Book Review: The Catholic Book of Character and Success

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32 ways to build a Catholic Character in your students

The Catholic Book of Character & Success by Fr Garesché S.J. is a book that I had earmarked, a couple of weeks ago, for review. There are lots of books on Catholic Character formation of course, but this book is specifically aimed at good Catholic character formation in our youth.

How important it is for Catholic educators, to have a specific resource, aimed at our youth! Especially one that can be used on an ad hoc basis, to dip into whenever an opportunity arises in class, or to use as the basis for structured student lessons within the school timetable.

This book is also a great resource for parents, especially those who home school their children, as it gives an opportunity over a period of weeks or months, to discuss the virtues that our Catholic youth should be aiming for.

Previously I had listed the contents of this book as the chapter titles are informative in themselves, and for completion I do so again.

  1. Recognise daily opportunities for success
  2. Strive for lasting success
  3. Choose what will improve your character
  4. Persevere in noble pursuits
  5. Develop your mind through study
  6. Learn from your mistakes and failures
  7. See and imitate the good in others
  8. Develop good habits
  9. Let prudence guide your decisions
  10. Practice justice in all its forms
  11. Be temperate
  12. Develop fortitude
  13. Choose happiness over pleasure
  14. Learn to do without non-essentials
  15. Be pleasant in your demeanour and in your actions
  16. Develop your power of observation
  17. Be yourself
  18. Discipline your imagination
  19. Strengthen your will
  20. Let reason guide you
  21. Choose worthwhile amusements
  22. Take care of your body
  23. Maintain a healthy mind
  24. Think kindly of others
  25. Resist temptations
  26. Gain mastery over yourself
  27. Distinguish between true good and false good
  28. Do not fear what others think
  29. Use criticism prudently
  30. Rely on your will, not on your feelings
  31. Have confidence in yourself
  32. Build a noble character

The book aims to be a guide to navigate our youth through the dangers of modern society in a responsible and noble manner.

Written in the 1930s by Fr Edward Garesché SJ, it contains timeless wisdom that teaches the principles of true success and lasting happiness. And if Fr. Garesché considered it necessary then, how much would he consider it necessary now?


Fr Garesché, a Jesuit, was a practising lawyer before he entered the priesthood. His legal acumen and intellectual dexterity comes to the fore through his works, but especially so in this book, building a formidable case, step by step, chapter by chapter, to encourage our youth to take up these maxims with conviction.

In a society that is full of problems for Catholics, especially our youth, this manual is an excellent resource that guides them to be noble in an ignoble world.

Much is to be lauded in the way Fr. Garesché teases out the differences between notions of pleasure and happiness. Without such guidance our youth can be lead astray by the ephemeral trickery of pleasure that the world wants you to embrace, rather than holding to the true principles of good that lead to lasting happiness.

This book provides practical doable advice that forms discipline and resolution in Catholics in spite of the evil that surrounds us. It explains how our youth can keep a healthy virtuous mind, whilst being good Christian examples in the world.

In a society that teaches, promotes and even expects individuals to indulge in self love and instant gratification, this book provides an antidote to self idolisation. It directs us towards temperance and fortitude, humility and charity. In short, the book is a blueprint for building a noble character.

I’m so impressed with this book that I think all Catholic homes, all Catholic Schools and all Catholic parishes should have copies available for both adults and youth to educate themselves with.

The chapters can easily be spread out over a school year, perhaps eight chapters covered per term, thirty two in the year, allowing teachers and parents time to discuss and explore each topic before moving progressively through the book.

Taught or read on a weekly basis, this also allows time to practice the virtues that Fr. Garesché examines, so that we can grow in goodness as the chapters unfold.

With this in mind, I have decided to publish my condensed chapter notes as a weekly blog post, every Monday morning for the next 32 weeks!

Feel free to use them at home or at school. The chapters are great nuggets of information and can lead to some great discussions in class or round the dinner table at night.

My own notes, rough as they are, might help as an overview or reminder about what each chapter covers. I hope they help.

Finally, don’t hesitate to buy a copy of this book for yourself, your children, class or students. Principals, buy a class set and make it part of the school curriculum. You will not find a more suitably solid Catholic guide book anywhere for our youth today. button button

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