Seek for answers, and when you find what seems to be an answer, question that too. Louis L’amour, The Walking Drum.
My return to the Catholic Church was not something that happened in an instant. The works mentioned here were read by me over a twenty year period. Here are a few golden nuggets I picked up on the way.
The Writings of the Early Church.
If one wishes to know about a period of history, what makes more sense? To ask someone who actually lived, worked, and experienced the events first-hand? Or to ask someone thousands of years and miles removed from the events who has his own prejudices? An honest historian will seek to hear the voices of those who lived the events. Here are a few:
A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, edited by David W. Bercot.
The Teachings of the Church Fathers, edited by John R. Willis.
For those unwilling to sift through the volumes of writings by the Early Church Fathers, these two books give a comprehensive reference guide of how the Early Church thought in the first 300 years. The fundamentalist will avoid these books like a vampire does the sunrise.
The History of the Church by Eusebius.
This was a major shock to me while I was still in fundamentalism. Written in the 4th century, Eusebius gives an undeniably Catholic picture of the early church. It tears apart ‘Trail of Blood’ revisionist church history.
*The City of God *and Confessions by St. Augustine.
These works fascinated me with what is a clearly Catholic view of Christianity.
The Writings of the Medieval Church
The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis.
The Soul’s Journey into God, The Tree of Life, and The Life of St. Francis by St. Bonaventure.
The Little Flowers of St. Francis, unknown.
These works blew me out of the water. How could these men, in the “DARK AGES”, write what was so obviously born of the Holy Spirit? A Kempis especially moved me and brought me to my knees.
The Writings of the Reformation, two wonderful bad examples:
Selected Works of Martin Luther.
Luther comes off as a cold theologian who appeared to lack humility and spiritual guidance. He is an angry man given to exaggerations, distortions, contradictions, inconsistencies within his own writings. Emotion, not reason, dominated his writings. His chief supporters were the humanists, rebellious, immoral clergy and those with revolutionary tendencies. The Renaissance introduced and greatly fostered the conditions Luther played into at the time. In short, Luther was not reaching back into Church history to recover Biblical Christianity (as what had been told to me), he was instead a product of his time.
Selected Works of John Calvin.
Calvin fares a little better. But his cold and lifeless approach to predestination left a sour taste in my mouth. The more I read Calvin, the less of a Calvinist I became.
The Ministry of Malcolm Smith.
Malcolm Smith is a Charismatic Episcopal Priest from England. His sermons had a major influence on why I returned to the Catholic Church. Still available on audio are these:
Preached while Malcolm was a young Pentecostal preacher in New York during the 1960s ‘renewal movement.’ This series punched a huge hole in my dispensationalist beliefs while still a fundamentalist. That led to his next series of sermons:
The Seven Covenants of Scripture.
Unfortunately no longer available.
The Power of the Holy Spirit in Liturgy.
This is perhaps, the most powerful dissertation on the Sacraments I ever heard. If one has never been a part of a sacramental church, I would recommend this series of sermons to help explain the way. Malcolm uses much scripture, and wonderful illustrations to introduce to a non-sacramental audience the beauty of the Sacraments. I also recommend:
The Holy Spirit in the Sacraments.
Covers much of the same ground, but goes much deeper.
Fundamentalism and Catholicism by Karl Keating.
The final nail in the coffin (for me) of fundamentalism. Keating writes with intelligence coupled with extensive background information that is a must read for any convert.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Recommended for anyone who wishes to know what the Catholic Church believes.
Roots of the Reformation by Karl Adam.
In this short work, Adam gives the best analysis of the Reformation I have ever read.
Journeys Home by Marcus Grodi.
The journeys of Protestant clergy back to the Catholic Church.
There were many others, but these came immediately to mind.