What Makes Us Catholic: Eight Gifts for Life

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9780060633981: What Makes Us Catholic: Eight Gifts for Life

This book is written for all Catholics, and for anyone interested in the distinct nature of Catholic Christianity. Renowned Catholic educator Thomas Groome has discovered that whether devout or alienated, reformist or traditionalist, lifelong member or newly converted, Catholics share eight distinctive qualities. These include the sense of sacramentality (finding the infinite in the finite), a feeling of community, an appreciation of human potential and fallibility, a concern for justice and the unfortunate, a reverence for tradition, and a conviction that care should have no borders. Ultimately Catholicism is distinguished by its spirituality, says Groome -- a faith-based spirituality that permeates the everyday. When these currents of emphasis flow together, they distinguish the great river of Catholic Christian faith -- they describe what makes Catholics Catholic.

What Makes Us Catholic encourages the reader to bring faith to life and life to faith, because that is at the core of what makes people Catholic Christians -- faith at work. Each chapter begins with a story about an essential ingredient of Catholic identity and ends with questions for reflection and suggestions of supporting practices. With ecumenical sensitivity and a voice refreshingly free of condescension, Groome draws upon the core convictions of contemporary Catholic Christianity and its rich tradition to weave a way of believing that has universal appeal, offering a fresh horizon that nurtures spirituality for all.

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Review:

Lawrence Welk, Babe Ruth, and Madonna have at least one thing in common. They're Catholic. But what does it mean to be Catholic? Thomas Groome, in What Makes Us Catholic, offers some answers. An expert on Catholic religious education, Groome says that all Catholics, regardless of their religious involvement in the Church, share a common sense of spirituality. Inviting readers "to critically consider and deliberately choose what could be life-giving from their faith tradition," Groome describes eight spiritual qualities that he believes are distinctively Catholic. These include sacramentality ("finding the infinite in the finite"), a sense of community, a commitment to work for justice, a reverence for tradition, and a disposition toward faith and not despair.

Short essays--blending personal reflection, stories from Scripture and Church history, and exercises for prayer and reflection--define each ingredient of Catholic spiritual identity. The book's tone is accessible and nonjudgmental, and will likely help many readers eager to find a way of believing that "religion and spirituality are two sides of the same coin, and they badly need each other." --Michael Joseph Gross

About the Author:

Thomas Groome is professor of theology and religious education at Boston College. He is the author of Christian Religious Education, widely regarded as the most important and influential contemporary work on the subject, and of Sharing Faith, a foundational work on Christian ministry. He is also the principal author of the Coming to Faith series, the bestselling K-8 religion curriculum in Catholic schools and parishes today.

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