To Light a Fire on the Earth Barron

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To Light a Fire on the Earth: Proclaiming the Gospel in a Secular Age:

Author: Robert Barron

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Synopsis

Content

Chapter One THE BARRON STORY

Chapter Two BEAUTY

  • That, in a nutshell, is the Bishop Robert Barron approach to missionary work. He wants to draw you into Catholic faith and practice, not because he thinks you’ll be punished if you don’t become a part of the Church but because he thinks it’s so amazing, so rich, so powerful powerful—in three key words—so beautiful, good, and true—that your life will be infinitely better because of it.
  • In Christian tradition, beauty, goodness, and truth are known as “transcendentals,” linked to the three core human abilities to feel, to wish, and to think. Jesus refers to them in the Great Commandment when he talks about the mind, the soul, and the heart, and inducements to take the wrong path with each of the transcendentals formed the core of his temptation scene in the Gospels. While Barron is convinced that Catholic Christianity represents the fullness of all three, he’s equally convinced that the right way to open up the Catholic world to someone is with its beauty.
  • many people today find talk about “truth” off-putting, There’s something more winsome and less threatening about the beautiful.
  • ... he might suggest, “Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity at work among the poorest of the poor.” The wager is that the encounter with the beautiful will naturally lead someone to ask, “What made such a thing possible?” At that point, the canny evangelizer will begin to speak of the moral behaviors and intellectual convictions that find expression in the beautiful. If I might suggest a simple metaphor, when teaching a young person the game of baseball, a good coach begins, not with the rules or with tiresome drills, but rather with the beauty of the game, with its sounds and smells and the graceful movements of its star players.
  • Barron is wholeheartedly convinced that Catholicism is true and good, but he’s equally convinced that, at its best, it’s also gorgeous, fun, fulfilling, life-affirming—and that if you can break through the cultural noise to get people to see all that, they’ll respond.
  • The passion he felt for the game, and his drive to share it, he says, was in some ways his first taste of what it means to evangelize. “I’m an evangelist for baseball. You love something, and you want to share it. Something beautiful has seized you, and you think baseball is terrific, and you want to let people know why.
  • Only when you’ve had that experience of falling in love with something, Barron believes, will learning the rules that support it make sense. Otherwise, “rule-talk” is always going to seem like someone trying to control another, like an exercise in power rather than liberation to play the game well.
  • “Rules are not the enemy of golf,” Barron says. “Rules are what make it possible, and what free you to be a good golfer. That’s the right way to approach the rules of Catholicism too, but the trouble is we have this rule book and people bicker about prohibitions all the time, especially in regard to sex.
  • I’m just trying to get to Heaven before they close the door.
  • “So, do I think Catholicism is the fullest way to live the way of Jesus Christ? Yes. Do I think Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God, and the Way and the Truth and the Life? Yes, I do. I’m not apologizing for it, and I’m so on fire about it I want you to know it too.”
  • From baseball and Bob Dylan, therefore, Barron took a strong core belief that the right way to expose people to a new idea, a new way of life, is to start with what makes it beautiful, relentlessly help them see and feel that beauty, and only then introduce them to the structures and rules that make such a way of life possible. Beauty, in other words, is the key to it all.

THE THEORY OF BEAUTY

  • Balthasar "“Before the beautiful—no, not really before but within the beautiful—the whole person quivers. He not only ‘finds’ the beautiful moving; rather, he experiences himself as being moved and possessed by it.”
  • The beautiful leads to the good and the true
  • Cardinal John Henry Newman, the great nineteenth-century English convert to Catholicism, and his famed Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, in which he referred to something called the illative sense. “It is a grand word for a common thing,” Newman conceded. In essence, it means the natural capacity of all people to sense when they’re in the presence of something remarkable, inspiring, ennobling—in a word, something beautiful.
  • the illative sense isn’t about ars gratia artis, the celebrated MGM motto that means “art for the sake of art.” It’s rather a recognition that the encounter with something beautiful, something so obviously transcendent and powerful, often leads people to wonder how such a thing is possible, what might have fostered it or inspired it, and from there an openness to the divine and to religious thought is often born.
  • The illative sense is what assesses a variety of experiences, hunches, intuitions, and thoughts together. I always loved that in Newman.”
  • Barron insists that the Church must always hold two teachings about itself in tension. On the one hand, the Church is the spotless Bride of Christ, a thing of great beauty and purity. On the other hand, it is also an earthen vessel, composed of flawed and fragile human beings.

CASES OF CATHOLIC BEAUTY

  • his basic evangelical strategy for where one should begin in presenting the faith to the world: “First the beautiful, then the good, then the true.”
  • Great Literature
    • Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
    • The Diary of a Country Priest by George Bernanos;
    • Divine Comedy, by Dante;
    • The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
  • Great Cathedrals
    • “I don’t want to feel comfortable in church; a church should not be a domestic space,” Barron says. “I want to feel transfigured in a church, and the great ecclesiastical architects knew how to produce that feeling. There’s a lot there in terms of evangelical power.”
    • Asked if he could take a potential convert to one place on earth to demonstrate the power and magic of Catholicism, where it would be, Barron doesn’t hesitate: “It would be Chartres,”
  • Barron says his favorite example of beauty in stone is the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Great Music
  • Great Movies
    • A Man for all Seasons - Barron has credited More’s life, and the 1966 film that captured it, with getting across three basic insights: We’re all responsible for upholding the rights of others; accepting one’s duties often leads to discomfort; and despite the second point, you don’t have to be gloomy about it. "More tells him that he can find him a job as a teacher in a local school. Crestfallen, Rich complains, ‘If I were a teacher, who would know it?’ More replies, ‘You, your friends, your pupils, God…not a bad public, that.’ That statement sums up the whole Christian spiritual life, in many ways. You’re playing to one audience. To use Balthasar’s language, it’s not the ego-drama but the theo-drama that matters.”
    • Ben Hur specifically the 1959 version of Ben-Hur, with Charlton Heston,
    • Gran Torino - that it’s “one of the most Christological movies ever made,” and that Eastwood’s character, Walt Kowalski, “joins a list of a handful of really great cinematic Christ figures.” (He also puts Paul Newman’s Cool Hand Luke, Jack Nicholson’s character in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and E.T. on that
    • Fargo

Chapter 3 Goodness

  • Barron believes that Catholicism’s rules make sense only to someone who’s already been enchanted by the faith and the Church,
  • “The concrete living out of the Christian way, especially when done in a heroic manner, can move even the most hardened unbeliever to faith, and the truth of this principle has been proven again and again over the centuries.”
  • Origen of Alexandria said, “First come and share the life of our community and then you will understand our dogma.”
  • Barron is convinced that the moral teachings of Catholicism are true, and that people who strive to practice them will live healthier, happier, more fulfilled lives. At the same time, he knows that in a postmodern, secular world, “rule-talk” often comes off as an attempt to limit people’s freedom, not to free them to become the persons God intends them to be. Therefore, the right way to deploy “the good” as a missionary tool is to start by showing people what a genuinely Christian life at its best looks like—and then, gradually, to lead people to appreciate the principles and norms which make that kind of heroic life possible.

THE SAINTS

  • “The only really effective apologia for Christianity comes down to two arguments,” Ratzinger said, “namely, the saints the Church has produced, and the art which has grown in her womb.”
  • twelve thinkers, artists, mystics, and saints who, in his estimation, not only shaped the Church in their day but also changed the course of civilization. St. Francis of Assisi, • St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Catherine of Siena, Blessed John Henry Newman, G. K. Chesterton, Michelangelo, St. Augustine, St. Benedict, St. Ignatius of Loyola, Bartolomé de las Casas, Flannery O’Connor, Fulton Sheen. All twelve, Barron believes, embody the Catholic penchant for beauty and goodness in their fullest sense, meaning living a life in which holiness, passion, and love shine through in an arresting way.
  • Thomas Aquinas was asked, “What must I do to be a saint?” and he said, “Will it.” Be a saint, and you’ll unleash the power of grace and holiness.

THE MARTYRS

  • Francis calls a vast “ecumenism of blood.”

THINKING MORALLY

  • sense, Barron believes, the saints and the martyrs illustrate what morality is all about. It’s not a matter of checking boxes to make sure you’re following the rules but rather one of becoming the kind of person whose own life is fully ordered to the good, and thus has the power to change the world.
  • With final causality relegated to the margins, morality became a matter of self-expression and self-creation.
  • That’s true of anything—language, music, politics, anything. You begin to internalize objective values in such a way that they now become the ground for your freedom, and not the enemy of your freedom. The binary option we have to get past is “my freedom versus your oppression.” What we need to say is, No, no, the objectivity of the moral good enables your freedom, opens freedom up.
  • Pope Francis says "The Catholic Church’s job is to call people to sanctity and to equip them for living saintly lives. Its mission is not to produce nice people, or people with hearts of gold, or people with good intentions; its mission is to produce saints, people of heroic virtue…
  • “Chesterton didn’t like this rather than that, nor did he like a compromise between the two,” Barron says. “He always said the Church likes red and it likes white, but it has a healthy hatred of pink. Further, it doesn’t want red alone and it doesn’t want white alone; it wants them both at full intensity. His ground for that was the incarnation: Jesus is not a little bit human and a little divine; he’s fully human and fully divine. He believed that this peculiar logic imbues all of Catholicism,

SEXUAL MORALITY

  • Despite his sense that the Church needs to find new ways of presenting its teaching, however, Barron is foursquare behind its content.
  • ... if that’s what human sexuality properly ordered looks like, then indulging one’s same-sex attraction is not going to lead you to that place,” he says.
  • Barron believes that taking the discussion out of the arena of sexual ethics also can help people better appreciate the link between high expectations and deep mercy in Catholic morality.
  • Barron concedes that no amount of rhetorical repackaging and pastoral accompaniment will make Catholic teaching on sex anything but a tough sell for a broad swath of the contemporary culture, but as he sees it, that’s no excuse for bowing out of the conversation.

Chapter Four TRUTH

  • I love the life of the mind, and I’ve spent my whole life studying and reading. Yet because of where we are now, the ‘true’ and the ‘good’ are offensive in a culture that is so radically subjective and relativist, and the minute you say, ‘Hey, I’ve got the truth for you,’ every defense goes up, and even more if you say, ‘I’ve got what’s good for you.’
  • The real trick is leading people into a space where they may be ready to hear and embrace those truths, which is an entirely different challenge.
  • the distinctive Barron touch: being utterly, completely convinced of the truths of Catholicism, ever eager to plumb those truths more deeply, and prepared to defend them against all comers; yet at the same time, never fussy or rancorous in the way he presents, never polemical or pugnacious with people who don’t share those truths, and also fully aware that the Church itself may share some measure of the blame for creating a cultural context, at least in the West, in which many people find the truth claims of Catholicism hard to swallow.
  • Barron believes that anyone who’s attracted by the beauty of Catholicism, or by the extraordinary goodness of the lives the Church fosters in the saints, will naturally be impelled to begin discovering the truths that underlie those marvels. Truth, for him, is indeed the heart of the matter,

BEIGE CATHOLICISM

  • “beige Catholicism,” meaning a sort of watered-down version of the faith.
  • That became symbolic for me of a deeper problem, of a Catholicism that’s lost its purpose, energy, confidence, color, distinctiveness…its sharp edges had been dulled, and its distinctive colors muted.
  • His point is that because young Catholics were never given any reason to believe there’s something intellectually and rationally compelling about the faith, they could be easily persuaded of the secular view that religion is no more than superstition and prejudice.
  • Vatican II called us to “read the signs of the times,” and let me tell you, that phrase was used to produce a lot of beige Catholicism. It was taken to mean, “See what’s going on around you, and become like that.” No, the point wasn’t to accommodate those signs, but to read them in light of the Gospel.
  • why for Barron, “the truth” is a foundational pillar of the entire Catholic edifice. He has no patience for blurring or fudging Catholic doctrine, or for tweaking it to suit the shifting tides of a given era’s fashion.

The Priority of Christ

  • seen, his “big book” as an academic carried that title—2007’s The Priority of Christ: Toward a Postliberal Catholicism. In effect it was a work of Christology, meaning doctrine about Jesus Christ, but it was much more than that. It was also a diagnosis of what had gone wrong in Catholicism in the post–Vatican II period, meaning the rise of “beige Catholicism,”
  • “The idea is that everything we talk about and try to introduce people to—all of it revolves around and returns to Christ, in the manner of the medallions in a rose window,” Barron says. “Relationships, theology, politics, art, philosophy, all find their center in Christ.”
  • it’s actually more evangelically effective when you begin with Jesus and bring his dense texture forward, drawing experience into him, not the other way around.
  • but the New Testament is really about a lot of people who want to grab the whole world by the shoulders and shake them, saying, “Do you realize that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead? Therefore, he’s the Lord, and therefore, your whole life has to be situated around him.” The primary message is “Jesus Kyrios—Jesus is Lord.”
  • Priest - “The priest is the one who gives right praise. that is to God not created things
  • Prophet - “Before the Fall, Adam names the animals, that is to say, he catalogs them. He names them according to the Logos (kata logon) that God has placed in them.
  • King - “He, in his own person, is the place of right praise,” Barron says. “It’s humanity turned to divinity. ** He’s not just the speaker of truth, he is the Logos incarnate, so he’s prophet in the full sense. Then he’s king, because he’s going on the march to ‘Edenize’ the world, to ‘Christify’ the world.

BEYOND SCIENTISM

  • “scientism,” meaning the conviction (which for the record, is philosophical rather than scientific) that the hard sciences are the only way to arrive at truth.
  • “Science can’t demonstrate the secular worldview,” Barron argues. “The secular worldview is a philosophical philosophical conviction born of certain assumptions, all of which can be questioned. In reality, scientism is self-refuting. That’s the problem, and in a certain way, secularism too is self-refuting,
  • Barron has called scientism “comically arrogant,” a position held by sloppy thinkers “who have simply closed themselves off to what a thousand generations of human beings have taken for granted…How, precisely, did the advocate of scientism see, measure, or empirically verify through experimentation the truth of the claim that only empirically measurable things are true?”
  • it’s the responsibility of Catholicism to help the surrounding culture recover a deeper and richer sense of truth, which was actually at the origins of Western culture—including, he points out, the rise of the empirical sciences.
  • Georges Lemaître, the formulator of the Big Bang theory, which is now pretty much accepted by all serious cosmologists. Lemaître had to convince Einstein of it. Well, Lemaître was a Catholic priest.

THE DANGER OF PRIVATIZATION

  • something happened with Biblical religion, which gave us a sense that even though we are unequal in beauty and courage and power and everything else, we are, nevertheless, equal as children of God. I would argue that that’s what haunts the West to the present day. If you take away the Biblical ground, you have a very hard time, it seems to me, arguing for equality and liberty.
  • from Pope Benedict XVI, in his 2005 document Deus Caritas Est: “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”

TRUTH AND THE EVANGELIST

  • the third of the great transcendentals, truth, he may not believe that in a postmodern age that’s generally where evangelization should begin, but he is absolutely convinced it’s where the evangelist must start.
  • John Paul said about the New Evangelization, which is that it’s really the old evangelization, meaning it declares that Jesus Christ is Lord. What’s new about it, he said, is that it’s new in ardor, it’s new in method, it’s new in expression.
  • his advice about how to get started as an evangelist is “read, read, read.

Chapter 5 EVANGELIZATION

  • TWO CAVEATS
    • Evangelization isn’t about a concept or an idea, but about a friendship with Christ that you have, and that you want someone else to have too.
    • In the end, though, it’s about sharing a friendship, an intimacy that’s enlivened you, and that you feel will benefit other people.
    • You measure success by whether people are coming to Mass, which is the source and summit of the Christian life.
    • the Catholic Church should be bold in its missionary efforts, it must never practice what the Vatican usually calls “proselytism”—which in that context usually refers to overly aggressive or manipulative forms of evangelization that don’t really respect people’s freedom. “I’m with John Paul II,” Barron says. “Never impose, always propose.
  • THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
    • Christian faith in its most primary form isn’t a set of doctrines but rather a relationship with Jesus Christ. Morals and doctrines, as Giussani presented things, are important, but they are secondary to the encounter with Christ. he drew the conclusion that what Western culture really needed was a “new evangelization,” meaning a new determination to preach Christ to the world.
    • Benedict was so convinced of the need for a new evangelization that in 2010 he created a new Vatican department, the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization,
    • In terms of the techniques that drive the New Evangelization, Barron believes it’s listening to the culture and figuring out how best to engage it.
    • today? It’s also a question of new methods, including the new media, social media, and all that business. We’ve got these tremendous new methods to evangelize.
    • Under the heading of “new ways,” Barron also believes it’s important to be paying attention to what’s bubbling in the culture, including popular culture, to see what one might be able to pick up on or employ as a bridge to talking about faith.
    • Barron’s understanding of the New Evangelization: a confident, Christocentric presentation of Catholicism, attentive to the questions being asked today, and deeply conversant with all the new ways those questions are being asked and answered, especially in the digital realm of social media.
  • EVANGELIZATION AND BUREAUCRACY
    • “I’m with Cardinal Newman, who said that nothing great is ever accomplished by a committee. That doesn’t mean they’re useless; they accomplish certain things. But nothing great is accomplished by a committee.”
    • in 1981, the U.S. bishops’ conference had been looking at trying to establish a national Catholic presence on cable television, and they would eventually pour millions of dollars into an effort that ultimately proved fruitless. In the meantime, one charismatic Catholic nun, who at the beginning, had nothing but Scotch tape and glue, managed managed to build the world’s most successful Catholic media empire.
    • It’s not driven by official programs. Programs have to be developed around the charism or person, not vice versa.” In reality, Barron says, the key to the success of the Word on Fire ministry is that it too was born outside any bureaucratic structure,
    • it happens very often in the Church, is that the charismatic element gets smothered by the bureaucratic.
    • In November 2016 he was elected to head the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis,
  • REACHING THE NONES, NOT THE NUNS
    • Barron’s bold ambition is nothing short of evangelizing secularism itself.
    • Barron describes the people he’s trying to reach in terms of two basic cohorts. First are lapsed, fallen-away, and alienated Catholics, people who have left the faith, often because they’ve imbibed and accepted parts of the secular critique of religion and the Church. Second, Barron is angling to engage the “nones,” people of no religious faith, many of whom have had no contact with the Catholic Church at all, and who carry around a bushel basket full of prejudices and instinctive biases against it.
    • The question we always have to ask is, “What’s going to work now?”
    • in analogy about animal survival "To be alive is to be in this subtle space of both resisting and assimilating.
    • “Grandma’s attic” is a favorite Barron image for talking about all the expressions of Catholic culture over the centuries, from literature and art to liturgy and spirituality, including the doctrinal and theological tradition.) “You’ve got to be nimble and know what you can use."
  • EVANGELIZATION AND CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS
    • Asked to name some of the great evangelizing role models of the modern age... Barron comes to a more counterintuitive answer, at least from a Catholic point of view: the great atheist intellectual and pundit Christopher Hitchens.
    • Hitchens was an acerbic critic of religion, seeing faith in God as a form of totalitarianism that erodes personal liberty.
    • “The disciples of Hitchens and Dawkins are out there, and man are they feisty and angry,”
    • "He [Hitchens] was smart and articulate, but unapologetic. It wasn’t a namby-pamby, “let me reach out to you and talk about your experience” sort of presentation. He was a smart guy, convinced he was right, and willing to share his ideas in an articulate way. It was done with a consciously media-savvy approach. He knew how to reach a wider audience, and he knew how to use the media. He was a great debater. He knew the arguments and counterarguments very well, and he was nimble and fast on his feet. He was able to respond to objections.
    • The banners-and-balloons way was not up to the task. Hitchens was offering hard arguments, and we weren’t ready to give answers.
    • Man, we need highfalutin concepts right now. We need counterarguments. We need smart people who can really delve into our own tradition and meet the opponents, because they’re not backing down. They’ve got science, they think, they believe science and philosophy are on their side, and they use the idea of a link between violence and religion all the time.
  • EVANGELIZATION AND POPE FRANCIS
    • “What Francis has done in terms of public conversation about the Church is to make it clearer to people we’re not just about sex.
    • By placing such an emphasis on humility and simplicity, on service to the poor, on concern for the environment and social justice, on immigrants and refugees, on opposition to war and the arms trade, and with his ardent outreach to the “peripheries” of the world, Barron believes, Francis has succeeded in lifting up aspects of the Church’s thought and life that were always there but that sometimes got lost amid a myopic focus on sex and the culture wars.
    • example, he [Francis] strongly stresses the via pulchritudinis (way of beauty),
    • begin with the beau geste, the kind gesture. You know he’s a master of the beau geste. He’s not a theologian and he’s not an academic, but he’s a genius at the beautiful gesture that draws people to Christianity.
    • if you read Francis honestly and faithfully, there’s nothing in him that’s opposed to the great tradition, or that undermines either John Paul II or Benedict.

Chapter Six PRAYER AND THE SUPERNATURAL

  • Barron stands with the great English Christian writer C. S. Lewis, who noted that Christianity is premised on the most audacious miracle claim of all time—that God himself chose to take on human flesh in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, in order to save the world. If we’re willing to accept that idea, Lewis asked, why would we reject, as a matter of principle, the possibility of smaller, and—from the point of view of worldly logic—arguably more plausible interferences in nature by a supernatural power?
  • “Miracles stand at the heart of Christianity the way they don’t with other religions,” he says. “The Virgin Birth, the Immaculate Conception, the Resurrection, the Incarnation…we’re a faith based on miracles.”
  • The Augustinian starting point is that we have this hungry heart, hungry for God, and that means we’re ordered for something that goes beyond nature, beyond what we can see and organize and categorize. No amount of the merely natural will satisfy the hungry heart. We’re ordered to the supernatural, and that’s why people are fascinated, interested, drawn to it.

Prayer

  • Prayer is a conversation between friends,” he says. “It’s our friendship with God, expressed in this lively conversation.
  • Take the time
  • Speak with honesty
  • Listen attentively
  • “Work on the silent savoring
    • Citing Thomas Aquinas, he notes that the human will has two instincts with respect to the good. First, the will seeks the good; and then, having acquired it, the will “sits in the good it possesses,” what Barron calls a sort of “silent savoring.” He says people today are still pretty good at seeking the good, but perhaps we need to work on the silent savoring.
  • Liturgy
    • “According to Mannion,” Barron says, “good liturgy is the result of a balanced play between priest, people, and rite.
    • Clericalism
    • Congregationalism
    • Ritualism
    • Allow the elegant and delicate dance among these three elements to take place, each one, as it were, contributing to the others and correcting the excesses of the others, then the liturgy is most itself,” Barron says.

MYSTICAL EXPERIENCE

  • Barron’s basic advice with regard to such grace-filled moments is to be grateful when, and if, they come but not to depend on them as the life’s blood of your ordinary spirituality. On that score, he’s with Pope Benedict XVI, another legendarily feet-on-the-ground Catholic thinker, who insisted that while mystical experiences, private revelations, apparitions, and so on can and do happen, they’re never “essential,” because everything needed for the life of the faith is already contained in Scripture, Church doctrine, the Church’s liturgy, and the sacraments.

MARIAN APPARITIONS

  • A handful have been officially embraced by the Catholic Church as miraculous, such as those in Fátima in Portugal and Guadalupe in Mexico, while others have been rejected as hoaxes or delusions,
  • “That’s the [Cardinal John Henry] Newman perspective, which is that if the ‘priestly’ instinct gets separated from the ‘prophetic,’ which is a properly critical function, trying to understand things at first in terms of natural causalities, then something has gone wrong.
  • Here the Gamaliel principle applies [a reference to a passage from the Acts of the Apostles in which a Jewish rabbi stopped a crowd from stoning Peter and the other apostles by saying: “If this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them;

EXORCISM

  • In Catholicism, an exorcism is considered a “sacramental,” not a sacrament, which means its effectiveness isn’t understood to be dependent on a precise formula being observed.
  • Barron doesn’t blink when asked: Yes, he believes that demonic possession is real. I haven’t seen it, but I know people I trust who have been involved in it and talked about it in a way that’s persuasive.

MIRACULOUS HEALINGS

  • The New Testament records thirty-one healings performed by Jesus, including the paralyzed servant of a Roman centurion, several people with blindness, and scores of lepers. Jesus’s healing power culminated in the ability to raise people from the dead, including the son of the widow of Nain.

THREE PATHS OF HOLINESS

Find the Center

  • by “finding the center” is rooting one’s life in a relationship with Christ. “When a life is centered on Christ, all the energies, aspirations, and powers of the soul fall into a beautiful and satisfying pattern,” * despite the roaring of the waves and the tumult of the screaming men, Jesus remains asleep. The sleeping Christ suggests that place in us where we are rooted in the divine power, that space in our souls where despite all the worries and dangers that smash against our shores, we still find peace and rest,”

Know You’re a Sinner

  • Barron believes that with this knowledge of our own sinfulness comes a healthy degree of realism about our ability to fix our own problems. “Christianity is a salvation religion, and thus its basic assumption is that there is something wrong with us, indeed something so wrong that we could never in principle fix it ourselves,”

Your Life Is Not About You

  • The final stage of spiritual maturity, Barron believes, is to get beyond one’s own desires and cravings, and begin living for something bigger—or, more accurately put, Someone bigger.
  • “When we live wrapped up around our own egos, and our pathetic fears and aspirations, we live in the narrow space of the pusilla anima (the little soul),” he says. “But when we forget all that, when we live in a risky freedom, when we leap beyond what we can know and control, we move into the expansive magna anima (the great soul).”
  • “Holy people are those who realize that they participate in something and Someone infinitely greater than themselves, that they are but fragments of Reality,” he says. “Far from crushing them, this awareness makes them great, capacious, whole.”
  • “Balthasar speaks often of the ‘Theodrama,’ ” he says. “This is the drama written and directed by God, and involving every creature in the cosmos, including those sometimes reluctant actors, human beings. On the great stage which is the created universe and according to the prototype which is Christ, we are invited to ‘act,’ to find and play our role in God’s theater.” The problem, Barron says, is that most of us instead live our lives in what Balthasar called the “egodrama.” “We think we are the directors, writers, and above all, stars of our own dramas,”
  • When we decenter the ego, and live in exciting and unpredictable relationship to God, we realize very clearly that our lives are not about us. And that’s a liberating discovery.

Chapter Seven THE BIBLE

Other facts

  • Used for: General study
  • Purchased: December 2017

Bibliographic info

  • Publisher: Image (October 31, 2017)
  • ISBN-10: 1524759503
  • ISBN-13: 978-1524759506