A Witness to Joy
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Author: Simone Troisi,Christian Paccini
Publisher: Sophia Institute Press
Category: Biography & Autobiography
Chiara Petrillo was seated in a wheel chair looking lovingly toward Jesus in the tabernacle. Her husband, Enrico, found the courage to ask her a question that he had been holding back. Thinking of Jesus’s phrase, “my yoke is sweet and my burden is light,” he asked: “Is this yoke, this cross, really sweet, as Jesus said?” A smile came across Chiara’s face. She turned to her husband and said in a weak voice: “Yes, Enrico, it is very sweet.” At 28 years old, Chiara passed away, her body ravaged by cancer. The emotional, physical, and spiritual trials of this young Italian mother are not uncommon. It was her joyful and loving response to each that led one cardinal to call her “a saint for our times.” Chiara entrusted her first baby to the blessed Virgin, but felt as though this child was not hers to keep. Soon, it was revealed her daughter had life-threatening abnormalities. Despite universal pressure to abort, Chiara gave birth to a beautiful girl who died within the hour. A year later, the death of her second child came even more quickly. Yet God was preparing their hearts for more—more sorrow and more grace. While pregnant a third time, Chiara developed a malignant tumor. She refused to jeopardize the life of her unborn son by undergoing treatments during the pregnancy. Chiara waited until after Francesco was safely born, and then began the most intense treatments of radiation and chemotherapy, but it was soon clear that the cancer was terminal. Almost immediately after giving birth to Francesco, Chiara’s tumor became terminal and caused her to lose the use of her right eye. Her body was tested, and so was her soul as she suffered through terrible dark nights. She said “yes” to everything God sent her way, becoming a true child of God. And as her days on earth came to an end, Enrico looked down on his wife and said, “If she is going to be with Someone who loves her more than I, why should I be upset?” Each saint has a special charisma, a particular facet of God that is reflected through her. Chiara’s was to be a witness to joy in the face of great adversity, the kind which makes love overflow despite the sorrow from loss and death.
How a Group of Young Catholics Is Trying to Make Catholicism Cool
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Author: Katherine Dugan
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Millennials in the U.S. have been characterized as uninterested in religion, as defectors from religious institutions, and as agnostic about the role of religious identity in their culture. Amid the rise of so-called "nones," though, there has also been a countervailing trend: an increase in religious piety among some millennial Catholics. The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), which began evangelizing college students on American university campuses in 1998, hires recent college graduates to evangelize college students and promote an attractive and culturally savvy Catholicism. These millennial Catholics have personal relationships with Jesus, attend Mass daily, and know and defend papal teachings, while also being immersed in U.S. popular culture. With their skinny jeans, devotional tattoos, and large-framed glasses, FOCUS missionaries embody a hip, attractive style of Catholicism. They promote a faith that interweaves distinctly Catholic identity with outreach methods of twentieth-century evangelical Protestants and the anxieties of middle-class emerging adulthood. Though this new generation of missionaries lives according to strict gender essentialism prescribed by papal teachings-including the notions that men lead while women follow and that biology dictates gender roles-they also support stay-at-home fatherhood and women earning MBAs. Millennial Missionaries examines how these young people navigate their Catholic and American identities in the twenty-first century. Illuminating the ways missionaries are reshaping American Catholic identity, Katherine Dugan explores the contemporary U.S. religious landscape from the perspective of millennials who proudly proclaim "I am Catholic"-and devote years of their lives to convincing others to do the same.
A Call to Faith in a Broken World
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Author: Sally Read
Publisher: Ignatius Press
Sally Read converted from atheism to Catholicism when her daughter, Flo, was only four years old, but it did not take long for the child to become aware that many friends and relatives did not share her mother's newfound faith. This consciousness of "two worlds" led to a great many doubts in Flo, and some rebellion. Two nights before her First Communion she suddenly questioned whether she should receive the Eucharist. Sensing the precarious nature of faith in an overwhelmingly secular world, Read began writing down the compelling reasons for holding on to both God and Church. Taking the Annunciation as her template, she explored common experiences of the spiritual life as she meditated on each part of the story recorded in the Gospel of Luke. Drawing on Scripture, the saints, and the lives of people she has known personally or professionally as a nurse, Read shows how God is with us always—even in suffering, spiritual dryness, and depression. Although inspired by a mother's loving response to a daughter, this book will speak to any believer engaged in the bliss and the bewilderment of a relationship with God.