Shaun McAfee’s ‘I’m Catholic, Now What?’ sets readers on a lifetime journey

Reviewed by Matthew Vander Vennet

In “I’m Catholic. Now What?,” author and convert Shaun McAfee provides a valuable resource for converts, reverts, and non-verts alike. In his characteristic fashion and manner, McAfee makes an easy to read volume that is both helpful and accessible. The work can be read from cover to cover or as the occasion necessitates as it is laid out in a subject matter format.

A vast amount of material is covered, but the point of the book is not to provide all of the answers, nor to make you feel as if you must get started now because there is so much to do; rather it is to provide a starting point for further research, study, and evangelization. In the conclusion McAfee even states, the “departing message is essentially the same as the first in this book: Slow down. Christianity is a lifestyle, and as Catholicism is ‘the fullness of the faith,’ it takes a lifetime” (322).

McAfee’s entire point is to set the reader on a journey and introduce the reader to the love affair of a lifetime. The beauty of Catholicism, as McAfee and countless others have found, is that there is always something to discover or learn about the Faith that leads one to an ever-deeper relationship with Christ and His Church.

THE MOST ASKED QUESTIONS

The book begins with an introductory section that includes a welcome and a caution. Catholicism is not about the least we can do to get to heaven. No, it is about enjoying being in the fullness of the Christian faith which means total integration and acceptance of a life with Christ and our role in Christ’s Church here on earth.  McAfee’s aim is to help others “perfect [their] soul by living out the fullness of the Christian life” (14-15), a task he takes seriously, and might I add, superbly.

“Slow down. Christianity is a lifestyle, and as Catholicism is ‘the fullness of the faith,’ it takes a lifetime.” Advice from “I’m Catholic, Now What?”

This work is truly a reference guide to the most asked questions and topics a new convert, revert, or stalwart non-vert will encounter at some point in their life. Beyond the introductory pages, the book is laid out in sections and divided by multiple topics, each only a few pages at most.

As with any new beginning, there will be a necessary point of departure. This book is no different. In a section titled “Getting Started,” topics such as how to “Know (and practice) the precepts of the Church” and “Don’t be afraid to genuflect” are covered. Perhaps most important in this section is to “[r]emember that the Church is perfect, but her members aren’t — yet,” a most useful reminder, especially when our own experiences or news about the Church are less than ideal. The Church is holy, not because of her members, but because Christ is holy and the Church is His Body.

WIDE VARIETY OF TOPICS

A large section on the Sacraments follows beginning with the topic “Live the sacraments,” a very good place to start, and really an encapsulation of the rest of the section. The sacramental life (participation in the life of Christ) is the only way to live and is the ordinary means by which God pours out His extraordinary graces into our lives. If we want to grow in our faith and in our love for Him and one another, live sacramentally! The sacraments are the surest way to faithfully work out our salvation.

Further sections on “Mary, the Church, and the Saints,” “Prayer,” “Catholic Life,” “Customs, Rules, and Basic Etiquette,” “Being a Modern Catholic,” “Knowing and Defending Your Faith,” and “Evangelization: It’s for Everyone” are covered. I list them comprehensively so that the scope of the book can truly be appreciated.

Finally, McAfee offers a “Where to Go from Here” section and an appendix full of helpful starting resources for further enrichment and study. (I can absolutely recommend those titles as well).

Shaun McAfee’s newest book is a welcome addition to any library and a worthy reference to have on hand at home, at work, anywhere. Evangelization never stops, and that includes our own. We must be faithful, informed Catholics no matter where we are at in our journeys.

Shaun’s query “I’m Catholic. Now What?” can begin to be answered in our own lives by purchasing his book at your local Catholic bookstore or online today.

MATTHEW VANDER VENNET is director of advancement and development at The High School of Saint Thomas More in Champaign and a member of The Catholic Post’s book review team.

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