Skip to comments.The Catholic Revolution Will Be Televised
Posted on 09/24/2011 9:32:19 AM PDT by Kaslin
"I'd like you to convert Chicago," Father Robert Barron remembers his boss, Francis Cardinal George, archbishop of the Windy City, telling him about six years ago.
The result of that charge will be airing on many PBS stations, starting this week.
Barron, a Chicago priest and professor, has created a remarkable book and TV series called "Catholicism" -- which, in reintroducing a 2,000-year-old tradition, manages to be both elaborate and humble. It's self-conscious as a work of evangelization (complete with available study guides and a prayer card for those who care for such things), yet welcoming to a wide potential audience.
Barron characterizes his effort as a "guided exploration of the Catholic world ... conducting you ever deeper into the mystery of the Incarnation in the hopes that you might be transformed by its power." He makes excellent use of the vibrancy of technology to reintroduce a vocabulary and tradition that has, of late, been too much hindered by a lack of confidence.
And while there is no mistaking Barron's presence as the main instigator, he loves to talk about his show as a team effort, the fruits of the talent and generosity of many. It's a truly pastoral approach, a good reminder to people of faith who feel exiled by the culture: Don't be in exile, engage; don't play the victim, be a brother. This, too, is Catholicism: a manifestation of God's glory here on earth, but also a human attempt to seek that which is greater, making use of the creative means we have access to in the here and now.
"I wanted something that was elevated. Something that was intellectual. But also something that was lyrical. Something that would draw people into the texture and the feel of Catholicism," Barron tells me. And so he shows us everything from Aristotle to St. John of the Cross to baseball and John Henry Newman.
You don't have to be Catholic, want to be Catholic, or even like Catholics to go on this journey. It's not a homily. Barron doesn't preach at you. The series is not just challenging to others, it also challenges itself: Barron's producer occasionally questions him on camera.
And yet, it's also the best sermon you've ever heard; the best class you've ever taken. Or the homily you've never heard and the classroom you never had available to you.
The 10-part series, partially to be aired on 80 PBS stations, the EWTN network and available in a 10-DVD set, is a trip to the Holy Land, Chartres, the Sistine Chapel, Calcutta, and Uganda.
Barron says the most memorable of his travels were to those last two places. He had studied in Paris and taught in Rome, but Calcutta was something different. "It's like the worst, most squalid garbage dump you've ever seen, writ large, but where people are living: on the sidewalks, in boxes. And in the midst of all of this, here are these women of tremendous joy and dedication." He celebrated Mass where Mother Teresa is buried and says, "I remember thinking people will be coming here for a thousand years; there will be Catholic pilgrims here in a thousand years."
He then visited Uganda, where St. Charles Lwanga and 22 companions were martyred. It was the saint's feast day, and 500,000 people gathered at the spot where Lwanga and his fellow believers met their destiny. "It was extraordinarily moving," Barron tells me. It would have been reasonable to predict at the time of the executions more than 100 years ago that "the end of Christianity in Africa" was at hand. Instead, Barron points to the hundreds of thousands and -- recalling Tertullian's contention that "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church" -- says, "You tell me."
In a day when discussion of the Catholic Church turns readily, and even understandably, to scandal -- "abusive priests, clueless bishops, corruption" -- Barron has not forgotten that "the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." The story he tells is this enduring belief, that "the Word of God -- the mind by which the whole universe came to be -- did not remain sequestered in heaven but rather entered into this ordinary world of bodies, this grubby arena of history, this compromised and tear-stained human condition of ours."
"Catholicism" is a crash course, and, as the cover of the book depicts, an open door. "It's a way in," Barron says.
Classic, revolutionary -- like the Gospels themselves, and also game-changing reality TV.
“I’d like you to convert Chicago,”
Billy Sunday couldn’t do it.
J.C. O’Hair couldn’t do it.
Do you really think Father Robert Barron can do it?
Those missionaries will by necessity cultural martyrs in US and actual martyrs in Europe...Question is how much of the west will be left by then...if you listen to Mark Steyn...its already too late
God can do it. But He likes people to help.
I certainly thing that Fr. Barron has begin the process. I purchased the Box Set of the series from WordonFire.org and can attest that what it will accomplish is to remove much of the misunderstanding and outright ignorance about what Catholicism is. In one way or another it will favorably touch and alter everyone who sees it.
I’m so annoyed. I don’t have a working television in the house, in part because I need to keep my 17-year-old son away from TV for another 9 months, until he finishes high school, but in part because a $100-a-month cable bill is not in the financial cards for me right now. Neither is the $149 charge for the DVD set. I want passionately to see this thing, though. It’s hard for me to invite myself over to someone’s house to watch it; can’t envision myself saying, “Hey, can I come over and monopolize your TV for a few hours for the next ten weeks?” Guess I’m going to have to cultivate the virtue of Patience and wait ‘til EWTN carries it. Humph.
He will reach a lot of CINOs on PBS. I will try to follow it on EWTN.
Contact your parish's RCIA program. Many have copies.
Can’t wait to see this. There are times that I am grateful for cable and PBS. Not often just sometimes.
I own a Catholic bookstore which means I have no money at all. I really hope we can find a way to have this in the store.
And if our church buys one, how awesome would that be?
I want this, for me, personally. Yikes.
PBS is not on cable, so can’t you just use your tv without the cable?
If not, ask a friend to record it for you, even if it’s a close friend, or relative in another state.
I don’t have a TV, so it doesn’t help if someone tapes it. I was sort of hoping to watch it online. EWTN should be carrying it online in November; I’m just whining because I want to see it NOW. But patience is a great virtue I need to cultivate, so I will just wait ‘til November. The rest of you, enjoy! ;-)