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  • When Hate Begins to Feel Like Love June 4, 2020
    “Hatred,” wrote psychologist Robert Enright, “has a long shelf life. Once it enters into the human heart, it’s hard to get it out. It breeds destruction, discouragement, and hopelessness.” Enright hails from the University of Wisconsin, where several years ago, amid ongoing demonstrations about some pressing issue of the day, reporter Mike Tobin of Fox […]
  • The Domestic Church Thrives When the Tools Are Used June 3, 2020
    When the windows of my house are open, I can hear the church bells of my nearby parish ring the hours. During the difficult days of this pandemic the bells have been a reminder of the Masses I’ve missed and the feelings of isolation from my Catholic community, but there’s something hopeful and comforting about […]
  • Blessed Are You: A Virtual Graduation Address to the Class of ’20 June 2, 2020
    Fr. Damian Ference is a priest of the Diocese of Cleveland and is a doctoral student in philosophy at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, Italy. He was invited by Holy Name High School, his alma mater, to give a reflection to this year’s graduates as part of their “virtual” ceremony, and […]
  • Reckoning with the Complexities of Humankind June 1, 2020
    “History is concrete and complex; everything in it is individual and entangled.” “What is said to be true must relate to something experienced and must state that experience accurately.” —Jacques Barzun Recently, in reading Leo Tolstoy’s masterpiece Anna Karenina, I found myself mesmerized. Tolstoy had crafted a scene in which I gained a glimpse into […]
  • St. Basil the Great on Fasting May 29, 2020
    Fasting is among the oldest religious practices in history. Nowadays, however, in a society that is dictated by consumerism, materialism and an overall lack of self-restraint, the discipline of fasting is widely unappreciated. The Catholic Church remains one of the few institutions on earth to uphold its dignity and assert its importance in the spiritual […]
  • Sigrid Undset and “Those Queer Men and Women the Catholic Church Calls Saints” May 28, 2020
    Nearly a century has passed since Sigrid Undset wrote the biographical essays about holy men and women, and the letters, which eventually would be collected and published under the heading Stages on the Road. It is a title evocative of the life of faith, wholly explored and lived-out—unpacked depot by depot, as it were—from the spiritual […]
  • “The Chosen”: Get Used to Different May 27, 2020
    As a general rule, I avoid most religious dramatizations, finding them often too kitschy or heavily pretentious. But the recommendations to watch the television series The Chosen became too many to ignore, even as I found them a bit confusing. It’s not on any primetime networks? It’s not on the popular streaming apps? How odd! […]
  • St. Philip Neri and the Wisdom of Holy Fools May 26, 2020
    From St. John the Baptist to St. Francis of Assisi, the Church has a long tradition of “holy fools,” men and women who subvert the world's wisdom with shocking lives. Br. Philip Neri Reese looks at one of these saints, who happens to be not only his namesake, St. Philip Neri, but also today's saint.
  • Bob Dylan’s “Murder Most Foul” and the Death of Ideals May 25, 2020
    “Pivotal” is an important term at Word on Fire. To date, Bishop Barron has released ten films on the “Pivotal Players” of Catholicism, ranging from the fourth century with St. Augustine and St. Benedict to the twentieth century with Flannery O’Connor and Fulton Sheen. We may also recognize pivotal players whose lives are not tightly […]
  • Christ, Hearer of Sins, and the Priests We Pray For May 22, 2020
    I have always found sacramental confession to be powerful. It keeps me accountable for my sins to God and to another human being. And is that not the essence of the meaning of the Incarnation, of being saved by a God-Man and not just by God alone? Confession also allows me to exercise my “sacramental imagination” as I […]
  • Ascension: The Commingling of Heaven and Earth Goes On May 21, 2020
    Writing on the Ascension of Christ a few years back, Bishop Barron noted that the event is difficult for contemporary, largely Greek-influenced, minds to grasp: The key to understanding both the meaning and significance of this feast is a recovery of the Jewish sense of heaven and earth. . . . Jesus’ great prayer, which […]
  • Wholesome Books: 5 Suggestions for Imaginative Refreshment May 20, 2020
    If you live, as I do, in a place with cold winters, the arrival of spring feels like something of a liberation. Venturing outside, appreciating the greenness of growing things, feeling the warmth of sunlight on one’s face—it does the body good! Likewise, after a busy work week, the weekend offers a welcome change of […]
  • Coming Out of Lockdown and Redeeming “Normal” May 19, 2020
    Sheltering in place has been a blessing and a curse for so many of us. Many Lenten promises were made to reduce time on social media or technology use, only to be broken as scrolling the feeds became a way of keeping in touch, of seeing the trends of our hearts, and holding on to […]
  • The Truth Hurts May 18, 2020
    “The truth hurts,” my father frequently told me. Ugh. While there is no doubt that this aphorism is largely true, it was always an unsolicited insight he offered when I was being punished. It was akin to Flannery O’Connor’s pithy observation that “the truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it emotionally.” […]
  • “Upload”: An Afterlife Pre-paid and Unaccountable May 15, 2020
    What will happen to me when I die? With even faithful Catholics often focusing their attention on where we go when we die rather than on the richer scriptural ideas of glory and Resurrection, it’s no surprise that the secular world is working to make the godless afterlives of science fiction a reality. What if […]
  • Catholicism Post COVID-19: Things May Look Very Different May 14, 2020
    “Why doesn’t my daughter know the Our Father?” It was a question asked of me by a parent, as she was picking her daughter up from class of a Saturday morning. I had just spent an hour taking attendance and then trying to teach a forty-five-minute lesson to nineteen second graders who, by the end […]
  • Jordan Peterson and a Seeker’s Prayer May 13, 2020
    In his must-watch and much-discussed conversation with Jordan Peterson last year, Bishop Barron used a particular word no less than thirteen times: praise. At one point he explains: The biblical key is always right praise. I go right back to Genesis 1. When we give praise to God, drawing all creation together, then our soul […]
  • The Oz of Quarantine and Longing for Our Real Home May 12, 2020
    Imagine for a moment being stuck at home. It’s easy to do these days.You dream of getting away from the black-and-white routine of life: getting up, doing chores, passing time with solitary walks, taking care of pets, and having conversations with the same old set of people. You might even sing a song about a […]
  • Aquinas’ Way to God: Arguing Essence and Existence May 11, 2020
    Originating in various form among those intellectually herculean Greek philosophers (Plato and Aristotle), being promulgated by many prominent and mega-minded theologians throughout the monotheistic traditions (Maimonides: Jewish; Averroes: Muslim), and coming to a height (or so I believe) through the high-octane, motor-breathed metaphysics of St. Thomas Aquinas, arguments for the existence of God are possessed […]
  • Mother of the Church: There Will Be Bread May 8, 2020
    She was grinding grain of wheat and barley when he came up from behind, startling her with a quick kiss to the cheek that made her jump and give a little cry out loud. “Yeshua,” she chided as he laughed. “You wouldn’t find this so funny if I spilled the flour into the dirt and […]

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