Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Throughout his letters, Weigel discusses the distinctly Catholic outlook, or “optic,” on life. For instance, he regards Saint Peter as “the rock” on which the Catholic Church was built and the Virgin Mary as the mother of the Church. Additionally, the book profiles prominent Catholics such as Flannery O’Connor, John Henry Newman, G. K. Chesterton, John Paul II, and others whose lives and works exhibit unique insights into the Catholic faith.

While visiting some of the world’s loveliest religious shrines, Weigel reflects on the meaning of beauty. According to him, beautiful works of art such as the Sistine Chapel and Chartres Cathedral manifest a natural human striving for transcendence, that is, for God. Through the visible beauty of material things, humans can come to understand the invisible beauty of divine things.

Prayer fulfills the yearning that God has placed in human beings to know and to love him, Weigel says. All prayer should be centered on Jesus Christ. The rosary is an important prayer directed to Jesus through the intercession of Mary. Additionally, the liturgy of the Mass and the liturgy of the hours are mentioned as efficacious forms of prayer.

Love always has its origin and completion in God, according to Weigel. God’s love is infinite and completely self-sacrificing. Human love is a reflection of divine love and is the means through which humankind participates in divinity. As people ascend the “ladder of love,” their love becomes more chaste, more self-giving, and more God-like.

Weigel also sees freedom as necessarily connected to moral virtue. To sustain a democratic government, citizens must have the virtues that will enable them to freely choose what is good and right. Ultimately, true freedom consists not in self-assertion and autonomy but in self-donation and obedience to God’s law.