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Catholicism Everywhere:

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Apr 16, 2024 | In Reviews

It’s a good title, but it’s not mine. Instead, Catholicism Everywhere is a delightful new book from Sophia Institute Press, a coffee-table sort of book which highlights the Catholic origins of and contributions to just about every aspect of our lives from the calendar and health care, through food and fashion and gardening, and on to the Catholic roots of common expressions, including the “Hail Mary” pass in football. Packed with pictures, highlights, and entertaining descriptions of the Catholic impact on an immense variety of things we all take for granted, Catholicism Everywhere was created by Dr. Helen Hoffner, a long-time Catholic educator who is a professor at Holy Family University in Philadelphia.

You may well know of the Catholic origins of hospitals, but did you know that April Fools Day originated from the persistence of certain “April Fools” who insisted on continuing to celebrate the new year on April 1st even after Pope Gregory had promulgated the Gregorian Calendar that we still use today? And you may have seen scapulars and rosaries hanging from rear-view mirrors in automobiles, but did you know that the Hudson Company embedded a St. Christopher’s medal in each of its Wasp automobiles? Did you know that authentic Trappist ale is now protected by a trademark to protect the brand against imitators attempting to cash in on its popularity?

Were you aware of the impact that nuns’ habits and Catholic school uniforms have had on fashion—not to mention the widespread use of scapulars and related medals? Do you know the Catholic origins of the Mayo Clinic, or the life-giving administration of the sacraments as the Titanic sank? And while you may have heard of Mother Dolores (who previously, as an actress, had kissed Elvis), you may not have heard much about the role of Mary and the saints in protecting us from bad weather. And even if you have heard of the Hail Mary pass in football (courtesy of Roger Staubach), you may not be aware that Pope Gregory I originated the expression “God bless you” in response to sneezing in the course of a sixth-century plague.

In games, the Church played a significant role in the history of Bingo, Monopoly, Chess and Backgammon—not to mention the Steeple Chase in horse racing. The history of Catholic influence in gardening is far richer still, including Mary gardens and the origins of many names for flowers. As you might expect, Catholics have also played a significant role in the prayerful arts, from rosaries to stained glass windows, and Hummel figures too. And don’t even get Helen Hoffner started on the relationship of the saints to various animals, or the Catholic influence on wedding music, or the very significant contributions of Catholics to astronomy, physics, and computer science.

There are nineteen chapters in all in this delightful book, which will make a wonderful gift for anyone who would enjoy learning more about the Catholic roots of so many things in an easy-to-read, entertaining and light-hearted way. Nineteen chapters cover the following general topics:

  • The Catholic Calendar
  • Health Care
  • Catholics on the Road
  • Catholics at Sea
  • Traveling the Skies
  • Catholic Education
  • Catholic Fashion
  • Food, Fasting, and Faith
  • Television and Radio: Broadcasting the Faith
  • Science and Catholicism
  • Weather from a Catholic Perspective
  • God’s Creatures Great and Small
  • Catholicism in the Garden
  • Sports and Recreation: The Catholic Influence
  • Expressing Faith through the Arts
  • Catholic Weddings
  • Catholics in the Military
  • Catholic Organizations
  • The Catholic Roots of Common Expressions
  • Get your copy and give another one to a friend. I hate to spoil the usual pity party by which we commemorate what’s wrong with the world, and I do urge you to avoid reading too much of this book out loud at the dinner table. But sit down with a good Catholic drink—a glass of Dom Pérignon Champagne, Chartreuse Liqueur, Trappist Ale, or a cup of Cappuccino—and, with this book, you will enter body and soul into a more joyful and appreciative Catholic life. For Christ is still present not only in the air we breathe and the food we eat, but also in the language we speak.

    Helen Hoffner (illustrations by Dana Regan), Catholicism Everywhere: From Hail Mary Passes to Cappuccinos: How the Catholic Faith Is Infused in Culture: Sophia Institute Press, 2023. 158pp, modest “coffee table” format (9.5” high, 7.6” wide), hardcover $19.95 (also available as an ebook, $9.99, but you’ll want it in hardcover).

    Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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    • Posted by: winnie - Apr. 17, 2024 12:51 PM ET USA

      I ordered 2 & I cant wait to read one & give one away. Thanks, Jeff!