A biography is not generally the first book I'll pick up to read. But one of my moms groups is doing a Bishop Robert Barron Bible study and I've really enjoyed the videos that accompany it. Bishop Barron is both eloquent yet relatable, extremely intelligent yet casual, and friendly yet completely passionate and on fire for the Catholic faith. I would love to be like him when it comes to sharing the faith with others, so when I saw this book not only about his life but also about his thoughts on effectively sharing the Gospel in our current culture, I was intrigued.
The book did not disappoint! It was so interesting to read about Bishop Barron's childhood, priesthood vocation, faith background and journey as well as the beginnings of his now worldwide ministry Word on Fire and where he'd love to see it go in the future. While not written by him, there were many interviews and quotes of his. I loved hearing his thoughts on different issues the Church and the world face today. He has a deep well of knowledge when it comes to the faith and is completely faithful to the teachings of the Church (including the hard ones!) but he's so passionate about reaching those who have left the faith or those with no faith at all and helping them understand the 'whys' behind the teachings and how they bring us to true freedom and joy-- and God's love.
One of the things that has stuck with me most was his thoughts on liberalism. He prefers to avoid the labels of 'conservative' and 'liberal' because of how divisive they can be. While he obviously is conservative in a lot of his views and approaches, I thought it was really neat how he said the liberal movement of the Church brought some good with it and we don't need to denounce that. What we need to do instead is move beyond it. It's good to care for the poor, be passionate about social justice, and work hard to speak and act for change in these areas. But he calls stopping there a "reduction" of the Catholic faith. We can't reduce the faith to simply outward actions of caring for those in need, we must also have a relationship with God, cultivate prayer, and learn God's word through Scripture and Church teaching and history. It's a "both/and" kind of deal. Too often I think we like to label ourselves and hang out with like-minded people, but Bishop Barron is bold and passionate about moving beyond these labels to the heart of the New Evangelization.
There were a couple times near the end of the book when I found myself wanting to skim or getting slightly bored, but overall I thought this was a fascinating read that made me want to dig deeper into the wealth of Church history and writings as well as evangelize in the modern world as winsomely and persuasively as he does!
[Thank you to Blogging for Books for my complimentary review copy. This review contains my honest and original thoughts.]