Column: Open up the Catholic treasure chest

by Father Mark Goldasich

Reading can be a valuable pastime … and not just figuratively speaking. Let me explain. Several days ago, as I was searching for a particular book on a lower shelf in my house, I noticed that a smaller book had apparently fallen down and gotten shoved to the back where it couldn’t be seen. I pulled out the volume, blew a little dust off of it and smiled.

The book had been given to me a number of Christmases ago. The gift-giver had picked it up at an estate sale and thought I’d enjoy it. Written by Don Holt, the book is called “Praying with Katie.” Its subtitle captures the gist of this small book: “God, My Cat, and Me.” Although I’ve only started it, it’s right on the money for anyone who has a cat (like me) and has tried to pray with one around.

I’m not going to talk about its subject matter, however, but about something that I’d forgotten about the book. It’s littered (courtesy of the gift-giver) with special “bookmarks” every few pages. These bookmarks are green, about 6 inches long and have a picture of George Washington on the front. What a hoot. So now, while reading, I not only get some food for thought and prayer, but a financial reward to boot.

I’m on the topic of reading as a treasure because February is Catholic Press Month. It’s a yearly encouragement to grow in our faith by stimulating our brains. So, here are some quick questions: Other than The Leaven and your church bulletin, what Catholic reading material do you have around your house? Do you have a Bible? Do you ever read it? Or if you’re someone who primarily reads online, have you bookmarked any Catholic sites or are there Catholic e-books in your library?

For many people, I suspect, the answer to these questions is probably “no” or maybe “not too many.”

When I was growing up, I was exposed to a lot of Catholic publications, as early as my Catholic grade school years. One of the first that I can remember was a comic book, called Treasure Chest — how appropriate — which was distributed a couple a times a month during the school year. Nothing spurred more excitement in class than the words: “The new Treasure Chest is here!” The comic book had a little of everything: from letters to the editor to short stories to jokes and puzzles. It made reading and learning both a pleasure and a lifelong habit.

By the way, the editor of Treasure Chest was a man by the name of James J. Langdon. Who could have guessed that many years later, I’d be the editor of The Leaven and his daughter Jessica would be one of our reporters here! What a small world.

I’ve been thinking, though, about how to make Leaven readers aware of the treasure chest of Catholic materials out there. While some parishes have libraries or Catholic materials available in the vestibule, many people on a busy weekend may not take the time to check them out. For that reason, I’m going to devote at least a couple of columns in February to sites that I regularly mine for ideas on interesting Catholic books or periodicals. Probably a number of magazines regularly come into our homes (due to school fundraisers!) that we find time to read.

I’d like to make sure that at least one of those has a Catholic flavor. Or alongside your latest best-selling novel on your nightstand, it would be great to see a book on how to grow somehow in your faith.

I’d love to write more, but darn if “Praying with Katie” — my “treasure chest” for big kids — isn’t calling my name!

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