Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

That Sin, Again?

Have you ever confessed a sin and then, no matter how earnestly you intended to amend your life, had the desire to commit that sin again? Why aren’t we simply fixed after Confession? Jesus instituted the sacrament of Confession that our sins may be forgiven and that we may return to friendship with him. He renews our souls, again filling them through the Holy Spirit with the many spiritual gifts first given to us at Baptism. Yet a certain inclination to sin—not the sin itself—remains. The Tradition calls this inclination the fomes peccati, the tinder for sin, or, we might say, the dregs (CCC 1264). These dregs of sin stick around in our minds through the memories of evil committed, and they also remain in our desires through the habitual bad decisions and actions that shape us. As the desires surface, they hurt quite a bit, but as long as they…

Why Did Jesus So Often Feel a Need for Secrecy?

A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched the leper, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people…

Your Story and Mine: Why Everyone Should Read Classic Literature

A few days ago I finished my annual participation in a week-long series of lectures, Becoming a Doctor, to students at the University of Minnesota Medical School. The intent of the week is to draw third and fourth year students together from various rotations at disparate locations and allow them to reconnect with one another while reflecting on the past and planning for the future. It is an earnest effort to reclaim the sense of vocation for hyper-efficient, overtired students who teeter on the edge of burnout. “Why Literature Matters to the Practice of Medicine” is my humble contribution to the week’s conversation. Let me start by saying that it is countercultural to suggest that the modern student should earnestly consider reading Robert Frost, William Shakespeare, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Jane Austen, and Dante (among many others). First, they are overwhelmed by work, barely finding time to read their assignments on the…

“This Is the Way”: The Mandalorian’s Growth in Charity

In the late first century AD, the historian Tacitus contrasted the freedom of the uncivilized Britons with the corruption of Rome, saying of his own people, “They plunder, they slaughter, and they steal: this they falsely name Empire, and where they make a wasteland, they call it peace.” Tacitus’ words are often evoked to describe the sins of superpowers, and in recent cinematic history, they are aptly applied to the political conglomeration ruled by Palpatine and Darth Vader in the three original Star Wars movies. The Empire’s orderliness is built on black magic, and when it falls apart at the end of Return of the Jedi, we rejoice. But we might also say that the recent Star Wars films themselves represent an orderly but spiritually lacking cinematic empire whose time has come for a quiet revolution. Disney+’s The Mandalorian picks up shortly after the destruction of the second Death Star,…

Here’s What’s Coming in 2020 in the Word on Fire Institute!

2019 was a year of growth, blessings, and persistent spiritual renewal for the Word on Fire Institute. We have grown to over 9,500 members from around the world, representing 27 countries, and: Launched the brand-new Word on Fire Institute quarterly journal entitled Evangelization & Culture. Launched two podcasts, The John Allen Show and The Evangelization & Culture Show. Hosted two live Bishop Barron Presents events with Leah Libresco Sargeant and Dr. Arthur Brooks. Opened the official WOFI offices in Dallas, Texas. Built exciting new relationships with other organizations around the country, which will come to bear great fruit for the good of the Great Commission. This growth is a sign of God’s blessings, and we cannot thank each and every one of our members and donors enough. Now, as we look forward to the new year, I thought I would share the exciting plans we have…

The Gift of Baptism and Our Search for Meaning

As the Church celebrates the feast of the Lord’s Baptism this weekend, my mind returns to a pilgrimage to the Holy Land I made a few years ago. One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to the banks of the River Jordan, where Jesus was baptized by John all those years ago. During our visit to the Jordan, we renewed our baptismal promises. It was a very memorable and spiritual experience that brought home to me a number of important truths about who I am as a baptized Christian. Here I would like to single out just one of those truths that is truly good news for everyone who has been immersed in the waters of Baptism: because of our Baptism, our lives have meaning. There is broad agreement that a lack of meaning in human lives creates a crisis of identity and purpose. This point was…

In the Midst of Miracle, Christ Jesus Asks Us an Important Question

Last week, I wrote about the mystery of Christ telling the healed paralytic to pick up his mat—his stretcher—and take it home with him. The passage had become a long lectio for me, lasting more than a day. In fact, this week, I am still focused on this passage, though this time on a different line. Because every line of Scripture—every single line—is there for a purpose, and has something to teach us. So, if you don’t mind re-reading the passage with me . . . When the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply, “What are you thinking in your hearts?” (Luke 5:21-22) It’s the question that can indict us at any moment of any…

Why the World’s Most Popular YouTuber Hates Twitter

One of the world’s biggest social media stars has publicly declared his hatred for Twitter. Recently, Felix Kjellberg—known online as PewDiePie—released a YouTube video in which he explained his contempt for Twitter as a “cesspool of opinion” where even lies and falsehoods get rewarded. Staying true to his word, that very day Kjellberg deleted his twitter account which, at the time of its deletion, had amassed over nineteen million followers. Kjellberg’s chief concern is, first, the excessive moral posturing that takes place on Twitter (and other similar social media networks) and second, the arbitrary reward system tied into it. In the Twitterverse, for instance, little pats on the back in the forms of “Likes” and “Retweets” are a dime a dozen. Rewards come easy—even for the most blasphemous of sophists—whether one is right or wrong, good or bad, true or false. Talk is cheap, the old adage goes.

Ends that Justify the Means

“The ends don’t justify the means.” We are all familiar with this saying. We cannot use evil means just because the end or goal that we are aiming at is good. The end of a little peace and quiet does not justify locking my brother outside in the cold. No matter how good the ultimate goal that we intend, this doesn’t permit us to do something that is wrong in order to accomplish it. But what if the means is actually good or neutral? Upon further consideration we might say that not every good end justifies good means—they may not be proportionate. When we see desirable ends and begin to consider the means by which we may attain these ends, we enter into an internal process of what economists call a cost-benefit analysis. We want to be sure that the “cost” involved in whatever means we select is proportionate to…

Holy (Unchosen) Family

You can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family, an’ they’re still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge ’em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don’t. —Harper Lee December 29 was the Feast of the Holy Family. The family is a place of life, fidelity, love, and warm intimacy. The family is a place of death, infidelity, hatred, and cold alienation. At least that’s how Scripture describes it. How astounding it is that our God of the Impossible has chosen the messy and marvelous family as ground zero of his rescue plan for the human race. The late Francis Cardinal George often spoke of the immense social and redemptive significance of relationships that cannot be “unchosen,” like marriage and family, or those relationships we find ourselves in by virtue of…