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Swimming with Scapulars: True Confessions of a Young Catholic Hardcover – April 1, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Dave Eggers meets G. K. Chesterton in this funny, wise, and acutely perceptive memoir by a precocious young Catholic.
For a wine connoisseur and fan of Nine Inch Nails, 30-year-old Matthew Lickona lives an unusual inner life. He is a Catholic of a decidedly traditional bent (“I believe the same things as my pious old grand-mother”). He wears a scapular, a medieval talisman believed to secure God’s protection. He fasts during Lent. He and his wife shun modern birth control—they waited four nights after their wedding to consummate their marriage. But he is also a writer of prodigious talent, which is on full display in Swimming with Scapulars, a story of a premodern faith lived with a postmodern sensibility.
Lickona knows it isn’t easy to abide by his orthodox Catholicism. His “true confessions” are his painfully honest chronicles of his fitful starts and ongoing efforts to live the faith he is so proud of. (“I believe my faith to be a gift, though the gift may sometimes feel like
a cross to be borne.”) Yet his life as a Catholic is one of great joy, particularly his joy in being intimately connected with God through the sacrament of the Eucharist.
Matthew Lickona is a staff writer and sometime cartoonist for the San Diego Reader, a weekly newspaper. Born and raised in upstate New York, he attended Thomas Aquinas College in California. He lives in La Mesa, California, with his wife Deirdre and their four children.
Top Customer Reviews
Swimming with Scapulars, despite its humorous title and cover, is not a funny book, but it has its hilarious moments-a sort of divine comedy at times. What does "swimming with scapulars" mean? My Catholic friends-to whom I rave about this book-get it right away: "Ha ha! You keep your scapular on in the water because you might drown!" (The promise Our Lady made to St. Simon Stock regarding the scapular involved eternal salvation-assistance.) Unfortunately, the author leads with this image-story in the opening pages. I don't say unfortunately because it gives away a punch-line, but because it dredges up (in the non-Catholic or no-frills Catholic mind) what is deemed to be superstition in Catholic tradition before we even get to know Matthew Lickona. He even appears to be a scrupulous, fearful believer; but hold on, Matthew explains all on page 81, even his own initial misgivings about the sacramental. Actually, that's what's needed with this gem of a book: holding on.
Swimming with Scapulars can easily be put down for the first thirty pages, but after that, fugghedaboutit. The random reminiscences up to this point-even a candid tale of an encounter with an abusive priest-don't seem to coagulate, but then the author hits his stride.
Swimming with Scapulars is not about an extraordinary life. The author's life is a little droll even, except for his interior life.Read more ›
"Swimming With Scapulars" should be made required reading for every person who treats obedient followers of Rome with suspicion, contempt, or condemnation when informed that, indeed, young Catholics are out there who live according to even the least popular dictates of our Faith.
While St. Thomas Aquinas or C.S. Lewis would be far better "legitimate" apologists, replete with all magnificent theological thought that the faithful treasure as part of our spiritual heritage, Lickona is a living, breathing, "REAL" American human being. He is more educated, theologically speaking, than the average Catholic of any age, much less a 30-something [his alma mater is a small, traditional Catholic college actually named for Aquinas].
However, his academic background in the faith does not make him any less down-to-earth. If anything, he seems to make a real effort to take the tenets of Catholicism and put them to practice in everyday life. This memoir is really about that; the Little Flower is likely beaming on him, so good an example is he setting for believers and detractors alike with his own personal "Little Way".
Our society needs more witnesses to Rome such as the author to take up the pen and compose what I call the "layman's apologetics" -- it transmits the glorious Truth of Roman Catholicism in a simple yet deeply meaningful way. And to
Mr. Lickona -- ad multos annos!
Nothing I have read since Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man so captures the interior life of a practicing Catholic as this.
Lickona is not afraid to grow and change before our eyes during this book. It is as rigorous and self-examining as a good confession.
Sure it lacks a tight narrative structure and you'll tear through it a couple of days. Think of it as an epistle.
People who are close to a Catholic who they don't really understand would also benefit from reading this book. It might all make a little more sense after reading this.
As to the few negative comments in the review below, I'll have to respectfully disagree. I found nothing in the book disrespectful of anyone, and Lickona comes across not as a shrinking recluse ready to build a compound in the hills, but rather as a fully engaged member of society who leads an integrated life, rather than the seemingly more common secular/spiritual dual life. Nor does he simply "write any one off."
Overall, the book was well worth the time spent reading it; let's hope it's only the first of many more.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very good book. Purchased for a Catholic high school library as a donation.Published 9 months ago by D. Stein
This was a great book, written in a lively and engaging style. It was just what I had hoped, only better. I read it and passed it on to a friend.Published 11 months ago by Olivia
Unabashedly honest reflections on the author's personal faith journey and his desire to evangelize those around him and live a faithful life. Read morePublished 23 months ago by ek
great for catholics that want a reminder of traditional catholic education that they forgot. refreshing. great writting. life changing. get yourself a scapular.Published on August 29, 2012 by nat
It is so nice to see the writing of a young person focused primarily on following the evangelical counsels of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience. Read morePublished on February 7, 2009 by A. Neusch
This is a great book. It reminded me of growing up and of my mother, a devout Catholic who is no longer with us. Read morePublished on December 1, 2008 by KBuckner
I wanted to like this book. I am a young twenty-something Catholic (born and raised) and I was excited to read this book that has received some pretty good reviews. Read morePublished on November 7, 2008 by BreitBring
I didn't know what to expect when I picked up the book, but my curiosity got the best of me. What a pleasant surprise! I loved it! Read morePublished on June 21, 2008 by Catholic Book Lover
If I'd been an editor on this book, I would have changed the title to True Confessions of a Young Catholic: Take this Bread and take this Whine. Read morePublished on March 15, 2008 by NotPrettyEnough