The Holy Bible — If you start investigating Catholicism, we think you’ll be amazed at how verses in the Bible that never made much sense suddenly become clear.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church — Make sure to check this one out if you don’t look at anything else. If you’ve been a Protestant your whole life, you’ll be surprised to find out what the Catholic Church actually teaches. We sure were. There’s an electronic version here.
Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI (2 volumes) — The current occupant of the Chair of St. Peter is an amazing theologian whose humility comes through on every page he writes. You’ll be blown away by any of his works, including this one which he has described as his “personal search ‘for the face of the Lord.'” If you’ve ever had the impression Catholics really aren’t all that interested in a “personal relationship” with Jesus, this should dispel that notion.
To Know Christ Jesus by Frank Sheed — We were at the Catholic Information Center in D.C. and struck up a conversation with a lifelong Catholic, and we told him about our journey. He bought us this book (I know, totally random, right?), which is simply a beautiful retelling of the life of Jesus as presented in the Gospels.
The Mass by Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Mike Aquilina— This is a quick read but a wonderful book that explains the “why” and “how” of the Mass. This book also gives the revised language that will take effect during Advent of 2011.
The Church Fathers — These are some of the great heroes of the faith from the first centuries after Christ, such as Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr, and Irenaeus. The Four Witnesses by Rod Bennett is a great introduction. The Fathers by Pope Benedict XVI isn’t too shabby, either. Read the Fathers, and we think you’ll discover the same thing we did–they’re all Catholic.
Anything by G.K. Chesterton — WARNING. WARNING. Do NOT read Chesterton and take him seriously if you want to remain comfortable as a Protestant. If you’re up for an adventure, though, just start reading anything he wrote. In particular, we recommend Orthodoxy; The Catholic Church and Conversion; The Everlasting Man; and St. Thomas Aquinas: The Dumb Ox. For an excellent intro to Chesterton, read G.K. Chesterton: Apostle of Common Sense by American Chesterton Society President, Dale Ahlquist.
Anything by Hilaire Belloc — If Chesterton is wine, Belloc is beer. (Not so ironically, Jason likes Chesterton and Nikki is a big fan of Belloc.) Where Chesterton is brimming over with paradox and wit, Belloc is straightforward and to-the-point. But, just like Chesterton, he is utterly prophetic. Long before Osama bin Laden, he predicted the rise of militant Islam. Read his The Great Heresies for more. Also, if you want to understand what really happened in the Reformation, his Characters of the Reformation is excellent.
Books by Protestant Converts to Catholicism — There are a number of these, all good. We think you’ll be struck, as we were, by how they’re all very different in some ways but, in other ways, all very similar. In this vein are: Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic by David Currie; Rome Sweet Home by Scott and Kimberly Hahn; Crossing the Tiber by Stephen Ray; and By What Authority?: An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition by Mark Shea. Loss and Gain, a fictional account of conversion, written by Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman is also well-worth reading.
Humanae Vitae by Pope Servant of God Paul VI — If you’re committed to the family and to the culture of life, this is a must-read. It predicted–with 100% accuracy–what would happen if society adopted a contraceptive mentality. This, and other significant Church documents, can be found at www.vatican.va. If you want to go further on this subject, Pope Blessed John Paul II’s Theology of the Body is also critical.
Theology of the Body for Beginners by Christopher West — This is a lighter version of JP II’s Theology of the Body. While West is a somewhat controversial figure within the Church, it is still a good introduction to the Catholic approach to the culture of life and sexuality. He has also written books for teens. Read this stuff and it will change your life.
Catholicism for Dummies by Frs. John Trigilio and Kenneth Brighenti — We know. This one’s maybe a bit surprising, but the book does a good job of presenting and explaining Catholic teaching.
EWTN — We are so thankful for Mother Angelica and her amazing network. Pop it on any time, and you’re almost sure to be presented with an authentic presentation of true Catholic teaching.
The Institute of Catholic Culture, http://instituteofcatholicculture.org/ — If you live in metro D.C., we highly recommend attending the lectures sponsored by the Institute of Catholic Culture. Founder, Deacon Sabatino Carnazzo established the ICC with the intention of re-evangelizing our society. The speakers are unfailingly excellent, and the topics covered are always important and relevant. The audience is often at or over capacity, the lectures are simply that good. If you can’t make it in person, download the FREE audio files on the Institute’s site and listen to them on your iPod. You won’t be disappointed.
The American Chesterton Society, www.chesterton.org — What can we say? We love Chesterton, and we love this society dedicated to making his name a household word again. Many, many props to Dale Ahlquist for his years of work in this noble cause and for his encouragement to us in our journey.
The Catholic Blogosphere — There are some really good Catholic sites out there. We recommend Catholic Answers, www.catholic.com; Crisis Magazine, www.crisismagazine.com; The Catholic Thing, www.thecatholicthing.org; National Catholic Register, www.ncregister.com; The Coming Home Network, www.chnetwork.org; Catholic and Enjoying It! (Mark Shea’s blog), markshea.blogspot.com; and Jimmy Akin’s blog, www.jimmyakin.org.