The other night in RCIA class I was in a small group and we were talking about why we were converting to Catholicism. I mentioned that it was a largely intellectual decision for me, and that the books I’d read over the past year were critical influences on my decision. Almost all the people in my group were very eager to know which books I found most helpful to my faith and my decision to become Catholic. Unfortunately I ran out of time to give them details and only managed to throw out a couple.
As a reading fanatic I was excited to see others so interested in this topic. After class I approached the Adult Education Director and asked him if he had a recommended reading list for people in RCIA. He said that he unfortunately does not, he’s simply been too busy to tackle that. I offered to take a first stab at such a list based on the books that had the most profound impact on me, and he was very enthusiastic. I was surprised at how grateful and excited he seemed. And my first thought was, “OK, gotta get my blog readers in on this.” Since he might end up actually using this list I put together I want to make sure it’s good.
Most of the people in the class are converting from other Christian denominations. A few are cradle Catholics who just need First Communion, and there are actually a couple of people like me who previously had no faith whatsoever. The vibe I get from most people is that they’re pretty committed to converting, but still a bit skeptical about certain aspects of Catholicism.
Below are the books that I’ve found most helpful:
* = I have not yet read this myself but hear it’s excellent
On the Catholic Church
- The Good News About Sex and Marriage by Christopher West
- Catholicism for Dummies by Rev. John Trigilio and Rev. Kenneth Brighenti
- By What Authority?: An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition by Mark Shea
- Making Sense Out of Scripture: Reading the Bible as the First Christians Did by Mark Shea
- How the Reformation Happened by Hillaire Belloc
- Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton
- * The Lamb’s Supper by Scott Hahn
- * Rome Sweet Home by Scott Hahn
On Prayer and Faith
- * Fire Within by Thomas Dubay
- * The Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux
On God and Jesus
- Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
- The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
- The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton
Thoughts? What am I missing? Anything I should add to/remove from the list? I’m sure there are some other good books out there about prayer and strengthening your faith.
Keep in mind that most of the audience is pretty unfamiliar with the Church, so something like Thomas Howard’s On Being Catholic is going to be too “heavy” for this list.
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