Where to start in learning about the faith?


I’m a 20-something convert. After a little soul-searching and reading the New Testament I decided to return to the Catholic Church (I was baptized when I was younger, but received absolutely no further instruction, nor much of an example from my parents, contrary to the promises which they had made at my baptism *).

I have a real inferiority complex i suppose. I don’t know much about the faith, the bible, theology, church history, etc. The few Catholics I do meet my age (who haven’t joined the other lapsed catholics in the utter collapse of the faith since Vatican II) went to Catholic schools usually and have been learning this stuff since they were children. I guess it’s coming up on two years now that I’ve been trying to be a good Catholic, but I’m still just so ignorant of everything.

So for example, I have absolutely no idea what Trent or Vatican II really was about, what infralapsarian/supralapsarian, soteriology is, synergistic/monerygystic understanding of the economy of salvation, blah blah blah…all this kind of theology seems so far away from me. This goes as well for the Bible and Church history.

Added onto that, I’m involved with a catholic group that is pretty much like a catholicized campus crusade for christ. They are very focused on evangelization, but not so much on learning deeply about the faith, just an easy (and worryingly protestant/evangelical/man centered) version of the faith. Now given the utter collapse in Catholicism since Vatican II, this group is trying very hard to grow and reach more people. But I would assume they’re not focused on people who were raised atheist like me, but those many, many lapsed catholics. Anyways they always push me to share my faith, but I just really don’t know how to do this because I don’t understand enough to explain it clearly what I believe. What they tell me to say sounds so protestant that I don’t really find it effective anyway, just more white noise to repeat without any meaning.

So what’s the deal here? Is my problem that my “personal relationship with Jesus” isn’t what it should be? Is that why I’m so anxious all the time about my ignorance?

Honestly I sometimes question what I believe because I don’t know anything about the Old Testament, theology, nor 2,000 years of church history. And then when I try to start I just feel “information overload” and fall away soon enough.

And where does one start? Should one get a grasp of solid philosophy before studying theology like they do in seminary? Or should one begin with the Bible and Theology?

Also, what’s the time frame from becoming a neophyte who’s still feasting on the “milk” to eating “the solid food”? I really would like to know this so I can be realistic and stop being so anxious about my ignorance.

I’ve tried following along with the RCIA class, because I’m hoping to be confirmed this easter. But the lessons are based on the catechism, which for me is just so hard to understand. It’s so obscure and theological language is like trying to read a medical journal.

If you’ve read this far thanks and maybe add a comment.*


There is a very good book out called “Catholicism for Dummies” as a Convert I found it excellent and would be the same for learning about the faith. Maybe when next in Confession ask the priest to recommend some good books, better still look to see what they have in your local Library.

There is plenty of reading material also online, go into a Catholic Book shop and have a chat with the assistant and she will recommend a few books for you also.

God Bless and Walk with the Lord


First and foremost I would take all your presuppositions about the faith and push them aside and start fresh with an open mind because those errors are probably stumbling blocks and distractions. Catholicism didn’t fall apart after Vatican 2, but some peoples interpretation of it did, but Pope John Paul 2 was an excellent example of the spirit of that council and he articulates how it should be lived out. His letters and teachings are well worth studying.

That being said, a very valuable place to start would be the Catholic Answers website and the many tracts that cover all binding doctrines and all the hard questions. The tracts are very good yet concise enough to be read quickly. Also this forum is a wonderful place to discuss and ask questions because you get to see informed Catholics in action. And also reading the Bible should be done. And read the Catechism. As for reading the Bible just pray first for guidance and pick a book such as the Gospels and start reading. As for the Catechism use the index and find topics that you are most interested in and read. Its really as simple as that.


I only have one thing to offer. Since you are struggling with the Catechism I would recommend reading the Youcat. Its made for young adults like us and the language is a lot easier to understand.


If you find the Catechism difficult , read the summations at the end of each chapter.

Understanding the Scriptures
A Complete Course on Bible Study
The Didache Series
Author: Scott Hahn, Ph.D.

This is a wonderful book which I think you would find quite helpful.

God bless you on your quest.


With all due respect to Estevao and to all who have responded, the first thing any Christian should be doing is praying. All the books in the world are useless without a life of prayer.

Estevao, this statement is what makes me wonder. If you are not praying then you need to start. If you have a rich life of prayer then good for you. Keep it up and take the excellent advice given to you by others on this thread.

There is an ancient saying in the Church…

“The one who prays is a theologian; the one who is a theologian, prays.”

This was the good advice given to me by the monks. Desire for academic knowledge about the faith is not the same as a desire to know the mystery of God himself, and that only comes when study is watered with prayer.



I have learned that these are two separate things. I was sustained knowing my personal savior was with me even though I was essentially raised outside the church. My husband, on the otherhand, approached the faith without so much of a personal relationship with Christ.

He is the theologian, able to explain the nuances in different denominational views. For years he listened to online debates and seminars, and was influenced mostly by Scott Hahn, Sungenis,and other Catholic apologists. So my husband can explain the Catholic faith, I am just content in knowing my God and my savior.

PS. My husband doesn’t have time to read, so he catches snippets of these audio/video and studies them. He has been doing this for many years.





With all due respect to your husband, if he does not pray then he needs to start. Not praying is pride.

Books help us to know things about God. Prayer is where we come to know God. Our journey of faith starts on our knees, not in a book.



Relax, you don’t need to be a theologion/historian. Salvation isn’t a theology quiz. Meet with a priest to see how to enter full communion. Pray, treat everyone with love, come to mass, confess your sins. You will learn what you need to learn.


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