Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Saturday 18 September |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Daudi Okelo and Bl. Jildo Irwa

The American Catholic Almanac is meaty and fascinating

Simcha Fisher - published on 10/10/14

If you’re like me and most of my American Catholic friends, any combination of the words “American” and “Catholic” gives you the heebie jeebies. Either you’re going to get one of those “Jesus was a republican, and food stamps are a mortal sin” tirades, or else we’ll be treated to another learned treatise on how the one thing the Pope needs to do right now, IF he’s really the Pope, is to pronounce anathema against people whose disgusting little irreverent offspring eat Cheerios during Mass.

Well, relax. This is not that.  Not at all. Instead,The American Catholic Almanac: A Daily Reader of Patriots, Saints, Rogues, and Ordinary People who Changed the United States does us a great service:  it reminds us, or teaches us for the first time, that the United States would not be the United States if it weren’t for all her Catholics.

The book is entirely factual, not pious, and will appeal to people who like history but are skeptical about the contributions of religious people. It’s a companionable, well-sourced antidote to the idea that Catholics are a monoculture of biddable, brainless sheep. You can’t read this book and not be impressed, at very least, by how much variety there  is in our complicated congregation, and how much individuality, not to mention courage, ingenuity, and good humor.

american catholic almanac 2

It’s my favorite kind of book these days: a one-a-day volume of 365 dated entries, each one highlighting some noteworthy American Catholic, place, or event.  Some of the folks profiled are famous (Norma McCorvey, Thomas Merton), but many are less so (songwriter Harry Warren, war hero John Basilone).  Some don’t act very Catholic at all (Justice Anthony Kennedy, mobster Dutch Schultz) and some, I had no idea were Catholic (Buffalo Bill, Clare Booth Luce).

The book also offers tidbits of history, anecdotes about cities and monuments, and stories of love, war, crime, politics, evangelization, and of course sports. In all, a fascinating, variegated, and informative book, and clearly a labor of love by authors Emily Stimpson and Brian Burch.

I love the idea of a return to the almanac. It’s suited to the short attention span of modern readers (*sheepishly raises hand*) but is written for adults or intelligent kids, and it is meaty. The American Catholic Almanac would make a nice Christmas present in case you crazy American Catholics are already thinking that far ahead!

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Pope considers what to do with pro-abortion Catholic politicians
Philip Kosloski
How receiving Holy Communion can drive away demons
Berthe and Marcel
Lauriane Vofo Kana
This couple has the longest marriage in France
Philip Kosloski
Why is the feast of the Holy Cross celebrated on September 14?
Mathilde De Robien
How a lost masterpiece of sacred art was discovered thanks to chi...
Kathleen N. Hattrup
On same-sex unions, Pope says Church doesn’t have power to change...
Philip Kosloski
This prayer to St. Anthony is said to have “never been known to f...
See More