God’s Bucket List
Heaven’s Surefire Way to Happiness in This Life and Beyond
By Teresa Tomeo
Image Books, 2013
176 pages, $17.99
To order: EWTNReligiousCatalogue.com
The idea of a "bucket list" didn’t get popular until recently, and popular Catholic personality Teresa Tomeo says she first heard about it when the movie The Bucket List, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, was released.
"That movie made me think about my own ‘life list,’" she writes in God’s Bucket List. "I love lists, and even though I didn’t call it a bucket list, for most of my life I’d had a list of things that I wanted to accomplish in my life." She goes on to share some of her story, though not in such exhausting detail that, if you’re a longtime fan, you’ll be bored before you begin. This leads her to an examination of what God wants for each of us, his "bucket list," so to speak.
And that begins the book itself, which is centered around Scripture and Catholic teaching in a way that’s both catechetical and entertaining. The items on God’s bucket list are aligned with the fruits of the Spirit. According to Tomeo, "For so many years, as a cradle Catholic, I was unfamiliar with the fruits of the Spirit." She had little or no idea about how to apply them from a Catholic perspective after she came back to the Church. Tying them in with the sacraments, as she does in this book, provides a catechesis for readers.
One of the looming questions this book strives to address is that of why it’s so challenging to figure out if we’re on the right track. At the heart of the answer Tomeo tries to provide in God’s Bucket List is the call to true discernment on both a long-term and an everyday level. "That old saying ‘The devil is in the details’ should be thrown out and replaced with ‘The Lord God is in the details,’" she writes. "He wants to be involved so intimately in our lives and wants us to know that we can call on him, seeking his direction for that daily walk as well as those big to-do items on our heavenly bucket list."
Wisdom and common sense are demonstrated with Tomeo’s signature flair: "Try this one on for size: ‘God won’t protect us from that which can perfect us.’ I can’t remember where I heard that line, but it sums up the idea of ‘saying Yes to the mess’ pretty nicely. God doesn’t want us to suffer. He does allow some things to happen to us because they could lead, as they did in my life, to a major awakening and a much more rewarding life. …"
"We need to try and see how a negative experience can, for example, teach us a valuable lesson that will help us in the future. Christianity is not only honest enough to tell us the truth, but loving enough to give us the truth, as in the person of Jesus Christ, to help us deal with and grow from our pain."
The book is sprinkled with anecdotes, punctuated with Scripture and filled with Church teaching. It’s not heavy reading, but it’s worth sharing with most of the Catholics I know. It’s a journey deeper into faith, with a smile along the way.
Sarah Reinhard blogs at