Cover image for Letters to a young Catholic
Letters to a young Catholic
Weigel, George, 1951-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Basic Books, [2004]

Physical Description:
xii, 251 pages ; 21 cm
Baltimore and Milledgeville : acquiring the "habit of being" -- Rome : the Scavi of St. Peter's and the grittiness of Catholicism -- St. Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai/the Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem : the face of Christ -- The Dormition Abbey, Jerusalem : Mary and discipleship -- The Oratory, Birmingham, England : Newman and "liberal" religion -- The Olde Cheshire Cheese, London : Chesterton's pub and a sacramental world -- Castle Howard, Yorkshire, England : Brideshead revisited and the ladder of love -- The Sistine Chapel, Rome : body language, God-talk, and the visible invisible -- St. Mary's Church, Greenville, South Carolina : why and how we pray -- St. Stanisław Kostka Churchyard, Warsaw/the metropolitan curia, Kraków : how vocations change history -- The North American College Mausoleum, Campo Verano, Rome : the hardest questions -- Chartres Cathedral, France : what beauty teaches us -- The Old Cathedral, Baltimore : freedom for excellence -- The Basilica of the Holy Trinity, Kraków : on not being alone.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BX2355 .W45 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
BX2355 .W45 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
BX2355 .W45 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In this remarkable tour of the Catholic world, George Weigel helps us understand how Catholicism fosters what Flannery O'Connor called "the habit of being." Taking the reader by the hand, Weigel embarks on a journey to Catholic landmarks as diverse as Chartres Cathedral and St. Mary's Church in Greenville, South Carolina; the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem and G.K. Chesterton's favorite pub; the grave of a modern martyr in Warsaw, and the Sistine Chapel. Weaving together insights from history, literature, theology, and music, Weigel uses these touchstones to illuminate the beliefs that have shaped Catholicism for two thousand years.With clarity and conviction, Weigel examines the foundations of Catholic faith and explores the topics of grace, prayer, vocation, sin and forgiveness, suffering, and-most importantly-love. Putting a dramatic face on this invitation to Catholicism, Weigel introduces some of the figures who have shaped his faith and thought-Michelangelo and Fra Angelico; Evelyn Waugh and Cardinal John Henry Newman; Father Jerzy Popieuszko and Pope John Paul II; Edith Stein and Mother Teresa-as he also shares anecdotes from his own Catholic life. To a world that sometimes seems closed and claustrophobic, he suggests, Christian humanism offers a world with windows and doors-and a skylight.In these letters, George Weigel conveys the power of a faith that is at once personal and universal, timely and eternal. His book will inspire not only the young generation of Catholics whose World Youth Day celebrations have launched an era of renewal for the Church, but also the faithful, the doubtful, and the searchers of every age.

Author Notes

George Weigel is a Catholic theologian.

Weigel was educated at St. Mary's Seminary College in Baltimore, Maryland and at the University of St. Michael's College in Toronto, Canada.

Weigel moved to Seattle where he was Assistant Professor of Theology and Assistant (later Acting) Dean of Studies at the St. Thomas Seminary School of Theology in Kenmore. In 1977, he became Scholar-in-Residence at the World Without War Council of Greater Seattle. In 1984-85 he was a fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

Weigel is the author or editor of a number of books including Tranquillitas Ordinis: The Present Failure and Future Promise of American Catholic Thought on War and Peace (Oxford University Press, 1987); The Final Revolution: The Resistance Church and the Collapse of Communism (Oxford, 1992); The Truth of Catholicism: Ten Controversies Explored (HarperCollins, 2001); The Courage To Be Catholic: Crisis, Reform, and the Future of the Church (Basic Books, 2002); God's Choice: Pope Benedict XVI and the Future of the Catholic Church (HarperCollins, 2005); Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism (Doubleday, 2007); and Against the Grain: Christianity and Democracy, War and Peace (Crossroad, 2008). His scholarly work and his journalism are regularly translated into the major European languages.

Weigel has been awarded ten honorary doctorates, the papal cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, and the Gloria Artis Gold Medal by the Republic of Poland.

George Weigel and his wife live in North Bethesda, Maryland.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

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. Stanislawostka Churchyard in Warsaw, and even the Olde Cheshire Cheese tavern in London, a favorite haunt of G.. Chesterton. This is a luminous work that would appeal to anyone interested in faith, hope, and life itself. --June Sawyers Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

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. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal Review

America's leading commentator on religion and author of the best-selling Witness to Hope, Weigel here offers a collection of 14 beautifully written chapters describing internationally known Catholic sites with accompanying catechetical instruction. Thus, "Letter Two" (as the chapters are labeled) chronicles the archaeological discovery beneath St. Peter's Basilica during the reign of Pope Pius XII. With attention to historical detail and reliance on primary sources, Weigel writes a vivid account of actual events as they unfolded, namely, the finding of the physical remains of the Apostle Peter. Never leaving the reader with a mere travelog, he subtly introduces salient theological issues, catching the reader at a moment of receptivity. The theological issue considered in the gritty graveyard under St. Peter's is that human failure and physical death are never the final word. Other sites Weigel visits include the Church of the Holy Sephulchre in Jerusalem, the Sistine Chapel, and Chartres Cathedral. A passionate, accessible, and intelligent work on how to live, believe, and see things as a Catholic, this book will be a source of inspiration for readers young and old. Recommended for public libraries.-John-Leonard Berg, Univ. of Wisconsin Lib., Platteville (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

A Preliminary Postcardp. xi
Letter 1 Baltimore and Milledgeville--Acquiring the "Habit of Being"p. 1
Letter 2 Rome--The Scavi of St. Peter's and the Grittiness of Catholicismp. 19
Letter 3 St. Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai/The Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem--The Face of Christp. 33
Letter 4 The Dormition Abbey, Jerusalem--Mary and Discipleshipp. 51
Letter 5 The Oratory, Birmingham, England--Newman and "Liberal" Religionp. 63
Letter 6 The Olde Cheshire Cheese, London--Chesterton's Pub and a Sacramental Worldp. 83
Letter 7 Castle Howard, Yorkshire, England--Brideshead Revisited and the Ladder of Lovep. 101
Letter 8 The Sistine Chapel, Rome--Body Language, God Talk, and the Visible Invisiblep. 121
Letter 9 St. Mary's Church, Greenville, South Carolina--Why and How We Prayp. 139
Letter 10 St. Stanislaw Kostka Churchyard, Warsaw/The Metropolitan Curia, Krakow--How Vocations Change Historyp. 157
Letter 11 The North American College Mausoleum, Campo Verano, Rome--The Hardest Questionsp. 175
Letter 12 Chartres Cathedral, France--What Beauty Teaches Usp. 191
Letter 13 The Old Cathedral, Baltimore--Freedom for Excellencep. 207
Letter 14 The Basilica of the Holy Trinity, Krakow--On Not Being Alonep. 225
Sourcesp. 241
Acknowledgmentsp. 249
About the Authorp. 251