Our cable carrier picks up WGN, the network from Chicago which aired several videos from Fr. Robert Barron’s 10-part series titled “Catholicism.” The series–at least, four parts of it–will be coming to PBS in October, with the other six videos to be aired on EWTN beginning in November. I jumped through hoops to see the first ones, adjusting my schedule so that I could attend Mass on Saturday, then sit glued in front of the TV on Sunday morning. I’m here to tell you that it’s GREAT!!
I was more than happy, then, when I was asked to review the companion book, Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith for the Patheos website. Here is a part of what I wrote:
For a brief moment when I first opened the book, I enjoyed a sense of smug superiority. The first line in the first paragraph in the Introduction asks the question, “What is the Catholic thing?” Father Barron explains that for Blessed John Henry Newman, “the Catholic thing” was the Incarnation, encapsulated in John 1:14, which says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”
“No!” I exclaimed to no one in particular. “That’s the Christian thing!” For surely, I thought, Catholics share this core belief with believers from all the Christian denominations.
But two pages later, Father Barron burst my ego bubble, catching me unawares with a distinction that I’d known at some primal level but never elucidated: Catholicism, he noted, has 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. Jesus didn’t just enter the world on Christmas Day in the year 6 A.D. He enters yet today in the liturgy; in the graced governance of popes and bishops; in the texts, arguments, and debates of the theologians; in Catholic writing and art and in great cathedrals. He enters yet today, I realized, in my own humble prayer and in my daily work.
There’s more, though. Stop over at Patheos and read the rest.