My first book was How We Communicate: The Most Vital Skill, a secular book completed before my conversion to the Catholic faith began. My second book, published by Magnificat Institute Press, is Second Exodus, a fully Catholic book with forewords by Father John A. Hardon, SJ. and Father William Most, Ph.D. (on this page, below). I call How We Communicate and Second Exodus “my before and after pictures.” My most recent Catholic book is Eternal Israel. I originally wrote it for print publication but before I could start marketing it I decided to convert the entire Second Exodus Apostolate to digital communication.
How We Communicate: The Most Vital Skill
Glenbridge Publishing Ltd. offers this summary:
How We Communicate offers an integrated perspective exploring the history of communication and man’s need to make contact with others. Practical information on face to face and other personal communication techniques, the telephone and business systems is examined.
Barrack investigates intriguing new frontiers and leads the reader far into the future. How we Communicate, a unique and insightful book, draws together the many aspects of the art of communication and the growing importance of what has become mankind’s Most Vital Skill.
I wrote How We Communicate during the 1980s, before I began my journey to the Catholic faith. Much of it is timeless, because it focuses on the need to communicate effectively through many different channels. However, the last few chapters are not appropriate for a Catholic book. I invite Catholics interested in the book to enjoy most of it, but to understand that some material in the last few chapters is inconsistent with Catholic faith.
Foreword by Father John A. Hardon, S.J.
Second Exodus is no ordinary book. It is the profession of the Catholic faith by an ardent convert from Judaism. Martin Barrack, the author, is so enamored of his discovery that Jesus is the Messiah that he wants to share this treasure with others, especially his fellow Israelites. Like the early disciples of the Master who first met Jesus and hurried to tell their friends, so Barrack is eager to share his find with those who are willing to listen.
There is no such thing as an “ordinary” convert story. Second Exodus is even more exceptional. It is at once an autobiography and a carefully written synthesis of the Catholic faith. But the autobiography is not so much a collection of personal details as the carefully thought-out reflections of a fervent follower of Christ.
Barrack loves his own Jewish people. He identifies himself with them in every page. Yet all the while he is zealous to share with them what he knows they most need: the One whom the prophets foretold as the Savior, not only of Israel but of the whole human race.
Barrack sees God choosing the Jews to fulfill a mission unique in recorded history. “Cultural evolution alone,” he explains, “could never account for the great Jewish odyssey across the centuries.” Alone among the nations of the world, the Jews have remained what they have been for almost four thousand years. Yet, again unique in human civilization, from their ranks came Jesus of Nazareth whose life, death and resurrection have divided world history into BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini, In the Year of the Lord).
To be stressed, the author insists, is that, “Jesus came into the world as a Jew, went to shabat services, wore the traditional kippah and tallit, and selected all Jewish apostles. He told the Samaritan woman, “Salvation is from the Jews” Jn 4:22. Paul wrote to the Romans, “They are Israelites and to them belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship and the ‘promises’; to them belong the patriarchs and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed for ever” Rom 9:4-5.
What Barrack sees in all this is more than most Christians realize. He sees the Jews as still, mysteriously, a chosen people who have a major role to play in the spread of Christianity. He is heartened by the high respect for the Jews shown by the II Vatican Council. He sees that, “Jewish converts to the Catholic faith are considered special, with deep roots in the Hebrew Scriptures from which came the foundations of the Catholic Church.”
Running as a theme through Second Exodus is the unspoken conviction that today’s converts from Judaism are unique. Not unlike St. Paul, they see themselves as chosen vessels of God’s providence to proclaim the Gospel to the nations.
This volume by Martin Barrack deserves wide circulation. It is at once a path to glory and a tribute to God’s grace. It reveals the depths of an intelligent faith that wants to share its belief with others, both Jews and Gentiles who have not yet discovered that there is only one name under heaven by which we can be saved, the name of Jesus, and only one religious body that has the fullness of God’s revealed truths, the Roman Catholic Church.
Foreword by Father William Most, Ph.D.
At the start of Romans 11, St. Paul exclaims: “God has not rejected His People, has he?” Of course not. Hence in 11:29 He adds: “The graces and call of God are without repentance,” He has not withdrawn His call to them to be His people.
St. Paul is sad that not all have accepted God’s call. Hence in the middle of that same chapter 11 He paints a picture of two olive trees, the tame tree, the wild tree. The tame tree is the original People of God. The wild tree stands for the gentiles. Many branches fell off the tame tree – many of his people have rejected his call by rejecting his Messiah, whom He promised for so many centuries, in so many prophecies. Just when they might have had the splendid fulfillment of the Jewish call, they did not respond.
But those who do respond do not cease to be Jews, do not cease to be His people. And further, the gentiles, who are engrafted into that tame tree, become with the faithful Jews part of the people of God. St. Paul explains in Ephesians 2:6 the grand mystery God planned from ancient times, and only then revealed: that Jews and gentiles are to form one People of God.
So a Jew in accepting the long promised Messiah does not at all cease to be a Jew. Rather, he is a completed, a fulfilled Jew. He is more a Jew than his former associates who reject the Messiah. And the gentiles who join him in the People of God in a sense become Jews, for all, both groups, become one People of God.
Marty Barrack has had the joy of becoming most fully a Jew by accepting the Messiah in the Church that the Messiah founded. It is only in a way a New Covenant – Jeremiah 31:31 had foretold a New Covenant. Yet, as St. Paul makes clear, the new is really the extension, the long promised completion of the old, and only in that sense is it new.
With admirable zeal, skill in presentation, and remarkable knowledge of his faith, Marty Barrack has written this book in the hope that it may help other Jews to become completed, as he now is. May the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, and His Messiah most richly bless this splendid undertaking.
When Alice asked, “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here,” the Cheshire Cat replied, “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
This book is addressed to all who seek Christ. Atheists will find in it their lost childhood faith. Protestants will find the presence of Christ that their forebears abandoned four centuries ago. But it is particularly focused on Jews because the Jew in search of Christ walks a longer path to the cross. Protestant converts already know Jesus and the New Testament. They have much to learn about the complete deposit of faith but they are more than halfway there. Jews have to find God as Blessed Trinity in the Gospels, Acts, Epistles and Revelation. Accustomed to the Mosaic Law with its emphasis on rules of conduct, Jews need time and reflection to see God as a Father who loves his children, and sin as rejection of the Father’s guidance.
The Catholic Church is the Synagogue transformed by the Messiah. God instituted His priesthood through Aaron and continued it through the hereditary succession of priests to Jesus the High Priest and Final Sacrifice, after which the Aaronic sacrifices were replaced by Christ’s apostolic succession of priests re-presenting the one Final Sacrifice until the end of time. There is a straight line from Moses, who said, “Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you” Ex 24:8, to Jesus, who said, “This is my blood of the covenant” Mt 26:28.
The first words spoken by the risen Christ to His apostles were, Shalom alekhem, “Peace be with you” Jn 20:19. Shalom means peace, but also whole or complete. He was saying, “My completion I give to you.” Catholics are completed Jews, proclaiming the Messiah in the new and true Israel until he comes again in glory.
During my journey of completion I had thousands of questions. I wrote Second Exodus to answer as many as I could, to be a Star of Bethlehem guiding the reader toward a magnificent dawn of eternal life.
Introducing a newcomer to any religious faith involves teaching three things: what we believe, how it illuminates our lives, and how we connect with it. This book covers all three. It explains what Catholics accept as true, how these precepts illuminate and change our everyday lives, and how we worship, particularly in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Before we proceed further, let us recite what Jesus told us is the most important commandment of all, the one that Jews consider the heart and soul of Torah, the Shma:
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD, and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates Deut 6:4-9.
If something is missing from your life, and God could provide it, walk with me toward the cross.
Catholic Magazines Review Second Exodus
The Catholic Faith (by Dr. Eduardo P. Olaguer)
Marty Barrack’s book, Second Exodus, combines zestful relish for the Catholic faith with penetrating intellect, true wit, and approachable style. Written as a Christian apology for those with a Jewish back-ground, as is clear from Barrack’s appeal to the Jewish conscience in Chapter 1, the book serves a larger purpose as a comprehensive catechism for both cradle Catholics and potential converts.
Second Exodus is not a personal account of Marty Barrack’s conversion to Catholicism, a counterpart of a counterpart to Stephen Dubner’s best-selling book, Turbulent Souls, which documents the deep struggle of a cradle Catholic reverting to the Jewish faith of his maternal and paternal grandparents. Stephen Dubner would perhaps have benefited greatly from reading Second Exodus prior to his decision to leave the Catholic Church, precisely because Barrack’s book is a cogent presentation of truth and an antidote for subjective thinking and feeling.
Second Exodus covers an immense range of Catholic faith and morals, yet remains tightly focused and scintillating. Barrack’s Jewish roots give the book a powerful organizing perspective that leads the reader to a deeper appreciation of the continuity and underlying logic of Catholic worship. For example, Barrack cites the importance of oral tradition in Judaism as a precursor to Catholic Sacred Tradition, a matter of great value in demolishing the arguments for sola Scriptura and other Protestant truncations of Catholic Christianity. A second example is Barrack’s reference to the privileged position of the queen mother or gevirah in Jewish royal households to explain the role of Our Lady in the economy of salvation. Yet another example is provided by the Jewish Seder or Passover supper, the details of which are fascinatingly Christian in their subliminal references. Such knowledge helps one to appreciate the true value of the Mass, as well as its deep roots in the Old Testament.
One of the rare qualities of Second Exodus is its intellectual breadth. Barrack employs knowledge on many fronts, including modern physics, philosophy, art and literature, history, Jewish tradition and culture, and of course, sound theology and apologetics. It is truly a “catholic” work on several levels, above all because it is committed to the pursuit of truth, wherever it can be found and validated.
Chapter 2 of Second Exodus is remarkable from this perspective. It starts out with the scientific evidence for God, making use of the most up-to-date understanding of physical cosmology, including references to the Anthropic Principle and Grand Unified Theory as indications of intelligent design of the Universe.
Mirroring Psalm 19’s praise of God through the natural law and the Mosaic Law, Barrack then cites the recent mathematical analyses of the Torah and the so-called “Bible Code” (another Jewish contribution) as further evidence of an Infinite Mind governing Creation. Finally, Barrack invokes Pascal’s Wager to show the foolishness of ignoring the manifest probability of God’s existence. Barrack writes clearly and transparently so that readers with no background in these disciplines can easily understand his logic and evidence.
After delving into various aspects of natural theology and arguing for the supernatural basis of the Torah, Barrack proceeds to discuss the New Testament, in particular the evidence of the gospels for the divinity and Messiahship of Jesus. In doing so, Barrack appeals to collateral evidence from secular historians contemporary with the early Church, such as Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny the Younger, to establish the credibility of the New Testament as a historical document. He demolishes the theories put forward by modernist debunkers of the Gospels (e.g., Hugh Schonfield). These include the Swoon Theory, which denies that Jesus actually died on the Cross, and esoteric theories based on the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran, which posit a close connection between Jesus and the Essenes. Barrack then makes an excursion into the theory of Evolution as it has been used to deny the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible, the truthfulness of which Barrack faithfully asserts. This discussion should perhaps have been shifted to the section on natural theology or on the Torah, where it would have been more appropriate.
Barrack is at his best when he combines intellectual rigor with faith and devotion. He boldly affirms his belief in miracles, unlike so many trendy theologians of our day who placate the cognoscenti with condescension toward the beliefs of ordinary humans. In Chapter 2, Barrack continues his discussion of the evidence in favor of Catholicism by listing the most persuasive miracles known throughout the history of the Church, including Eucharistic miracles, the Shroud of Turin, incorruptible bodies, and confirmed apparitions. In discussing these phenomena, Barrack notes the public, documented, verifiable, and even ongoing visible nature of these miracles, repeatedly ending his citations with a phrase such as, “anyone can look them up.” This “show me” kind of insistence demonstrates the practicality of Marty Barrack’s approach to Catholicism. Reflecting St. John Paul II’s Fides et Ratio, Barrack is confident that true faith will be vindicated by reason and solid evidence.
Chapter 2 of Second Exodus concludes with a detailed discussion of the differences among the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant faiths. Key elements of this section are Barrack’s defense of the Marian dogmas and of papal primacy and infallibility. In discussing the papacy, Barrack cites interesting proof from the Church’s history. One such exhibit is the conversion of Pope St. Callistus I from the heresy of monarchianism (also known as modalism or Sabellianism). Another concerns the repentance of Pope Vigilius, who cooperated in the murder of two predecessors to promote the heresy of monophysitism. Both these popes renounced their specific heresies upon assuming the throne of St. Peter, demonstrating Christ’s fidelity to His promise that He would keep the Catholic Church free from doctrinal error.
Chapters 3 and 4 of Second Exodus continue the explanation of the Catholic faith begun in Chapter 2 with the central doctrines of the Trinity and the Communion of Saints. These chapters are appropriately titled, “Meet God” and “Meet the Family.” Included in the latter chapter are a discussion of Marian devotion and prayer (e.g., the Rosary), veneration of saints and angels, and the four last things: death (and resurrection), judgment (and purgatory), heaven, and hell. Barrack spells out the fundamental motivation for these doctrines, saying: “Divine, spiritual, and human persons are all our covenant family. God invites us all into His covenant family.”
Chapter 5, entitled “Across the Ages,” returns to Marty Barrack’s primary objective of demonstrating the continuity and fulfillment of Judaism in the Catholic religion. Barrack first recapitulates Jewish history, beginning with the promulgation of the Old Covenant and leading up to the advent of Christ. He then cites a wide range of Old Testament prophecy to demonstrate that Christ and His New Covenant are indeed the fulfillment of the Law of Moses and of the Prophets. He continues by tracing the early development of the Church in relation to the synagogue and the various sects of Judaism that flourished between the Babylonian exile and the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple. The chapter closes with a presentation of the teaching of Vatican II and of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the relationship of Christianity to Judaism, echoing St. Paul’s insistence that the call of the Jews as God’s chosen people is irrevocable, despite their rejection of Christ.
While the initial chapters of Second Exodus focus primarily on Catholic belief as outlined in the Apostle’s Creed, the remaining chapters present the essentials of Catholic practice, beginning with the seven sacraments (Chapter 6), and concentrating deeply on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (Chapter 7). Chapter 8, entitled “Mirrors of Christ,” then addresses Catholic moral teaching and spirituality, while Chapter 9 focuses more explicitly on issues pertaining to the Gospel of Life: human sexuality and procreation, contraception, abortion, homosexuality, and euthanasia. Chapter 10 highlights the Church Militant in the rockets’ red glare of the spiritual war. Finally, Chapter 11 offers additional resources that the convert will need to reinforce his newfound faith.
There are a number of memorable aspects in Barrack’s treatment of Catholic worship. Barrack notes, for example, that in Hebrew the word sheva corresponding to the Latin word sacramentum (oath), means both “oath” and “seven,” so that when we say in Hebrew, “I swear under an oath,” we are literally saying “I seven myself.” In reading this particular sentence in Second Exodus, I finally understood the meaning of the story in Genesis 21 concerning Abraham and the well at Beersheba (”well of the oath” or “well of the seven”), in which Abraham gives King Abimelech of Gerar a gift of seven ewe lambs. In accepting these gifts, Abimelech acknowledged the truthfulness of Abraham’s claim to the well. Likewise, when we Catholics receive the seven sacraments as a gift from God, we testify to God’s truthfulness in promising to give us the water of eternal life.
In discussing the sacrament of Baptism, Barrack recounts the story of a cardinal told by the midwife who delivered him that she had baptized him in the name of “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.” To his chagrin, he realized that his baptism had been invalid. He went to the Pope, who personally baptized him, confirmed him, gave him Holy Communion, ordained him a deacon, then a priest, then a bishop, and finally named him a cardinal, all in one day. This situation is by no means uncommon. Babies are sometimes baptized “in the name of the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Sanctifier,” or merely dipped in a baptismal pool with no water flowing on the baby’s head. Both these circumstances invalidate a child’s baptism, and such sacrileges caused by bad theology sadly abound today.
Barrack rightfully gives pride of place in his book to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which is the sole subject of Chapter 7. He begins by listing the adumbrations of this perfect act of worship in the Old Testament, beginning with the sacrifice of Abel, and including the sacrifices of Melchizedek, Abraham, Moses, and King David. Barrack notes the close relationship between the special Hebrew sacrifice called todah (meaning “thanks”) and the Eucharist (which means “thanksgiving”). The todah sacrifice had inaugurated the Old Covenant, when Moses and seventy elders of Israel went up to Mount Horeb and literally saw God. Exodus 24:11 states: “They beheld God, and ate and drank.” Likewise, the Holy Eucharist is both a ritual meal and a sacrifice that establishes the New Covenant, in which we literally see our Creator. The ritual meal aspects of the Mass correspond closely to the Jewish Passover meal or Seder. Barrack carefully notes the details of this relationship, as well as the relationship between the Mass and the sacrifice associated with the Tabernacle that housed the Ark of the Covenant and continued in the Temple of Solomon. He observes that Catholics follow this tradition, while modern Jews do not, implying that true Judaism is actually found in the Catholic faith and not in its rabbinic offshoots that survived the destruction of Herod’s Temple. Barrack goes on to describe in detail the various parts of the Mass for the sake of the potential convert, noting at every opportunity the Jewish motivation for each pious act.
In “Mirrors of Christ” (Chapter 8), Barrack shows how each Christian must live out the covenant with Christ in the midst of the world, with all the tensions that such a life implies, and which stem from the Cross of Christ. As Barrack states, “Reality is cruciform.” He begins by noting how the twelve apostles themselves had to be transformed in order to bring about the original Church, with its four marks that continue to this day in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Barrack then cites Jesus’ summary of the commandments as the love of God and neighbor, then proceeds to outline in detail how such a love is to be expressed through the life of divine grace. He describes this life as the practice of the theological and cardinal virtues with the aid of the intellectual gifts of the Holy Spirit. Barrack then explains the Catholic teaching on sin and forgiveness, in the process giving the reader a thorough basis for an examination of conscience. He concludes the chapter by stressing the importance of obedience to the Church’s authority, especially in matters of private revelation, by which many are deceived through inordinate curiosity and lack of submission. Barrack invokes the Latin phrase, Sentire cum Ecclesia, saying, “When the Church warns us away from something, we flee from it.”
Chapters 9 and 10 of Second Exodus remind us how fiercely the battle for souls can rage in this world. The promotion of the Gospel of Life amid the Culture of Death, the reality of Satan, and his tactics to destroy both the individual Christian and the Church at large are the subjects of these chapters. Among the sad aspects of this struggle that Barrack does not shy away from is the controversy in today’s Church stemming from the modernist heresy, which has been resurrected despite the valiant efforts of Pope St. Pius X to uproot it at the beginning of the twentieth century. In an interesting paragraph, Barrack says: “Today, Christ uses Satan’s very attacks on the Catholic Church to prove that it is the one true Church. Nobody much hates High Church Episcopalians, although their teachings resemble Catholic teaching. But many people under Satan’s influence have made themselves bitter enemies of the Catholic Church. They know deep down, that the Catholic moral witness is authentic. They have chosen to reject the Catholic witness, but it is deeply rooted in their tortured souls.”
Barrack notes that both the Jewish people and the Catholic Church are following the Lord across the ages in a long via crucis leading to death and ultimate resurrection, culminating in Christ’s Second Coming. He refers to the painting by Marc Chagall, which depicts Jesus as a Jew on the cross, as if to say that the Jews have, in a mysterious way, reflected the image of Jesus through the centuries, despite their not having recognized him at His first Advent. Barrack writes: “Mystically speaking, the Jews were crucified at Auschwitz and three years later rose from the dead in the nation of Israel. All that remains is their mystical ascension to heaven in the new and true Israel through Yeshua haMashiakh (Jesus, the Messiah).”
On the whole, Marty Barrack has given us in Second Exodus a tour de force for the defense of the one true Faith. There are, however, certain areas that plausibly might have been covered by the book, particularly in the chapter entitled “Across the Ages.” These include the Catholic view of the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the Holocaust, historical events to which Jews are extremely sensitive. While these are not matters of doctrine, they remain to many Jews a stumbling stone to the realization of the Catholic Church’s divine mandate. Whatever reasons Jews may have for not entering into the one ark of salvation are ultimately reasons of the heart that must be addressed. Moreover, potential Jewish converts might have been encouraged by the contributions that Catholic saints of Jewish descent have made to the Church over the centuries. Examples that come to mind are the great Spanish mystics, Saints John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila, and more recently St. Edith Stein, the Jewish philosopher who became a Catholic nun and was martyred at Auschwitz. Perhaps Marty will do us all a favor by writing another book, just as delightful and informative as Second Exodus.
Marty Barrack has definitely made a positive contribution to Catholic-Jewish dialogue. In the process, he has enriched many who are already Catholic or perhaps just plain Christian. I would not hesitate to recommend Second Exodus as a reliable catechism for Catholic RCIA programs, high school or adult apologetics classes, and one-on-one ecumenism. Jews, Protestants, and other outsiders to Catholicism will find much that is fascinating in this book even from a cultural standpoint, and all the more so because it presents a compelling view of Catholic Christianity that stands to reason.
The Wanderer (by Paul Likoudis)
(excerpts from the full page review)
“The past two decades have witnessed a proliferation of writers, publishing houses, magazines, periodicals, and books devoted to Catholic apologetics … Among the very finest of these works is the recently published Second Exodus by a Jewish convert to the Church, Marty Barrack.”
“Marty Barrack joins the ranks of the most notable Jewish converts of modern times — such as St. Edith Stein; David Goldstein and Rosalie Marie Levy; the former Chief Rabbi of Rome, Eugenio Zolli; Dr. Bernard Nathanson, and others — who have made brilliant expositions of Catholic teaching.”
“Barrack brings the high degree of intelligence, the quick grasp of languages, science, and history native to his Jewish origins and applies them in a succinct and powerful apologetic for the Church.”
“He is a man of the Book, and what is so refreshing — and what makes this work so exciting to read — is that Barrack takes all of the words recorded in the Bible — whether by prophets, kings, judges, or by Jesus Himself — literally. In other words, he believes God wrote the Bible, and the book is to be taken seriously.”
“Second Exodus primary purpose is to be an entry path for Jews into the Catholic Church … but every Catholic who reads it will discover a unique, vigorous, and exciting exposition of what Catholics believe.”
“Second Exodus,” which carries introductions by Fr. John Hardon, S.J., and the late Fr. William Most, has provided every Catholic committed to knowing, sharing, and explaining the faith a wonderful tool for the tasks. In addition, Second Exodus is a marvelous testimony of one man’s zeal for sharing the faith. Those looking for signs and wonders of what the Holy Spirit is doing in our times should take a serious look at Marty Barrack’s work.”
National Catholic Register (by Rosalind Moss, now Mother Miriam)
The apostle Paul wrote to the early Church in Rome: “For if their (Israel’s) rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?” (Romans 11:15). Martin Barrack is one whose acceptance of God’s Messiah has given us a thrilling glimpse into the reality of Paul’s words. His “gift to Jesus” in the writing of Second Exodus has provided the Church, and all who would seek her, a most unique and valuable work.
For the Catholic desiring to introduce a Jewish friend to the Messiah, and wanting a deeper understanding of his own faith and its Jewish roots, this book is a long-awaited treasure. For the Jewish soul who has the courage to explore the Christian claim, this book is written by a kinsman who speaks with an understanding heart. The fear of the Jew is that, in embracing Christianity, he will be a traitor to his own people and abandon his heritage and the God of Abraham for the “Gentile God.” Right at the start, Barrack addresses this and other issues as he opens with the Shma — “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord” (Deuteronomy 6:4) — and affirms that God is one, and that the Blessed Trinity is indeed the God of Abraham. Four times Barrack affirms: We never abandon Him.”
”Jews do not pray to ’one-third of the Trinity.’ The Blessed Trinity is the God of Abraham, more clearly revealed,” he writes. “We have always prayed to Jesus, but not by name.”
It is not uncommon for a son or daughter of Israel to adhere to hereditary Jewishness even while doubting or denying the very existence of God. If one is to believe that the Son of God is indeed the promised Messiah, he must first believe that God is (Hebrews 11:6). And so Barrack deals briefly with the objections many have to the existence of God and contrasts some primary differences between Catholic and non-Catholic theology.
With the warmth of a Jewish papa, Barrack issues a most wonderful invitation: “Come and meet God.” How utterly remarkable and marvelous that such an invitation can be made, that the unapproachable God of Mount Sinai has made himself known — more, desires to be known.
Often I have said that the most Jewish thing a person can do is to be Catholic. The evidence is here. From the Old Covenant to the New, through the seven sacraments to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the reader is immersed in the Jewish roots of his faith and in their ultimate fulfillment in Christ and his Church. The section on the Mass alone, for many, will be worth the price of the book.
In Second Exodus, Barrack has provided us not only with a concise, yet meaningful, catechism of our faith, but also with a manual for living. He returns again and again to the theme that our lives are lived for God. We are bought with a price; all we have is a gift and, in imitation of the one who gave his all for us, we are to give of ourselves so others might share in the eternal inheritance.
There is something profound and affecting in the spare and simple way Barrack describes the way Catholics live. “Catholics who commit a mortal sin,” he explains, “immediately try to make a perfect act of contrition and then, at the earliest possible time, go to confession.” He also beautifully articulates what we are, and as a result do, as God’s people — there’s no preaching of what we should be or do. The effect is instructive reading even for those already familiar with the information, and an inspiring vision for those not yet in the fold of what it is to be a child, a beloved child, protected and cared for in God’s New Israel.
Second Exodus is a most fitting title for this work. In his discussion of the name Jesus, which Barrack explains is the English translation of the Hebrew Yeshua, meaning “Yahweh (God) saves,” that name which the archangel Gabriel gave Mary “to express her Son’s mission and identity,” Barrack writes: “The name Yeshua fulfilled a striking pre-figuration. Moses, who gave his people the Law, was not permitted to enter the promised land. It was Joshua, the Hebrew Scriptures Yehoshua, “Yahweh (God) will save,” who completed the exodus by leading his people into the promised land of Israel.
Twelve centuries later, the Yeshua of the line of David completed the second exodus by leading His people into the promised land of God’s kingdom.
I pray this book will see many reprintings and that future editions will afford a few needed references. For example, a source for the rabbis’ belief that “all sacrifices would cease when the Messiah came, except the todah (thanksgiving) sacrifice,” would help. And readers would benefit by a glossary of terms (what does “ma nishtano” mean?), indexes by subject and Scripture, and a bibliography.
But these are small cavils in a book this rich. “An authentic call,” writes Barrack, “leads us where we didn’t intend to go.” I found that to be true, twice: first, from my own Jewish background to faith in the Messiah through evangelical Protestant Christianity, and then on to the fullness of all God has given on earth in the Catholic Church — what Barrack calls “the Synagogue transformed by the Messiah.”
May this gift of the Father’s love lead many where they intended not to go, that all may know the fullness of the Father’s love in his son, our Messiah, who came that we might have life, and have it more abundantly.
Homiletic & Pastoral Review (by Michael G. Allen)
Periodically one is touched deeply by reading a truly exceptional book. Martin Barrack’s Second Exodus is just such a book. The book is at once autobiographical and a masterfully written synthesis of our Catholic Faith. As such it reads more like a story than a catechism, though it most accurately presents the Catholic Faith and its historical and theological roots in Judaism.
A Jewish convert to the Catholic Faith, Mr. Barrack reminds readers that, “Jesus came into the world as a Jew, went to shabat services, wore the traditional kippah and tallit and selected all Jewish apostles.” So it is from his Jewish roots that the author shares his new-found faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In the Foreword, by the late Rev. John A. Hardon, SJ, Barrack is described as “an ardent convert from Judaism” who “like the early disciples of the Master who first met Jesus and hurried to tell their friends” is eager to share his newfound faith with all those willing to listen.
In a second Foreword, written by the late Rev. William G. Most, Ph.D., readers are reminded that when a Jew responds to the call of Christ he does not cease to be a Jew. Most describes the book as “written … in the hope that it may help other Jews to become completed, as he (Martin Barrack) now is.” In the Preface, Barrack describes the intent of the book as “addressed to all who seek Christ.” However, it is “… particularly focused on Jews because the Jew in search of Christ walks a longer path to the Cross.”
Teaching the Faith involves our beliefs, how those beliefs illuminate our lives, and what connection we make with that Faith. This book addresses each question in a clear and concise manner. As such it presents the Catholic Faith in all its truth as well as its links to Judaism. In fact Barrack identifies the Catholic Church as the Synagogue transformed by the Messiah.
In succeeding chapters Barrack addresses the following elements of the Catholic Faith as well as their “Jewish connections”: The Dawn of Belief, Why We Are Catholics, Meet God, Meet the Family, Across the Ages, The Seven Sacraments, Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Mirrors of Christ, Life and Death, Spiritual War, and The Journey Home. The histories of God’s Chosen People and Catholicism are long, complex, and INTERCONNECTED! To truly understand each we must study and understand both. Like Old and New Testament they are inextricably linked.
Mark Drogin, associated with Remnant of Israel, New Hope, Kentucky describes Barrack’s book in the following manner: “Those who have labored in the field of Catholic-Jewish relations are most grateful to Marty Barrack for this book: Second Exodus is essential for anyone interested in Judaism or in the origins of the Catholic Church. This is not a book dealing with the experiences of Jews who have found their Messiah in the Catholic Church. In Second Exodus we see the Synagogue as it is transformed by the Messiah.” This reviewer concurs.
As “… a gift to Jesus …” by the author, Second Exodus is an “intelligent [and] faith-filled … apologetic” worthy of the time devoted to digesting its deep and rich message. For anyone interested in the Jewish Faith and the historical roots of Catholicism this book is well worth reading. Enjoy!
New Oxford Review (by Leila Miller)
St. Paul believed that one day the Jewish people would come home to their Messiah: “Now if their trespass means riches for the world, how much more will their full inclusion mean!…If their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?” (Rom 11:12-15)
The journey of a Jewish person into the Catholic Church can be glorious even as it is fraught with difficulty, confusion and a thousand questions. Most Jews face opposition from family members, who consider conversion to mean a rejection of one’s people. There has been an increasing number of books and apostolates to help such Jews on their journey, and a new book, Second Exodus, by Martin K. Barrack, is the latest to help them along their way.
Barrack, a Jew who married a Catholic and twenty years later himself became a Catholic, asked thousands of questions during his own walk to the Cross. This book incorporates those questions and the answers Barrack found.
Second Exodus begins with a brief introduction, followed by these straightforward propositions: 1) God exists, 2) Jesus is His Messiah, and 3) of all the denominations professing him, only the Catholic Church teaches with his true authority. Barrack’s approach is classic apologetics.
By the third chapter, Barrack invites his Jewish readers to meet God in the Persons of the Holy Trinity, and follows with an introduction to the Blessed Mother, the Saints and angels in the fourth chapter, which is lovingly entitled “Meet the Family.” In succeeding chapters, Barrack illuminates the sacramental life of the Church (the chapter on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is worth the price of the book) and God’s unchanging moral law (which he defends vigorously and joyfully). NOR readers will appreciate his insightful wrap-up chapter on the spiritual battle currently raging between the Church and Satan.
Barrack treats the reader like an intimate friend, walking us through the vast expanse of salvation history. Time and again, he expresses major ideas in simple terms, as on the consecrated religious life: “Sometimes, in the morning or evening, we find ourselves driving into the sun. We pull down the sun visor to block out the distracting rays so we can see the road. Vows of poverty, chastity and obedience are a sin visor.” He uses powerful images which stick in the reader’s mind long after the book has been closed: “We cannot break a covenant. We break ourselves against a covenant by violating it.”
From beginning to end, Barrack’s zest for the Catholic Church shines through, as does his love for his Jewish brethren. He aptly demonstrates that the Jew who becomes Catholic is not giving up anything, rather he is claiming his rightful inheritance and “completing” his own Judaism. Second Exodus is a romance with our Shepherd, and Catholic teaching is carefully placed within its Jewish setting like a diamond in a wedding ring. The Catholic who gives this book to an inquiring friend would do well to read it himself, as one cannot truly know the Holy Catholic Faith without an understanding of its Jewish roots.
Second Exodus is saturated by Scripture, and Barrack references nearly all the passages, making it easy for the reader to follow in his own Bible. As someone who is married to a Jew who recently converted, I am most excited about the fact that it is a “living book,” having its very own website available for those who seek answers to the many questions that are bound to surface upon reading it. Jewish conversions are delicate and often painful, and each soul on the journey has an inestimable need to interact with others who have traversed the same terrain.
This is an important book. No less than the Rev. John A. Hardon, SJ, wrote the Foreword to Second Exodus, concluding it with these words: “This volume by Martin Barrack deserves wide circulation.” I can only agree.