Tag Archives: The Best of Being Catholic

Dorothy Stang, Part 2

Editor’s note: This is part 2 of a 2 part series.  Read part 1 here.

Enter the villains. The ranchers hire gunmen who shoot her to death on February 12, 2005. Seeing the gun, Dorothy doesn’t run or plead for her life, as most folks would. Fear would’ve been natural and understandable. Instead she pulls out her Bible and reads the Beatitudes aloud. The divine power transcends human limitations; in those final moments, she imitated Christ. She must’ve spent a lifetime preparing for that climax; now she teaches me how to live.

Breathing a deep lungful of piney mountain air, scented with sage, at home in the Rocky Mountains, I recall Dorothy’s joy outdoors. Without much institutional church, she finds God in the green canopy of trees, the cathedral of forest. Dorothy reminds me that when we lose our sacred connection to the earth, we’re stuck with small selves and petty concerns. In film footage, she proudly shows off a tree farm, exulting, “we CAN reforest the Amazon!”

Dorothy has encouraged me to stop eating beef, since intensive grazing requires destruction of the rainforest. I’m learning “green” alternatives to wasteful habits. Like most North Americans, I have enough stuff and now lean towards a simpler life. David explains, “she was so in love with what she was doing, she didn’t notice her dirt floor, primitive plumbing, no electricity.”

“Holy” once meant pious and passive. But Dorothy models how to raise Cain and act for justice. As we baby boomers age, Dorothy is patron saint for slow butterflies and reluctant caterpillars. She didn’t remain captive to her traditional upbringing. She probably could’ve hunkered down into the retirement center, counted her wrinkles and kept careful tabs on her ailments—as some older folk do. Instead, vivaciously, she tried new things, journeyed to new places. Her face is so youthful, it’s hard to think of her as 73. If I want to look that luminous at that age, I too must shed fears and take risks.

I want to love as gladly and fully as she did. It’s easy to get caught up in trivia: social commitments, work deadlines, domestic chores. But is this how we want to spend the precious coinage of brief lives? At Dorothy’s funeral, her friend Sister Jo Anne announced, “we’re not going to bury Dorothy; we’re going to plant her. Dorothy Vive!” If I want that immortality, I should examine what seeds I’m planting now, how I’ll live on in memory.

Dorothy has ruined my easy cop-out: how can one small person offset complex and apparently hopeless wrongs? Dorothy and I are the same height, 5’2”. Yet look what this giant accomplished: her killers’ trials, televised to every Brazilian classroom, have given children hope.

Her family and community won’t pursue canonization, preferring to give the poor the money that cause would require. Many already consider Dorothy a saint and martyr—in the early church, that’s all that mattered. As one biographer said about St. Catherine of Siena, “someone must’ve told her women were inferior. She clearly didn’t believe it.”

Easter Season: One of the Best Parts of Being Catholic?

By Blog Editor

Easter is not just celebrated on Easter Sunday, in fact, the Easter Season is 50 days, and in Kathy Coffey’s latest book, The Best of Being Catholic, she writes why Easter is so important to Catholics.

The Best of Being Catholic has three sections:

1) The Beliefs We Cherish

2) The Seasons We Celebrate

3) The Company We Keep

In Chapter 13, which is focused on Easter, Coffey explains that it can be helpful to separate the religious meaning of Easter from all of the “cultural accumulations”

This happened experientially for me one year when Easter brought snow and sickness. Without lilies, bunnies, bonnets, egg hunts, pastels, or yellow marshmellow chicks, this was the Acid Test of the feast. In a friend’s mountain home, sniffling, coughing and watching dreary weather, would the message of resurrection still hold?

Indeed it came powerfully, through a totally unexpected channel: clearing skies and sunlight gradually stroking the mountaintops. What had been grey fog parted to reveal luminous peaks, emerging slowly. It echoed the absence and presence/hidden and revealed/hide and seek themes of this season. The resurrected Jesus may be unrecognized or invisible, but is still with his friends in a less physical way.

If there had been musical accompaniment, those mountains streaked with sun would’ve invited the Alleluia chorus, belted loudly. The mountains unfurled banners of good news: granite heavily grounded, yet airily sweeping the skies. While it’s not our traditional image, a healing sleep without coughing fit Easter nevertheless: joy unexpectedly found in the midst of sorrow.


The Best of Being Catholic Reviewed in Spirit & Life

Best of Being Catholic

By Blog Editor

Kathy Coffey’s latest book, The Best of Being Catholic, was recently reviewed by Spirit & Life Magazine  by Mary S. Sheridan.  She explains that while Catholics have heard much bad news over the past year, “Kathy Coffey tells the “light” and “hope,” through an eclectic mix of reflections, stories (her own and those of others), facts, and information—all positive—about the Catholic Church today.”

Sheridan concludes that given the book’s focus on Catholic culture, it would be appropriate for new or inquiring Catholics, “But its real value, in my opinion, is in reminding discouraged Catholics that there is more to the Church than problems.”

To read the full review, visit this link: Spirit & Life, Book Reviews, (March/April 2013)

To read other reviews of The Best of Being Catholic, visit:

Introduction and Review by Publisher’s Weekly

Review by National Federation of Priests’ Councils

Review in Hark Blog (Denver Post)

Best of Being Catholic Reviewed in “Hark” Blog

By Blog Editor

John Kane recently reviewed Kathy Coffey’s latest book, The Best of Being Catholic, in the Hark blog, which is housed at the Denver Post.

Kane begins with a disclosure that he has worked together with Kathy Coffey for a number of years.  He explains that like Coffey, he was also a little bit worried about the topic of the book, worried that it might be “just another counterbalancing catalog, some long list of “good things?”

Instead, Kane explains that the book is “realistic, critical at times, reflective, suggestive-with the good poet’s eye for endless detail and concreteness, but the good writer’s ability to move things even while reaching deep and wide.”

Kane continues: “Reading made me think of a group of friends meeting over wine or beer, telling stories, sharing memories (quirky and even strange), yet all in atmosphere of deep affection for things really good.”

To read his full review, visit the Hark blog on the Denver Post website: “‘The Best of Being Catholic’ a good gift for discouraged members at Christmas”

The Best of Being Catholic Review by National Federation of Priests’ Councils

By Blog Editor

The National Federation of Priests’ Councils recently reviewed Kathy Coffey’s latest book, The Best of Being Catholic, calling it “uplifting and refreshing.”    The review explains: “Coffey reminds readers of the assuring and powerful treasures and practices available in the Church, but are rarely heard about in the day-to-day bustle of post-modern life.”

The Best of Being Catholic was also recently reviewed by Coffey’s grandson:

The Best of Being Catholic

We’re not sure if he made it to this section in chapter one:

“Even Catholic toddlers learn they are God’s daughters and sons. They know themselves beloved and precious to the Great Lord of all the Universe. And that, when you weigh 37 pounds and have droopy socks, is an empowering message. Our true destination and authentic home, Catholics learn early on, isn’t only the messy, violent, unfair world where we spend a lot of time, but the “many mansions” of the Father’s house. ”

The Best of Being Catholic- A Tasty Ready!

Interested in learning more about The Best of Being Catholic?

The table of contents and first chapter are available on the publisher’s website and you can also order the book there: Orbis Books: The Best of Being Catholic.

The Best of Being Catholic

By Blog Editor

Kathy Coffey’s newest book, “The Best of Being Catholic” was recently published and is now available.

Best of Being Catholic

In a review of the book, Publisher’s Weekly explains: “While acknowledging the many grave problems within the church, and those caused by it, the author lovingly presents brief vignettes about the people, places, and ideas that have made Catholicism such a rich and dignified religion.”

In the introduction to The Best of Being Catholic, Coffey explains that the “best” of being Catholic will vary for each person:

The Reader’s Role

I enjoy many friends, and Catholics make up part of that delightful, cantankerous, humorous company. There must be a great deal that’s “best” about being Catholic. As with every other exploration, a principle of selection applies.

To the same place or question, we all bring our individual backgrounds, experiences and opinions. One person, for instance, will relish the windswept beaches of the Outer Banks in North Carolina. Another, traveling to the same area, will be intrigued with the museum nearby, which celebrates the Wright brothers’ first flight in the Kitty Hawk.

I became interested in the exploration that follows—and hope to draw the reader into it too. The questions after each chapter invite personal investment, and provide prompts for groups reading this book together.

Interested in learning more about The Best of Being Catholic?

The table of contents and first chapter are available on the publisher’s website and you can also order the book there: Orbis Books: The Best of Being Catholic.