When William Compton began his subscription to the Register, President Ronald Reagan was beginning his second year in office, Margaret Thatcher was prime minister of the United Kingdom, people were uplifted by the film Chariots of Fire, gas cost 91 cents a gallon, and a postage stamp was 20 cents.
Other things have changed, but Compton has remained a Register subscriber ever since, and he looks forward to the arrival of each issue. The 63-year-old entered the Church in 1972, when he was 22.
Although the Register has been published nationally since 1927, subscription records only go back to 1982, so there might be someone who has subscribed even longer.
When the Register phoned Compton to inform him he was the paper’s longest subscriber, the Binghamton, N.Y., resident graciously and enthusiastically shared his thoughts about the Register with staff writer Joseph Pronechen.
Does it seem like you’ve been a subscriber for more than 30 years?
I’m amazed how much time has elapsed!
What are some reasons you have subscribed to the Register all these years?
It’s a great product. The Register is extremely informative and very well written, both the news items and the editorial pieces. The clarity of thought and expression, especially in matters of faith, are what keep me renewing my subscription.
The multidirectional approach the Register takes when discussing news items like what is happening in the Vatican, for example, and what the U.S. Conference of [Catholic] Bishops is doing and exposition of different aspects of faith and doctrine [also appeal to me].
I’m often pleased by the in-depth discussion of the things that are happening in the Church and the Vatican and elsewhere.
To read it every week seems small, but, week in and week out, it’s a commitment, because the articles are not brief or superficial. They require attention and concentration. But I love the history of the Church and spiritual matters, so it’s a great pleasure to read about them.
That keeps bringing me back to making the decision to renew my subscription.
Do specific examples of coverage, let’s say of the news, come to mind?
John Paul’s apostolic travels and the profound effect he had on the people he visited were always inspiring.
And the passing of Blessed John Paul II, the election to replace him with Benedict, and now with the new Pope Francis; the scandals of the priestly abuse; the wrangling over the new translation of the order of the Mass — all these were faithfully reported and also commented upon by the Register.
Do you like the way the Register’s articles are presented?
I’m a linguist by education. I read in several languages. The Register is an excellent expression in English of what is true and unchanging and compelling in the Catholic faith. It’s great for all kinds of issues.
And the fact that the Register is always orthodox and always faithful to the magisterium — these are essential and indispensable qualities.
All that is contained in one readable paper — and with precise language. It’s a great combination.
What other sections of the paper get your attention?
I like the life news in the "Culture of Life" section — also the travel section, in which you highlight different churches and shrines in the country where we can visit. We don’t have to go to Europe to visit glorious churches.
Especially now, when we live under a political administration that promotes the culture of death and is complicit in deepening the culture of death, life news is even more important to have — for example, the series of articles about not only the immorality of, but the absolute ineffectiveness of, embryonic stem-cell research. That does not come out of the secular press, which is anxious to promote the culture of death.
But God’s way is the best way — the ethical and moral issues being paramount. Let’s at least use techniques that will work (such as with adult stem cells) and have success. And the Register has had excellent articles about that very issue.
Not only in the field of ethics, but also in spirituality and in the life of marriage, it’s an outstanding publication with really good information and consistently good theological bases. I know I’m not going to be shocked or disappointed.
Do you do much reading in addition to the Register?
I’m studious by nature. I do read much, and the major area I read faithfully without interruption all these years is in theology, Scripture and spirituality, specifically Catholic spirituality.
Depending on the sources, some of that reading can be heavy. How do you find the Register fitting in?
I’m a great student of history, and the historical information we often see in the Register is always very good. It’s written in a way that’s not overly technical, and yet the language is precise, including the language of spirituality and theology. Without sacrificing clarity, correctness and information and correct teaching, the articles are written in a way that can be understood by a person without a degree in theology.
Have you been able to share the faith with others through the Register?
I often speak to my friends about what’s happening in the Church, and much of my information comes from the Register.
I can quote this or that saying or action or book or speak about the promotion of this priest as the new ordinary of a diocese, and it comes out of the Register. It’s an invaluable tool. It’s like an expression used in marketing: "You get a lot of bang for your buck."
I take it your friends know about the Register. Do you share it with them?
For many years, I gave the Register as a gift subscription. It makes a wonderful gift. Good, solid information and spirituality we can count on — and not a biased distortion, but a presentation that speaks authoritatively and reliably.
I am a convert to the Catholic faith, and the majority of my friends are converts. We had to suffer loss coming into the Church. We had chosen this faith often at some very real, personal cost. Like Jesus said: It’s the pearl of great price, and it’s well worth it.
Do you save back issues?
I pass the issues on. Over the years, I did save articles and would photocopy those about the new blesseds and canonized.
John Paul had the most "wonderfully annoying habit" of beatifying and canonizing all these people, and it was impossible to keep up with it! Some cardinal referred to John Paul as having turned his congregation into a "saint factory." And thank God for that!
I know John Paul’s thinking was that: Examples of holiness have enormous catechetical and evangelistic power. We need to see holy men and women in our time, not only the distant and idyllic Middle Ages — holy men and women who have chosen to live totally for Christ and love him.
When I started (subscribing) in 1982, the Internet was not available. Now, there are resources where I can go to retrieve much information. Can you imagine the apostle Paul not reaching, in his entire life, 5 million people? What we can do with electronics today would be unimaginable in earlier times. We know the devil controls so much of the media and so much of our society, so I’m glad the angels of light have their voices online, too.
Do you prefer the Register online or in print?
I love to get the print copy. I read the Register in one sitting.
I’m pleased to see the Register has not only survived, but prospered. And the Register continues to be relatively inexpensive — it’s worth every dime.
Joseph Pronechen is the
Register’s staff writer.