In a previous post I spoke about one of my favourite people, Archbishop Fulton Sheen. I spoke about how I came to discover him, his sermons and writings, as well as try and describe something of the impact he had upon me.
I think it is appropriate therefore, that in this next entry, I’ve chosen to talk about someone whom I’ve often heard referred to by other people as “The Next Fulton Sheen”.
This person is Fr. Robert Barron.
If Sheen Had YouTube…
Fr. Robert is a priest who lives near Chicago in the United States. I first came across him on YouTube while I was still living in England. He is a published author (I finished his book “The Eucharist” this week), but he has also embraced the new media and is using it to extend the reach of his ministry. It is in this sense that he is like Fulton Sheen – he’s a superb communicator and uses all means available to proclaim the faith, although in terms of style he and Archbishop Sheen are very different.
On his YouTube channel he offers commentary on recently released films and uses these movies as a springboard to talk about some theological, philosophical or life issue. Previous reviews have included Hereafter, Inception, The Adjustment Bureau, True Grit, Eat, Pray, Love …. I like this approach as it combines two things I love – faith and films 🙂
As well as the movie reviews, he also directly addresses particular issues. These have included the BP Oil Spill, the sex abuse scandal, anti-Catholicism and also the recent eruption in the Evangelical world over Rob Bell’s latest book “Love Wins”. I like the way he approaches all these rather delicate subjects and I always find his commentaries to be measured and thoughtful.
Word On Fire
After I had watched a few of his YouTube videos I began visiting his Word On Fire website. Each week he posts his sermons online and I am now subscribed to the podcast feed so I get to hear him preach most weeks. These terrific sermons were some of the first resources to be recorded on free CDs given away at the JP2 Group.
The New Evangelization
Most people of my generation received pretty appalling Christian formation growing up. I would say that I was far more fortunate than the majority (mostly thanks to the efforts of my mother) . However, despite going to a “faith school” and receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation, my formation after First Holy Communion was pretty minimal.
The thing I particularly like about Fr. Barron is that, although he is accessible to those with no religious background, he also consistently calls those who have received some Christian formation to go deeper in their faith:
“Then we will no longer be infants…instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of [Christ] who is the head… From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work ” – Ephesians 4:14-16