What did the Council of Trent teach on the subject of justification? What does Humanae Vitae actually say about contraception? What are the earliest creeds (symbols of the faith) and how to they differ? How has the Church's teaching on the Eucharist been clarified through the centuries? How does John Paul II describe the proper relationship between faith and reason?
This tome, running nearly 1100 pages, is (-to steal from an old Army ad) "a great place to start" one's research into Church teachings. The entries are arranged thematically (-revelation and faith, Tradition and Scripture, the Triune God, the Church, sacraments, and so on) and the Index is good. (Not great, mind you, but good.) Several of JP II's encyclicals are included, so it's quite up to date. (The first edition of this work appeared in 1973; this, the Seventh Revised and Enlarged Edition, contains material as recent as 1999.)
The font is large enough for reading without eye-strain. (Many compendiums fail readers in this regard.) The margins provide breathing room for notes. The paper sucks highlighter yellow pale, but that's accepatable in such a large edition offered at a modest price.
One always wishes for longer excerpts from beloved documents, but the editors have done a matrerful job of providing an overview of the Church's authoritative teachings on the central aspects of the Catholic faith.
This is a must for the serious student of Christian theology and history. It contains the critical 'snippets' from counciliar and papal documents of the earliest times to today. The book has the Roman Catholic Church's official responses to problems; from the heresies we encountered in the Patristic Age, to the Reformation, to today's social justice issues. In both spirit and form, it is another Denzinger's Encheridion, except it is in English, not Latin and Greek. As a seminarian, it ranks a place next to the Bible and the Catechism; and as a priest-to-be, it will help solve all those really tough to answer questions!