Who better to close of the year with, than with Blessed Carlo Acutis? This past year, we have reviewed a fair number of books about the young Carlo Acutis. Liguori Publications published an original English title on Carlo Acutis this past Fall, titled: Dare to be More, The Witness of Blessed Carlo Acutis, written by Colleen and Matt Swaim. Out of the Carlo Acutis titles reviewed on this blog thus far, this book comes out to be the thinnest, with only 48 pages. However, the content contained within this short booklet is not lesser quality than any of the other titles featured here.
One of the things we mentioned previously is that even though we have reviewed, now, the fifth title on Carlo Acutis, each book comes with a different perspective and prompt that comes out of the life of Carlo Acutis. Dare to be More is written seemingly for a teen audience in mind. While Book Nicola Gori’s Carlo Acutis – The First Millennial Saint and Fr. Will Conquer’s Carlo Acutis – A Millennial in Paradise seem to have more of biographical emphasis, Mgr. Anthony Figueiredo’s Blessed Carlo Acutis – 5 Steps to Being a Saint and both of the Swaim’s Dare to be More have an emphasis on the call to sainthood and how one can fit into the shoes of Carlo Acutis in original ways.
Why is the book titled, “Dare to be more”? The answer to this question can be found in the first page after the table of contents, as the authors chose to place a quote from Pope Francis’ Post-Synodal Exhortation to Young People, Christus Vivit in 2019, where he says,
Dare to be more, because who you are is more important than any possession. What good are possessions or appearances? You can become what God your Creator knows you are, if only you realize that you are called to something greater. Ask the help of the Holy Spirit and confidently aim for the great goal of holiness. In this way, you will not be a photocopy. You will be fully yourself.Christus Vivit 107
While this quote seemingly comes out of the blue, or may seem like a space filler, it is actually not, when taken into the full context. I would invite one to read the whole book and get back to this quote. Section 107 of the Apostolic Exhortation comes after the section in which Pope Francis introduces to young people the witness of Carlo Acutis (see sections 104-106 of the Apostolic Exhortation). At the end of section 106, Pope Francis quotes one of Carlo’s most notable sayings, “Everyone is born as an original, but many people end up dying as photocopies.” The call to be original saints is what Pope Francis speaks of in the quotes section 107, and that is how it fits into the larger context of this book. How relevant of a message that this book strives to expand upon based on the life of Carlo Acutis! In a world where people want to fit into the secularization, Catholics in their call to sainthood are called to something more than being photocopies of secularizaiton, but the original person that God made them.
Dare to be More is divided in to six-chapters that touch upon various biographical and spiritualities of Carlo Acutis. These chapters are titled as follows:
- Who is Carlo Acutis?
- The Source and Summit: Carlo’s Devotion to our Lord in the Eucharist
- Our Lady: Mary as Carlo’s Mother and Yours
- Carlo’s Holy Humanity: Computers & Nutella
- Care for Others: A Not-so-Me Generation
- When life Involves Suffering: Pain and Death
These themes I think are alluded to in various ways in Mgr. Anthony Figueiredo’s Blessed Carlo Acutis – 5 Steps to Being a Saint, but I think the language used in Dare to be More is more suited for a younger teenage audience, in my opinion.
There are photographs of Carlo Acutis scattered throughout the book. However, the interior of the book is produced in black-and-white… I personally think it would have been more effective to have the book printed in colour to bring these photographs to life. Many, if not all of these photographs can be downloaded and viewed at the Association of the Friends of Carlo Acutis website, at: www.carloacutis.com. Photographs serve two purposes: one, is to captivate young people; two, is to show the humanity of these saints in a very tangible way. While we hear of so many great young saints like Maria Goretti or Dominic Savio, there just aren’t many photographs out there that are relatable to young people. Carlo Acutis is a model of sanctity for millennials and therefore, I think the photographs should be reproduced in ways that make sainthood relatable.
One of the features I really like about this book are the questions scattered throughout that helps one put themselves in the shoes of a saint. For example, this first one in the first chapter :
Blessed Carlo Acutis is often called the unofficial patron saint of the internet. That includes gamers, computer programmers, social media users, and related cuber communications. If you ever become a canonized saint, what do you hope to be a patron of?Dare to be More, page 7
Cheesy? Maybe so for some people, but I think it really gets young people thinking of their passions and talents, and how they can use those passions and talents for the greater glory of God, use them towards their vocation to sainthood.
I also enjoy the little info-boxes that helps shed light on some things that might be unfamiliar to some people, such as the Eucharistic Miracles website (Dare to be More, page 9) and even an explanation of what Nutella is (page 31).
What makes Dare to be More different than the other titles is that I think it can be effectively used in a group setting. Not only are the chapters short enough to process and reflect on, but each chapter comes with  a Bible quote to be memorized in a section called “Memory Verse,”  a list of proposed action items called “Saintly Challenges.” These two components remind me of what happens at the end of each lesson of the CCO Faith Studies, in which group members are to memorized a Bible verse and also do a challenge. The challenges propose in this book are very doable and are destined to help build good spiritual habits. For example, one is to consider attending weekday or Saturday Mass, with particular emphasis during the summer while on vacation, before or in the middle of school day (at lunch I assume) or work day. Such challenges considers the circumstances of students and to build good spiritual practices. Perhaps it does not need to be daily Mass, but start with an additional Mass outside of Sunday… sainthood starts with these small steps.
Dare to be More, The Witness of Blessed Carlo Acutis is a beautiful short booklet that will introduce to young peopel the life and witness of the young Blessed Carlo Acutis. It is concise, while prompting young people to “Dare to be More,” that might mean stepping outside their comfort zone in order to respond to the call to be saints. In the context of a New Year, this book might be the ideal tool to start a realistic New Year’s Resolution.
Check out a sample of Dare to be More, The Witness of Blessed Carlo Acutis here.
Purchase the title from Liguori Publications here.
Disclaimer: Vincent Pham was provided a review copy of Dare to be More, The Witness of Blessed Carlo Acutis to provide an honest review of it on this blog. The Catholic Man Reviews thanks Liguori Publications for the opportunity for us to review this title on our blog and look forward to future collaborations. All thoughts and opinions expressed in here are our own and reflect our sincere thoughts about the product.
2 thoughts on “Book Review: Dare to be More, The Witness of Blessed Carlo Acutis”
Thank you for the thorough review of “Dare to be More.” We are glad you liked it and recognized its teen audience target. Its name is also reflective of two similar books written for teens by Colleen Swaim, published in 2011 and 2012. “Ablaze: Stories of Daring Teen Saints” and “Radiate: More Stories of Daring Teen Saints” also have group study features and thought-provoking questions about the young saints you mentioned, Dominic Savio and Maria Goretti, and nearly two dozen others like St. Lucy and Stanislaus Kostka.
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