47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2011
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.
In his chapter on the Communion of saints, Leach writes of those considered by most to be saints by acclamation-- Mother Teresa and Oscar Romero and the Late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin among them. "Many of us Catholics,' writes Leach, `stay in the church because it has introduced us to people like these who are larger than life, but just like us." And it is Leach's genius for grounding God in everyday reality that gets through to you on every page of this book.
Leach brings us to the stories of some truly exceptional Catholics--Sister Miriam Therese Winter, Father Andrew Greeley, Dorothy Day, the late Bishop Raymond Lucker and others whose names you may not initially recognize, but whose stories will leave you with that "Ah!" of recognition. They are saints, who like Romero and Bernardin, are living this life with us as God is with us.
Reading Leach's Why Stay Catholic? you will suddenly find that you've stopped wondering where the nearest exit sign is. Reading it, you will find how quickly you cease to care about what the hierarchy is doing--now and forever. Reading Why Stay Catholic? will, in fact, lead you to let go of the dross and drudgery of Catholicism and come back to its Heart: God is with us. All of us. Always.
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2011
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.
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2011
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!
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2011
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".
Mary Ann Fischer
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2011
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.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2011
Finally a book that tackles the one big question that all Catholics have been asking - why (with all the damaging controversies plaguing the Church) stay Catholic? Michael Leach answers this question eloquently and persuasively in a book that is funny, informative, provocative and (dare I say) inspiring. In an era where the term "proud Catholic" has all but disappeared, Leach has done the seemingly impossible, he makes you proud to be a Catholic. He makes you proud by reminding you what it really means to be a Catholic. The cover of the book sums it all up with a collage of words ranging from charity and compassion to Mary and the Saints that unify and strengthen the faith of all Catholics. The book also gives us examples of remarkable but unsung Catholics and of great Catholic organizations that have all made the world a much better place through their example, activism and faith. It made me remember things that I had either forgotten or had become lost to an earlier time of my life, such as my love for the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins. 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.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2011
Why Stay Catholic? is a lively and delightful read. The sections on People and Places reveal how Catholics are bonded to the Church through heart felt experience. But I admire even more the way Mike Leach captures the central and core theological truths of Catholicism. In the chapters on Ideas you encounter the Rock on which the Church is built. So this is the way the faith continues to give forth living water! It is no easy task to convey the gospel in language that is true to the tradition and speaks to the future. Bravo and Amen.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2011
I just finished reading this book and have already bought five copies to share with friends. It had me laughing, choked me up in places, very often letting out a "Yeah" or a "right on." It's just brim full real stuff definitely offset the sad, incomprehensible,tragic stuff diminishing the light, the celebratory, the human, embrasive reality of the "people of God," the Catholic Church. Here Mike so magnificently lifts up all that up those truths, people, events, places, stories - and helps us to stop, look, listen. I was doubly blessed by the fact that while reading it I also was playing some of my CDs and happened upon the glorious "Magnificat" of Elyse O'Kane. It begins slowly, a solo voice, Eastern music, building into a swirling, whirling, Jewish women choral, dancing, ever speeding up into an outburst of praise, celebration that leave one breathless. Putting the parts of this book together pulled me into that kind of near ecstatic moment - pulled out of stuck in a sense that nothing good is happening in our Church. But wow, the stacking together of the ethnic parish festivals. How did I forget? I lived in Italy for 15 years. Neighborhoods had all kinds of those things with saints I never heard of providing those occasions. Yeah, somehow Catholics have not forgotten how to turn the water of our ordinary days into the firing-up-let's-sing-and-dance spirit of wine and all the rest that goes with it. Belloc had it right - Benedicamus Domino. Mike you brought all those bits and pieces together. For me the book is also like the Irving Berlin song, reminding us that as Catholics we should be singing, "Come on along, Come on along .... everyone, ....... this is Jesus' rag-tag band ...." how come? because I have come to give you LIFE - and life more abundantly ... come to give you JOY - and joy to the full --- to the brim." And Mike doesn't just say the words, but paints the pictures, and gives the photos of the people who have/or do live that kind of life. I love the book because it knocks the bee-jee-baas out of those who superciliously are always hunting down the orthodox, or more accurately, the unorthodox. Where does Jesus say, "come into my Father's house because you were right"? And how beautiful is to receive this book for what it is, a gentle, smiling, chiding invitation - "See, these great things ARE happening - if they are NOT happening where you are, then start and try to make them happen." That spectacular example of St. Patrick's parish in Chicago. Over and over again, all over the place, people and clergy and religious hold their heads and bewail the lack of vitality in so many Catholic parishes. The story of St. Patrick demonstrates that it's not the American Catholic people's fault. It's not completely the fault of our culture of consumerism, materialism, pleasure, etc. Much of the blame may very well rest with Catholic leadership itself who don't have true, radical gospel, faith, cojones that they trust enough to make that the message of God's unconditional love, the invitation of the gospel of inclusion, the capacity hold with mercy, to embrace and not judge - all those things that reveal the face of Jesus and don't set up walls and barriers that people often slam into when all they want is to know they are loved and will be carried over the abysses of their brokenness. Sounds like St. Patrick's offer that kind of community. Mike shows us the essentials. And how it stirs the soul. At least the souls of those who have ears to hear, eyes to see, and are not afraid to move out of their comfort zones.
I'm a 71 year old priest, living with small cell carcinoma. This book, like Walter Burghardt's Long Have I Loved You, has been/is a banquet to my Spirit. It has certainly fired my own booster rockets as I continue to work on my own book. Michael, you have made the Word delightfully flesh. You make "Come follow me" so real and possible.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Some days, it feels like most of the "Catholic" news that crosses my desk is difficult at best and often downright discouraging. And yet, as a lifelong Catholic and a mom doing my best each day to pass along my love for my faith to my sons, I persist in loving our Church. I love her teachings -- passed to us by Jesus Christ -- her holy priests and sisters, her traditions, and most of all the gift of the Eucharist. This often means that I find myself in the position of defending Her to my friends and family who either aren't Catholic, or who perhaps have decided to seek other faith homes.
When the new book Why Stay Catholic: Unexpected Answers to a Life-Changing Question hit my desk, I was immediately intrigued. Let me admit up front that I am a major Mike Leach fan. His book I Like Being Catholic, co-authored with the truly amazing Therese Borchard, remains a personal favorite of mine. Some day, when and if I ever grow up, I would like to write with a tiny fraction of the skill and emotion of Mike Leach. Let me say up front that Why Stay Catholic is not a work of apologetics in the sense that many will expect. It's also likely that you would answer the all important question "Why stay Catholic?" perhaps differently than Mike has. Personally, what I loved most about reading this book is that it gave me pause to stop and answer the question for myself, to linger a bit about the ideas, people and places that keep me so in love with our Church.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2012
Over the course of my life, I have felt at times so disconnected from and disappointed in the Church, frequently asking myself , "Why DO I stay Catholic?" In reading, reflecting on, and discussing Mike Leach's book, I have come to a better understanding of why the Catholic Church has been and will forever be my spiritual home. Mike Leach, through each well crafted chapter, doesn't so much convince me to stay Catholic, but reminds me of why I do. It is the lessons and stories of Jesus and the saints, the traditions and rituals that were the center of family life growing up, as well as the sustaining force through the trials of life. What this book has also helped me to see is that being Catholic is so much more than attending Mass every Sunday. Since first reading WSC, I find myself returning again and again to reread a favorite chapter or story. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in coming to a greater understanding of what Catholicism really means to them.