I received my copy of The Catholic Catalogue by Melissa Musick and Anna Keating on Fat Tuesday. Earlier in the day I googled “shrove” to see why it is sometimes referred to as Shrove Tuesday. I didn’t realize that I would have the field guide to such questions in my hands a few hours later. The book, which is immensely practical, interesting, and helpful, defines many of the terms that surround Catholic holidays, rituals, and customs. It provides an overview of the cultural practices of the Catholic faith, drawing on our rich tradition and practices from around the world.
The book will appeal to Catholics of all stripes, but particularly to millennials and others who are interested in integrating their faith into their daily lives and adopting customs drawn from the Catholic tradition, but were not raised in a Catholic culture and missed out on many of these practices or have lived apart from this culture for a long time.
I found the book particularly valuable for my own family, as my wife and I look to create enduring traditions for our family and inculcate the values we hold dear to our children through our daily lives. My wife, Sarah, is a convert to Catholicism and I was raised in a climate where few feast days were celebrated or discussions of scapulars took place. Just a few months prior to this, we were trying to figure out how to get or make an Advent wreath and how people typically use them. Can we light the candle(s) each night? Is there a prayer many people say? The Catholic Catalogue is perfect for addressing precisely these questions.
The book covers everything from holy oils and incense to how to find a parish to Easter eggs, crafts, and legends to baptism to the funeral liturgy. The book is accessible without surrendering depth, giving the reader an authentic understanding of these practices that is easy to comprehend.
One of the best themes found throughout the book is the communal nature of the faith. This is at the very heart of Catholicism. These customs and practices are so important because they foster communion with God and one another in our daily lives. They reorient our lives away from the individualism of modern life and make us aware that we are persons, made by God and finding meaning in community.
The book is full of recommendations for coming together to live the faith. Whether this is among family or friends, it provides advice for people of all ages to live a richer, fuller Catholic life in greater communion with others.