‘To Light a Fire on the Earth: Proclaiming the Gospel in a Secular Age’ by Bishop Robert Barron and John Allen, Jr., and Brandon Vogt’s ‘Why I Am Catholic (and You Should Be Too)’
Perhaps fortunately for you (unless you are an avid bibliophile like me), there are actually only two books between these three remarkable authors, since one is co-authored by Barron and Allen.
On to the point, these are challenging times for the Catholic Church, especially in the West, of course including the United States. Yet, on Sunday, Nov. 26, the global Church collectively held our celebration of the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. As we spend time during Advent proclaiming how we are looking forward to celebrating the arrival of the eminently kingly Christ Child in the midst of a globalized society increasingly preoccupied with consumerism, materialism and other manifestations of pervasive secularism, perhaps you are looking for some inspiration regarding how to rise above this stifling philosophical murkiness, and to thus live your faith gracefully and proudly.
If so, I recommend that you read two books this Advent: To Light a Fire on the Earth: Proclaiming the Gospel in a Secular Age (Image, 2017) by Bishop Robert Barron and John Allen, Jr., and Brandon Vogt’s Why I Am Catholic (and You Should Be Too) (Ave Maria Press, 2017).
First, Bishop Barron and John Allen’s text. Bishop Barron and John Allen, Jr. have risen to the occasion of transmitting the faith to the world that needs the Lord Jesus Christ—dependably more than it realizes—with To Light a Fire on the Earth. This book, in an interview format between interviewer Allen and interviewee Barron, indicates how Bishop Barron stands as a figure poised to bridge the not-inconsequential divide between Catholic “camps” that have arisen in the West, occasionally (but far from always) manifested as those in the “pre-Vatican II” and “post-Vatican II” mindsets, which Barron ably reconciles, particularly in light of his own personal experience living between both eras. After all, one can attain a better grasp of Barron’s rhetorical acumen via his ability to engage in meaningful dialogue with those of any background and any walk of life. For example, Bishop Barron was able to charitably, patiently, and accurately present the Catholic Church’s teachings on chastity, human sexuality, and a traditional understanding of marriage to David Rubin, leading the well-known political commentator. In a Jan. 30, 2017, televised interview, he remarked, “I don’t sense judgment from you, I really don’t.” With a sharp mind and a warm heart, Barron profoundly exhibits how Catholics of the modern era require both considerations in order to present the truths of the faith to the modern era in an intellectually inviting manner. By reading To Light a Fire on the Earth, you will continue to fathom why Barron and Allen are gifts to the Church in the modern era. You can learn more about the book in Bishop Barron’s own words here.
Now, the second book that you should read this Advent: fellow Ave Maria Press author Brandon Vogt’s Why I Am Catholic (And You Should Be Too). Vogt, who serves under Bishop Barron as Content Director of Word on Fire Ministries, is a relatively recent convert to the Catholic faith, having entered the Church in 2008. Vogt’s experience as a millennial Catholic is monumentally significant—after all, he is not an older, curmudgeonly envisioned figure with a “kids these days” demeanor or aspect; rather, he readily recognizes the pitfalls and rhetorical inadequacy of arguments against the Catholic faith, not to mention the rich beauty of arguments for the Catholic faith. You can learn more about Vogt’s initiatives in the interest of the Church (far too many for me to detail in this piece) by viewing his endeavors here.
Why I Am Catholic is relatively short, at around 100 pages shorter than To Light a Fire on the Earth, but both are quick reads (even for a slower reader like yours truly). You will enjoy, and be spiritually invigorated by, both of these books as we look forward to the joys of the Incarnation at Christmas.
Speaking of which, once (or even before) you have finished reading these books, you will want to buy copies for your family members and friends, whether Catholic, Protestant, non-Christian, atheist, agnostic or “New Age.”
I urgently recommend both of these books, which promise to reinforce the spiritual resolve of their readers locally, globally, and ultimately, universally.