[Editor's Note: This post is part of a conversation on the new book Catholicism hosted at the Patheos Book Club here.]
When I was a child, I was blessed to attend one of the most beautiful churches in the United States, St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica, in Beaumont, Texas. A hidden jewel of a church in southeast Texas, this Cathedral completely captured my Catholic imagination during my childhood. The murals, stained-glass windows, architecture, statues, and decorations all radiated the glory of God for me. I was filled with wonder and awe at the beauty of God’s creation every time I entered the church. Some of my earliest, and fondest, memories included staring at at the dome in the center of the cruciform sanctuary in St. Anthony.
This awe and wonder for the Catholic Church was felt once again when I read Fr. Robert Barron’s new book, Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Church. As a disclaimer, I must admit that I am a huge fan of Fr. Barron. I believe he is the best communicator of the message of Jesus Christ in the United States today. His new book does not disappoint.
I believe this book is the best modern overview of the Catholic Church’s truth, beauty, and goodness I have ever read. More than just another book about Catholicism, Fr. Barron takes us on a journey through space and time, to visit the great thinkers, artists, writers, and Saints of the Catholic Church. He doesn’t just tell us about the Catholic Church, but helps us love her.
His narrative is rich and descriptive. While Fr. Barron certainly uses Catholic teachings to tell us about the Catholic Church, the book is much more than just a doctrinal treatise on Catholicism. Fr. Barron uses Catholic art, music, architecture, and history to paint his picture. Furthermore, he tells us the stories of the lives of Saints, both ancient and modern, to guide us in how we are to live out the faith. Finally, he wraps it up in a call for us to embrace that which is truly Catholic, not just the pitiful image of a dying Church which modern pundits have sold to many people in our modern world.
I cannot think of a single person I would not recommend this book to. From fallen-away Catholics to practicing Catholics and from atheists to Muslims, all of them would benefit from reading Catholicism.
Fr. Barron’s style is easy to read and he is nearly lyrical in his prose. He adeptly addresses philosophical and theological arguments, so the average person will be able to grasp difficult concepts. He also allows the truth about Jesus to speak for itself, rather than trying to convince or push.
If I could give him 6 out of 5 stars I would, the book is an absolute masterpiece, and if you think I am speaking in hyperbole, I challenge you to read the book for yourself.
|Fr. Barron took me back to St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica and sat me in the third pew from the front, left of center. He then pointed to the great dome and had me once again gaze at the beautiful art that was above me. Through Catholicism, I once again gazed with wonder and awe at the beauty of God’s creation and ultimately I found Jesus anew in the Catholic Church – through this book.
What more could I ask for?
Marcel Lejune is Assistant Director of Campus Ministry at Texas A&M; you can find his blog at http://marysaggies.blogspot.com/