An accessible introduction to traditional Catholic teachings.
Best known for his evangelical ministry, Word On Fire, Father Barron’s (Eucharist (Catholic Spirituality for Adults), 2008, etc.) latest book opens with a description of what he calls the distinctive “Catholic thing," the incarnation of the Word, Jesus, as human flesh. Catholics experience this continued enfleshment, Barron writes, through sacraments and songs, theology, the teachings of the Church, and Catholic art and poetry. So begins this simple, engaging guide to the Church that encompasses everything from theological tracts to popular tales of Mary apparitions. The author shies away from hot topics such as abortion and sexuality, focusing on philosophical principals such as the mystery of God, the problem of evil, the beatitudes, the unified Catholic church, Mary’s role as the Mother of God and the Eucharist. Highlights include inspirational stories about notable Catholics, including Mother Teresa and her struggle with faith, the conversion story of playboy-turned-monk Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day’s activism and the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI. Barron surveys different aspects of Catholicism rather than presenting a comprehensive guidebook: “I want to function as a mystagogue, conducting you ever deeper into the mystery of the Incarnation in the hopes that you might be transformed by its power.” Interspersed within the text are numerous images of Catholic paintings, sculptures and cathedrals, serving as a quiet reminder of the religion’s rich artistic history.
Not in-depth enough for seasoned Catholics, but provides a pleasant primer for cafeteria Catholics and newcomers to the faith.