I didn't know what to expect when I first got the chance to review Hardon's "Catholic Dictionary." I had a vague idea what a book like this would be about and how useful it may be. At worst, I imagined that it would be the Catholic version of a standard dictionary. I pictured a book full of words and their definitions that could be referenced whenever I needed to recheck my spelling or reference a word that I had half-forgotten. However, I found myself pleasantly surprised by the manner in which this book was written and compiled.
Yes it is a dictionary, but it is far more than a list of words and dry definitions. It is, in a sense, a very condensed version of a theology book specializing in the Catholic faith. Hardon does more than provide simple definitions, he introduces us to different topics and expands upon them. I would liken the "definitions" provided in this book to the kind of explanations you would get from a parish priest or theology teacher if you were to approach them and ask them what a "consecration to Mary" meant. In this book, Hardon introduces readers to this act of devotion by first talking about its origins and then explaining what it means to be consecrated to Mary. The act of consecration (in part) is also included in the definition.
As I looked up different definitions to words I had heard before (but didn't understand completely), I found myself finding out more about my faith with each passage I read. This book is no substitute for proper religious education, but it would be quite a help to anyone who is interested in learning more about Catholicism. I know I certainly learned a lot of things just by reading up on any term that happened to catch my eye as I went through this book. This dictionary may also prove as an invaluable reference tool for anyone studying theology or someone who reads a lot of Catholic works, lives of Saints, doctrinal materials, etc.
Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this review are my own. I was offered a free copy of this book for review by Blogging for Books.