Book Recs for a Recent Catholic

 

I have recently decided I want to be Catholic after a lifetime of protesting (being Protestant, not being an anti-theist) and am looking for some great books on the history of the Catholic church, Catholic philosophy, Catholic apologia, etc. I figured Ricochet would be a good place to ask, given the founder and community here. S o what would you guys recommend?

For anyone wondering what prompted the change, Cupid’s arrow found its mark and I’m engaged to a wonderful Catholic girl and I want to raise our future children in the faith.

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  1. Brian Wyneken Member
    Brian Wyneken
    @BrianWyneken

    In the literature line:  the author Evelyn Waugh.

    Congratulations on your engagement!

    • #1
  2. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Congratulations on your engagement. I’ll start looking for a list, and looking at some of the books I already own. You may be able to find some answers to your questions that will come from time to time on Catholic Answers.

    When you find the time purchase a Catechism of the Catholic Church.

    • #2
  3. Bishop Wash Member
    Bishop Wash
    @BishopWash

    A priest gave me Crossing the Tiber to read when my wife was thinking of returning to the Catholic Church. I didn’t get around to reading it as my wife decided she just couldn’t make the return. We ended up becoming Lutheran, splitting the difference I guess. The book is about a Baptist converting to Catholicism. 

    • #3
  4. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge
    DonG (skeptic)
    @DonG

    I enjoyed this book.  It is written in the style of academic history.

    • #4
  5. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    https://www.amazon.com/Fundamentals-Catholic-Dogma-Ludwig-Ott/dp/1905574657?SubscriptionId=AKIAILSHYYTFIVPWUY6Q&tag=duckduckgo-d-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=2025&creative=165953&creativeASIN=1905574657

    I remember hearing a priest say this was his study-guide. 

    • #5
  6. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Obviously the Bible itself.

    Find something by my homeboy Michael Foley on Catholicism. (Give the future kids Gus Finds God, and they’ll learn Augustine before they know what’s happening to them.)

    Jaroslav Pelikan is probably a real winner. But probably long. I ain’t even read him.

    I’m a fan of original sources. Augustine is great, and grandfather to us Reformation peeps as well. (I know some weirdos who write books about Augustine.)

    And Aquinas is great. Chesterton rocks.

    I should shut up. One more suggestion: If you wanna get some philosophy mixed in, do some Edward Feser or Robert Wood.

    • #6
  7. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Bryce Carmony: For anyone wondering what prompted the change Cupid’s arrow found it’s mark and I’m engaged to a wonderful catholic girl and I want to raise our future children in the faith.

    Congratulations to you both.

    • #7
  8. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Ok, I can’t shut up yet. My homeboys Matthew Levering (Catholic) and Gerald McDermott (Protestant) are great too; they’re both fine church historians.

    McDermott’s The Great Theologians covers some Protestant people (and one non-Christian, for that matter).  But it’s a great overview of major chapters in church history.

    And Levering?  I’d suggest just looking at a list of his books on the internet and seeing if any titles appeal to you.

    • #8
  9. Mike Rapkoch Moderator
    Mike Rapkoch
    @MikeRapkoch

    Two indispensable books:

    Frank Sheed’s Theology and Sanity ad Fr. Thomas Joseph White’sThe Light of Christ: An Introduction to CatholicismAnother great book is Fulton Sheen’s Life of Christ.

    You should also try the website Catholic Exchange for theological issues, current events in the Church, and inspirational writings. My daughter is a contributor so I visit the site daily. It’s great. And not just cuz of her.

    • #9
  10. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Come on, everyone! Upvote this thing!

    • #10
  11. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    There are some very good references above for a deeper understanding of the Catholic faith and its history, theology and philosophy.

    For new Catholics, I also recommend Scott Hahn’s Rome Sweet Home. It is a compelling story of Scott’s search for the Truth by diving into the writings and understanding of the early Church Fathers.

    • #11
  12. mildlyo Member
    mildlyo
    @mildlyo

    Warren H. Carroll’s History of Christendom series is hard to beat, though quite a comitment.

     

    He was a Wonderfull speaker. You could start with his speeches.

    • #12
  13. Mate De Inactive
    Mate De
    @MateDe

    Hey, welcome home. You should come over and join our Ricochet Catholics group. As for reading material, The Baltimore Catechism is a great, simple breakdown of the faith. Meant for children but still a good source.

    • #13
  14. danok1 Member
    danok1
    @danok1

    I’m an Orthodox Christian (ex-Baptist) so I have nothing to offer but my congratulations on your engagement. May you have a wonderful life together!

    • #14
  15. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Congratulations on your engagement!

    • #15
  16. Juliana Member
    Juliana
    @Juliana

    May God bless you and your future wife.

    • #16
  17. Phil Turmel Coolidge
    Phil Turmel
    @PhilTurmel

    Columbo (View Comment):
    For new Catholics, I also recommend Scott Hahn’s Rome Sweet Home. It is a compelling story of Scott’s search for the Truth by diving into the writings and understanding of the early Church Fathers.

    +1 for Rome Sweet Home.  I used it as a resource when I was on the parish RCIA team some while back.  It is particularly helpful for protestants, as it explains some of the ways ardent Catholics and Protestants talk past each other.

    • #17
  18. rgbact Inactive
    rgbact
    @romanblichar

    Maybe check out Lizzie Answers on Youtube. She’s a young woman that converted from Protestantism a year ago, and seems to read a ton. The early history one I read was by Eusebius

    • #18
  19. danys Thatcher
    danys
    @danys

    Years ago when I volunteered in my parish’s RCIA program, I found Why Do Catholics Do That? to be helpful & readable. It explains teachings, practices, art history, etc. (available on Amazon) Of course, if you’re looking for something deeper, St. Augustine’s suggestions are better.

    Congratulations on your engagement. 

    • #19
  20. colleenb Member
    colleenb
    @colleenb

    Mike Rapkoch (View Comment):

    Two indispensable books:

    Frank Sheed’s Theology and Sanity ad Fr. Thomas Joseph White’sThe Light of Christ: An Introduction to Catholicism. Another great book is Fulton Sheen’s Life of Christ.

    You should also try the website Catholic Exchange for theological issues, current events in the Church, and inspirational writings. My daughter is a contributor so I visit the site daily. It’s great. And not just cuz of her.

    I second the recommendation of Fr. Thomas Joseph White’s book. I also recommend the Institute of Catholic Culture for sound teaching. You can add listening to talks to your reading. There is a lecture by Fr. Scalia on the Agony in the Garden that I recommend to anyone. Msg. Pope is another along with Dr. O’Donnell. I could go on and on. Another recommendation for podcasts is the Thomistic Institute which includes more talks by Fr. Thomas Joseph White. Just remember Mother Church is 2,000 + so you don’t have to learn everything at once. On literature I also recommend Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavrensdatter (written before she converted but so profound). Multos annos to you both.

    • #20
  21. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Everlasting Man & Orthodoxy by Chesterton.

    Congratulations! 

    • #21
  22. SkipSul Inactive
    SkipSul
    @skipsul

    danok1 (View Comment):

    I’m an Orthodox Christian (ex-Baptist) so I have nothing to offer but my congratulations on your engagement. May you have a wonderful life together!

    Orthodox as well, though I do have some books worth your reading:

    1. The Spirit of Early Christian Thought, by Robert Louis Wilken.  A thorough and scholarly survey of the church fathers up through the 800s.  There’s more, far far more, than Augustine or Aquinas, and many of these are under-appreciated.  Remember, Augustine came after nearly 400 years of others, and was further removed from St. Paul than we are Thomas Jefferson.
    2. The Protestants, by Alec Ryrie.  You may well find yourself needing a thorough grounding in the history of Protestant thought, if nothing else to discuss with relatives why you are swimming the Tiber – you should know the history.  Most people are ignorant of why they believe what they believe (doesn’t matter the faith, this is true all over).  Ryrie is an Anglican, and this book is both scholarship and a love story for his faith (he’s unsparing where he needs to be).

    And some general words of advice:

    1. Beware of Convert-itis (“convertskis” as they’re sometimes called in Orthodoxy).  This is all new to you, and doubtless exciting.  Moreover, if you’re diving headfirst into the scholarship and history, this is going to be fresh information to you.  Chances are good that you’ll soon know more head-knowledge than a lot of the cradle-born around you.  Don’t let yourself get cocky.  There are a lot of well-worn tropes about overly militant and confident converts, and those tropes are based on reality.  Slow down, soak it in, pray more.
    2. You’re eventually going to figure out that while you think you found the “right church”, it’s full of the “wrong people”.  This is when the rosy glow dims and you start to see the grit and notice the myriad of imperfections.  People will slight you, or frustrate you.  Tough it out.  You’re the wrong person too.  Which is the point.  You’re there for Christ.  Avoid the politics, and live the life of the church.
    • #22
  23. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Skipsul, that was great.

    • #23
  24. Ed G. Member
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    SkipSul (View Comment):
    You’re eventually going to figure out that while you think you found the “right church”, it’s full of the “wrong people”. This is when the rosy glow dims and you start to see the grit and notice the myriad of imperfections. People will slight you, or frustrate you. Tough it out. You’re the wrong person too. Which is the point. You’re there for Christ. Avoid the politics, and live the life of the church.

    Oh how true this is. Me too. A million times me too. It’s hard to humble yourself (myself), but that’s the key to following Christ no matter which church or Church as the case may be.  

    • #24
  25. GFHandle Member
    GFHandle
    @GFHandle

    I remember loving The Man Who Got Even With God by M. Raymond, O.C.S.O way back when I was in high school. It’s about a Kentuckian with a temper who eventually became a Trappist. Monasticism seems not to be a feature of the Protestant approach, so this might be a way to see into that aspect of Catholic life.

    ISBN 0-8198-4724-0

     

    • #25
  26. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Bryce, this is such an unusual post.  I hesitated to comment.  If I understand you correctly, you have decided to become a Catholic without knowing what Catholicism actually teaches.

    I’m a Protestant, and have a number of serious criticisms and concerns about Catholicism.  My recommendation is that you look into both sides of the issue, but it’s up to you.

    If you want a Catholic viewpoint, my impression is that Bishop Robert Barron is quite excellent.  He has many talks available on YouTube, and seems to be a very knowledgeable, charming, brilliant, and quite admirable advocate for the Catholic church.

    • #26
  27. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge
    DonG (skeptic)
    @DonG

    Since you are getting married, I suggest book on Catholic Marriage.   Making faith part of your marriage is rewarding and will help your marriage last a lifetime.  Matthew Kelly is a good author.

    The Seven Levels of Intimacy

    • #27
  28. Snirtler Inactive
    Snirtler
    @Snirtler

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    When you find the time purchase a Catechism of the Catholic Church.

    In religion class, we used pocket Q&As of the Catechism like Fr John Hardon’s. Yes, we memorized the succinct answers to terse questions that spanned all of Catholic doctrine.

    We can’t disdain the memory work that learning the faith involves. In the same way that a doctor can’t be one without having memorized and being able to spit out (without googling) basic anatomical terms, one can’t be an adherent of Catholicism without being able to spit out the basics of Catholic doctrine.

    The Catechism is free on the Vatican website. And if you want to go deep, check out the footnotes. They’ll point you to Scriptures, the writings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, papal encyclicals, council writings, etc. (To be fair, that’s an entire lifetime’s study.)

    • #28
  29. Snirtler Inactive
    Snirtler
    @Snirtler

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Obviously the Bible itself.

    Find something by my homeboy Michael Foley on Catholicism. Give the future kids Gus Finds God, and they’ll learn Augustine before they know what’s happening to them.

    Jaroslav Pelikan is probably a real winner. But probably long. I ain’t even read him.

    I’m a fan of original sources. Augustine is great, and grandfather to us Reformation peeps as well. I know some weirdos who write books about Augustine.

    And Aquinas is great. Chesterton rocks.

    I should shut up. One more suggestion: If you wanna get some philosophy mixed in, do some Edward Feser or Robert Wood.

    Philosophy is the handmaid of theology. Try Peter Kreeft’s Summa of the Summa before or while you study Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae. Also Kreeft’s Handbook of Christian Apologetics.

    See Catholic historian Christopher Dawson’s The Formation of Christendom and The Dividing of Christendom.

    And if your list isn’t long enough, more Catholic philosophers and intellectuals:

    • Josef Pieper’s Guide to Thomas Aquinas; The Four Cardinal Virtues; Leisure, The Basis of Culture
    • Fr Ronald Knox’s The Belief of Catholics (and collections of his homilies)
    • St John Henry Newman’s works here. His sermons are simultaneously prayer and study. He’s a saint and writer who helps us wrestle with what threatens our faith in these times.
    • #29
  30. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Snirtler (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Obviously the Bible itself.

    Find something by my homeboy Michael Foley on Catholicism. Give the future kids Gus Finds God, and they’ll learn Augustine before they know what’s happening to them.

    Jaroslav Pelikan is probably a real winner. But probably long. I ain’t even read him.

    I’m a fan of original sources. Augustine is great, and grandfather to us Reformation peeps as well. I know some weirdos who write books about Augustine.

    And Aquinas is great. Chesterton rocks.

    I should shut up. One more suggestion: If you wanna get some philosophy mixed in, do some Edward Feser or Robert Wood.

    Philosophy is the handmaid of theology.

    Try Peter Kreeft’s Summa of the Summa before or while you study Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae. Also Kreeft’s Handbook of Christian Apologetics.

    See Catholic historian Christopher Dawson’s The Formation of Christendom and The Dividing of Christendom.

    I know nothing of Dawson, but I certainly second Kreeft!

    • #30

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