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Maria V. Gallagher reviews the new book, Catholic Essentials: A Guide to Understanding Key Church Teachings.

I grew up as a member of the “Caring & Sharing Generation.” It was a time when religious curriculum in my parochial school focused on the concepts of caring and sharing. It is certainly important to care and share, but, somehow, the tenets of the Catholic faith passed my perception. I do not blame my teachers—I am sure they meant well. However, as a young adult, I did not know what constituted a mortal sin (a co-worker at a radio station had to inform me).

That may be why I jumped at the chance to review Catholic Essentials: A Guide to Understanding Key Church Teachings by noted television host Fr. Wade L.J. Menezes, CPM, from EWTN Publishing. This spiritual handbook is a godsend for Catholics who may not have been catechized properly. It would also be helpful for those who are curious about the Catholic faith and want to learn more about it.


Catholic Essentials

The book is dedicated to “all who practice their Catholic Faith with great fervor, for the lukewarm, and for those who have abandoned it”—those in the last category are encouraged to “soon return.”

Catholic Essentials covers morals, dogma, ecclesiology (the study of the Church), sacraments, and the liturgy. But it divides up the subject matter in easily digestible nuggets that the reader can reflect on and ponder—even if he or she has only a few minutes to spare. The book is a treasure trove of information, offering everything from the fourteen works of mercy to the four cardinal virtues … from duties of parents to the divinity of Jesus Christ.

It does not shy away from controversy but offers the love and reasoning behind Catholic teachings. In the book’s carefully crafted pages, the reader will see the beauty which the truths of the faith have to offer. The teachings are supported by Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the words of the Holy Fathers.

As a result, Catholic Essentials is both authoritative and accessible, speaking to both the head and the heart. It is the type of book you are likely to turn to again and again for a refresher course on the Catholic faith.

As the author explains,

The eighty-one chapters of this book were originally written as catechetical ‘interstitial’ scripts for the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN). Interstitials are short television spots made to air at the top and bottom of the hour as the day progresses. These chapters come from three distinct interstitial television series I have hosted for EWTN: Crux of the Matter, The Wonders of His Mercy, and In Defense of the Eucharist.


Fr. Menezes notes that Vatican II teaches that “every disciple of Christ … has the duty of spreading the faith” and that “on all Christians … is laid the preeminent responsibility of working to make the divine message of salvation known and accepted by all men throughout the world.”  

As Catholic adults, we are obligated to know about our faith and to share it with others. Catholic Essentials provides you with the tools to do just that.



Copyright 2022 Maria V. Gallagher
Images: Canva