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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Loyola Press (March 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0829435379
  • ISBN-13: 978-0829435375
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #141,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Why Stay Catholic? took courage to write, and Michael Leach shows a masterful understanding of the meaning of Church and the mystery of God’s purpose for all of us. . . . A remarkable achievement!”
–Joseph Girzone, author of the Joshua series
 



Why Stay Catholic? Unexpected Answers to a Life-Changing Question
Michael Leach. Loyola, $14.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-0-8294-3537-5
Catholic publishing eminence Leach asks, and answers, a good question that the nation’s second largest non-congregation – the church of ex-Catholics -- has also asked, but answered differently. Leach offers a how-do-I-love-thee list of reasons for his staying within the 68 million strong tent of American Catholic believers, even while remaining aware that the tent is less than perfect. His book focuses on, in short and digestible chapters, ideas, people, and places that exemplify Catholicism’s best. He ranges from theological-institutional (Catholics have powerful sacramental imaginations that allow them to glimpse God unexpectedly) to just plain fun (Catholics like to party; Jesus did, too). His “places” highlight the infrastructure of institutions that Catholics have built within society: charities, hospitals, schools, relief agencies – all an integral part of America’s social backbone. Leach also includes a portion of an essay he wrote imagining what he would do if he were pope. Would that he had been (it’s theoretically possible): this is a generous, loving, charming book – Catholicism at its best. (Mar.)
(Publishers Weekly 2011-02-23)

What’s Right With the Church
Thomas Groome | APRIL 4, 2011
 
Why Stay Catholic?
Unexpected Answers to a Life-Changing Question
Michael Leach
Loyola Press. 224p $14.95
I would never leave, even if they should try to kick me out. That may be as much Irish pigheadedness as genuine faith. But I have lots of friends and family who already have left or who often threaten to leave the Catholic Church. This breaks my heart. With some 30 million former Catholics in the United States alone, I meet lots of them along the way—on planes and trains, at family wakes and weddings. My first instinct always is to try to convince them, as Michael Leach advises, that instead of “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” they might reconsider and recognize that “The baby [Catholic faith] is precious, it’s real, it never grows old, can still give joy, peace, and assurance, and it’s not dependent on people.” Now I also have a great book for them to read. Why Stay Catholic? might well convince exiles to return and the wavering to remain.
In the spirit of James Joyce’s definition of catholic as “here comes everybody,” Leach makes a powerful argument for a big-tent Catholicism: “there is room in the church for everyone, or there is room for no one...for those who save their money for a pilgrimage to Medjugorje and for those who blow it at Vegas, for sinners, saints, and fools.” In that light, I thank God with renewed confidence for my own welcome.
The author—publisher emeritus and editor at large of Orbis Books—divides this fun book into three sections, around ideas, people and places that epitomize Catholicism. The ideas rise up afresh out of “the great deposit of faith”; but this “is not a limited checking account; it’s a trust fund that increases and multiplies.” His key conviction, repeated often throughout, is God’s unconditional love for every person. His central Scripture text is Rom 8:38-39, that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
The “People” section has stories of some persons well known to all and others better known to Leach who incarnate the Catholic faith. Many of his heroes are mine as well: Thea Bowman, Miriam Therese Winter, Dorothy Day, Bishop Ray Lucker, Andrew Greeley and now the author’s spouse, Vickie (for battling illness with faith and courage). Under “Places,” where the word gets made flesh again, he reviews parishes (like Old St. Pat’s, Chicago), schools, hospitals, monasteries, Catholic Charities, Catholic Relief Services and the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, among others.
In my view, the two best reasons for staying Catholic, as the book stresses, are the twin principles of incarnation and sacramentality. Of course, Catholicism is incarnational in its focus on Jesus. Leach is convinced that the Jesus event and his paschal mystery is not about a God who needed to be appeased for our sins but one who came looking for us out of love. Catholicism is particularly incarnational, however, in that it encourages people to enflesh their faith, to realize it in their lives, far beyond the purely confessional. This is why he emphasizes people and places who concretize it. And even the ideas that he highlights all lead to practices of one kind or another; Catholic Christian faith must get done “on earth as in heaven.”
The other side of the incarnational coin is the sacramental nature of Catholic faith. Again, this emphasis reaches a climax in the seven great liturgical sacraments that we celebrate in church, but these arise from and flow back into the sacramentality of the ordinary and everyday of life. Because “God is everywhere,” God looks for us and we respond through our lives in the world. In the words of St. Augustine, “If you have an eye for it, the world itself is sacramental.” It is the sacramentality of Catholic faith that makes it so humane, so life-giving. “Catholicism seen through the eye of a needle is a religion of rules and regulations. Seen with the sacramental imagination, it is a unique take on life, a holy vision, a way of seeing the chosen part of things.”
These twin principles—the incarnational and sacramental—are what make Catholicism most worthwhile, why anyone can well stay, regardless of disappointments and complaints and the scandals that beset the church. Indeed, these very principles lend Catholic faith its rich spiritualities; “When it comes to spirituality, “the author writes, “the Catholic Church is a Garden of Eden.”
These principles also explain why we love to tell the stories of faith, old and new, and why Catholics can often have a little more fun. “Catholics like to get together and eat cholesterol and drink beer and have fun.” This book itself oozes with the incarnational and sacramental, providing many laughs and a few tears while reading it. I learned, for instance, that “Americans trust angels ten times more than they do their congressmen. That makes sense.”
Meanwhile, Leach pulls no punches when it comes to the church’s shortcomings; his book is anything but a whitewash. In fact, it is brutally honest. Yet it is also long on hope, perhaps the theological virtue most needed now. He is convinced, for example, that the great controversies that beset our time concerning ministry (e.g., optional celibacy, women’s ordination) will all be solved in good time, and people will wonder what all the fuss was about. Just like that!
Treat yourself and your friends, whether staunch, wavering, recovering or in exile, to this inspiring book. It forcefully makes the case for staying; it will also “bring the smile back to [your] Catholicism, the kind that comes from deep in your heart....”
Listen to an interview with Michael Leach.
Thomas Groome is professor of theology and religious education at Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry, where he also is chair of the department of religious education and pastoral ministry.
(Thomas Groome America: The National Catholic Weekly 2011-04-04)

From the Back Cover

Why stay Catholic?
The answers will surprise and sustain you!

Scandals in the Catholic Church won’t go away. The same uninspiring sermons keep coming. Lay people are left wondering where “the beef” in Catholicism has gone. In light of all this, it’s no wonder that so many Catholics are asking, Why stay Catholic?
In Why Stay Catholic?, national best-selling author Michael Leach offers surprising, inspiring, and timely answers to this life-changing question, giving readers plenty of reasons to celebrate the Catholic faith here and now. In part one, he explores and explains great ideas Catholics never hear about, even from the pulpit; in part two, he introduces inspiring, often little-known Catholics who never make the news but can make a big difference in people’s faith; and in part three, Leach highlights great Catholic organizations that change the world.
Ultimately, Why Stay Catholic? is an invitation to “taste and see how good the Lord is.” Cradle Catholics, returning Catholics, ex-Catholics, and even non-Catholics will love this healing antidote to a faltering faith and a wounded Church.

“Why Stay Catholic? took courage to write, and Michael Leach shows a masterful understanding of the meaning of Church and the mystery of God’s purpose for all of us. . . . A remarkable achievement!”
–Joseph Girzone, author of the Joshua series

Why stay Catholic?
The answers will surprise and sustain you!


Scandals in the Catholic Church won’t go away. The same uninspiring sermons keep coming. Lay people are left wondering where “the beef” in Catholicism has gone. In light of all this, it’s no wonder that so many Catholics are asking, Why stay Catholic?
In Why Stay Catholic?, national best-selling author Michael Leach offers surprising, inspiring, and timely answers to this life-changing question, giving readers plenty of reasons to celebrate the Catholic faith here and now. In part one, he explores and explains great ideas Catholics never hear about, even from the pulpit; in part two, he introduces inspiring, often little-known Catholics who never make the news but can make a big difference in people’s faith; and in part three, Leach highlights great Catholic organizations that change the world.
Ultimately, Why Stay Catholic? is an invitation to “taste and see how good the Lord is.” Cradle Catholics, returning Catholics, ex-Catholics, and even non-Catholics will love this celebration of a faith that lives and lasts.
 


More About the Author

MICHAEL LEACH is publisher emeritus and editor-at-large of Orbis Books. A leader in Catholic publishing for more than 30 years, he has edited and published more than two thousand books. His authors include Nobel Prize winners, National Book Award winners, and hundreds of Catholic Book Award winners. He has served as president of the Catholic Book Publishers Association and the ecumenical Religion Publishers Group. Before joining Orbis as publisher in 1997 Michael was president of the Crossroad/Continuum Publishing Group in New York City. Dubbed "the dean of Catholic book publishing" by U.S. Catholic magazine, he has also authored or edited several books of his own, including the bestseller I Like Being Catholic, A Maryknoll Book of Prayer, The People's Catechism, and I Like Being Married. A popular speaker at Catholic conferences nationwide, Mike lives in Connecticut with his wife of forty-one years Vickie.

"Michael Leach, the highly respected publisher of religious books... represents a last breed in American Catholic culture." - The Catholic Review, June 11, 2002

"Chances are, if you're a reader of Catholic books, you've read a book that began its life with Michael Leach... the dean of Catholic book publishing." - U.S. Catholic, November 2000

Customer Reviews

As I read this book through again, it is with a highlighter.
Patricia Marinier
I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to share in the one great truth of being a Catholic - the joy of God's love.
Guy Giarrizzo
It had me laughing, choked me up in places, very often letting out a "Yeah" or a "right on."
Gene Barrette

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Saltpublishing on March 27, 2011
Format: Paperback
As Catholics, we've had it. We're beyond done with pedophilia and financial scandals, rubric-obsessed leadership and an imbecilic hierarchy that thinks, as Archbishop Dolan recently remarked, that all that needs to change in the church is people's "perception" of it. So, why stay Catholic, indeed?

As the editor of a Catholic newspaper, whenever someone asking that question comes to me--and the number of Catholics asking that question has gone viral in recent years--what I tell them is, "You're looking in the wrong direction. If you want to know why to stay, stop looking up (to the hierarchy) and start looking across (to the Catholics you know)." Michael Leach's Why Stay Catholic is a book that celebrates, in incredibly heartening terms, what you will find when you look across.

Leach knows that those of us scrambling for the exit signs need to be reminded of what this Catholic Church of ours is really about. Wisely, he opens his book with a number of chapters that strip away the hierarchical nonsense and get us back to God--a God who is everywhere, a God in whom we "live and move and have our being." And he asks with the Gospel, "Who can separate us from the love of God?" As Catholics, we know that nothing can, and yet, deafened by the arrogance and artifice and just plain manipulation that passes for direction from our church these days, it can be easy to forget that God is the very ground of our beings. Michael Leach brings us back to that knowledge so swiftly and deftly and with such great love that its awe inspiring. And this particular brace of chapters mark him as a truly gifted theologian of our church as well.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Therese Borchard on March 11, 2011
Format: Paperback
I must admit that Mike Leach is a friend and mentor of mine. I have read every single thought he has ever committed to paper, because I, for one, think he is brilliant. He taught me how to use words, and in this book of his, his words sparkle and entertain, teach and inspire, console and educate. This is Mike Leach as his best, and he is a legend within the Catholic publishing world. Every word, from each chapter's initial catch, to its concluding epitaph is filled with wisdom, laughter, insight, and grace. No book has captured so well the Catholic essence, the "chosen part of things" as he explained to me, gathering material from so many inspiring sources. This book will stay on my desk to reference every day. It's gracious, generous, and everything Catholicism hopes to be.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Marinier on March 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
It took 'one standing' and 'two sittings' for me to finish this book. It was difficult to relish one chapter because I could hardly wait to get to the next one! It caused me to alternately laugh and cry...sometime lol while the tears were running down my cheeks. What does the life, death and resurrection of Jesus have to do with Dancing With the Stars? And what does Mary have to do with pizza? And what about Andrew Greeley's thoughts on exclusivity as well as not putting constraints on God because she doesn't like it. As I read this book through again, it is with a highlighter. I want to be able to quickly find some of the words that I especially enjoy, words like "I think I finally know what I want to be when I grow up. What I am right now." Or what about, "I stay in the church even as it drives me nuts...because it's been a good home for me...." This book is full of positive energy as well as deep thought. Enjoy!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Katharyn L. Waldron on March 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
Perhaps this book could only have been written honestly by an ex-priest--not a priest forced out in scandal but a man who came to understand he would better serve his Lord married and by writing, editing, and publishing words from the other side of the pulpit than the side from which he had been preaching. Exploring intriguing ideas, passionate persons, and powerful places, Michael Leach reminds us that Catholic (with a big "C") is best when it is catholic (with a little "c"), the church celebrating differences while welcoming all. The book is not a theological treatise but rather an invitation to personal reflection on what and how we can contribute to the lives of others. Readers are drawn into Leach's angst over Andrew Greeley's accident that has curtailed his own writing and then smile at Michael's wife Vickie finding fun amid her Alzheimer's: "While we're in the car, Vickie looks out the window, and whether it is sunny or cloudy, she exclaims (I kid you not), `The world is charged with the grandeur of God! Thank you God.'" These personal glimpses keep us anxious to see what Leach's next chapter will stir in us. This book can stand alone but also is a perfect companion for A MARYKNOLL BOOK OF INSPIRATION: SPIRITUAL READINGS FOR EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Mary Ann Fischer on April 28, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's Thursday, April 28th. Tomorrow morning lots of folks will be up a 4 AM to watch the London ceremonies. I, howerer, got up today at that time to finish reading Michael Leach's brilliant, amazing book "Why Stay Catholic?"
I have no intentions after 71 years of "jumping ship" though I know many struggling with staying aboard. This book is as good as it gets in telling the Catholic story. I couldn't begin to say what I liked best though perhaps the fact that while I am a compulsive reader who holds a book in my left hand, the highlighter in my right hand, with this book I used my right hand for page turning or tissue use. I liked that a lot!
Yes, I've alreading placed another order for 8 additional copies, one for each of my six adult children and two for special friends. I plan to place an additional order. Retired (2006) after 23 years of directing RCIA (as principal instructor as well) in a Georgia parish of 4000 families, if still in that position, I'd order copies for each inquirer. All adult faith formation offerings should include this book as must-read books.
So I thank the author. This is my short version of praise; the author should be on the lookout for a purple pen letter. For now, in these words of special thanks, I'm grateful for the early on tribute to the writings of David Tracy as I did my MTS thesis at Emory University in 1992 on his works especially "The Analogical Imagination".
With gratitude.
Mary Ann Fischer
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