Discover the figures who shaped the Church and changed the world
Bishop Robert Barron's CATHOLICISM series, an epic ten part documentary, took people around the world and deep into the Catholic Faith. The series aired on PBS and has been seen by millions.
But there is still more of the story to tell.
Bishop Barron is on a new journey to unlock the truth behind the Catholic Church's most influential people. CATHOLICISM: The Pivotal Players is a multi-part film series that illumines a handful of saints, artists, mystics, and scholars who not only shaped the life of the Church but changed the course of civilization.
Rebuild my Church! That’s the mission Christ gave to St. Francis and it’s the perennial task of the Church in every age of its life. But how is the reform and renewal of the Church to be accomplished? The life of St. Francis demonstrates that Christ intends the foundations of true and lasting reform to be built on the solid rock that is the radical witness of the saints.
ST. THOMAS AQUINAS
The relationship of faith and reason is under intense scrutiny in an age beholden to the competing claims of fundamentalism and secularism. So called “new atheists” insist that the claims of religion amount to mere superstition, a retrograde holdover from a time long ago. Others insist that the life of faith is a retreat into emotions and subjectivism. St. Thomas Aquinas anticipated these objections and trends and demonstrated that to believe is to think and that the life of the mind is integral to life in Christ.
BL. JOHN HENRY NEWMAN
Is there any truth in matters of religion? Should the Church simply retreat in the face of the challenges of culture? John Henry Newman came into the Church as a convert and used his prodigious intellectual gifts to help the Church better understand its identity and mission and engage the challenges of a secular age.
ST. CATHERINE of SIENA
Is the physical world all there is? Is science the only path to ascertaining truth? St. Catherine of Siena witnesses to a higher world beyond the material. Though the fourteenth century mystic never studied theology, and never learned how to read or write, her life constitutes a powerful challenge to the flattened-out secularism of our time.
How does one engage a culture that is befuddled by Christ and suspicious of the Church? The life and witness of this nineteenth century literary convert shows that the fundamental disposition of effective evangelization is joy, and life in Christ is a day-to-day encounter with an abundant and surprising offer of grace.
The master of sculpture and painting is not a saint but serves as the privileged representative of the creative potential engendered by the Catholic Faith. The Church professes that beauty is a route of access to God, and through humanity’s creative artistry we glimpse the power and glory of the Lord.
(Release date to be determined...)
The idea that the revelation of Christ is merely a myth constructed to conform to our own aspirations and ideologies is not just a predicament of the modern age. This second century bishop and martyr insisted that the Christ revealed by the Gospel and witnessed to by the Apostles is far more compelling and interesting than the offerings of the counterfeit spiritualities of his or our own time.
Perhaps the premier example of how faith in Christ changed a person is the fourth century bishop, Saint Augustine. Augustine’s narrative of personal transformation provides a template for life in Christ that still captivates today. In an age when people insist upon sharp demarcations between spirituality and religion, or between Christ and the Church, St. Augustine provides a unifying way forward. We do not have to choose one or the other, but are chosen by Christ for his Church.
In a world darkened by the fading light of classical culture, St. Benedict cast a greater light—Jesus Christ. His insistence that the Gospel should be embodied in communities of friendship and peace, guided by the sacrifices of poverty, chastity, and obedience, became a new cultural matrix and unleashed a vigorous spiritual dynamism from which a new civilization would emerge.
Christ demands a decision—will we serve him or some other master? The saints demonstrate the abundant life that emerges when the soul serves Christ in communion with his Church. St. Ignatius’ decision to give his life over to Christ without reservation gave rise to a movement that would not only transform lives, but also change the world.
BARTOLOMÉ DE LAS CASAS
From where does the cultural regard for human rights emerge? What informs the Church’s teaching concerning dignity of the human person? What is the appropriate rapport between the missionary activities of the Church and global cultures? The sixteenth century Dominican priest Bartolomé de Las Casas represents how the Church has engaged the culture as the advocate for the least among us and provided a social theory that accepts as foundational the inherent dignity of the human person.
Watercolor portraits of Pivotal Players by Jonathan Sundy
The Study Program for CATHOLICISM: The Pivotal Players is the best way to immerse yourself fully into these holy men and women.
Whether you use it for personal formation or host a complete Study Program for your parish or group, you’ll go deeper with top experts from around the world, including:
The Study Guide commentary was compiled under the direction and approval of Bishop Barron.
Each Study Guide lesson provides details about the Pivotal Player’s life and contributions to the culture. In addition, you'll find “Questions for Understanding" that support the teaching in the video and reference Scripture verses and sections from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. You'll also find several “Questions for Application" in each lesson to help you connect the material to your own life and experience.
For group study, you'll find a plan to present the program in 13 sessions, each 90 minutes long. The first session covers a general orientation, followed by two sessions on each Pivotal Player. Each session includes video viewing (25-30 minutes) and small group discussion of the Study Guide questions (60 minutes).
The Leader’s Kit provides everything you need to host the Pivotal Players Study Program. We recommend that each parish or group purchase one Leader’s Kit to get started and then a separate Leader’s Guide for each small group facilitator. In addition, each participant in the group needs their own Study Guide, which can be purchased in bulk with a volume discount before your program begins.
Leaders can also register for a free training webinar which teaches the best ways to run an effective Pivotal Players study group.
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