So, you're in a church with almost 2000 years of oral and written tradition, and the question is, "Where do I start?" The study of theology can be as rich as fertile grounds or as dry as the desert. Navigating through this breadth of knowledge can become the biggest obstacle for our growth in the intellectual life. So, as a student brother charged with studying this tradition, please allow me to share a few thoughts. First, if you have not read the bible please stop reading everything else and tolle Lege (pick up and read)! The bible is the fountain of wisdom for our written traditions and a source for tremendous conversion. So, pick up and read the entire, inspired word of our Lord.
So, after the bible, what's next? Should I read Thomas' Summa or the Code of Canon Law? If you want to undergo such purgation, then sure. However, I would suggest that you invoke the Holy Spirit in prayer and ask yourself, "What about my faith or my church am I most curious about?" Then, make things easy for yourself, open up an internet browser, and "google" for the first part of your answer. Look for those websites which come from the church (ussccb.org or vatican.va) or from some internet encyclopedias such as New Advent or Wikipedia. But please do not stop here but read and research the footnotes! As members of a Dominican church family, God calls you and I to flourish in the intellectual life by becoming enthralled with the hunt for the truth. The footnotes and references from articles are our hammers and leveling tools for finding the truth. We may not get a full answer, but the thrill seeking the truth brings us closer to God and His Word, Jesus Christ.
-br. James Martin Nobles, O.P.