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?”

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.

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.

*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.