Reading about Catholicism


Hello. I’ve been reading a little about Catholicism over the past several months, and the more I’ve read the more curious I’ve gotten. I don’t know yet that I want to become a Catholic, but for some reason not entirely clear to myself I don’t like to put the subject aside for long. I’ve been going about my reading in a rather haphazard fashion — buying several books, reading several long passages in a few of them, dipping into the others now and then as fancy strikes me. The books I’ve browsed most intently as yet are Radio Replies, The Penny Catechism, My Daily Bread and Fr. Hardon’s Catholic Dictionary. I also have a copy of the Douay-Rheims Bible with Bishop Challoner’s notes.

I’d like to pursue my studies more carefully, and I think I’ve hit on an effective plan. I should read the New Testament in the Douay-Rheims Bible from beginning to end and at the same time memorize the salient points in The Penny Catechism (I’ve already committed the Apostles’ Creed to memory), all the while with Fr. Hardon’s Dictionary at hand. It also seems good to read Fr. Rumble’s A Brief Life of Christ. If any of you have any suggestions for changing or adding to my self-imposed program, I’ll be happy to hear them. Thanks!

P.S. I hope it’s all right to post this message in this forum. It doesn’t seem to belong in any of the others.

Also, I joined these forums to learn all the more what active Catholics do, say and think.


Are you going to Mass? That’s where to start. The next step should be RCIA - the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. It is a program that leads curious/prospective Catholics through the tenets of the faith. Don’t be put off by the name, you are not obligated to become a Catholic by attending. I’ve known curious people who decided to become Catholics and prospective Catholics who chose not to complete the program.


Try to pray Catholic prayers (Rosary, LOTH) and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you everyday. Find a Catholic priest as well. God bless!


I’d suggest Trent Horn’s “Why We’re Catholic”.


Check out Bishop Robert Barron’s Catholicism


I have considered attending Mass at least once, as I’ve been curious about what goes on during one. I’ve been a little worried as to how to conduct myself there, since I’m only an observer and not a Catholic. I note what you say about RCIA, but still I’d feel bad about taking the program and not finishing it, as though I were wasting my instructors’ time. It seems better for now to do research in private.


Maybe I’ll pick that up. I already have G. K. Chesterton’s The Catholic Church and Conversion, which I suppose is on the same theme, so I’ll likely give that a look first. Thanks for the suggestion!


You’re more than welcome to go to Mass and observe. Sit in the back, if it would help. Sit when everyone sits, stand when they stand, kneel when they kneel, if you’d like, though some people sit at that point. You conduct yourself by watching attentively, following along, making the responses if you’d like. Just make sure you don’t present yourself for communion.

As for RCIA, there’s no shame in taking it and not completing it. Sometimes people take RCIA because they’re just inquiring. You wouldn’t be wasting anyone’s time in doing this.

You are in my prayers.



Just a heads up if you have never been to a Catholic Mass.
The sign of peace involves some hand shaking and and saying, “peace be with you”. And many parishes hold hands during the Lord’s Prayer. And of course the offering basket gets passed through each row. Don’t be nervous about any of that. Other than that, as stated, stand with everyone else and be be seated with everyone else.
Do you have a “Protestant” Christian background or no?


Thanks for the heads-up. I was baptized as an infant in one of the Eastern Churches (not sure which one, oddly enough) but otherwise had a perfectly secular upbringing — no church, no prayers, no Sunday school, no nuthin’. I have, however, been curious about Christianity since my teens, and have read about it with varying degrees of interest over the years. It’s only in the past year that I’ve begun to study it more carefully — not yet as carefully as I could, but I’m getting there.


“Catholicism for Dummies” is actually a pretty good book. Really, there is so much to recommend to you that it is hard to select! I like Fr. Jacque Philippe’s books on the spiritual life, for example, but everyone will have their own favorites. Do a search here and you will find many other threads with book recommendations.
Best things you can do are to educate yourself by reading and attend Mass, besides of course praying every day for guidance. You are most welcome to go to Mass at any time, just not receive Holy Communion. Just locate your local parish and show up. As others have mentioned, the RCIA program is for inquirers; you don’t have to commit to Catholicism to attend. Good luck and I hope you continue on this path!


Books by Scott Hahn would be a good addition to your reading list. Dr, Hahn and his wife are converts themselves. He’s a wonderful theologian. His books are sound, easy to read and he injects humor into his writing.

God bless you in your journey. Draw near to him and he will draw near to you.


LOVE “Searching For and Maintaining Peace”. Need to read that one again!

Frank Sheed and Peter Kreef are two authors I’d recommend.

If you like Science Fiction, or philosophy, John C. Wright’s conversion story is a good one


You are not required to hold hands during the Our Father at any Mass even if most of the parish is doing it. You are also not obligated to put anything in the basket although it is appreciated if you do.

As Father stated above, just go, sit in the back and observe for a time. In the pew there may be a card with the order of the Mass and the responses. You can also watch Mass on EWTN or YouTube. There are many sites to learn about the Mass but this is a very reliable site:

Reading about the Church is great way to learn about the Catholic faith. Going to Mass is the way to see Catholicism in action.


Speaking as a convert … when I first began attending Mass I’d sit at least in the middle or further back. Just watch what everyone else does. If you don’t know some of the responses, that’s fine too. Nobody will take notice.


I concur with the other suggestions above. I’ll add one book I rarely see anyone mention that I found particularly helpful as a Protestant->Catholic convert (for perspective, not necessarily theology).

Why Do Catholics Do That? by Kevin Orlin Johnson


After you’ve read the Catholic Bible, I would suggest reading writings of The Apostolic Fathers and The Imitation of Christ.


Pray, as said above, and get a good priest to ask anything you need to know.
The Catechism of St. Pius X is a good and brief explanation of the Catholic doctrine, unless of course you want everything detailed, then you should get the Roman Catechism and/or the Catechism of the Catholic Church.


Reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church really helped me know what the Church does & does not believe.

Then watching EWTN especially the Journey Home.

Search you tube for Deep in History


I would suggest the Institute of Catholic Culture. It’s free to register and they have over 800 hours of archived videos of talks on liturgy, theology, the sacraments, apologetics, saints, you name it they’ve got it. They also have free live webinars. You can always rewatch these on their YouTube channel or their website. My favorite is the Sunday Gospel Reflection for both the Roman lectionary and the Byzantine lectionary.

The Institute was founded by Father Hezekias of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church and the speakers are all top theologians of the Catholic and sometimes Orthodox world.

Hope this helps.


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