US Catholic Faith in Real Life

USC Book Club: Why Stay Catholic?

Online Editor |

October 2012:

Why Stay Catholic? Unexpexted Answers to a Life-Changing Question

By Michael Leach


Ask Catholics what frustrates them about their church and you’re likely to be in for an earful. But Michael Leach has plenty of reasons—50 of them, in fact—why being Catholic is worthwhile not only for our heavenly reward but here on earth, too.

Read: Keys to the Council

By J. Peter Nixon |
By Richard Gaillardetz & Catherine Clifford (Liturgical Press, 2012)

October 11 marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. While the church continues to be roiled by debates over the council’s meaning, an increasing number of Catholics have no personal memory of it. “What exactly was Vatican II?” they might reasonably ask.

Read: Reading God's Handwriting: Poems

By Marjorie Maddox |
By Philip Kolin (Kauffman Publishing, 2012)

Philip Kolin’s Reading God’s Handwriting: Poems is a book of action, not of superheroes swooping down on comic book pages to save the day, but of a real God purposefully scribing his truth through scripture, nature, and our lives. In turn, God’s handwriting or, as Kolin portrays it, “God’s hand, writing,” calls us to action through lectio divina, the vigorous spiritual ritual of communing with the living word by reading, contemplating, and acting on the sacred words of scripture.

Listen: O' Be Joyful by Shovel and Ropes

By Danny Duncan Collum |
O' Be Joyful
Shovels and Rope (Dualtone Music Group, 2012)

The band name suggests a Western movie scene of hanging and burial while the album title sounds like a line from a psalm of praise. On O’ Be Joyful, Shovels and Rope make a noise that is rough and rustic but at the same time downright jubilant. The lyrics tell tales of poverty and hardship that also celebrate a life of love and creativity.

Watch: Safety Not Guaranteed

By Patrick McCormick |
Directed by Colin Trevorrow (Film District, 2012)

Director Colin Trevorrow and screenwriter Derek Connolly’s touching sci-fi misadventure about time travel looks like it was made on a small budget, but it offers a lot of bang for those few bucks. This indie comedy about regret, risk, and redemption has a time machine, secret government agents, a slightly mad scientist, and quirky 20- and 30-somethings who might just harbor collections of comic books and Star Wars figurines.

USC Book Club: Grace Notes

Online Editor |

September 2012:

Grace Notes

By Brian Doyle


Loyal U.S. Catholic readers need no introduction to Brian Doyle, whose musings, reflections, essays, short stories, and poems have truly graced our pages ever since 1979, when Brian worked here for a year as an associate editor.

Read: Same Call, Different Men

By Michael Cahill |
By Mary L. Gautier et al.  (Liturgical Press, 2012)

Same Call, Different Men: The Evolution of the Priesthood Since Vatican II presents a comprehensive portrait of the Catholic priesthood in the United States today based on sociological data on 960 priests and interviews with 60 others, both collected in 2009.

Read: A Different Kind of Cell

By Mark Meade |
By W. Paul Jones (Eerdmans, 2011)

“Everyone in prison is innocent, and every prisoner claims to be a new person.” This dismissive one-liner was told by a parole officer to Paul Jones and reflects a common sentiment of resignation in the face of our country’s rapidly expanding prison population. A Different Kind of Cell: The Story of a Murderer Who Became a Monk challenges many popular presumptions about the possibility of true reform and the value of every human life.

USC Book Club: Psalm-Shaped Prayerfulness

Online Editor |

August 2012:

Psalm-Shaped Prayerfulness: A Guide to the Christian Reception of the Psalms

By Margaret Daly-Denton


How terribly strange to be 70

By Patrick McCormick |
Even in their autumn years, Baby Boomers discover that old dogs can learn new tricks.

Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rage at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

—Dylan Thomas