Back in the fall of 2017, a few friends and I released a book from Ave Maria Press called The Catholic Hipster Handbook. It was a fun little title that explored the beautifully obscure parts of our faith and encouraged readers to rediscover and embrace all the weird and sacred stuff our Catholic faith holds dear.

Two years later, Ave Maria Press has offered an opportunity for me and an entirely different group of friends to help readers go even deeper. Catholic Hipster: The Next Level - How Some Awesomely Obscure Stuff Helps Us Live Our Faith with Passion is set to hit local Catholic bookstores and gigantic online peddlers this November 8, and I’m here to give the hip readers of a few sneak peeks before they can get their hands on the real deal.

Catholic Hipster the Next Level

This time around, we’re trying to help readers come away with practical suggestions for growing in their relationship with Christ and His Church. As I note in the book’s conclusion:

That is precisely the aim we tried to achieve with Catholic Hipster: The Next Level. We wanted to make sure we weren’t simply leaving you with interesting ideas and realizations you may not have stumbled upon before. We wanted to make sure we were giving you an action plan, a way to direct your life toward giving yourself more completely to God and his Church.

From picking up new and powerful devotions, to considering a third order, to taking a stand for social justice, to accompanying those around you through a difficult time, the suggestions offered in this book have hopefully armed you with a list of things to get started on as you strive to deepen and strengthen your Catholic faith.

In an increasingly secular world, being Catholic is starting to feel like the only thing that makes any sense. And as we watch our own Church come to terms with its sins both past and present, we see more than ever before the importance of reflecting on our own holiness and making an effort to answer that universal call that God has offered to us all.

If there’s one question I hear these days coming from Catholics over and over again, it’s the question of the morality of getting tattoos. Tattoos are pretty popular right now, especially among those identifying as Millennials, with everything from a child’s name on one’s shoulder, all the way to sleeves covering both arms! While most Catholic apologists are happy to give an answer that’s sort of like a “they’re not intrinsically wrong, but…”, my pal Theresa Williams has jumped on board Catholic Hipster: The Next Level to give us her down to earth conclusions.
I was raised in a conservative, middle class, white, Catholic family in rural Pennsylvania. I was raised to be clean-cut and look ‘respectable’—one ear piercing in each lobe, natural-colored hair long enough to be pulled into a ponytail, and ink-free skin. But here I am with two lobe piercings in each ear, purple hair, and tattoos—a far cry from the outward appearance I was raised to give off! Growing up, the only people who seemed to have tattoos were gang members, bikers, and sailors; basically, people who were considered ‘rough around the edges’ and with whom you shouldn’t associate.
While this tends to be the picture that comes immediately to the minds of many when they think about tattoos, Theresa takes things in a different direction, and explores how they can be used to glorify God and evangelize the world.
“Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words." This bit of wisdom is usually attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, and though its authorship is debated, its point remains: our words should be secondary, an affirmation of our deeds and how we live our lives. Normally, you can’t tell just by looking at someone what values, ideals, or beliefs he or she holds, so you look for external or visible clues, such as how the person treats others. But if a guy has a cross tattoo, you’d probably rightly assume that he’s Christian. If a woman has an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary on her upper arm, you’d probably rightly assume that she’s Catholic. Tattoos can offer a physical and visual invitation to speak with and learn about one another. People with tattoos often are asked questions such as, "What does that mean?" or "Why’d you get that?" What a perfect opportunity for conversation and evangelization!
And while she doesn’t go so far as to recommend hopping in your car and heading over to the nearest tattoo parlor, her challenge to live out the ideas she presents in this chapter are pretty fun:
So here’s your challenge to live it out: Even if you never would get a tattoo, give it some consideration! Reflect on an aspect of the faith that has a central place in your life, perhaps a certain saint or an image of Mary or a particular cross. Then think about how you would incorporate it into an image on your body and where you would place it. For example, maybe a tattoo on your wrist would help you recall Christ’s wounds or a tattoo on your foot would signify journeying. Or maybe you would want one on your forearm, just so you can see it easily and often. Once you’ve decided all that, use a Sharpie or washable marker to draw it on yourself. Leave it for a week and see the reactions you get to it and how you feel about it. Take the time to pray with your image too. You can even mix it up and try out different images every couple of days. Have fun! But recognize the spiritual intention and attention you give it. Maybe you’ll even decide to make it permanent!

Just like last time around, Catholic Hipster: The Next Level also introduces us to cool saints, forgotten prayers, and ways that we can put what we have just read into action (a new section called “Living the Faith”).

If you read the original Catholic Hipster book, you’ll be sure to love this one even more. If you didn’t, give this new one a shot, and let me know what you think!

You can preorder Catholic Hipster: The Next Level - How Some Awesomely Obscure Stuff Helps Us Live Our Faith with Passion on Amazon right now!

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