December 9, 2019
Blog / book reviews / writing
Book Review: The Convert’s Guide to Roman Catholicism, by Keith Nester
Watch my VIDEO REVIEW: https://youtu.be/n7nM-1_sU_k
At first, I didn’t think I was the target audience for Keith Nester’s book, The Convert’s Guide to Roman Catholicism, because I am a re-convert. I came back to the Church and “reconciled” after many years away. But I was wrong! This is the perfect book for fallen-away cradle Catholics!In his book, Keith reminds us of what we were missing all those years lost in a sea of doubt.
I read his book with skepticism, thinking a former Protestant minister couldn’t know as much about my religion as I did. Again, I was wrong! Keith knows a great deal and most amazingly, he understands Catholic doctrine better than most Catholics I know, (with the exception of my FSSP pastor, Father Dupre of Christ the King Catholic Church in Sarasota, Florida.) In this book, he explains Catholic doctrine in a way that most of us can follow. As a Protestant, he was an avid student of Scripture and in the book as well as his video programs, Keith refers to Scripture in a way that sheds light on some Church teachings that may be foreign to Protestants, as he gives evidence of the Biblical nature of the faith. In his book, Keith approaches the unapproachable – like how to bring a civil marriage into the Sacrament of Marriage, how to understand the Catholic devotion to Mary, and how to confess one’s sins to a priest.
The content format of “What you Need to Do” and “What You Need to Not Do” is especially helpful for those of us who need a specific road map on our journey.
Converts will love this book because Keith offers a step by step guide, with his signature snappy humor, to help newbies navigate through everything from finding a Church to understanding the steps to becoming a Catholic, including the sometimes-scary Sacrament of Reconciliation (aka Confession). But he doesn’t stop with explaining the mechanics of converting to Catholicism, he dares to go into the weeds of the manner of worship, the conventions, and the culture, helping those whose journey was similar to his, to find their way to the one true religion founded by Jesus Christ. Bottom line: it ain’t easy.
I laughed throughout my reading of the book, relating to Keith in the way I’d relate to a good friend. In his Chapter on “Why Do People Convert,” Keith recalls how much he enjoyed being pastor of his Church, especially during “Newcomer Orientation.” He loved hearing people tell him why they chose his church from among all the others in his city. Then he quips in a parenthetic note: (“Part of me wonders what it would be like to have Newleavers Parting Shots” but who would be crazy enough to handle that?). This was an LOL moment in my reading!
The best part of Keith’s book is the awe and surprise he experienced attending Catholic Mass, which he communicates so well. For example, about the part of the Mass where the priest introduces the reading of the Gospel, Keith writes: “….Next, we all say “Glory to you, O Lord,” and then we make a small sign of the cross on our foreheads, lips, and heart. This signifies that the Gospel affects our mind, our words, and our heart. Pretty amazing!” About the liturgical calendar, Keith says “As you engage with it, you will experience some pretty amazing things. It’s awesome!”
Keith Nester has tapped into something most important about Catholicism. It’s awesomeness! We cradle Catholics have taken it for granted. I think we lost a great deal of the majesty of the faith when the “New Mass” was instituted, dismantling the altar rails, communion in the hand, turning the priest toward the laity instead of facing God during the sacrifice of the Mass. This turned the congregation into an “audience,” instead of faithful participants in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. So if you are a Catholic who is disillusioned with the New Mass, I urge you to search and you will find a Latin Mass in your area (aka the Ordinary Rite), which preserves all that’s awesome about the Catholic Mass.
I highly recommend getting Keith’s book and supporting his ministry online.