Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.
I have followed your blog for some time now and want to thank you for all that you do. You might be happy to know that a group of somewhat recent converts (myself included) to the Faith discuss your writings on a regular basis (especially your recent clarifications on lying). I am from Lafayette, Louisiana, and converted to the Church two years ago this coming Easter. Men like Lewis, Chesterton, St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Thomas Aquinas are who led my friends and my family into the Catholic Church.
For about four years now I have been studying the Faith and maturing in it (ever so slowly) through the writings and sacraments of the Church. About two weeks ago, my wife and I were asked to aid the RCIA program at my parish and to help instruct the candidates and catechumens on the teachings of the Magisterium. Can you direct me to any official teachings/documents of the Church on how a layman is to go about fulfilling such a responsibility? If not, do you know of any good books/websites on the topic that I can begin to study?
Wow! I’m honored! But I would urge you to hurry on from my stuff to real Catholic writers like the Fathers. A good rule of thumb might be “one ancient writer for every modern one.” If that seems intimidating, you can compromise by getting one of Mike Aquilina’s nifty books on the Fathers of the Church or Rod Bennett’s outstanding Four Witnesses or Jimmy Akin’s nifty new book The Fathers Know Best. Once you have a bead on who the Fathers are, then you can read them and get a sense of the contour of their thought.
Of course, I also recommend Chesterton! He can keep you busy for years!
As far as Church documents on how to do RCIA, here’s a link, not only to the USCCB guidelines, but to sundry other dioceses as well. I’m betting my readers know of more resources and can tell you about them in the combox. Watch this space. In addition, I would suggest you contact the director of religious ed at my parish in Seattle, Blessed Sacrament since, not to put too fine a point on it, not all RCIA’s are created equal and ours (and the University of Washington Newman Center’s) rocketh. You might as well model yourself on success!