Monday, December 14, 2009

Books for Beginners on the Catholic Basics

Note: I have added "beginners to the header for this. As a reader pointed out, Peter Kreeft's Catholic Christianity is a great book on the basics. However, I wouldn't throw it at anyone who is tentative about Catholicism. It is as intimidating as the Catechism in sheer size alone, although not in tone. It does belong on a list of solid basic books that would include the Catechism thought.

Like many other dioceses around the country, Dallas is also promoting the Catholis Come Home idea. I like it. Our parish has a group, headed by our stalwart Deacon Ken, who are working hard to have a series of witnesses and talks during January for those who have questions or problems they are working through in coming back to the Church.

One question that has arisen is what would be good book recommendations to give?

Well, I'm not working on the campaign (being overextended everywhere in my life right now), but that never stopped me from giving my opinion about good basic reading about Catholicism. So I'm sharing with y'all a few trustworthy books that I recommend which are not as intimidating to newbies (or even old timers, sometimes) as the Catechism.

  • Pocket Guides
    I can highly recommend the Pocket Guide to Confession and also the Pocket Guide to the Mass. In fact, I take the Confession guide out for a spin when preparing for that sacrament and then it comes with me to the church.These are $6.95 each so again this is a fairly inexpensive resource. Our Sunday Visitor has these.
  • The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Catholic Catechism
    my review here

  • Catholicism for Dummies
    I haven't reviewed this but looking through my archives it turns out that I have used it extensively. You can check out some posts that feature quotes from the book.

  • The How-To Book of Catholic Devotions
    I haven't reviewed this either but it is by Mike Aquilina and that is enough. He's entirely reliable. Also I read it and kept it. I don't have book room to waste on something I don't trust.

  • Why Do Catholics Do That?
    I can't believe I haven't done a review of this book because it is one that I actually keep extra copies of so I can give it to people who have questions. I will put the Amazon review here as it already says what I think:
    Why Do Catholics Do That? by Kevin Orlin Johnson assumes nothing and tells all. As such, it's not only an ideal catechism companion but also a source of infinite wisdom for students of art history, politics, literature, philosophy, and pretty much any other subject connected with Catholic history. In a voice refreshingly free of condescension (and full of humor, witnessed in chapter titles such as "Saints: How You Get To Be One"), Johnson defines and expatiates upon hundreds of topics, including the Mass, the rosary, the cross, the eucharist, and the pope. Why Do Catholics Do That? is destined for the all-time top 20 list of indispensable desk references. Whether your interest in Catholicism is devoutly religious or defiantly secular, you'll be glad Kevin Orlin Johnson has fulfilled his vocation so faithfully. --Michael Joseph Gross
  • Compendium to the Catechism
    Hopefully a lot of people know this one. A greatly simplified version of the catechism that does not look as intimidating and has the scoop ... but which may lead those who are afraid of the Catechism into investigating further as well.
Ok, these are not orthodox BUT it occurs to me that these would be very handy in case a Catholic who wants to come home is grappling with issues with a Protestant spouse. Links go to my reviews.
  • The Lure of Saints - about why venerating saints is ok

  • The Rosary: A Journey to the Beloved --- obviously, about the rosary and why Protestants should take up this form of prayer
I do NOT advise Sweeney's book about Mary (Lure of the Saints author) as it has a couple of chapters where he gets kinda wonky.

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