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Making Ready for the Holy: “A Man Will Meet You . . .“

A short fiction inspired by Luke 22:10. She guided the tiny mouse out of its corner with a gentle nudge of her broom, laughing as she teased it this way and that, helping the frightened creature find its way out the door, down the steps and into a street teeming with merchants hawking apples and herbs, with shoppers, and those hurrying to the temple. She didn’t mind mice very much, but not in this room, and not today. No space being made ready for Passover and the seder meal could be permitted faithless intruders, even helpless little grey ones with adorable pink noses. Moving on to gather dust and cobwebs from the corners, she began, all unconsciously, to hum under her breath—a joyful little melody learned from her mother, who would quietly sing it over and over in rhythm with her movements as she would grind flour: “O praise him,…

Robots and the Resurrection

The conversations happening today in the field of artificial intelligence, known as AI, are completely mind-blowing. Aside from AI robots using 3D printing to build bridges in the Netherlands or cars in Los Angeles with digital nervous systems, the crucial topic of discussion is the unknown potentialities which AI technology could precipitate. The central question which belabors not only scientists and engineers but also economists, politicians, and Christians is ultimately: “What will happen once AI is let out of the box?” Despite the wide variety of speculation within AI scholarship and social media, everyone agrees that the future of AI is a frightening yet seductive mystery from which no one can look away. “AI could be terrible, and it could be great,” remarked Elon Musk, founder of Tesla Motors. “Only one thing is for sure,” he says. “We will not control it.” The big idea within AI circles is the…

Notre Dame Cathedral: The Embodiment of the Christian Thing

After the devastating fires at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, we thought we would share a few of Bishop Barron’s personal and spiritual insights on this incredible masterpiece of architecture, beauty, and culture. May Our Lady intercede for the church of Paris, and for the universal Church, as we lament this loss. Bishop Barron on Cathedral of Notre Dame Rose Window Friends, as we grieve the fire still engulfing the Cathedral of Notre Dame, here's a short clip from a talk I recently gave on "Catholicism and Beauty" in which I reflect on my first visit to the Cathedral, gazing on its majestic rose window. Notre Dame, Our Lady, pray for us! Posted by Bishop Robert Barron on Monday, April 15, 2019  …

'Breakthrough' Producer DeVon Franklin Discusses the Power of Prayer

DeVon Franklin, a producer of the new film “Breakthrough,” talks with Father Dave about the movie, faith, and the power of prayer and surrender.

The Hollow Promises of Secular Humanism

In a lot of ways the modern world, to me, is a Christian heresy because many of these extraordinary ideas—the rights of man, the idea that everybody should be free—[these ideas from] Locke and Hume and all these people were informed by Christianity so their ideas didn’t simply come out of some kind of philosophical vacuum. —Sheikh Hamza Yusuf One of the lasting images I have from my repeated readings of C.S. Lewis is the metaphor he offers about the relationship between Christianity and the modern Western world: inoculation. According to Lewis, we can distance ourselves from Christianity because we constantly receive small doses of it. Enough Christian-ness makes us immune to Christianity. Take, for example, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Adopted by the UN in the wake of World War II, the Declaration was a landmark international statement on the dignity of human life and…

The Revolutionary Message of Palm Sunday

The texts that Christians typically read on Palm Sunday have become so familiar to them that they probably don’t sense their properly revolutionary power. But no first-century Jew would have missed the excitement and danger implicit in the coded language of the accounts describing Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem just a few days before his death. In Mark’s Gospel we hear that Jesus and his disciples “drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives.” A bit of trivial geographical detail, we might be tempted to conclude. But we have to remember that pious Jews of Jesus’ time were immersed in the infinitely complex world of the Hebrew Scriptures and stubbornly read everything through the lens provided by those writings. About five hundred years before Jesus’ time, the prophet Ezekiel had relayed a vision of the “Shekinah” (the glory) of Yahweh leaving the temple, due to its…

Does Christianity Demand “Niceness”?

Many people are familiar with G.K. Chesterton’s observation that “angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.” We like the quote because it confirms our suspicions that a faith grounded in gratitude and a wider perspective can create a solid tarmac from which we may soar. That’s easier than it sounds, of course, and Chesterton knew it—the fully delicious and playful quote comes from his profound masterwork Orthodoxy, and reads, “Solemnity flows out of men naturally; but laughter is a leap. It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light. Satan fell by the force of gravity.” And gravity, as we know, is the law. Lately, I’ve seen in some of my acquaintances the development of a very grave and solemn habit, indeed—a tendency to expect niceness in everyone they meet, particularly in professed Christians. When exposed to someone’s overwhelming urge to snark at politicians, headlines, celebrity-sham-marriages, and overplayed cards…

The Colors of the World

If I may lift a lyric from Les Misérables (the musical), “The colors of the world / Are changing day by day.” Red and black. Those colors characterized Rome during the Nazi occupation. As The Scarlet and the Black opens, a red Nazi flag flies with a black swastika emblazoned in the center. Black-clad Gestapo officers with red swastika armbands march into the Vatican. But then we see that not only rage and hatred can co-opt red and black. For there, the Nazis find cardinals, bishops, and monsignori vested in their black cassocks and the scarlet colors of their offices. This visual contrast sets up the conflict that dominates the film. As the Nazi occupiers attempt to capture Allied refugee soldiers and round up Rome’s Jewish population, they frequently find themselves foiled. An increasingly frantic SS commander, Herbert Kappler, played by Christopher Plummer of The Sound of Music fame, fails…

Lessons Through Illness

Recently, I spent a few days in hospital with a serious illness. Thank God I have recovered fully, but it could have been worse—even fatal. Such a brush with death makes you think deeper and changes your perspective. You move into a different space that is already occupied by millions of sick people whose plight you were aware of but did not consider as much as you should. Here I share a few thoughts from this experience of illness and how it impacts on our call to evangelize. We hear much about the institutions of society that are the shapers of culture—the media, universities, politics, TV, the internet, movies, art, music, literature, etc. It may seem odd to describe hospitals as shapers of culture, but the truth is that they not only care for people who are sick but remind society that we human beings are weak, limited, and vulnerable.

How I Cheated in College

He had an overmastering regard for efficiency. —Charles Ryder about platoon commander Hooper in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder. —G.K. Chesterton Life can’t be all bad when for ten dollars you can buy all the Beethoven sonatas and listen to them for ten years. —William F. Buckley, Jr.   Years ago, when I was in college, I cheated.  Now, let me explain. When I decided to become a doctor, I had no idea what I was doing. My two older sisters, both bright and engaging, had dabbled with the idea of practicing medicine. However, after considering the lives they wanted to lead (and, for one, enduring the harrowing experience of poorly taught Microbiology), they thought better of it and found their calling as schoolteachers. My father was a school superintendent and my mother, a homemaker.