a guide book for that journey.

Written by a mother-daughter team who runs a website by the same name, the book is organized in different sections titled: Smells and Bells (topics include among others: relics, oils and incense, praying the rosary, and processions), Seasons of the Church Year (describing how to keep and celebrate Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Ordinary Time as well as the various feasts within those seasons), and Seasons of Life (explaining sacraments and different vocations but also giving practical advice for things like naming a child, finding a spiritual director, and choosing a Catholic tattoo).

I think what I love most about this book is that it’s coffee table evangelization. It’s the sort of book that would have piqued my interest as a kid. I have this feeling that a good deal of imaginative, spiritual formation is actually hands off with raising children. (Maybe I think that because it keeps me from stressing about the enormous task of making sure your kids end up decent and faithful people.) It made a big deal in my childhood that there were simply good books around me. So I think exposing the natural curiosity of children to truth and goodness and beauty in indirect ways goes a long way.

The Catholic Catalogue is also perfect for newly (or not so newly) married couples trying intentionally to make their home into a domestic church. It makes for an ideal reference book in creating a rule or rhythm for living out the Christian life that’s tailored to your family’s own particular needs and devotions. The spiritual nourishment it offers makes it a beautiful gift idea for any sacrament in a person’s life.

Basically, if I know you and you have a major Catholic life event coming up, you’re probably going to receive this book from me. You’re welcome in advance.

Coffee Table Evangelization: The Catholic Catalogue

6 thoughts on “Coffee Table Evangelization: The Catholic Catalogue

  1. Jessi says:

    And it is beautiful, like a good coffee table book ought to be. We got a copy a couple weeks ago and I have loved perusing.
    I love the idea of a good feast, but my experience of them when we started going to Catholic churches when I was a teen was as Holy Days of OBLIGATION and while I am totes good with obligatory things now (perhaps not so as a teen), it is the icing-the rituals and rhythms and colors and flavors that makes our whole life family life sacramental and gives us culture. I see my Catholic students all the time asking what they need to do; it is like asking what is the minimum I must do to not get divorced–who wants that kind of marriage. I think this book is cool because it can evangelize Catholics too so there isn’t the dualism of “spiritual life” and “secular life.” Our faith is so rich and so many in our generation have to learn it.
    Sorry to takeover your combox.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It sounds great! I wish it would be translated into Polish, because I am going to be a godmother soon to a boy who doesn’t have “very catholic” parents (sounds odd, I know – they would like to be, but they do not have any examples from their families or closest friends, long and complicated story). They would like to bring up their son catholic (so they chose very catholic godparents 😉 ) and I would like to support them in this. It’s not easy, since I live 400 km away and I am looking for some books and things like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That would be great if they translated it into other languages! I don’t know how modern Polish Catholic culture is, but I think the book particularly appeals to American Catholics because American culture isn’t very cohesive. The faith is something that offers that unity that we’re lacking, and this book does a good job of describing various traditions and devotions all around the world that American Catholics can adopt for their own daily life.

      That’s hard being far from your godson. My son’s godfather lives across the country so I have to remind myself that prayer is more powerful than distance. A gift idea for you (that you may have already thought of)–illustrated saint books! I loved reading the lives of the saints when I was little. The fact that the saints were real and ordinary people but lived such heroic lives always inspired me 🙂

      P.S. I wish I could read your blog! I’m pasting your posts into google translate and what I can read is lovely 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think the problem with Polish catholic culture is that it seems to be catholic. According to some official data above 90% of the population are catholics here. Unfortunately it has often nothing in common with the catholic faith. The majority was baptised, but they live without God or with minimal involvement (Easter, Christmas). I am even more curious after your comment – I asked a friend of mine who lives in the States to buy me a copy of the book. The Holy Spirit acts global 🙂

    I have a wonderful godmother with whom I actually have only a little contact. It was my mother’s friend and then they lost a contact so automatically she wasn’t there phisically by my side (my parents aren’t religious) but she and her husband are people of prayer. I strongly belive that if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t convert, so I experienced that it is mainly about the prayer in being a godparent. I plan to give him a little wooden cross to hang in his nursery and a book with Bible stories with some little magnets for people and animals 😉

    P.S. Thank you for your lovely words! Now, since I have my first international reader, I will try to translate my posts, also from the past. Maybe not all, because the blog is 6 years old, but the majority 🙂


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