TeresaTomeo-largeThere are times when a book title grabs me and other times when it makes me roll my eyes. And then there are the times when it doesn’t matter what the title is because I see the author’s name.

I’ll let you guess which combination of the above happened with Teresa Tomeo’s new release, God’s Bucket List: Heaven’s Surefire Way to Happiness in This Life and Beyond. Despite my approach to it before I started reading, I’ll tell you this: once I’d read it, I shared it.

If you’re a fan of Tomeo’s, there will be some familiar ground and the voice inside is all capital-T. It’s sprinkled with anecdotes and Scripture in equal measure, topped off with Church teaching, and worth sharing with just about all the Catholics I know (and a few who aren’t).

Lucky for us, Teresa was kind enough to answer a few questions about the book and how it ties in with living an integrated Catholic life.

SR: What inspired you to pull this book together the way you did, Teresa, with a focus on the fruits of the Spirit and the Catholic faith? 

TT: Because for so many years as a cradle Catholic I was unfamiliar with the fruits of the spirit and once I learned of them after returning to the Church, I had little or no idea how to apply them from a Catholic perspective.  Our Sacraments give such a depth to those fruits but unfortunately so many Catholics have been sacramentalized but not catechized. The grace from the Sacraments lies dormant until they are able to blossom through a real encounter with Christ.

God's Bucket ListYou ask the question, in the promo material for the book, “Why, then, is it so challenging at times to figure out if we are on the right track when it comes to what we believe we want or need?” What’s your short answer to this question after writing your book? 

I don’t think there is actually a short answer.  It is very complicated and very different for each person.  But there are some basic elements that we all have in common when it comes to addressing this question.  Our own desires and fears can keep us stuck in one place.  We see God as a big “no” instead of a big “yes” to love and to life as Benedict XVI said so beautifully.  Or we don’t even include God in the picture which causes even more confusion.  We just go along trying to figure everything out on our own. That’s what I did for a long time and as I say in the book, it got me nowhere fast.

Tell us how the wisdom and insight in God’s Bucket List will help us achieve living an integrated Catholic life, Teresa. What will we learn to implement and see about what God wants for us? 

I hope readers will learn how to implement true discernment not only in their long term goals but in their every-day efforts to live a Godly life.   That old saying “the devil is in the details” should be thrown out and replaced with “the Lord God is in the details.”  He wants to be involved so intimately in our lives and wants us to know that we can call on Him seeking His direction for that daily walk as well as those big “to-do” items on our heavenly bucket list.

What was the most surprising thing you learned about yourself or about God from writing this book?

I am regularly surprised, humbled, and overwhelmed that the Lord can use a cracked pot like me.

And finally, because I can’t resist asking: in the process of writing this book, did chocolate by chance make God’s list? (Say yes! Say yes!)

Dark chocolate as well as Cheez-Its if you’re talking about my top bucket list food items.  They would make the list.

I think the item or the chapter on living in understanding is always a big one for me.  For years I made decisions based on emotions and feelings and little or no factual information. I also had no real relationship with Christ even though I identified myself as a Christian.  And I think, especially today in our media saturated and sound-bite culture, it’s the same situation for far too many people.  They believe they are “educated” or “enlightened” about this, that, or the other thing and yet are making major decisions about relationships, politics, careers without researching the truth and without discernment.

I am always trying to tell people to do their homework instead of taking the sound-bite version of reality and most importantly to seek spiritual input; first from God and then from a good spiritual adviser as well as faithful friends they can trust. That’s why I provided a resources list in the back of the book.  My own weakness in these areas went on to cause many problems in my life.  If I can help one person see the beauty of God’s plan for his or her life then that all the time put into this book will be worth it.

Sarah Reinhard is a Catholic wife, mom and author whose nose is probably in a book if she’s not scraping something off of her shoes. Her latest book is A Catholic Mother’s Companion to Pregnancy: Walking with Mary from Conception to Baptism. Check out all of her books at http://sarahreinhard.com/writing/my-books/.

Visit Sarah’s website: http://sarahreinhard.com/

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