In this episode of the Word on Fire Show we hear one of the world's great theologians unpack one of the richest texts in all of ancient scripture. Thomas Aquinas College hosts Bishop Robert Barron, as he speaks on "David Dancing Before the Ark: The Liturgical Theology Implicit in 2nd Samuel" as part of the St. Vincent de Paul Lecture and Concert Series. In Part One of the Bishop's great talk, he describes David as a new Adam, a priestly figure whose liturgical practices bring to bear revelations about the strangeness of God.
IMPORTANT: Use coupon code SAM5 to save $5 on your copy of 2 Samuel by Bishop Barron

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The Internet has produced the most profound shift in communications since the printing press, and many in the Church are using it to spread the Gospel. But how best to do it? How do we share our faith online without succumbing to the toxicity and vitriol that saturate much of the digital world? Bishop Barron discusses these questions today and shares his own advice for becoming an online missionary. A listener asks how he should respond when sharing his faith on Facebook provokes criticism.

Topics Discussed

  • 0:18  - Three digital milestones at Word on Fire
  • 2:25 - How Bishop Barron got started with new media evangelization
  • 5:35 - Most surprising part about YouTube
  • 6:44 - Engaging YouTube commenters
  • 7:37 - How the Internet is like a "new Areopagus"
  • 9:15 - Why Bishop Barron's online style is effective
  • 11:03 - How Bishop Barron handles online vitriol
  • 15:32 - Social media's unique dynamic
  • 16:55 - Do we need a theology of new media?
  • 21:08 - Bishop Barron's advice for new media evangelists
  • 23:19 - What role should new media play in priestly formation?
  • 24:38 - Question from listener: How should we discuss our beliefs on social media?

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On the first day of the calendar year, the Church celebrates The Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. This day honors the Blessed Virgin Mary under the aspect of her motherhood of Jesus. With her great "yes" to the Divine Will, Mary effectively reverses the negative trajectory caused by the great "no" of the world's first woman, Eve. Today's episode of the Word on Fire Show discusses how Mary, the Mother of God, represents the New Eve who ushers forth the New Adam, the Savior of the World, Jesus Christ. The listener question asks about the perpetual virginity of Mary. Topics Discussed
  • 0:17  Introduction: Bishop celebrates the Virgin of Guadalupe in Los Angeles
  • 5:08 - Why is the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God so important
  • 7:02 - What is the controversy behind calling Mary "The Mother of God"?
  • 9:40 - Why were people parading through the streets when Mary was named "Theotokos"?
  • 11:05 - How does Mary compare to Eve?
  • 14:13 - What is the theological foundation for reverencing Mary?
  • 16:10 - Was Mary aware of her role in salvation history?
  • 18:16 - How should we understand the Angel's words to Mary, "Hail, full of grace"?
  • 19:40 - How is Mary the first disciple?
  • 21:03 - How should we respond to Protestants or those who say that we ought not reverence Mary?
  • 22:40 - Question from listener: What is the necessity of the Marian doctrine regarding Mary's perpetual virginity?

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St. Luke’s telling of the Christmas story, which is read at Midnight Masses all over the Catholic world, commences by invoking the first-century’s most powerful man: “In those days Caesar Augustus published a decree ordering a census of the whole world.” Then the story continues by introducing a new King, one born in straw poverty, wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a feeding trough. This is the poetry by which God enters into our world, not as a tyrant surrounded by powers of earthly violence but as a fragile baby surrounded by an army of heavenly angels set to usher him to the cross. Today's episode of the Word on Fire Show discusses this subversive Christmas tale and encourages us to consider which king we choose to follow. The listener question asks about the relationship between mind, body, and spirit. Topics Discussed
  • 0:17  - Introduction: What was Word on Fire doing in New York City?
  • 3:40 - What is the political backdrop of the Christmas story?
  • 5:42 - Who were Mary and Joseph of Nazareth?
  • 8:00 - What is the significance of Bethlehem?
  • 9:50 - How strange is it that God came in the form of a baby?
  • 12:33 - What is the significance of the manger?
  • 13:32 - How does The Lord of the Rings relate to the Christmas story?
  • 16:00 - Why is the birth of this baby good news for the shepherds?
  • 17:42 - What is the terrifying undertone signaled by the angels who appear above the manger?
  • 20:45 - How might Catholics get in the Christmas spirit?
  • 21:47 - Question from listener: What is the relationship between the body, mind, and spirit?

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The most recent meeting of the United States Council of Catholic Bishops ended with a prayer service and a sermon by Archbishop Peter Sartain, wherein his excellency referenced the mystical prayers of St. Catherine of Siena. In this episode, Bishop Robert Barron recounts this wonderful sermon and reflects on the use of the word "thee" in St. Catherine's prayers as well as the common prayers of the Church. Bishop explains that the purpose of this sort of language is to remind us of the intimacy we share in God through the Son. Sharing this personal relationship with Jesus is the real purpose of evangelization. The listener question wonders about the purpose of petitionary prayer. Topics Discussed
  • 0:15  - Introduction, information about the USCCB meeting and Bishop Barron's newly elected office
  • 3:53 - Word on Fire Show reaches 1 million downloads
  • 4:30 - Overview of Archbishop Sartain's Sermon
  • 9:03 - What language did Jesus use when he prayed?
  • 11:25 - How does the language we use about God relate to evangelization?
  • 13:10 - How do we navigate the fact that God is so far beyond us but also so intimately near?
  • 15:38 - What are some common misunderstandings about how to speak about God?
  • 18:15 - How do we grow in intimacy with the Lord?
  • 20:47 - Question from listener: When does it make sense to participate in petitionary prayer?

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“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me” is the simplest form of the Jesus Prayer. Bishop Robert Barron has professed the spiritual power of this short prayer for decades and was recently reintroduced to The Way of a Pilgrim, a short book, which narrates one man's quest to "pray without ceasing" by way of the Jesus Prayer. This episode serves as an encouragement for all Christians to adopt this prayer, which has long been a revered tradition in the Eastern Orthodox Church. The listener question comes from an atheist who wonders what, precisely, is the correct way to read the Bible. Topics Discussed
  • 0:17  - Introduction, background information about “The Way of a Pilgrim”
  • 2:53 - Spiritual greatness of the Eastern Orthodox tradition
  • 5:17 - What is the Jesus Prayer and how do you pray it?
  • 7:50 - What happens after you pray the Jesus Prayer 1,000 times?
  • 9:03 - What is the difference between mindful route prayers and mindless babbling?
  • 10:40 - How can the Jesus Prayer become an extension of your body and soul?
  • 13:29 - What happens to the pilgrim in the story? (Spoiler Alert)
  • 15:28 - What is the one thing you cling to most?
  • 18:30 - What is the connection between “The Way of the Pilgrim” and TV's “Vikings”
  • 20:32 - What advice does Bishop Barron have for helping us detach ourselves from the material world?
  • 22:00 - Question from listener: How ought an atheist read the Bible?

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One of the most popular forms of content at Word on Fire continues to be Bishop Robert Barron's theological commentaries about movies. In fact, the very first Youtube video Word On Fire ever produced was a commentary on Martin Scorsese's Oscar-Winning film, “The Departed.” Since then, the bishop has reviewed dozens of movies and received high praise for his spiritual interpretations, even from the films' own directors. So for this episode, we thought we would ask Bishop Barron to share his ideas about two recent movies, namely, “Doctor Strange" and “Hacksaw Ridge” (SPOILER ALERT). The listener question asks where we Christians should draw the line for viewing graphic content. Topics Discussed
  • 0:17  - Introduction, Cubs win the World Series
  • 5:45 - What is the premise of “Doctor Strange”? (Spoiler Alert)
  • 9:12 - How does “Doctor Strange” participate in the religious tradition?
  • 12:49 - How do modern films profess a kind of Gnostic spirituality?
  • 18:40 - What is the premise of “Hacksaw Ridge”? (Spoiler Alert)
  • 21:39 - How does “Hacksaw Ridge” witness to both a violent and nonviolent fight against evil?
  • 24:36 - How is the protagonist in “Hacksaw Ridge” a man of the bible?
  • 26:04 - Question from listener: Where should Christians draw the line when it comes to graphic content in art?

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Bishop Robert Barron recently had the privilege of speaking to around nine thousand students from the Catholic middle schools and high schools of the Los Angeles Archdiocese. Encouraged by their enthusiasm, he invited them to internalize three spiritual truths as they come of age. In today's episode, Bishop Barron recounts the event and explains some lessons that all Catholics but particularly young Catholics need to take to heart. The listener question asks what Gospel passages are difficult for the bishop to come to terms with and how Catholics ought internalize Jesus' more troubling messages. Topics Discussed
  • 0:17  - Introduction, The Word on Fire Show 50th Episode, Youth Event Details
  • 2:50 - Lesson 1: The Law of the Gift, what does that mean?
  • 5:55 - What do you say to someone who claims total happiness in the secular world?
  • 8:49 - How does St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta represent the Law of the Gift?
  • 10:35 - Lesson 2: Spiritual Excellence, why not settle for spiritual mediocrity?
  • 12:50 - How does Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati best represent aspiring young Catholics?
  • 14:30 - What does it mean to say that holiness is broad, vibrant, and colorful?
  • 16:45 - Lesson 3: Be a Rebel! What is true rebellion?
  • 19:36 - Who is Jose Sanchez del Rio?
  • 22:57 - Question from listener: What does Bishop Barron consider to be the most difficult messages of Jesus? How ought we wrestle with them?

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Normally, in each episode we take one listener question. But we've received such a large number of outstanding questions from around the globe that we’ve decided to devote another episode to answering a range of questions from listeners like you. Bishop Barron answers several questions, rapid fire, on many different topics.

Topics Discussed

  • 0:24  - Intro: Bishop Barron talks about the PBS premier of Pivotal Players
  • 3:00 - If goodness is just part of God's nature, why are we under any obligation to make ourselves into good human beings?
  • 6:11 - What is the Catholic way of dating?
  • 8:35 - What is the difference between hope and wishful thinking?
  • 12:19 - How do you explain Old Testament animal sacrifice to vegans?
  • 15:10 - Is evil really just an absence of good or a force of its own, opposing the Kingdom of God?
  • 19:45 - How do we reconcile centuries old philosophy with modern science?
  • 23:35 - Why do we focus so much on interpreting the Greek words in scripture when anything Jesus spoke was in Aramaic?
  • 26:30 - How does a new parent, busy parent find time to deepen her prayer life?

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October 31st, 2016 marked the beginning of the 500th year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, which is decidedly the greatest split in Christian Church history. Pope Francis traveled to Sweden that Halloween weekend to meet with Lutheran Church leaders, commemorate the historical significance of the Reformation, and emphasize unity amongst the Christian faithful. In today's episode, Bishop Barron offers a brief history of the Reformation and explains his hopes for continued dialogue between Protestants and Catholics. The listener question asks about St. Augustine's views on the theological topic of predestination. Topics Discussed
  • 0:17  - Introduction, Bishop's meeting with Pastor Rick Warren
  • 2:50 - What is the Reformation and who were the major players?
  • 5:13 - What are some points of doctrinal contention in the Reformation?
  • 6:40 - What does Bishop Barron make of Pope Francis' visit with the Lutherans?
  • 09:21 - Why is it a sign of respect that Protestants can't receive Catholic Communion?
  • 12:10 - Was the Reformation an entirely bad thing?
  • 15:08 - What is the Catholic Counter-Reformation?
  • 17:00 - Should Catholics actively try to convert Protestants?
  • 19:02 - What should the Catholic Church do to end this schism?
  • 20:38 - Question from listener: What does St. Augustine think about predestination and what does the Church teach about it?

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