Pope Francis appointed Robert Barron to be the auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles. Barron’s films, articles and YouTube videos have made him a leading figure in the New Evangelization. We recommend his book here.
If you are looking for a book to read, or live in LA and want insight into your new bishop, I recommend his very first book, The Strangest Way: Walking The Christian Path. It’s a fascinating read on the unexpected religion that is Christianity, from paths and practices, to the Christian way of looking at life: acknowledging that you’re a sinner, accepting that it’s not all about you, and finding your center (or still point) in God. Barron describes the Christian God as a God “who comes after us with a reckless abandon, breaking open his own heart in love in order to include us in the rhythm of his own life.”
Christianity is not an ideology but a way of life.
In The Strangest Way, Barron explains Christianity through the lens of mystics, saints, artists, and novelists. He also emphasizes that Christianity is not an ideology, but a way of life, “like baseball, philosophy, or being an American it is a whole pattern of life.” As a result, it is only by living a certain kind of life that we begin to understand Christian doctrine. Just as we cannot fully appreciate swimming, dancing or cooking simply by asking ourselves how thinking about them makes us feel, we have to jump in and practice. Christianity is likewise a form of practical knowledge. Catholicism and Orthodoxy, like Judaism, tend to emphasize observance and ritual, as opposed to Protestantism, which sometimes privileges an inner-state. Catholics perform rituals, in the belief that these daily acts might change our hearts. In other words, we fake it till we make it.
For example, someone whose child is behaving badly might tell that child “I love you.” In the moment, this may not be a statement of how they feel, but neither is it a lie. Rather, it’s something akin to a ritual or prayer, a way of reminding both parent and child of their mutual affection even when in the moment they are frustrated or annoyed. We say “I love you” first, in the belief that love will grow when we behave in a loving manner. Read The Strangest Way and learn more about the strange flock of which you are a part.
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