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Letters to a Young Catholic Paperback – 1 Mar 2004

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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Gracewing (Mar. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0852446233
  • ISBN-13: 978-0852446232
  • Product Dimensions: 12.5 x 2.2 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 199,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

George Weigel, a Catholic theologian and one of America's leading public intellectuals, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies. Weigel was educated at St. Mary's Seminary College in Baltimore and at the University of St. Michael's College in Toronto. He has been an assistant professor of theology at St. Thomas Seminary School of Theology in Kenmore, a scholar-in-residence at the World Without War Council of Greater Seattle, and a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. From 1989 until 1996, Weigel was president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. The author of numerous books on Catholicism and faith, Weigel lives with his wife in North Bethesda, Maryland. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a great book for all Christian (not just Catholics) who are looking for a deeper understanding of the universality of their faith. Presented as essay topics, each chapter can be read independently, and the book can be picked up and put down as often as you like. The writing is accessible and clear, however this doesn't lead to any `dumbing down' of the points that are being made. I love George Weigel's work and this book makes an excellent addition to your library.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars 45 reviews
56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stimulate Your Sacramental Imagination 27 Aug. 2004
By Rich Leonardi - Published on
Format: Hardcover
During a nightmarish four-hour flight delay in Dallas recently, I had the opportunity to read George Weigel's new book and I can't say (or write) enough about it.

It's part travelogue, part biography and part catechism on the "sacramental imagination", a theme to which he returns again and again.

The devastating critique Weigel makes of "liberal religion" in the chapter on John Henry Cardinal Newman and the Birmingham Oratory is worth the purchase price alone.

He also has a great chapter on the the Old Chesire Cheese, a pub frequented by famous Catholic curmudgeons like G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc.

Weigel describes Belloc's run for a seat in Parliament during the early part of the twentieth century when England was notoriously anti-Catholic. Here is how Belloc kicked off a campaign speech:

"Gentlemen, I am a Catholic. As far as possible, I go to Mass every day. This is a rosary. As far as possible, I kneel down and tell these beads every day. If you reject me on account of my religion, I shall thank God that He has spared me the indignity of being your representative."

He won.

For a sample chapter online, simply "Google" the words "The Scavi of St. Peter's and the Grittiness of Catholicism".
67 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read! 16 May 2004
By just bein' Frank - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Theologian George Weigel's new "Letters to a Young Catholic" is a remarkable peek into the Beauty of Catholicism. It should be required reading for all Catholics, Protestants -- and even non-Christians!
There is perhaps nobody more suited to write a book like this than George Weigel. Mr. Weigel is the author of more than ten books, including "The Truth of Catholicism," "The Courage to Be Catholic," and, of course, the much-celebrated biography of Pope John Paul II, "Witness to Hope."
"Letters to a Young Catholic" is very much a roadmap of modern Catholicism. Mr. Weigel takes readers on a literary tour of the Catholic world. We visit the most likely and unlikely of places -- from GK Chesterton's favorite pub to the Vatican's Sistine Chapel -- as Mr. Weigel demonstrates that the world and the Church are "the arena of God's action."
He expounds on Catholicism's belief that God's presence can be experienced through art, history, literature, and even other people! As Weigel says, "we can touch the truth of our salvation" -- this life matters!! You'll never think of the Holy Catholic Church in the same way again!
I have never been so struck by the sheer beauty of truth as I was when I read "Letters." In every destination Weigel takes us, he finds opportunities to expound on the Catholic understanding of the world -- and of reality.
Weigel's writing is clear, concise, and convincing. I'd recommend the book to anyone and everyone. Catholics will rediscover the majesty of their Faith, and non-Catholics will be touched -- and challenged -- by the Beauty of Truth.
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Letter to all Christians and non-Christians 13 Aug. 2004
By Craig Stephans - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I consider Letters to a Young Catholic to be one of the best contemporary non-fiction books I have read, even though I am not Catholic and do not consider myself young anymore either. Although Weigel, a leading authority and writer on the Catholic Church, targets young Catholics and writes in a conversational style-thus the title, this book mentors all Christians seeking guidance in their relationship with Christ.

Weigel demonstrates a vast understanding of theology, history, geography, architecture and culture, and he orchestrates these topics to share the essentials truths of living the Christian life with his readers. Letters to a Young Catholic consists of fourteen letters/chapters addressing the key elements that Weigel considers important to modern Catholics and to all Christian disciples.

Some of Weigel's writing discusses practices particular to the Catholic Church, but even these apply and are relevant to Christians in general. Of the Catholic Church, he writes, "while Catholicism is a body of beliefs and a way of life, Catholicism is also an optic, a way of seeing things, a distinctive perception of reality." In Weigel's view, this body of beliefs and perception of reality is based on eternal truths that are at once both liberating and binding for the believers.

Weigel takes the reader on tours of sacred sites such as St. Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, the Sepulcher of Jesus and Chartres Cathedral in France. He uses these sacrosanct sites to share truths and point to the beauty, suffering, redemption, devotion and community found in the Christian story.

In one letter, he highlights St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville, SC. He shares the story of the church's priest, Father Jay Scott Newman, and his dynamic relationship with his burgeoning congregation to teach about prayer and the presence of Christ in the community of the church.

Another compelling chapter shares an episode from Pope John Paul II's life as a young adult in Nazi occupied Poland. The young man, Karol Wojtyla, heard and nurtured his calling in the underground catacombs that became a makeshift seminary. His only other classmate was killed by the Nazis during the occupation. The future Pope lived a clandestine disciple's life from age 19 to 24 years old.

Weigel dramatically shares this profile of the Pope as an example of the Christian life. He similarly shares stories and quotes of G.K. Chesterton, Cardinal John Henry Newman, Flannery O'Connor and several other Catholics whose lives touched their own and future generations.

There are no subjects touching Catholicism that Weigel avoids. He acknowledges the weaknesses and failures within the Catholic Church. He confronts the abuse scandals, the political/cultural issues about sex, gender, reproduction, and the theological controversies about the Catholic focus on Mary, the mother of Jesus. On all such issues, he adroitly acknowledges the tensions and then unassumingly states what he believes are the truths so central to the Catholic doctrine.

Even on such a weighty issue as the necessity of suffering, Weigel displays exceptional spiritual insights, along with an uncanny ability to convey his ideas to readers as if he were just writing a simple letter to a devotee. Weigel writes that "suffering makes us the kind of people who can live with Love itself, without suffering from it or getting bored by it." He moves the reader's attention to an "eternity of unfolding understanding and friendship and love."

Weigel's sharp comprehension of the Christian faith is identified in his statement, "faith in Jesus Christ costs not just something, but everything. It demands all of us, not just part of us." This belief informs his view of Catholicism as a religion that accepts the "really real" view of life in Jesus Christ in which "everything is of consequence, because everything has been redeemed by Christ."

If you are a Catholic or non-Catholic who is serious about your relationship to Jesus and his body-the church, I think you will enjoy this book and benefit from reading it and meditating on its messages.
41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Young Catholic Who Loved This Book 16 Mar. 2004
By Conor B. Dugan - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I purchased this book a week and a half ago and finished it in a few days. Simply put: it is incredible. I warmly recommend it and think it an absolute must have for your library. With his typical verve and style, Weigel introduces the reader to the optic that is Catholicism--he shows you what it is to look at the world with Catholic lenses. And what a beautiful picture it is. Readers of Weigel will notice similar themes to other of Weigel's writings especially "Witness to Hope" and "Truth of Catholicism." But he deepens and personalizes those themes and goes beyond them to answer the questions posed by young Catholics (and I suppose old ones as well). The Catholicism presented by Weigel is earthy and crusty; it deals with the minutiae of everday life. Christ came to redeem it all and still comes to find us through the same mode he came to us in 2000 years ago, namely the incarnational mode.
This means that Christ is found at the pub, in the Church, and in the family. Weigel draws this out by telling us stories of great people, great places, and great moments in the life of the Church. Two that stick out in my mind. The first is Weigel's description of the Scavi under St. Peter's Basilica where the bones of the Apostle Peter lay. This is an example of the earthiness and reality of Catholicism's claim. It's not about some doctrine or some set of esoteric teachings. Rather, it is about real places and people. Peter's bones rest under St. Peter's. This fact stands out there to be dealt with by us. There sit the bones of a man who walked with Christ. There in the ordinariness of a catacomb we come face to face with the extraordinary, as Weigel describes it.
The second is Weigel's description of Chartres Cathedral in France. Weigel uses the beauty of that great piece of architecture to teach about beauty itself and its importance. He gives us a tour of Chartres and tells of its construction and how the people poured themselves into the project. Through this tour we learn of our thirst and desire and need for beauty.
Each letter takes the reader to a place or tells him about a person. "Letters to a Young Catholic" helps to put meat on the bones of Catholicism. After reading this book, you come away with a deeper appreciation for the fleshiness and reality of Catholicism. You learn about how the moral life is related to the thirst for beauty, how contemplation is connected to our ordering of society.
Do I have any criticisms? None really. I only wish Weigel had been a little more personal when talking about vocations. He speaks eloquently to his young reader about finding that task or call which God has picked out for us. I wanted to know about Weigel's journey on that road as he spent time in the seminary. But perhaps that will be in the next book. I wait with anticipation for that next book. You will too after reading this book...
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Lively Tour of All Things Catholic 9 Aug. 2004
By Henry Flood - Published on
Format: Hardcover
George Weigel, author of Witness to Hope, the definitive biography of John Paul II is one of the finest apologists for orthodox Catholic faith today. How do you follow up a magisterial achievement such as this? The answer is brilliantly displayed in Letters to a Young Catholic.

Weigel takes you on a whirlwind and enchanting tour to Catholic places famous and obscure around the globe. From the Baltimore of his youth to the Basilica of the Holy Trinity in John Paul II's native Krakow, Weigel makes each place come alive with his lively descriptions and attention to interesting details. He literally makes you feel that you are there with him.

But this is no mere travel account of places visited. It is that and much more. You'll learn about the spiritual significance of each place described and Weigel weaves in all of the key Catholic truths that you need to know and understand. This is real Catholicism explained in an engaging manner.

As you travel via reading to each of the 14 venues depicted by Weigel, I promise you that a favorite place will stick in your mind. For me that favorite place was the obscure St. Mary's church at Greenville, SC described in chapter 9. Now Greenville, SC is no bastion of Catholicism like Baltimore. This is the upper Bible Belt--home to the fundamentalist Bob Jones University.

St. Mary's is sheparded by a young, energetic and bold Catholic priest named Father Jay Scott Newman. There is no Catholic lite in this charismatic proclaimer of muscular Catholicism. Each venue stands for a key part of what it means to be and live a Catholic faith. In this case, St. Mary's is a praying congregation and you'll learn how and why we pray.

At each stop before and after stop number 9 on the tour, you'll experience what it means to be authentically Catholic. All of the authentic Catholic teachings--Christ, Mary, sacraments, love, discipleship and so on are expertly weaved into the travel narrative.

If you want to learn and be inspired, Letters to a Young Catholic is a truly delightful read.
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