A Happy New Year to you, our dear reader! The world has said good-bye to 2014 while we slowly wrap up these last days of Christmas. Like it has for many of you, this year flew by and it proved to be one of the best years for Catholic Exchange in terms of growth, readership, and the many articles we’ve brought you. It has been a joyous ride and this is my second year that I get to bring you the top articles of the last year.
We publish three articles a day in addition to the daily homily and the blog posts from our friends at Catholic Answers, The Catholic Gentleman, and Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction. I have the immense pleasure of working with each of our authors and so it is quite difficult for me to drum a “best of” list of the last year. I am equally biased towards all our authors, who work hard to bring you the best content we can; and their hard work pays off as I hear from many of you day-to-day who have been personally touched by the words of our many writers. The following are the most discussed, most read, and most commented on articles. If you haven’t had a chance to read them, they are now here for your enjoyment.
Vocations, Devotions, & Our Culture
We are all called to be saints! That may raise an eye or two, but it is the teachings that each of us is called to a profound holiness as we embrace friendship with Christ. It’s a hard road, to be sure, but it is something that the Holy Spirit can assist us with and it is our goal at Catholic Exchange to help make as many saints and to inspire as many of the saints-in-the-making as we can. In that regard, Fr. Ed Broom showed us the Ten Tips for a Better Confession and Fr. Saunders told us How to Go to Confession.
The family is the Domestic Church and so we also seek to help inspire and guide who we can in our little way. Dr Gregory Popcak published his new book, When Divorce is Not An Option, but still had time to share with you the Eight Habits of Healthy Couples and the Five Marks of a Healthy Family. Meanwhile, Fr Broom once again showed us the Five Ways to Foster Holy Matrimony. For the fathers out there, new dad Tyler Blanksi reflected on the vocation of fatherhood in The Catholic Dad: the Call, the Craft, the Cross.
The Catholic Church in America and other places also has many single people who are trying to balance being faithful while discerning a vocation. I am one of those single Catholics and know far too well some of the challenges. Anthony Esolen gave us some tips for fostering a culture of marriage in the Church with Marriage Doesn’t Just Happen while Paul Senz discussed Dating While Discerning. David Mills further explored the challenges of being Single and Catholic and Tyler Blanski discussed The Treasure of Singleness while Judy Keane reminded single women that You Are More Precious Than Rubies.
Without a doubt, our most read article this year was Benjamin Mann’s Your Vocation is Not About You, which is even now being reprinted by several groups for their vocations materials. Benjamin began his time as a postulant at Holy Resurrection Monastery this year and managed to share with us some powerful reflections such as The Blessings of Religious Burnout, Buddhism & the ‘Conversion’ Before my Conversion, Finding Release from the Fear of Loneliness, and The Cross and the Drug Culture.
Also from Holy Resurrection, we were proud to introduce a friend of the monastery and Monastic Associate (oblate) Jessica Archuleta who, in such a short time, managed to make quite an impression on many of you. Her first article, Have Confidence in God, Even in Difficulty showed us the difficulty of bearing your cross as a mother but also demonstrated the strength found in faith. Jessica also gave us some fine reflection on preparing for Advent in Preparing Our Hearts for Christ. Haley Stewart also showed us the joys and challenges of being a convert in Confessions of a Catholic Convert and Samuel Guzman showed us the Five Ways to Sanctify Your Day.
We all have our struggles and Judy Keane told us about Slaying Your Goliath as well as Saintly Wisdom for Worriers and The Power of the Divine Mercy Novena. As well, there was a great discussion about depression and how we can help those who suffer from the pitfalls of the mind. I was very humbled by the overwhelming response to my two articles about my struggles with depression, Black Dog Days: How to Deal with Depression and Depression Does Not Discriminate. Shaun McAffee also explored How the Church Responds to Suicide while Fr. Joseph Esper demonstrated that many saints had their own struggles in The Saints and Depression and How the Saints Faced Anxiety.
The best thing we can do as Catholics is to get to know our own faith so that we can explain and lovingly defend it. Cynthia Trainque gave us a great apologetics series called Eight Reasons to Love the Catholic Church with her most popular article being The Bible is Catholic. Stephen Beale is here each Monday to carefully explain bits of our history and theology with his most popular article being The Greatest Historical Miracle You’ve Never Heard Of. Stephen’s other fantastic articles include What We Mean by Full of Grace and Our Journey to God Never Ends—Even For Saints.
It’s a joke that we Catholic have trouble with the Bible, but we do a weekly series each Friday on CE to better understand scripture with Unpacking the Old Testament by Dr. Mark Giszczak and Scripture Speaks by Gayle Somers. Long-time CE contributor Kevin Tierney, who brought us such great articles like Tradition Begins At Home, began a series this year unpacking the Sunday Propers of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass each Thursday. These three authors are here to help us understand Scripture and how it relates to the Mass we hear each Sunday.
I’m also pleased with the response to two authors who came back to us at Catholic Exchange this year with some great commentary on spiritual struggles and even spiritual warfare. Fr. Dwight Longenecker gave us a rousing series exploring each of the seven deadly sins in Distorted Desires. Kathleen Beckman, who recently released Praying for Priests this year, discussed the importance of spiritual warfare in our prayer lives with her most popular articles being Spiritual Armor: Godly Relationships and Blessing or Curse?.
Finally, we were pleased to introduce Jeannie Ewing this year who discussed Joy in the Midst of Grief and the Heart of a Mystic.
The Saints and Our Lives
A regular feature at CE is reflections on the saints from our authors and the response from you all has been overwhelming. We hope that these articles teach you about our vast treasure of saints and will help to inspire you to grow in sainthood. Our most popular article in this category is Saints Are Still Being Made: Meet Chiara Corbella Petrillo. As well, many of you read and shared Sam Guzman’s St. Padre Pio’s 5 Point Rule of Life.
Rick Becker told us the great tales of Bl. Franz Jägerstätter and St Jeanne Jugan, both martyrs who lived in very troubled times. Jeannie Ewing told us about St. John of the Cross and the Dark Night and Olivia Spears gave us 10 Reasons to Love Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati.
Patricia Treece always has tales of modern miracles and saints, some of whom lived within our own living memories, such as in her article Solanus Casey: Red-Blooded American Miracle Worker and The Many Miracles of Don Bosco. Likewise, the canonization of Pope St. John Paul II brought many of you to learn about The Miracle of John Paul II as well as We Still Need John Paul II by Jenny Uebbing and St. John Paul II: Prophet, Priest, Exorcist by Kathleen Beckman.
Cari Donaldson showed her great story-telling prowess with St. Isaac Jogues: Indomitable Saint and The Love that Lies Beneath. Likewise, Daniel Stewart gave his unique take on several saints in articles such as An Everyman Saint: St. Isidore the Farmer and The Powerful Faith and Intercession of St. Jude. Of course we can’t neglect to mention Sean Fitzpatrick’s rich meshing of historical details with great story-telling in his articles like Two Modern Saints for the Modern World and Thomas Aquinas’ Secret to Sainthood.
We, of course, have a great devotion to the Holy Virgin Mary, the theotokos, the Mother of God. Sarah Reinhard brings us constant reflections of Mary and how she assists in our own lives and many of you read A Mother Who Knows When to Show Up and Small Town Mary: Our Lady of La Salette. We brought you other great Marian articles such as 5 Facts to Ignore Before Accusing Catholics of “Mary Worship” and Mary’s Assumption: 5 Gems.
Through the gift of translators and publishers we were able to present the great letters and sermons of St. Francis de Sales in Peace of Soul and Humility and Are You Too Busy to Pray?.
Wisdom for the Ages.
Thanks to our partnership with Sophia Institute Press, we are able to give you excerpts from great Catholic authors and books. Thus many of you read such classics as Fr. Basil W. Maturin’s Learn to Control Your Thoughts and Fr. Roul Plus’s Adoration: The Most Perfect Prayer. Shane Kapler also gave us an inside look into his new book with The Sacred Heart: Source of Our Prayer and How to Pray When the Words Won’t Come.
Other great articles by way of Sophia Institute Press include:
- God Desires Your Love by Fr. Killian J. Healy
- The Charity of Cheerfulness by Fr. Lawrence G. Lovasik
- Abandonment to Jesus by Fr. Jean C. J. d’Elbee
- The Art of Contemplative & Mystical Prayer by Romano Guardini
- Don’t Give in to Discouragement by Dom Hubert van Zeller
Last, But Not Least
As I said in the beginning, this list is a hard one to make and I’m sure there are a few you wanted me to include. We publish hundreds of articles by mothers, fathers, priests, religious, and every-day Catholics who come from various backgrounds. We are an unique site in that you can read a Mass-going mother, a Traditional Latin father, and a Byzantine Rite monk all in the same day and we live to try to reach each of you. I say this a lot, but we at CE exist for you, the reader, and want to know what you look for when you come to our site each and every day. Let me know!
Feel free to tell us in the comments some of your favourite articles and authors and perhaps some themes you’d like to see us cover. I love to hear from you.
At last, as the New Year dawns and I reflect over my last hear here at CE I want to thank each and every one of you for joining me this year. We run a small and efficient team here at CE and that means a lot of hours are put into this site by the writers and I but it is worth it if we help just one conversion, encourage one life, or help to inform a future saint. I have heard from many of you through the comments and by email and I want you all to know that I pray for you each day to the Sacred Heart and St. Dominic. I am very glad you are here on the other side of this screen and I look forward to what we all will do in 2015.
From all of us here I wish you the very Merriest Christmas and a blessed New Year! May Christ be in all our hearts and may we have many small miracles along the way.