"Catholicism:" A Course in Revolution

Recently I posted the first of what are bound to be many, many posts raving about Catholicism; A Journey to the Heart of the Faith and urging you to purchase the book, read it and — you won’t be able to resist — give it to everyone you know.

My husband and I are giving it to our priests and the parish DRE, and we’re not waiting for Christmas!

And I haven’t actually even written my rave review, yet. But while I figure out how to do that, George Weigel has written a rave of his own, this time for the DVD Series!

[PBS'] “Civilization” was the perfect way to finish a serious undergraduate liberal arts education; it brought together ideas, art, architecture and history in a visually compelling synthesis of the history of western culture that respected Catholicism’s role in shaping the West.

Over the next four decades, I wondered whether someone, somewhere, at some point, would do a “Civilization”-like series on Catholicism itself: a Grand Tour of the Catholic world that explored the Church as a culture through its teaching, its art, its music, its architecture—and above all, through the lives it shaped. That has now happened. The result is the most important media initiative in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States.

I have been lucky enough to see the first episode (I am heading into retreat in a few hours and am bringing additional episodes with me, to watch) and I concur. The book is stand-alone splendid, but together with the series (and the study program) we’re talking about a flint-strike that could spark a conflagration of Catholic renewal and a hunger for adult catechesis that could literally change the world.

That is not an exaggeration.

I got an email tonight from a woman who read this post and realized that the reality of the world “as it is” makes her unhappy.

Well, combating the world “as it is” requires us to teach and admonish, not with the tactics of the world, but “in wisdom made holy” through the love of Christ. If we do that correctly we will — like the early Christians — attract others, and thus assist the Holy Spirit in the turning of the world toward the light.

If we do it incorrectly, we will only repel those who are perhaps in the greatest need to come to know the love of Christ and his salvation. And then we will have to deal with a turned-off, tuned-out world whose heels are stubbornly dug-in to the darkness.

Worse, we will have to answer to Christ as to why we trusted the worldly way of confrontation — the way of anger and distrust and scored points and power — over His way, and the way of His saints, the way of patience, humility and love.

Bl. Pope John Paul II famously said that we Catholics must look at the world clearly and see it “as it is” before we can help to form it into something more perfect-in-Christ.

To do that, we to pray, certainly, and we need more than prayer, but we are not sure what that might be.

I believe this effort by Father Robert Barron’s Word on Fire — its instruction, it’s beauty, it’s passion and it’s profound humanity in exploring the Incarnational Christ and His church — may well be the precise and timely tool we need to learn how to respond to the world “as it is,” because it tells us things about ourselves, our church and our Savior that many of us do not even know, or have perhaps forgotten.

Think about it. The person who really knows who he or she is, and is true to himself or herself, is the magnetic and trustworthy person with whom you feel safe enough to engage in discourse — because you know that person needs nothing from you for their own validation.

If Catholics do not know who they are, what they believe and why they believe it, they face the world at a profound disadvantage, because they have only the world and its promptings and provocations to respond (or react) to, and a spiritual arsenal that needs serious replenishing.

Catholicism is what we need to replenish and renew; this is the adult catechesis that can re-invigorate one soul, and then another, and then another, until a secure and confident force amasses — one that in the face of “reality” and relativism can declare “we know who we are, and who sustains us,” and effect the spiritual and social revolutions we so desire.

Writes Weigel:

Father Barron knows that the Catholic Church is a community of sinners whose infidelities have often marred the face of the Lord. At the same time, Father Barron’s series displays the innumerable ways that the Catholic Church has been and remains a force for truth, decency, compassion, and sanity in an often-cruel world.

Watch it. Politely lobby your local public television station to show the series in its entirety. Spread the word.


Read an interview with Fr. Barron on why he filmed “Catholicism”

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Jen

    Awesome, Elizabeth! You are eloquent as always. Will take it to heart. Gotta get that book and DVD’s.

  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    I see there is a Kindle format for the book. Do you think you lose something with the Kindle format? Kindle is not in color, at least not my version. Are there nice pictures in the paper version?

    You got to see the first episode? Boy you guys in the big media get all the breaks. :-P

  • Gail F

    I am dying to see it! The trailer is electrifying! I would love to buy it but I am not going to have $150 to spare for, perhaps, the next 6 years. I propose an economic stimulus program for the video industry in which every citizen gets $150 to spend on the DVD set of his or her choice.

  • Joe

    1) There are not a lot of pictures in the book. Although the series is inspired by “Civilisation” and “Alistair Cooke’s America” and such – the book is a standard hardcover with just a few illustrations – not the coffeetable type book that accompanied the other series. It’s very good! But not a picture book.

    2) Gail: Check and see if any of the episodes are showing on PBS in your area. It is starting in many areas in October.

  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    @Joe #4
    Thank you.

  • steven ham

    This is a spot-on review of the importance and magnificence of both the “Catholicism” series and Fr Barron’s broader ministry. Readers should also be aware of Matthew Kelly’s efforts to bring back the “fallen-away” Catholics through his “Dynamic Catholic” initiative. His book, Rediscovering Catholicism, is a perfect complement to Fr Barron’s work. Both of these ministries deserve our support, including financial commiitment. God Bless both these holy men.

  • Jeanne

    Father Barron was on Al Kresta’s show yesterday.

    Several people called in to mention that many churches across the country are renting out a movie theatre for free showings to the public…awesome idea! Some parishes are showing the series on Sunday nights with a meal and discussion..this would be a great idea for an Advent or Lent study!!!!

  • Win Nelson

    I have the DVDs and have watched the first four. They are wonderful!

    Father Barron gives truly inspired insight to our faith.

  • Win Nelson

    Manny, I have the book also. The book documents the episodes and I do not recall if there are pictures.

  • http://paschallamb.com Cecilia Balog

    I am the co-owner of The Paschal Lamb, a Catholic bookstore in Fairfax, VA. I was sent a promotion packet of the “Catholicism” series in May and I have been spreading the word about this wonderful program since then. The first two episodes were televised in the DC area last night and my husband and I were glued to the TV. It met all our expectations. We will continue to offer the books, DVDs and leader set in our shop. Do support your local Catholic bookstore wherever you are by purchasing “Catholicism” through them.

  • Jason

    Political conservatives often deride publicly funded goods. And yet it was PBS that agreed to run Father Barron’s “Catholicism” series while major, secular private media corporations wouldn’t touch it.

    Although this looming fact goes largely unnoticed, I am sure it would cause some major cognitive dissonance for those Catholics who’ve signed up to the Republican bill of goods as though they were the fifth Gospel.