I was in a crowd of thousands of young people, listening to a talk on being transformed as a disciple of Christ by the author and theologian, Dr. Edward Sri. His words hit me.
A good father warmly welcomes the scribbles of a toddler, but as we grow we are to improve and get better.
These words challenged me to spend time reflecting on what “scribbles” I have been giving to the Lord.
As a cradle Catholic, I know that I sometimes take for granted the true awe-someness of our Faith. I am grateful that there are resources out there for people like me, who need to be reminded of the beauty of Catholicism, as well as those who are discovering it for the first time. Here are a few worth mentioning.
A Memoir and Letters
My Sisters the Saints by Colleen Carroll Campbell
Campbell, a former presidential speechwriter, shares her spiritual memoir by telling the stories of how six female Saints profoundly and positively impacted her life (specifically the lives of Teresa of Avila, Therese of Lisieux, Saint Faustina, Edith Stein, Mother Teresa, and of course, the Blessed Mother).
Campbell pulls from both the writing and lived examples of these women to show how they are relevant in our lives today.
Letters To A Young Catholic by George Weigel
This papal biographer and internationally-known author compiled a collection of letters for all those who are wondering what it really means to be a Catholic. He walks the reader through Catholic landmarks including Chartres Cathedral in France to the favorite pub of G.K. Chesterton in Oxford.
In these pages, you will find an uplifting perspective on what it means to be Christian and what history, literature, theology, and music have to do with it.
Sri walks the reader through a “tour” of the Mass by explaining the history and significance of the words and gestures we use in the liturgy.
For example, the Sanctus. Sri writes that when we pray Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of hosts, “we are preparing to encounter the King of Kings, the all-holy divine Lord, who will become present on the altar. No wonder we fall to our knees in reverence after singing this hymn.” We are joining our voices in the heavenly hymn of praise.
I get it. Sometimes even looking at the Catechism can seem overwhelming. It is a thick book, and based on the cover, it looks pretty dry. But the Catechism is a font of knowledge on essential Christian truths and it was written in a way that anyone could pick it up and understand it’s teaching.
While it was intended to be a resource for those who are teaching catechesis, it was also written for the universal church and includes references from church fathers, writings of the Saints, papal documents, and liturgical texts. The book is divided into four major parts:
- The Creed ( What the Church believes)
- The Sacraments (What the Church celebrates)
- The Commandments (What the Church lives)
- The Our Father (What the Church prays)
Pope Saint John Paul II, who promulgated the writing of the Catechism, said that it “is offered to all the faithful who want to understand better the inexhaustible riches of salvation”.
Hint: At the end of each section, there is a short summary of the teaching titled “In Brief”. This can be helpful if you’re searching for a topic, or need help summarizing what you just read.
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Brideshead Revisited by Eveyln Waugh
Time magazine included this novel in their top 100 list of English language novels of the 20th century. The protagonist, Charles Ryder, goes to Oxford in the 1930s. Here he becomes good friends with an upper-class, but imperfect Catholic family who own a home called Brideshead.
The more he gets to know them, the more he contemplates the different personalities of each member and how they respond to things like depression, addiction, and suffering. This is a beautiful novel on grace and what it looks like when grace is rejected and accepted.
On Air and Online
The mission of Relevant Radio is to use media to bring Christ to the world. They are known for helping “people bridge the gap between faith and everyday life.” I had the opportunity to interview the executive director/CEO of Relevant Radio, Father Rocky Hoffman, about why he thinks the radio is still relevant in the world today. He had some really good answers which you can read here.
Catholics Come Home
This website dedicates an entire section of their site to commonly asked questions by both Catholics and non-Catholics. One area has thorough answers for questions on “The Eucharist and the Mass,” “The Church and the Papacy,” “Mary and the Saints,” etc., as well as an option to simply read two-minute answers to your questions.
Personal Life Stories
Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism by Dr. Scott and Kimberly Hahn
Presbyterian minister and biblical scholar, Scott Hahn, and his wife thought that the Catholic Church had everything wrong. Yet the more Scott Hahn learned, the more he realized that the Church provided answers to his questions.
This book tells the conversion story of not only Scott, but also his wife Kimberly, who initially struggled with Scott’s newfound love for the Church.
Crossing The Tiber by Stephen Ray
He is known for his biblical teachings and leading pilgrimages with his wife, Janet, both of whom were previously Evangelical Protestants. However, when he began studying the early Church Fathers he was convinced of the authenticity of the Catholic Church.
In this book, Steve goes into detail in his teaching about both Baptism and the Eucharist as well as the ancient Church while also taking a close look at sola Scriptura and Tradition.
How do you explain the Catholic Faith to those who don’t believe in God, are “spiritual” but not religious, or are Christian but think Catholics have it all wrong, or even Catholics who don’t buy into all the teachings of the Church?
Trent Horn has spent a lot of time sharing about why he is Catholic with each one of these demographics. In his book he provides clear, charitable, and helpful answers for both skeptics and seekers alike.
The Augustine Institute has amazing and engaging resources like study programs, books, videos, and talks, all created to help us better understand the Catholic Faith and equip us to live it and share it.
One of their offerings are Lighthouse Talks, which are about one hour in length and cover dozens of topics. One of these topics include Apologetics, with titles like Confessions From A Mega-Church Pastor, as well as the conversion story of a Jehovah’s Witness and a Mormon Missionary.
Rise Up: Shining with Virtue Devotional from Blessed is She
This is a beautiful collection of our Catholic Faith brought together by over a dozen Blessed is She writers. This devotional was created specifically for children ages 8-12 and is focused on the virtues taught by Saint Thomas Aquinas in the Summa.
It received the imprimatur from Bishop Olmsted in the Diocese of Phoenix, which means that it is free from doctrinal error.
We are all in need of constant conversion. As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, Jesus came into the world “to speak to us of the Father; to make him known to us lost children, and to resurrect in our hearts the joy of belonging to him, the hope of being forgiven and restored to our full dignity, the desire of always dwelling in his house, which is also our house.”
God’s house is your house. What joy is God the Father trying to resurrect in your heart?
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