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In a time of discouragement, how can the Church renew itself and its outreach to all people?
Bishop Robert Barron insists that a "dumbed down" Catholicism cannot succeed in today's highly educated society―instead, the Church needs to draw upon its great theological heritage in order to renew its hope in Christ.
Renewing Our Hope: Essays for the New Evangelization
Renewing Our Hope: Essays for the New Evangelization
By Bishop Robert Barron
By Bishop Robert Barron
PAPERBACK  |  340 Pages 
Publication Date: July 31, 2020
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PAPERBACK  |  340 Pages  | Publication Date: July 31, 2020
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About The Book
In a time of discouragement, how can the Church renew itself and its outreach to all people? 

Bishop Robert Barron, Bishop of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, insists that a "dumbed down" Catholicism cannot succeed in today's highly educated society―instead, the Church needs to draw upon its great theological heritage in order to renew its hope in Christ.

With Renewing Our Hope: Essays for the New Evangelization, Bishop Barron traces this renewal through four stages. 

"Renewing Our Mission" lays out the challenges that call for Catholics to become more aware of their own intellectual resources in encountering the "Nones."

"Renewing Our Minds" showcases the importance of theological reflection as a font of wisdom and sanity in the Church, touching on Thomas Aquinas, Hans Urs von Balthasar, the recently canonized John Henry Newman, and Pope Francis.

In "Renewing the Church," he proceeds to look at how Scripture, the family, the seminary, and Catholic college graduates can each contribute to this renewal.

Finally, in "Renewing Our Culture," he returns to the judgments Catholics must make in assessing contemporary culture, specifically, family life, liberalism, relativism, and (surprisingly) the beauty of cinema.

Bishop Barron, known as the host of the Catholicism PBS video series, was previously rector and professor of systematic theology at Mundelein Seminary outside Chicago, Illinois. He demonstrates again in Renewing Our Hope his ability to make the fruits of his wide reading accessible to a broad audience, while still giving his academic colleagues much to consider.
Here's What's Included
FOREWORD by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio

PREFACE by Bishop Robert Barron


  • Chapter 1: Looking for the Nones
  • Chapter 2: Evangelizing the Nones
  • Chapter 3: Thomas Aquinas and the New Evangelization
  • ​Chapter 4: Jacob's Ladder: A Homily for the Ordination of Dominican Priests
  • Chapter 5: How Von Balthasar Changed My Mind
  • Chapter 6: Why the Divine Simplicity Matters
  • Chapter 7: The One Who Is, The One Who Gives: Derrida, Aquinas, and the Dilemma of the Divine Generosity
  • ​Chapter 8: John Henry Newman and the New Evangelization
  • Chapter 9: Gaston Fessard and the Intellectual Formation of Pope Francis
  • Chapter 10: Examining the Sexual Abuse Scandal with Biblical Eyes
  • Chapter 11: Optatam Totius and the Renewal of the Priesthood
  • Chapter 12: Imago Dei as Privilege and Mission
  • ​Chapter 13: Greatness of Soul
  • Chapter 14: Education in Virtue, Love, and Mission: A Reflection on Chapters Seven, Eight, and Nine of Amoris Laetitia
  • Chapter 15: Liberalism and Catholicism: Why the Disconnect?
  • Chapter 16: Relativism and Its Discontents
  • ​Chapter 17: Christ in Cinema: The Evangelical Power of the Beautiful

Read The Foreward
By Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio
There is no doubt about it: Bishop Robert Barron, Bishop of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, is a gifted communicator of the ‘Good News.’ The Word on Fire apostolate, together with series such as Catholicism and Pivotal Players, have made him a household name in the United States. Engaging believers and nonbelievers alike, whether young people, professionals at Google, legislators in Congress, or anyone who comes across his YouTube videos, Bishop Barron has been perfecting the art of communicating the best of Catholicism.

Bishop Barron possesses the gift of taking complex ideas and simplifying them, providing examples from contemporary culture, art, or the lives of the saints to connect to the lives of the men and women of our day. He has evangelized through the new media and has taken up the call of the last three popes to be engaged in the New Evangelization.

Such a capacity is rooted in a deep intellectual formation. For two decades as a seminary professor and rector at the University of St. Mary of the Lake (Mundelein Seminary), he shaped and formed the minds and spiritual lives of many priests who are serving in parishes in the United States and around the world. Always a critic of ‘dumbed-down Catholicism,’ Bishop Barron displays his intellectual gifts in Renewing Our Hope: Essays for the New Evangelization.

In July 2017, Bishop Barron experienced what many of us have experienced: a delayed flight and a missed connection. As such, he could not be present at the Convocation of Catholic Leaders held in Orlando, Florida. He was forced to deliver his keynote address from a studio via satellite. Listening to Bishop Barron tackle the phenomenon of the ‘nones’—those who profess no religion—in the context of the New Evangelization, I heard him identify and critique three obstacles, which are at the same time, opportunities for evangelization: scientism, the ‘m’eh’ culture (i.e., relativism), and the culture of self-invention.

In this collection of essays, we find Bishop Barron not only addressing the need to evangelize the ‘nones,’ but also engaged in theological discourse on complex subjects such as the divine simplicity of God. His aim is always evangelization. He brings forth for the reader the richness and relevance of the Tradition, most especially St. Thomas Aquinas. Saint Thomas, for Bishop Barron, is not a man of the past, but a theologian, philosopher, and saint who can engage with today’s culture, offering an intellectual response to ideologies like scientism and relativism, offering objectivity as an antidote for the culture of self-invention, and offering a path for dialogue with modern philosophers like Jacques Derrida on the dilemma of the gift. Barron demonstrates how the theological tradition is relevant for today.

Nor does Barron restrict himself to St. Thomas. In this volume, we find him reflecting again on the impact of Hans Urs von Balthasar. The Swiss theologian’s aesthetics are often referenced by Barron in his popular works, but here we find in the fifth chapter, “How Von Balthasar Changed My Mind,” an account of his shift from Rahner to Balthasar. Barron’s references to Balthasar in this work and others are a reminder that if the Church is to evangelize today, it will be through the force of attraction, the attractiveness of Christ and the beauty of the faith. People are naturally drawn to the beautiful, good, and the true. By offering the reader sound theology, Barron draws the reader to encounter the One who is the Good, the Beautiful One, and who is the Way, Truth, and Life.

It is precisely from sound theological principles that authentic pastoral practice flows, and, at times and in turn, pastoral experience informs and refines our articulation of principles. It is for this reason that Pope Francis has emphasized the realities of people’s concrete situations; it is there that the Word of God and good theology must penetrate. Theology cannot remain abstract; it must lead others to encounter the Mystery of God, who can change our lives, open new horizons, and give us direction. Two essays—“Looking for the Nones” and “Evangelizing the Nones”—are examples of the type of practical theology called for by Pope Francis.

Barron is not afraid to engage the theology of Pope Francis in these essays, offering the reader an exposure to the Holy Father’s meditations on the virtues, which are nourished and nurtured within the family. St. Thomas’s treatment of the virtues is often ignored in moral theology, but it is essential for Christian living. The Holy Father too recognizes that it is within the family that the person matures in virtue, developing a habitus. It is within this lens that Barron believes we should try to understand Amoris Laetitia. Nor is Barron afraid to engage the Jesuit thinker Gaston Fessard, who with Guardini influenced Pope Francis, leading to the articulation of his four principles found in Evangelii Gaudium.

In a world marked by advancing secularism, some Catholics believe that it is better to retreat from the culture rather than to engage it. In the essays presented here, Bishop Barron offers a different response; rather than retreat, we must take confidence in the power of the Gospel to engage and purify the culture with the best that Catholicism has to offer. The dialectic between Revelation and culture finds expression in this work in an address Barron gave to the American Congress in 2019 entitled “Liberalism and Catholicism—Why the Disconnect?” and in a lecture given in 2018 in Denver entitled “Relativism and Its Discontents.”

I was pleased to receive this volume. It is an example of scholarship by a bishop who is, at the same time, an accomplished theologian. It seems to me that the Church in the United States and its efforts to carry out the New Evangelization could greatly benefit from a theologically engaged episcopate. In Renewing Our Hope: Essays for the New Evangelization, Bishop Barron offers us some insights not merely into the obstacles to the faith but also into the opportunities offered for the proclamation of the Gospel. After all, what is proclaimed is not mere words but the Word, who is the Person of Jesus Christ who offers us salvation.
About The Author
Bishop Robert Barron
Bishop Robert Barron is the founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries and Bishop of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester. He is also the host of CATHOLICISM, a groundbreaking, award-winning documentary about the Catholic Faith, which aired on public television.

Bishop Barron is a #1 Amazon bestselling author and has published numerous books, essays, and articles on theology and the spiritual life. He is a religion correspondent for NBC and has also appeared on FOX News, CNN, and EWTN.

Bishop Barron's pioneering work in evangelizing through the new media led Francis Cardinal George to describe him as “one of the Church's best messengers."
Praise for Renewing Our Hope

Barron's fans well know the reservoirs of thought and learning he draws, so effortlessly, upon. Here we trace the waters to their source: his charism as a scholar and teacher. This is the Bishop at his reflective, ruminative best. More gripping than Grisham!

- Stephen Bullivant, author of Mass Exodus: Catholic Disaffection in Britain and America Since Vatican II

With the passing of Francis Cardinal George, the mantle of Windy City sage turned Catholic bishop passed to Robert Barron. The essays in this volume, however, offer much more than the view of the Church from Bishop Barron's new pedestal in the cultural hub of Los Angeles.

They assemble an incisive disentanglement of the theological problem posed by the 'nones.' How can we as a Church respond to the Zombified indifference of the next generation while avoiding the divisions of the past and actually entering into the to and fro of a culture that calls itself postmodern? A brilliant way forward is sketched in these scintillating pages.

- Peter Cassarella, Duke Divinity School

The virtue of hope depends on the virtue of faith; we first need to believe in God in order to trust him. Bishop Barron's special genius, vivid throughout these marvelous essays, is his gift of making the 'new evangelization' more than just pious words, but the seeds of a new and fulfilling life in Jesus Christ.

- Charles J. Chaput, OFM, Cap., Archbishop Emeritus of Philadelphia

Wisdom is not an everyday affair though the everyday depends on wise people if we are to live well. Bishop Baron is a man of wisdom which means he writes about our faith in God with joy and insight. Hopefully this book will be read by those who no longer think what Christians believe to be true. For as Barron makes clear when all is said and done we are followers of Christ because He is the truth that makes life joyful.

- Stanley Hauerwas, Duke Divinity School

More than almost any person I know, Bishop Barron lives to ponder and savor the things of God. And in meditating passionately upon the gospel, he takes delight in reasoned argument and in the power of a memorable turn of phrase. Ever attuned to the real-world purchase of doctrine, he can be said to embody St. Paul's dictum: 'Test everything; hold fast to what is good.' For those engaged in the mission of thinking with the gospel and bearing it to the world, this book will be a beacon.

- Matthew Levering, James N. and Mary D. Perry Jr. Chair of Theology, Mundelein Seminary

The beauty―the splendor―of things may depend ontologically on their goodness, truth, and being, but it is their beauty that awakens us to them. The splendor of truth draws us to the truthful.

In the seventeen essays and lectures collected in this book, Bishop Barron shows, in vivid detail, how our Christian faith needs to focus primarily on God our Father and Creator, shown through his Son and Word Jesus Christ, in the light of the Holy Spirit.

This is a book for preachers, catechists, and faithful who wish to develop a Eucharistic and Biblical way of thinking that responds, not primarily to argumentation, but to the glory of God.

The most colorful chapter is the final one, "Christ in Cinema," in which Bishop Barron shows how the figure of Christ is depicted in "Babette's Feast," "The Shawshank Redemption," and "Gran Torino." The most lyrical passage is the claim that the best image of God in the bible is the burning bush, which is on fire but not destroyed: "The closer the true God comes to the creature, the more radiant and beautiful the creature becomes."

The book was written to renew our hope, that is, to diagnose a turbulent situation in our Church and our culture, and to show what can be done in response to it.

- Robert Sokolowski, The Catholic University of America

What Pope St. John Paul II dubbed the "New Evangelization" is the Catholic Church's grand strategy for the twenty-first century―and the way of being Catholic that animates the living parts of the Church around the world. No one understands the theological and historical roots of the New Evangelization more thoroughly, and no one implements the New Evangelization better, than Bishop Robert Barron, a true apostolic evangelist.

- George Weigel, Ethics and Public Policy Center