Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith Info

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Reviews for Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith:

4

Aug 14, 2011

I discovered that Father Robert Barron narrated the audiobook version of Catholicism ... and was able to snag a copy. Having watched the DVDs of the Catholicism series when I helped with RCIA classes, I was able to "hear" Barron's intonation and pacing when looking over the print version recently. It is simply a pleasure to hear him reading this great book.

My official review is below.

==========

Since my conversion, I have read many a book about saints, angels, prayer, virtues, and all those good I discovered that Father Robert Barron narrated the audiobook version of Catholicism ... and was able to snag a copy. Having watched the DVDs of the Catholicism series when I helped with RCIA classes, I was able to "hear" Barron's intonation and pacing when looking over the print version recently. It is simply a pleasure to hear him reading this great book.

My official review is below.

==========

Since my conversion, I have read many a book about saints, angels, prayer, virtues, and all those good Catholic subjects. Reviewing the list, however, I was surprised to see how few of them covered Catholicism as a whole.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, of course, is a reference I use regularly. The impeccable logic of Peter Kreeft's Catholic Christianity helped settle my mind about Catholic teachings on controversial issues. Catholicism for Dummies and The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Catholic Catechism are favorite references.

None of them, however, are designed to be engaging, uplifting reading (although the Catechism certainly can perform that function).

Enter Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith by Father Robert Barron. Barron has the knack of articulating Catholic theology in a way that makes one sit up in astonishment and delight as well-worn concepts take on fresh, new life. Look at his presentation of what the Incarnation means to us, as human beings.
In their own ways, Marx, Freud, Feuerbach, and Sartre all maintain that God must be eliminated if humans are to be fully themselves. But there is none of this in the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation. The Word does indeed become human, but nothing of the human is destroyed in the process; God does indeed enter into his creation, but the world is thereby enhanced and elevated. The God capable of incarnation is not a competitive supreme being but rather, in the words of Saint Thomas Aquinas, the sheer act of being itself, that which grounds and sustains all of creation, the way a singer sustains a song.

And the Incarnation tells us the most important truth about ourselves: we are destined for divinization. The church fathers never tired of repeating this phrase as a sort of summary of Christian belief: Deus fit homo ut homo fieret Deus (God became human so that humans might become God). God condescended to enter into human flesh so that our flesh might partake of the divine life, that we might participate in the love that holds the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in communion. And this is why Christianity is the greatest humanism that has ever appeared, indeed that could appear. No philosophical or political or religious program in history—neither Greek nor Renaissance nor Marxist humanism—has ever made a claim about human destiny as extravagant as Christianity's. We are called not simply to moral perfection or artistic self-expression or economic liberation but to what the Eastern fathers called theiosis, transformation into God.God's noncompetitive love and our transformation into the divine are touchstones that Barron returns to throughout the book. As he presents Catholicism in all its complexity—from Jesus as warrior to Mary and the saints to the Eucharist and beyond—readers begin to grasp that love and transformation are indeed the core of the Catholic faith.

Barron's enthusiasm is palpable and his examples vivid. I especially enjoyed the way he wove imagery throughout his text, only to suddenly expand it to make larger theological points. I already was familiar with Noah's ark as an image of the Church, as a place of safety for all. However, it was a revelation when he took it one step further and pointed out how medieval architects reinforced the connection by endeavoring to make cathedrals look like great ships. He gave me potent, mind's-eye images that stuck with me through the rest of that section.

Here, Barron makes a similar leap, bringing the gospel to life, and into our immediate lives, with great enthusiasm.
Saints are those who have allowed Jesus thoroughly to transfigure them from within. Paul caught this when he observed, "yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me" (Gal 2:20). In chapter 5 of Luke's Gospel we find an odd story about Jesus and Peter. As the eager crowd presses in on him, Jesus spies two boats moored by the shore of the lake. Without asking permission, he gets into the boat belonging to Peter and says, "Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch" (Lk 5:4). What followed, as we have seen earlier when analyzing Mark's version of this scene, is the miraculous catch of fishes. Read with spiritual eyes, this story reveals the essential feature of sainthood. For a Galilean fisherman his boat was everything; it was his livelihood, his work, the means by which he supported his family. Peter's fishing vessel represents, therefore, his professional creativity, his link to the wider world, the key to his survival. Jesus simply gets into the boat and commences to give orders—and the result is the greatest catch Peter the fisherman ever made. Jesus' uninvited boarding of the vessel represents the invasion of grace, the incoming of the divine love into someone's life. Precisely because God is noncompetitive with creation, precisely because he wants human beings to come fully to life, this inrushing of grace does not destroy or interrupt what it invades; it enhances it and raises it to a new pitch. Peter, one presumes, had been successful enough as a fisherman, but now, under Jesus' direction, he goes out into the deep and brings in more than he could ever have imagined possible. This is what happens when we cooperate with grace, when we allow Christ to live his life in us.

The saints are those who have allowed Jesus to get into their boats and who have thereby become not superhuman or angelic but fully human, as alive as God intended them to be. The entire purpose of the church, as we have seen, is to produce saints.The book is not perfect. Over a hundred black and white photos are included and they are well enough in their way, but color would have packed a greater punch. I would have traded the eight-page color plates at the center for colored photos scattered throughout the book, instead. Too many shots of great art were rendered unremarkable in black and white, which is ironic, as the book is a companion to a ten-part Catholicism television series. A key point of the series is the beauty of the Catholic faith as expressed through the work of human hands. While the book stands alone, it fails to amplify that beauty for its readers.

I also found that Barron occasionally couldn't resist diving instantly into complex concepts that might have done better with a more extended simple introduction. This is especially true in the chapter about prayer. He moves too quickly into the prayer lives of Thomas Merton, St. John of the Cross, and St. Teresa of Avila, all of whom may intimidate even seasoned Catholics with their far-reaching concepts. While Barron does address the sort of basic petitionary prayer that is the cornerstone of most people's experience, he quickly jumps to Merton. I was thoroughly confused halfway through and had to reread the chapter. Barron would have done well to recall that some readers may be completely new to prayer or may come from Christian backgrounds that might view the mystics with deep suspicion.

These points aside, Barron's book is a real treasure. His development of Heavenly imagery into a place I could actually imagine myself inhabiting has charged me with excitement about getting to Heaven. His points about Jesus as a warrior reminded me that I, too, am called to never give up, never surrender. His guide to Dante's Divine Comedy invested layers of meaning in the books about Purgatory and Heaven I completely missed when I read them.

Catholicism is a wonderful guide to the heart of the Catholic faith. It will no doubt explain the faith to many, and light the imaginations of those already on that journey. ...more
5

Aug 18, 2011

I have a book packed away in my basement titled Catholicism: An Incredibly Difficult To Read and Boring Introduction to the Faith. OK, maybe that wasn't the title, but it should have been.
Father Robert Barron's book is the opposite. It's meant for well-meaning people like myself who prefer to learn about interesting topics the National Geographic way - well written, insightful, and plenty of pictures. Like this book, which came after Barron's documentary series. That shows. It's not dumbed I have a book packed away in my basement titled Catholicism: An Incredibly Difficult To Read and Boring Introduction to the Faith. OK, maybe that wasn't the title, but it should have been.
Father Robert Barron's book is the opposite. It's meant for well-meaning people like myself who prefer to learn about interesting topics the National Geographic way - well written, insightful, and plenty of pictures. Like this book, which came after Barron's documentary series. That shows. It's not dumbed down, but it is visual, graceful, and succinct. He celebrates the good and the beautiful that is at the heart of the Church, truths easily forgotten in the midst of the news of controversies as mere humans strive to correct what has gone wrong - and will always go wrong with the Church. Human beings (specifically men) are in charge, so how could we expect perfection? There's a place for that news and those questions, and people who try to shut down investigations or reform aren't doing the Church any favors. But it's also so necessary to have writers like Barron perform the equally difficult feat of putting so much that is grace-filled into accessible language. He writes with great love, covering saints and sacraments, but also the triumph of music, art, and literature that has come through the Church and infused cultures and civilizations with beauty and truth.
I was excited when I received Catholicism in the mail (a Goodreads win!), and this book isn't headed for the basement. It stays up here with me. ...more
5

Apr 14, 2014

It has been said that the healthiest spiritual people are those who have the strongest sense of the difference between themselves and God.
-Fr. Barron in Catholicism: Journey to the Heart of Faith

I thought I would do an interesting twist and contrast a recent movie with this book of colossal meaning .

Mr. Banks
VS
Fr. Robert Barron







A Sad Mr. Banks

The other night my wife and I watched Saving Mr. Banks. We thought it was going to be a fun movie about how they made Mary Poppins. Instead it “It has been said that the healthiest spiritual people are those who have the strongest sense of the difference between themselves and God.”
-Fr. Barron in Catholicism: Journey to the Heart of Faith

I thought I would do an interesting twist and contrast a recent movie with this book of colossal meaning .

Mr. Banks
VS
Fr. Robert Barron







A Sad Mr. Banks

The other night my wife and I watched Saving Mr. Banks. We thought it was going to be a fun movie about how they made Mary Poppins. Instead it ended up being (I’ll try not to make this too much of a spoiler) a somber movie about the sufferings of the author, which shocked us, especially since it was a Disney film. I was deeply moved by the story (some friends tease me about my easy sentimentality and reading into movies).
I don’t want to spoil the story for those of you who have not seen it, as you should see it. So let me just give the bare bones of it. The movie shares the traumatic experience of being the child of an alcoholic. Out of the traumatic pain an unlikely fruit was brought. For the character and author, Pamela Travers, the fruit was a book which touched Walt Disney and many others: Mary Poppins. Walt Disney pestered her for 20 years to get it made into a movie; she thought he would not honor her characters. Finally she consented desperate for money to keep her home; the conflict within Pamela Travers then is how to honor her characters, which are for the most part images from her past, on screen. It is as if she hoped writing the book would redeem her from the pain of her past. It did not. The movie also takes on the hope of such a redemptive role. In the end, she does find healing, but there is still a hole not completely filled. I took away a couple themes from this film.
The first is: we all experience pain in life on some level, but what can we do about it? In the movement of the story, Disney says he cannot change her pain, but shares with Travers his own painful upbringing, stating how he was grateful still for is father who caused it. There is a quote, whose author I cannot recall, but makes the point along the lines of: if we all placed our problems in a pile and were allowed to choose a different one, we would gladly take ours back once we saw other peoples. Why is this? Because God gives us the grace to handle our own particular problems. Disney exemplifies to Travers how he made the most of his struggles. Pamela Travers in her turn also found an outlet for her pain: in writing. In a sense the message of the film is that pain can be transformed to hope through story.

The second theme builds off of and contradicts the first so you have to dig deeper for it: the lack of a permanent redemptive solution through our own measures. Travers’ writing of Mary Poppins is an attempt to reshape her painful childhood into a hopeful future, and the making of it into a film is cathartic for her, but in the end there is an essence of failure which no telling of her past can cure. I suppose Disney is depicted as saving Mr. Banks (a.k.a. her father) through the making of Mary Poppins (thereby ending with a Mr. Banks flying a kite with his children), but the reality remains that Travers still feels the pain and woe of not having done more for her real father. It is discouraging to see she could do nothing to overcome his disease. And for herself there is no clear change at the closing of the film either. In the end she is as lonely as ever—granted a more healed loneliness, but still lonely.
I have not quite made my mind up about the themes—the idea of literature being a beauty born from pain and leading to redemption. I will leave some room for interpretation to you. I think story does in some form take on a redemptive quality. We would not listen to or watch them if it were not so. To quote Walt from the movie, he says, “We write stories in order to keep hope alive.” And in a sense this is true, but I feel like if Disney and his Disneyland are the models of such hope they are rather shallow—over when we leave the theater or the amusement park. I do believe literature and story are a transformation of pain into something beautiful, but I do not know if in and of itself it becomes redemptive. I do however know of one such story that is…

The Hope All Other Stories Keep Alive
Enter then a booming story. The myth which is Truth, as Tolkien used to tell C.S. Lewis: the story of Christ. Fr. Robert Barron in delightful detail recaptures the truth in his book, Catholicism: Journey to the Heart of Faith. Again and again he is able to bring the beautiful and extravagant history of the Church back to one thing: the relationship with Christ. He weaves together the life of Christ with the centuries of the Church so we as readers capture afresh in our minds the footsteps of Christ throughout the workings of Catholicism.
Perhaps you have heard of the film series, Catholicism, well did you know he also wrote a book of the same content? I would like to tell you why I think the book adds to the videos and what makes the book an invaluable companion, like glowing pages for the bookshelf of your intellect to stay lighted by.


Something about the concrete touch of the book is irreplaceable. A vast number of stunning pictures cover the pages and the words are a treasure trove of wisdom you will want to highlight and underline ( I know I did!). Catholicism, by Fr. Barron, who has quickly risen as one of the most comprehensive minds of the Church; with keen and moving insights into the Catholic Faith. Combine his brilliance and the wealth of Catholic doctrine and you have a book masterfully composed to accompany you on your journey into the heart of Catholic belief.
If you are like me, you learn differently through different venues. I learned from the films visually; I loved the imagery of the films and highly recommend them, but the book is more personal. I feel I can absorb the truth in a more intimate communication between God, myself, and Fr. Barron.
The way the story of Christ is told, as a continuing thread of Catholic history through the centuries, is done in writing simple and clear to understand. Fr. Barron does not write to manifest his own mastery of the Catholic ideas and philosophies, but instead portrays it all in a way showing us the magnificence of God and the Church. He is the offshoot, in wit and telling of the faith, of the much loved Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Read this book. It will change you. It will show you Christ and the hope He gives to our lives in a new light. Fr. Barron makes it a very real hope going beyond any other story, one which we can partake in through living out our Catholic faith. The pain of Travers and Disney, as well as our own, does indeed become redeemed through the story of Christ.
Was it a coincidence that I was reading this book at the time I watched Saving Mr. Banks? No. It was a grace. A grace to be reminded that we all can find a story of complete redemption. The greatest story ever told. The story of Christ and His Church. And it just so happens we are remembering and celebrating it this week.
I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review. ...more
5

May 31, 2019

There is SO MUCH here that I want to specifically point out, but it would take me a very long time. So here is my review of things that I like, material that jumps out at me, or just a point that I want to comment on. Ive compiled my information in chronological order, so forgive me if this is not all coherent.

There are pictures included of much of what Bishop Robert Barron mentions, breaking up the monotony of just reading text (not that I mind that) and bringing the reader into a deeper There is SO MUCH here that I want to specifically point out, but it would take me a very long time. So here is my review of things that I like, material that jumps out at me, or just a point that I want to comment on. I’ve compiled my information in chronological order, so forgive me if this is not all coherent.

There are pictures included of much of what Bishop Robert Barron mentions, breaking up the monotony of just reading text (not that I mind that) and bringing the reader into a deeper experience—which emphasizes what he talks about.

- We are called to transformation into God, something that other Christians (and even non-Christians) also adhere to. The difference between Catholics and others is that we embody all aspects of other Christian denominations whereas they tend to be more piecewise. This is explained in detail, as well as how we are similar.
I don’t mean this as an “us vs. them” mentality but a “we are different, and here is how.”
Bishop Robert Barron explains this so very well in the intro:
Essential to the Catholic mind is what I would characterize as a keen sense of the prolongation of the Incarnation throughout space and time, an extension that is made possible through the mystery of the church. Catholics see God’s continued enfleshment in the oil, water, bread, imposed hands, wine, and salt of the sacraments; they appreciate it in the gestures, movements, incensations, and songs of the Liturgy; they savor it in the texts, arguments, and debates of the theologians; they sense it in the graced governance of popes and bishops; they love it in the struggles and missions of the saints; they know it in the writings of Catholic poets and in the cathedrals crafted by Catholic architects, artists, and workers.

- In order to fully understand the Incarnation, one has to not only read the Gospels and letters of the New Testament, but multiple writings from theologians and saints. Bishop Barron even includes information from “The Divine Comedy.” We have to “look and listen,” taking in the music and art and architecture of many Christian creations. It’s almost daunting, but Bishop Barron takes all the works and people mentioned in the intro and gives the reader a brief understanding of its (or their) importance in Christianity as a whole.
What I propose to do in this book is to take you on a guided exploration of the Catholic world, but not in the manner of a docent, for I am not interested in showing you the artifacts of Catholicism as though they were dusty objets d’art in a museum of culture. I want to function rather as a mystagogue, conducting you ever deeper into the mystery of the Incarnation in the hopes that you might be transformed by its power.

- Christianity is not just about ethics or religious ideology. It’s about being in relationship with Jesus; not just about focusing on His words, but His person.


- I REALLY like the inclusion of Greek words (and their meanings), making this feel more authentic than it might have otherwise.
For example, I didn’t realize that the “good news” pertained to any imperial victory.

- I had to laugh when Bishop Barron notes that the words “Jesus the Lord” as stated by Paul were “fighting words.”

- In Chapter 2, Bishop Barron says this: freedom is not primarily a choice, but rather the shaping of desire so as to make the achievement of the good first possible and then effortless.
I love how he relates this to Shakespeare and Michael Jordan

- Going through the Beatitudes as having positive and negative aspects was powerful.

- The differences between the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God and other gods like Zeus is that our God acts alone and nothing is greater than Him. Zeus rules over the other gods, but together they hold more power.
Also, creation from nothing is a nonviolent act, which is what our God displays. However, most mythology and some other gods have creation being developed due to wars between gods or some other types of violence.
“Precisely because God doesn’t need the world, the very existence of the world is a sign that it has been loved into being.” - Chapter 3


- According to Thomas Aquinas, we only know what God is not, not what He is. God has unconditioned power (omnipotence). God knows the entirety of the universe (omniscient).
Little nuances between what is the etymology of a word vs. what we think the word is are important.

- Precisely because God doesn’t need the world, the very existence of the world is a sign that it has been loved into being. - Chapter 3

- While I knew most of the theological reasoning for the crucifixion, it was still interesting to read all at once and in the context of everything else.

- I love the information about the Council of Ephesus in AD 431. It is about the divinity of Jesus, as well as His humanity; it’s about Mary being the Theotokos (God-bearer) because of this.
If she is the one through whom Christ was born, and if the church is Christ’s mystical body, then she must be, in a very real sense, the mother of the church. - Chapter 4

- Mary’s Conception and Assumption force us to see God in the “functions and destiny of the lowly human body.” (Chapter 4). This is SO BEAUTIFUL.

- This beginning to Chapter 5 is also absolutely beautiful:
Due to their centrality, Peter and Paul are not merely of historical interest; they live on as determining archetypes in the community of Jesus to the present day.

- I didn’t know that Catholic bishops were required to make a pilgrimage to Rome every 5 years to visit the tombs of Peter & Paul.

- Peter is our strength, structure, hierarchy, our head. Paul is our evangelist, energy, and engagement of culture.
Without the Petrine discipline, the Pauline work would be unfocused and continually in danger of dissolution. Without the Pauline energy, the Petrine work would devolve into cold management and ecclesiastical bureaucracy. - Chapter 5

- Catholicism requires us to form communities to serve a higher power, not ourselves. We are Catholic not for our purposes, but for God’s.

- I DID know that churches were built in the guise of ships, but I didn’t realize how much the ‘boat’ analogy fit with everything.

- I never knew terms for health and holiness were so similar!

- I never thought of the liturgy as a play before now.
I also don’t think I ever realized the “And with Your spirit” pertained to Christ within the priest and not the priest himself.

- “You are indeed holy, O Lord, and all you have created rightly gives you praise, for through your Son our Lord Jesus Christ, by the power and working of the Holy Spirit, you give life to all things and make them holy.” Once again, as the priest utters this prayer he reminds us that we are enfolded in the embrace of the three divine persons. - Chapter 6
I will certainly be more aware with these words in the future!

- The explanations and analogies for transubstantiation are fantastic.
In everything that is not God, there is a difference between essence and existence; that words have the power to change things, even our own biases and points-of-view.

- I don’t know if I ever knew of the blood bond between the Jews and God, but even if I did, I needed that reminder. It seriously makes everything make sense.

- The entire purpose of the church […] is to produce saints. - What a strong start to chapter 8.
And we ned to saints to know God.
From there, Bishop Barron talks about multiple saints (or people who were respected as high as, in 2011)—from Mother Teresa to Edith Stein to Thomas Merton to Aquinas—and how they contributed to our modern understanding of prayer, God, the s(S)acraments, theology, acts of mercy, and many other aspects of our faith.

- Only by being free of materialism and secularism will we be [spiritually] full.
Only by starting spiritually will we be able to rid ourselves of ego.
Only in desperation can we find God. ...more
5

Sep 21, 2011

This one is a keeper. This is one, that if it didn't go completely against my grain to highlight books (I didn't even like doing it when I was in college--I don't even highlight or put notes in my Bible) would be highlighted all over. It is a very readable book but one that has a lot of information. I'd like to share a few of my bookmarks with you.
p. 50: Regarding turning the other cheek: "To turn the other cheeck is to prevent him from hitting you in the same way again. It is not to run or to This one is a keeper. This is one, that if it didn't go completely against my grain to highlight books (I didn't even like doing it when I was in college--I don't even highlight or put notes in my Bible) would be highlighted all over. It is a very readable book but one that has a lot of information. I'd like to share a few of my bookmarks with you.
p. 50: Regarding turning the other cheek: "To turn the other cheeck is to prevent him from hitting you in the same way again. It is not to run or to acquiesce, but rather to signal to the aggressor that you refuse to accept the set of assumptions that have made his aggression possible.....The promise of this approach is that it might not only stop the violence but also transform the perpetrator of it.
p. 141: Discussing Hans Urs von Balthasar's comments on Peter and Paul: Every priest...is...a descendant of Peter. Every missionary...is... a son or daughter of Paul. Without the Petrine discipline the Pauline work would be unfocused and continually in danger of dissolution. Without the Pauline energy, the Petrine work would devolve into cold management and ecclesiastical bureaucracy. The two together, in tensive harmony, have propelled the church through the centuries and around the world.
p. 146, quoting St. Joan of Arc: "About Jesus Christ and the church, I know only this: they're simply one thing, and we shouldn't complicate the matter." As an articulation of the peculiarly Catholic sense of the church, it would be hard to improve on that.
The book begins with a look at the Nativity as the beginning of Christianity and at some high points in the life of Christ. From there, Fr. Barron takes a look at the beatitudes and the parable of the Prodigal Son. He points out that the older son, in saying that he has been working like a slave all those years, said nothing of reciprocal love; rather his were the comments of one driven by mercantile calculation. He then spends a chapter on the nature of God and the Trinity. While I claim on great expertise in non-Catholic Christian theology or beliefs, I doubt there would be much in these chapters, other than the presumption that the Catholic church is the original Christian church, with which most non-Catholic Christians would disagree.

Chapter 4 is a different story. It covers Catholic Marian doctrines of the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary. It talks about why those doctrines are important in understanding the nature of God and Jesus, and what they mean to us. Mary's apparitions at Lourdes and Mexico are covered as well. Chapter 5 is about Peter and Paul and the complimentary natures of their ministries. Fr. Barron mentioned one of the great issues of the Reformation--what is necessary to be saved, per Paul.

I'd tell you about the other chapters, but I haven't read them yet--as a matter of fact I'll commit to telling you more about them later so this book doesn't languish under the stack of junky romance novels that take a lot less brain power to read. Though it takes more brainpower to read than a trashy novel, it isn't a hard to read book, so don't let that remark scare you off. Rather, it is one of those books that should be read a little at at time and the ideas mulled over in your mind and heart. Grade: A ...more
5

May 07, 2012

One of the very best books I've ever read about the Catholic faith, and Christianity in general. And that's saying a lot, becaue I've read so many books about the faith that I've lost count.

One of the best things about this book is it's readability. I think it should be just as accessible and enjoyable for the novice theology reader as it is for the theologian.

Also, it covers the gamut of basic Christian belief in an exciting and non-offensive way. I think non-Catholic Christians who want to One of the very best books I've ever read about the Catholic faith, and Christianity in general. And that's saying a lot, becaue I've read so many books about the faith that I've lost count.

One of the best things about this book is it's readability. I think it should be just as accessible and enjoyable for the novice theology reader as it is for the theologian.

Also, it covers the gamut of basic Christian belief in an exciting and non-offensive way. I think non-Catholic Christians who want to understand the history and basis of their own faith would find this book enlightening, if not life-transforming.

The only criticism I have is that I wish a couple of the more common points of contention, namely Mary and Papal Authority were discussed in a little more depth. That said, this is more of a survey than a treatise. After all, it is only one volume.

Bonus--the book is actually based on a 10-part documentary, if you want additional visuals beyond the countless photos dispersed throughout the book. ...more
2

Nov 23, 2014

I'm not the intended audience for this book. I'm naturally excited about my faith and have read much to educate myself. I teach Sunday school and work with youth groups so I'm always looking for better ways to answer tough questions and to dive deeper in my faith. There are lots of good reviews of this book, and it's not bad, but it bored me, I found myself skipping ahead and skimming and finally giving up. I'm not sure what I learned, if anything I have to admit I really enjoyed the section on I'm not the intended audience for this book. I'm naturally excited about my faith and have read much to educate myself. I teach Sunday school and work with youth groups so I'm always looking for better ways to answer tough questions and to dive deeper in my faith. There are lots of good reviews of this book, and it's not bad, but it bored me, I found myself skipping ahead and skimming and finally giving up. I'm not sure what I learned, if anything I have to admit I really enjoyed the section on the beatitudes. In the end though I found no new way of saying what has been said. I don't want to be mean, the author did a great job of writing and the book has its audience. I actually want to see the video series now, of you're deaf, and don't like subtitles, and want to watch the video series--this book might be for you. ...more
5

Feb 14, 2016

An incredibly detailed but accessible look at the history, whys and wherefores of the Church.
3

Jun 29, 2017

This book aims to explain some of the basic teachings of Catholicism. I am a livelong Catholic who knows a lot about the faith and the book taught me a few things. I found the author's discussion of
God to be particularly thought provoking.
5

Jul 11, 2017

Wow! What a great depiction of the Catholic faith. I had to restrain myself or entire book would be underlined. Very deep but very very readable. Bishop Barron has that gift of making deep truths completely understandable. He was not "preaching to the choir". This book is for everyone from cradle Catholic to Atheist who wants a panoramic view of Catholicism. A book I will be revisiting often.
3

Sep 04, 2017

Robert Barron does not set out to defend the Catholic faith, rather paint an attractive picture of it. He does, however, discuss the things Protestants find most objectionable ("theosis," the veneration of Mary and her immaculate conception, assumption, and "Dormition." He discusses the claim to be the "one" true Church, the centrality of Rome, the apostolic succession, Papal infallibility, and transubstantiation).
5

Sep 21, 2012

Catholicism is a notable book that is well worth a read for anyone interested in learning more about the Catholic church's history, beliefs, teachings, and traditions. It is an easy read and is packed with information, so it can easily be read and reread. Barron's voice is approachable and informative, and the examples of saints' stories and church art enrich this book. This is a truly amazing book that has found a permanent place on my shelf! More at www.shelfishness.blog.com
3

Sep 19, 2018

I would say it's great if you want more historical information than scriptural or theological. About halfway through, I just wanted to be done with it, though. It wasn't particularly moving, but it does have beautiful pictures of art and statues and cathedrals and saints. Overall, if you just want to read more about Catholicism and the history of the church and it's people, then it's good, but if you're looking for something speaking more on a biblical or theological standpoint, I wouldn't I would say it's great if you want more historical information than scriptural or theological. About halfway through, I just wanted to be done with it, though. It wasn't particularly moving, but it does have beautiful pictures of art and statues and cathedrals and saints. Overall, if you just want to read more about Catholicism and the history of the church and it's people, then it's good, but if you're looking for something speaking more on a biblical or theological standpoint, I wouldn't recommend it. ...more
5

Jul 04, 2012

I LOVED this book! It had one of the best explanations of the beatitudes I have ever heard. It was a very good look at not only Catholicism, but at Christianity in general. I also especially liked the author's explanation of why "Faith, Hope and Love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is Love." When we are sharing in the glory of heaven, Faith ends because we see and no longer merely believe; Hope ends because we have realized our greatest desires; but Love remains because heaven is I LOVED this book! It had one of the best explanations of the beatitudes I have ever heard. It was a very good look at not only Catholicism, but at Christianity in general. I also especially liked the author's explanation of why "Faith, Hope and Love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is Love." When we are sharing in the glory of heaven, Faith ends because we see and no longer merely believe; Hope ends because we have realized our greatest desires; but Love remains because heaven is Love....God is Love! The final chapter on heaven, hell and purgatory makes me want to go back and re-read Dante! Highly recommend! ...more
5

Feb 04, 2018

A comprehensive, yet compelling and surprisingly understandable, book that covers the beliefs of the Catholic faith. For anyone searching for more information about why Catholics do what they do (including Catholics themselves), this is a must-read. And, for any Catholic, this is certainly a must-read! I was able to gain a deeper understanding of some of the very powerful, mystical rituals of the Church, as well as clarity concerning historical events. Fr. Barron is quite talented at writing, A comprehensive, yet compelling and surprisingly understandable, book that covers the beliefs of the Catholic faith. For anyone searching for more information about why Catholics do what they do (including Catholics themselves), this is a must-read. And, for any Catholic, this is certainly a must-read! I was able to gain a deeper understanding of some of the very powerful, mystical rituals of the Church, as well as clarity concerning historical events. Fr. Barron is quite talented at writing, and makes the entire book easy to read despite the complexity of the subject. In addition, there is a documentary mini-series that parallels and expands on the information provided in the book. ...more
5

Oct 05, 2011

The book's final sentence is an incredible summary of what is contained within: To hear the echo of God's voice in all these things is to be a Catholic.
5

Apr 03, 2012

The book reads like one of Fr. Barrron's YouTube videos. It is clear, deep, insightful, and still down to earth. He makes reference to Max Scheler and John Lennon touching the student, the scholar, and the layman. His depth of language allows fro him to write clearly without extending a topic farther than is necessary for his goal. I would suggest this book to anyone because of its ease of prose and its clarity of doctrine.

As I began to move through the book, I realized that Fr. Barron has put The book reads like one of Fr. Barrron's YouTube videos. It is clear, deep, insightful, and still down to earth. He makes reference to Max Scheler and John Lennon touching the student, the scholar, and the layman. His depth of language allows fro him to write clearly without extending a topic farther than is necessary for his goal. I would suggest this book to anyone because of its ease of prose and its clarity of doctrine.

As I began to move through the book, I realized that Fr. Barron has put into a 275 page book the totality of seminary academic formation. I felt like I was reliving my classes of the last nine years. What was experienced intellectually in the seminary is being offered in this short read. With each subsequent chapter, I found a review that was so clear that I was able to understand the given topic with greater clarity. Fr. Barron's ability to articulate gives the read the opportunity to learn how to articulate well what believe and to an audience that is riddled with doubt. It will be a great catechetical tool because takes what we believe and presents it in a way that is desirable.

It is also a book for the everyman because of the plethora of photographs, color and gray-scale, that litter the book like a tapestry of word and image that is women together for the glory of God. The book shows the reader the great physical and intellectual patrimony of the Church inviting a peep into heaven through these icons and words.
This book would be a great recommendation, also, for people coming off a retreat. This will give clarity and definition to the fire stirred in their heart after a retreat. It will set them firmly on the ground and give direction on where to walk.

Welcome, to the glory of Catholicism! ...more
5

Feb 13, 2016

This is an excellent introduction to the basics of the Catholic church. I first heard of this book when I watched the series on EWTN a couple of years ago. They would advertise the book and video series for sale at the end of each episode, and I immediately wanted it. However, the series on DVD and Bluray is quite pricey for me to afford. I was ecstatic when I found out I could get the book as an audio book narrated by then Father Barron.

There is only one part of the book that I am unsure of. At This is an excellent introduction to the basics of the Catholic church. I first heard of this book when I watched the series on EWTN a couple of years ago. They would advertise the book and video series for sale at the end of each episode, and I immediately wanted it. However, the series on DVD and Bluray is quite pricey for me to afford. I was ecstatic when I found out I could get the book as an audio book narrated by then Father Barron.

There is only one part of the book that I am unsure of. At the end in chapter 10 Bishop Barron discusses the "Last Things", heaven, hell and purgatory. When he discusses Hell and Purgatory, as nearly as I can tell based on my knowledge of church teaching, he seems to be pretty much right on the money. However, when he discusses Heaven, particularly who goes there and our "blessed hope", I am unsure of the Catholic church's official stance on this issue.

I have recently been listening to a man named Michael Vooris who has attacked Bishop Barron on this issue several times. Vooris claims that Bishop Barron teaches that because of God's mercy almost ALL men will make it to heaven. Vooris, of course, disagrees with this stance. Bishop Barron does say in this section of his book that we cannot even be certain that Judas Iscariot or Hitler are in hell. This seems rather far fetched to me because Jesus said to his disciples regarding Judas "Woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man. It would be better for him had he never been born." (Matthew 26:24). Of course, this does not SAY that Judas will go to Hell, but it certainly implies dire consequences for him.

Overall, however, this is a very good book with clear, concise explanations of what comprises the teachings of the Catholic church. Very much worth the credit I paid for it. ...more
5

Oct 26, 2011

I think this book is one that everyone I know should read. Yes, that means YOU. ESPECIALLY if you have an interest in your Catholic faith.

As I read and delighted in Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith, by Fr. Robert Barron, I tried to give it a nifty one-line description. (Its a little marketing challenge I play when my brain is awake.) I came up with a few:

- A Catholic text for the rest of us
- Theology as faith study, punctuated with pictures
- Delightfully Catholic, universally I think this book is one that everyone I know should read. Yes, that means YOU. ESPECIALLY if you have an interest in your Catholic faith.

As I read and delighted in Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith, by Fr. Robert Barron, I tried to give it a nifty one-line description. (It’s a little marketing challenge I play when my brain is awake.) I came up with a few:

- A Catholic text for the rest of us
- Theology as faith study, punctuated with pictures
- Delightfully Catholic, universally faithful
- If Catholic = universal, then this book = wonderful
- More than just another reference, here’s a book to read with your heart

It has ten chapters, and it clocks in at 279 pages. It spans the faith from the history to theology to philosophy to application. I was, above all, fascinated.

I’ve read a few popular Catholic theology books, but very few of them can stay long on my office “must reference” shelf.
When I raved about it to my pastor (I stopped just shy of suggesting that we use this, along with the Youcat, with the next class of Confirmation students), I compared Barron’s work to Scott Hahn. Another parishioner had emailed him already about Father Barron’s Catholicism project (which will be airing on one of our local channels!), so he recognized Barron’s name.

I am, admittedly, pretty excited about my faith. After reading Father Barron’s book, though, I find myself renewed and reenergized. Throughout the entire book, I was turning the page, wondering what was next.

When’s the last time a theology book kept me turning the page like a novel would? Honestly, I don’t remember. I’ve read some great books this year, but this one is up there with the best (if it’s not the best) that I’ve read.

Barron’s treatment of the faith is at once tender, factual, and intriguing. He presents it almost scientifically, but in a way that bespeaks a deep love. It reminds me of the way I hope I would speak about my husband, and that warms my heart.

Bottom line: read this book. Then buy a copy for your parish library, because without a doubt, someone else needs to read it too! ...more
4

Apr 03, 2017

Well written and very interesting synopsis of the Catholic faith and the meaning behind some of its symbolism and beliefs.
4

Mar 18, 2017

When my last book about theology proved disappointing, a book friend sent me to this one. It was an excellent recommendation and I thank you. "...love is what God is: love is the divine life---and the entire purpose of spirituality is to get that life in us," Robert Barron writes. "Love is not primarily a feeling...it is willing the good of the other as other." The church is, Barron tells us, the mystical body of Christ, and "...shares in the very being, life, and energy of Christ." It is When my last book about theology proved disappointing, a book friend sent me to this one. It was an excellent recommendation and I thank you. "...love is what God is: love is the divine life---and the entire purpose of spirituality is to get that life in us," Robert Barron writes. "Love is not primarily a feeling...it is willing the good of the other as other." The church is, Barron tells us, the mystical body of Christ, and "...shares in the very being, life, and energy of Christ." It is "...that mystical body, in which people learn to see with the eyes of Christ and to walk the path that Christ walked." Whew. This author takes me way, way, way into the depths. ...more
5

Jan 21, 2019

I wish that I were better equip to write a impressive review on this incredible book! My words are not able to do it justice. Such esteem ! Such awe! A definite read!
5

May 24, 2017

An excellent overview and meditation on the Catholic faith. I especially enjoyed the section on mass. In fact I wish I had read it many years ago.
5

Jun 26, 2018

He has a certain way with words that makes reading this both enjoyable and fascinating.
4

Jan 08, 2018

Robert Barron is a Roman Catholic Bishop who is well articulate. As a theology student I find him one of the few conservative voices I purposefully listen to. great book, with some brilliant ideas and arguments. Would highly recommend of one wants to understand the Roman Catholic faith and thinking.

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