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Roman Catholic books like the Baltimore Catechism, the Catholic Bible, the Liturgy, and the many stories about saints teach us to know, love and serve God in this world so as to be happy with Him in Heaven. These are the books you'll need to keep living the Faith:
The question is, "How do you know if a book is Catholic?"
Other catechisms (and even higher level volumes in some of these same series) vary some words, which is not always bad; yet some omit or remove questions on Creation, Original Sin, Heaven and Hell; remove definitions (What is Confirmation? as opposed to the subjective, "What does Confirmation do for you?"); and make the answers for confession plural.
Yes, many questions can be answered in the possessive plural without changing the meaning much, but Confession is a singular matter. You may have heard more than one parish priest admonish his congregation not to confess the sins of others.
You'll want to chose to use the versions of books with Imprimatur that do not remove the truths about the Faith and that use definitions rather than subjective answers. Learning the Catholic Faith well often depends on choosing Catholic books carefully.
Books are specifically Catholic if they were written by Catholics on Catholic doctrine, and approved of, and used by the Catholic Church.
They're important because they teach the faith and help us keep the faith.
Why is this important? Catholics can not study books of other religious persuasions on the subject of religion, and then hope to learn how to get to Heaven or to live a Catholic life on earth. It's common sense.
In the beginning books were hand written so they were rare and costly. Now they're available in many formats: books, audio, and online.
For centuries the main Catholic books were treasures that taught the faith. The main books that were widely available were the Catholic Bible, the Liturgy books, the Martyrology, and local catechisms until The Catechism of the Council of Trent was finished.
Thank God for the many companies who have preserved older Catholic books because they've been an important part of keeping our lives "on track". The trouble is that fewer companies are keeping these books in stock and fewer are leaving the text unchanged.
Other books that are written by Catholics and discuss Catholic topics are Catholic insofar as they agree with or teach the Catholic Faith. Catholics write bazillions of other books, too.
The main Catholic book is the Bible. See more here:
When searching for prayer books you sometimes need to specify the term Roman Catholic prayer books since there are Anglican "Catholic" books, etc.
Once you know the Catholic principles you can discern whether other books are Catholic or not. The catechism is the fundamental of Roman Catholic books for determining which books are good and which are not. A good catechism book has all the basic answers.
These books offer the Catholic principles necessary to learn to practice the Faith well enough to live the faith. You must know what is right so you can choose what is right.
Our first recommendation is to learn the basic Catholic beliefs as taught in a catechism such as the Baltimore Catechism for children (This can be an easy way for an adult to learn, too, like using Cliffs Notes). The Catechism of the Council of Trent and The Catechism Explained are excellent for high school and adult students.
Deharbe's Small Catechism from Christian Book Club of America is a most concise and helpful book, especially for older students who do not need the visual aid of pictures (RCIA, CCD, Catholic Religious Education).
This is one of the very few catechisms where I've not had to use white-out. It's a parallel to the Baltimore.
The Catechism in Pictures, Studere Educational Trust, Palayamkottai, INDIA, phone # 91 462 572 389
This book is full of beautiful artwork plates which are a catechism in themselves. Young and old will learn and marvel as they read and look at these beautiful pictures. You'll marvel at the details.
There is no mistaking Hell here! The main place that you will find it available in the US is at the Immaculata Book Store, phone # 785-437-2409. (It goes in and out of print because they are small publishers, so keep checking. It's worth it!) (Blue on flat paper.)
Currently, the main catechisms we know to recommend for students who are able to study Catholic books on their own are:
These catechisms are excellent for high school and college level study.
The first and last are published by Tan Books and the other is produced by Instauratio Press, now known as St. Benedict's Book Club.
Another real gem was Children's Retreats, by Rev. Fr. Halpin, Lepanto Press, Post Falls, ID. It has a section on the sacraments of Penance (Catholic Reconciliation), First Holy Communion and Confirmation followed in another part by stories to exemplify each of these three sacraments. It is seems to be meant for teachers or older students, and it teaches a great deal as it goes. It offers much that one can retell for a younger child as Father does in the book and it is one of my favorite supplemental Catholic books for sacrament preparation.
A great companion book to the First Communion Catechism year is Jesus Comes, Book 2 from the Our Holy Faith series published by Neumann Press, Long Prairie, MN.
This is the best Baltimore Catechism version for First Communion in over fifteen years of purposeful comparison. We were thrilled to find it after having had the same material taught by religious sisters to most of our children.
It also has the fewest omissions. The pictures are sweet and modest. It was easy to teach about Adam, angels, Abraham, Moses, the Holy Family, the Catholic Ten Commandments and the Catholic sacraments.
You can use the book as a photo album, flipping to the pictures about the ideas that you review. When we used it as a photo album, we would flip through the pictures asking who the pictures represented and what those people did.
The modest pictures helped to expand the Bible stories which help any poll-parrot drill make sense to your children.
They offer the best Catholic answers to the Baltimore Catechism questions. The St. Anne's Helper First Communion Audio CD (or Download) concurs with the Confirmation Audio Helper CD. The few questions (Ten Commandments, Blessed Trinity, definitions of the Catholic sacraments, etc.) that are the same in each catechism, have the exact same answers which spares confusion.
The New Catholic Picture Bible can be a great photo album of salvation history for both children and adults (Cliff notes?!). It is used in the Catholic home school curriculum at Our Lady of Victory School. Noe and some prophets are given the Protestant spellings of their names (which is a signal to beware), but we have otherwise used that book as a great visual memory aid (like a photo album) and as an early history book as well as a mini Roman Catholic Bible which seems to concur in meaning with the Douay-Rheims version.
It can be a great help liturgically, too, because the Nativity story has such good pictures and stories for the Roman Catholic Advent season and the Christmas season, the Passion of Jesus for the Lenten season and so forth. This is also useful for teaching the mysteries of the Rosary.
The Living My Religion series is used at OLVS, too, and made a great "reader" for our first few years. It was the first set of Catholic text books that we had used when we began to use a Catholic home school curriculum.
You can also use these as grade appropriate readers. It's fun to see the nuances the children will gather from their own reading!
It is also a great companion set for expanding your children's knowledge of the catechism toward the information necessary for Confirmation. OLVS has republished this set with a workbook for the first book.
The following books are more for high school and college level reading; yet if you are teaching about Confirmation, you'll find that these have all the answers and explanations.
The Catechism of the Council of Trent (CCT) offers high school and adult level study of these same principles and they are surprisingly easy to read and understand. The CCT was the foundation for the Baltimore Catechism and many Catholic catechisms since that time.
The Baltimore Catechism is in a more concise question and answer format for easy memorization of specific answers.
The Catechism Explained expands the Baltimore Catechism for adults and has an excellent Index in the back compared to most books of that era.
Further study and reference to sources at a higher level can be found in the book The Church Teaches since it has quotes from the Doctors of the Church. If you are beginning to study the Catholic Faith as an adult, be encouraged that you only need one good catechism. One good book is all that's necessary to learn the basic Catholic truths.
See our Catholic answers page to see that most Baltimore Catechisms concur with very little difference in the wording of catechism questions and answers. The discrepancies are few, especially where there are no expansions; but you'll want to know where the differences are.
Reading the lives of the saints helps your faith come to life.
Real Books - Really. Really Good Catholic Books :-)
These reading lists should be a big help for various levels:
Many of these books could also be read during the school year, but these are also less "text booky", or more interesting in and of themselves, not merely books for information during the school year.
All these books are edifying and many are also very interesting for adults, especially the high school reading list. You'll find these on some Catholic homeschool books reading lists, too.
As there are plenty of secular book lists available, these next are specifically Catholic books that are rare and hard to find.
These are excellent books, too:
Catholics appreciate the many old Catholic books that these companies have published:
You'll especially like that Mother of Our Savior's Refuge of Sinners Publishing republishes their books with no changes.
TAN used to do the same, although it would also publish newer works. TAN Books company has been sold, so you may have to double check the new versions to see if any changes in the books are noted.
I wish I'd had this list thirty years ago. Better, I wish my teachers had used these books when I was in school.
There are also others who have worked to republish and restore good books like Our Lady of Victory homeschool and other Catholic homeschool companies.
We are so fortunate that there are so many Roman Catholic home school programs available today. The new textbooks read better than textbooks did 30 and 40 years ago.
Many homeschool books teach their subjects better, too. Many Catholic home school curriculum publishers have rewritten old Catholic books that needed updating for Catholic homeschooling or have gone to great effort to republish authentically Catholic books.
The Catholic Church has some antique children's books that are most endearing. Neumann Press has a very nice selection of republished old children's books and song books. This company was bought by the new TAN Books which has retained many Neumann titles.
Catholic audio books make it easy to learn the truths of the Catholic Faith and to hear the stories of the saints.
Faith comes through hearing and, if you do not have good sermons available, you'll need to read them. Many Catholic audio books offer you the same benefits as reading or listening to a sermon.
Two excellent times to have an audio book are
The best Bible audio books we've listened to is the Audio Douay-Rheims Bible.
Out of print Catholic books are super cheap at Amazon or even at Archive.org. They're taken from libraries and other sources so you'll have the world's best Catholic library at your finger tips.
It's often hard to search those sites for Catholic books unless you know the names of the books or the authors. Once you have these then you can search online.
Here are some books that we have put in PDF format:
Ebooks - Download to computer before putting on Ipad:
Again, for catechisms you'll like Saint Anne's Helper First Communion (Volume 1) and Catholic Confirmation (Volume 2) Audio Catechisms (CDs and Downloads) and their companion Catechism Copybooks (Manuscript or Cursive Writing Ebooks) to lighten the study and teaching effort in learning the Catholic Religion. The audios are great for both children and adults.
See our Catholic Reading List for more good reading suggestions.
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A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture combines the Bible and the catechism. I wish all books were this good.
The The Catechism In Pictures (69 Large Full Color Classic Pictures - see the previews) even more precise especially when teaching children! The pictures alone teach the Faith better than most catechisms.
Use printables in your Roman Catholic catechism class, Faith formation, or Sunday school lesson.