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Books That Helped Me Covert To The Catholic Faith

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Books That Helped Me Covert To The Catholic Faith

By: John Seiler

Summary: These are 10 great books I read as I was converting to the Catholic Faith in 1977.

Keywords: Books, Catholic Books, Books for Converts, Convert, Conversion

Those thinking of converting to the Catholic Faith are moved by God's grace. One means of that grace* is reading the books of those who already have converted. Fortunately, numerous books show how God's grace moved their lives. The 10 books listed here all are recognized as literary masterpieces even by those who are not Catholics. All have been published by orthodox Catholic publishers and now are available at a very low price, or free on the Internet. Each inspired me as I converted to the Catholic Faith in 1977. Perhaps others will find them useful.**

1. "The Confessions" by St. Augustine (published in 400). This is the incredibly moving story of the most influential Catholic theologian before St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century. Born to a Catholic mother, the great St. Monica, and a pagan father, Augustine in his adolescence fell away from the Faith and became a member of the heretical Manichaean set. He also rose to become the top speech writer for the emperor, what he later derided as being a "vendor of words." But the long prayers of St. Monica, as well as the influence of St. Ambrose, bishop of Milan, and God's grace led Augustine back into the Catholic Church.

2. "The City of God Against the Pagans," by St. Augustine (published in 426). A 1,200-page masterpiece that, according to historians, brought the Catholic Church through the next 800 years (until St. Thomas Aquinas) - through barbarian invasions, the collapse of the Roman Empire, famines and wars. It's a defense of the Catholic Church against pagans who blamed the Church for the sack of Rome in 410. He ably refutes all manner of pagans and heretics, sometimes with great humor, while contrasting the Earthly City, of sin and human error, with the Heavenly City, or City of God, of the saints beloved of God. Currently, including this year, the two cities are mixed, so those who follow the Heavenly City must suffer from those clinging to the Earthly City, until the time of Jesus' return.

3. "Apologia Pro Vita Sua" by Bl. John Henry Newman (1864). He was such a great writer that this and other books by him are included in any college survey course of 19th century English literature. The title means, "Apology for my life." At Oxford University, Newman started out trying to find what he called a "via media," or middle way, between the Catholic Church and England's main form of Protestantism. After many years of toil, he concluded that there was no "via media" - indeed, that something similar had been attempted during the Arian heresy of the fourth century! He then concluded that the Catholic Faith was the only true faith, and converted.

4. "Loss and Gain," also by Newman (1848). This is a fictional account of his conversion. It's a fine novel of a young Oxford student who struggles over religious questions on the road to becoming Catholic.

5. "The Autobiography" of G.K. Chesterton (1936). A master of literary paradox, GKC, as he's affectionately known, recounts his life, from skeptical youth, to the Catholic Faith.

6. "The Thing: Why I Am a Catholic," by Chesterton (1929). This is a brilliant defense of the Faith in GKC's inimitable style. He wrote, "It never occurs to the critic to do anything so simple as to compare what is Catholic with what is Non-Catholic. The one thing that never seems to cross his mind, when he argues about what the Church is like, is the simple question of what the world would be like without it."

7. "The Spirit of Catholicism," by Karl Adam, a German convert in the early 20th Century from Protestantism (1924). He wrote, "The Catholic cannot think of the good God without thinking at the same time of the Word made Flesh, and of all His members who are united to Him by faith and love in a real unity. The God of Catholicism is the transcendent, absolute God, who became Man for us in His Son, and therefore no solitary God, but the God of angels and saints, the God of fruitfulness and abundance..."

8. "Theology and Sanity," by Frank Sheed (1947). Converting to the Catholic Faith at age 16, he later formed, with wife Maisie Ward, the famous publishing firm Sheed & Ward (the firm collapsed after his 1982 death). He wrote, "Sanity, remember, does not mean living in the same world as everyone else; it means living in the real world. But some of the most important elements in the real world can be known only by the revelation of God, which it is theology's business to study."

9. "Brideshead Revisited," by Evelyn Waugh (1945). A Catholic convert, Waugh today is considered the finest English prose novelist of the 20th century - also the funniest. This novel is about a young Protestant who befriends a Catholic family in the 1920s, then recounts their life of trials and wars through World War II. It's twice been made into TV miniseries. Although Waugh's earlier novels largely were comic, from the time this one was written in 1945 he usually touched on Catholic themes.

10. "The Belief of Catholics," by Msgr. Ronald Knox, a convert from Protestantism, is a classic summary of the Faith (1927). When Oxford University, his alma mater, became more tolerant of Catholics, he became the school's Catholic chaplain. Knox wrote many books and was a close friend of Waugh, who wrote a biography of the priest, "The Life of Ronald Knox."

Signature ImageSignature: John Seiler

John Seiler wrote editorials for The Orange County Register for 29 years. He now writes freelance. Email: writejohnseiler(at)gmail(dot)com

* Note: This does not refer to sacramental grace, which is received via the sacraments. For more information on sacramental & other graces, please visit here.

** Reminders: We make no guarantees regarding any item herein. We do not recommend/endorse any book/author/publisher/etc. whatsoever. Use all items at your own risk.


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