“Being a Catholic isn’t about following a perfect set of rules; it’s about following Jesus,” writes author Hilary De Freitas. This is the heart of her life-changing reconnection with the Roman Catholic Church after years away from the faith, a connection celebrated in her new book I Am Catholic, a collection of essays detailing De Freitas’ and others’ experiences with the teachings and sacraments of the Catholic Church.
The essays, taken from the author’s journals and email sources, range from De Freitas’s earlier rationalizations for avoiding church (something many can relate to); to how the sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion have stimulated her spiritual growth; to accounts of friends who have struggled with post-abortion depression, same-sex attraction, and temptations to have sex outside marriage, yet ultimately found grace and power to live within the Church’s teachings.
The author’s strength is her candor and infectious spiritual vitality, and at times her defenses of the Church’s teachings are logical and incisive. One chapter breaks down the Lord’s Prayer and explains how this prayer provides a pattern for all prayer. Another makes a spirited argument for praying to the saints.
Yet overall the book begs for editing, lacking the necessary cohesion and writing prowess that would attract a wide readership. Any applicability to readers is lost in long, chatty paragraphs that contain far too many unnecessary narrative details: “Isabel shared all her experiences from studying abroad and travelling . . . and her trips to the Olympics in China and to the World Cup . . . and a little bit about her work and what she was doing.” A tighter, slightly more formally written book would have helped advance this author’s special story more effectively.
Despite all, there is certainly power in any testimony of a changed life, and lapsed Catholics considering reentering the Church might appreciate the author’s helpful clarifications of how the Church meets real needs, as well as her frank self-disclosure.
Also available as an ebook.