Thursday, July 2, 2020

Home in the Church: A Review

A thoughtful and beautiful journey into Roman Catholicism, Jessica Ptomey’s new book, Home in the Church: Living an Embodied Catholic Faith (James Morgan Publishing 2020), was a delight to read. In this small--but insightful--book, Ptomey brings together a rich portrayal of Catholic teachings, stories from her life, and resources for Catholics who desire to enrich their lives of Faith (and their libraries). With thoughtfulness, openness, and vulnerability, Ptomey invites us to consider seven aspects of Catholicism and reflect on how we can come to a greater understanding of these elements in our lives. 

Covering topics like the liturgy, suffering, prayer, and the domestic church, Ptomey looks to Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and various saints as she unlocks ways that we can come to embrace an “embodied Faith” instead of merely going through the motions or leaving our practice of Catholicism in the pews on Sunday. Rather than pushing one specific way of living an embodied Faith on the reader, Ptomey encourages us each to cultivate our own domestic churches and live out a life of prayer and liturgy according to the different methods that the Church provides for us. I have discovered just how easy it is to fall into “liturgical living” comparison (especially on social media), so I greatly appreciate how she emphasizes this point:

“Your own domestic church is not your branded and stylized Catholic faith; it is your family’s faithful and authentic expression of Catholicism in your daily living. It will look different from the lives of other Catholic families, and that is good.” (54)

Throughout the entire book, Ptomey’s discussion of Catholicism is deeply reflective and profound, yet very approachable. She references philosophical ideas when describing the climate surrounding Christianity in America, yet she does so in a way that a very exhausted and sleep-deprived parent can understand. She reflects on many quotations from the Catechism, which I particularly appreciated; it’s hard to pick up a bulky Catechism and read it, so reading and reflecting on specific sections pertaining to prayer and Sacraments was very nice.

Ptomey enlivens the text with her unique perspective and stories as a former Protestant, yet this book is not necessarily a “conversion story memoir.” Rather, it is a discussion that probes the teachings of the Catholic Church and moves us to reflect on our own practice of Catholicism. While some of the book specifically discusses Ptomey’s experiences as a wife and mother, there is much in here that single people could benefit from. This book is beautifully written, and is an excellent source of inspiration, information, and encouragement both for non-Catholics who want to learn more about Catholicism as well as for “cradle Catholics” who want to dive deeper into prayer and the liturgical life of the Church as they learn more about the Faith.

A review copy was provided for me to read. All opinions are my own.

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