This is the second post in my series on Robert Barron’s new book Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith from Image Catholic Books. I finished reading it last week, but with the start of the academic year, I’m just getting to write my review. I hope that some of you were able to check out the livestream with Fr. Barron. Here I’ll give a general overview of the contents.
Barron does something fresh in not following the course of the creed as does the Catechism of the Catholic Church and other introductions to Catholicism based on it. For example, chapter two is about Jesus and chapter three about God. In introductions that follow the creed, it’s God then Jesus. There is something to say about getting right to Jesus in the Introductory chapter entitled “The Catholic Thing.” Barron starts the book as follows:
What is the Catholic thing? What makes Catholicism, among all of the competing philosophies, ideologies, and religions of the world, distinctive? I stand with Blessed John Henry Newman who said that the great principle of Catholicism is the Incarnation, the enfleshment of God …
Following upon this, the chapters are connected, but topical. He includes chapters on revelation, the teachings of Jesus, the mystery of God, Mary, Peter and Paul, the Church, Eucharist, communion of saints, prayer and last things. He bookends these chapters with an introduction and a “coda.”
One another unique element of the contents that many people will enjoy is the pictures. Barron includes black and white images throughout the chapters. He also includes a beautiful set of color images in the middle of the book. This is certainly a strong point that I will talk about in my personal reflections on the book. One of Barron’s main points is that one cannot simply study Catholicism from a book, one must also “read” the art and architecture of the Church down through the centuries. This is too often lost in many introductions to Catholicism. I can imagine that the DVD media presentation would be even more stunning.
In my next post, I’ll give my personal reflections on the book. In the meantime, I would mention that it got a very nice blurb on the back cover from a fellow biblioblogger with whom I teach.