The HOLY BIBLE.
No replacement for Divine Inspiration. Several good commentaries available.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Compendium of Catechism of the Catholic Church
– The basics of the faith in an accessible format. The first general catechism in nearly 400 years. I recommend the Pauline edition. The YouCat is a decent stand-in, with a more readable format.
The 4 Dogmatic Constitutions of Vatican II.
• Sacrosanctum Concilium (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy)
• Lumen Gentium
(Dogmatic Constitution on the Church)
• Dei Verbum
(Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation)
• Gaudium et Spes
(Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World)
*While I recommend that everyone eventually read all 16 documents of Vatican II, start with these 4.
■ The following Documents are those MANY Catholics should read:
Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life)
of Pope St. Paul VI.
The encyclical that rocked the Church
Theology of the Body
– Pope St. John Paul II.
(Many people will not be able to get through it, so a popular version should suffice for most Catholics).
Love and Responsibility
by Karol Wojtyla
(Pope St. John Paul II)
Even more applicable, in many ways, than Theology of the Body.
Writings of the Church Fathers.
– There is a ton of stuff out there.
So, I recommend both this one-volume book or, even better, this three-volume set of books on the Church Fathers.
Spiritual Writings of the Saints.
– This is a huge category. I would start with the more popular writings (e.g. Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales, etc.) and the Doctors of the Church.
History of the Catholic Church.
I recommend the Warren Carroll four-volume version. If you want a much shorter and less scholarly one-volume history, try Triumph by Crocker.
Pope Saint John Paul II’s most important Encyclicals –
(Christ’s Faithful Laity)
(The Splendor of the Truth)
(The Redeemer of Man)
(The Gospel of Life) and
•Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason)
*All of these can be found on the Vatican’s website.
Pope Benedict’s Encyclicals.
• Deus Caritas Est (God is Love)
• Spe Salvi (In hope we were saved)
• Caritas in Veritate (Love in Truth)
Pope Francis’ Encyclicals
to be more current.
• Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith)
• Laudato Si, (Praised Be You) and
• Fratelli Tutti (All Brothers)
■ The following Documents are those SOME Catholics should read:
Code of Canon Law.
I don’t necessarily recommend a cover-to-cover reading, but at least a good introduction to it.
This is a decent intro.
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.
General Directory for Catechesis.
– Pope Paul VI. On evangelization.
The other Vatican II Docs.
St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica
Divino Afflante Spiritu
– Pope Pius XII
General Instruction of the Roman Missal.
Pope Saint John Paul II’s