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Letters to a Young Catholic

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  763 ratings  ·  68 reviews
For the faithful, the doubtful, and the searchers of every age, these letters convey the power of the Catholic faith that is at once personal and universal, timely and eternal.
In this remarkable exploration of the Catholic world, prominent Catholic author and papal biographer George Weigel offers a luminous collection of letters to young Catholics, not-so-young Catholics,
Paperback, 368 pages
Published August 11th 2015 by Basic Books (first published 2004)
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Sep 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This little review of mine unleashed a firestorm of fury when I first published it earlier this year! I apologize for the outrage I have caused by it.

I couldn’t have ventured it at a worse time in American Church history!

Yes, quite a large number of folks have been wounded by the Catholic Faith lately, and a strongly-worded apology has to be Universal - and come from All its members.

I can at least apologize for these incendiary results that I myself have appar
Tirzah Eleora
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me about a year and a half to finish this one (I started it last winter, dropped it for a year and picked it up again this summer) but it's a good one! It's a series of essays on Catholic thought as demonstrated through various Catholic figures and pieces of history. He discusses the ideas of a few of my favourites such as Flannery O'Connor, G. K. Chesterton, Evelyn Waugh and Karol Wojtyla. (<----I'd put Weigel's mammoth bio of this great servant of God on my to-read list, but I'm too ...more
Julie Davis
Jun 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rereading this and enjoying immensely. It seems like a perfect bookend to Robert Barron's Catholicism. Both informative and inspirational, it would be the perfect gift for any Catholic, especially American Catholics.
May 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a better book than the 3 stars suggest, but I feel like there has to be a cap on any book that takes me more than a year to read.

I decided to read Letters to a Young Catholic because I had failed at just about every theology book I had tried to read in the past few years. 12 years of Catholic school (albeit a very long time ago) should be enough to understand them, right? Nope. OK then, maybe a book written for young people would be more my speed? Plus I had been reading George Weige
Apr 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I checked this out of my local libary and fell in love with it. It's an atypical travelogue, and a very special one. I particularly loved reading about my favorite scene from Brideshead, the pub that GKC frequented, and St. Peter's, as I'd just been there. After I finished the book, I ordered a copy for myself and one for a friend. When my son backpacks across Europe one day, I will send this with him. I hope there's a Nook version by then.
Nick Manfredi
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is far and away the most important book I have ever read. Weigel weaves together a series of letters so personal they transcend to the universal. His prose at moments leaps secretly into poetry. He regards the spiritual, physical, patriotic and counter cultural capacities of Catholicism with equal and incredibly digestible gravity. This is a book for anyone willing to wade out into the estuary where the pragmatic meets the mysterious. 5/5
Katie Marquette
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"They grew up with nothing. They have found Jesus Christ. They want to explore all that that means."

This quote from Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger sums up this phenomenal, powerful book. The gap between the largely lukewarm Catholics of the baby boomer generation and the engaged, on fire, shockingly Orthodox youth is growing day by day. Even now, secularists and religious alike are dumbfounded by young people's cries for Latin Mass, traditional liturgies, more Adoration, and Rosary gro
Alexis Finnell
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: left-convicted
“We all live in ‘the gap’ between the person we are today and the person we ought to be. That’s the inherent dramatic structure of the spiritual life, and of the moral life. Living in and closing that gap — better: living in and letting God’s grace, at work in our lives, close the gap — is a matter of becoming the kind of people who can live with God forever, the kind of people for whom heaven is a (super)natural pleasure, not an acquired taste.” (p. 119)

Absolutely loved this, and th
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
The book was a gift from a friend because we have visited many of the places the author mentions. Each chapter with Les about the places and more a jumping off point for private meditation about Catholicism and the nature of it. In addition, source list in the back provides lots of material for my spiritual reading list.
Jul 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
Reviewed on November 6, 2007:

Reading this book--about halfway through my journey through RCIA--was a joy from beginning to end.

Weigel begins with the idea that having a uniquely Catholic worldview has a great deal to do with actually being Catholic. And so, he takes his readers on a tour of the "Catholic world," beginning in Flannery O'Connor's hometown of Milledgeville, Georgia, where he discusses the "habit of being," and ending at the Basilica of the Holy Trinity in Kraków, Po
Philip P.
GREAT book. Though there remains no chance of me "swimming the Tiber," this sure made me appreciate and understand my Catholic brethren much more and the riches of their theological world. Weigel is at his most compelling when he talks about what is lowercase-c catholic--particularly the relationship between the spiritual and material worlds (a sacramental perspective) and what he calls a catholic optic (funny how I was taught that pretty much the same thing was actually called the reformed worl ...more
Fr. Ryan Humphries
Mar 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All Catholics, People who are Anti-Catholic
I didn't expect much from this book. Other than the profound biography of Pope John Paul II, I'm not a big Weigel fan. Letters turned out to be an amazing series of essays on the parts of the Catholic Faith that too many people ignore... Weigel takes us to the Bird & Baby to sit with Tolkien and the inklings. He takes us to Brideshead manor to meet Cordelia. All the while, he draws the reader to realize that the ethos and the culture that authentic Christianity evokes is what ought to used to draw ...more
Sep 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
A great book. This book reminds us that being Catholic is not just about doctrine and rules, but rather about Truth and the reality behind that Truth. This book reminds us that being Catholic is a human experience in total - our minds, emotions, feelings. This book made me feel proud to be Catholic. George Weigel challenges us to live boldly for Christ because as Catholics reality matters - that is, everything matters. Truth is real and as such is worth living, fighting, and even dying for.
Jul 21, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book had some good points, and it had a lot of things that made me really think, but I'm not sure how I feel about it all...
An Te
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Weigel, a defender of the Catholic faith, demonstrates with great wit, style and appeal, the importance of tradition and corporeality with chatterly accounts of mundane locations where he unravels the key events and ties it has to the catholic tradition. And what he delivers is liquid gold, at times.

The Catholic faith is capable of enduring change but also engaging in dialogue with all-comers. It has survived to this day. Highlights include the conversions of two of Catholicism's great figures,
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
As a young Catholic myself, this book was a beautiful and inspiring read, filled with interesting stories about various saints and prominent Catholic figures reinforced by Jesus' teachings at the end of each letter. While I loved certain letters and liked the book as a whole, sometimes I would get lost in Weigel's anecdotes and miss the point he was trying to make. All in all, this is the kind of book that deserves to be read multiple times; Weigel beautifully describes certain facets of Catholi ...more
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What an incredible journey into Catholicism through the centuries. George Weigel reminds us that as human beings who are both body and soul, to be fully alive is to experience these physical and spiritual realities in harmony, which is perfected by the fullness of the Faith. Read this book for inspiring examples of heroism and perseverance through tribulations, examples we are all need of! Also this book will give you great places to add to your bucket list! :)
Dr. Chad Newton, PhD-HRD
Mr. Weigel wrote a series of letters with each one describing a specific cathedral, pope, or location pertaining to Catholicism. Each letter ends with a moral or philosophical statement. The writer used informal styles to paint an image of a letter. However, I found his style to fit well with the theme.
Father Faceless
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good companion piece to anyone not familiar with the recent histories of the Catholic Church of the past Century. As well as a more traditional take on the Catholic Faith as a whole.

All in all the author feels like a Grandfather telling you how it was in his time. A good antidote to the poison of today.
Vance J.
Jun 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding reflections here. I offered to help a Teammate with a summer reading assignment (we’re Catholic HS teachers), and I’m very grateful I did. It’s time to throw off the shackles of moral relativism and atheistic secularism, and get back to our foundations...and it’s young Catholics of moral courage who are going to lead. This book has me raring to go in the Fall.
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book for its introduction to Catholicism through thick description of real places and people the Catholic world. A perfect companion piece for anyone considering it actually coming into Catholicism.
Evan Lutz
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an intriguing read that explores various facets of Catholicism in different places, times, and cultures. Ultimately, it was worth reading, although I did not enjoy it as much as I hoped I would. Still, a very good book.
Magnificently written, nostalgic and hopeful, unapologetically apologetic tour de force of a Catholic culture that has long since disappeared in the Western world, and a case for the necessity of its return to our individual lives if the West is to be saved, spiritually and culturally.
Faith Hough
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this slowly because I enjoyed thinking about it, not for lack of reading engagement. I highly recommend for Catholics of all ages, or anyone interested in learning more about the Catholic perspective and some amazing world history, artwork, and literature.
Aug 23, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
George Weigel's book 'Letters To A Young Catholic', which intends to be a guiding and inspirational exegesis of Roman Catholic teaching, takes the reader on a journey through the catholic world, introducing its views on personal and public matters through matching them with buildings and locations of historic significance.
While the book introduces the reader successfully to the facts and positions of the Roman Catholic Church, it unfortunately fails to inspire.

I joined the Cath
Jan 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I purchased this book a week and a half ago and finished it in a few days. Simply put: it is incredible. I warmly recommend it and think it an absolute must have for your library. With his typical verve and style, Weigel introduces the reader to the optic that is Catholicism--he shows you what it is to look at the world with Catholic lenses. And what a beautiful picture it is. Readers of Weigel will notice similar themes to other of Weigel's writings especially "Witness to Hope" and "Truth of Ca ...more
Letters to a Young Catholic is a thoroughly engaging and brilliantly insightful book. The author takes us on a tour of various sites of the Catholic world. From Chartes Cathedral to the Church of Mary's Dormition in Jerusalem to the hidden seminary in Krakow where the man who would later be Pope John Paul II was first ordained, from a London pub frequented by G.K. Chesterton to the Sistine Chapel to Baltimore's Old Cathedral, each unique place illustrates some aspect of the rich and varied tradition of ...more
Aug 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a 'reforming post-evangelical', I have felt a need to better understand the other branches of the Christian church. Or, in this case, the trunk from which the Protestant branch I 'wuz brung up in' sprang from. 'Letters' helped me see several facets of Catholicism clearer. Two in particular were Mary (the mother of Jesus) as the first disciple whose example points us to Christ and the incarnation as the ultimate example of God grounding our spiritual experience in the created world. Of course, ...more
Dec 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
George Weigel is a really good writer. Each of the book's fourteen letters opens with a tangible place and continues as he highlights how these tangible places (and communities) point to intangible and deeper truths about Catholicism. He wraps up each letter by bringing the reader back to the opening point and place. Great structure, comfortable to read.

The following letters are particularly worth reading:
* Letter Nine: St. Mary's Church, Greenville, South Carolina ― Why and How We Pray >> i
Sep 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It took until last November to identify the best book that I read in 2014. This year, I'm pretty sure I have identified that book in September. I have serious doubts whether anything will rate higher than this newly updated (Aug. 11, 2015) version of George Weigel's Letters to a Young Catholic. Weigel, the biographer of multiple books on John Paul II, is probably at his best when discussing topics and events involving those places in Eastern Europe where he has spent so much time: Warsaw, Krakow ...more
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American author and political and social activist. Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Weigel was the Founding President of the James Madison Foundation.

Each summer, Weigel and several other Catholic intellectuals from the United States, Poland, and across Europe conduct the Tertio Millennio Seminar on the Free Society in Krakow, in which they and an assortment of
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