The Catholic Church has certainly faced some difficult challenges in recent years. Sex scandals, bishops who looked the other way, and a shortage of priests are seared into the consciousness of many within and outside this faith tradition. Barron, a Catholic priest and professor of theology at Mundelein Seminary near Chicago, draws attention back to the beautiful and rich tradition of this two-millennia-old religion. The author is able to set politics aside and examine the true heart of the Catholic faith—God, Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and the numerous devotional practices and dogmas that have developed over the centuries. He casts a spotlight on some of the holy people who have helped build up the church, such as Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Katharine Drexel, and Mother Teresa. Barron’s engaging stories help to dissect and explain complex theological tenets. One comes to understand that Catholicism transcends religious practice; it is a lifestyle.Those who would like a concise but substantive introduction to the Catholic faith need look no further. (Sept. 6)
Barron (Francis Cardinal George Chair of Faith & Culture, Mundelein Seminary) has written a companion book to his ten-part documentary, Catholicism. As such, his book is not a systematic catechism or an official statement of doctrine but a more organically organized tour by a man of great personal faith. Addressing such topics as Jesus's teachings, the Virgin Mary, the sacraments, the communion of saints, and prayer, Barron's book is richly and aptly illustrated and learned without being oppressive. VERDICT Integrating personal story and insight with a lifetime's experience and knowledge, this is an excellent and personal introduction to Catholicism for readers new to the faith as well as lifetime Catholics.
An accessible introduction to traditional Catholic teachings.
Best known for his evangelical ministry, Word On Fire, Father Barron's (Eucharist (Catholic Spirituality for Adults), 2008, etc.) latest book opens with a description of what he calls the distinctive "Catholic thing," the incarnation of the Word, Jesus, as human flesh. Catholics experience this continued enfleshment, Barron writes, through sacraments and songs, theology, the teachings of the Church, and Catholic art and poetry. So beginsthis simple, engaging guide to the Church that encompasses everything from theological tracts to popular tales of Mary apparitions. The author shies away from hot topics such as abortion and sexuality, focusing on philosophical principals such as the mystery of God, the problem of evil, the beatitudes, the unified Catholic church, Mary's role as the Mother of God and the Eucharist. Highlights include inspirational stories about notable Catholics, including Mother Teresa and her struggle with faith, the conversion story of playboy-turned-monk Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day's activism and the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI. Barron surveys different aspects of Catholicism rather than presenting a comprehensive guidebook: "I want to function as a mystagogue, conducting you ever deeper into the mystery of the Incarnation in the hopes that you might be transformed by its power." Interspersed within the text are numerous images of Catholic paintings, sculptures and cathedrals, serving as a quiet reminder of the religion's rich artistic history.
Not in-depth enough for seasoned Catholics, but provides a pleasant primer for cafeteria Catholics and newcomers to the faith.
“Clarity, intelligence, passion and elegance – these are the marks of a writer in top form, and Father Barron brings all these gifts to bear in this extraordinary reflection on the Catholic faith. If you read one book this year on what Catholics believe and why, this is the book to read – and to share with others.” –Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap, Archbishop of Philadelphia
“Father Robert Barron’s Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith takes a path less traveled in leading us to explore the faith through stories, biographies, and images. In these pages, we meet the “Word made Flesh” not only in theological formulations, but also in saints and poets, cathedrals and chants, priests and prophets. What makes Catholicism so compelling are the ways in which Father Barron shows how the Incarnation goes on in the true, the good, and the beautiful.” – Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York
“Catholicism is one of the most significant efforts ever to advance what Pope John Paul II called ‘The New Evangelization.’” –George Weigel, author of Witness to Hope and The End and the Beginning
“Prepare yourself for an entrancing tour of the many facets of Catholicism. From Her art to Her architecture, Her theological riches, to the inspired personalities that have filled Her pews, the Catholic Church is laid bare by a priest who is more than up to the task. Like the Faith it seeks to capture, it is a journey that will leave you full – and then hungering for more.” –Raymond Arroyo, New York Times Bestselling Author of Mother Angelica and host of EWTN's The World Over Live
“Father Robert Barron is a brilliant academic, a popular writer, a seeker and a seer. In Catholicism he illuminates truths that have the power to set us free. It will be a benchmark book for years to come.” –Michael Leach, author of Why Stay Catholic?
“When Father Barron is talking, I can't stop listening. Whatever he writes, I can't put down unfinished. He loves the people he addresses. He writes about what matters to us. To read him is to be loved in word after word. In these pages, heart speaks to heart.” –Mike Aquilina, co-author of The Mass: The Glory, the Mystery, the Tradition
“Father Robert Barron’s great gift is to wed intellectual depth with clarity and vividness of expression. His Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith is a superb exploration of the Catholic vision that seamlessly unites theological reflection and masterpieces of architecture and art. The story he tells comes truly alive in his portraits of concrete men and women who, in every age, have lived the journey of faith to the full. –”Rev. Robert Imbelli is Associate Professor of Theology at Boston College