Bishop Robert Barron

Bishop Robert Barron

Bishop Robert Barron is an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Contact him at www.wordonfire.org.

Website URL: http://www.wordonfire.org

Pope Paul VI, prophet

This coming July, we will mark the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s deeply controversial encyclical letter Humanae Vitae. I won’t bore you with the details of the innumerable battles, disagreements and ecclesial crises that followed upon this text. Suffice it to say that this short, pithily argued letter became a watershed in the post-conciliar Catholic Church and one of the most significant points of contention between liberals and conservatives. Its fundamental contention is that the moral integrity of the sexual act is a function of the coming together of its “procreative and unitive” dimensions. That is to say, sexual intercourse is ethically upright only in the measure that it is expressive of love between married partners and remains open to the conception of a child. When, through a conscious choice, the partners introduce an artificial block to procreation — when, in a word, they separate the unitive and procreative finalities of the sexual act — they do something which is contrary to God’s will.

What is happening at Mass?

As many Catholics know, the Second Vatican Council famously referred to the liturgy as the “source and summit of the Christian life.” And following the prompts of the great figures of the liturgical movement in the first half of the 20th century, the council fathers called for a fuller, more conscious and more active participation in the liturgy on the part of Catholics.

Peter Claver vs. Immanuel Kant

One of the greatest heroes of the social justice wing of the church is, quite rightly, the 17th-century “slave of the slaves,” St. Peter Claver. Born in Barcelona, Claver joined the Society of Jesus and was known, even as a young man, as a person of deep intelligence and piety. Spurred by what he took to be the direct prompting of the Holy Spirit, the young Spaniard volunteered to work among the poor in what was then known as “New Spain.” Arriving in Cartagena, he saw the unspeakable degradation of the captives brought in chains by ship from Africa, and he resolved to dedicate his life to serving them.

Grace or karma?

Just a few weeks ago, I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Stephen Davis, retired professor of the philosophy of religion at Claremont University. In preparation for the meeting, I read Dr. Davis’ book called Christian Philosophical Theology, which includes a chapter contrasting two basic approaches to religion throughout the world. The first — which can be found in much of the East — is a religion of karma, and the second — prominent in the Abrahamic religions of the West — is a religion of grace.