Meet The Hillbilly Thomists

When a group of Dominican friars banded together over a common love for bluegrass music, one of its founding members, Father Austin Litke, came up with a name that was impossible to top: “The Hillbilly Thomists.” Today, Matthew Becklo reviews their debut album and the evangelistically rich notes that they create.
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Real Meditation

How are we supposed to mediate as Christians? Today, Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P., offers advice to all of us who want to deepen our prayer life through the ancient practice of mediation.
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Communication is a foundational aspect of an authentic relationship. But, as David Stavarz points out, we must be prepared to listen, which is often uncomfortable.
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We're all, at times, under the spell of spiritual boredom, where sin holds us down like molasses and prevents us from moving forward in the spiritual life. What's the cure for this ill? Chris Hazell traces out an answer using wisdom from Pope Benedict XVI, Walker Percy, and other luminaries.
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Fr. Steve Grunow takes a deeper look at the Advent hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” demonstrating that there is more to this song than meets the eye. The song, in revealing the fulfilled expectations of the Israelites in Christ, also reveals something wondrous about the revelation of God in Christ.
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It's easy to overlook the season of Advent by just setting our eyes on Christmas. But as Bishop Barron explains, Advent can be a spiritually enriching time, one in which we anticipate the full glory of Christ.
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Peter's Brother

On this Feast of the apostle St. Andrew, Brother John Thomas Fisher, O.P. offers a reflection on the path of Christian sanctity as seen through St. Andrew himself.
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Something has changed for Jim Carrey since the days of “Dumb and Dumber” and “Ace Ventura.” The actor now spends much of his time pursuing spiritual truth. Today, Matthew Becklo discusses the change in light of the new Netflix Documentary “Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond.”
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While Americans are coming out of their food coma from yesterday's feasting, Br. John Mark Solitario, O.P. offers a reflection on the Holy Eucharist as a layered, sacred banquet.
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From the team here at Word on Fire, we would like to wish you and yours a very blessed Thanksgiving holiday! Read today's post for a short reflection on the biblical representation of the "sacred banquet," as well as what thanksgiving really means in the life of the Church.
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Thankful for the Unknowns

On this day before Thanksgiving, Fr. Steve Grunow invites us to express gratitude for saintly men and women who journeyed through life unnoticed, disappearing into the mission of the Church.
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Today, as we celebrate the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Joe Heschmeyer offers a reflection on the image that our Lady reflects and bears as the Queen of Heaven.
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Love is willing the good of the other, as other. Today, Dr. Tom Neal offers a reflection on why the nature of love is a profound calling to give everything we have away.
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St. Albert the Professor

Today marks the Feast of St. Albert the Great, who is remembered as a Doctor of the Church. Br. Edmund McCullough explores two traits that elevated this genius to sainthood: his detachment from accolades and his staunch commitment to the truth.
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God's Humble Love

Today, Fr. Billy Swan reminds us of the profound nature of God's love, in that His humility is a sign of what love is.
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Today the Church commemorates St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, the first citizen of the United States to be canonized a saint. As Br. Leo Camurati explains, though, her sanctity came not through citizenship but through submission to Divine grace.
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November 9 is the Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome. Fr. Steve Grunow offers his homily on the significance of this day, both within the life of the Church and within our own understanding of what it means to be a dwelling place of Christ.
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You Shall Know the Truth

What options do we have when it comes to seeking authentic, objective truth? Today, Br. Philip Nolan, O.P. offers advice on these options in a time of relativism and why this search is profoundly important for our own fulfillment.
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Once in a while, you meet someone who knocks your socks off and deeply unsettles you. Their actions inspire you and their words cut right to your core. Dr. Tom Neal shares two such meetings with different men, one Vietnamese and one Nigerian, and reflects on the extraordinary encounters.
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Fr. Rob Galea is an ordained priest of the diocese of Sanhurst Diocese in Victoria, Australia. He is also an internationally known musician and artist who has had opportunities to compete on X-Factor, and play in front of an estimated 500,000 at World Youth Day in 2011. His latest song, Dominoes, has become an instant hit across the globe. The main message: that we are all broken and in need of the love of Christ. Jared Zimmerer recently had an opportunity to discuss music, culture, and evangelization with Fr. Rob.
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Today as we celebrate the commemoration of the faithfully departed, Br. Dominic Bouck, O.P reflects on the ways in which our departed faithful were "dead to the world"—not as zombies, but rather as signs of great life!
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In celebration of the Solemnity of All Saints, Father Steve Grunow offers often-overlooked insights about who the saints are, what it means to be a saint, and how God summons each of us to become a saint.
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Today, for most of us, is Halloween. But a lot of Christians are disturbed by the way that Halloween seems to celebrate evil, and many Protestants choose to celebrate Reformation Day instead. While Joe Heschmeyer respects the desire to have fun without celebrating evil, he finds Reformation Day to be unwittingly ironic. Today he shares five reasons why.
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As we near All Hallows Eve, aka Halloween, we fired some questions at the walking encyclopedia that is Father Steve Grunow, and he responded with everything you ever wanted to know about Halloween and its deeply Catholic roots.
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So often Christians might fear expressing their own doubts in matters of faith. But today, Matt Nelson explains why this isn't necessarily problematic, and why we must be willing to express our conscience and seek the truth.
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So often in our difficulties, we try and pull ourselves up from our own bootstraps. But today, Dr. Tom Neal offers a time in his life where he had to repeat the phrase, “Dear God, I give you all, willingly.”
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Domine, Non Nisi Te

Today, Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P., reminds us of the great response of St. Thomas Aquinas and that we are all made for nothing less than the love of God.
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Christ called all of us to be light to the world. Today, Fr. Billy Swan reflects upon how we must be a reflection of the light of God if we are to truly bring others into His blessed life.
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In the work of evangelization today, it is of profound importance for the Church to be able to offer moments of evangelization that revolve around the growth of the community and building bridges of trust among believers and non-believers. Today, Jared Zimmerer interviews Fr. Peter Wojcik, one of the organizers of the (re)Encounter event in Chicago this evening.
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Today we celebrate the feast of the North American martyrs, St. Isaac Jogues and St. Jean de Brebeuf, two men who gave everything they had for the love of Christ and the need of His salvation for all mankind. Jared Zimmerer offers a reflection about these two heroes and what their legacy is bidding us all to today.
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Saint Luke, the Artist

Today is the feast of St. Luke, one of the four gospel writers who, according to tradition, was also an artist and a painter of icons. Fr. Michael Cummins shares this artistic gift with St. Luke. Today, he explains how icons are more than mere paintings and can only be truly appreciated when we completely change our "perspective."
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C.S. Lewis once said, “It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.” We recently asked our writing team to consider what book, not published in the last century, has most impacted their life? Today, Fr. Billy Swan discusses a writing from one of the greatest evangelists in Catholic history, St. Patrick's “Confessio.”
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Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun in Fatima, Portugal. Jared Zimmerer offers a reflection on the historical significance of this profound event and how Mary conducted a revolution as Queen.
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We often hear the adage that religion has caused numerous wars and has a history of bad actions in the name of beliefs. However, today Fredric Heidemann asks, does secularism, who has a long history of its own problems, have a memory problem?
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Mystery and Music

Br. Peter Joseph explains today how God’s effects tell us something about who he is, but that they ultimately lead us straight into his unfathomable mystery.
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C.S. Lewis once said, "It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between." We recently asked our writing team to consider what book, not published in the last century, has most impacted their life? Today, Matt Becklo discusses one of the leading existentialist philosphers, Soren Kierkegaard's selection of essays entitled Papers and Journals which led Matt into a deeper undertstanding of Christ.
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The Theology of the Dog

Today, Fr. Damian Ference offers a reflection on the phenomenon of encountering a dog and what spiritual lessons we can actually glean from such an encounter.
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Tomorrow is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Fr. Steve Grunow talks about the origin of this Feast Day, tracing its inception back to the historic Battle of Lepanto and revealing the important role played by the Mother of God.
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The tragedy of the mass shooting in Las Vegas has certainly garnered untold emotions. From fear to anger, from heartbreak to confusion, we find ourselves trying to make sense of a senseless act of violence. Today, Rozann Lee offers a reflection on the profound moment she heard of the tragedy on the feast of the Guardian Angels and the profundity of such a moment in dealing with evil.
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The Heart of St. Francis

There's the cute statue in the garden, the lover of animals, the gentle steward of nature. Then there's the reformed party boy, the slow and reluctant convert, the man who embodied the heart of Christ through his love of the poor. Word on Fire contributor Father Damian Ference takes a look at the real St. Francis of Assisi and shares his thoughts.
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Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels! So often Guardian Angels are depicted as sweet, chubby cherubs, but as Br. Henry Stephan, O.P., states today, they are warriors with a purpose, and part of that purpose can help to guard our chastity.
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On this Feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, here are several resources on the Little Flower from Bishop Barron and the Word on Fire team. You'll find videos, articles, blog posts, and more. Enjoy! http://www.wordonfire.org/resources/blog/10-powerful-resources-on-st-thrse-of-lisieux/4507/
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Celestial Intercession

Today we celebrate the feast of the Archangels, St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and St. Raphael! Br. Ignatius Weiss offers a reflection on the virtues of these celestial intercessors and reminds us that we can and should consistently look to them for aid.
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The Word on Fire crew recently returned from an overseas trip to begin filming Volume II of “CATHOLICISM: The Pivotal Players.” A highlight for Bishop Robert Barron was visiting Mont Saint-Michel, the mysterious, mystical, and hauntingly photogenic abbey situated just off the Normandy coast. Here are his thoughts on why this place is like standing on the edge of the world.
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8beats aims to arrest the modern heart through the beauty and expression of artists and creatives through the profound words of Christ. Today, Jared Zimmerer sits down with one of the collaborators of 8beats, Sam Sorich of Glass Darkly Films, to discuss beauty, collaboration, and the heroes of Catholic artists today.
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A common complaint against Catholicism is that its view of the spiritual life is too difficult, that it over-complicates Christianity and doesn’t trust enough in the finished work of Christ on the Cross. Today, Joe Heschmeyer offers a reflection and advice that states that perhaps that's the wrong question to ask.
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C.S. Lewis once said, “It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.” We recently asked our writing team to consider what book, not published in the last century, has most impacted their life? Today, Tod Worner discusses one of the writers featured in Bishop Barron's Pivotal Players, G.K. Chesterton and his incredible work, “Orthodoxy.”
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Tomorrow we celebrate the feast of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, affectionately known by all his devotees as Padre Pio. Dr. Tom Neal looks at one element of this holy priest's theology concerning praise and time.
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The Word on Fire team and I spent some time in the great city of Milan taking in the incredible beauty of the Cathedral here. However, the most moving part of the day was spent filming at the very baptismal pool where St. Ambrose baptized St. Augustine.
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How do we respond in the face of evil, especially to those who inflict grave evil upon us? Abducted in Iraq is Bishop Saad Sirop Hanna’s firsthand account of his abduction in 2006 by a militant group associated with al-Qaeda. Today, Jared Zimmerer interviews Bishop Hanna about his amazing story and the need for all Christians to be aware of the genocide occurring in the Middle East.
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Running is not just another form of exercise, but is a discipline that challenges the our whole human personhood. Seminarian David Stavarz shares the spiritual lessons he learned while training for his first half-marathon.
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Why Our Lady of Sorrows?

Today is the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. Fr. Steve Grunow reflects on this depiction of Mary and explains how it dramatically displays the Incarnation.
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In continuing with our special behind-the-scenes views into the filming of “CATHOLICISM: The Pivotal Players” Volume II, here is another behind-the-scenes look in the filming on St. Benedict, as well as some thoughts on the principle virtue of the monastic life, humility.
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Why Does God Exist?

Most of us know the Catechism answer to the question, why did God make you? To know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven. But what about the opposite question: why does *God* himself exist? Dr. Tom Neal explores this interesting question.
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On this anniversary of September 11, 2001, Fr. Steve Grunow reminds us that when the world gives way to darkness, our hope is in Christ, the Divine Light, who dispels the darkness and guides us to his kingdom yet to come.
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Does the Immaterial Exist?

One of the most common arguments from atheists is that matter is all that there is, and that the immaterial (God, angels, the human soul, etc.) simply doesn’t exist. Joe Heschmeyer explores the argument to see if it stands up to scrutiny.
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God's Love and The Mass

Today, Fr. Billy Swan discusses how God expresses His divine love in the highest order through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
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Bishop Barron and the Word on Fire crew recently returned from an overseas trip to begin filming Volume II of “CATHOLICISM: The Pivotal Players.” Watch a behind-the-scenes video on one of the most influential men in all of the Western world.
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Christians sometimes struggle to answer the "problem of pain," but Joe Heschmeyer argues that atheists have a far more difficult burden in the "problem of beauty".
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Today commemorates the Passion of John the Baptist, marking a somber and violent end to a life that was instrumental to the foundation of the Church. Father Steve Grunow examines the circumstances surrounding St. John's beheading, and how they illuminate a depraved side of his executors that is often overlooked.
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Word on Fire blog contributor Jared Zimmerer, father of five, a fitness advocate, and an avid reader, shares the top five reasons he and every man should regularly go to Mass.
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In the Scriptures, we encounter Christ speaking to his friends, preaching to his followers, and debating with his interlocutors, but we also encounter him in silence. Br. Innocent Smith examines how friendship with God is cultivated through this same practice today.
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When discussing the truths of the faith we must always do so from a place of love. Today, Dr. Tom Neal offers a few reflections on how love must guide any and all actions we take toward a journey of truth.
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Seeing Mary as She Is

Today, as we celebrate the feast of the Queenship of Mary, Matt Nelson offers a reflection on why it is so important to see Mary as she truly is, the Ark of the New Covenant.
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The release of Bishop Barron's latest study, 'David the King" is set to release on September 5th! Today, Peggy Pandaleon offers a few thoughts as to why this study is an excellent way to dive deeper into the Scriptures.
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Today, Jared Zimmerer discusses the growth of mixed martial arts as entertainment and points out that modernity, in secularizing everything, has also effected the way we view martial arts.
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What Men Fear Most

What do pornography and dwindling vocations both suggest about men's greatest fear? Father Damian Ference, who works closely with young men in high school and the seminary, shares his observations.
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Today, Father Steve offers a reflection for the Feast of St. Clare of Assisi, a contemporary and friend of St. Francis who conformed herself to a life of voluntary poverty for the service of Christ.
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Faith Goes Public

How comfortable are we in proclaiming the Gospel in public? Dr. Tom Neal explains why we so often find ourselves in moments of fear in our evangelistic moments, yet we are all called to proclaim the Truth in love!
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Today the Church celebrates the feast day of St. Edith Stein, one of the great intellectuals of the 20th century, a convert to Catholicism, a nun, and a martyr. Today, we offer an excerpt from Bishop Barron's book, Catholicism, on the spirit of St. Edith.
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Jared Zimmerer and his wife are expecting a sixth child! Today, Jared offers some thoughts about what having so many children has taught him about finding the extraordinary within the ordinary.
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Today the Church remembers the witness of St. John Vianney, the “Cure of Ars”, who is the patron saint of parish priests. Fr. Steve Grunow explains how the there are typically two approaches to the parish priesthood--the administrative and the ascetic--and how St. John Vianney perfected the latter.
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Let's face it, being a parent is tough. Sometimes raising kids can feel like trying to put order into chaos. Today, Ricky Jones offers some advice on how we might be able to change the way we see these moments as opportunities to hear what God has to say to us.
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Today, as we celebrate the feast of the great spiritual mentor St. Alphonsus Ligouri, Jared Zimmerer offers a reflection on one of his favorite books by the saint entitled “Preparation for Death.”
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The Last Chapter

Br. Ignatius Weiss, O.P. offers a reflection on how the last chapters of his favorite fantasy books are so hard to finish but how they open our eyes to a much deeper appreciation and vision of reality.
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A recent video of two breakdancing priests sparked a conversation about the role of priests and their place in evangelization. Today, Fr. Damian Ference offers a defense of the priests and why all priests ought to embrace humanity just as the two in the video had.
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The relationship between faith and reason has profound effects on how we ought to understand the growing scientism in our time. Today, Fr. Billy Swan offers a reflection on how the Church sees this relationship and how, when understood correctly, it can lead to an even greater love of the sciences.
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In the work of evangelization, we rarely know where the seeds we've sown might take fruit. Today, we're thrilled to to share with you one such story. Nick Chancey, a native of Ripley, WV, had a complete awakening of faith after watching the “CATHOLICISM” series. From there, he graduated from Marshall University with a BA in History in 2015. After spending a year as a Missionary-Intern for the Diocese of Wheeling Charleston, he now serves as a Campus Minister in Charleston, WV. Read his full testimony below. Enjoy!
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Br. Damian Day, O.P., offers a reflection on how the search for truth must always aim forward, regardless of whether we are limping towards it.
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Chris Hazell explains today how when we become part of the community, and through our communion, we are able to draw others from their own aloneness into the union that we celebrate as Divine life.
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Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Camillus de Lellis, who lived the great tradition of the celibate life as a model of heroic virtue. Often today, these traditions of the male priesthood and celibacy often bear the brunt of secular ire. Father Damian Ference offers not so much a defense of the traditions, but an explanation of why they are both practiced and of utmost importance, especially now.
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Yesterday began the seventh season of “Game of Thrones” which is pervaded by complexity and subtlety, both in its imagined world and in its ever growing cast of characters. Unfortunately, as Daniel Stewart explains, all of this nuance falls to nothing when Martin describes religion.
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We often hear the adage that man is nothing more than a different sort of animal. Today, Matt Nelson explains why humans are indeed different and why that difference must be a foundation of truth.
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We often hear today the growing disinterest in organized religion, even among believing Christians. However, we must be aware that this distinction between either Jesus, or religion, is a false understanding of the role of the Church. Today, Fr. Billy Swan reflects upon the reality that the Church is a sacred medium by which Christ meets us and we meet Him.
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St. Why

Today, on the feast of St. Maria Goretti, Dr. Tom Neal reminds us that we venerate saints and are so drawn to them because they point to something beyond us in their own strange and amazing ways, people who punch holes in the buffered self of modernity.
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Today, Matthew Becklo discusses the everlasting effect of Mother Teresa as seen through a new song by Brother Isaiah. Inspired by the saint's insights on prayer, this barefoot friar sings "Receive Me (i'm yours)."
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Happy Independence Day! We understand it's a busy day of entertaining and family time for lots of you, but do take a moment to read Jared Zimmerer's reflections on Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati and his life lived as a model of true interior freedom. Today is his feast day. In addition, we've included a previously recorded video of Fr. Barron's on Frassati.
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How often do we listen to that voice inside our head that doubts our capacity for grace and holiness? That fear can undermine our ability to be who we are meant to be for others. Today, Ricky Jones offers a reflection to challenge us to overcome that fear and be a blessing to everyone in our life.
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Sports and family are two aspects of human life that can teach us so much about who we are and the need for virtue to authentically live our vocation and call to evangelize. Today, Jared Zimmerer chats with Corey Robinson, who brings knowledge and experience of using the culture of wrestling as an avenue to reach the periphery and embue the Christian ethic into the lives of those he coaches.
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Today's feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is also the day of prayer for the sanctification of priests. Today, Fr. Billy Swan offers a reflection as a priest about the need for the merciful heart of Christ and allowing Christ to perfect our imperfections.
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Today we celebrate the feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, two martyrs who stood up against a cultural tide against the faith. Br. John Paul Kern offers a challenge for all of us to embrace the same heroic virtue so embodied by today's saints.
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In a recent poll, 86% of the participants stated that teaching religion to children is a form of brainwashing. Today, Joe Heschmeyer offers his thoughts on why parents should teach the faith to their children regardless.
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For many millennials the faith has been offered as a slogan or possibly as a vague practice. As Fr. Connor Danstrom points out, what is needed is an authentic enculturation in the actions, beliefs, and customs of Catholicism.
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Bob Dylan, a master storyteller and poet, understood the greater narrative of humanity and this made him incredibly effective at producing heartfelt music. Today, Luke Burgis discusses a key moment in Dylan's life and why this vision of humanity allowed his music to be so effectual.
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Today we're excited to announce the release of Bishop Barron's newest film and study program, “David the King“! King David causes us to look back toward Adam’s kingship and forward toward Christ the King, seeing Christ as the fulfillment of the Davidic line and the realization of the Kingdom of God on earth. In Bishop Barron's new film and study program, Bishop Barron helps us to understand this pivotal figure in light of the first king and the King of kings.
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"Tony, Tony look around..." Actually, stop right there. Ellyn von Huben tells us about her personal and repeated invocation of St. Anthony, the patron saint of (among other things) lost items, but more importantly, how she finds something that will help us much more than those long-gone keys will.
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The imaginative works of Tolkien, Lewis, Chesterton, Barfield, and the like have been able to 'baptize' the imagination for nearly a century. Today, Jared Zimmerer sits down with Holly Ordway whose new book “Apologetics and the Christian Imagination” delves into the reasons this route is so effective and how we as evangelists ought to take note.
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This coming Sunday is the Feast of The Most Holy Trinity, but what implication does that reality have on our life as Christians and our relationship with God? Fr. Billy Swan offers a reflection for the feast to help us better understand the profound significance of the great mystery.
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HBO's hit series, 'The Young Pope', has been released for purchase today. The series has garnered numerous differing opinions, from loving it to downright vitriol towards it. Today, Fr. Damian Ference offers his consistently balanced approach to the series as both a work of culture and a modern piece which unveils the supernatural.
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Sean Bryan is a physicist, a missionary, and a ninja. Today, Jared Zimmerer sits down with the Papal Ninja to discuss evangelization, fitness, and how we can effectively express what Christ has done in our lives.
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This coming Sunday marks the Feast of Pentecost! A time for all of us to reflect on how the Holy Spirit is moving in our lives and the life of the Church. Today, we listen to Bishop Barron discuss the ways that the Holy Spirit is depicted and how those depictions have a major impact on how the Spirit moves throughout God's people.
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Today's saint, St. Justin Martyr, laid out one of the earliest descriptions of the Mass in his “First Apology,” written between 153 and 155 A.D. It’s great, because it offers a simplified version of Catholic theology intended for those who had no idea about the Eucharist or Mass. HIs description reveals how constant the Mass has remained over the last two millennia.
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Today we celebrate the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Brandon Vogt discusses how this vastly important feast might act as a moment for Catholics to have a better understanding of social justice and how we can all unite under the banner of this feast.
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From St. John the Baptist to St. Francis of Assisi, the Church has a long tradition of “holy fools,” men and women who subvert the world's wisdom with shocking lives. Br. Philip Neri Reese looks at one of these saints, who happens to be not only his namesake, St. Philip Neri, but also today's saint.
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Men of Principles

How do we raise the level of our cultural discourse? According to Br. Philip Neri Reese, O.P., a good first step would be a renewed appreciation for the importance of first principles.
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Walker Percy, the writer who penned “The Moviegoer,” “Lancelot,” and “Love in the Ruins,” to name a few, had family, fate and illness working against him. But he had faith, and that was likely what spared him. Word on Fire contributor Father Damian Ference examines Percy's life on today's blog, a launching point for our next Book Club selection, "Love in the Ruins."
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"Draw people together around something that transcends their own solitary existence, and as long as that something is true, good, or beautiful, God can use it to draw them to Himself." Today, Jared Zimmerer sits down with Fr. Connor Danstrom who recently performed for the Blue Island Arts Alliance as a way to garner authentic culture for the surrounding community of Blue Island.
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Daft Punk Sabbath

As we head towards the weekend and the hopefully restful Sabbath, Dr. Tom Neal offers his thoughts on the necessity of rest and how Christ came to be the Sabbath of our souls.
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Silence. It can be a reservoir of flowing peace and nourishing grace. It can call to mind our cherished identity, compelling us to respond to God and others with that same, first love he has shown us. Or it can be cold and sterile, a state of abandonment, loss, frustration and sorrow. As Chris Hazell writes, it’s in the silence that we can choose to trust in his loving presence or his aching absence.
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If you've ever heard of the many different personality tests, you've probably found yourself in one category or another. Today, Fr. Damian Ference shares with us four personalities that he often finds in seminarians, which ultimately unveils the way God can call upon numerous types of men to serve His Church!
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In today's reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we hear of St. Paul being stoned and dragged out of a city. The great saint embraced this kind of suffering, but why? Fr. Steve Grunow offers poignant insight in regard to St. Paul and the nature of our mission as Christians.
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Bruce Lee was more than just a high-kicking action star. He was a philosopher, a unifier, and a man passionate about social justice. He was incredibly apt at sharing his message, and today Jared Zimmerer shares three things he learned from Bruce about how to effectively introduce your message to the world.
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This Saturday marks the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, when we commemorate Mary's appearances to three shepherd children at Fátima, Portugal in 1917. Ellyn von Huben examines the apparitions and the ensuing events that reveal the hand of Providence.
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Over the past number of years the music industry has seen resurgence in its demand for vinyl records. What can this resurgence tell us about the search for authenticity and ritual, and perhaps a rediscovery of the Mass? A lot, says David Stavarz.
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Did Jesus really die on the Cross? Are the modern skeptics correct in promoting a narrative of myth or the swoon theory? Matt Nelson helps clear up some of the discussion through four specific reasons His death on the cross is indeed, fact.
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In many ways, our culture tries to rebel against nature. Whether that involves tampering with human genetics or leveling forests to build new shopping malls, we often see God's creation as somewhat restrictive. Fr. Michael Cummins boldly suggests that our proper response, as Christians, should be a radical rejection of this mentality, choosing instead to embrace all of the gifts that creation offers.
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Have you ever made a mistake or committed a sin and looked back exclaiming "Did I do that?" Br. Dominic Bouck, O.P. offers sage advice for those of us who might often fall into spiritual pride when we look back on our failings.
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How can we make reading into more than just an intellectual exercise? What books ought we read in order to grow in holiness? Today, Brandon Vogt interviews Vicki Burbach on her latest book, "How to Read Your Way to Heaven" to help us better understand the tremendous power of reading.
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St. Augustine of Hippo, one of the Church's preeminent theologians, maintained that "God became man so that man might become God." The Catechism agrees, quoting Augustine and other saints on this point. But what does the teaching mean? Are we really supposed be divinized? Joe Heschmeyer explains.
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May is Mary's month, which often commences with the annual "May Crowning" at Catholic parishes and schools around the world. Today, Ellyn von Huben offers her signature hilarity and graceful reflection on this timely Catholic tradition.
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Today’s Feast of St Joseph the Worker was instituted in 1955 by Pope Pius XII as a Catholic liturgical response to the Communist version of the May Day celebration. But, celebrating work seems a bit oxymoronic, doesn’t it? Didn’t work start after the Fall of Adam and Eve? Today, Dr. Tom Neal discuses today's feast and the profound grace of labor.
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Atheist Dialogues

What's the best way to approach conversations with atheists? Br. Athanasius Murphy shows how to avoid two mistakes and offers helpful advice.
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In a new book entitled “The Reception of Vatican II,” Bishop Robert Barron contributed a chapter regarding how the Second Vatican Council's desire for apostolic zeal has taken shape through seminary formation and the renewal of the Priesthood. Today, we offer an excerpt from his chapter in this enlightening book.
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A common question among atheists, is 'Why doesn't god show Himself?' Today, Fredric Heidemann offers insight into this question and why 'What we mean by God' is of such importance to answering it.
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Taking care of the body is an important aspect of being an evangelist and taking on the mission God has called you to. Two priests have recently founded an organization called PriestFit, in order to encourage their brother priests in such an endeavor. Today, Jared Zimmerer interviews PriestFit co-founder Fr. Ryan Rooney who has lost over 240 lbs.!
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When God Became Man

Wallace Stevens' poem, Sunday Morning, laments the great loss of transcendence in modernity. Today, Fr Steve Grunow comments on Easter as the great breaking though of God into human history and how the lament of loss can be discarded in light of Christ.
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The final Cadbury Mini Eggs have been consumed. The last bits of synthetic grass have been extracted from the carpet fibers. The leftover casserole has made its swan song. Easter is over. Now what? Word On Fire contributor Fr. Michael Cummins implores us to consider Easter anything but "over." He explains.
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When Jesus said ''This is my body'' on the night of the Last Supper, did he really mean that the bread and wine had mysteriously become Him? Or was he speaking figuratively? Matt Nelson gets to the root of the question.
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Jesus does not laugh in any of the four Gospels. This fact might seem strange to us, and even a little scandalous—isn’t Jesus fully man and fully God? Isn’t laughter natural to men? Brother Gabriel Torrett, O.P., explores these questions today.
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Once again, Ellyn von Huben finds a work of art and manages to let us in to the story unlike anyone we know. She did it today with Zurbaran's "Crucifixion," which is a beautiful, tragic and telling a piece to reflect upon on this Good Friday. And if you are lucky enough to be within striking distance to the Art Institute of Chicago where it is housed, go.
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When teaching others about Christ, we must portray His totality and not just propositions. Today, Robert Mixa shares with us how His form must better be understood and how the weight room can give us a glimpse into how to accomplish that goal in our catechetical outreach.
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When reading the Bible, we often come across some truly odd images and passages. How is it that we are supposed to read these and appropriate them for those who aren't as familiar with Christianity? Today, Joe Heschmeyer offers insight for us to better understand these images.
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Pick Up Your Mat

Christianity is not an abstract, nebulous religion. It's deeply incarnational. As Jared Zimmerer explains, the great tradition of Catholicism is one of cultural experience, expressing itself through embodied faith.
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Often the beauty of the Catholic Faith has been said to be best experienced from the inside. Today, Matt Nelson discusses how the prolific mind of G.K. Chesterton discovered the brilliance of faith through the eyes of the Church.
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In the latest installment of the X-Men series of movies, we find Logan, or Wolverine, in the not so distant future. Today, David Stavarz reflects on the role of fatherhood in the film and how sacrifice is intimately tied to one man's role.
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Beyond the prolific writing career, the fascinating personal life, and the peacocks (lots of peacocks) was a devout and inspirational Catholic. Word on Fire contributor Father Damian Ference takes a look at Flannery O'Connor today on the Word on Fire blog.
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Advertising Asceticism

Why do fast, pray, give alms, and discipline our bodies? Because these are the pathways to freedom. As Dr. Tom Neal explains, the great ascetical practices liberate us from our ego and unite us to Risen Lord.
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Today, Dr. Brant Pitre sits down with Brandon Vogt to discuss his newest book, “The Case for Jesus: The Biblical and Historical Evidence for Christ”. He shows how recent discoveries in New Testament scholarship, as well as neglected evidence from ancient manuscripts and the early church fathers, together have the potential to pull the rug out from under a century of skepticism toward the traditional Gospels.
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Bishop Barron offers his reflections on the Feast of the Annunciation, citing the way in which Mary is the New Eve who calls us to ultimate discipleship.
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In his new book, "Proofs of God: Classical Arguments from Tertullian to Barth" (Baker Academic, 2016), leading theologian Dr. Matthew Levering presents a thoroughgoing critical survey of the proofs of God's existence for readers interested in traditional Christian responses to the problem of atheism. Today, Brandon Vogt sits down with Dr. Levering to discuss some of the thinkers highlighted in his book and whether it's possible to actually prove God exists.
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The idea that we’re all in the Matrix was actually seriously debated at the American Museum of Natural History’s 2016 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate. Joe Heschmeyer explains three errors at root in this absurd proposition.
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Today the Church celebrates the solemnity of Saint Joseph, the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the guardian of the Christ-child. The scriptures are somewhat silent as to the details of St. Joseph's blessed life. Father Steve tells us how this biblical lack of fanfare is both appropriate and sanctifying, relating the story of Jesus' earthy father to our mission within the life of the Church.
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Today is the widely celebrated feast of St. Patrick, but beyond the beer and parades lies a holy mystic. Tradition holds that in the 5th century, in order to spend a penitential retreat of forty days and forty nights., St. Patrick came to Lough Derg. Fr. Barron visited the same island a few years ago and shares his experience today.
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Lent is not about evening things out with God. As Br. Joachim Kenney explains, since our prayers and sacrifices add nothing to God’s greatness or happiness, they are not primarily for his benefit, but rather for our own.
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It's popular today to identify as 'spiritual, but not religious.' Brother Irenaeus Dunlevy, O.P., explains, though, how the two cannot be effectively separated, how the whole understanding of the spiritual is rooted in religion.
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The theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously distinguished between "cheap grace" and "costly grace." The latter is more precious but also more challenging to receive. Dr. Tom Neal explains today how to find this costly grace in the most unexpected and unpleasant places.
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Saint John Paul II famously said, 'as the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world.”' Brandon Vogt explains how today's saint, St. Frances of Rome, discovered this privileged position of the family, and how it led her to an unexpected encounter with God.
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Today we celebrate two early martyrs in the Church, St. Perpetua and St. Felicity. What can they teach us today? Fr. Steve Grunow reflects on their heroic witness and concludes that their deaths offer a window into the Passion of Christ.
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Last weekend, Bishop Barron delivered a talk at the 2017 Los Angeles Religious Education Congress in Anaheim, CA. He spoke about the need for catechesists, apologists, and evangelists to wake up in light of harrowing statistics showing the Catholic Church is hemorrhaging young people. Half of young Catholics have already left the Church. The percentage of "nones" (i.e., people with no religion) is at an all-time high. So what should we do? Bishop Barron offers his advice, focusing on three areas that deserve special attention.
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A Linguistic Lent

Dr. Tom Neal's spiritual director once advised him to attend to his use of words in Lent, to reflect at the end of each day how he used his words to either reveal or conceal God. What he discovered was that by our words, at every moment, we can become the eloquence of God.
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Today is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the liturgical season of Lent. For so many of us, it means ashes today, sacrifice for weeks, and then a big celebration at the end of it all. But why? What does it all mean? Bishop Barron explains.
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How to Get Ready for Lent

We're just one day away from Lent, the penitential season when we prepare ourselves for Christ's death and resurrection. Fr. Steve Grunow offers his advice on how best to ready ourselves.
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Being an Athlete of Christ

Jared Zimmerer has been a noncompetitive body builder and power lifter for more than a decade. What this has given him — besides muscles — is great spiritual insight in the practice of discipline, the sanctity of the body, and the idea that it takes much more than physical strength to achieve fitness goals. He explains today.
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The Gospel of Work

How can we make our work a spiritual act? Today, Dr. Tom Neal offers some short reflections on how we can develop our own spirituality of work.
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Today is the Feast of St. Polycarp. Father Steve offers his reflection on this early Christian martyr, the political situation in Rome at the time of his life and witness, and the urgency of his message for Christians of our current age, persecuted or otherwise.
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Fr. Steve Grunow comments on the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, reflecting upon the role of St. Peter in the mission of the Church as well as the apostolic succession that ensures that the Church is continuously led by one who "knows who Christ is."
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Hostility toward Catholicism arises for a variety of reasons and can be sustained for generations. To break through some of the negative stereotypes, Fr. Michael Cummins offers his own experiential anecdote and calls to mind the Christ-like lessons learned in the classic film, "Babette's Feast."
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In a recent interview, Avenger’s star Scarlett Johansson, stated that she didn’t think monogamy was ‘natural’. Stating that “It’s a lot of work. And the fact that it is such work for so many people — for everyone — the fact of that proves that it is not a natural thing.” Jared Zimmerer, monogamous husband and father of five children, responds today.
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One of the greatest difficulties that Christians face is the problem of evil. How could an all-good, all-powerful God allow evil and suffering in the world? Matthew Becklo explores that question today with the help of several contemporary films.
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Husband and father of five children, Jared Zimmerer, explains how television's “This is Us” beautifully and aptly displays the painful tension of family life. The constant tug and push of family life ought not to act as a deterrent for others to partake, rather it ought to be viewed as the very alchemy that brings about the true magic of love.
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Today is the Feast of St. Scholastica. Father Steve Grunow reflects upon Scholastica's witness as a beacon of light in a world broken by sin, pointing the way toward a life of fullness in Christ amidst the tainted nature of humanity.
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Today we celebrate the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, the patron saint of Sudan and a powerful intercessor on behalf of the persecuted Sudanese Christians. Rozann Lee reflects on St. Josephine's story, a saint whose great holiness was cultivated in her exuberant love and humble simplicity.
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Some people dismiss the Stations of the Cross as a devotional relic of a bygone generation. But not Gary Jansen. In his beautiful new book, Station to Station: An Ignatian Journey through the Stations of the Cross, Gary recounts how the devotion has changed his life and opened him up new spiritual depths. Today, Word on Fire's Brandon Vogt interviews Gary about the Stations and his new book.
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Today we celebrate the feast of St. Paul Miki and his companions, martyrs who laid down their life for Christ's sake. Br. Raphael Forbing, O.P. suggests this feast is also a time to life up the virtue of heroic friendship.
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The Church commemorates St. Blaise today. While you've likely heard of his association with the "blessing of the throats," you might not know of his "discussions with the wolf." Father Steve Grunow recounts the legends of St. Blaise's extraordinary spiritual works, the truth to which these tales point, and the pinnacle of his earthly life which was no "legend" at all: his heroic martyrdom and the enduring witness of his faith in Christ.
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Today we mark the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, which commemorates Joseph and Mary bringing the infant Jesus to the Temple for his ritual purification. There the Holy Family meets old man Simeon, a mystic who prophesies the baby's exultant future. Ellyn von Huben reflects on this wondrous encounter.
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Fire and Muck

Dr. Tom Neal once heard the Eucharist described as as a “sacrificial ritual enacting a solemn marriage between the fallen muck of earth and fire falling from heaven.” Why not the other Sacraments? And, especially, why not the Sacrament of Reconciliation?
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Today the Church celebrates the Feast of St. John Bosco – a man who devoted his life to helping young people. As Fr. Michael Cummins shares, one of the greatest blessings of our Christian faith is the witness of men and women throughout history who let go of their own needs and worked tirelessly for the good of youth and those generations who were to come after them.
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Fredric Heidemann explains that for Catholicism, beauty is a form of auto-evangelization. The danger is forgetting about the auto-evangelization machine and letting it rust in the corner. Two simple ways to refurbish it? Emphasize sacred music and sacred liturgy.
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Tomorrow we celebrate St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the greatest minds in human history, a saint, a mystic, a scholar, a priest, and a Doctor of the Church. In honor of his feast day, we're sharing ten of Bishop Barron's top resources on the Angelic Doctor.
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Popes and the Soul

In a unique seminary exam, Fr. Damian Ference has his students apply Plato's teachings on the tripartite soul to the last three popes of the Catholic Church (John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis) and offer an argument for identifying each pope with each part.
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St. Francis de Sales was one of the most well-rounded saints in Church history who played a major role in returning tens of thousands of Calvinists to the Catholic Church. Joe Heschmeyer recounts his accomplishments and shows how they were driven by two traits: charity and persistence.
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Teaching high schoolers theology is hard. From dealing with secular indifferentism to religious skepticism, the teacher may be confused where to begin. But Catholic teacher Robert Mixa offers a good approach: start with the Gospel.
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As Dr. Tom Neal explains today, Christianity offers not a hyper-intellectual analysis of virtue, but an invitation to experience the virtuous life. Jesus is not so much the Truth about the Way to Life, but the Way to the Truth that gives Life.
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Some people read the work of Flannery O'Connor, the great Southern novelist, and become apprehensive about the prevalence of violence in her writings. How could this be for a Catholic author who is supposed to be writing about Catholic things? Daniel Stewart explains how the Christian life brings violence with it--death, suffering, self-forgetting--and it's through bearing this violence that we find the fullness of life.
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In honor of Martin Luther King Day, we're sharing two videos from Bishop Barron. The first is his video on why Dr. King still matters to all cultures and ages. The second is a clip from the CATHOLICISM series in which Bishop Barron highlights St. John Paul II's message of peace delivered to the people of Warsaw before the fall of the Soviet Union. King and St. John Paul II changed the course of history with their words and deeds, and today we're invited to continue their promotion of nonviolence.
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Today we celebrate the solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord. Fr. Steve Grunow proposes that we understand the extraordinary revelation of this special day as the fulfillment of the mysteries of the Christmas season.
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Does God only give grace to smart people? Is holiness directly proportional to intelligence or ability? Today offers us a positive example of a man graced with charity apart from much natural intelligence: St. André Bessette.
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Matthew Becklo reviews a NYT bestselling book by Jim Holt titled "Why Does the World Exist? An Existential Detective Story," which examines some of the leading theories today.
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Brother, Come Pet Jolene

If your New Year's Resolutions include loving people better, Joseph Gloor recommends you listen to the song, "Brother" performed by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. Combine the song with prayer and you may find, like he did, a remedy for a daily frustration.
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Wonder-Filled Saints

Tom Neal reflects how in a world plunged deep in dark and divisive cynicism, it is our wonder-filled saints who keep hope alive.
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This Sunday we celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Mother of God. What lesson can be discerned in this revelation? Father Steve Grunow offers his homily as a means to discern how the Incarnation of God in Christ is treasured in the heart of the Church on not only New Year's Day, but every day of the year.
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Today is the Feast of the Holy Innocents, the day in which the Church commemorates the lives of the innocent children lost in the massacre of the first born by King Herod at the time of Christ's birth. Fr. Steve Grunow reflects on the event here, taking a deeper look at the true loss that occurs upon rejecting the advent of Christ.
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On today's Feast of St. John the Evangelist, Bishop Barron explores the magnificent prologue to his Gospel, which he describes as "John the Evangelist’s great Christmas sermon." Packed within these few opening verses is a sublime theology of the Incarnation explaining how and why God became man.
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Father Steve Grunow offers his homily on this the great feast day of the first of the Church's Martyrs — Saint Stephen, who also happens to be Father Steve's namesake. In a time of continual religious persecution around the world, the witness and martyrdom of St. Stephen speaks to the Church in a powerful way.
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Chris Hazell reminds us that God is the one who ultimately brings us to our glorified selves through his love and grace. We cooperate—to be sure—but he is the one responsible. Hazell, explains how keys to unlocking human potential will continue to spring to the fore, but the ultimate hope we have is our trust that perfection rests in the grace of God alone.
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Jacob Bearer argues that Mel Gibson delivers something much more than a “morality play” in Hacksaw Ridge. He balances upon a tightrope in a way that so few directors can: He hits our stomach with raw, wounded humanity, and, then, compels us to strive for greatness.
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In the face of certain gender theories and feminist ideologies which challenge the notion of manhood, the Church needs real men to emerge and serve. Br. Irenaeus Dunlevy, O.P., shares with with us 5 tips from St. Thomas Aquinas on how to “viriliter agite” or in English, "act like a man".
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Is Religion An “Extra”?

One of the great heresies of our modern age is the belief that religion is an insignificant “extra.” The spiritual life is, to those who adopt this attitude marred with indifference, a private affair and nothing more. Today, Matt Nelson stands athwart this wave of relativism with words of everlasting and indestructible truth.
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Fredric Heidemann grew up in a loving, comfortable atheist household of professional scientists. At best, God was a fantasy for half-witted people to compensate their ignorance and make themselves feel better about their own mortality. Today he's a Catholic. What broke the ice? What made me consider God’s existence a real possibility? J.R.R. Tolkien's “The Lord of the Rings.”
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As we head toward the end of 2016, Fr. Damian Ference shares with us his top 10 favorite albums of the year along with an explanation about what makes each set of tunes so great.
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Today's Feast commemorates Saint Lucy, often depicted wearing a wreath of greenery and lit candles around her head and holding a small dish with two eyes. Weird Catholicism? Not so much. Father Steve explains these seemingly strange symbols of St. Lucy's witness and offers a charge for imitation of this beautiful martyr.
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Today we celebrate St. Juan Diego and his encounter with Our Lady of Guadalupe. The miraculous image that appeared on his tilma led to the salvation of millions of souls and powerfully testifies to the truth of the Catholic faith.
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On today's great Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Father Steve Grunow explains how Mary's unique origins do not pose an easy gift but a challenging capacity to love in extraordinary ways.
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Today, the Church celebrates the feast of one of her great doctors, St. Ambrose of Milan, who offers us a model of public Christian witness. Albert Dempsey, O.P., unpacks some of St. Ambrose most helpful teachings as we are now called to witness to our troubled political climate.
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Today, on the Feast Day of St. Nicholas, we're delivering a message: you're being watched. But before any panic sets in, remember it's not a bad thing. Kerry Trotter explores the intercession of both saint and Santa, and how a little gnome on a mantle doesn't hold a candle to the blessed.
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After meeting with some colleagues to discuss lay faith formation, Dr. Tom Neal shares a collage of thoughts about building up the Church's great ambassadors to the secular world.
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Tomorrow marks the feast of one of Catholicism's most prominent missionaries, St. Francis Xavier, who likely evangelized more people than anyone else in Church history. Brandon Vogt explains what we can learn from this prototypical evangelist and how to imitate his unshakable zeal for souls.
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The Idolatry of Anxiety?

We often think of idolatry as the direct worship of false gods, but there’s another way of looking at idolatry, one that is deeply rooted in Scripture: idolatry as a kind of distrust, an insufficient trust in God. This, Joe Heschmeyer explains, is the idolatry of anxiety.
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In Defense of the Crucifix

Matt Nelson offers a defense of the crucifix in a world that often wonders why Catholics adore Christ hanging bloodily on the Cross.
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As we all unwind after Thanksgiving, Dr. Tom Neal blesses us with some fantastic insights about the nature of gratitude, particularly through a Christian lens, and while doing so shares many wonderful quotations about love, happiness, and thankfulness.
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We’ve all heard the Golden Rule a thousand times. But it often gets twisted into one more rule telling you what you can’t do, rather than how to be kind or merciful. Br. Bartholomew Calvano, O.P. helps correct this distortion.
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Maintaining Inner Peace

Our souls can only reflect God’s love and grace if they are calm and delicately moored, as Chris Hazell explains. The peace promised to us by Jesus Christ two millennia ago only flowers in the soil of a serene heart.
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The Apologetics of Witness

Using the example of a little-known saint, St. Eudoxius, Jared Zimmerer encourages an "apologetics of witness" that testifies to Christianity through radical living.
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This weekend the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, more popularly known as Christ the King Sunday. To help you prepare, we're sharing ten of Bishop Barron's best resources on Christ the King. Enjoy!
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Just yesterday, Bishop Robert Barron was chosen by his brother bishops to be the new Chairman of Evangelization and Catechesis for the United States Council of Catholic Bishops. To celebrate his new appointment, we've compiled Bishop Barron's top 10 resources on evangelism and catechesis. Enjoy!
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St. Francis de Sales speaks of the insidious and pervasive temptation to strive toward grand acts of faith at the expense of more humble nods of love. Today, Chris Hazell shares a few ways we can correct this problem.
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During Lent and Advent each year, nearly 300,000 people receive daily reflections from Bishop Barron, and those reflections are still the most popular resources we provide. But when they're over, people inevitably ask, "Why can't we get these the rest of the year??" Well, you asked for it....and now you can! Introducing Bishop Barron's daily Gospel reflections:
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In his excellent book, “Modern Physics and Ancient Faith”, physics professor Stephen M. Barr recounts the typical story of the the universe as told by scientific materialists. Then by linking physics and faith, he shares 5 massive twists to this familiar plot. Here, Brandon Vogt offers a brief summation of Barr's great insights.
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What are you doing to keep your soul and body ready for mission? Veteran weightlifter and broccoli consumer, Fr. Steve Grunow, shares his truly great “7 Principles for Health and Fitness” just in time to save us from any holiday weight-gain!
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Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Charles Borromeo, a 16th century Cardinal whose sanctity helped to lead the Church through a period of great reform. Rozann Lee reflects upon the life of this holy man.
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The Chicago Cubs won the World Series on November 2nd, ending a 108 year drought. A relatively new Chicagoan, Rozann Lee talks about her experience as a new fan of this historic team in the company of so many lifelong supporters.
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Today the Church commemorates the feast-day of St. Martin de Porres, who performed several miracles throughout his life. But as Brother John Baptist Hoang reminds, we should not only remember what people have done in their lives but rather who they are.
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Upon the release of Fox's new television series based on the infamous book/film “The Exorcist”, Father Steve Grunow offers insights and warnings regarding the realities and misrepresentations of the devil, priests, and the Catholic Rite of Exorcism portrayed in this pop-culture genre.
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It's Halloween time, and we love ghost stories. Word On Fire Associate Producer Jack Thornton shares ten favorite rumored Catholic hauntings in America. Take a look and try not to scream...
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During times of great physical, emotional, or psychological suffering, it can be difficult to think straight, to reason with ourselves, to understand the truth that others may be trying to tell us, or to remember God’s goodness and his many blessings. When we or others we know find it challenging to accept God’s love in the midst of trials, let us gaze upon the cross, which communicates to us the visceral reality of God’s love.
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What the Laity Knead

Dr. Tom Neal explains how we need a church that celebrates the extraordinarily ordinary, common bread of lay life, which is uniquely suited for permitting God to carry out His eternal dream: to consecrate every dark corner of creation.
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Saints exist, not for themselves, but for the Church. They are models and intercessors for the rest of us here below. Maybe more than anyone else in the twentieth century, Bishop Robert Barron explains, St. John Paul II modeled the virtues of justice, hope, and love. As we approach his feast day tomorrow, it's worth studying his example.
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One of the main missions of the Church here on Earth is to search for and promote beauty. Our universe, as it has been created and saturated with meaning, depth, and beauty, is a giant exploration map of beautiful and immeasurably fulfilling treasures. Over the past decade, David Stavarz has found one of these treasures in the love, ire, and song of Frank Turner - a folk/punk musician from Hampshire, England.
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Jared Zimmerer explains today how a common thread among most saints is that they failed, and not just once or twice but again and again. But these failures were not stumbling blocks. They were lessons in sanctity.
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Most of us are probably not ready to offer our bodies to the lions as did St. Ignatius of Antioch, whose feast we celebrate tomorrow. But we must remember that it was not on the basis of his own strength that he faced his death. He drew strength from feeding on Christ’s own Eucharistic flesh and blood.
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Tomorrow, on October 15th, the Church celebrates the holiness of St. Teresa of Avila, a doctor of the Church and a master of the Christian spiritual life. Fr. Steve Grunow reflects on this extraordinary saint.
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Shakespeare was a secret Catholic, more and more readers claim. Might he also have been a surreptitious Dominican—a tertiary like St. Catherine of Siena? Br. Jordan Zajac, O.P. explores the question today.
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In 2014, Pope Francis canonized Pope John XXIII. Why was this pope worthy of sainthood? What heroic virtues did he exhibit? Bishop Barron explains on this, his feast day.
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How can we learn to be present to the demands of the present moment? What's the best way to see all of life's joys and trials as coming from the hand of God? Dr. Tom Neal answers these questions using the wisdom of several spiritual masters.
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But Who Created God?

A surprisingly common objection raised by atheists against the idea of God is “who created the Creator?” Joe Heschmeyer handles the challenge today.
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The Heart of St. Francis

There's the cute statue in the garden, the lover of animals, the gentle steward of nature. Then there's the reformed party boy, the slow and reluctant convert, the man who embodied the heart of Christ through his love of the poor. Word on Fire contributor Father Damian Ference takes a look at the real St. Francis of Assisi and shares his thoughts.
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More Than a Rumor of Angels

Today, on this Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Rozann Lee reflects upon the powerful role of the angels and how we can participate in their mission.
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Dr Tom Neal brings to attention a sin that our culture, even the Christian culture has become increasingly comfortable with, namely, detraction. People nowadays feel more free to say dreadful, shameful and embarrassing things in public about other identifiable people.
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Today is the Feast of Sts. Cosmas and Damian, twin brothers and martyrs for the early Church. Word On Fire blog contributor Father Damian Ference took a closer look last year at the saints and taught us that there is more to a name, and a saint, than meets the eye. Today, we share it again with you.
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St. Pio of Pietrelcina, or "Padre Pio," has always been somewhat of a frightening figure to Fr. Steve Grunow. But, for him, Padre Pio evokes the same sort of fright that we speak of when we refer to the "fear" of God. What does it mean and why is it appropriate?
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Lord of the Dance

Dr. Tom Neal compares dance to the liturgy and explains why we should all enjoy the grace and splendor of a good (or goofy) dance session.
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September 21 is the Feast of St. Matthew, a tax collector called in a bold and direct way to abandon his life in order to follow Christ. He answered the call and discovered his vocation as an apostle of the Lord. Here, Father Steve Grunow talks about the power of following— and the tragedy of missing— one's vocation.
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Misfits and Heathens

Dr. Tom Neal shares a story about a young man who found himself in the Mystical Body of Christ and invites us to listen to the Twenty One Pilots song, “Heathens”, as it can relate a similar theme.
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Why Do We Exalt the Cross?

Today the day the Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. In the strange movement of God's grace, the horror of Christ's cross is transformed by his divine power into the means by which God shares communion with us in all things - even in the experiences of suffering and death. Fr. Steve Grunow offers his homily from the Mass he celebrated today.
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Today we celebrate the feast of St. John Chrysostom, a 4th-century Church father and a well-known preacher — hence his moniker, which is a derivation of the Greek word for "golden-mouthed." Father Steve Grunow shares his homily notes on the saint, who like so many heavenly others, paid the ultimate price for the telling of truths.
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Getting Morality Wrong

Back in April, Gail Dines, a sociologist at Wheelock College in Boston, wrote a Washington Post piece arguing that pornography is a public health threat, regardless of its (im)morality. Here, Joe Heschmeyer celebrates her stand against pornography, but argues that Dines and her ilk have a serious misunderstanding of morality.
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This Sunday, we will celebrate the canonization of St. Teresa of Calcutta, known better as Mother Teresa. Br. Leo Camurati shares the four favorite gifts Mother Teresa recounted in her 1979 Nobel Lecture.
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Today marks the official release of Bishop Robert Barron's new film series, “CATHOLICISM: The Pivotal Players”. On this special day, we sit down with Bishop Barron to discuss his new series, look at each of the pivotal players, and learn about what's next for his production team. Enjoy!
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It is hard to find an apologist in the Church today who has not been influenced by the works of C.S. Lewis. But how does one even begin with such a intellectual giant as Lewis? Here are some suggestions you might draw from to get started
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In the parish in which Fr. Michael Cummins serves there is a husband and wife who work in therapeutic massage. A recent conversation with them has Father Cummins thinking in a new way about the parish and even the Body of Christ.
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Father Damian Ference spent the last week of July in the mountains of Tiger, Georgia with well over two hundred teens and their youth ministers at Covecrest, a summer camp run by LifeTeen. Today He recalls some of his extraordinary experiences on that trip.
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Sister Rose Hawthorne discovered the face of Christ in the destitute, disease-ridden, and often "grotesque" patients of the New York care center she established. Flannery O'Connor, long known for her knack for the grotesque, wrote a short story about Sr. Rose, and Rozann Lee reviews it here.
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It's easy to think the Church's great Marian feasts are sentimental or quaint. But really just the opposite is true. Here are Father Barron's reflections on today's Feast of the Queenship of Mary, a dramatic celebration which demands we make a choice: which army are we fighting in? Are we battling alongside the Queen of Heaven or in service of the enemy? That's the question raised by this feast.
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Kreeft, Kids, and Cattle

What is the best way to raise Catholic kids? As Dr. Tom Neal explains, one key may be to stop "raising" them and start loving them.
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The catchy, but now overplayed song, “Stressed Out,” by the band Twenty One Pilots has been labeled a “Millennial anthem,” the battle cry (or is it sigh?) for this generation’s worried, jaded and stressed out youth. Chris Hazell attempts to explain the roots of this anxiety as well as a way out.
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Eschewing the pivotal influence her own wonderful parents had on her, Kerry Trotter delves into the life lessons gleaned from one of pop culture's more questionable role models. One big joke? Hardly, considering the messages of love, forgiveness and faith she's absorbed from everyone's favorite Springfieldians.
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Scripture is filled with references to the human longing to see God’s face, as the face contains and reveals the whole mystery of a person. As Dr. Tom Neal encourages today, we shouldn't ever take others' faced for granted, for they reveal the face of God.
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A month has now passed since the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Finals and perhaps the time is right to look to Mr. James for some important basketball lessons that translate to lessons for good Catholic living.
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Although many remember today's saint, St. Lawrence, for his deathside quip, we shouldn't forget his keen insight into the Church's real treasure. Brandon Vogt introduces us to the saint and his subversive message to the Roman emperor.
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Today is the Feast Day of St. Teresa Benedicta a Croce, or St. Edith Stein, a Jewish convert to Catholicism turned Carmelite nun who was martyred in the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz in 1942. Bishop Barron explores some of the biographical details of this great saint in his book, “The Priority of Christ”, wherein he displays the pervasive virtue that characterized Edith Stein’s vocation and witness.
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What is the crisis that confronted Saint Dominic as he wept in fervent petition at the altar steps? We're inspired to learn from Br. Dominic Verner that Saint Dominic's tears were not shed over a personal crisis, but rather the crisis of those who do not enjoy the salvation offered by Christ.
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Tomorrow the liturgy revisits the story of the Transfiguration from the Gospel of Mark. In a clip from his “CATHOLICISM” series, Bishop Barron reflects upon the way Peter came to know Christ by falling in love with him, and how this love sent him —and us— on mission.
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Dr. Tom Neal has been to a number of music concerts over the years — rock, classical, jazz, country, sacred — and has always found them to be powerful experiences that leave lasting effects. Today he shares with us three similarities between liturgy and music concerts.
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Friends, I've just returned to Los Angeles after joining two million young people last week for the extraordinary World Youth Day events in Kraków, Poland. Each day I shared a video update on my Facebook page, but I thought I'd collect them all for you in one place, in case you missed them.
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Ellyn von Huben has a special connection to St. Alphonsus Liguori: she was born a few doors down from him. Well, from his statue...at his hospital...in Wisconsin. But, as saints do, he has continued to play in influential role in her life. Read about it here, on St. Alphonsus' feast day.
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The Mary/Martha episode in St. Luke's Gospel is a perennial favorite because it resonates with us. We often feel torn between the busy activism of Martha and the simply contemplation of Martha. How can we strike the right balance? Ellyn von Huben explains.
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There’s a tension in the Gospel between Jesus’ command to do good in public so others can see it and glorify God and the command do good in secret so only God sees it. The resolution of this tension is to be found in the intention of the do-gooder: why do you do what you do?
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A sobering article in The New York Times written by Alain de Botton proposes that no matter who we end up marrying, we will ultimately find ourselves disillusioned, disappointed and if not unhappy, bereft of the unadulterated joy we had hoped for and downright expected. While de Botton’s article treads closely along the banks of despair, the Christian understanding of marriage — fallen human beings notwithstanding — is more hopeful.
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Today is the feast of Christ's maternal grandparents, Saints Joachim and Anne. Fr. Steve talks about our curiosity in regard to the earthly life of Jesus and the details of his family-- what we can know and what we can't, but what can still be fruitfully reflected upon.
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Today, the Church commemorates St. James the Greater, the saint after whom the famous pilgrimage through the mountains of Spain, the "Way of Saint James" or "Santiago de Compostela," is named. Father Steve Grunow explains the history of this particular saint and journey, and reflects on the purpose and meaning of a pilgrimage.
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Mary, Mary quite contrary, how does your story go? During a recent content meeting, the subject of St. Mary Magdalene's feast day was raised. "The prostitute, right?" the masses queried. "Actually, no," responded Father Steve Grunow. And thus, a blog post was born. Today he explains how history and a very common name often make for some identity confusion for this most important saint.
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We've been conditioned to think that a true departure from a behavior, pattern or more is a 180º pivot — an about-face that has us heading in the opposite direction. Heather King has another theory, that a truly radical change is a shift of just a few degrees — a few degrees that rights our orientation toward Christ.
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“Why a Catholic funeral?” is a valid and important question. The Catholic funeral is at the heart of who we are as Church – a people gathered, saved and redeemed by Christ our risen Lord! The Catholic funeral is a witness to a secular world that there is a greater context to both life and death. A Catholic funeral speaks to the hearts of the people gathered and even converts hearts that might be hurting and searching.
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Don’t dole out spiritual palliatives when you know the Divine Physician who freely gives the miracle cure. Don’t be nice and polite at the expense of the good. “Be excellent to each other”, says Brother Hyacinth Grubb of the Dominicans of the Province of St. Joseph.
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Today is the feast day of St. Bonaventure, a Doctor of the Church, disciple of St. Francis, and theological contemporary of St. Thomas Aquinas. His dedication to Christ crucified continues to inspire and instruct. Today we share one of his most moving prayers.
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Conversion to Jesus Christ beckoned St. Kateri Tekakwitha into a crucible of sanctity, writes Fr. Steve Grunow today. She accepted it as a privileged gift and her descent into Christ’s invitation made her a living icon of his presence. From her place at the margins, she drew people to the true center, the center is who is Christ.
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Han Urs von Balthasar maintained the best evangelistic strategy is to capture people with the beautiful, then enchant them with the good, and then lead them to the true. Jared Zimmerer explains today how beauty can be a fruitful pathway to God, but only when it avoids the extremes of pornography and puritanism.
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There are a couple things Matt Nelson can appreciate about the “Who designed the Designer?” argument. But he sides with G.K. Chesterton, who acknowledged “the riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man.”
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Saint Benedict's inspired insight was that the Church was not supposed to simply ape the cultures into which she would be embedded, assimilating her people and accommodating her witness to whatever the culture desired. Instead, the Church was to be a source of cultural transformation, whose radical way of life would participate in the transformation of all things in Christ. It is not the role of the Church merely to give sanction to a culture, but to sanctify it, and if necessary, offer a distinctively Christian alternative.
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Back in April, Gail Dines, a sociologist at Wheelock College in Boston, wrote a Washington Post piece arguing that pornography is a public health threat, regardless of its (im)morality. Referencing this sociologist's review, Joe Heschmeyer takes an in-depth look at what morality is (and isn't) with particular attention to how moral law relates to human flourishing.
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With a fairytale ending to Game 7 of the NBA Finals, Cleveland finally sees a championship! Just as some believed the championship victory in Cleveland was a fairytale story, sometimes in our modern culture Heaven can be made into something of a fairytale or a nice idea of where we want to go. Yet, as Christians, we know that Heaven is very real and we always try to live our lives in light of being in Heaven.
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Last week, I waited in line alongside hundreds of people at Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles, hoping to catch a glimpse inside a glass case that held a locket that held a jawbone that held a tooth that once helped speak St. Thomas More’s last recorded words: “God’s first.” As I gazed at the crowd, which spanned all cultures, ages, and economic backgrounds, I smiled at how my great hero, St. Thomas, now speaks the same message to the whole world.
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Someone asked Dr. Tom Neal, “What’s most important to you as a theologian?” His spontaneous response was, “Wonder!” They replied, “What does that mean?” Here’s his explanation...
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Today the Church celebrates the birth of St. John the Baptist. The birth of a child always triggers great change — both with the child and with the the family in which he or she is born. But in the case of St. John, his arrival triggers the birth of a new era for humanity. Father Steve Grunow explains in his homily for today's solemnity.
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We have many different hopes that serve as anchors during turbulent times. Some proximate, some remote. Some trivial, penultimate, some ultimate. Dr. Tom Neal invites you to ask, "Where are my anchors set?"
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Today we celebrate the feast of St. Thomas More, the English statesman known as a patron of religious liberty. What lessons can we learn from his life and witness? Brandon Vogt explains.
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In light of recent tragedies, Chris Hazell explains how the Christian response is not avoidance or numbness in the midst of our suffering neighbors, no matter how great or small. Indifference has no place in the hearts of God’s people, rather we ought overflow with abiding love.
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Pope Francis has given us this Jubilee year to remind of us of this marvelous place between lax indulgence and priggish perfectionism called mercy. Here, Dr. Tom Neal explains how mercy is the most human aspect of our faith.
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A truly penitent Catholic knows there is a difference between getting something off one's chest and asking for forgiveness from a priest in Confession, but few people can explain it as eloquently as writer Heather King. We're sharing a recent blog post of hers, and we hope it will ring as meaningfully true for you as it did for us.
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Mourning the terrible shootings in Orlando, Fr. Michael Cummins draws together scenes from the recent film, Risen, to illustrate how the peace of Christ's resurrection remains our ultimate desire as we plead for a day without death.
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For Word on Fire blog contributor Ellyn von Huben, summertime means books. Sometimes they're new, sometimes they're old, but they're always worthwhile. Today she reflects on author Ray Bradbury, one of her favorites.
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Marriage and religious life are often put on pedastals by folks on the outside looking in. Word on Fire contributor Fr. Damian Ference discusses the tendency to romanticize what we don't have, and highlights the need to accept the cross in both vocations.
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After spending a semester at the JPII Institute in Washington, DC, and then returning to his Chicago suburban home, Robert Mixa has been thinking about cities and how they shape our souls. Today, he offers some insights into cities, suburbs and the meaning of the good life.
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