Word On Fire

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  • Good Grief November 18, 2019
    [On hearing of the death of his son,] the king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept; and as he went, he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” It was told […]
  • Unpacking One of Newman’s Gems November 15, 2019
    As you know, on October 13, Pope Francis canonized John Henry Newman a saint of the Church. Like so many others, I have long admired the depth and breadth of Newman’s thought and insight. Yet my first introduction to Newman was not one of his lengthy books or classic works. It was a short but […]
  • Kyrie Eleison November 13, 2019
    My wife, Patti, has been a music director in parish contexts for over thirty years. She is an accomplished vocal performer, an exacting choral conductor, and a gifted composer. She treats her work as a sacred task in service to the majesty and dignity of the divine liturgy, and experiences her work as an act […]
  • Transubstantiation: An Interview with Dr. Brett Salkeld November 12, 2019
    Today, Matt Nelson sits down with Dr. Brett Salkeld, in-house theologian for the Archdiocese of Regina in Canada. Dr. Salkeld is an expert in the doctrine of transubstantiation and, in today’s interview, he discusses the history and significance of the central Christian teaching in light of the recent Pew Research study that suggested the majority […]
  • On Being Protected: What I Learned from Evelyn Waugh’s Mr. Crouchback November 11, 2019
    Our vocation is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny. . . . To work out our identity in God. —Thomas Merton The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man. —G.K. Chesterton Mr. Crouchback grimaced. […]
  • How to Live a Life of Risk and Meaning November 8, 2019
    A little while back, I heard about a zombie run that a friend was interested in participating in for fun. As it turns out, by signing up for such a race, you are tasked with running safely to a destination without being caught by a legion of zombies: actors fully decked in gruesome, Hollywood-esque makeup. […]
  • A Mass of Comfortable Familiarity and Ardent Longing November 7, 2019
    Sunday in November, 6:25 a.m.: In the palest light, I follow footprints left in the season’s first frost, just a few minutes behind the regulars. The church’s glaring overhead lights are softened by the flame-glow of a few dozen candles—real wax, seven-day candles that burn a constant supplication—and by the shimmer of one gloriously large […]
  • Instagram as an Evangelizing Tool November 6, 2019
    Hans Urs von Balthasar died in 1988, only a handful of years after the internet became mainstream. In the time since then, the online frontier has grown with breathtaking speed and imagination. Countless advancements have been made in thousands of different fields thanks to this newfound technology. Arguably, one such advancement is social media—websites or […]
  • Bishops, “Nones,” and the Church: An Interview with Bishop Barron November 5, 2019
    Next week, Bishop Barron will join his brother bishops for their annual USCCB meeting in Baltimore. At the meeting he’ll lead a panel discussion about the “nones.” With that in mind, and in advance of the meeting, the National Catholic Reporter interviewed Bishop Barron about evangelizing the “nones.” Due to space constraints, they could include […]
  • Portrait of a Saintly Bishop November 4, 2019
    St. Charles Borromeo is an eminent example of the blessed man spoken of in the readings for today’s Mass who, at the Lord’s command, renounced his own life and possessions to carry the cross of Christ. St. Charles strove to imitate Christ and so brought others to him. He accomplished this in particular through his […]
  • “Joker” is not a political statement . . . it’s a spiritual nightmare November 1, 2019
    Todd Phillips’ Joker is shaping up to be the most controversial film of the year, if not the decade. A brutally dark, 70s-style art-house film that turns the comic book genre on its head, it has been surprisingly popular with moviegoers and surprisingly unpopular with critics, garnering 90% and 69% in its respective Rotten Tomatoes […]
  • It’s Time for Catholics to Embrace Halloween October 31, 2019
    As we near All Hallows Eve, aka Halloween, the walking encyclopedia that is Father Steve Grunow discusses everything you ever wanted to know about Halloween and its deeply Catholic roots.
  • The Journey of Dave Matthews through the Thresholds of Conversion October 30, 2019
    Life is hunger, thirst, and passion for an ultimate object, which looms over the horizon, and yet always lies beyond it. When this is recognized, man becomes a tireless searcher. —Luigi Giussani, The Religious Sense As an evangelist especially interested in proclaiming Jesus in a postmodern context, I am uniquely engaged by musicians whose lyrics […]
  • Defending Celibacy October 29, 2019
    In 1828 theologians from the University of Freiburg published a document entitled Denkschrift (Memory), calling for the elimination of celibacy from the Catholic priesthood. This work was met with widespread approval, especially among the academic communities of Germany. The authors claimed mandatory celibacy was impractical and unnecessary, a medieval ideal that needed to be expunged […]
  • The God of the “Little Ones” October 28, 2019
    Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.  —Matthew 19:14  Upon surveying the landscape of the Gospels, it is impossible not to marvel at the sweeping drama played out by its main actors. Towering saints and hopeless sinners, […]
  • Discernment is Not About Choice October 25, 2019
    I was recently asked to give a talk to a group of seminarians and other young men discerning the priesthood about St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Rules of Discernment. As I prepared, the theme of the talk began to unfold – true discernment has been reduced to choosing amongst a plethora of options when in Ignatian practice it’s not about choosing […]
  • Making a Holy Hour? Here Are Some Reading Recommendations for Adoration October 24, 2019
    Part 4 of a 4-part series on Eucharistic Adoration Over the past three weeks we have explored various aspects of Eucharistic Adoration, including Nocturnal Adoration, why making a Holy Hour before the True Presence of Christ Jesus matters, and what to do (or, how to pray) before the Blessed Sacrament when simply “being” there feels […]
  • Stay and Fight! October 23, 2019
    Have you read Bishop Barron’s book Letter to a Suffering Church? Did you think “Wow, every Catholic and religious news junkie needs to get their hands on it”? Well, we have something in common! I’ve been on a journey back to the Church. Something I put off doing for years. I became of this world—not […]
  • The Archer Misses The Mark: A Review of Taylor Swift’s “Lover” October 22, 2019
    According to Aristotle, if we know about the greatest good, then we will have a target at which to aim. And if we miss the mark, at least we will know where to aim in the future. But not everyone knows about the greatest good, so some people will aim at a lesser good and […]
  • Evangelization, Catechesis, and the Art of Toddler Car Seat Negotiation October 21, 2019
    When I was finishing my graduate studies in theology, I imagined that I would spend my days as a theologian in an office surrounded by leather-bound books pouring over the translation of a particular Scripture passage, or I’d be in a classroom scrawling on a dusty chalkboard some phrase in Classical Hebrew script, or I’d […]

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