The Reread Factor is a semi-regular blog feature that is all about the reread. I pick some of my best reads from the past and reread them to see if I like it as much as as the first time and see if they could be a book for the favorites shelf. :)
I realized that I never wrote a review about this book I’m featuring for The Reread Factor, but since it’s a reread and it’s on my favorites shelf, I figure it fits the requirement for this feature. Besides, I need one for this again, since I don’t really have a lot of time doing some rereads lately.
And besides, this book fits Lent and Holy Week well.
May Crowning, Mass and Merton: 50 Reasons I Love Being Catholic by Liz Kelly
Publisher: Loyola Press
Number of pages: 288
My copy: paperback, ordered from Amazon
In May Crowning, Mass, and Merton, Liz Kelly, a thirty-something writer and jazz singer, eagerly shares her ardent love for the Catholic faith. While the beliefs of the church are important to Kelly, her passion is really ignited by the holy people and places, the beloved rituals, and the rich spiritual traditions of this living faith. She celebrates them here, with wit, affection, and candor.
Kelly has realized that “the litany of reasons to love being Catholic is extraordinary.” These include everything from the crucifix, kneelers, and Ash Wednesday to Flannery O’Connor, the Swiss Guard, and Tenebrae. Though she writes that, “Mine is not an extraordinary faith, so much as a faith growing a little messy, a little rough and subversive around the edges,” it is a rich, inspiring faith, celebrated by a fresh, young Catholic voice.
* * *
An interesting fact about this book: I got this because of a tweet from one of the Twitter accounts I follow that tweets first lines of books from Amazon. I got this purely because it was a Catholic book and it seemed interesting. I was also trying to learn more about my Catholic faith, and so I thought this book would be a good place to start. I read this first during Holy Week of 2008, and that time I wasn’t exactly at the best place of my faith. I remember loving this book because it made me appreciate being Catholic, although that didn’t necessarily mean that I really got what it means to be one.
Fast forward to three years later, I got to attend my first World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain. Now if there was any way for a young Catholic to celebrate and appreciate their faith, the World Youth Day is that event. Seeing people — Catholics — all over the world coming together in one place to celebrate and learn about their faith (and meet the Pope) is an event that every Catholic should experience, regardless of age. Suffice to say that it was that event that pretty much defined a lot of my searching in the past years since I first read this book. When Lent came around this year, I thought it would be a good time to revisit this book again.
I thought of writing a review for this book with 50 things about the book, but I realized that 50 is a bit of a big number. So instead, let me just write five:
- I like that it is Catholic. Maybe I just kind of suck with looking for books written by Catholics, but I remember being very thrilled when I discovered this because I felt that it was written for me. I know it’s not, but it just felt like that. :P
- I like that it’s very personal. Liz Kelly wrote the entries in the book with enough personal anecdotes to make it feel like she’s just sharing the stories over coffee, or she’s a speaker for a community event. She gives enough reference to the Bible, related books, history and to the Catechism of the Catholic Church so readers know that she isn’t just pulling things from thin air, but not so much that it overshadows her personality.
- I like that it covers the ones we Catholics are asked the most about: the rosary, Mary, the Communion of Saints, Confession, the Eucharist. In a way, it’s almost like an Apologetics session because readers would understand why we do what we do but with less of the feeling that it is one.
- I liked discovering new things about Catholicism that I never knew before. May favorite is the Rosary of the Holy Wounds, which I didn’t even know existed before. I only knew of the rosary, but this one is new to me and seems like a good devotion to start. Another example is the chapter on the Hour of Divine Mercy, which has been a staple in the household since I was a kid because of the 3 o’clock prayer shown on TV everyday. I never really understood much of it until it was explained in the simplest form in Liz Kelly’s book.
- There were some entries that didn’t feel like I could really and truly relate, perhaps because of our differences in culture. Liz Kelly talks about her reasons to love being Catholic as an American. I’m not one, obviously, so there were some things that she wrote that I couldn’t really relate to and some that I was looking for but didn’t find because they were aspects of Catholicsm that is unique to the Filipinos. However, though, I think the book isn’t really meant to be a guide on what constitutes being a Catholic anyway, but a book that helps us appreciate what we have in this beautiful Universal Church. :)
I think new and old Catholics alike would enjoy May Crowning, Mass and Merton: 50 Reasons I Love Being Catholic, and maybe even some non-Catholics who are simply curious about it. It’s far from preachy, and like I said, it’s very personal so it’s up to you if you’d research more on the subjects Liz Kelly wrote about or if you would just leave it be. Suffice to say that I really liked it still even after the second read. As proof: I ended up marking even more pages now than when I first read it:
To end this review, I thought I’d share my own ten reasons why I love being Catholic (just ten because I don’t think I can get to 50 yet — maybe when I get a little bit older :D). Some may have already appeared in the book, while others are my additions. In no particular order, and no more explanations because it would take a bit of time to write — I’ll post about them soon (promise!) in my personal blog if you are interested. :)
- Universal Church.
- The Mass.
- The Rosary.
- Pope (Blessed) John Paul II.
- The Eucharist.
- Ash Wednesday and Holy Week.
- Simbang Gabi (Dawn Mass/Advent novena mass)
- The saints.
I am glad I reread this book and I’m glad I reread it at this time. Still a favorite for sure. :)