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Heaven in Stone and Glass: Experiencing the Spirituality of the Great Cathedrals [Paperback]

By Robert Barron (Author)
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Item description for Heaven in Stone and Glass: Experiencing the Spirituality of the Great Cathedrals by Robert Barron...

Exemplifying primarily from Notre-Dame de Paris and Chartres, a priest and professor at Mundelein Seminary, discusses 14 features of a cathedral, including space, light, and orientation, as well as tangible features, such as the rose windows and the labyrinth on the floor at Chartres. Illustrations.

Publishers Description
Like a mystical tome awaiting to be deciphered, a Gothic cathedral holds many secrets about the soul's yearning for God. In "Heaven in Stone and Glass," Catholic priest and professor of theology at Mundelein Seminary in Chicago teaches us how to read these secrets, with beautiful reflections on aspects such as light and darkness, the labyrinth, the meaning of gargoyles and demons, and the imagery of vertical space. whether you are preparing for a pilgrimage to York Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, or looking ahead to inspirational bedside reading, this book is the perfect guide.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: The Crossroad Publishing Company
Pages   136
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.2" Width: 5.32" Height: 0.41"
Weight:   0.4 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 1, 2002
Publisher   Crossroad General Interest
ISBN  0824519930  
ISBN13  9780824519933  

Availability  10 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 23, 2017 03:01.
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More About Robert Barron

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Father Robert Barron is the founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, the Rector of Mundelein Seminary, and the host of CATHOLICISM, a groundbreaking, award winning documentary about the Catholic Faith. He received a Master's Degree in Philosophy from the Catholic University of America (1982) and a doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Institut Catholique de Paris (1992).
He has published numerous books, essays, and articles on theology and the spiritual life. He has also appeared on several media outlets including NBC, PBS, FOX News, CNN, and EWTN. His website,, has reached over 3.8 million people and his weekly YouTube videos have been viewed over nine million times. His pioneering work in evangelizing through the new media led Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago, to describe him as -one of the Church's best messengers.-

Robert Barron currently resides in Mundelein, in the state of Illinois. Robert Barron was born in 1959.

Robert Barron has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible

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Reviews - What do customers think about Heaven in Stone and Glass: Experiencing the Spirituality of the Great Cathedrals?

good insight into a historical treasure of the church  Jan 15, 2006
This book is the door that opened me to the appreciation of Medieval arts from the eye of one who counts the past as a great heritage. People these days often think of the Medieval days with a certain sense of despise. We forget that we see a bigger world than the Medieval people did because we are standing on their shoulders. While we may know more about this world, we have much to learn from their understanding regarding the world yet to come, because spiritual truths are timeless. Spiritual truths aren't about how many angels standing on a pinhead. This book brings the spirituality of this ancient heritage vividly to life. Being a protestant myself, I certainly benefited greatly from it, because church history did not begin from the Reformation.
The portal between heaven and earth  May 26, 2005
Fr. Barron's book was used in the course on the church and the arts at my seminary; the course strives to connect various aspects of art, architecture, music, etc. into the spiritual life of the church - this book fulfills that purpose admirably. It is an extended meditation upon humanity's link with God, using the idea and image of the Gothic cathedral as the central icon or focus upon which this meditation is based.

His analysis is erudite and wide-ranging, drawing upon his own experiences and reflections, as well as references past and present in the greater corpus of Christian and intellectual traditions. For example, in the chapter on Virtues and Vices, Barron flows easily from Aquinas to Flannery O'Connor (both of whom are frequently reference throughout the text); in other places, he incorporates Bertrand Russell and Pythagoras on mathematics, Tillich's idea of the ground of being, Rahner's idea about the incomprehensibility of God, the theologies of Augustine and Teilhard, Dorothy Day and the Desert Fathers. The ideas incorporated here include those of this world and of other worlds, drawn together into harmony and unity, while still retaining aspects of particularity.

Barron looks at particular aspects of the cathedral, drawing both on the physical and emotional responses one might get being in a cathedral. There are architectural and artistic features of cathedrals designed to deliberately evoke certain responses, symbolic of the status and relationship of human beings to God and the heavens. This includes the darkness upon entering, the verticality and light of the high windows, and even the very shape of the cathedral itself. `The building itself is a cross,' Barron writes; `as we walk through it, admiring its variegated faces and aspects, we are, unavoidably, walking through a cross.'

Barron explores the design features such as tall walls, flying buttresses, and cruciformity, as well as the artistic features such as rose windows, labyrinths, gargoyles, and the exterior facades. Elaborate in detail and polyvalent in interpretative possibility, the Gothic cathedral includes elements for people of differing educational levels and backgrounds, seeking to be a place where all of humanity could come together as one before God. `There are indeed no greater shrines to a spirituality of the earth than the Gothic cathedrals produced by the medieval mind.' These churches were intended both as portals to heaven as well as a foretaste of heaven.

This is a short book - indeed, I was able to read it in one sitting. Part of this was due to the engrossing nature of Barron's writing; it is easy to get swept away into the spiritual heights and depths of his descriptions and narrative flow. Each brief essay can stand alone (just as one might focus upon a particular aspect, such as praying the labyrinth in a cathedral), but like the cathedral, it is the combination of all the aspects taken together that makes it truly remarkable - there is a comprehensive vision that forms from Barron's meditation. This is a book that calls for repeated readings, and shall accompany me the next time I visit a cathedral.

This is a good resource for those interested in architecture and churches, as well as those who want a rather unique way of thinking about spiritual growth and representations in the world. Nonetheless, Barron is quite definite in his conviction that the Gothic cathedral, however remarkable a construct, is still a place that needs the life of the people around it for its true fullness to come into being; `if the cathedral is a body, then the liturgy - both celestial and earthly - is its soul.' The worship of the church always looks beyond itself, even in the midst of such splendour.

A refreshing meditation  May 9, 2002
Fr. Barron's book is truly a small gem. Very compact and readable yet extremely spiritual and philosophical, it gets right at the heart of the very essence of the great cathedrals. Simply looking at their form, though very beautiful in itself, is not enough without completely immersing oneself in the mentality and spirit of the people who built them. This rich mentality is in sharp contrast to the agnostic hedonism that resulted from the Enlightenment. As an architecture student, it gives me great hope that, as he points out in the book, we are in an age when people are becoming increasingly interested in spirituality and symbolism and long for a reality deeper than the profane and the mundane. Given the spiritually and architecturally impoverished and overall pathetic nature of most Catholic churches built in the past three decades, this meditation is like a candle in the dark, not only harkening back to a time when everyone knew that God was the center of the universe, but inspiring hope that that time will one day return. In short, this is an excellent book that I recommend to everyone.
A devotional that uses cathedrals as the metaphor.  Sep 22, 2001
Cathedrals are monoliths of faith gone by; sacred geometries that tower above cities and towns throughout Europe. Cathedrals are now major attractions for tourist groups, projects for endless restorations and museums of meditation.

In "Heaven In Stone and Glass", Father Robert Barron (a Catholic priest and professor of theology) has brought together a readable devotional, that combines a heavy dose of fundamental theology with a brief pragmatic explanation of how and why the Great Cathedrals were built as they were.

But be apprized that this text is really a devotional that uses cathedrals as the illustration for Father Barron's homilies. Robert Barron spent years in France and uses the Cathedrals of Notre-Dame and Chartres as his architectural examples, but these cathedrals are applicable to the propensity of cathedrals throughout the world Some readers may quail at the conservative theology that Robert Barron promotes. He states that we must come to grips with the fact that we are sinners "disoriented, lost, desperately in need of a guide". And that the church is the ark of our salivation "as long as we sinners stay in the confines of the church, we will make our way to the light." However, if this is not your spiritual belief, don't take flight, for Robert Barron's writing is as engaging as it is opinionated.

I read this while visiting the great Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, Norway, and I highly recommend that you read it while visiting a Cathedral. This book can add meaning to your next cathedral experience while providing a strong devotional base. It is evident that cathedrals hold stories of salvation to those who can read them as a metaphor. They are "symbolic manifestations of a spiritual universe that cannot be seen" and much more than stone and glass. Robert Barron has written an engaging devotional and useful guide. Recommended

Spiritually Uplifting  Sep 22, 2001
Robert Barron's enlightening little book explores the rich symbolic world of medieval cathedrals. Written as a series of fifteen meditations, "Heaven in Stone and Glass" approaches the cathedral as an intentional evocation of both Christian belief and the Christian journey. Barron's observations are rich in metaphor and allusion. His images are strongly drawn: the nave as womb, cruciformity as a way of the cross for all entrants, verticality as an invitation to transcendence, the rose as music of the spheres. He is also a voluminous reader, citing sources as diverse as the Desert Fathers, Dante, Flannery O'Connor, and Alisdair MacIntyre.

One criticism though. Despite his deep knowledge of cathedrals and their meaning, Barron misstated a few architectural details. Mostly notable was his contention that the flying buttress (not the pointed arch) was the architectural breakthrough that made brilliant illumination possible. But don't let this lapse deter you from enjoying this excellent book.


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