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The Celestial Intercession of the Holy Archangels

The angels in their glorious celestial array are the servants and messengers of God, the “mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word” (Ps 103:20, CCC 329). The spirits surround the throne of God and fill the heavenly courts with their unending song of praise. Sent forth, they carry out their missions of protecting, guiding, and strengthening his people. Of all the myriads of angels in the service of the Lord, Scripture gives us the names of only three: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. Each of these Archangels has a certain privileged place in ministering to the Church, and to each we can attribute a characteristic especially needed in our world today. St. Michael: Peace At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people . . . [and] your people will be delivered. (Dan. 12:1) There is no need to number this year’s…

For Too Many Catholics, “Jesus Was Just a Great Teacher…”

The recent “State of Theology” survey alarmingly demonstrates that US Catholics are far from uniform in believing in the divinity of Christ. In fact, many tend not to believe in his divinity. When confronting the statement “Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God,” a shocking  30% of Catholics “agree,” 27% “somewhat agree,” 9% are “not sure,” 12% “somewhat disagree,” and 22% “disagree.”  When a majority of Catholics in the United States agree or somewhat agree that Jesus of Nazareth was just a great teacher but not God, we have a crisis on our hands.  The tendency to see Christ as merely human likely stems from the same worldview that informed the findings of last year’s Pew Report on transubstantiation, wherein only 31% of responding Catholics expressed belief in the Real Presence.  Understanding this worldview…

Amy Coney Barrett and the Role of Conscience

In 1873, St. John Henry Newman found himself in a public quarrel with Prime Minister William Gladstone. At issue was the Irish University Bill, which allowed Catholics to matriculate at Irish universities, but would have also destroyed plans to create a Catholic university. The Catholic hierarchy in Ireland opposed the bill, which failed and brought down the government, and Newman became a target of the fallen Prime Minister’s criticism. In response, in 1875 Newman published his “Letter to the Duke of Norfolk,” which reflects upon Gladstone’s central concern: “Can Catholics be trustworthy subjects of the State?” The question Newman answers in his text has remained a source of tension in modern liberal societies. In the presidential campaign of 1960, John F. Kennedy was questioned about whether he would take marching orders from the Pope. The lore in my own family is that my Baptist grandmother, the daughter of strong…

On Mark Galli and Why Evangelicals Become Catholic

Our convictions are never entirely safe. Any time an intelligent peer who also strikes us as a man of integrity—a good man, let us say—advocates for a worldview in contradiction with our own, we are obligated to take the disagreement seriously. This is true all the more when such a person moves out of agreement with us. For here, we must tell ourselves, is someone who takes the truth seriously. Laying all his cards on the table in The Last Word, atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel implies this uncomfortable fact when he admits, “I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers.” Now, as of late, it has become public knowledge that Mark Galli, the former editor-in-chief of the popular evangelical magazine Christianity Today, has entered into full communion with the Catholic Church. Admitting that…

Beauty and Substance: A Reflection on the Anniversary of “Evangelization & Culture”

Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch. —Luke 5:4 Over eighteen months ago, on a chilly day in February, I was honored to join Bishop Robert Barron’s Word on Fire Institute to help bring a new venture to life. That venture was Evangelization & Culture, the flagship journal of the Word on Fire Institute. Excited by the task at hand and accompanied by a small cohort of talented designers and editors, writers and marketers, we at once had to ask ourselves, “How will we do this and, more importantly, why?” Thus, with child-like enthusiasm, the intercession of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and plenty of Dot’s Pretzels, coffee, and Diet Mountain Dew, our work began. From the very beginning, we wanted Evangelization & Culture to be different. At its root, we wanted the…

What I Learned From Chadwick Boseman

“I never wanted to act in the first place . . . forget their stories. I can tell my own stories.”  That’s a line from Chadwick Boseman’s Howard University commencement speech in 2018.  Boseman portrayed some of the most impactful people in American History—Jackie Robinson (42), James Brown (Get On Up), and Thurgood Marshall (Marshall). But, his most popular portrayal was of the fictional character T’Challa from Black Panther. I am so thankful that he went on and told more stories, but the character that speaks the loudest now is his very own. Here are a few things that I learned watching his story unfold over these past few years.  Gifts are given to be received and then shared.  As a…

Why C.S. Lewis’ ”The Abolition of Man” Still Matters: Forming Souls to See Reality 

Sometimes the proper education of a child is not successful; time and effort are sometimes not enough to convince a child of your vision of reality.  Given my contrarian ways, some of my educators must have viewed me that way when I was a student. This may be simplistic and arrogant to say, but I regarded my education as having one purpose: to kill my childhood imagination and belief so as to make me serious about the serious world.  As I see it now, my perception of what I thought my educators wanted me to see wasn’t the whole of reality but a thin slice, unfortunately presented as the whole. As I recall, my more passionate teachers, who were somewhat disdainful of old things, saw it as their job to liberate students from fantasy and move them into reality (a good motive). They did…

The Heroic and Influential Black Soldier-Saint You’ve Never Heard Of

It is no secret that both the film Raiders of the Lost Ark and the video game Spear of Destiny were derived from the same source. The film mesmerized a generation and was the forerunner of the action extravaganzas that still pack them in at the cineplex, while the video game was the mother of all 3D shoot-’em-up fantasies that are today even more addictive to the male adolescent than drugs. What still remains a secret, however, is the fact that what sparked the technological breakthroughs in cinematic special effects and computer wizardry was the long-venerated attribute of a black saint. During pagan Rome’s occupation of Switzerland in the third century, Maurice, a centurion from the upper reaches of the Nile, along with an entire legion comprising 6,666 of his African countrymen, had chosen death rather than participating in the persecutions that had been ordered by the emperor, Maximian. With…

A Chapter That Changed My Life: J.R.R. Tolkien’s “On Fairy-stories”

I don’t remember when I first read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings; these tales seem to have always been part of the furnishings of my imagination. However, I do recall precisely when I encountered Tolkien’s groundbreaking essay “On Fairy-stories,” in which he explores the origins, nature, and purpose of fantasy literature. I was a young teenager, and while browsing through a book-table at a flea market, I came across a book called The Tolkien Reader, in which this essay was included. Little did I know that this battered paperback with its trippy 1970s cover art would change my life in so many ways. “On Fairy-stories” is a powerful analysis of how fantasy works. Originating as a lecture in 1939, it came about after he had published The Hobbit and had begun work on the Hobbit sequel that would become The Lord of the Rings. Here,…

Arguing, But Never Quarreling: The Odd Couple of Scalia and Ginsburg

There are no odd couples anymore. In an age of heightened partisanship and unsparing vitriol, it is conventional wisdom that if you are a conservative, you cannot pal around with a liberal. And if you are a liberal, you can have nothing in common with a conservative. Not so Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia. From the standpoint of their politics and jurisprudence, you might have thought these two Supreme Court giants were from different planets. Ginsburg would be described as a liberal’s liberal with staunch opinions (literally) on everything from civil liberties to abortion. Scalia was recognized as a towering conservative who championed the separation of powers and a keen deference to the text of the law. Ginsburg believed in the living Constitution while Scalia defended originalism. Though both were native New Yorkers, their judicial philosophies could have spawned a rivalry akin to the fiery mid-century rows between New…