You want to know something? We're alive during such an incredible time for the Church. Although the culture seems more sadly confused than ever about sex, freedom, and truth, I think it's no coincidence that our generation has been set on fire by the Holy Spirit in a way our parents and grandparents didn't experience. There are so many young Catholics who love the Church in its fullness of truth, possess a special zeal for sharing it, and are living the legacy of Blessed John Paul II and the Theology of the Body. JPII called it a "springtime of evangelization," and back when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict said that to evangelize is "to teach the art of living." All the time God is good.
All that brings me here, to this book, Swimming with Scapulars. Matthew Lickona is a recent Thomas Aquinas College grad and father of four who I think gives such a candid, accurate voice to our generation. Fr. Benedict Groeschel, whom you might know from the CFR Fathers and from EWTN, says that "the emergence of an informed and sophisticated group of orthodox young Catholics who take their faith seriously" are "a fascinating group." Informed and sophisticated doesn't mean boring or uptight, though. This book is kind of a memoir, kind of a series of reflections, kind of a confessional of human weaknesses. As I read it, I recognized myself so many times in Matt's thoughts on the occasional desire to make radical, attention-getting Lenten sacrifices, the "sentimental ballads and peppy anthems" he never really favored for Mass music, and, as the title indicates, the all-important decision of whether or not to remove your scapular when you go in the water (what if a shark attacks you right after you take it off and get in the ocean?). He's wise, humble, and funny. While I wouldn't specifically identify this as a marriage prep book, there are quite a few chapters devoted to Matt's courtship with his wife Deirdre and their experiences with newlywed living quarters, NFP, and family life. There's so much to be gained from his reflections, and I always find it refreshing when an author comes clean about his struggles, rather than painting his life as hunky dory and without any suffering or internal battles. For that alone, I think this book is worth reading- to know there are others in as strong a pursuit of Heaven as you, and that they rejoice, fight, and surrender in the same way. We are one body, after all, and now is the time.
Next up: Penitential partakings