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Go Behind the Scenes of the Final Two “Pivotal Players“ with Bishop Barron!

Throughout the history of the Church, men and women have emerged whose contributions have not only advanced the Church’s mission, but have also changed the course of civilization . . . These are the Pivotal Players. Bishop Barron has been retracing the lives of these incredible men and women since 2014 for his illuminative CATHOLICISM: The Pivotal Players documentary series. He is wrapping up filming this month, and you can go behind the scenes with him! Sign up to join Bishop Barron from July 15-24 as he journeys across Italy, Spain, and the Dominican Republic to film the final two installments of CATHOLICISM: The Pivotal Players. By signing up, you’ll receive daily videos and reflections from Bishop Barron and the production crew throughout their trip. Watch the trailer above to preview his upcoming filming trip and discover the final two protagonists of the CATHOLICISM: The Pivotal Players series. Then sign up for behind the…

The Civilization of Love in Sts. Louis and Zelié Martin

God gave me parents more suited for heaven than this earth. —St. Thérèse of Lisieux I have been ministering to youth and young adults for more than a decade, and there seems to be overwhelming hopelessness. There are many reasons for this, but one of the most poignant comes shortly after asking them, “When is the first time you witnessed authentic love?” For many of them, it takes some time to respond to this, especially young adults. I’ve met people in their twenties who can very much attest to only recently seeing love lived well, embodied even. It’s one of the greatest compliments when some have said the first time they witnessed it was in my home, with my husband or with our children. It’s humiliating (in a good way) but also saddening to know that sources of authentic love—primarily…

St. Benedict and My Slow, Slow Surrender to Heaven

Having made my first promises in 2002 (after three years of dallying), I will this upcoming September celebrate seventeen years as a fully professed Benedictine Oblate. I’m sure my Holy Father Saint Benedict is rolling his eyes, rather unimpressed. After all these years, I can’t say I’m an impressive Benedictine, and I am sure he asks from heaven, “Have you gotten that Rule down yet?” Erm, well, no, Father. Not yet. Especially not that part about receiving all guests as Christ. “Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ, for He is going to say, ‘I came as a guest, and you received Me’” (Rule of St. Benedict, chapter 53). I became a Benedictine, rather than a Secular Franciscan, because my instincts have always been to the quiet side of life. I have always preferred prayerful contemplation and reading to almost anything else, and my instinct has always run…

Missing the Mockingbird’s Dive

About five years ago I saw a mockingbird make a straight vertical descent from the roof gutter of a four-story building. It was an act as careless and spontaneous as the curl of a stem or the kindling of a star. —Annie Dillard I have to say that, for me, one of the bitterest curses of the smartphone is its power to distract from the beauty, surprises, and annoyances of the real world. As we look down at our glowing screens, mediating a self-selected (or ad-driven) reality, we will miss the unruly, unpredictable epiphanies of earth, sea, sky, or faces around us. And as we are repeatedly immersed in streaming Xfinity megabits per second, our minds dull, become impatient to the unhurried and un-swiped pace of life. I try hard not to hate on smartphones. They offer immense advantages, obviously,…

Reclaiming an Art of Dying for the Twenty-First Century

Ars Moriendi, or “The Art of Dying,” was an immensely popular and influential medieval text aimed at equipping the faithful for death and dying. It appeared by order of the Council of Constance sometime between 1414 and 1418, and although its author is anonymous, some scholars speculate that it was a Dominican friar. It is no surprise that the Church would focus on death-related themes at this time: one of the central pastoral preoccupations of the late medieval Church was preparing souls for death, which included saving them from damnation and shortening their stay in purgatory. To suppose that this focus on death was primarily driven by the effects of the bubonic plague is probably an oversimplification; it seems, rather, to be a foundational characteristic of medieval piety, resulting from a flourishing belief in the reality of life after death and the salvific efficacy of the sacraments. Hence, securing the…

Becoming Like Who We Worship

From the earliest days of Christianity, it was believed that we become like who we worship. So for example, if we worship an authoritarian god, then we ourselves became authoritarian; if we worship a controlling god, then we became controlling ourselves; and so on. All the more reason then why the Bible places great importance on right worship and praise. The more we worship the true and living God, the more we become conformed to his image and likeness in which we were made. Here I briefly develop four aspects of the divine nature as revealed in Scripture and explore how worship of the God who is family, who is love, who is beauty and truth, leads us to become people of family, people of love, people of beauty, and people of truth. First, the God who is family. God is not solitude. He is a communion of persons of…

What We Need to Learn from Peterson (and What His Followers Need to Learn From Us)

Besides admiring Jordan Peterson’s ability to guide and mentor people, especially young men, Bishop Barron, I believe, wishes to address, in a Balthasarian way, Jordan Peterson’s incomplete picture of man. Peterson is indebted to Carl Jung, a famous Swiss psychologist. Based on what I can surmise from his videos, Peterson is especially influenced by Jung’s work on the archetypes. My only familiarity with Jung is from college psychology courses, so I’m not an expert on Jung. However, I could not help but think of him, Peterson, and the reason for Bishop Barron’s engagement with Peterson when I read the following from another Swiss great, Hans Urs von Balthasar,  The archetype which, in Christ, came forth from God cannot, by definition, be unearthed from the depths of man, not even by the most penetrating analysis, neither the as a “lost image which must be…

Pier Giorgio Frassati: Party Hats and a Love for the Poor

The end for which we are created invites us to walk a road that is surely sown with a lot of thorns, but it is not sad; through even the sorrow, it is illuminated by joy. —Pier Giorgio Frassati On one difficult night a few years ago, when I seemed to be dealing with a succession of battles with pneumonia or bronchitis, the strangest thing happened to me. I was lying in bed in the wee small hours and found my muscles going into odd sorts of rolling contractions, from the lower abdomen to mid-ribcage and all around my back. Because I hate taking medicines or pills unless I absolutely have to, I tried all the usual alternatives: slow, deep breathing. Prayer. Meditations on the Communion of Saints and those great examples of living through periods of illness and pain. Making an offering of…

Love Divine All Loves Excelling

[As St. Thomas Aquinas argues,] after the love that unites us to God, conjugal love is the “greatest form of friendship.” It is a union possessing all the traits of a good friendship: concern for the good of the other, reciprocity, intimacy, warmth, stability and the resemblance born of a shared life. Marriage joins to all this an indissoluble exclusivity expressed in the stable commitment to share and shape together the whole of life. Let us be honest and acknowledge the signs that this is the case. —Pope Francis Here is my journal entry with advice I received in Confession yesterday from an elderly priest, who is the textbook definition of an “old salt” with the gravitas that attends. There was a sense of awe in that confessional. He said: You know that after God…

Ignorance Is Bliss?

We live in an age that is painstakingly well-informed, very aware of all types of news. Our awareness transcends the limits of distance: we can just as easily talk on the phone with a friend down the street as we can watch events unfold in real time on the other side of the globe. Thanks to social media, we know copious up-to-the-minute details about the lives of all our friends. The vast body of knowledge available online means that we can Google just about any question, getting all the info we could ever want in seconds. We are constantly receiving updates, notifications, alerts—you name it! By all measures, it’s hard to image how we could be more connected, informed, or aware of what is going on in the world. For every good or joyful thing we know, it is likely we know many more bad or troubling news items. The…