I first read Living the Catholic Faith: Rediscovering the Basics  by Archbishop Charles Chaput last year and recently re-read this gem a few weeks ago.  Lifelong Catholics and Converts alike will find this book to be very well written, insightful and filled with the practical guidance we have come to expect from Archbishop Chaput of Denver.  I encourage you to buy the book, get out your highlighter and get ready to refer to this Catholic treasure for years to come.

Living the Catholic Faith: Rediscovering the Basics

Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.

St. Anthony Messenger Press (2001)

 Book Review by the Denver Archdiocesan Newspaper:

Written for adults, high school students could benefit from it, too, as its style, which echoes the archbishop’s homilies and lectures, is easily accessible. “There is a verse from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians, that says that we pursue `the prize of God’s upward calling in Christ Jesus,'” the archbishop said. “Really, that’s what happens. To be a Christian is something that leads to new life, to joy, to creativity, to energy, to service of others. It’s compelling because it’s the truth. “To be what we’re called to be in Christ, if you see what that means, you know it’s right,” he continued. “You know it’s true, because it fits human nature and all of our desires and longings better than anything else. It answers all the facts that we have to deal with in our life in a clear, consistent, cogent, way.” Living as a Christian “requires daily conversion, discipleship, and transformation,” the archbishop writes in his book. “Becoming a Christian and living in Christ imply a lifetime of growing in Christ.” Thankfully, the archbishop has penned an inspiring, contemporary guide to help the faithful do that in the third millennium.

For those seeking guidance on how to live a Catholic Christian life in the 21st century, Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., has released a lively, practical “handbook” of sorts.

“Living the Catholic Faith: Rediscovering the Basics,” is the archbishop’s first book. It’s based on the popular lecture series the archbishop gave during the Jubilee Year. Topics covered include the Catholic understanding of revelation — which addresses Scripture and Church tradition — the Sacraments, and the Church and social issues.

“The whole lecture series for the Jubilee Year was really a kind of reflection on the basic elements of what it means to be a Catholic, [presented] in a non-structured way,” Archbishop Chaput said, adding that the book is not meant to be “a textbook.”

“It’s just sometimes random thoughts around a certain issue,” he said. “I try to be very practical and concrete and apply what the faith of the Church would mean practically in our day-to-day life.”

Those who attended the lectures will recognize much of the content, but the book includes additional material, as well. The archbishop rewrote his pastoral letter on family life that addresses natural family planning for inclusion in the book because “it’s such an important issue,” he said. He also included a chapter on the Eucharist that is based on a lecture he gave during a liturgy congress.

“Anytime you write, you’re picking something you’re familiar with or something you think is important,” the archbishop said. “I hope that matches the objective reality and interest of those who read the book.”

When first asked by the publisher to consider writing a book, the archbishop declined. The publisher then suggested that “a relatively painless way” to write the book would be to hold a lecture series and use the talks as the chapters, the archbishop said, adding that the idea of holding the lectures appealed to him.

An avid reader, the archbishop said he is “astonished that people think I have something significant enough to put into a book.”   Those who received advance copies of the book disagree.

Cardinal Jean Marie Lustiger, archbishop of Paris, described the book as “an appealing little introduction to the Catholic faith.”

Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I., archbishop of Chicago, described it “the answer” for those “searching for the best way to live their faith amidst day-to-day struggles.”  Archbishop Chaput describes it as “random thoughts of a 20th century preacher.”   What is the message the archbishop hopes readers gain from the book?   “That the Catholic, the Christian, message is compelling – absolutely compelling,” he said. “I hope I’ve contributed toward making it compelling for those who might not really understand it and might, through the book, look at it in a new and fresh kind of way.”

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