In Due Season: A Catholic Life by Paul Wilkes
In Due Season is about Paul Wilkes. Paul is a Catholic. He has been many things over the course of his life, but that is the one constant. He goes through his life from it’s beginnings in a house on Forrest Ave. in Cleveland, Ohio and St. Benedict’s and Cathedral Latin High School. Then he goes to college at Marquette University where his life begins to change. He has to get a job in a factory to support him through college. He manages to graduate and is given the choice of joining a branch of the military or being drafted. He chooses the Navy.
While in the Navy his involvement in the church seems to completely disappear. He falls in love and when he gets out he proposes to his Methodist girlfriend. Being the pre-Vatican II church, they find that no Catholic priest will marry them. At this point they get married elsewhere, he goes to Columbia to get his M.A. in journalism, and becomes a practicing Methodist. But there’s something that just doesn’t quite feel right.
They eventually move to New York City where he becomes a successful freelance writer. While his career is gaining momentum, his marriage is falling apart. He sees the need in the community and founds a storefront haven for those less fortunate. Eventually he feels that he can do more. So when he divorces his wife, he signs away everything he owns and lives the life of the people he is helping.
But this still does not fit him quite right. When his book Trying Out the Dream: A Year in the Life of an American Family becomes very well-known, he starts up his journalism career again. This time he becomes even more successful and lives a wild life in the early-70s New York City. Eventually he meets Tracy Gochberg. He feels that she could be the right person for him, but he keeps fighting it and keeps breaking up with her.
He decides to take a year to contemplate becoming a monk; something that has been on his mind since high school. He decides to live a year as a hermit near a Trappist monastery. He prays every day and looks in every thing for a sign that this is how he is supposed to live his life. One day he finally realizes that Tracy is his life, his path.
From this point his life begins to settle and calm. They marry and move to the house that he lived in as a hermit. They grow a very large garden, raise animals, and live a simple life. At the same time he again returns to his writing. But this time it is starting to lean more toward religious subjects.
His writing takes him all over the country and the world. He spends the last year of a priest’s life with him, seeing the Church in a different light. He goes to countries torn by war to see how the religious there are helping the innocent caught up in the mess. He starts to find the Catholic Church that has been transformed and opened by Vatican II.
This is a very moving book that while reading you find yourself looking at your own life. Seeing how you live it and remembering the little things that you do that you otherwise forget about. I think that everyone should read this book, especially those who are Catholic. It is an amazing book that gives you a new perspective on life.
This book, like I said, has made me look at my life in a way I never did before. The things he has done and seen are just amazing. His life makes me think of a pendulum. He goes from one extreem to the other and slowly, very slowly, settles down to the center and finds the place he has been looking for. In a way it makes me feel better about my own life. I’m worried about how things will work out and what to do with it. Paul is an example of how long it can take to get it all figured out, but that it does work in the end.
It’s interesting to read about the Church pre-Vatican II from someone living today. The way his parents raised him and the church supported him is something that you don’t see much anymore. I can only hope that I can be that supportive and set such a good example in my life.
The part where he and his wife were trying to get married really gave me insight into the pre-Vatican II church that I didn’t have before. You couldn’t marry anyone who wasn’t Catholic?! It shouldn’t surprise me, but it does. It makes me very glad I’m living in the post-Vatican II church. There are times I wonder what it would be like to hear the Mass said completely in Latin, but I’m just a sucker for languages. Still, there are times I have to remind myself of how things used to be done. It would be interesting to see how the Mass was said, complete with communion rail and the priest’s back turned to us. But knowing about this wonderful way of celebrating the Mass, I couldn’t do it permanently.
In a way, I can’t blame him for going Methodist. But I do like how something keeps nagging at him during that time. It’s like the theory I have, everyone has a religion that works best for them. They just have to find it. My husband went to 12 years of Catholic school and received all the sacraments, he’s Wiccan/Pagan. I have a friend who was raised Baptist. When he met his wife, who was raised Jewish, he started to learn about Judaism and found his place. My Dad was raised Episcopal. When he met my Mom and started learning about Catholicism he found those last few things that were missing. I was born and raised Catholic and can’t imagine belonging to any other faith.
Reading about his experiences finding the Church again and the services he goes to remind me of my time in college. I mentioned it before in my post about Confessions of a Closet Catholic but it seems appropriate to mention again. To make a long story short (long story’s over here if you want) Growing up, going to Mass was a have to, not a want to. In college I had a conversion of sorts. I hadn’t gone to Mass on my own for a couple of years. After getting the courage up to ask if they could use a trumpet player at that Mass and being told yes, I became a regular. Now I don’t miss a week unless I’m out of town. And even then I’ve driven back to make it in time for Mass. I will miss the beginning of parties and get-togethers on Sundays if they start before Mass is over. I can’t imagine it any other way now.
The places he’s gone to and the things he’s seen make me so proud to be a Catholic in this day and time of sex scandals and the dwindling of so much. Like he says, there are those churches out there that follow the rules strictly and wouldn’t dream of breaking them. Then there are the “outposts”. Those churches that say “Why not?” instead of “Why?” to change. I’m proudly a member of a church that says “Why not?” But I do realize that it’s not the place for everyone. But it’s the place for me. So many people simply give up on the Church or their church instead of working harder and finding that place that’s right for them.
Spring Book Challenge: Read a children’s (not YA) book and adult book on the same topic and post a comparison as well as which you think covered the topic better.