Fr. Robert Barron

March 18, 2014
'Cosmos' and one more telling of the tired myth
By Father Robert Barron

Seth MacFarlane, well known atheist and cartoonist, is the executive producer of the remake of “Cosmos,” which recently made its national debut. The first episode featured, along with the science, an animated feature dealing with the sixteenth century Dominican friar Giordano Bruno, who was burned at the stake by Church officials. A brooding statue of Bruno stands today in the Campo de’ Fiori in Rome on the very spot where the unfortunate friar was put to death. In MacFarlane’s...

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February 27, 2014
A Message in Blood: ISIS and the Meaning of the Cross
By Father Robert Barron

Last week, the attention of the world was riveted to a deserted beach in northern Libya, where a group of twenty one Coptic Christians were brutally beheaded by masked operatives of the ISIS movement. In the wake of the executions, ISIS released a gruesome video entitled “A Message in Blood to the Nation of the Cross.” I suppose that for the ISIS murderers the reference to “the Nation of the Cross” had little sense beyond a generic designation for Christianity. Sadly for most...

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February 18, 2014
'Priest, Prophet and King'
By Father Robert Barron

A classic characterization of Jesus is that he is priest, prophet, and king.  As priest, he sanctifies, that is to say, he reestablishes the lost link between divinity and humanity; as prophet, he speaks and embodies the divine truth; and as king, he leads us on the right path, giving guidance to the human project.  You might say that, as priest, he is the life; as prophet, he is the truth; and as king he is the way.

Not only is this munus triplex (triple office) a rich way to...

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February 10, 2014
Extreme demand, extreme mercy: the Catholic approach to morality
By Father Robert Barron

The Catholic Church is often criticized as rigorist, unrealistic, and unbending, especially in regard to its teaching on sexuality.  How could anyone, we hear over and again, possibly live up to the Church’s demands concerning masturbation, artificial contraception, or sex outside of marriage, etc.?  Moreover, every poll that comes out suggests that increasing numbers of Catholics themselves don’t subscribe to these moral demands.  Few expect the Church to acquiesce to the moral...

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May 07, 2013
The adventure of classical morality
By Father Robert Barron

One of the most significant fault lines in Western culture opened up in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when what we now know as the “modern” world separated itself from the classical and medieval world. The thinking of Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Kant, Newton, Jefferson, and many others represented a sea change in the way Western people looked at practically everything. In almost every telling of the story, this development is presented as an unmitigated good. I rather...

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April 15, 2013
'Gay marriage' and the breakdown of moral argument
By Father Robert Barron

In his classic text After Virtue, the philosopher Alisdair MacIntyre lamented, not so much the immorality that runs rampant in our contemporary society, but something more fundamental and in the long run more dangerous; namely, that we are no longer even capable of having a real argument about moral matters. The assumptions that once undergirded any coherent conversation about ethics, he said, are no longer taken for granted or universally shared. The result is that, in regard to questions...

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March 18, 2013
The new Francis
By Father Robert Barron

I had an excellent vantage point for the presentation of Pope Francis to the world, for I was doing commentary for NBC News from a perch above St. Peter’s Square.  I will confess that my initial impression was negative, not because he was a relative surprise or because he wasn't from the United States, but because, for more than a minute, he stood ramrod straight, hands at his side, and not smiling. I remember saying to his image on the TV monitor: “Do something!” 

Then — praise...

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March 13, 2013
Garry Wills agonistes
By Father Robert Barron

The hermeneutical key to Garry Wills’s preposterous book "Why Priests? A Failed Tradition" can be found in the second chapter, which is a memoir of the author’s Catholic boyhood in the 1940s and 1950s. He recalls a time when lay people were denied access to the chalice, when Catholic grade school children worried about what happened to the consecrated host once it entered their intestines, when cossetted and pampered priests wore “fiddle-back” vestments, maniples, and birettas,...

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February 19, 2013
To evangelize through beauty
By Father Robert Barron

In his masterpiece Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh implicitly lays out a program of evangelization that has particular relevance to our time.

“Brideshead” refers, of course, to a great manor house owned by a fabulously wealthy Catholic family in the England of the 1920’s. In the complex semiotic schema of Waugh’s novel, the mansion functions as a symbol of the Catholic Church, which St. Paul had referred to as the “bride of Christ.” To Brideshead comes, at the invitation of...

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January 29, 2013
Putting teeth back into Faith, Hope, and Love
By Father Robert Barron

St. Paul famously tells the Corinthians that there are “three things that last:  faith, hope, and love.”  At this Pauline prompt, the Christian tradition has identified these three as the “theological” virtues, meaning those features that come as a unique gift and (from?) God and that serve as the structuring elements of a properly spiritual life.  They are also today massively misunderstood, and this misunderstanding has, I would contend, contributed mightily to the dismissing of...

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