QUAERITUR: Resources for Anglicans thinking about the Roman Church

I want to put this question, which I received via e-mail, out there to you readers.  I edited it a little.

I have been reading your blog as a "lurker" for some months now and give thanks regularly for your service through it.  I realize that you receive many, many emails and other contacts, and that you may not be able to respond but I thought to give it a try anyway.
To be honest, I am troubled.  I am Anglican, but over the past few years have become increasingly agitated by where the Episcopal Church is pointing itself.  [… Lots of personal stuff here… ]
Over the past several years as this has progressed, I have sensed a call to move toward the Roman Church, but I want to be sure that I am not just going "from" something, but "to" the Roman Church.  I have a general sense of the doctrinal, theological, and governance differences between our two Churches, but want to make sure I really understand.
Is there a book or series of books you can recommend?  I am currently working through a Catholic Study Bible, and the Navarre Bible Gospels.  I have added occassional use of LOTH to supplement my Daily Office (I should probably say "almost-Daily Office").  Where else can I go to understand?
Any time you might have to respond to this request would be greatly appreciated.

It seems to me that some of you out there may have made this journey yourselves.  You could help this fellow.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Spiggle says:

    Not sure if it’s quite what they’re looking for, but I’ve just finished Newman’s “On the development of Christian doctrine”, originally written as he was in the process of deciding to convert (though most current editions are of a heavily revised later version) and explaining why he had come to the view that Rome was fully in the tradition of the fathers and was the true church.

    Reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church, or at least the Compendium, couldn’t hurt either (though there are doubtless those who will tell you it will).

    Cradle catholic myself so I have no real sense of how difficult the journey must be, but I hope you find your way and will pray for you.

  2. anne scanlon says:

    Having coordinated an RCIA program for many years, the book which seems to be most beneficial is The Spirit of Catholicism by Karl Adams. You might also enjoy One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic by Kenneth Whitehead.
    Prayers go with you…

  3. Keep seeking the truth, brother ! Holy Mother Church awaits you. Spiggle is right…read Cardinal Newman and the Catechism, and by all means read Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s “More Christianity”. There are really a host of excellent books for Protestants in general and Anglicans in particular who are considering the plunge. As one who has made the trip from Canterbury to Rome myself, I can assure you it is not all that hard. Holy Mother of God, Martyrs of Rome, St. Thomas More, Cardinal Newman : ora pro nobis !!!

  4. Deusdonat says:

    I have honestly never seen a more genuine sentiment coming from an Anglican potential convert than what was written in that email. The going “to” something was really profound. I hope the writer finds what he is looking for in the Catholic church.

  5. Exsurge_ Domine says:

    Check this site, fr. Alvin Kimel is Anglican convert himself: http://pontifications.wordpress.com/

  6. shadrach says:

    I’d recommend Alban McCoy’s ‘The intelligent person’s guide to Catholicism’ (an excellent resource), and ‘We Believe’ by the late Alfred Gilbey. Both are satisfying, accessible and sympathetic.

  7. georgeaquinas says:

    It sounds like you are already reading enough!!! I truly don’t mean this to be trite, but the only place you need to go from here (it sounds like) is to take the final step. You shouldn’t become a Catholic because you understand everything the Church says; you should become a Catholic because it is the church established by our Lord and Savior. I am not Catholic born and I have discovered that it is a life long journey and there is always more and more to discover. It is a lot like asking someone to marry you….you can’t wait until you have all the answers or you will always be waiting! If you are being called to the Church, come to Her and recieve Her embrace. Remember, you are called to live the Faith not to know everything the Faith teaches. Don’t misunderstand me, you are showing more interest in the Faith than many cradle borns, but make the leap! God Bless You!

  8. I would suugest speaking directly to the pastor of one of the Anglican Use parishes. Fr. Allan Hawkins at St. Mary the Virgin in Arlington, Texas made the journey himself and works with others every day to assist. He is very good at this. He is also the only ex-Anglican priest to have ever brought a parish intact (people, buildings etc.) from Anglicanism to the Catholic Church. He can be contacted through the parish website. He would be most pleased to speak with you.

    In the interest of full disclosure Fr, Hawkins is also my biological father, and I a member of the parish.

  9. David Deavel says:

    There are many excellent resources for reading. In addition to the ones mentioned, I think Robert Hugh Benson’s CONFESSIONS OF A CONVERT is an excellent one, though it is out of print. Benson was the son of the Archbishop of Canterbury and part of the Anglo-Catholic wing. Also see G. K. Chesterton’s apologetic works, including THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND CONVERSION and THE THING.

    But most of all, pray that God would lead you and give you courage to follow the truth. My wife and I will pray a decade of the Rosary for you tonight.

  10. matthew says:

    I was once where you were so I have a sense of what you’re struggling with–intellectually an otherwise. Frankly, I suggest that you seek out Anglican converts nearby. Since there are quite a few of them, including ones who are now Catholic priets, in the United States and in many other counties, chances are there is one near you. The vicar for clergy in what ever Latin diocese you are geographically located in could probably tell you if you email or phone him whether there are any convert clergy in your area. Also, if you phone or email Jim Anderson of the Coming Hone Network he can put you in touch with converts in your area. This way, you’ll have someone to discuss things with, to help clarify for you what it is you are thinking and feeling and whether the Catholic Church is in fact what you are heading to, as you put it. After going it alone for quite a while, I can’t tell you how very, very helpful it was once I started to talk to someone else about the whole matter.

  11. Steve K. says:

    Dear Lurker,

    Please check out Fr. Kimel’s site referenced above; as mentioned, he is an Anglican convert (recent) and wrote at great length about the process of his conversion, in great theological depth. I believe he has all his blog comments on this archived at his site. They make for fascinating and enlightening reading.

  12. Paul in the GNW says:

    I think one should take personality, learning style, and personal preference into account. Personally, I think such a decision needs to be both ‘left brain’ and ‘right brain’ although I think in many of us either the tendency towards more abstract and gut instinct or the concrete logical will dominate.

    So, I would encourage someone investigating Catholicism to pray and investigate. Read and study, but leave room to be lead by the spirit.

    The list of possible books to read and topics one could study is enormous. I like karl Adams as mentioned. Thomas Howard I also highly recommend. Fulton Sheen’s “Life in Christ” is a classic I love. Cardinal Ratizinger (BXVI) “Introduction to Christianity” is denser but very worhtwile and anything else by BXVI. Some don’t care for Scott Hahn, but as someone not really up for serious scholarship on my own, I find his books an accessible means of reading about very serious topics. I’d generally recommend avoiding the more apologetic type material, unless you are struggling with a specific doctrine.

    I somewhat hesitate to recommend it, because I have recently found many investigators and recent converts don’t care for it, but I personally enjoy listening to Marcus Grodi’s “The Journey Home” series on EWTN. You can download audio files at EWTN.com

    I’ll keep you in my prayers, God Bless


  13. Mark M says:

    A convert myself, I would say that conversion stories themselves can prove very helpful. One I remember is edited by Fr Dwight Longenecker (also a convert), and is called Path to Rome. However I found Scott Hahn just not right for my taste (though “useful” to read).

    Traditional biographies of the Saints I also found useful, as well as anything that methodically laid out the faith in traditional and clear-cut fashion. There were some books about Benedict XVI that I find helped too:
    – Rupert Shortt’s Benedict XVI: Commander of the Faith,
    – Robert Moynihan’s Let God’s Light Shine Forth: The Spiritual Vision of Pope Benedict XVI

    I was in a similar boat to your correspondent, but I chose to deliberately avoid anything polemical and to “lay on the love”. That probably comes out all gushy, and as if I’m some postmodern liberal liturgical dance crazy, but what I mean is I wanted the Catholic faith to captivate me, to charm me (and by golly it did!). I suppose that’s why I found biographies and such like instructive and inspiring (e.g. George Weigel’s bio of JP II, Witness to Hope).

    Invaluable also was seeking good spiritual counsel from a Priest who himself had converted, as well as thoroughly reading my Catechism.

    If your correspondent likes history, or believes history may captivate him (you see, I wanted to fall in love with the Church, I suppose), then he might also find Éamon Duffy’s books, such as Stripping the Altars or Marking the Hours (lots of good pictures!) helpful.

    Oh, and lastly, anything written by Benedict XVI.

  14. Tim says:

    Dear Lurker, I know exactly how you feel. I am sure you doing enough study already but if you need more the Catechism has been mentioned — Aid to the Church in Need publishes a summary entitled “I Believe”. There is also Monsignor Gilbey’s book (out of print), “We Believe”. I was very fortunate to have a sponsor who was also a former Anglican. If you can find someone similar to speak to, I’m sure it would help. Believe me, it is not so difficult and once you start on the road, you won’t want to turn back. The only thing I regret is not becoming Catholic earlier. You will be in my prayers and I hope we can soon welcome you into full communion with the Holy See. Pax tecum.

  15. MAH says:

    As an ex-Anglican this is my advice. There are many books you can read but that alone will not help you to move ‘to’ the Church rather than just ‘away from’ the Anglican communion. You will know in your heart when you have fallen in love with the Catholic church and are ready to be embraced in full communion. For me it was when I heard a deacon chant the Latin gospel for the Feast of the Annunciation and I knew that my ‘notional assent’ (in Newman’s words) had now changed to ‘real assent.’ I simply knew then and there that I was ready to be received. So I would say read of course, but more importantly pray with the Church, especially at Mass. This is how you will be converted in your heart as well as your head. And above all remember the words of the great St Anselm: ‘I do not seek to understand so that I may believe; but I belive so that I may understand.’ God bless you and I will keep you in my prayers.

  16. Fortitude says:

    You should also consider contacting Frs. Bruce and David Noble in Houston, TX. The pair of priests are identical twins and Anglican converts. Fr. Bruce Noble is the pastor of the Anglican Use parish, Our Lady of Walsingham. Fr. David Noble is part of the Catholic Chaplain Corps that provides sacramental and pastoral care to the patients, families and staff of hospitals and institutions of the Texas Medical Center.

  17. I recommend Fisheaters.com and its associated site, http://www.fisheaters.com/responses.html, which is designed for protestants.

  18. Mark says:

    Conversion from Anglican to Catholic for me began by reading Ss. Bede and Augustine, and gradually discovering that the church I belonged to was not the Church Christ founded. I loved where I was, but as I began to see the difference, I eventually had to be where we all should be; in the one holy catholic and apostolic church, as professed in the creed. Jesus prayed that we would all be one, and I could not live a life against His expressed will.

    “Newman’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua” had less influence on me than CS Lewis’ mere Christianity; I’d credit my stark ignorance of the faith for that. It was another 10 years before I found it, but Evelyn Waugh’s “Edmund Campion” gives a far better detailing of the period than the gloss placed on Henry VII, Moore and Fisher most of us have been fed.

    All the arguments against the Catholic Church resolve to one; arguing that God is not capable of keeping His promises made through the public revelation of Jesus Christ.

    my own conversion story is linked through my blog.

  19. John Hammond says:

    A few people have mentioned Cardinal Newman. His excellent “Apologia pro vita sua” deals with a lot of issues that are probably of interest to you. Another good little book is Sir Joseph Pope’s “Why I Became a Catholic.” In my experience many Anglicans have some liturgical misgivings about the Roman church, in which case I strongly recommend the Holy Father’s “Spirit of the Liturgy.”

    I’m a former Anglican myself; having taken the plunge 5 years ago, I can say without reservation that it was the best decision I ever made. Having the grace of the sacraments and the sure rock of Peter overcomes any melancholy you might experience about leaving the faith of your childhood.

    We will be praying for you!

  20. Warren Anderson says:

    Dear Lurker, as a convert myself, I would like to offer you my prayers. Your words already echo the melody of a heart embracing the Catholic Faith. You sound like you love truth. A recent convert confided to me that she craved direct statements to which she could configure herself, e.g., an answer to the question “What does it mean to be Catholic?” It sounds like you are well read. The Faith is more “caught” than “taught”. The biographies of converts are very edifying. Nab yourself a copy of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Find yourself a good priest with whom you can talk and pray. I would echo the importance of the suggestions for you to pray with the Church at Mass. At Mass you meet the living God, Christ truly Present. Look for an RCIA program to get you started toward Easter and reception into the Church. Keep us informed about your status. God bless!

  21. Ambrosius says:

    Ronald Knox’s book, The Belief of Catholics, is written explicitly to explain the ways of the Church to people educated in a serious, but Protestant, way of thinking. It was the most important book in teaching me how to “think with the Church” that I read when I was leaving Anglicanism for the Faith

    a preview is freely available at Google Books: http://tinyurl.com/6xt7zw

  22. Deacon Nathan Allen says:

    You’ve hit it right on the head: it’s not a question of running from an ecclesial communion which has very much lost its way, but toward the Church. It’s the same old question Pusey asked Newman: what doctrines do I need to accept? Newman’s response: it’s not a matter of doctrines. You need to accept the Church. Newman’s “Anglican Difficulties” may be of assistance to you (the title is a play on the phrase “Roman difficulties”, which Anglicans in Newman’s circle and afterward used to describe these feelings we converts have felt). That will be helpful if there are specific doctrinal questions that Anglicans have of the Catholic Church. I suspect, however, as have others who’ve posted here, that the final hurdle is not doctrinal. From my own experience as a convert, what was most helpful were the personal stories of seeking and finding, especially those who came from a high Anglican background: Newman’s “Apologia”, Benson’s “Confessions of a Convert”, and Ronald Knox’s “Spiritual Aeneid”.

    And trust God to lead you. He won’t lead you astry.

  23. Sid Cundiff says:

    My own faith was reawakened out of my “Skeptical Slumbers” in an Anglican context (and I remain grateful to Anglicans for it). Then I read John Henry Cardinal Newman.

    Start with his masterpiece, Apologia Pro Vita Sua. 1865. The Norton Critical Edition will give you all the variations, the original exchange between Kingsley and Newman, and helpful footnotes to explain historical points. I find Newman’s first version to have a bit more “punch”, his later a bit more grace. And get ready for some beautiful prose.

    Then the first edition of the Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, 1845, the book that got him into the Catholic Church. Newman updates the rule of St. Vincent.

    If time permits, try his Letter to the Duke of Norfolk, his defense of Vatican I against Gladstone.

    I have not read his Difficulties of Anglicans, 1850, and I’ll leave it to others to recommend this work.

    Newman tried as hard as he could to stay both Anglican and Catholic. He found out that he couldn’t.

  24. Brian in Wisconsin says:

    I’d recommend Surprised by Truth, Journeys Home, Crossing the Tiber, By What Authority?, Ascension Press’ Bible Thumper, Steve Kellmeyer’s Bible Basics, Christ in His Fullness, Evangelical is Not Enough, Eucharist Through the Centuries, Pope Fiction, Rome Sweet Home, and any book on the lives of the Saints, especially the martyrs. For so many people to have died for the Catholic Faith … that doesn’t happen unless it’s true.

  25. MargaretC says:

    All of the titles mentioned here are good suggestions. I would also recommend the Catechism — although the size of the volume is daunting, it’s organized in sections and has a helpful index, allowing you to pursue particular questions as they come up. And the writing is surprisingly good. (The section on Prayer is worth the price of the volume.)

    Books are helpful if your problems are mostly intellectual. In my case, the intellectual issues resolved themselves early; what was left were the kinds of things that can only be resolved by prayer. The Anglican Lurker should Go regularly and prayerfully to mass, and make a spiritual communion.

    If Anglican Lurker finds Newman persuasive, and is comfortable with the practice, he (or she) might try praying for his assistance.

  26. trooper says:

    My best to you on your journey. I read a lot, but maybe it’s time for you to just sign up for an RCIA class and see where it goes. As for me, on was on page 145 of Cardinal Ratzinger’s book, Salt of the Earth, when I read: (regarding Anglicanism): A new situation has been brought about by two circumstances: the extending of the majority principle to questions of doctrine and the entrusting of doctrinal decisions to the national Churches. Both of these are nonsensical, because doctrine is with true or not true, which means that it’s not a matter to be decided by majorities or national Churches. When I read that, I thought “good gracious, he’s right! and drove right down the street to the nearest Catholic Church and asked them to sign me up.

  27. Jim Gallagher says:

    Where else can I go to understand?— A suggestion in all humility: Go to a Catholic Church and kneel before Our Lord truly present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. “Magister adest et vocat te.”

  28. Joe says:

    perhaps also contact the TAC and find out why they have moved in this direction. They could have come over many years ago but obviously wanted to make sure they were doing the Lord’s will (not that they’re home yet, but God willing will be soon).

  29. Ryan says:

    One Faith One Lord by Johnson. You have to get that from a used book source. Also the belief of Catholics as mentioned above. Johnson wrote his book aimed at Anglo Catholics in the early to mid 20th century.

  30. David Kastel says:

    You say you have a “general sense of the doctrinal, theological, and governance differences” between Anglican Protestantism and Catholicism. It sounds as though you are looking for more clarity.

    You should read the Dogmatic Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent. You will understand clearly what you are considering:


  31. Joel says:

    order some of the free cds at biblechristiansociety.com or correspond with Fr. Longnecker (a former Anglican)at http://gkupsidedown.blogspot.com/

  32. Some good books here. I would hesitate to recommend the Fisheasters forum since I think they can be schismatic over there at times. I would recommend the Catholic Answers forum for an online forum if that is what our Anglican brother is after.

    I’m not faulting reading by any means, but why just read? Why not dive in? Attend a Mass (don’t receive Communion yet though!) or seek out an Adoration Chapel. In both instances, gaze upon Christ and meditate upon what the Real Presence truly is and means. In the silence, the Lord may speak to your heart.

    You are in my prayers. Keep us posted!

  33. In addition to the many good suggestions above, Lurker, I suggest that you consider the upcoming Anglican Use Conference:


    to be held at the parish of Our Lady of the Atonement in San Antonio, which is the oldest of the Anglican Use parishes. This conference is coming up soon, July 10-12.

    If that is not possible, do check out the web site of the Anglican Use Society:


    which has links to the other “Pastoral Provision” (i.e., Anglican Use) parishes, which include one in Scranton PA and Boston MA. Perhaps one of them is closer to you than the Texas ones. All of these are filled with fervent Catholics, most of whom once were Episcopalians but have made the journey home to the Catholic Church.

  34. LurkingAnglican says:

    Wow, thank you all, you are prayers answered. I had only wished that Fr. Z might give a few words, but this is totally overwhelming. Thank you Fr. Z, you are a blessing. There are many wonderful suggestions here and I now realize that I must spend more time in prayer on this matter. Last weekend I spent an afternoon at a Cartrhusian Monastery in deep contemplative prayer. I will be looking for an opportunity for adoration soon.

    You will all be in my prayers of thanksgiving. I ask your prayers for me through this journey.


  35. LurkingAnglican says:

    That should be a Cistercian Monastery….past my bedtime I think.

  36. Greg says:

    I highly recommend Catholic Answers (www.catholic.com). In particular their Radio shows are all archived on their site. There shows can be downloaded to a mp3 player or iPod, and listened to anytime throughout the day.

  37. Chris Molter says:

    You may fear that ‘swimming the Tiber’ means leaving all those wonderful things that you loved about Anglicanism, but it’s not so. Remember that before Henry VIII, England was a catholic nation. All her Saints, Abbeys, and Cathedrals. To be Anglican is to break communion with those wonderful English Saints like St Thomas Becket, St Edward Confessor, St Anselm, St Augustine of Canterbury, and the more recent ones such as St Thomas More. To come into full communion with Rome is to rediscover your real Anglican background, and how easy does Pope Benedict make it to come home?! The man is a brilliant theologian and wonderful pastor. I’d second all the recommendations above (especially Fr Al Kimel’s and Fr Dwight Longenecker’s blogs as well as cantuar.blogspot.com) and definitely get a copy of “Jesus of Nazareth”!

  38. Heide says:

    Dear LurkingAnglican,

    As a convert from the Episcopal Church (Easter 2007), I can attest to what so many other commenters have said here. They have made some excellent suggestions re. reading materials, too. My journey across the Tiber was, while not without its trepidations at first, the best thing I have ever done. Before I converted I also found myself feeling more and more like an orphan in the Episcopal Church. That was what pushed me to investigate fully and honestly the claims of the Catholic Church. At some point I found myself drawn irresistibly to the Church, and I have never looked back. No doubt you’ve seen the following Chesterton quote on the subject:

    “…Truth is a magnet, with the powers of attraction and repulsion … The moment men cease to pull against it they feel a tug towards it. The moment they cease to shout it down they begin to listen to it with pleasure. The moment they try to be fair to it they begin to be fond of it. But when that affection has passed a certain point it begins to take on the tragic and menacing grandeur of a great love affair … When he has entered the Church, he finds that the Church is much larger inside than it is outside.”

    My husband and I will pray for you as you discern where God is leading.

  39. Flabellum says:

    At one time my heart said Rome, but my head said Canterbury. Then my head said Rome, but my heart then said Canterbury. Then heart and head both said Rome and I converted. You are absolutely right, it has to be to, not from. I recommend reading any of the works of Joseph Ratzinger that you can get you hands on.

  40. Tim Watkins says:

    I would add one more book to those mentioned. Robert Hugh Benson’s, Can I Stay Where I Am? He wrote this in particular for Anglicans. God love and save you.

  41. Alphonsus Rodriguez says:

    Aidan Nichols wrote a splendid book called The Panther and the Hind which, I think, might be helpful to perplexed Anglicans because it shows how the flaws of Anglicanism which are so luridly on display these days were there from the beginning and that the current crises in the C of E (and the rest) are simply a working out of these foundational flaws. All of G. K. Chesterton is helpful, but perhaps The Well and the Shallows would be of particular interest. Ronald Knox and R. H. Benson both wrote books about their conversions: A Spiritual Aeneid (Knox) and Confessions of a Convert (Benson). I second the recommendations for A. N. Gilbey’s We Believe and Ronald Knox’s The Belief of Catholics. And since the papacy seems to be a sticking point for Anglicans, I can recommend Adrian Fortescue’s The Early Papacy.

  42. Tim Watkins says:

    Correction to the R.H. Benson work I cited above. I believe the above is an article he wrote, not a book. The particular book of his which I had in mind is Religion of the Plain Man.

  43. jeffrey says:

    This maybe a bit obvious but… as an Anglo-Catholic convert myself the two resources I would recommend to you are:

    The Catechism (of course)


    Get a Douay-Rheims Bible and check out Haydock’s commentary

    And pray your Rosary! You’ll be in my prayers brother.

  44. Tim Watkins says:

    You can go to http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/1993/9312clas.asp to read “Can I Stay Where I Am?”. Sorry again, the article is not by R.H. Benson, but by Dominican Fr. Hugh Pope (of England, not of Rome). Benson did write The Religion of the Plain Man (117 pp. in the Neumann Press edition).

  45. Hopefully there will be TAC-Related Announcement Post-Lambeth regarding a posible creation of a universal Pastoral Provision or a template for some special arrangements for reception of Anglican converts that circumnavicates the local hierarchy and \”kicks it up\” to Rome. (Worth noting, the Diocese of Liverpool has ordained NOT ONE of the manifold convert applicants in the last 20 years!)

    The Coming Home Network is an EXCELLENT lay-run group that assists non-Catholics (of all stripes, most especially those of clerical rank) that make the journey home to the Catholic Church. They do a terrific job of matching up seekers with those who have come home to Rome… (It is one thing to read about why you should become Catholic, another kettle of fish altogether to talk with someone who once was where you are now!)

    (I am in no way affiliated with them beyond being a donor on the mailing list, BUT… If you found any change in the couch cushions you didn\’t know what to do with after supporting all your other charities, this is a marvelous group that stretches every single penny they get… food for thought!)

  46. Forgot the links!

    TAC-Related Announcement Post-Lambeth?

    The Coming Home Netwwork

    Keep in your daily prayers, intentions for the conversion of these disaffected Anglicans, and the work of the Coming Home Netweork, which has been instrumental in helping bring a lot of folks home!

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