Ever-Present Yes: An Interview with Fr. Robert Barron on "Catholicism; A Journey to the Heart of the Faith"
I think that modernity captivated our culture with the promise that the past could be dispensed with; or rather than looking to the past for what we have learned, we should lose ourselves in a march toward a future that is yet to be realized. Despite the hypnotic allure of this promise, it ultimately proves to be empty. The past is in us, and to reject the past without discrimination is to empty our lives of truths that are essential. The past is not a bad thing; it is in fact a wonderful resource for us in the present and for the future. I think that we can extend Pope Benedict's recent insights about a hermeneutic of continuity to the value that Catholicism places on "never throwing anything out." The Church rejects the rupture that modernity insists that we accept in regard to the relationship of the past to the present and the future.
You make an argument for God's existence here; you describe Mary as the summation of Israel. You explain how art and beauty is part of this prolongation of the Incarnation. What I took from this book was something very warm and joyful—a continual gathering, or drawing in; a continual invitation that confers meaning on all people, all things, all events and leads us to one joyful and ecstatic moment of affirmation. Catholicism, then, is a giant and echoing "Yes," reverberating from the moment of creation, described in Genesis, and relayed from Mary's fiat?
Yes! Catholicism is about God's "yes" and it presents humanity at the fullest realization of who God intends for us to be when our response to God's yes is "fiat." Let your "yes" be accomplished in me, in the Church, in the culture! This is why the Mother of God is the paradigmatic expression of the Christian life.
Is it, in the end, all about willingness? Our willingness to respond "yes" to God's ever-present "yes"? That is, ultimately, the heart of the faith toward which we journey?
Precisely. A lot of Christians stumble in attempts to attain a worthiness before the Lord that he does not require. The saints know better. They know that none of us is worthy and yet Christ chooses us to be bearers of his own divine life. What is a seemingly insurmountable obstacle for us is nothing at all for him. Christ makes what is impossible, possible. His Grace is transformative and will take what we are, change us, and bring us to the fulfillment of the purpose for which he created us. On our part we must be willing to accept his invitation, his great, resounding "Yes." Catholicism at its best is our response in the affirmative to God's great "yes" to us.
Again, Father, I can't praise the book enough and will happily and passionately promote it; I found it to be downright miraculous. You invite the reader into mystery and then break it down so amiably; there is nothing pedantic about this book—as my auntie would say, "it's not high-falutin'"—and yet within it you encourage us to ponder this great, empathic positivity in ways that are exciting and exhaustive but not at all exhausting. Rather we are energized and ignited. Thank you very much for being willing to write it—to help map out this adult journey for us, and for taking the time to enlarge on some of those themes for our readers here at Patheos.