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Word on Fire: Proclaiming the Power of Christ Paperback – Apr 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 225 pages
  • Publisher: Crossroad Publishing Company (April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0824524535
  • ISBN-13: 978-0824524531
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 1.5 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 319,559 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ellie on 12 May 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Yet again Fr Barron has written a book that touches the heart and soul. The short writings each are powerful as a meditation and pithy in their message. I have just one of his books left to read and not one of them has not touched something inside of me. I can not recommend this, or any other of his books, enough.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By needles on 19 Aug 2013
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Robert Barron has an inspirational and thought provoking style. This collection of homilies allows the reader to dip in and out, and select topics as you please. Father Barron writes beautifully and holds the attention of the reader ( or listener originally) . I thoroughly recommend this, as well as all other books and DVDs by Robert Barron
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By Liam on 23 Aug 2014
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 18 reviews
49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
Very enlightening!! 20 Nov 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am not Catholic, but I saw one of Father Barron's specials on PBS and found him to be such a compelling speaker that I wanted to read more of his work. He explains Christianity in a clear, easy to understand way that is very compelling. This is not just about Catholicism but Christianity. He also clears up some myths I had heard about Catholicism. This is a very interesting and informative read!
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
The Logos, Language, Corpus Christi, Thought and Action 10 Dec 2011
By James E. Egolf - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Father Barron's book titled THE WORD ON FIRE is an anthology of homilies which are short, clear, and thoughtful. Father Barron's book gives readers much to ponder. While he uses the thinking of St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), Father Barron's writing is not dense. His written expression is readable. Father Barron used Latin, Greek, Hebrew/Aramaic, phrases, but he is not pendantic and not a snob. On the other hand, Father Barron does not over simplify his topics and showed what a serious scholar can convey to thoughtful men and women.

The introduction quickly alerted readers that Christ, His teaching,and His example can be meaningful. Father Barron used the story of the Magi who returned to their homeland by a different route. Father Barron quoted Bishop Fulton Sheen re the Magi when Father Sheen wrote, "Of course they went back by a different road; no one comes to Christ and ever goes back the same way." One can rhetorically ask how many saints changed their lives and helped change other lives because of their turn for the better.

The next chapter dealt with what Father Barron called "God's otherness." No one can fully grasp God's otherness, but men and woman cannot escape God's closeness as evidenced by the the Adam/Eve story. Father Barron used the story of Isaiah who, when confronted by God and the Seraphim, and Isaiah said he was doomed. St. Peter told Christ to leave him (St. Peter) alone because he was a sinful man. But then both Isaiah and St. Peter "answered the call"-the Divne Call. St. G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)noted, a saint is someone who knows he is a sinner.

Father Barron then dealt with God's glory. God does not need men's glory, but giving attention to Christ's teaching reflects from God to us. Father Barron's comment re men's vain glory vs. God's glory is cause for reflection. Father Barron refuted Fuerbach's (1804-1872) and Karl Marx's materialism. The pagans had deities who competed against men. God is the Creator who wants men to be better than false humanism and false vanity. Father Barron focused on the fact that the Faith is NOT the opiate of the masses, but the Faith is what gives transcendent hope and character.

Not only did Father Barron focus on God's glory and transcendent values, he focused on what may called Divine Love. Father Barron cited Christ's teaching of loving God and loving one's neighbor. When Christ was asked by a clever lawyer who is our neighbor, Christ told the story of the Good Samaritan which was a revolutionary answer given the fact that Jews and Samaritans HATED each other. Father Barron related the story of Rose Hawthorn (1851-1926), the daughter of Nathianiel Hawthron (1804-1862),who lost her father and mother. Rose Hawthorn had some sort of an epiphany, converted to Catholicism, and started a Dominican Order of nuns to care for the less fortunate and poor. Father Barron then mentioned Peter Maurin (1877-1949)who, along with Dorothy Day (1897-1980)who started the Catholic Worker Movement. Both Peter Maurin were devout Catholics who remained devout. They attended Mass as often they could, went to Confession, and accepted Christ's admonition in Matthew 25. Peter Maurin had mental problems which led to forgetfulness. When Dorothy Day was praised for her help to the destitute, she responded that she was not a saint.

Peter Maurin and Dorothy Day had faith. Father Barron defined what faith as the door through which we enter the Sacraments, the Liturgy, etc. Great men and women such as Pope John Paul II (1978-2005) and Blessed Mother Teresa (1910-1987)were obviously "committed" to the Faith. Faith is what guides men of religion and science. Science and mathematics rely on the faith of natural law, and one can ask who is the Author of Natural Law. As Pope John Paul II once wrote,"Faith without reason leads to superstition. Reason without Revelation leads to chaos.

As mentioned above, God is the Author of Natural Law. Christ is king, but He is not a king in the political sense. The Easter Scene of Christ risen is one of shock and surprise to the women and later the diciples. Father Barron obviously regards the Resurrection as key to the Faith and the beginning to the glorious history of the Catholic Church. The resurrection can have both literal and allegorical interpretations. Theologians and philosophers have written so much about this event. The Resurrection can mean that those who are in despair can resurrect their spirits and turn their lives for the better. This is easy to say but hard to do.

Father Barron dealt with Christ's compassion and forgiveness. How many despised men and women were restored both physically and spiritually such as the blind, the lame, Mary Magdelen, the Woman at the Well, the women taken in adultry, etc. As readers may note the word Catholic means universal, and the story of Maji and Nativity Scene may illustrate the nature of the Catholic or Universal Church. The Magi were "pagans" and probably from Persia. The shepherds were poor and "unlearned." Yet, the Nativity showed a Catholic concept. The Catholicism may be represented by the story of the Good Samaritan.

Light is often used as a sacred symbol. The stories of Moses and the burning bush, the light that guided Moses and his people from Egypt, etc. make effective use of light guiding religious people. Perhaps the best know example of light is the Transfiguration which is not only the Transfiguration of Christ but a symbol of the fact we can be transfigure ourselves.

Part of the Transfiguration is Divine Love per St. Paul's discourse on love. Father Barron mentioned that we lose our self respect when we resent the success of close friends and loved ones. Such an attitude betrays us when we think of such resentment when we should be joyful for friends and loved ones. Love does not covet, is patient, kind, etc. Father Barron had good insight as to what divine bona fide love is and what it is not.

Love can also mean love in the midst of terribly suffering. Father Barron used the example of the "good thief" during the Crucifixtion who repented. Even in suffering Christ forgave this man who was probably a political revolutionary, and Christ asked for forgiveness for those who made him suffer and die. Father Kolbe (1894-1941)offered his own life when a fellow inmate was to be executed because of an escape from a concentration camp. Concentration camp conditions can turn inmates againt each other and cause hopeless despair. Yet, Father Kolbe was well grounded in the Faith.

An obvious part of the Faith is prayer. Prayer may be due to fear of God. However,as Father Barron wrote, fear can be that of a tyrant. Or fear can be avoiding the reprimend of a kind father such as the Prodigal Son. Prayer can be praise and well as petition. However, we must be careful that what we want may not be good for us. Prayer should not be greedy which means men are not better than beasts. Father wrote about Matthew the tax collector who converted and became a disciple and a saint. St. Peter who recognized Christ as The Son of God was weak and denied Christ three times. However, he was forgiven and became the Rock. The Apostles and early martyrs did not conform to the shifting sands of popular opinion whatever that is worth. Their prayer life helped the early apostles and Chruch Fathers develop the Faith and enhanced their resolve.

The Faith is based on the Real Presence of Christ during the Eucharist. The biblical basis for this taken from John 6:48-66. Many who heard Christ's comments about eating His flesh and drinking His blood got angry and left. According to the passage, the audience left before Christ before He finished His discourse which ended with the comment,"It is the spirit that gives life." Father Barron gave an excellent explation that "The Word (Logos) became flesh..." Father Barron wrote that Creation and other events were based on what God said... and then the result took place. The Word became flesh.

Another section of Father Barron's book dealt with the role of the Catholic priest, the Rite, and people. The Holy Mass must work in harmony without any of the three components exercising more authority than necessary. Father Barron compared the Holy Mass to a Classical Music performance which is based on balance to enjoy the beauty of the performance.

The concluding sections of the book had interesing comments on "family values" (a phrase that has been so badly corrupted), the authenic meaning of Catholcism, truth, and understanding. Father Barron used the examples of Hannah who, after begging God for a son, gave her son Samuel to Eli to be a Nazarite which is similar to a monk. The Virgin Mary gave her Son to God. The point is that parents should not try to live their lives via that children. How often have children been abused because they were not star athletes or did not marry someone who would give the parents phony prestige. In other words, parents should know that a holy life of their children is much more important than false vanity and shallow prestige.

Readers have often heard of the expression that someone should be a good Catholic. What does this mean? Father Barron did not prescribe rebellion against a political system. What he did recommend is that Catholics should assimilate what they can and reject what they must. In other words, Catholics can be good Americans, but they must remember that they are Catholics first. Being a good Catholic can be exemplified by example and action. Yet, being a good Catholic means taking the Sacraments, the Holy Mass, etc. seriously as a means of renewal and refelction which may help people to act in an effective way rather than in wreckless way. This may include a refutation of unjust and even murderous demands of political power. However, wreckless action can lead to worse situations.

The last section of the book defined Ephphata or to be open. Father Barron stated that often when God appeared to men, such appearances occured in quiet settings far from noise and cacophonous crowds and dins of nonsense. Father Barron gave examples that when Christ cured people of blindness or deafness, He took them to a quiet place away from useless noise. The lesson may well be the separation of the sacred from the profane.

Father Barron's book is based on careful thinking, knowledge, and insight. Readers with, "residual common sense" can benefit from this book. This book is useful for Catholics, but non-Catholics can also benefit from this book. This book is highly recommended.

James E. Egolf

December 9,2011
30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
I want to give it a star down for this, but I just don't think I should 25 Nov 2011
By K. Ostrowski - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I once again find myself forced to make a hard choice. Whenever I see a problem with faithfulness to the church, or with inadequately explaining the church's teachings, I have a tendency to explain it to death; a practice that I intend to continue, because these things need to be clarified by someone. The question really winds up being "is this serious enough to merit a whole star down?"

In this case, the answer is "probably not; no." Father Barron has put together a most impressive series of homily transcripts, which actually amazed me by the depth of their understanding, and their clarity of teaching. That, by itself, becomes slightly less surprising when you learn that, like myself, Father Barron is something of a Thomist, and treasures the writings of Thomas Aquinas.

I was very impressed by several points in this book. In particular, he amazed me with the clear messages that he drew from Nehemiah, his defense of the real presence, and his descriptions of the theological dilemmas of the recent past and how they were solved; particularly the ones relating to glory; who gets it and why. I can also say with absolute confidence that I have never in my life heard anyone sufficiently describe the notion of catholic "worship" in the normal work of a lawyer, a doctor, etc, until Father Barron did it. In nearly every objective sense, this book is truly excellent.

I have only one issue to bring against it. More than once, as an example of the good work done by holy men and women, Father Barron mentions Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, and the organization which they founded; the Catholic Worker Movement.

I don't know nearly as much about Dorothy Day as I would like to, but Peter Maurin held a radical belief, which he implemented into the Worker Movement; he believed that evildoing or immorality on the part of a government official removed their God-given authority to govern their citizens, and that therefore, it was perfectly acceptable for people to ignore the rules of a corrupt government and form their own communes, making up their own rules for social collaboration as they went along. Today, we call this by the popularized name of "liberation theology," but perhaps it would be easier to understand if I just sum it up by saying that it's basically Marxism with a cross on top.

The Worker Movement has a number of other problems as well, but I target its involvement in liberation theology because that's a belief that has been specifically condemned by at least the last two popes.

Father Barron's understanding of Catholic theology is truly amazing, and for the most part, I was astonished by the quality of his book; almost to the point of refusing to believe any ill of him. For the moment, therefore, I will simply assume that this one aspect of the book was probably just imperfectly-researched, and I'll give it the best score I can.

Understanding the church's position on social teaching isn't really so difficult. It's all about loving God first, then our neighbor second. We love them by doing what's best for them; putting them first and ourselves afterwards. However, let's not deny that many agencies claiming to be Catholic subsist only by lying about church teaching; claiming that the vatican never specifically condemned communism, socialism, marxism, liberation theology and so forth. This is a technical tidbit of the faith that anyone could be forgiven for overlooking, since it's not out there in the culture like it once was, but that doesn't negate church teaching. Until further evidence comes up, this is all I'll say for now.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
An Introduction to Christology 14 Nov 2013
By Daniel P. Liderbach - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is an ascetical introduction to the enigma of the theology of Christ. One who reads this might be able to subsequently address more systematic theological treatments of Christ.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Word on Fire by Robert Barron 24 Dec 2012
By csimon01 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book that inspired me chapter after chapter. It is a beautiful book that focuses on Truth. Robert Barron is able to write simply yet with such depth. It was an easy to understand and enjoyable book from beginning to end. To sum up this book in one word - WOW!
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