December 4, 2009

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Many are called, but few are chosen (Mt 22:14)

Shirley Vogler MeisterAs we wend our way through Advent to Christmas, many of us are stressed to the limits trying to accomplish everything necessary to make sure the upcoming holidays are not only festive but also holy.

Compared to the early years of marriage and motherhood, I have cut back on these preparations tenfold. However, I also spend more time on the spiritual aspects. Since I love to read, I find that a good book keeps me grounded if it has the proper spiritual impact.

This season I selected Chosen: How Christ Sent Twenty-three Surprised Converts to Replant His Vineyard by Donna Steichen, an investigative reporter who has written numerous articles for Catholic publications.

Chosen is published by Ignatius Press, which also printed two other books, Ungodly Rage and Prodigal Daughters, by Steichen.

On the back cover, the author says, “Despite their marked differences in origin, education and field of service, each person [in the book] makes it clear that it is Christ who did the choosing. They testify that Christ touched their hearts and intervened in their lives in unexpected, sometimes even miraculous ways.”

Steichen is not exaggerating. I was fascinated and often emotionally moved while reading these stories about Catholic conversions.

Perhaps they are especially poignant and interesting because my father joined the Catholic Church. His reason also moved me deeply when my mother reminded me about it after he died unexpectedly at age 49 while he was sleeping. But that’s another story.

The editor of Catholic World Report, George Neumayr, is also quoted on the book’s back cover: “These conversions in the midst of post-Vatican crisis of faith seem particularly pure and often entertainingly improbable, bearing testimony to the central truth that the Church is not a man-made institution, but a divine one—a perpetual repository of truth and grace so powerful that not even the darkness of scandal can overshadow it.”

Neumayr also wrote the book’s foreword, which he ends this way: “Whispering to man in his pleasures, shouting at him [as C.S. Lewis said] in his pains, God speaks to modern man at the terminus of failed secularism, chanting softly: ‘Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light’ ” (Mt 11:28-30).

God is truly at work in our lives and in the life of the Catholic Church.

Readers interested in this 393-page book as a gift or for personal enlightenment can order it by logging on to or calling 800-651-1531. The cost is $18.95.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

Local site Links: