Updated June 17 2013
What the Catholic Church Really Teaches
Ask three Catholics what the Church teaches on any given subject and they’ll probably give you fifty-three different answers…all of them wrong! But you don’t have to be confused. You don’t have to rely on the uninformed and misleading answers of the woefully uninformed Catholics of your acquaintance. The books below will answer many of your questions. And the Catechism of the Catholic Church contains the definitive, authoritative and official teachings of the Church.
Read the Catechism in a Year: “A daily tidbit about the Catholic faith sent straight to your inbox. Read that little bit each day & you’ll have covered the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church in a year. Cool, right?”
- The Catechism of the Catholic Church. (Link is to page with several different hard copy formats.) Got questions? Find out what the Church really teaches. Read it online. Searchable. Read the Bible and the Catechism in a year: Blog post. Download the plan (PDF format).
- Read the Catechism in a Year: Brief and daily readings from the Catechism in your email inbox or online. Comment online, discuss with others or just read their comments. (Some of these comments are valuable.)
- Mobile version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: Table of Contents. Table of Contents with Paragraph Numbers. Index. Search.
- Reasons to Believe: How to Understand, Explain, and Defend the Catholic Faith, Scott Hahn. Anything by Scott Hahn will enlighten and inspire. Anything. The man is gifted and on fire! :)
- Why Do Catholics Do That?, Kevin Orllin Johnson. Entertaining and informative. I’ve recommended this book for years.
- What Catholics Really Believe–Setting the Record Straight: 52 Answers to Common Misconceptions about the Catholic Faith, Karl Keating.
- Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on “Romanism” by “Bible Christians”, Karl Keating. Catholics are Bible Christians. Debunks a lot of nonsense and untruths that circulate in non-Catholic circles. And rather bluntly at times, too.
- Catholic and Christian: An Explanation of Commonly Misunderstood Catholic Beliefs, Alan Schreck. Yes, Virginia, Catholics are Bible-believing full Gospel Christians and have been for two thousand years.
- See also the Church Documents page in the Resources section.
Beautiful books by Pope Benedict XVI
Whenever I think of Pope Benedict, the words that leap to my mind are “He writes so beautifully!” And of all of his books that I’ve read so far, Jesus of Nazareth is easily my favorite. But all of the books listed below are important and well-written works that every Catholic or soon-to-be Catholic should read.
- Jesus of Nazareth, Vol 1: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration, by Pope Benedict XVI. This is a beautifully written meditation and exploration of the life, spirit and message of Christ.
- Jesus of Nazareth, Vol 2: Holy Week: From the Entrance Into Jerusalem To The Resurrection, by Pope Benedict XVI. Another beautifully written meditation and reflection, a perfect companion for the Lenten and Easter seasons. And well beyond.
- Jesus of Nazareth, Vol 3: The Infancy Narratives, by Pope Benedict XVI. “The momentous third and final volume in the Pope’s international bestselling Jesus of Nazareth series, detailing how the stories of Jesus’ infancy and childhood are as relevant today as they were two thousand years ago.“
- Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions, by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI). What is truth? Can truth be known? Can anyone claim to know or possess truth today? What about the Christian claim to the truth? What about other religions? Pope Benedict reflects on these questions and more in a series of essays written over a span of several years. As with anything Pope Benedict writes, this book deserves/needs to be read several times and pondered deeply.
- The Spirit of the Liturgy, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI). “My purpose here is to assist this renewal of understanding of the Liturgy. Its basic intentions coincide with what Guardini wanted to achieve. The only difference is that I have had to translate what Guardini did at the end of the First World War, in a totally different historical situation, into the context of our present-day questions, hopes and dangers. Like Guardini [note: He’s referring to a book by the same title by Romano Guardini], I am not attempting to involve myself with scholarly discussion and research. I am simply offering an aid to the understanding of the faith and to the right way to give the faith its central form of expression in the Liturgy.” —Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
Books by Pope John Paul II
- Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body, by Pope John Paul II. Currently reading this. Not something I can breeze through. Have to read, stop, think, chew, repeat. But so worth it! I’ve read other books on the TOB and listened to many talks about it and I still learned a lot from the new 2011 edition (listed incorrectly as the older edition by Amazon) with a new translation, introduction, notes and index by Michael Waldstein. Kindle edition.
- Crossing the Threshold of Hope, by Pope John Paul II. One of the first Catholic books I ever read. Got a new copy recently since I lost my old one. Another book on the to-re-read list.
- The Way to Christ, by Pope John Paul II. These are sermons preached he was giving spiritual retreats he gave while still a cardinal. When was the last time you heard sermons like these at Mass in your parish, huh? ;)
Books by Dr. Scott Hahn
When I discovered Catholicism, I was overwhelmed with the vastness that is the Church. Scott Hahn’s books and audio series were like lifelines thrown to a wannabe disciple sinking under the roiling waves of an ocean of two thousand years of writings, teachings, customs and traditions. Among all the authors whose work helped open my eyes and heart to the truth of Holy Mother Church, Dr. Hahn is probably the one to whom I owe the greatest debt. And he’s still one of my favorite teachers.
- A Father Who Keeps His Promises, Scott Hahn. The Catholic Church is the visible, worldwide, international Kingdom of God on earth.
- Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism, Scott Hahn. Protestant minister becomes Catholic, to the horror of his wife, who was the daughter of a Protestant minister. Took her a little longer to convert. But she did. What a team these two are!
- The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth, Scott Hahn. Who knew?! The Book of Revelation is a Catholic book! And the liturgy is the key to understanding it.
- Letter and Spirit: From Written Text to Living Word in the Liturgy, Scott Hahn. (I’m reading this book now so I can’t say much other than that I’m loving it!)
- Reasons to Believe: How to Understand, Explain and Defend the Catholic Faith, Scott Hahn. A masterful and easy to read mini-course in the history of salvation, the sacraments, Biblical interpretation from a Catholic perspective, and more!
- Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God, Scott Hahn. Understand what the Church really teaches about the Blessed Virgin Mary and why. An eye-opener.
- Swear to God: The Promise and Power of the Sacraments, Scott Hahn. Understanding the sacraments, where they came from, what they do. The sacraments are the key to the Catholic Christian way of discipleship.
- Answering the New Atheism: Dismantling Dawkins’ Case Against God, Scott Hahn and Benjamin Wiker. (I’m still trying to get my own copy of this book; I haven’t done more than browse through it briefly.)
Books by Other Converts
- Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine: Buy. Online.
- Anything by G. K. Chesterton, though, as I have had occasion to learn, he can be an acquired taste. Heh.
- I really should add some other authors here. My to-do list is getting longer and longer.
Books by Fr. Mitch Pacwa
My favorite place to attend Mass (and the proper way to state that would actually be, to assist at Mass) is undoubtedly at the tiny chapel at EWTN. And I always consider it a blessing and a treat when Fr. Mitch Pacwa is the celebrant. Any homily of his is like a mini-catechesis, like a Bible study filled with food for rich prayer and meditation.
- St. Paul: A Bible Study for Catholics, Fr. Mitch Pacwa. Discover how very Catholic St. Paul really was. Discover what his letters teach us about the early Church and the sacraments, there from the beginning and in the New Testament. From Fr. Mitch’s website.
- St. Paul and the Power of the Cross, Fr. Mitch Pacwa. (I now have a copy and it’s on the to-read list.) From Fr. Mitch’s website.
- Catholics and the New Age, Fr. Mitch Pacwa. When I was just beginning to discover Catholicism and was still a New Ager*, I really hated this book and I didn’t care for its author, either! Years later, after finally saying goodbye to all that, I have come to both love Fr. Mitch and the teachings of the Church about the New Age. Yes, I can be slow. Read online: Jesus Christ, Bearer of the Water of Life: A Christian Reflection on the New Age, Pontifical Council for Culture and Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
*Learn more about the New Age “spiritual” counterfeit movement at Women of Grace and the Women of Grace Blog in the New Age category. I think I’ll work up a separate page for this sort of thing soon. I spent years studying that stuff. Might as well put it to work, eh? Some good has to come of all that time and effort.