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UPDATE: Judiciary Committee votes to send Barrett nomination to full Senate

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to serve on the Supreme...

St. John Paul II and the Magna Anima

These days, I am slowly and prayerfully making my way through the Word on Fire Bible (it’s the only way to read it—such is the depth and beauty on every page). One idea that keeps coming up in the commentary by Bishop Barron is the contrast between the pusilla anima and the magna anima. Briefly, the pusilla anima is a smallness of soul that results from living within the confines of our own needs and desires and that prevent us from seeing much beyond that. In contrast, the magna anima is a soul that has been expanded and stretched by the love of God and the vision of the Gospel to make space for everyone. This is the soul that surrenders itself to God’s will and dares to dream bigger and higher about who God wants us to become.  The one with a magna anima is like Mary whose…

UPDATE: Society of the Divine Word marks 125 years of ministry in North America

CLEVELAND (CNS) — Arriving in the United States as a refugee from Vietnam in 1980,...

UPDATE: Pope has history of defending marriage, but being open to some civil unions

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis often has expressed openness to the idea of laws...

The Way of Knowing: How Your Dog Can Teach Your Skepticism

Imagine, after going through the drive-thru of your favorite fast-food restaurant, you are greeted at the door of your home by your loving dog. Your dog recognizes you, is excited to see you, and begins to wag its tail. However, it takes mere seconds for him to smell the food and he begins to bark (and will continue) until you open the bag and share your spoils. As you take out a fry and throw it across the room, the dog rushes over and devours what is perceived as rightly his. Our experience of animals leads us to naturally believe that animals possess knowledge. For example, the dog in the above scenario knew that you were home and knew that there was food to be eaten. She might not have the ability to reflect on important matters or make sophisticated calculations, but she does possess knowledge. Some philosophers think the…

Satan Recognizes Christ’s Body. Do We?

Recent studies suggest that many Catholics do not believe that the Eucharist is the Body of Christ. But there is someone who has no doubt about it—Satan. He knows that what looks like bread on Catholic altars and in tabernacles is really the Body of his Crucified and Risen Vanquisher, Jesus Christ. He knows that in this sacrament, Christ unites his faithful to himself. He knows the Eucharist is food for our journey to heaven. He knows that the Body of Christ binds the Church in love, making her triumph over the gates of hell. And he hates it. So Satan battles against the Eucharist with all the foolish might with which he fought God’s angels when he first rebelled. He persecutes the Eucharist with the envy and anger with which he went after Christ in the temptations and the Passion. The Enemy usually does battle by spreading…

Tianna Williams: Leading with Beauty and Trusting in God

Today Matt Nelson sits down with Canadian artist Tianna Williams to discuss her work, as well as the methods and inspiration behind her paintings of the faces of Mary and the Saints. Could you begin by telling us about your upbringing? Were you raised Catholic? My father is a Catholic evangelist and musician. My mother, a graphic designer by trade (who also has a beautiful voice and sang backup), managed much of the ministry behind-the-scenes. From my youngest years, my parents led our family in faith and prayer. Some of my earliest memories include learning how to clap to a worship song my dad wrote—one two three, four five—and running around in the back of the church while the adults around me raised their hands and voices in praise. When I was a bit older, my dad regularly brought my sisters and I to daily Mass before school. We…

Mr. Manna: In Praise of Demanding Teachers

Frank Manna was a master teacher who built a legendary high school band by making his students pass through a crucible. At times as ruthless as Terrence Fletcher—the jazz band instructor in the movie Whiplash—Manna demanded absolute perfection from his students. His teaching style would not work for everyone, yet there is something praiseworthy about it and perhaps in need of emulation in our times. Teachers should not be afraid to be demanding; they should study the legendary taskmaster of Chicago’s South Side and learn to do it well.  He was my high school band director. My first encounter with Mr. Manna was at a marching band practice that felt more like bootcamp. I was part of the last all-male class at Marist High School, toward the end of Manna’s teaching career. It also happened to be the highlight of Manna’s musical…

Accepting the Most Royal of Invitations: To Suffer

Let’s begin with something that is painfully obvious: Life is hard, and nobody gets out of it without a measure of suffering. No one. We need only look at the crucifix to understand the truth of it—to see the very embodiment of innocence and goodness brought into a torture and torment most unjust, enduring his suffering unto death. We need only look at the Woman, his mother, standing with him, never leaving his side, but instead consenting to suffer her own agonies as her baby, her adored little boy, is shredded, drained of his lifeblood before her eyes, defiled unto death and even beyond. The Woman—the Theotokos, the God-bearer—and her son, the God-man, consented to endure their trials because their sufferings were meant both to effect something and teach something to all of humanity. First, that the God of creation and salvation and sanctification is The God Who Knows. The pains…

Stealth Evangelization Through Music and Beauty

One of the eight principles of the Word on Fire movement is “leading with beauty.” This principle is on glorious display in the newly produced Word on Fire Bible, where beautiful art illustrates the Word of God in visible form and is an extension to our senses of the written Word placed beside it. This edition of the Gospels got me thinking of the multiple ways the Word of God can be communicated through means other than the written Word. I think here of sacred art, mosaics, iconography, frescoes, architecture, and, of course, music. Over the centuries, it was through the medium of music that the Psalms were prayed, the Scriptures were proclaimed, and God was praised in the liturgy. Music was, and continues to be, a wonderful gift from God through which he can speak to us and uplift us in worship and praise. From the Old Testament, we…