A kind reader has asked that I share what resources were most helpful to me when I converted. Of course, simply going to Mass and RCIA were very helpful. You may not think of them as resources but they are! Other opportunities to engage in discussion and put on your religion “thinking cap” are also good such as groups like the Men’s Fellowship I spoke of in other posts.
If I had to name 1 resource that is critical, that would be the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is comprehensive and absolutely authoritative. I know it takes time to read, but it is so crucial to learning the faith. Nothing else is so complete and reliable. The catechism draws upon many source documents and reading those directly may also be helpful. I usually didn’t, but if you wish to further explore, it never hurts to go to the source. For example, Human Vitae (a Papal Encyclical written by Pope Paul VI) is often cited as an excellent framework for understanding the Catholic teaching on sexual matters.
I probably spent the greatest amount of time with excellent online resources. However you must be very careful. While there are hundreds of good sites, there are unfortunately hundreds of bad ones too. Just because a site has “Catholic” in its name does not mean it adheres to Catholic teaching. There are many examples of this, but the “poster child” for this genre of websites has to be Catholics for Choice a pro-abortion organization.
It would be great if there were some sort of “seal of approval” for online content. As a practical matter, that is impossible for several reasons. Just be careful out there. Reading the Catechism early on will help you make good judgments about the nature and intent of online sites as you encounter them. For example – sites that promote abortion, homosexuality, women priests, and similar viewpoints are attempting to pressure the Church to change her teaching. That is impossible, the truth does not change. These sites are in opposition to the Church, seek to undermine her and have their own agendas. Go to them if you want, but know they are often driven more by the Devil then inspired by the Holy Spirit.
So, what are some of the good sites? My #1 is Catholic Answers. There are many good articles and the apologetics area of the forum is excellent. They can be trusted. Also, the forum in general is very good – but a forum none-the-less. There will be all sorts of viewpoints, but you will learn well from the majority of the posts. Another good resource for essays on Catholic topics is the archive of Father Hardon’s writings.
Finally, there is the blogosphere. There are many, many faithful Catholics who wish to share their faith. I strongly recommend that you explore these resource and learn how to “subscribe” (get updates) to their content. The only note of caution is that they (including this blog) are certainly far from authoritative. We are amateurs trying our best. The most important thing for you to discern is that their intent is to be 100% loyal to the teaching of the Magisterium – that is the acid test.
You can find a sampling of sites I highly recommend under “Great Blogs” and “Further Reading” in the right column. If you have a question about a site, send me an e-mail message and I would be happy to share my thoughts. We are so blessed to live in this information age. Surf it wisely!