The Top 40: A Traditional Catholic Reading List

Editor’s note: Over the years, we’ve often received requests for a Tradition-friendly reading list to deepen Catholics’ knowledge of and sophistication on the Faith. Over the past year or two, many Traditional Latin Mass Communities have also experienced explosive growth, and that means a whole bunch of folks new to tradition are looking for resources to help them better understand the difference in pre and post-conciliar paradigms.

Thanks to our friends at Whispers of Restoration, we were able to publish the following reading list they put together back in 2017. Although it has not been updated since then, we believe that even in its current form, it will be helpful to many of the Catholics who are now discovering tradition for the first time.

You can find the original post explaining the origins of this list here. The full recommended reading list is below, including some brief descriptions and a few rating criteria such that readers might make more informed choices on where to start digging.

Though it is impossible for such a list to be comprehensive, we believe it’s a great start for those interested in deepening their knowledge of Catholic tradition and the drastic changes the Church endured during the 20th century. You can also find this reading list at any time in the 1P5 navigation bar at the top under “resources”. Where possible, we have provided links to purchase the books in their titles.

Exiting SquishyChurch: The Top Forty Titles *SCALE: 1 – 5 (least to most)
Heresy of Formlessness Martin Mosebach In eloquent prose, Mosebach gives a narrative take on the crisis with deeply theological import; an excellent “first read” for those looking to start in this vein. *5 5
Phoenix from the Ashes: The Making, Unmaking, and Restoration of Catholic Tradition Henry Sire Excellent review of various historical crisis periods in the Church – a very helpful context for understanding the contemporary situation. *5 5
Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness: Why the Modern Age Needs the Mass of Ages Peter Kwasniewski Approachable and engaging, with excellent apparatus for further study, from a theologian with a clear love of Christ, the Church, and the work of evangelization *5 5
The Popes Against Modern Errors: 16 Papal Documents Anthony J. Mioni Helpful compilation of key magisterial documents warning against modern errors. Enlightening. 5 3
The Binding Force of Tradition Chad Ripperger The Ripperger “Trilogy” – Clear explanations of the nature of Sacred Tradition and magisterial authority. 5 5
The Great Façade: The Regime of Novelty in the Catholic Church from Vatican II to the Francis Revolution Ferrara, Woods, Rao If you can get past the sardonic and occasionally hypercritical tone, you have one of the more important catalogues of the postconciliar errors. 5 4
Nothing Superfluous James W. Jackson Unpacks the many signs and symbols of the Latin Mass. Leaves one a bit breathless and delighted at the richness of our Catholic liturgical heritage. 5 5
The Sources of Catholic Dogma (1957 Edition) Heinrich Denzinger Definitive “sourcebook” of magisterial excerpts on matters of Faith and morals. Index of subjects is worth the price of admission. 5 1
The Banished Heart: Origins of Heteropraxis in the Catholic Church Geoffrey Hull Incisive and deeply researched, illuminating far more than the immediate surround of the Vatican II fallout. Good perspective on Eastern Catholicism as well. 4 3
The Latin Mass Explained George J. Moorman, R. Michael Schmitz Just like it sounds; a good expo on the traditional rite. 4 5
Divine Intimacy Fr. Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. Treasury of daily catecheses and spiritual meditations following the traditional liturgical calendar. A classic – beautiful and deeply edifying. 4 4
Pope John’s Council Michael Davies The Michael Davies “Trilogy” – a key study. 4 4
Pope Paul’s New Mass Michael Davies The Michael Davies “Trilogy” – a key study. 4 4
Cranmer’s Godly Order: The Destruction of Catholicism Through Liturgical Change Michael Davies The Michael Davies “Trilogy” – a key study. 4 4
The Catholic Dogma: “Extra Ecclesiam Nullus omnino Salvatur Michael Muller One of the best treatments of a central dogma of the Faith (one largely undermined after Vatican II). 4 3
The Second Vatican Council – An Unwritten Story Professor Roberto deMattei, Michael M. Miller Picks up where Wiltgen’s The Rhine Flows Into the Tiber left off, giving further insight into the Vatican II backstory and making more sense of the present. 4 4
In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart: The Journal of a Priest at Prayer A Benedictine Monk A rich and timely spiritual and devotional read. 3 5
The Organic Development of the Liturgy: The Principles of Liturgical Reform and Their Relation to the Twentieth-Cent ury Liturgical Movement Prior to the Second Vatican Council Alcuin Reid Deeply theological and historical work examining the nature of organic development in Catholic Liturgy as guided by the Holy Spirit over centuries – shows why the Novus Ordo is not an organic development. 3 2
Magisterial Authority Chad Ripperger The Ripperger “Trilogy” – Clear explanations of the nature of Sacred Tradition and magisterial authority. 3 5
Catechism of the Crisis in the Church Matthias Gaudron Question-and-answer format on the current crisis. 3 4
Joseph Ratzinger-Collected Works: Theology of the Liturgy Joseph Ratzinger From his liberal-leaning theological beginnings as a young priest to his mysterious resignation as Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger will doubtless be remembered as one of the more enigmatic figures in papal history. Regardless, his contribution to the recovery of sacred liturgy is unmistakable, and his thought well worth reading on the subject. 3 3
Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma Ludwig Ott The classic course on Catholic dogmatic theology. Another goldmine of authentic doctrine. 3 1
The Inside Story of Vatican II (formerly The Rhine Flows into the Tiber) Ralph Wiltgen The groundbreaking reporter’s look into the inner-workings of the Council. 3 5
Signs of the Holy One: Liturgy, Ritual, and Expression of the Sacred Uwe Michael Lang The Lang “Trilogy” – the nature and purpose of liturgy itself, and how it achieves what it is via signification. 3 3
The Ottaviani Intervention: Short Critical Study of the New Order of Mass Alfredo C. Ottaviani This study was originally part of a last-ditch effort by then-Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to delay the implementation of the Novus Ordo. 2 2
Sacred Signs Romano Guardini, Peter Kwasniewski One of the best works toward authentic liturgical renewal prior to the Council: unpacking the signs and symbols with simplicity and love. 2 5
Topics on Tradition Chad Ripperger The Ripperger “Trilogy” – Clear explanations of the nature of Sacred Tradition and magisterial authority. 2 4
Liberalism Is A Sin Felix Sarda y Salvany, Condé B. Pallen A read that may leave you weeping at how things have progressed since its publication in 1899. Good perspective. 2 4
The Voice of the Church at Prayer: Reflections on Liturgy and Language Uwe Michael Lang The Lang “Trilogy” – the importance of language in liturgy, looks at use of Latin or vernacular. 2 3
Turning Towards the Lord Uwe Michael Lang The Lang “Trilogy” – the importance of the direction of liturgical prayer: towards the Lord or the people. 2 3
Looking at the Liturgy Aidan Nichols Keen scholarly assessment of the shortcomings of liturgical reform via history, sociology and culture. 2 3
The Catholic Church and Salvation Joseph Clifford Fenton Another of the best treatments of a central dogma of the Faith. 2 4
The Canons and Decrees of the Council Of Trent J.H. Schroeder Clear dogmatic pronouncements from one of the most significant events in Church history 1 3
The Sincere Christian Instructed In The Faith Of Christ From The Written Word George Hay Bishop Hay’s classic exposition of the Faith. 1 4
The Desolate City: Revolution in the Catholic Church Anne Roche Muggeridge A well-informed personal critique of the postconciliar fallout written in 1986 by a frustrated but hopeful laywoman. 1 5
Charitable Anathema Dietrich Von Hildebrand The Von Hildebrand “Trilogy” – a standby. 1 4
The Devastated Vineyard Dietrich Von Hildebrand The Von Hildebrand “Trilogy” – a standby. 1 4
Trojan Horse in the City of God: The Catholic Crisis Explained Dietrich Von Hildebrand The Von Hildebrand “Trilogy” – a standby. 1 4
Iota Unum: A Study of Changes in the Catholic Church in the Twentieth Century Romano Amerio A fixture in any “traditional Catholic” library. 1 4
The Peasant of the Garonne: An Old Layman Questions Himself about the Present Time Jacques Maritain A shocker at its publication, Maritain turns to rebuke the “new philosophy” and hunger for novelty which he saw endangering the roots of Christian faith and worship. 1 4

Originally published on August 29, 2017. This article was updated on August 11, 2020.

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