Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tiber River Review: Catechism of the Catholic Church

After several years of dragging my feet, I finally went out and got myself a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Why did I wait so long?  Well, for starters, it's a pretty thick book with rather small type.  Honestly, that shouldn't have deterred me, but I let it as part of the litany of excuses not to pick it up.  I think what really deterred me was the assumption that I wasn’t going to find it an enjoyable read by any stretch of the imagination (and coming from someone who reads history texts for pleasure, that’s really saying something).
Once I got over the trepidation I had about reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church, I found myself faced with the daunting task of trying to decide which version I should buy.  There are really quite a lot out there from which to choose.  I initially turned to an online retailer of books to read reviews in hopes of finding the best version.  Did I want the short and sweet version?  Nah, I’m long winded, so I’ll take one the full-length version, please.  How about one with no index?  What, are you kidding me?  An index is a must.  You can’t look things up if you don’t have an index!  Did I want one that other reviewers said fell apart?  Umm, that would be a negative.  I like my books to stay in one piece, thanks.  One thing was certain, the “green one” was the catechism that many people claimed in their reviews of ones they found disappointing to be the better one.  That had me sold, but the giant online retailer didn’t sell that version.  So off I went to find a Catholic bookseller who sold this version.
I’m happy to report to you that the “green one” really lives up to all the hype.  It is thorough, and that’s good because you walk away knowing exactly what the Church teaches.  I particularly like the well-organized index.  It is invaluable when you want to look up something specific.  There is also a very thorough glossary in the back of the book that refers back to specific paragraphs in the catechism.  And to refer back to my first paragraph, I was actually surprised to find the catechism to be rather interesting and engaging.  It wasn’t the dull read that I feared it might be.
I do feel that the text for this particular catechism is on the advanced level.  It reminds me of a light version of the law books I studied in college.  If you are looking for a version that is simplified and in plain English, this is probably not the catechism for you.  However, if you are looking for a very thorough version of the catechism that has a great index and doesn’t fall apart easily (mine is still fully intact after much reading), this may very well be the one for you. You can purchase it here.

Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.


  1. Hi Karen,
    I am so happy there is another mom out there ready to tackle the Catechism from front to back over the summer. I ordered mine from Amazon. It is a compact hardcover, white with gold trim. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd ed., publisher Doubleday. I was afraid to open it for a few days then read the marriage section with my husband and thought it was so beautiful I then went and started from page 1. I was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable a read it was. I do need to read it by myself with no distractions through. I'm about one tenth through so far.

  2. I got tired of seeing it quoted on message boards and feeling out of the loop, so I had to get a copy. I wanted the paperback because it's easier for me to hold when I'm curled up on the couch. I considered the one you have. I jump around in the book depending on what interests me at the moment and then I get hooked and keep reading. I think Bryan would spontaneously combust if he got within 5 feet of the book. Unless they come out with a binary code version I don't see him being even remotely interested.

  3. Hey, Karen, I didn't really know how else to contact you...

    I've been contacted by Tiber River, to do reviews for them. I've haven't heard of them before and so I was hoping you can give me your personal feed back. (Email me back would be best; you can get my email addy by visiting my homeschooling blog and clicking on the words contact me right under my header)

    Thanks A Million!


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