“The mission fields aren’t just faraway places where people with a special call to be missionaries can go take care of the poor and spread the Faith,” popular Catholic author and radio show host Teresa Tomeo writes in her new book, “Beyond Sunday: Becoming a 24/7 Catholic” (Our Sunday Visitor, $15).
“We ourselves need to be evangelized. We need to hear the Good News, especially those of us who have grown up in the Church but have never really gotten past going through the motions.” She talks about getting “Beyond Sunday” with your faith with Angelus News contributing editor Kathryn Jean Lopez.
Kathryn Jean Lopez: The “Beyond Sunday” message can be radically difficult in the world today. With crowded pews and antsy children and things to do, even an hour can be tough. If a reader finds himself in this place: How to move forward to start to make even that hour count more prayerfully?
Teresa Tomeo: “Beyond Sunday” is super practical. The busy person, the busy parents, were on my mind when I wrote it. That’s why there are simple exercises that can help the reader learn how to slowly take their faith beyond Sunday. There are prayer suggestions that only take a few minutes. There’s even a workbook and a fun video series that readers can watch.
Lopez: Can religion really be something “beyond Sunday” for a busy people who have to make livings/provide for their families/make ends meet?
Tomeo: While it’s necessary to provide for our families, we also want to have a good relationship with our families so in addition to paying the bills we spend time with our relatives. What we spend our time with gives us a good indication of what we love and what is important to us. If you want a good marriage you don’t just “show up” once a week. You talk to your spouse. You schedule date nights. You spend time together. Our relationship with God is supposed to be at the top of our list if we’re truly Christians.
Research shows that families who pray together and share their faith do actually stay together. The divorce rate for couples who pray together regularly is extremely low. Spending time with God first will benefit you and have a positive ripple effect.
Lopez: How do we begin “with me” as the song about peace puts it?
Tomeo: We can start by just being kind to people. No one talks to anyone any more. There is so much yelling screaming and pointing fingers. I find a simple smile or opening the door for someone goes a long way — those little acts of kindness. Just like our Moms used to tell us when we were kids: be nice. It’s not rocket science. We just need to get back to basics.
Lopez: Is it really possible to “see Jesus” in the world today?
Tomeo: Yes, and it starts with just recognizing every person as a child of God made in his image and likeness. That and the beauty of the world itself; the water, the trees, the countryside, the sunset. All of the beauty in nature is Jesus constantly reminding us of his presence.
Lopez: What’s the point of “deep diving” into Scripture?
Tomeo: It’s one of the sure-fire ways to fall deeply in love with God. The Bible is our love letter from him. The more we read his word, the more we know about him. To know him in Scripture is to love him.
A priest friend of mine once told me to think of the word Bible as an acronym: basic instructions before leaving earth. I never forgot that. My husband and I came back to the Church through a Bible study. We read the daily Mass readings every day and it continues to make a difference. It is amazing how those daily readings hit you right between the eyes. Go figure.
Lopez: Why is understanding that “conscience is not rooted in feelings, personal opinions, or occasional deep thoughts” so important?
Tomeo: Feelings and opinions can change with the wind and are often ruled by emotions. Understanding the meaning of conscience means to look beyond ourselves; to reality and truth. We can’t do this by simply spending a few minutes thinking about an issue or reacting to an article or Facebook post. We need a moral compass. Otherwise we’re just making it up as we go along, and then we wonder why we’re miserable or why we are pulled emotionally in so many different directions.
Lopez: How should lay people be relating to their priests — and beyond Sunday?
Tomeo: Firstly, being married to a deacon, I know that praying for our religious is key. And then offering to help them, offering to get something started in the parish instead of expecting Father, or Deacon or Sister to do it all. This helps them and it helps us personally, as well as the parish in going beyond Sunday.
Lopez: Did Pope Francis’ visit to the United States in 2015 leave us any enduring action items?
Tomeo: I think we’ll be seeing the fruits of that visit for a long time. Getting Catholics to gather for days at a time to share among themselves and address crucial issues in the Church is so important. I also think the coverage his visit received helped light a spark among fallen away Catholics, as many came to see him.
Lopez: What’s the point of an accompanying workbook? Do adults do that?
Tomeo: Workbooks are great ways to help folks apply the book in their everyday lives. There is a fun video series that goes along with it and the workbook contains questions and prayer suggestions, along with a Beyond Sunday brother or sister; someone recognizable living out their faith every day. It helps folks to realize that having a meaningful faith life is not something meant only for the saints and theologians.
Lopez: “When we fail to see every person as a dignified brother or sister made in the image and likeness of God, and instead view or treat them as objects, we all suffer the consequences, which is exactly what we’re seeing playing out in the world currently.” So how do we help people see?
Tomeo: I don’t think there is anything more powerful than personal testimonies. That’s why I share my story in Beyond Sunday. I can’t tell you how many times, as a speaker, when I share my journey, that women from all different age groups and professional backgrounds come up to me and tell me that I am telling their story. So many women have been misled by the culture but often feel they’re alone so telling one’s story is very important. And there is the science, the sociology, all the evidence out there and from secular sources regarding, the epidemic of STDs, the impact broken marriages have on children and society, the dangers of the birth control pill and abortion. If someone is not there yet in terms of faith, then stories and evidence of what happens when we go against natural law can make a difference.
Kathryn Jean Lopez is a contributing editor to Angelus, and editor-at-large of the National Review Online. She is also a Senior Fellow at the National Review Institute and a nationally syndicated columnist with United Media’s Newspaper Enterprise Association. Her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Post, The Human Life Review, First Things and elsewhere.
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