There's a common tendency to read the opening chapters of Genesis as scientific texts. But is this the best way? Or even the right way? Bishop Barron offers guidance on how to properly understand the Biblical creation story. A listener wonders how we should manage the relationship between Church and state.

Topics Discussed

  • 1:05 - The most surprising part about being a bishop
  • 2:29 - How do people often misread Genesis?
  • 5:01 - Why the Genesis narratives cannot be scientific
  • 6:23 - What genre is Genesis 1-2?
  • 7:43 - The main theological insights in Genesis 1-2
  • 9:41 - How Genesis 1-2 points forward to the non-violence of Jesus
  • 11:29 - The objects of creation are not worshiped
  • 14:39 - Why it's important that the world is created, not divine
  • 16:49 - What it means that man was made in God's "image and likeness"
  • 18:25 - The first man as the first philosopher
  • 20:24 - How the Church Fathers read Genesis
  • 21:58 - What Genesis 1-2 is ultimately trying to teach us
  • 23:16 - Question from listener: how do we balance the relationship between Church and state?

Bonus Resources

As Bishop Barron shows in his new book, Vibrant Paradoxes, Catholicism is both/and, not either/or. It celebrates the union of contraries—grace and nature, faith and reason, Scripture and tradition, body and soul—in a way that the full energy of each opposing element remains in place. In this episode, Bishop Barron explores several examples of this both/and embrace. A listener asks about the difficult passage in Acts 5 involving Ananias and Sapphira.

Topics Discussed

  • 0:22 - Exciting upcoming events for Bishop Barron
  • 2:04 - What does it mean to say Catholicism is "both/and"
  • 5:29 - G.K. Chesterton on red, white, and the Church's healthy hatred of pink
  • 7:42 - Why Catholics "want it all"
  • 8:38 - The extreme demands of sin and mercy
  • 11:25 - Why reason and faith are no mutually exclusive
  • 15:58 - Faith/reason in the realm of science
  • 17:59 - Bruce Jenner and the dichotomy of matter and spirit
  • 21:59 - How discipline leads to real freedom
  • 25:53 - The path from suffering to joy
  • 27:59 - Question from listener: how can we reconcile the loving, non-violent Jesus with the angry God who kills Ananias and Sapphira?

Bonus Resources

Thomas Aquinas not only shaped the Church, but influenced much of Western civilization. Who was this great saint? What are some of his important writings? And how should we begin to read his masterful Summa theologiae? Bishop Barron offers some answers in this week's episode. A bright 14-year-old listener asks about Bertrand Russell's famous criticism of Aquinas, and how to respond.

Topics Discussed

  • 0:27 - Updates from Bishop Barron's life
  • 1:53 - How did Bishop Barron discover Thomas Aquinas?
  • 3:23 -  Who was Thomas Aquinas?
  • 4:45 - Surveying Aquinas' major works
  • 7:42 - Best entry-level books on Thomas Aquinas
  • 10:03 - Aquinas' unique disputatio style
  • 13:07 - How Thomas Aquinas would engage the New Atheists
  • 15:36 - Why is it worth reading Thomas Aquinas?
  • 17:16 - How should we begin reading the Summa theologiae?
  • 19:40 - The landscape and structure of the Summa
  • 21:44 - Why Aquinas is a spiritual master
  • 24:40 - Question from listener: how to respond to Bertrand Russell's crtiqiue of Aquinas?

Bonus Resources

Normally, in each episode we take one listener question. But today, we've devoted the entire episode to questions from listeners like you. Bishop Barron answers several questions, rapid fire, on many different topics.

Topics Discussed

  • 0:57 - What stood out to Bishop Barron in the Pope's new exhortation?
  • 3:31 - How to respond to people who see Catholicism as inherently violent and dangerous?
  • 8:06 - What are some book recommendations for a beginner in philosophy?
  • 11:56 - How has being fluent in multiple languages helped you in ministry?
  • 15:03 - What should we make of violent passages in the Bible, like those in the Psalms?
  • 18:20 - Does making Christ our center require us sacrificing our intellect?
  • 21:39 - How do you maintain humility in light of success?
  • 24:40 - What books has Bishop Barron been reading lately?

Bonus Resources

What does God want me to do with my life? And how can I discern God's will for my day-to-day decisions? We all ask these questions and today Bishop Barron offers his advice. A listener also asks how Bishop Barron discerned his own call to the priesthood.

Topics Discussed

  • 0:30 - Bishop Barron's recent Confirmations
  • 1:39 - The most difficult part about celebrating Confirmations
  • 2:31 - How do we discern our vocation or state in life?
  • 6:08 - How to specifically discern the priesthood or religious life?
  • 10:33 - Encouragement for people afraid of discerning the wrong path
  • 13:20 - How to discern God's will in day-to-day decisions
  • 18:42 - The role of circumstances in discernment
  • 22:47 - Question from listener: how did Bishop Barron discern his call to the priesthood?

Bonus Resources

How did God use a little-known seminary professor to launch a worldwide evangelization ministry? Bishop Barron shares the story behind his Word on Fire ministry, including the many twists and turns along the way. A Protestant listener who is interested in Catholicism asks for some good book recommendations.

Topics Discussed

  • 1:14 - Bishop Barron's education at CUA and the Institut Catholique de Paris
  • 5:00 -  Cardinal George's influence on Word on Fire
  • 6:39 - How do we "evangelize the culture"?
  • 8:13 - Early homilies on the radio and Internet
  • 10:19 - Bishop Barron posts first video on YouTube
  • 13:38 - Reaching people online who would never enter a church
  • 16:32 - Where did the idea for the CATHOLICISM series come from?
  • 21:31 - How the CATHOLICISM series aired on PBS
  • 23:22 - The new follow-up film series, CATHOLICISM: The Pivotal Players
  • 25:28 - The influence of Mother Angelica on Bishop Barron's work
  • 27:50 - Question from listener: what are some good books for someone curious about Catholicism?

Bonus Resources

WordOnFire.org Through the Years

WOF-2001

WordOnFire.org circa 2001

  WOF-2005

WordOnFire.org circa 2005

  WOF-2010

WordOnFire.org circa 2010

  WOF-2016

WordOnFire.org circa 2016

During this Easter season, when Christians around the world celebrate the rising of Jesus from the dead, Bishop Barron looks reflects on the evidence for this extraordinary event and what it means for us today. A listener asks, in response to a previous episode, how to teach our kids about God without watering down the faith.

Topics Discussed

  • 0:24 - Bishop Barron's first Easter as a bishop
  • 1:19 - Why the resurrection of Jesus is the central claim of Christianity
  • 4:35 - Why did Jesus keep his resurrection shrouded a bit in mystery
  • 6:44 - The difference between resurrection, reincarnation, and resuscitation
  • 9:29 - Why did Jesus retain the wounds of crucifixion after he rose from the dead?
  • 11:47 - Alternative theories proposed by resurrection skeptics
  • 13:54 - Can the resurrection of Jesus be reduced to a symbol or metaphor?
  • 17:50 - What's the ultimate meaning of the resurrection?
  • 19:13 - How should we proclaim the Good News of the resurrection today?
  • 20:48 - The significance of Christianity being rooted in history
  • 23:13 - Question from listener: how best to pass on the faith to kids

Bonus Resources

Today we discuss a viral video from Bill Nye the Science Guy, a pop-science leader, who wonders whether philosophy can provide any real answers to the questions of life. A listener asks whether Bishop Barron would accept an invitation to appear on HBO's "Real Time" with religious skeptic Bill Maher.

Topics Discussed

  • 0:16 - Bishop Barron updates us on recent talks/events
  • 1:41 - Viral Bill Nye the Science YouTube video on science and philosophy
  • 3:42 - Is philosophy really dragging behind science or, worse, is it dead?
  • 8:19 - Does philosophy ever provide answers that overturn common sense?
  • 8:58 - Bill Nye's most interesting philosophical questions
  • 12:03 - Does truth require consensus in either science or philosophy?
  • 14:17 - David Hume and hyper-skepticism
  • 15:44 - How skepticism toward philosophy erodes the foundation of science
  • 19:31 - Bill Nye comments on René Descartes
  • 21:13 - The problem of dismissing philosophy without understanding it
  • 23:34 - Bill Nye's shift from philosophy's ability to net you a job
  • 28:55 - Question from listener: Would Bishop Barron accept an invitation to appear on Bill Maher's show?

Bonus Resources

Today we're sharing the second part of a talk Bishop Barron recently gave titled "Against the YouTube Heresies." (If you missed the first part, be sure to listen to it first!) Modeled after St. Irenaeus' classic work from the second century, Against the Heresies, Bishop Barron identifies the most common objections people have to Christianity today, especially on the Internet, and then shows us how to respond. Enjoy! (Note: You can now pre-order Bishop Barron's newest book, Vibrant Paradoxes: The Both/And of Catholicism. For a limited time, when you pre-order the book, we'll also send you a FREE CD containing reflections from Bishop Barron on the Resurrection. So be sure to pre-order your copy today!)

Bonus Resources

Today we're sharing the first part of a talk Bishop Barron recently gave titled "Against the YouTube Heresies." Modeled after St. Irenaeus' classic work from the second century, Against the Heresies, Bishop Barron identifies the most common objections people have to Christianity today, especially on the Internet, and then shows us how to respond. You'll hear the first half of the talk in this episode, and the second half in the next episode. Enjoy! (Note: You can now pre-order Bishop Barron's newest book, Vibrant Paradoxes: The Both/And of Catholicism. For a limited time, when you pre-order the book, we'll also send you a FREE CD containing reflections from Bishop Barron on the Resurrection. So be sure to pre-order your copy today!)

Bonus Resources