My New Book

Yesterday, my teenage son’s friend asked me, “So…do you actually do anything, like, for a living?”

I thought: “It’s a good thing I have a sense of humor!”

I’ve said for years that doing religious writing is like living an examination of conscience…every moment, all day long. Every time I sit down at the computer to work—every time I take a walk to brainstorm—matters of the faith are on my mind. My Google history is heavy on Catholic and Scriptural searches. I turn to the Holy Spirit again and again throughout the day, asking, “Teach me how to respond to this problem/need/online comment.” Or “I can’t figure out this plotting or structural problem. Help?” Or, “What about this, Holy Spirit? Am I wrong? If I’m wrong, please show me.”

So when Our Sunday Visitor approached me about writing an examination of conscience based on the Beatitudes, it seemed like the natural and inevitable end of what I’ve been doing for years.

The Beatitudes, part of OSV’s Companions in Faith series, is not a standard examination of conscience, with a thousand questions that cause your brain shut down. (I’m not the only one who reacts to traditional examinations of conscience this way, am I?)

I wanted to invite readers to journey into what it means to live these “blessed attitudes” in a real-life, workaday world. How do—or should—these simple statements ripple out into our practical lives?

This short booklet represents the best distillation of what I mean when I say “living the Catholic faith intentionally in the real world.” It dives deeply into challenging topics. What “things of the world” are most tempting to me? In what areas of my life do I cling to control, refusing God access? What does it mean to be a peacemaker in this world of bitter division? And so on.

Writing this booklet also challenged me deeply: to discern my own biases and speak past them. To find words that can resonate with people from across the spectrum of experiences and philosophies, and bring all of us together in what it means to be a Catholic in the real world.

The road to starting Intentional Catholic has been a long one, as I said in my very first post. Spiritual awakening has not been comfortable, but it has enriched my life and made me a better human being—which is to say, a better image of God in the world. I’ve heard it said that the mark of conversion is the desire to help others experience what you’ve experienced. That’s certainly been the case with me. My prayer every day, every time I feel frustrated by some example of what is not Godly in the world, is, “Lord, please help me make a difference.”

The Beatitudes, part of OSV’s Companion’s in Faith series, is now available for preorder. I’ll be on OSV’s webcast on Thursday, June 13th, talking more about the project. I hope you can join us!

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