Back to Basics

Many of us identify ourselves as Roman Catholics. We go to Church on Sunday. We celebrate the major feasts of the Church and we try to lead healthy and fulfilling Catholic lives, based on the tenants of the faith, in whatever we do daily. We throw in a few Our Fathers and Hail Marys with the occasional Holy Rosary or confession, when we feel we need it.

It seems straightforward…until we are challenged. What truly does it mean to lead a Catholic life?

In my personal/public interactions with fellow Christians, I have come to realize that many of us (myself included) at times have no clue as to what we are about or why we believe what we believe. Many of us only have a superficial understanding of our faith or a misunderstanding of our faith and end up living cursory Catholic lives.

I encounter this most when I evangelize on Twitter, where an observant Bishop, Religious, or devout follower of the faith may correct me, challenge me, or enlighten me on my posted comments.

I have decided to do something about it. I not only want to live a Catholic life, I want to understand it deeply, fundamentally, profoundly. I want to live every minute and every breath I take, in the service of my Lord and my God. I have decided to go back to basics. The fundamental basics of our Catholic faith.

How will I do that? By building up a deep, sound knowledge and understanding of the faith I have been called to and have now chosen to live. 

In addition to my current practice of Bible study using commentary founded on Catholic teaching, regularly reading and studying the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and regularly reciting the Liturgy of the Hours and the Holy Rosary, I have also embarked on an aggressive reading campaign using proven classic traditional Catholic texts that are founded on traditional Catholic dogma and teaching dating back to the fathers of the Church.

Though my ‘Lifetime Catholic Reading List’ is extensive and growing, I would like to share three classics with you that are considered bulwarks within the Catholic reading world. Long forgotten by most modern day Catholics, they are now starting to make a bit of renaissance. I am encouraging you to also review these three texts and hopefully join me on my reading journey.

1. Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, by Dr. Ott (1906 – 1985)

You can read a  little more on Dr. Ott hereYou can also review his book here 

Dr. Ott (who was also a priest), accomplished in a single volume what no one had been able to complete until that time. He captured the fundamental teaching of the Church dating back to our formation from a traditional conceptualization of the faith. 

2. A General Introduction to Holy Scripture, by  Dr. A. E. Breen (1863 – 1938)

He too was a Catholic priest. You can read a little more about Dr. Breen hereYou can also review his book here.

Fr. Breen was concerned with the fact that much of the popular commentary on Scripture at the time was based on a Protestant view of Christianity. He took it upon himself to provide us with a commentary that was based on the fundamental teachings of the Catholic Church.

3. The Sources of Catholic Dogma, by Henry Denzinger  (1819 – 1883)

You can read a little more about Fr. Henry Denzinger here (he was also a Catholic priest). You can also review his book here.

Fr. Denzinger focused mostly of the sources of dogma. He focused on how and why we came to believe what we believe. In fact, the Denzinger text and the Ott text work hand-in-hand together.


There are several important points I would like share with you about these texts. 

The first is that these books were written in an era when the faith was less politicised. Thus you will get an unfiltered and perhaps a not so politically correct view of the faith. In other words all three authors ‘tell it like it is’ to heck with who might get offended outside of the faith (or within it). This is important since you are offered a fundamental true teaching rather than a ‘sweetened version’ of the teaching.

Second, these specific texts have withstood the test of time. They have been challenged and reviewed over the past century and yet still continue to be read and studied by the faithful.

Third, for those concerned about the ‘dumbing down’ of the faith, these texts will not disappoint. They stay faithful to the original teaching of the Church and offer no excuse for doing so.

I have already embarked on my journey and all I can say is, “Why did I not do this years ago?”

Copyright 2014, Luciano Corbo

Luciano Corbo

Luciano Corbo

Luciano Corbo holds a Master of Arts - Integrated Studies from Athabasca University. His major interests are Culture, Work, Organizations and Leadership, within a context of Catholic Social Teaching Principles. He writes from Canada.

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