Something going on

After stumbling upon a copy of Pillar of Fire, Pillar of Truth last night in my bookcase and reading it, something is not, I dont know, giving me peace. This afternoon, I decided to do some reading in the CCC. Guys, I cant explain it, but I want to really know, really learn, what the Catholic Church really means, what it really teaches. This may sound dumb since I am Catholic, but have been sorely disillusioned of late and was going the more Sola Scriptura and non-denominational route. I have so many questions and doubts about the Church, and yet, I can help feeling compelled to surrender to it, if that makes sense.

Now I dont think I will ever be as traditional as some here (I have no problem with the NO Mass, for example, and I find the Douay-Rhiems Bible difficult to follow, though I own a copy), but, what are some good resources to learn more? Someone had posted a link for Papal encyclicals online, and reading a couple of them was like discovering treasure!

You found the perfect resource: the CCC. You won’t do better than that.

Find an orthdox parish (there ARE perfectly orthodox NO parishes and contrary to what some here will say, you don’t have to look that far) and talk to their priest. Also, I suggest that you contact Fr. Vincent Serpa here at Catholic Answers. He’s an apologist, but he can also point you in the right direction.

If you find a good orthodox parish as was suggested above, you may find a “catechism for adults” class or a good RCIA program that you can sit in on to learn more about the faith. A good Catholic bible stidy group is a great resource, too…you will meet lots of faithful, helpful folks.

You can try to find different parish near you if you want. If you find a paris with perpetual adoration, you can bet they’re pretty orthodox.

You don’t have to be a TLM-attendee to be faithful and follow what the Church teaches. I’m one of those lucky folks at a great, traditional-feeling, high reverence for the Holy Eucharist, NO parishes…with perpetual adoration. And I read the NAB like crazy, baby! :slight_smile:


Coach, I’m in pretty much the same boat as you are my friend. Somewhere down the middle. Orthodox doctrinally, but I don’t mind the Novus Ordo Missae although I absolutely love the Tridentine Latin Mass (if you haven’t been you have to go!). I myself own a Douay Rheims Bible but find myself reading the Jerusalem more often. I have found Scripture Catholic’s tracts to be an invaluable resource with references to Sacred Scripture, the Catechism and writings of the Church Fathers. The Church Fathers themselves are an invaluable resource, and once you read them you’ll realize you’re in the right Church!

God Bless!

The 1984 Catechism is difficult in many places, and not very accessible to the laity, especially those trying to learn what the Church really teaches.

Go with the old Baltimore Catechism (version three, for adults). It is simple, straightforward and honest.

yay! bravo! this is exactly the response Pillar was intended to evoke. hope Karl and friends are reading this.

may I suggest if you already have a CCC and a good Catholic bible, that your next purchase be Catholocism for Dummies–don’t be offended–but it is great for those of us who learned it as kids but have forgotten or misunderstood what we were taught. This is also your “bar guide”, the way to find the short answer. It also has resources to guide you to the “long answer”.

purchase no. 4 would be the US Catholic Catechism for Adults, pricey at $25 but in a binding that should last a long time. It breaks down topics into easily digestible lessons, and incorporates both the CCC text on the topic with some of the source material (the footnotes to the CCC).

If you spent a year with this book (going back to the CCC for reference) and also with the Sunday lectionary readings and a devotional commentary on them (such as those from Word Among Us) you will be replicating what adults get in an RCIA or Confirmation class.

If doing this on your own seems very daunting, I suggest volunteering as a sponsor for the adults in those classes in your parish, they are just at the point where they need you now. Walking along and helping someone else is the best way to learn yourself.

yes papal encyclicals are a treasure, but I must confess that it takes me a year, with the assistance of a study group or study guide, to work through one of them, or through one V2 doc, they are that rich and dense. but they are not the first wave in a systematic re-education on Catholic doctrine and practice. If you read only one papal doc, please read the Gospel of Life.

If you are at the stage where a Q&A format would be helpful to you, the Compendium to the CCC is great, and so is a re-published Baltimore CAtechism for teens or adults if you can find one. despite what some may claim here, they are not in conflict, they are both attempts to comply with the pope’s request for bishops to prepare such guides, based on the general Catechism (CCC for the Comp, Roman Cat for the BC) for use in instruction of adults and youth.

If as you dig deeper in the CCC itself you find yourself drawn to those footnotes, eager to find the sources in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition for the teaching, purchase the companion volume to the CCC which contains the excerpts from those sources referred to in the footnotes.

when I began discerning on whether or not to pursue my present “career” (if retired persons can be said to have careers) I began with lectio divina using the CCC, which took 10 months (continuing after I had been hired). Only then did I take a formal study course for certification.

Don’t let anyone tell you that the CCC is difficult (I use it as devotional reading). It is, as the Servant of God Pope John Paul II said, a “sure norm” for teaching the faith. You can also get hold of it’s Compendium if you want something more condensed.

Or you can go for the Catechism of St. Pius X. Like the Baltimore Catechism, it is straightforward and candid.

Of course the first catechism is probably the best you could get- Catechism of the Council of Trent. A work of art in my opinion.

Plug for my favorite catechism:

Baltimore Catechism and Mass No. 3: The Text of the Official Revised Edition 1949 with Summarizations of Doctrine and Study Helps,204,203,200_PIsitb-dp-500-arrow,TopRight,45,-64_OU01_AA240_SH20.jpg

[LEFT]Peace in Christ,

DustinsDad[/LEFT] has a lot of good (free) online bible study courses. I really enjoy them.

I’m in the same boat. I read the Catechism, the Bible, and other books relating to my personal interest i.e the Rosary and the Tridentine Mass.

The Catechism is the best in my opinion. My Priest also suggested that I buy a study bible.

May I recommend that you try to find a book called Pillar of Fire, by Karl Stern. It is tremendous.

God bless you on your journey!


One of the reasons why “traditional” folks sometimes see a “difficulty” in the new Catechism may be because it is, in a sense, very ecumenically oriented (i.e., with the “new” ecumenical orientation). Not that there’s formal error in there, but just like the Second Vatican Council, it’s very ambiguous and somewhat “soft” in the areas relating to salvation outside the Church…seems to be written specifically with an intention “not to offend”.

This section is especially illustrative of my point. Parts of it are extremely good and clear…and then parts of it seem to contradict the good and clear parts and can leave one scratching their heads. As such, it is somewhat easy to come away still confused as to the teachings of the nature of the One True Church and the very dangerous - eternally dangerous - real consequences of refusing to listen to Her.

I say this because much of the OP’s confusion and “crisis” seems to be result of looking closely at the current practice and approach of ecumenism and contrasting that with the teachings of the Catholic Church regarding this issue down through the ages (see this thread). There is a tension there. To deny it is to be disingenuos.

As such, I think it would be probably helpful to him to read the present in light of the past, and not the reverse. And as such, I think reading past encyclicals and previous approved catechisms would be helpful and just what he’s looking for. The straight “meat and potatoes” presentation of the faith may be just what he needs - maybe what we all need in this day and age.

I gotta admit, I haven’t read this yet. Gonna have to look for it online.

Peace in Christ,


If one understands that current Church teaching isn’t at odds with prior Church teaching, because it cannot be, then there really isn’t a problem. Current Church teaching (the CCC, for example) simply illuminates and clarifies or further distills what’s gone before. We have to read it all whole cloth, forward and backwards. I think there is a tendency (and of course, I exclude your good self) on the part of some traditionalists to dismiss the CCC for just that reason: they think the further distillation and explication is an error.

The section you alluded to seemed pretty clear to me.

I realize that for many people, the question answer format poses fewer problems in comprehension, and that’s why I suggested it.

Sometimes that teaching can be presented more clearly than at others. How it’s presented itsn’t always equal.

Alot of it does. I think some of it fell short and actually makes things look a bit more foggy. I’m talking about the method of presentation again, not the actual teaching of the Church which cannot change so that it contradicts itself.

It’s crucial distinction when discussing things in light of the “new” ecumenism, which is itself a rather abstract and difficult to pin down notion. The “new” ecumenism is is more of a “method of presentation” of teachings than a dogmatic teaching itself (and how can it be - since it’s “new”). It’s a “movement” - and as such, I don’t think any “movement” can be a defined dogmatic reality. It can only be effective or ineffective.

I think, in my own humble opinion, that it’s been more effective at causing confusion (see OP) than in creating clarity (much less conversions).

My “good self” thanks you :wink: .

I don’t think it is exactly true that just because a presentation of the immutable truths of the Church is “new” necessarily means the new presentation is more clear - though certainly that should be a goal. I think it is true, however, that oftentimes, the more clearly something is presented, the more “offensive” it can be with those who disagree. As such, I think that in trying to be inoffensive, we often have the *unintended *side effect of being ambiguous.

And given our fallen human nature, since ambiguities can be taken more then one way - we humans often take ambiguities the wrong way. That’s why, I feel, the old unambiguous Catechisms and previous papal encyclicals are immensely beneficial and demonstrate how to and how not to “read” the new Catechism.

Parts of it are wonderful, but some parts can give the impression that it’s not normatively necessary to convert to the Catholic Church to be saved. As such, if one reads it “wrong”, one can go down the path of religous indifferentism. .

Peace in Christ,


That is not an accurate representation of what the CCC does. In the section alluded to by DustinsDad, the CCC talks about:

"Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth"273 are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: "the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements."274

Yet it makes no mention that elements of truth are mixed with profound positive errors.

There is also a mobilism at work with a degree of pyrrhonism that indicates that “the Church is realizing” things like “unity” and that truth is not static and we can never know what exactly the truth is.

Furthermore the CCC talks about “means of salvation” being present in other religions. Yet, the CCC doesn’t define them as secondary means instead of primary means.

The Church has always taught that all graces given outside the Church are for the direct purpose of leading a person into the Church where salvation is only possible.

Another example is

“Outside the Church there is no salvation”

846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? 335 Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

How did a defined dogma suddenly become a mere “affirmation?”


The “reformulation” is not a reformulation. It is a new definition.

The “reformulation” has removed the exclusivity of the Church. The object (salvation) in the dogma has become the subject in the reformulation.

“Inside and Outside” is suddenly “through” this is mobilism.

Salvation is suddenly a verb instead of a noun. “Salvation is something that comes to us” instead of salvation being a state that we move towards.

This gives the impression that “salvation” is a wave pouring out of a doorway and engulfing those outside the door.

The Church has always been compared to Noah’s Ark with the door being an entranceway to avoid being lost in the flood.

An actual positive reformulation of 'No Salvation Outside the Church" would be “Salvation is found only Inside the Church.”

I heard a priest describe the CCC as “a scam” because it destroys the clarity of the Faith. He was reminded of Isaac being deceived by Jacob. “the voice is Jacobs but the hand is Esau’s.”

This is all the influence of personalism, based on modernism. It reeks of Karl Rahner and his goofy “anonymous Christianity” ideas.


Do you deny that "many elements of sanctification and of truth"273 are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: “the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements.”???

What’s the problem with this statment???

Might I suggest that debates on the relative (de)merits of the CCC, while necessary, should not really be aired at this particular juncture. We have someone feeling pulled toward the Church and needing help to accept the call, but all he’s seeing on this thread is a bunch of people who are more attentive to bickering, so to speak, over the apparently highly unsettled teaching of that Church than to helping him personally with his journey.

Because this questioning is appaently stemming from this discussion of ecumenism and the nature of the Church. Pointing such a fellow to more of such ambiguity is only going to further confuse him.

My suspicion (and it’s only that), is that here’s a catholic person who’s been fed to the brim on the ambiguous and thus come away with the notion that all Christianity is more or less “ok” but that the Catholic Church is really just “the best”. We ride in the Cadillac to heaven, others ride to heaven in a Pinto so to speak. This is False.

When faced with the ultimate truth that there is One True Church founded by Christ Himself and outside of which there is no salvation, and discovering (by looking at the clarity of the encyclicals and catechisms of yesteryear) the clear and unambiguous presentations of this infallible dogma of the Church is a shock to many - even otherwise faithful Catholics who have been interpreting the teaching not so much in light of Apostolic Tradition as in light of “modern” ecumenism.

It’s a difficult thing to accept, ultimately it puts everything in a whole new - and I’d say awesome and humbling - light. That’s why I and others here are suggesting reading the new presentations (which are often ambiguous) in light of the old (which are much more clear and consise).

Peace in Christ,


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