Bishop Robert Barron

Peter Claver vs. Immanuel Kant

One of the greatest heroes of the social justice wing of the Church is, quite rightly, the seventeenth century “slave of the slaves,” St. Peter Claver. Born in Barcelona, Claver joined the Society of Jesus and was known, even as a young man, as a person of deep intelligence and piety. Spurred by what he took to be the direct […]

"Christ the Consolator" (detail) by Carl Bloch

Grace or Karma?

Just a few weeks ago, I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Stephen Davis, retired professor of the philosophy of religion at Claremont University. In preparation for the meeting, I read Dr. Davis’s book called Christian Philosophical Theology, which includes a chapter contrasting two basic approaches to religion throughout the world. The first—which can be found in much of the […]

Mont Saint-Michel [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Mysterious Church on the Edge of the World

Even though I lived in France for three years while doing my doctoral studies, I never managed a visit to Mont Saint-Michel, the mysterious, mystical, and hauntingly photogenic abbey situated on a promontory just off the Normandy coast between Caen and St. Malo. But last week, in connection with the filming for my Pivotal Players series, my team and I […]

"St. Ambrose" by Matthias Stom

Musing on the Teeth of St. Ambrose

I write these words from Milan, Italy, where I am with my Word on Fire team filming new episodes for our Pivotal Players series. I’ve seen lots of marvelous things on this trip, including the ruins of the ancient baptistery under the Milan Cathedral where, in the spring of 387, St. Augustine was baptized by St. Ambrose. But the most […]

"Saint Peter Preaching the Gospel in the Catacombs" by Jan Styka [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

How to Preach Like the Apostles

I have always loved the Acts of the Apostles and have often recommended it to those who are approaching the Bible for the first time. Filled with colorful narratives, adventure, martyrdom, persecution, journeys by sea, etc., it makes for stimulating reading indeed. But I love it especially because it shows us the excitement of being a follower of Jesus. Long […]

"The Marriage at Cana" by Gaetano Gandolfi [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A Bride and Groom; The Bride and Groom

Two weeks ago, I had the great good pleasure of presiding at the wedding of my niece, Bryna. She has been, all her life, a lovely girl, full of joy and good cheer—and eager to give herself in service to others. Her husband, Nelson, is also a fine person, and he took the courageous step of becoming a Catholic in […]

Mission Dolores Altar (San Francisco) Photograph © by Andy Coan

Silence and the Meaning of the Mass

Robert Cardinal Sarah’s recent book The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise explores a number of themes both theological and spiritual, all centering around the unhappy role that noise has come to play in our culture and more specifically in the Church. His observations are most trenchant in regard to the liturgy, which should come as no great […]

"Our Lady of Fatima" (detail) by Chambers

Our Lady of Fatima and a Theological Reading of History

This past [month], we celebrated the one hundredth anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady to a group of shepherd children near the Portuguese town of Fatima. The series of Fatima appearances—lasting from May until October of 1917—is one of the most extraordinary in the history of the Church. It has also beguiled political and cultural commentators outside the […]

View of Monte Cassino Abbey at Dusk | (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Benedict Option and The Identity/Relevance Dilemma

Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation has certainly emerged as the most talked-about religious book of 2017. Within weeks of its publication, dozens of editorials, reviews, op-eds, and panel discussions were dedicated to it. Practically every friend and contact I have sent me something about the book and urged me to comment on it. […]

“Christ at 33” (detail) by Hofmann

Why it Matters Who Jesus Is

I have been reading, with both profit and delight, Thomas Joseph White’s latest book, The Incarnate Lord: A Thomistic Study in Christology. Fr. White, one of the brightest of a new generation of Thomas interpreters, explores a range of topics in this text—the relationship between Jesus’ human and divine natures, whether the Lord experienced the beatific vision, the theological significance of […]