"Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name." --Psalm 100:4

Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

Embracing the Great Wide Empty of Advent

As we approach the season of Advent, you may be looking forward to liturgical traditions. Perhaps you’ll be lighting the Advent candles cradled in an evergreen wreath on dark winter evenings or decorating a Jesse Tree with ornaments that tell the story of God’s love and care for humanity. Maybe you’ll play the season’s haunting hymns like O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. Each of these traditions are designed to orient our hearts toward the Incarnation. We need Advent, and not just as a liturgical season, but as an attitude in our souls oriented toward spiritual growth.  My experience of Advent was forever changed after I read the twentieth century English Catholic writer Caryll Houselander’s The Reed of God. Houselander’s writing about Mary, the Mother of God, in this beautiful spiritual classic helped me to encounter the Advent spirituality of our Lady…

Wonder and Beauty: 5 Christmas Gift Suggestions for 2020

Books and music are (in my very decided opinion) among the very best gifts that one can give. They invite the recipient into an experience that can be enjoyed again and again, and this experience is one that can be shared and talked about—thus deepening bonds of friendship and family connections. And the purchase of books and music enables writers, artists, and musicians to keep on creating, for “the laborer deserves his wages” (1 Tim. 5:18). With that in mind, I’ve come up with five gift recommendations with a particular emphasis on beauty, joy, family, and fellowship. Where possible, I’ve provided links that allow one to purchase more directly from the author or artist. Enjoy!   1. In Caelo et in Terra: 365 Days with the Saints by the Daughters of St. Paul. This book of saints’ lives, with included devotional reflections, is a…

“The War of the Worlds”: The 1950’s Sci-Fi Classic is Faith-Friendly

Science fiction as a genre is not known for being particularly friendly towards religion. Especially in contemporary sci-fi, which is highly secularized, religion is at best ignored or scorned as the relic of an unenlightened past best forgotten. At worst it is treated with naked hostility, reviled as an enemy of freedom and progress. That’s why I find it so refreshing to watch the classic 1953 sci-fi film The War of the Worlds, based on the 1898 novel of the same name, by science-fiction pioneer H.G. Wells. Endlessly imitated—and even remade in 2005 by Steven Spielberg—but never equaled, the 1953 version of The War of the Worlds remains a classic of the sci-fi genre as well as an emotionally gripping and visually stunning film. But most striking to a modern viewer is the movie’s unapologetic embrace of a Judeo-Christian worldview. Christianity and prayer are portrayed throughout as positive forces.

Narcissus and 2020: Peering Past the Surfaces

We are all familiar (or at least should be) with the myth of Narcissus. Narcissus was a young and dashingly handsome demigod. The son, according to some experts in Greek mythology, of a river god and a nymph, Narcissus wandered about hunting and looking beautiful. Women far and near lustily admired him but despaired at his inattention. Echo, a particularly charismatic nymph, was rebuffed by the young man and, in her heartbreak, was cursed and reduced to little more than the answering voice that haunts us in vast canyons and caverns. Such was the punishing allure of Narcissus. But Nemesis, the goddess of anger, had had enough. She cursed the young man—the original Narcissist—with the burden of only ever loving himself. And so it was that this aloof breaker-of-hearts would catch his first glimpse of himself on the sheen of a pool’s surface and fall madly and irretrievably in love.

The “Clash of Freedoms” Demands the Columban Principle

Today is the memorial of a saint who is not well known by most but has something important to teach us about our call to unity in Church and society. St. Columbanus (or St. Columban as he is also called) was an Irish monk, born in 543, who died in Bobbio, in Northwest Italy in 615. In 591, St. Columbanus left his monastery in the north of Ireland, arriving in France before moving to Switzerland, Austria, and finally settling in Italy. In these countries, he founded important monastic holdings, which became centers of education, community, and spirituality and played a vital role in the renaissance of Christianity in Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire and the revival of civilization thereafter. As a monastic founder, St. Columbanus left a significant body of writing and instruction, much of which was concerned directly or indirectly with the theme of unity. Columbanus’…

Advent Reading: These Books Can Help Bring the Light

The glorious season of Advent is almost upon us and not a moment too soon. Between the ongoing pandemic, lockdowns, election stressors, civil unrest, ongoing issues within the Church and (given the ongoing restrictions on worship) “without,” it risks nothing at all to say that 2020 has been a problematic pip of a year, from start to finish. And we’re not done yet. It is a true measure of just how stressful the year has been that “we’re not done yet” sounds more like a threat than a mere fact. But Advent is coming! Lovely Advent! Expectant, hopeful Advent! The season that invites us to breathe deeply and look outward in the sort of “joyful hope” we Catholics talk about but rarely—most rarely, this year—feel. This is the season that shakes us from our torpor as early night comes, and the match is struck, and the message is brought home…

WWE’s “Survivor Series”: Virtually Entertaining and Rather Tragic

As a lifelong fan of the WWE, Hulk Hogan’s legendary body-slam of Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III in 1987 stands out as one of the most vivid memories of my childhood. The event at the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit garnered the largest indoor crowd in North American history up to that point, only surpassed by Pope John Paul II’s audience at the TWA Dome in St. Louis in 1999. When I was eleven years old, I attended my first live professional wrestling show at the Sun Dome in Tampa, Florida. The main event was a cage match between the Ultimate Warrior and Sgt. Slaughter. My friends and I were able to push our way down to the barricade near the ring and high-five the Warrior as he emerged victorious. It was a loud, crowded, sweaty mess. I loved it. These days, when I stand at the sink and do…

Introducing Jackie and Bobby Angel, Fellows of the Word on Fire Institute

The Word on Fire Institute, the arm of Bishop Robert Barron’s apostolate focused on providing educational and evangelistic content and courses, is pleased to announce the addition of two new Fellows: Jackie Angel (Fellow of Family Life) and Bobby Angel (Fellow of Parish Life), who will begin their work on January 1, 2020. In their respective roles, Bobby will be spearheading an entirely new parish-level formation program, and Jackie will provide training and resources to help families deepen their commitment to evangelism and increase their devotion to Jesus Christ. Each brings many years of ministry experience to the Institute, from their work as presenters with Ascension Press, to Bobby’s background in teaching high school theology, to Jackie’s praise and worship leadership and inspirational speaking. Commenting on their new roles, the Angels announced: “We are excited for this opportunity to formally work within this amazing ministry to further evangelize the…

In Praise of Matthew B. Crawford: Forming Attentive Disciples

“The habit of attention is the substance of prayer,” writes French mystic Simone Weil. But that habit is under tremendous threat today. With all the advertising bombarding us throughout the day, paying attention now seems to require superhuman will. And the harder it is to attend, the harder it is to pray. Catholics should be concerned about this because prayer (communion with the Lord) is the heart of the Christian life. The best place to understand the threats to attention is the work of Matthew B. Crawford, a big Weil fan. In many ways, he is echoing what Romano Guardini observed at the beginning of the twentieth century. Reading Crawford’s work along with the writings of Guardini on prayer and liturgy will help today’s Catholics understand the practices that cultivate attention and foster agency, habits essential to prayer and holiness, and see why certain types of work, education,…

Chasing After the Ever-New Blinds Us to the Ordinary and Ancient

Recently I was at a cell phone store needing to purchase a new phone. I was accompanied by the other priest of our parish and our parish’s office manager. The back wall of the store was a larger than life, lit from behind advertisement for this particular cell phone brand. The advertisement pictured an attractive young lady with a big smile and wind swept hair standing on what seemed to be a beach with an open, blue sky behind her.  For the life of me, I cannot even remember if she was holding a phone or not. At one point, while we were waiting patiently for our store attendant, the other priest turned to the two of us and asked, “What exactly are they selling in that advertisement?” It was a good and fair question. My hunch is that what was being sold was the brand itself and it was…