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Letters to a Young Catholic (Art of Mentoring (Paperback)) Paperback – November 1, 2005

4.6 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this spiritual memoir-cum-travelogue, Weigel writes with the same beauty and clarity that characterized his biography of Pope John Paul II, Witness to Hope, merging reportage with personal insights about Catholicism. He takes readers on a journey from Maryland to Europe and Israel, visiting sites that are whimsical (G.K. Chesterton’s favorite pub) as well as those that are renowned as holy (the Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem, St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome). Writing in a conversational, epistolary form aimed at young Catholics, Weigel offers a book that simultaneously is, and is not, your grandmother’s catechism: he affirms the core doctrines of the Church, but he does so in a way that is refreshingly contemporary and—because of his emphasis on Church sites around the world—catholic as well as Catholic. Weigel opens the book with an entertaining description of his childhood in the Catholic stronghold of Baltimore, and invites young readers to entertain the idea that Catholicism is not just a creed but an "optic," a rooted way of viewing the world. In the rest of the book, he introduces that world and offers them new lenses with which to understand it. This book is simply first-rate.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Growing up in Baltimore, one of the most Catholic U.S. cities, Weigel knew Catholics were different. They identified with their parish, not their neighborhood. Their school uniforms made them distinctive, and Sunday mass gave them a rich ritual life. But the real difference, he says, is that Catholics had a particular way of looking at the world, based on what he calls a sacramental imagination. In the Catholic worldview, everything matters. Writing directly to young Catholics and for anyone curious about Catholicism, Weigel discusses what it means to be Catholic now. He tours the Catholic world that has shaped his own understanding, and particular places he visits range from Milledgeville, Georgia, deep in the Bible Belt but home of Catholic novelist and apologist Flannery O'Connor, to the Vatican, Chartres Cathedral, St. Stanislaw Kostka Churchyard in Warsaw, and even the Olde Cheshire Cheese tavern in London, a favorite haunt of G. K. Chesterton. This is a luminous work that would appeal to anyone interested in faith, hope, and life itself. June Sawyers
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Art of Mentoring (Paperback)
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (November 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465092705
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465092703
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #530,947 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
During a nightmarish four-hour flight delay in Dallas recently, I had the opportunity to read George Weigel's new book and I can't say (or write) enough about it.

It's part travelogue, part biography and part catechism on the "sacramental imagination", a theme to which he returns again and again.

The devastating critique Weigel makes of "liberal religion" in the chapter on John Henry Cardinal Newman and the Birmingham Oratory is worth the purchase price alone.

He also has a great chapter on the the Old Chesire Cheese, a pub frequented by famous Catholic curmudgeons like G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc.

Weigel describes Belloc's run for a seat in Parliament during the early part of the twentieth century when England was notoriously anti-Catholic. Here is how Belloc kicked off a campaign speech:

"Gentlemen, I am a Catholic. As far as possible, I go to Mass every day. This is a rosary. As far as possible, I kneel down and tell these beads every day. If you reject me on account of my religion, I shall thank God that He has spared me the indignity of being your representative."

He won.

For a sample chapter online, simply "Google" the words "The Scavi of St. Peter's and the Grittiness of Catholicism".
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Theologian George Weigel's new "Letters to a Young Catholic" is a remarkable peek into the Beauty of Catholicism. It should be required reading for all Catholics, Protestants -- and even non-Christians!
There is perhaps nobody more suited to write a book like this than George Weigel. Mr. Weigel is the author of more than ten books, including "The Truth of Catholicism," "The Courage to Be Catholic," and, of course, the much-celebrated biography of Pope John Paul II, "Witness to Hope."
"Letters to a Young Catholic" is very much a roadmap of modern Catholicism. Mr. Weigel takes readers on a literary tour of the Catholic world. We visit the most likely and unlikely of places -- from GK Chesterton's favorite pub to the Vatican's Sistine Chapel -- as Mr. Weigel demonstrates that the world and the Church are "the arena of God's action."
He expounds on Catholicism's belief that God's presence can be experienced through art, history, literature, and even other people! As Weigel says, "we can touch the truth of our salvation" -- this life matters!! You'll never think of the Holy Catholic Church in the same way again!
I have never been so struck by the sheer beauty of truth as I was when I read "Letters." In every destination Weigel takes us, he finds opportunities to expound on the Catholic understanding of the world -- and of reality.
Weigel's writing is clear, concise, and convincing. I'd recommend the book to anyone and everyone. Catholics will rediscover the majesty of their Faith, and non-Catholics will be touched -- and challenged -- by the Beauty of Truth.
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Format: Hardcover
I consider Letters to a Young Catholic to be one of the best contemporary non-fiction books I have read, even though I am not Catholic and do not consider myself young anymore either. Although Weigel, a leading authority and writer on the Catholic Church, targets young Catholics and writes in a conversational style-thus the title, this book mentors all Christians seeking guidance in their relationship with Christ.

Weigel demonstrates a vast understanding of theology, history, geography, architecture and culture, and he orchestrates these topics to share the essentials truths of living the Christian life with his readers. Letters to a Young Catholic consists of fourteen letters/chapters addressing the key elements that Weigel considers important to modern Catholics and to all Christian disciples.

Some of Weigel's writing discusses practices particular to the Catholic Church, but even these apply and are relevant to Christians in general. Of the Catholic Church, he writes, "while Catholicism is a body of beliefs and a way of life, Catholicism is also an optic, a way of seeing things, a distinctive perception of reality." In Weigel's view, this body of beliefs and perception of reality is based on eternal truths that are at once both liberating and binding for the believers.

Weigel takes the reader on tours of sacred sites such as St. Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, the Sepulcher of Jesus and Chartres Cathedral in France. He uses these sacrosanct sites to share truths and point to the beauty, suffering, redemption, devotion and community found in the Christian story.

In one letter, he highlights St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville, SC.
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Format: Hardcover
I purchased this book a week and a half ago and finished it in a few days. Simply put: it is incredible. I warmly recommend it and think it an absolute must have for your library. With his typical verve and style, Weigel introduces the reader to the optic that is Catholicism--he shows you what it is to look at the world with Catholic lenses. And what a beautiful picture it is. Readers of Weigel will notice similar themes to other of Weigel's writings especially "Witness to Hope" and "Truth of Catholicism." But he deepens and personalizes those themes and goes beyond them to answer the questions posed by young Catholics (and I suppose old ones as well). The Catholicism presented by Weigel is earthy and crusty; it deals with the minutiae of everday life. Christ came to redeem it all and still comes to find us through the same mode he came to us in 2000 years ago, namely the incarnational mode.
This means that Christ is found at the pub, in the Church, and in the family. Weigel draws this out by telling us stories of great people, great places, and great moments in the life of the Church. Two that stick out in my mind. The first is Weigel's description of the Scavi under St. Peter's Basilica where the bones of the Apostle Peter lay. This is an example of the earthiness and reality of Catholicism's claim. It's not about some doctrine or some set of esoteric teachings. Rather, it is about real places and people. Peter's bones rest under St. Peter's. This fact stands out there to be dealt with by us. There sit the bones of a man who walked with Christ. There in the ordinariness of a catacomb we come face to face with the extraordinary, as Weigel describes it.
The second is Weigel's description of Chartres Cathedral in France.
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