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Saved By a Stick

Some people are called to be a good sailor. Some people have a calling to be a good tiller of the land. Some people are called to be a good friend. You have to be the best at whatever you are called at. Whatever you do. It’s about confidence, not arrogance. — Bob Dylan My grandfather wrote me in a letter, “It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it. It’s not what you make, it’s who you become in the making. It’s not about getting recognized for what you’ve done, it’s recognizing what you’ve done you did for the right reason. And the right reason is always the Almighty and your fellow man. The rest is incidental.” “Being best at it” is to strive to do each thing you do with full intention, as if each action were the first, last and only thing you will ever do.

Jared Zimmerer and Dr. Matt Nelson: A Conversation on the Bible

In light of the upcoming release of the brand new course in the Word on Fire Institute, “How ‘Nones’ Misread the Bible” we thought we would sit down to discuss the Bible and its role in evangelization. This course is taught by Dr. Anthony Pagliarini of Notre Dame University and offers the best in biblical scholarship and how we can understand the common misgivings people might have when discussing or reading scripture. The new course starts on Monday, April 29th, so be sure to visit the Word on Fire Institute to learn more about everything being offered and to get ready for the new course!   Listen in:   Want to know more about the Word on Fire Institute?  Be sure to check out: www.wordonfire.institute…

Cultivating our ‘Eulogy Self’

Recently, a death arose that brought me back to Brian Doyle’s bittersweet essay, Notes from a Wake. An Irish priest had passed. Amid photographs and a chalice, whiskey and a few fine cigars smoked “on a side porch under a cedar tree [by] a dozen men and two women,” family, friends and the faithful gathered. An old friend told stories of his youth. Younger folks sang – and debated the lyrics – of an old Irish song, St. Brendan’s Fair Isle. A tally was made of family baptisms, marriages and funerals performed by the deceased. Jokes were told. A slow jig was danced. Infants were up too late. Food was packaged up. And then it was done. It was perfect. That’s how I want to be remembered. A few years ago, David Brooks wrote The Road to Character. With more heartache than anguish, he mourns what we have become in…

Easter: The Significance of Sunday Morning

“She hears, upon that water without a sound, a voice that cries, ‘The tomb in Palestine is not the porch of spirits lingering. It is the grave of Jesus where he lay…’” Somber words. One should say, inappropriate words for Easter Sunday. They come from the American poet Wallace Stevens, and they are an excerpt from his poem “Sunday Morning.” The poem is about a loss and lack of faith in the meaning of not only Easter but every Sunday since then, for Sunday is enshrined with significance—not because it is a casual day of leisure but because it is the day when Christ rose from the dead. In Wallace Stevens’ poem, faith in what the event of Christ’s resurrection accomplished in history has been lost. The modern mind is content with the distractions of the news of the day, willing to accept that the frame of reference for life’s…

Making Ready for the Holy: “A Man Will Meet You . . .“

A short fiction inspired by Luke 22:10. She guided the tiny mouse out of its corner with a gentle nudge of her broom, laughing as she teased it this way and that, helping the frightened creature find its way out the door, down the steps and into a street teeming with merchants hawking apples and herbs, with shoppers, and those hurrying to the temple. She didn’t mind mice very much, but not in this room, and not today. No space being made ready for Passover and the seder meal could be permitted faithless intruders, even helpless little grey ones with adorable pink noses. Moving on to gather dust and cobwebs from the corners, she began, all unconsciously, to hum under her breath—a joyful little melody learned from her mother, who would quietly sing it over and over in rhythm with her movements as she would grind flour: “O praise him,…

Robots and the Resurrection

The conversations happening today in the field of artificial intelligence, known as AI, are completely mind-blowing. Aside from AI robots using 3D printing to build bridges in the Netherlands or cars in Los Angeles with digital nervous systems, the crucial topic of discussion is the unknown potentialities which AI technology could precipitate. The central question which belabors not only scientists and engineers but also economists, politicians, and Christians is ultimately: “What will happen once AI is let out of the box?” Despite the wide variety of speculation within AI scholarship and social media, everyone agrees that the future of AI is a frightening yet seductive mystery from which no one can look away. “AI could be terrible, and it could be great,” remarked Elon Musk, founder of Tesla Motors. “Only one thing is for sure,” he says. “We will not control it.” The big idea within AI circles is the…

Notre Dame Cathedral: The Embodiment of the Christian Thing

After the devastating fires at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, we thought we would share a few of Bishop Barron’s personal and spiritual insights on this incredible masterpiece of architecture, beauty, and culture. May Our Lady intercede for the church of Paris, and for the universal Church, as we lament this loss. Bishop Barron on Cathedral of Notre Dame Rose Window Friends, as we grieve the fire still engulfing the Cathedral of Notre Dame, here's a short clip from a talk I recently gave on "Catholicism and Beauty" in which I reflect on my first visit to the Cathedral, gazing on its majestic rose window. Notre Dame, Our Lady, pray for us! Posted by Bishop Robert Barron on Monday, April 15, 2019  …

The Hollow Promises of Secular Humanism

In a lot of ways the modern world, to me, is a Christian heresy because many of these extraordinary ideas—the rights of man, the idea that everybody should be free—[these ideas from] Locke and Hume and all these people were informed by Christianity so their ideas didn’t simply come out of some kind of philosophical vacuum. —Sheikh Hamza Yusuf One of the lasting images I have from my repeated readings of C.S. Lewis is the metaphor he offers about the relationship between Christianity and the modern Western world: inoculation. According to Lewis, we can distance ourselves from Christianity because we constantly receive small doses of it. Enough Christian-ness makes us immune to Christianity. Take, for example, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Adopted by the UN in the wake of World War II, the Declaration was a landmark international statement on the dignity of human life and…

The Revolutionary Message of Palm Sunday

The texts that Christians typically read on Palm Sunday have become so familiar to them that they probably don’t sense their properly revolutionary power. But no first-century Jew would have missed the excitement and danger implicit in the coded language of the accounts describing Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem just a few days before his death. In Mark’s Gospel we hear that Jesus and his disciples “drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives.” A bit of trivial geographical detail, we might be tempted to conclude. But we have to remember that pious Jews of Jesus’ time were immersed in the infinitely complex world of the Hebrew Scriptures and stubbornly read everything through the lens provided by those writings. About five hundred years before Jesus’ time, the prophet Ezekiel had relayed a vision of the “Shekinah” (the glory) of Yahweh leaving the temple, due to its…

Does Christianity Demand “Niceness”?

Many people are familiar with G.K. Chesterton’s observation that “angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.” We like the quote because it confirms our suspicions that a faith grounded in gratitude and a wider perspective can create a solid tarmac from which we may soar. That’s easier than it sounds, of course, and Chesterton knew it—the fully delicious and playful quote comes from his profound masterwork Orthodoxy, and reads, “Solemnity flows out of men naturally; but laughter is a leap. It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light. Satan fell by the force of gravity.” And gravity, as we know, is the law. Lately, I’ve seen in some of my acquaintances the development of a very grave and solemn habit, indeed—a tendency to expect niceness in everyone they meet, particularly in professed Christians. When exposed to someone’s overwhelming urge to snark at politicians, headlines, celebrity-sham-marriages, and overplayed cards…