In Catholic, Christianity on February 21, 2009 at 8:31 pm
This title of this post will seem odd to Catholics, and improbable to fundamentalist and some evangelical Christians. I ask forbearance. Since I regularly use the term “Catholic Christian” in posts to Christianity Richly, it deserves explanation.
The two words are redundant for anyone who has entered the Church. To say Catholic is to say Christian—and to say it with intensity, a sense of history, deep reverence, and spiritual vitality. “Catholic” is not an adjective. Catholic is a noun meaning “Christian of the all-embracing (Greek katholikos, ‘universal’) Church, the Body of Christ.”
Yet some still outside the Church view the term “Catholic Christian” as an oxymoron—contradictory terms used in connection with each other. I encountered this not long ago, talking with a homeless man. After we chatted for a bit, he said, “You’ve been so kind. You must have a good church.” I replied that I did, St. Mary’s Catholic Church. He quickly countered, “Oh, well. That may be OK for you, but I prefer the Christian religion.”
Some will smile at this anecdote. Others will find nothing ironic at all, but rather that the man’s statement mirrors their impression of the Catholic Church. If you are in the latter group (and I was at one time in my life), please be patient. You’ve found your way to this post. Read others. See what the Holy Spirit and your own sense of fairness say to you.
If you are a Catholic, I apologize for using two words where one should do.
In Catholic, Christianity, Reading Lists on February 21, 2009 at 6:49 pm
In a previous post, A Reading List, Part I, I promised a list of secondary sources that proved helpful to me. This list is longer and more subjective than the first. Even so, many more fine books might be included. All I can say is that, on my pilgrimage and given the questions I had, these books were sturdy companions. “Taste and see” (Psalm 34:8).
- Letters to a Young Catholic, George Weigel. Mentioned to me by my sister. Very much worth reading, for more than the chapter on St. Mary’s. This was among the first books that pointed to the immense richness of the Catholic Church.
- Catholic & Christian, Alan Schreck. The very first book about Catholicism I purchased. Still one of the most helpful short works I’ve read.
- Evangelical is Not Enough: Worship of God in Liturgy and Sacrament, Thomas Howard. I could not imagine (until I read Howard) anyone writing so graciously, so well, about his journey to the Church. I am grateful for the love and respect he expresses for his own biblical, evangelical background.
- Magnificat, Fr. Peter John Cameron, Editor. A helpful guide to daily prayer and Scripture reading, as well as texts used in daily Mass. Liturgical Calendar appears on the inside front cover. The daily readings selected by the editor have prompted many hours of richly blessed meditation. This is a monthly subscription publication, but single copies should be available at your Catholic bookstore.
- On Being Catholic, Thomas Howard. “We are ceremonial creatures,” Howard asserts. An invaluable book, with chapters ranging from “Glad Tidings” and “Is Man Religious?” to “Are Catholics Saved?” “Hiddenness” was a very special chapter.
- Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II, George Weigel. Highly recommended. Although lengthy, it is perhaps the best comprehensive introduction to the Church, to John Paul II, and to the years 1978-2005 one could ask for.
- Theology of the Body Explained, Christopher West. George Weigel says John Paul’s theology of the body will be one among the key contributions of his Papacy, though it may take decades to be appreciated. From Weigel’s foreword: “Some will, no doubt, find it odd that the Catholic Church takes human sexuality far more seriously than the editors of Playboy and Cosmopolitan. But that’s the plain truth of the matter.”
- The Courage to Be Catholic, George Weigel. For those concerned about the sexual and financial scandals in the Church. From Weigel’s introduction: “Like every Christian community, the Catholic Church is a Church of sinners . . . The trauma of the Catholic Church in the United States in 2002 will become an opportunity to deepen and extend the reforms of Vatican II if the Church becomes more Catholic, not less—if the Church rediscovers the courage to be Catholic” (italics mine).
- Theology and Sanity, Frank Sheed. Tremendously helpful passages include his explanation (to the extent we even can begin to explain) of the Trinity; his description of God being outside time; his analysis of man as both matter and spirit all were extraordinary—as was his continual emphasis that living sanely means living in reality, and reality is both seen and unseen.
To keep this post as compact as possible, I have included annotations about each book, but not full bibliographic citations. For additional information, or if you have difficulty finding one of these books, email me at the address shown under Welcome, at the bottom of the copyright notice.
In Catholic, Christianity, Reading Lists on February 12, 2009 at 5:27 pm
If you are being drawn to the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, or simply want to know more about what the Church believes, here is a list of references I found helpful. The list is not exhaustive, but these are primary sources that will be indispensable to you. A list of secondary sources is located here, which may also prove helpful.
By the way, if you are a Catholic Christian, these primary documents should be familiar. They describe what we believe. In them, you will begin to see the immense richness of the Church—of Christianity Richly. If these works are not familiar, then I encourage you to have a look, as well.
Finally, although Christianity Richly normally links books and articles to Web sources, I have not done so for this list. Most of these items will be readily available at your local Catholic bookstore. Your Catholic bookstore needs your support. Even more than that, a good Catholic bookstore will also become a source of support and Christian community. Visit them and take advantage of their help.
- The Holy Bible. The New American Bible, School and Church Edition, Fireside Bible Publishers (Wichita, KS).
- The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition. USCCB Publishing (Washington, D.C.).
- Christian Prayer: The Liturgy of the Hours. Catholic Book Publishing Corporation (New York, NY).
- Dei Verbum (“Word of God”). Documents of Vatican II.
- Lumen Gentium (“Light of the Nations”). Documents of Vatican II.
- Fides et Ratio (“Faith and Reason”). Encyclical, John Paul II.
If there is no Catholic bookstore in your area, or they cannot help you with one or more of the documents on this list, email me at the address shown under Welcome, at the bottom of the copyright notice. I would be happy to help you find the item or to describe any document listed here in more detail than this post allows.
In Christianity on February 5, 2009 at 5:05 pm
Psalm 63:5 “My soul will be filled as if by rich food” (Jerusalem Bible).
Christianity Richly chronicles the ongoing conversion of a Catholic Christian drawn to the Faith by its truth, goodness, and beauty. That said, “The Church proposes; she imposes nothing,” wrote Saint John Paul II (The Mission of the Redeemer). May non-Catholics and even unbelievers always find that attitude here.
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