Partly it was because we enjoy Father Barron's style. And this was like a really good Bible study taking us through Biblical history so we really understood how Jesus's fulfilled his titles of "priest, prophet, and king."
Partly it was because we couldn't figure out how he was going to get from "here" to "there." "Here" being Old Testament priests, etc., and "there" being the new evangelization.
Of course, he pulled it off. By the time we finished the sixth episode we had plenty of food for thought. We talked about it the rest of the evening and the next morning.
What's the format? Father Barron gives a series of six connected talks to an audience. Each is around 20 minutes long. This isn't as dull as it sounds because they intercut shots of masterpieces for illustration. This could have been released also in an audio format and I think I'd have gotten just as much from it. However, the video undoubtedly encourages group participation and discussion (there's a study workbook and leadership guide, though I haven't seen those). It did for us.
Was it worthwhile? Yes. Many of the concepts and information presented may be new to viewers and will be eye opening in how they understand Christ. Although we were familiar with a fair amount of it already, Father Barron connected everything in a way that engaged us, made us think, and even had us stopping the dvd mid-episode sometimes to discuss things.
Did it change our lives? Yes and no.
Because, as my husband said while we were watching, "The new evangelization is really the old evangelization. It's just that everyone forgot to do it lately."
I myself am always wondering why I can't stick to a resolution to not bring up my Catholic faith. You wouldn't think you'd have to make such resolutions but time and again God's in the conversation. At the grocery store, at my movie group, on my nonreligious podcast. With believers and nonbelievers. All the time. He just ... comes up. I can't help it. And we help with various ministries at our parish as well as a few independent projects. So, as I say, we're already evangelizing just by the way we live our lives.
Father Barron gave us new ways to think about our own culture and where we fit in it as Catholics. Especially valuable and thought provoking were his discussions of:
- The rose window imagery of ordering life
- The devil as scattering, as dis-integration
- Sin as wrongly oriented worship with focus on pleasure, wealth, power, and honor
- Living in a society of accusers
- Rene Girard's ideas about scapegoats and society
These are points resonated so strongly that they've been the focus through which we've discussed local news, politics, and personal relationships in our own lives. It has been very clarifying in a lot of cases.
Do I recommend it? Yes. Definitely yes.
This is something that will benefit every American Catholic, no matter how involved they are, no matter how well they understand the Bible, no matter how well they feel they have a handle on living their faith.
I'm passing my copy on to our pastor. Hopefully it will be studied in our parish soon.