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Choosing to Be Catholic: For the First Time (Or Once Again [Paperback]

By William J. O'Malley (Author)
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Item description for Choosing to Be Catholic: For the First Time (Or Once Again by William J. O'Malley...

The perfect Book for those who are seeking to learn more about the Catholic faith through the "Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults" and for those who may have become disenchanted with the Church or perhaps even God over the years. This book opens a dimension what it means to feel " at home" in the Church, a dimension of faithful living that readies the believing heart to receive the abundant life God

Publishers Description
The perfect book for those who are seeking to learn more about the Catholic faith through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and for those who may have become disenchanted with the Church or perhaps even with God over the years. This resource opens a dimension to readers' lives that can only come from discovering what it means to feel "at home" in the Church.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Ave Maria Press
Pages   240
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.38" Width: 5.56" Height: 0.6"
Weight:   0.74 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 1, 2004
Publisher   Ave Maria Press
Edition  Reprinted  
ISBN  1594710430  
ISBN13  9781594710438  

Availability  0 units.

More About William J. O'Malley

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! William J. O'Malley, S.J., is a professor of religion at Seattle University. He has published many award winning books on spirituality and Christian living, including "Holiness, Help My Unbelief, "and" The Week that Opened Forever: The Passion of Christ in a Different Voice."

William J. O'Malley currently resides in New York, in the state of New York.

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Product Categories

1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > Religious Studies > Christianity
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > Inspirational
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > Roman Catholicism

Christian Product Categories
Books > Church & Ministry > Church Life > Roman Catholic

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Reviews - What do customers think about Choosing to Be Catholic: For the First Time (Or Once Again?

Good, but perhaps not as good as this author's "Why Be Catholic?"  Oct 13, 2006
This friendly overview of Christianity and the Catholic Church is not quite as well thought out as O'Malley's earlier book, Why Be Catholic?, certain sections of which this book repeats. The tone is uneven here and O'Malley's arguments and analogies are not always easy to follow. It is nevertheless a fine guide, not pretending to be either advanced theology or a Catholicism For Beginners, but a cultured and subjective consideration of the church as a community, rather than as an institution.

I frankly don't understand the polemical outbursts this book is inspiring in reviewers. It is neither radically inflammatory nor mind-numbingly conservative. You only have to read a little of O'Malley to realize that he is (appealingly) all about pluralism and toleration, yet he is not so flexible that he thinks "anything goes." Where he is partial to a certain belief or point of view that he cannot back up with a solid argument, he makes it clear that he is expressing a subjective opinion.

My only real criticism is the unevenness of this book, which I did not find to be either as persuasive nor as well organized as the earlier one. Still, worth your time if you're so inclined.
to set the record straight  Apr 22, 2006
a radical proposition for the reviewer: if you critique a book, you should critique what the author is saying. you should not put words into the author's mouth. you should read a book carefully, not just fan your eyes with the words, and then use those words to mean what you want them to mean.

o'malley writes on page 197: "...i do think there has to be a purgatory, not for debtors to wipe out a debt but for those who die incapable of genuine joy." no where does he suggest that "the church's teaching on purgatory is incompatible with the teachings of jesus," as one reviewer would have it. (the vatican ii's "lumen gentium" that that reviewer refers to says simply: "this sacred council accepts with great devotion this venerable faith of our ancestors regarding this vital fellowship with our brethren who are in heavenly glory or who having died are still being purified.")

o'malley says on page 193: "perhaps the single most important reason i am a catholic, rather than some other kind of christian, is my unshakable belief in transubstantiation, that--somehow--the bread and wine truly become the body and blood of christ." no where does he say--as the reviewer attempts to make him say: "belief in the real presence of christ in the eucharist is negotiable." where o'malley does use the phrase "weekly meal of gratitude" (in chapter 7: "your basic christian") he is talking of the bare minimum of connection between all the different strands of christianity. this is before he gets to chapter 8: "why be catholic?"

the reviewer has o'malley say that: "there's no special moral authority conferred on the pope; he's just a political leader. (p. 114)" o'malley does not say that. rather o'malley notes that there are, in human terms, two kinds of authority, that of enforced authority, and that of "moral authority." this moral authority is a subdivision of the authority that one has because of the respect and veneration that one receives due to one's own righteousness. that cannot be given, one must earn it. john paul ii earned it. many of the renaissance popes didn't. this has nothing to do with the question of the pope's authority from christ, and, in this section, that is not what o'malley is writing about.

o'malley has written a quite good colloquial book on the the ways that a person who is not catholic, or one who has been away from the church for a number of years, might approach the church and learn to appreciate it, indeed, love it.

for those who want a more structured approach, o'malley gives all the proper references to the catholic catechism.

i wouldn't mind a person who wants to take exception to what o'malley, in fact, has to say. just give o'malley the respect of actually reading what does say. don't cram words into his mouth.
Another lousy book by a "smart" theologian  Oct 6, 2005
Written by someone who thinks he knows better than 2000 years of theology. I verified the heresies denounced by a previous review dated March 27, 2003. Well, it's your money and you're free to waste it ;-)
Might as well be called "Choosing to be Protestant"  Mar 27, 2003
"Choosing to be Catholic" is being promoted as a guide for potential converts and returning Catholics. As such, it can only serve to confuse and mislead. It contains many assertions that are in flat contradiction to the Catholic faith, as that faith has been believed and taught from the earliest times to Vatican II and beyond.

A few examples of Fr. O'Malley's claims:

- The Church's teaching on purgatory is incompatible with the teachings of Jesus. (p. 197) [This is self-evidently contrary to Catholic belief, but if you'd like a reference, see Vatican II "Lumen Gentium", #51]

- There's no special moral authority conferred on the pope; he's just a political leader. (p. 114) [Huh? Even non-Catholics know this isn't what Catholics believe.]

- The four marks of the Church -- one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic -- are only "imperfectly" present. (pp. 173-5) [It's my understanding that the writers of the Nicene Creed didn't insert any qualifiers. And how can something be "imperfectly one", anyway?]

- It's good to pick and choose which aspects of the faith to believe in. (pp. 117-8) [Well, no. Not wanting to get all medieval or anything, but this is called heresy. As St. Jerome put it: "Heresy is derived from a Greek word meaning choice, whereby a man makes choice of that school which he deems best".]

- Belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is negotiable. We only need to believe that we share a "weekly meal of gratitude". (pp. 103-4)

Is this all starting to sound rather Protestant? Well, how about this:

- It doesn't matter if you're Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, or Anglican; they're all pretty much equally good. Just pick whichever one you're most comfortable with. (p. 111-113)

How very open-minded! According to this view, the Protestant Reformation must have all been a big misunderstanding. Too bad about all those martyrs, like the English Jesuits (Fr. O'Malley's order) who suffered excruciating deaths rather than convert to Anglicanism. They must feel like a bunch of saps, having realized it was all about nothing important.

That gives me an idea. With minor repackaging, Fr. O'Malley might be able to sell this book to people interested in converting to middle-of-the-road, liturgical, Protestant denominations. It does have a lot of nice things to say on topics like forgiveness, acceptance, and the importance of living out what we believe (whatever those beliefs might be). On the other hand, given the declining membership among Methodists, Episcopalians, et al., the demand for such a book would be low to non-existent. I guess it's more profitable to continue marketing it to Catholics.

Come Back to the Church!  Feb 16, 2002
Father O'Malley takes another look at the question "Why be Catholic?" in this engaging and accessible book.

And he writes, in his fine chapter on the sacraments, "Perhaps the single most important reason I am a Catholic, rather than some other kind of Christian, is my unshakable belief in transubstantiation, that--somehow--the bread and wine truly become the Body and Blood of Christ."

As great as this answer is, the questions along the way are interesting too, as O'Malley ponders atheism and the major world religions. Then he discusses Christianity and distills the faith into a short list of "Non-Negotiables".

While I disagree with his interpretation of Scriptures (overly symbolic), he is no moral relativist. As he writes: "If objective morality...changes from age to age, Plato has nothing to tell us about being human. Nor did Jesus, Buddha, Shakespeare, or Dickens. Moral discourse is little more than verbal Ping-Pong, and libraries are a terrible waste of money." (No sugar coating here.)

As to a dominant subtheme in the book, O'Malley exhorts the Laodicean in all of us to be active (and joyful) in the faith. In fact, the book concludes with a nice section on prayer.

This is another good book by the author of "The Voice of Blood".


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