Cardinal Gibbons documents the talks he gave to mixed groups of Catholics and non-Catholics in Virginia and North Carolina. The talks explained the faith, its Biblical basis, and the supporting rationale in a way that is thorough yet palatable for non-Catholics. In replying to the common criticisms raised by non-Catholics, Cardinal Gibbons might well be responding today. The criticisms have persisted. The non-Catholics apparently ignore the replies. Because the book is so friendly, it can be safely and productively given to non-Catholics, especially those interested in the Catholic faith.
To determine if you need to read the book, consider how you would (1) explain what the Church teaches concerning the following topics; (2) demonstrate the Biblical basis for the teaching; and (3) describe the logical basis for the belief.
1. There is but one God, but three persons in this one God. 2. The true church of God must be: 1. One 2. Holy 3. Apostolic 4. Universal (catholic) 5. Perpetual 3. The Church teaches infallibly. 4. God appointed the Catholic Church to be the custodian and interpreter of the Bible. 5. God appointed St. Peter the first Pope and continues the leadership of the Church through his successors. 6. The Pope teaches infallibly. 7. The Pope's temporal power is suitable. 8. Invoking the help of the saints is appropriate and beneficial. 9. Honoring the Blessed Mother and asking for her intercession is appropriate and beneficial. 10. Statues are beneficial to our practice of the Catholic faith. 11. There is a place called Purgatory and our prayers for the dead help those in Purgatory. 12. The Catholic Church is the most tolerant of all other religions and non-religions (such as atheism), the Inquisition not withstanding. 13. Each of the seven sacraments are outward signs, instituted by Christ to give grace. 14. The seven sacraments are important, and some necessary, for our salvation. 15. Receiving Holy Communion under one species is sufficient. 16. The Mass is a divinely commanded sacrifice. 17. The vestments and setting of the Mass, including the church building and it adornments, are appropriate. 18. Indulgences are appropriate and beneficial for both the living and the dead. 19. The celibate, male priesthood is an important part of the Catholic faith. 20. Marriage is forever.
Those of you who have been schooled in Catholic apologetics will recognize that no time is given to the historicity of the Bible or Jesus' claim to divinity.
In reading the book, you will discover some of the changes that have occurred in the Church since 1876, almost all of which have come after Vatican II but not because of Vatican II. For example, we now use a lower-case C for Catholic in the Creed. We no longer use Latin, despite the arguments Cardinal Gibbons uses for retaining Latin. We no longer have Mass every day because we skip the Mass of Holy Saturday. Many prayers no longer are assigned indulgences. Even the meaning of "100 days indulgence" has changed.