High School and Above
Of course, RSV is excellent. I love the [Old] Jerusalem Bible, but not the New Jerusalem Bible. Tolkien worked on the Old Jerusalem Bible.
A translation called "new" means "inclusive" language is used, meaning an avoidance of the pronoun "he" either for God or for "man" in the generic sense. This linguistic imposition is always awkward and unlovely. Children can be taught that "men" means "men and women" just as "ducks" means "ducks and drakes."
There are many translations that help different tastes to come to love this foundational work.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
You must have this basic reference in your house. Learn how it is laid out, and use it.
Didache Series (high school textbooks)
Midwest Theological Forum has composed a four-year high school religion program that is readable, wise, and beautiful.
I Introduction to Catholicism
II Understanding the Scriptures
III The History of the Church
IV Our Moral Life in Christ
History of the Church
Crocker’s Triumph is a complete and readable history of the Church. There’s a value in reading something that takes you from start to finish in a few days or a week. A year’s curriculum is almost bound to reach its end with its beginning out of sight. Something that takes you all the way through your topic in such a short time provides important orientation. Then it makes sense to go more slowly and deeply over the time period of choice.
Comprehensive exams once had the function of connecting the beginning and the end, but these are out of fashion, perhaps justifiably, for being high pressure, but their positive functions need our attention.
In a concern for historical self-consciousness and modern ideas of psychology, some recent lives of the saints make it impossible to understand why anyone cared about these people. On the other hand, some of the older ones present the saints as being highly inaccessible.
Here are some favorites:
St. Francis of Assisi: a Biography
This biography weaves together all that is traditionally held about St. Francis into a reasonable and connected story that makes you love Francis, feel his heartbeat, and love the brothers who gathered around.
G. K. Chesterton
St. Thomas Aquinas: the Dumb Ox
More than anyone, St. Thomas shaped western philosophy; he also wrote Panis Angelicas, and beautiful hymn of Corpus Christi.
St. Francis of Assisi
This is different account of St. Francis, another lover of God, committed to poverty at a moment when the gospel was threatened by the riches of the Church leadership. Pope Innocent saw him in a dream and knew that this was God's way of rebuilding "my Church which is falling down."
Mothers of the Saints
This introduction to 10 mothers of saints or saints who were mothers is a sweet and encouraging piece. The saints were not all nuns! And the saints who were priests sometimes had stunning mothers.
The Discernment of Spirits
A standard reference manual for learning Ignition discernment, this text explains St. Ignatius' fourteen rules of discernment. Very clear and helpful.
St. John of the Cross
The Living Flame of Love
The Ascent of Mt. Carmel
The Dark Night of the Soul
These three are St. John's explanation of the experience of the soul in search of God. For a good introduction to these works, try Ian Matthews (below) but don't be afraid to read St. John himself.
The Impact of God
A perfect and devout introduction to the giant of Carmelite spirituality, St. John of the Cross.
Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart Here is a perfect introduction to the peace of heart that allows us to know God.
Thirsting for Prayer
Several other titles. A source of peace and freedom for many.