Book Review: Fearing the Stigmata

fearing-stigmata-weber-book-coverThe author is Matt Weber, a twenty-something Catholic who hosts the weekly Catholic TV segment “A Word with Weber”. This book is a compliation of vignettes from his life as a young adult.

The observations (more like Catholic inside jokes) he makes about Catholicism are right on as are his theology and sense of liturgy. He doesn’t reveal anything too personal or initimate but you can see that he is a good man and a nice guy. I agree with another review I read online — reading this book is like having a beer with an endearingly dorky, funny Catholic guy who went to Harvard.

I’ve read some of Matt’s stuff on Busted Halo and his writing can be sidesplitting.  He does the same here:

A prayer while he is in front of a statue of Mary:

Lastly, please do not physically manifest yourself in this statue because a) I’m not sure I’m the guy you want to be talking to and b) I’m not sure I can handle being spoken to in direct statue form…keep my heart calm and my pants dry.

After Ash Wednesday, he would call the proceeding days Pimple Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. (So true!)

He takes on the subject of appropriateness of instruments in liturgical music:

If you have strict notions about church music — pre-Vatican II era — and you just fainted, I apologize. Being “the harmonica guy” from church over the past few years has brought me a lot of joy.

He has a chapter that compares faith and church to wellness and the gym. I agree.

I think Matt Weber is a gifted humorist. I am glad he is out there in the world trying to help Catholic young adults not feel weird. It is a needed ministry. As a young adult, I feel weird all the time. It is difficult deciding what kind of adult you want to be. Do you want to accept the interests and passions that you have or do you try to bury them making yourself something you think you should be? Matt shows us that we can embrace ourselves, quirks and all, and it can lead to a good life.

In his next book, I would like to see him apply his humor to a longer and more singular narrative. As I was reading I found myself wanting to hear him speak more at length about a subject or delve a little deeper into why he loves the Church so much. He touched on the fact that being Catholic at Harvard was kind of a challenge but he brushes this under the rug quickly by saying that most people were open minded. This would have been an interesting angle, getting into the details of where his Catholicism came up against the New England intellectualism that Harvard is so famous for.

When I read the chapter about how he played balloon volleyball with cloistered nuns as a family tradition every year, that’s when I realized that this book is not aimed at giving the reader concrete ideas of how to remain faithful during the young adult years. It is definitely not preachy. Instead he wants to offer glimpses of his life that show that being a faithful young adult does not have to be boring. Matt follows his faith in his own unique way and has a blast doing it.

This book is an amusing quick and light read. Each chapter is short – three to six pages and only takes a few minutes to read. Especially since the chapters aren’t linked together, I found myself reading a chapter here and there throughout the day.