Father John Forliti wants to make it difficult for teen and young adult Catholics to miss out on the satisfying, hope-filled, “anchoring” gift that Catholic life offers.
The retired pastor who is now a high school chaplain believes that young people will grow personally and both the church and society will benefit if younger folks know more about their church, if they see the good that people of faith have brought to the world, and if they realize that the church values what they value.
Already the author of a double-handful of books, many which deal with values and choices, Father Forliti has put together a compact, 75-page paperback that may just be an answer to keeping younger Catholics from drifting away from their baptismal faith.
At the heart of Catholic life
“Ten Anchors” presents just that, 10 solid values, ideas and elements of Catholic life that are key “for navigating the sea of life,” as Father John puts it.
Each chapter offers the long-time priest-educator’s reflection on a dimension of the church that he considers at the heart of the Roman Catholic experience:
- Social Justice;
- Moral Tradition;
- The Eucharist;
- Reverence for Life;
- Respect for the Mind;
- Easter People;
- Roman and Catholic;
- Mary and the Saints.
Much good news to share
As with most of the writing by this 73-year-old priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, “Ten Anchors” is filled with stories – and they’re “good news” stories. That’s a strength, because as Father Forliti notes, secular sources readily share all that can discourage young people from being connected to religion.
“In its 2,000-year history,” he notes, “the Catholic Church has done it all, both the best and the worst. While others may choose to write about its failures, this book will focus on its successes.”
Readers will learn, for example, about the compassion of the founders of religious communities, about the work of Catholic Charities, the principles of Catholic Social Teaching, the values embedded in the Ten Commandments, the Catholic scientists throughout history who have enlightened humankind, the rationale for Catholic belief on the sacredness of life.
Father Forliti invites his readers to “walk with me through the Mass from beginning to end,” explaining the major parts of the Eucharistic liturgy “and how it might speak to you.”
Each chapter concludes with three brief sections that solidify the teaching on that chapter’s topic.
First there are a handful of lines that concisely summarize why that dimension of the church is so important.
Father John follows with suggestions for how to incorporate that dimension into one’s life. These are down-to-earth suggestions: Memorize the Ten Commandments; study Catholic history – don’t be satisfied with hearsay; read a biography of an American saint; choose an agency or cause you can support with prayers and financial help, “no matter how small”; choose a Gospel and “walk” through it, noting the words, actions and feelings of Jesus. “What is it he is saying to you, what is he doing that impresses you, and what is he feeling that inspires you?”
Finally, each chapter concludes with a short prayer.
“Ten Anchors” is a book that will make a great add-on to any faith formation efforts for those in the later years of high school and older teens and young adults. Youth ministers and young adult ministers may want to check it out as a 10-week series. Older adults will find it valuable as well as a refresher course.
It’s a well-written, well-edited capsulation of the dimensions of Catholic life that, from his years on the faculty of the University of St. Thomas, as pastor of St. Olaf in downtown Minneapolis, and now as chaplain at Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul, Father Forliti knows must be handed on to the next generation. — bz