Christianity: An Introduction to the Catholic Faith

Fr David Albert Jones OPChristianity1.jpg (28950 bytes)

This new booklet is the product of an exciting joint venture between Family Publications and the Catholic Student Societies of Oxford University. It was launched in February 1999 as part of a mission to bring the Gospel to the students at Oxford: over 15,000 free copies have been given away to students thanks to the generosity of sponsors and benefactors, in the hope that some of these scattered seeds will fall on fertile ground.

Family Publications worked with the Student Societies, undertaking editing and production, and has produced an edition for general use, which we are offering at the low price of £1.25 a copy (with quantity discounts - see below), so that you too can ‘scatter seeds’ of faith. Already being used extensively in parishes nationwide, it will serve equally well for missions, for personal distribution to non-Catholics, or for Catholics who need to know more about the basics of their faith. Pocket-sized, so ideal to keep by you for opportune moments.Christianity2.jpg (45757 bytes)

Fr David Albert Jones is a young Dominican priest at Blackfriars, Oxford, where he is sub-prior: he was commissioned by the Catholic Student Societies in Oxford to write this booklet. His excellent text gives the reader a reliable overview of all aspects of the Catholic Faith, from the basic notions of the existence and nature of God, through to the Church and sacraments, devotion to saints, ways of praying and salvation. The final section suggests how people who are interested may find out more, including ideas for further reading. So why not buy some now and answer the Holy Father s call for a ‘New Evangelisation’!

64 pages [A6: 15x10.5 cm]; only £1.25 each* [plus 25p p&p each*]

[*no p&p for any six or more items, discount terms of 10% for 12 or more, or 20% for 25+, 25% for 50+, 35% for 100+, 40% for 250+, 45% for 1000+)

Family Publications, 77 Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 6LF
Tel:01865 514408. Fax: 01865 316951. email:

Review of the above booklet in the

At last: ‘Mere Catholicism’

Walter Hooper on a book his friend C.S. Lewis would have enjoyed.

Christianity: An Introduction to the Catholic Faith by David Albert Jones OP, Family Publications, £1.25

If anyone was good at turning Christian doctrine into language everyone could understand it was C.S. Lewis. He’d give this booklet very high marks. In the Preface to B.G. Sandhurst’s How Heathen is Britain? Lewis said: "if the younger generation have never been told what Christians say and never heard arguments in defence of it, then their agnosticism or indifference is fully explained. There is no need to talk about the general intellectual climate of the age, the influence of mechanistic civilisation on the character of urban life... If any one is prepared to tell [the younger generation], they are apparently ready to hear."

The magnificent Catechism of the Catholic Church exists for just this purpose. But Christianity is as useful in its own way. I’ve been hoping someone would write a Catholic equivalent of Lewis's Mere Christianity, and this is the closest thing to "Mere Catholicism" I know of.

Its history is a thrilling success story. A group of Catholic students from Oxford University, with the support of the Chaplain, Fr Peter Newby, realised that most students are ignorant of Catholicism because they d never been told what it is. They commissioned the Dominican priest, Fr David Albert Jones, to write "a general introduction to the Catholic faith", and decided to give every student a copy. There was then a Novena from St Patrick’s Day to the feast of the Annunciation.

There have been wonderful surprises. The first delivery was of 24,000 copies. In February student volunteers saturated the colleges of Oxford with 15,000 copies. News spread like a bush fire. Within a week of publication the stocks were down to 2,000 copies. Priests from all over the country were ordering them in lots of 100 two asked for 1000 each! There was a second printing of 15,000 in March, and a copy was sent to every parish priest in the UK. Over 10,000 were sold the first fortnight, and a third printing of 25,000 is imminent.

Why? The students wanted the Holy Spirit to touch the minds and hearts of those who read Christianity. It is surely happening. The booklet is a short, clear and punchy, imminently readable and thorough. "The focus of the Catholic religion," says Fr Jones, "is not a holy book, but rather a person: Jesus of Nazareth. He was truly and completely human, able to suffer and rejoice, weep and laugh, like us in all things except sin... Jesus is the bridge between God and human beings. He became human that we might become divine."

Cardinal Ratzinger would be delighted with Fr Jones's lack of vagueness. Here he is on the Devil: "The notion of pure evil makes no sense. Evil is always a defect or deprivation, a sign or something missing, a rip in the fabric of things... A defect is only the lack of some due perfection. Even the Devil is only a once-perfect angel who has gone off the rails and now wants to spoil it for everyone else."

Every Catholic who picks up this booklet will wonder if some aspect of the Faith he cares about is greatly missing. That is probably the biggest surprise of all: it's all here. Like most Catholics who read The Herald, I believe in a real, objective God who made real, objective things happen, and still does. Even so, I didn’t dare hope to find anything about the Rosary and relics. Wouldn’t the author be worried about incensing liberal Catholics and Protestants? I end with a passage that is a monument of solidity and conciseness, proof that CS Lewis could never accuse this little book of being "Catholicism-and-water":

"Catholics make use of statues, images and crucifixes to help focus their mind while praying to Jesus, Mary or the saints. Sometimes Catholics will visit the tomb of a saint, or take some article touched by them, or even a tiny bone belonging to them, as a memento or "relic", just as in the Scriptures people took handkerchiefs that had touched St Paul and carried them to the sick, who were then miraculously healed (Acts 9:12).

"Thus relics, crucifixes, statues, physical gestures (like making the sign of the cross, which Christians have done since the second century) are useful for us, as Jesus showed. For God came to us in Christ in a physical way, the Word became flesh, not just thoughts or more words."