Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Q &A with Mark Shea, author of The Work of Mercy: Being the Hands and Heart of Christ

Following is my interview with Mark Shea, author of The Work of Mercy: Being the Hands and Heart of Christ.  I reviewed Mark's book in my March Catholic Post column.  This Q&A is a shorter version of a far-ranging phone conversation we had about his book and his writing.  Thanks, Mark, for being so willing to talk with me, and for your great book!

Q.  Please tell Catholic Post readers a little more about yourself and your work.

I’m an author of a number of books, most recently The Work of Mercy.  I’ve also written a book called By What Authority? among others.  I write a lot for the Catholic press. I have a blog that I write for the Patheos and the National Catholic Register. I’m a convert to the faith, and was received into the Church in 1987.

How I started writing books is interesting.  I was confirmed in December 1987.  The following month a friend of mine told me he didn’t believe in the Real Presence.  I sat down and started a letter to the author Peter Kreeft (philosophy (we had corresponded when I had been coming into the Church) , trying to articulate why I did believe in the Real Presence.  The letter got bigger & bigger, and by the time I was done, 10 months later, it was the script of my book, This is My Body: An Evangelical Discovers the Real Presence.  I’ve always chalked up the explosion of my writing to the sacrament of Confirmation.

Q.  Why a book on the works of the mercy?

I hadn’t seen one in awhile, and it seemed to me that reacquainting the modern audience was a good idea since the works of mercy are essential to our salvation.  They go right back to Jesus’ famous parable of the sheep and the goats, in which what’s make or break for both the sheep and the goats is the works of mercy—how did you treats the least of these.  “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was hungry and you didn’t give me something to eat.” That’s what that parable is all about.

Archbishop Chaput is speaking gospel truth when he warns us very bluntly
“If you neglect the poor, you will go to hell.”  That’s why a book on the works of mercy.

Still, our response to the works of mercy is left up to our prudence; there’s guidance from the church, but how you live out the works of mercy is left up to the person.

There are basically two classes of the works of mercy that the church has teased out of tradition.

First, the corporal works of mercy (feed the hungry, clothe the naked, ransom the captive, visit the sick, bury the dead).  Those are addressed to the fact that yes, we are spiritual beings, but we are also bodily creatures, so our bodily needs matter. 

The reason a body matters is because a). the body is the creation of God and b). God himself has taken on a body in the Incarnation of Jesus.  He’s become human.  Our humanity really matters.  It was through the body that our salvation was won.  It was through Jesus’ very physical, very graphic, very bloody crucifixion and his bodily resurrection that our salvation was won.  And so the body really matters in the Catholic tradition.

In addition to that, there are also the spiritual works of mercy, such as instructing the ignorant, admonishing the sinner, bearing wrongs patiently, forgiving wrongs, praying for the living and the dead. These works of mercy are addressed to the fact that we are not just bodily creatures-- we are more than cows.  Our concern is more than just getting our three square meals a day and keeping our belly full.  As Jesus says, man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. 

Both of these classes of works of mercy are essential in the Catholic life. That’s what my book is attempting to do—bring out the fullness of what those works of mercy mean. 

They all have a spiritual application as well.   So when we speak of feeding the hungry, for example, we mean, yes, people are starving in Africa and we feed them.  But in addition, what the Catholic tradition has always seen in giving bread to the hungry is ultimately a reference to the Eucharist.  Jesus will say to the Jews in John 6, that Moses gave you manna in the wilderness, he fed your bellies, but your fathers all died after they ate that.   The bread that I will give you will eat of and you will live forever.  I am the Bread of Life, Jesus tells us.

Over and over again you’ll see in the works of mercy the spiritual overtones of the spiritual element.  In give drink to the thirsty, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well, whoever drinks the water that I give will live forever.  And that water is the Holy Spirit.

And ransoming the captive, Jesus speaks of himself of giving his life as a ransom for many.  In addition to supporting anti-slavery organizations, for example, we also ransom people out of captivity by introducing them to Jesus, who ransoms them from captivity to sin.

Q.  Which was your most challenging chapter to write?

Certain works of mercy are quite obviously contemporary.  Feed the hungry?  There are a billion people hungry in the world.   But then you get to things like, say, ransom the captive.  What does that look like in the modern world?  

It’s been awhile since the president of the United States went to visit a foreign country and was kidnapped by Saracen raiders who sent a ransom note back to the vice president demanding 20,000 golden ducats.

This was something that was a real issue hundreds of years ago, but today, our view of ransoming the captive has changed radically.  It was regarded as a corporal work of mercy, say, a thousand years ago during the Crusades, to ransom people out of slavery.  What do we say about it today?  “We don’t negotiate with terrorists. “

The reality is that’s an illusion.  There is still real concrete work to be done in term of ransoming the captive, because everywhere you get outside of those parts of the world where Christianity has had a major influence on the culture, you immediately run into real, honest-to-gosh slavery.  So there is slavery practiced all over the Islamic world—people being bought and sold. In Asia there is a thriving sex slavery trade, which is--to our great shame--fueled and patronized by Westerners, who go to places like Thailand so they can go exploit girls who are barely into their teens.  So in all these places there’s still real work to be done.

Personally? the most difficult chapter to write, because I felt like a total hypocrite writing it, is the chapter on bearing wrongs patiently.  As I write in the chapter, asking me for how to bear wrongs patiently is like asking the Incredible Hulk for anger management counseling.  

I’m terrible at bearing wrongs patiently.  But my task in the book is not to say, 'I do this and you should be like me'; my task in the book is to report what the tradition says. I’m terrible at it; but it’s what the tradition says we must do.  So you report what it says, you stumble along, and you go to confession for all the times that you fail.

Q.  You shared that you were a little embarrassed that in my review, I compared you to C.S. Lewis (and GK Chesterton, don’t forget), but I stand by my assertion that it is an appropriate comparison.  Do you consider them influences on your writing, and who else/other informs your writing?

I’m not in their league but honored by the comparison.  Chesteron and Lewis are influences to be sure, but I don’t hold a candle to them.  Chesterton and I have one major similarity in that we are fat. Beyond that, I am not worthy to untie their sandals.

Other influences? Peter Kreeft has been a huge help to me.  Thomas Howard was a big help for me. 

Q.  You’ve written books, and now you blog regularly.  Do you like one or the other better?  Disadvantages or advantages?  

The great thing about books is that you get to say what you mean to say, and you get to deliberate, and it really comes out the way you want it.  The disadvantage of most writing, except for blogging, is that it is a one-way conversation.  You don’t really know if someone likes it until it’s published, and then it’s a one-way conversation the other way, because they write to you about it.

What I love about my blog is summed up in my blog motto:  “So that no thought of mine, no matter how stupid, should ever go unpublished again.”  A blog is a running diary stream of consciousness, about holding forth on what’s in the news today.

I like the interactivity of blogs.  Blogs allow you to talk to your audience, they get to talk back to you, they get to talk to each other.  I like that because I’m an extrovert trapped in an introvert’s job. 

The disadvantages? Well, you stay stupid things sometimes, you can misread what people are saying and lose your temper.  But both forms have their charms.

Blogs are huge invaluable sources of information and insight.  One of the big effects of the Internet has been the democratization of media.  Media, until very recently, was as Chesterton put it, “the playthings of a few rich people.”  There were not many who could afford to run a television station or a radio station.  What you got was what they decided you were going to be told was reality. 

With the advent of the blog and with new media technology, all of a sudden, any  person with a keyboard (that has plenty of advantages and disadvantages, because it can be any idiot with a keyboard), can now get information out that was suppressed by the editorial needs or corporate interests of whoever was running ABC, NBC and so on.

It’s much more difficult for media to get away with snowing us with bad journalism.  Obviously there are disadvantages to the Internet, too. The Internet is ripe for demagoguery, because you can also tell lies.  But on the whole, I think the democratization of media, is a wholesome and tonic.

Q.  I’m always interested in why people name their blogs.  How did you choose “Catholic and Enjoying It”? (and of course the cheeky subtitle, so that no thought of mine, no matter how stupid, should ever go unpublished again!”)

Because I enjoy being Catholic!

Q. Anything else you’d like to add, or wish I had asked?

Well, I feel like we short shrift to the other works of mercy in our discussion since we spoke so much about “ransoming the captive.”   I would just want to stress that all the works of mercy.

What the Church says is that we are the Body of Christ. Different members have different gifts.  Different people will be attracted to different works of mercy. 

As a writer, part of my task and my charism in talking about the faith  is instructing the ignorant, and that’s a work of mercy.  Other people have, for example, charisms of intercessrory prayer, who are naturally drawn to pray for the living and the dead.  You may have felt a call in college to go into the Catholic funeral industry.  Why?  Because burying the dead is a work of mercy.  If you wind up doing that, you can live out that work of mercy.  

All the works of mercy are essential, and so a person interested in living the works of mercy should first of all, ask God,  where can I help?  And God will guide you.  If He’s calling you to a particular work of mercy, he will give you the gifts.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

October Baby

October Baby is a sweet and at the same time unbelievably powerful movie about a young woman who always feel there is something missing, or different about her, until she discovers a shocking truth.  There's a lot about family, about growing up, about forgiveness.  Heavy topics, and yet the movie itself is quite funny.

I got the opportunity to attend a screening several weeks back of October Baby.  Normally, my husband and I try to make these screenings a "date night" (and we usually run into other couples we know).  That particular night, my husband had a speaking engagement, so I invited a fellow blogging friend along and we had a nice evening out.

Sister Helena Burns (not the blogging friend I attended with, incidentally) wrote a comprehensive review on her blog earlier this week.  Please head on over there to get a feel for the plot of the movie.

There's nothing for me to add to her excellent review--she's much more detailed about "movie-ish" things.  I didn't really notice the background music issue she raises; in fact, I thought the cinematography was especially good.  Here are some of my favorites from the movie:

*the father-daughter relationship felt really real, especially a dad being a little overprotective, then learning how to let go.

*the loving, beautiful and kind portrayal of those in the abortion industry.  This loving and kind portrayal is even more so for women who choose abortion.  There's no condemnation, just love.  Wonderful--may we all be this way, all the time.

*Truman, the "funny" friend of the two main characters, and really all the friends.  He's hilarious, and wild horses couldn't drag me back to being a college student, but I would do so just to get to go on a road trip with the cast of characters that do in October Baby.

*a non-Catholic character experiences an epiphany, and a kind of healing, in a Catholic church.  Much has been made (and I have found absolutely true, and wonderful) that ecumenism is a great quality of the pro-life movement.  This movie shows how exists naturally and is not forced or awkward, but heartfelt.

*Like Sister Helena, I cried at the end.  How could you not?

October Baby is about an abortion survivor--and by that I don't mean a woman who "survives" abortion.  Sometimes, rarely, a baby survives an abortion (so the bumper sticker "abortion: one dead, one wounded" becomes "two wounded.")   And those babies grow up into remarkable adults.

Many years ago, I spent several days with Gianna Jessen, one of the abortion survivors on which the movie is based, the first time she testified before Congress.  It must have been in the late 1980s or early 1990s, and she was a young teenager--14 or 15.  I had the great good fortune to drive Gianna and her (adoptive) mom around throughout the several days she was in DC.  Driving people around seems to be a theme in my life, but it is a great way to get to know people!

I hope if our weekend schedule permits that I will take my 14-year-old daughter, and perhaps a friend or two, to see the movie this weekend.  I've been talking to her about it, and she is very eager to see it.  I think the PG-13 rating is appropriate, but probably a lot of younger kids could see it, considering all the intense media many kids consume.

I love that October Baby filmmakers will set aside 10 percent of the profits from the film for women in crisis pregnancies:

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Best Thing About the Behold Conference ... Part 1

to me, was the adoration chapel, set up by several beautiful volunteers at the Behold Conference.   The chapel was a peaceful oasis in the bustle of a truly wonderful day.  Time spent there was precious to me, and to many women who were at Behold. 

But there were so many other great things from the Behold weekend.  The other night, I gathered with other volunteer Behold directors to go over the evaluation forms.  We found that many women listed "more time" for all the things there were to do at Behold--adoration, confession, talks, great food, vendors, meeting people.

Allow me share some other favorites from the Behold weekend:

My role this year with Behold (in previous years I was just a driver), was to organize the "Meet the Bloggers" part of the conference.  "Team Blogger" as the five volunteers in this area called ourselves, put together a great slate of bloggers and guests to attend a "Blogger Summit" the Friday night before the conference to discuss Catholic women and new media.  It was a great discussion with lots of input from so many voices.  Here are a few photos from the blogger summit and a Behold volunteer/special guest reception afterwards (my phone, unfortunately, only sporadically taking decent photos).  I'm going to have to save the photos of the Behold day for another post:

The Sisters of Life (and teenager Molly, their driver, who was a great young voice at the summit).

Behold Executive Director Rose Rudolph addressing the summit.
Blogger Sister Helena Burns getting a big laugh as she filmed the room during the blogger summit.  The very funny video of that can be found here.

Bloggers Sarah Reinhard, Cat Hodge, and Elizabeth Duffy

Blogger Mary Hasson with yours truly.

Two lovely blogger ladies--Hallie Lord and Bonnie Engstrom meeting in person for the first time!
Singer Marie Miller with a group of her younger superfans (as opposed to me, more mature superfan!)
Blogger Emily Stimpson meeting fellow blogger (and "Team Blogger" member) Marcia.
Blogger Jen Fulwiler and local blogger Jamie getting to meet again.
Team Blogger member Linda with blogger Sister Helena Burns
Blogger Arwen Mosher brought her sweet 10-month-old twin boys (and had help all weekend from a great friend, here in green).

More photos to come!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Meet a Reader: Emily Stimpson

This month's "reader" is an author with local roots.  My review of her new book is in the current print Catholic Post  Thanks, Emily!  I look forward to meeting you at the Behold Conference in just a few days.

How you know me: I’m a contributing editor to “Our Sunday Visitor,” a blogger for CatholicVote, and the author of The Catholic Girl’s Survival Guide for the Single Years. Although I now live just outside of Pittsburgh (in Steubenville, Ohio), I was born and raised in Rock Island, attended Jordan Catholic School, and go to Mass at St. Mary’s Parish when I’m home visiting my parents, Gary and Ricki Stimpson. Most of my family still lives in the Peoria diocese, including my second cousin Adam, who is parochial vicar for three parishes in LaSalle, and my aunt Susie Budde, who directs choirs for both Sacred Heart Rock Island and Sacred Heart Moline.

Why I love reading: Story-telling, at its best, is truth-telling. A good story gives flesh to all that’s beautiful and true. That helps us discover worlds and ideas beyond our imagining. It also helps us discover much more familiar territory: the human heart.

What I'm reading now:  It’s Lent, so I’ve had to lay aside the Agatha Christie murder mystery I was reading and pick up my normal Lenten fare, Dante’s Divine Comedy. Every Lent my goal is to make it all the way from the beginning of Dante and Virgil’s tour through Hell in the Inferno to Dante’s reunion with his lost love Beatrice in the Paradiso. That literary journey helps me understand the journey every soul is on in this life. It also reminds me why we Catholics do what we do during Lent—what all that praying, fasting, and sacrificing is about.

My favorite book: I love too many books to pick just one, so I always tell people I have favorite authors more than favorite books, writers who’ve changed the way I see the world and the life I’m living. At the top of that list are C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, and John Paul II: Lewis for his clarity, Chesterton for his sense of wonder, and John Paul II for his theology of the body, which is really an articulation of the Incarnation and what it means to be a human person. If I had to add one more, it would be P.G. Wodehouse: He’s a master of wit and words. A regular dose of his work keeps my writing sharp, quick, and tight.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Catholic Girl's Survival Guide for the Single Years

If you get the print Catholic Post, you'll notice the book page's "Meet a Reader" feature this month is a writer with local roots—Emily Stimpson, author of The Catholic Girl’s Survival Guide for the Single Years.

Stimpson’s book is a must-read for young Catholic women.  There’s sensible advice about everything from dating to careers to married friends, and so much more, all from an optimistic and realistic Catholic perspective.   I have so many books I want to (and frankly, “have to”) read, but I enjoyed every chapter of this engaging book because of Stimpson’s spirited and honest voice.  I even breezed through  (and found interesting!) the closing “bibliographic essay” with a wealth of resources for further reading and discussion. 

If you’re married already, reading A Catholic Girls’ Survival Guide makes you say, “I wish there had been a book like this when I was single!” At least, it was my first thought-- I know I’m not the only one. 

Some months back I reviewed what seems like a very similar book, the excellent How to Get to “I Do”: A Dating Guide for Catholic Women by the talented Amy Bonaccorso.  However, I think both books are equally worth reading and having, rather than being either/or.  Each of these strong young women has a unique perspective and message, and readers everywhere benefit.

Interesting trivia:  both Bonaccorso and Stimpson will be among the dozen featured bloggers at the Behold Catholic Women’s Conference on March 10 at the Embassy Suites.  The Behold Conference might be the first time a Catholic women’s conference anywhere will feature “new media” and bloggers, but with that and much more, it promises to be a great event for women of all ages and vocations.

Friday, March 2, 2012

This Lent, Let Mercy Lead

Here is my March Catholic Post column.  I invite your feedback here or on Facebook or Twitter.

Do you like reading C.S. Lewis?  Many people, especially converts, do.

I recall first discovering Lewis when I was a young adult and for the first time truly embracing my cradle Catholic faith.   I soaked up his intellectual wisdom,  his sensible, easy-to-read theology and I grew in knowledge of and desire for my faith.  Lewis (like GK Chesterton, whom I find a little harder going) is eminently quotable, with lines that stick with you.

If I could use the analogy for food (and, as longtime readers know, I’m fond of using such analogies), reading C.S. Lewis is a like eating a delicious, multi-course feast, full of a range of dishes that both nourishes and tastes great, and you remember for a long time.

I was trying to find a way to characterize Mark Shea’s writing style as I read his newest book The Work of Mercy:  Being the Hands and Heart of Christ.  What kept occurring to me “he writes like a modern C.S. Lewis.”   Those are some big shoes to fill, but I propose that it’s an appropriate comparison.

I occasionally read Mark Shea’s blog, “Catholic and Enjoying It” (and I always smile at the blog’s subhead, “So that no thought of mine, no matter how stupid, should ever go unpublished again!”)

But even though he’s the author of many books, I’ve never read one until The Work of Mercy. Turns out, all these years, I’ve been missing out.

 Mark Shea, like C.S. Lewis, lays out a feast for readers, combining many elements of culture, faith and life in an honest, approachable style.   The Work of Mercy is easy to read, but not “lightweight”; rather, it’s challenging and uplifting in the best way.

The Work of Mercy, with a chapter dedicated to each of the corporal and then spiritual works of mercy, is full of challenges for the individuals, groups and the Church, as well as the world.  It’s such a cliché to say, “I laughed, I cried, I was moved,” but I truly did all these things reading The Work of Mercy.  I had insights and growth in my understanding of works of mercy throughout.  I felt more of a desire to do specific actions to practice specific works of mercy, instead of just reading along and nodding my head (though I did plenty of that, too).

There’s so much varied and good in the book, it’s hard to get too specific, but two elements emerge:

*Shea’s honest humor:  “For me to assume the task of writing about "bearing wrongs patiently" is like asking the Incredible Hulk for anger-management counseling."

*Shea’s message throughout that the works of mercy not so much change the world as change we who practice them.   In “Visit the Sick,” for instance, Shea writes that, “visiting the sick brings the human dignity of the sufferer into view."

The Afterword, “What Next?” is especially good—for each of the spiritual or corporal works of mercy, Shea offers varied ideas, as well as web and other addresses for a charity or Christian outreach for action. For instance, for the work of mercy “forgive offenses willingly,” Shea recommends the sacrament of reconciliation, as well as Rachel’s Vineyard and Immaculee’s Rwandan Left to Tell Foundation.

If you’re fasting this Lent from certain foods, consider Mark Shea’s The Work of Mercy a multi-course feast for your spiritual life.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

First, What Are You Reading? Volume 19, March 2012

Here are my answers to the four questions I ask on the first of each month:
first, what are you reading?
what do you like best about it?
what do you like least?
what's next on your list to read? 

As always, I hope you'll consider your current reads on your blog and/or sharing here in the comments or on Facebook.  Happy reading!

First, what are you reading?  

Ready for AnythingProductivity Principles for Work & Life by management consultant David Allen.

Love Multiplies by Michelle and Jim-Bob Duggar.

What do you like best about them?

I first read David Allen’s Getting Things Done a few years back, but found his ideas (more than a system, really) a little too daunting. The idea of “getting things out of your head,” and clearing your in-box to zero, just seemed impossible.  The only thing I remember taking away from it was if you can do something in 2 minutes, you should just do it then, because otherwise it will take up space in your brain that slows you down.  This really does make a difference with household things, like setting the timer for a few minutes and trying to clear off a surface, empty the dishwasher, etc.   It’s remarkable how much progress you can make.  A recent “Meet a Reader” Dr. Andy Bland, mentioned David Allen as a favorite author (and Andy mentioned he regularly has an empty in-box), I thought I’d give this productivity guru another try.

I’m reading Ready for Anything in the hopes of gleaning good information about general productivity skills for family and work.  With managing our household, my work for the Catholic Post, and now my wildly busy but amazingly fun volunteering work for the Behold Conference, I find myself missing critical e-mails and not staying on top of things they way I should.   At the moment, I’m just soaking up the wisdom in the short essays and questions in Ready for Anything, and hoping some of that will stick and help me manage everything better.  I have to confess this book, to me, is like Flylady for professionals, and I do love Flylady.

Why do I feel a wee bit embarrassed to admit reading Love Multiplies by Duggar family?  (For those who don’t know, they are famous for their TLC reality series, 19 Kids and Counting.) For some reason, we have been Duggar-focused in the last few weeks.  I had DVRd some of the shows on TLC, and watch with the kids when we just need some downtime.  Trust me, it’s a very engaging, wholesome show.  My husband watched a few with us, and has taken to joking sometimes, “Are we watching the Kardashians today?”   This is what we like to call at our house, “theologian humor,” but we all laugh.  Can I ask again, why are the Kardashians famous?  It’s completely baffling.

When we watch the show, we point out where the Duggars’ beliefs might not be exactly Catholic, but a lot of their ideas are very practical and they display a very honest, earnest desire to be the best they can, and thereby serve and glorify God.

So both of their books came from the library, and I have to say that after reading more from them, it's clear they are pretty sensible people with good hearts.  I found myself thinking, like I did about Steve Jobs last fall:  “not far from the kingdom of God.” 

The Duggars’ faith and their parenting is based on love, not fear. They truly try to help their children develop healthy relationships with one another and the world.  The parents work hard on their own marriage and on managing distress and anger.   They have some helpful ideas about living below your means. They try to live out the Gospel as they see it, and raise their children to be servants.

I was definitely skeptical before reading their books, and even dismissed them as a “full quiver” type of Christian, but in fact they specifically say they don’t believe in that, and really just are committed to remaining open to life, and grateful for God’s gift of children.

Some might laugh at this, but I found myself thinking of the Duggars again last weekend, when our family attended liturgy at Annunciation Byzantine Catholic Church--we try to go every few months, because it’s an awesome liturgy and a beautiful, icon-filled church.  During the liturgy, this thought popped up: “Imagine if the Duggars were Byzantine Catholic.”  I know it seems far-fetched, even incongruous, but how beautiful, for the Duggars, who really do have such a heart for following Christ, could see it brought to its fullness to experience the transcendent and beautiful liturgy.  All the chanting, incense, and reverence.  And the Duggars, with their diligence, honesty and desire for good, would be amazing apologists for the faith.   Hey, stranger things have happened.

What do you like least about them?

What’s most annoying about Ready for Anything is not being able to implement things because I’m just too darn busy.

As far as the Duggars, I’m old enough now to take away the good things from the Duggars without going overboard.  Instead of thinking I need mirror them (I need to shop exclusively at thrift stores! wear only skirts! make tater tot casserole!

My family doesn’t look like their family.  Earlier in my marriage and my family life, I might have thought, “I need to take all these ideas, our days need to look like theirs, my kids need to dress matching, etc."  Instead, I take away the good and leave behind the not necessary, but truly, there is a lot of good among the Duggars.

Most apealling about both of these books is the attraction of virtue.  It’ natural to be attracted to what is good there.  But we don’t have to emulate every bit of it.  Look at the variety of saints—all so different in the way they exhibited holiness.  Think of the difference between a St. Catherine of Siena and a St. Gianna Molla, or the difference between St. Francis of Assisi or St. Francis de Sales.

To paraphrase Tolstoy (actually, he said the opposite), all happy families are happy in their own way.  There are many ways to be a happy, productive person and a happy, healthy family.

What’s next on your list to read?

Normally I set aside Lenten reading well ahead of time, but I have not done so this year.  The only spiritual reading I’m doing  (other than the tons of books I peruse for the Post) is my usual reading of the Divine Liturgy (that I read on my most used app, hands down, the Universalis App, and as usual this time of year they are really good).  I need to remedy that, so let me leave you with a quote from The Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales.  This is a book I try to read each Lent. 

Your language should be restrained, frank, sincere, candid, unaffected, and honest.  Be on guard against equivocation, ambiguity, or dissimulation.  While it is not always advisable to say all that is true, it is never permissible to speak against the truth.  Therefore, you must become accustomed to never to tell a deliberate lie whether to excuse yourself or for some other purposes, remembering always that God is the “God of truth.”

So, what are you reading these days?  Any books you would like to share?