When lethargy, stereotypes, and quasi-despair get in the way of the holy exuberance of a lived faith, the spirit and passion of the faithful can slowly wither away. Noted essayist Brian Doyle understands this well, and his deep desire is to get Catholics excited about their faith once again—reminding them that the heartbeat of Catholicism is found not under priestly robes or in papal decrees, but in parish halls and at football stadiums, at breakfast tables and on city buses.
Doyle’s trademark candor, wit, and humor make this collection of more than 40 essays eminently enjoyable to read. From preparing for his First Confession by creating a fake laundry list of sins, to observing his mom’s reaction to John F. Kennedy’s assassination, to pondering his friend’s surprising success with Catholic Golf Digest, Doyle’s passionate writing is as likely to make us shed a tear as it is to make us laugh out loud.
In the end, The Thorny Grace of It proves that, far from being extinguished, the Catholic faith— imperfect as it is—is wildly aflame in hearts and lives everywhere!
Brian Doyle is the editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland, in Oregon. He is the author of four essay collections, most recently Leaping: Revelations & Epiphanies.
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