Saint John Paul II wrote that “to contemplate creation is to hear a message.” What message? As Pope Francis put it, “The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains: everything is, as it were, a caress of God.” For those with eyes to see, he continues, “there is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dewdrop.”
Have you ever taken Jesus up on his invitation to “consider how the wild flowers grow” (Lk 12:27)? What mystery might he be inviting us into here? In my book Fill These Hearts I write about my priest friend who’s a bit of a mystical botanist. He absolutely loves flowers. I once asked him what the attraction was and he said dumbfoundedly, “Christopher, have you ever seen a flower?” “Of course I ha …” – “No, no, no! I mean have you ever really seeeen a flower? Why are flowers so beautiful? What is a flower …?”
The more I read and watch of Bishop Robert Barron, the more impressed I am with his particular gift of insight and proclamation. Let us pray for his spiritual protection. Gifts like his do not come without all kinds of spiritual attacks.
Here’s a very clear rebuttal of puritanism and the call to love stamped by God in our sexuality. Why do you think people so often assume a puritanical approach to sex is the proper Christian approach?
Alex Ebert is the founder and frontman of the band Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, an internationally celebrated indie folk group out of Los Angles. He has released five albums with the group and won a Golden Globe award for best soundtrack for the movie “All Is Lost” starring Robert Redford.
[Mike Mangione is a nationally touring musician and podcast host. To subscribe to his podcast, Time & the Mystery, on iTunes click here. To learn more about his music, click here.]
Alex Ebert is a man on mission; he wants to set you free. Through confronting his addiction and destructive lifestyle, Alex was able to enter a period of deep reflection and personal excavation, uncovering his root and the flower it feeds. In this journey he unearthed his ability to disrobe and unmask in the face of social anxiety and worldly pressures. Now, as the front man to the band Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, in front of thousands of people a night, Alex attempts to be an example that true liberation is possible and worth fighting for. It is a battle he willingly takes on, rarely at rest from. The rewards of his sacrifice are evident not only in the art he creates but the development of his character as well. Join Mike as Alex takes the listeners on a journey through his past, process and mission. [Interview contains some explicit language.]
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In this Sunday’s second reading, Saint Paul speaks of the “power of God” that brought us to life even when we were “dead in transgressions and the uncircumcision of [our] flesh.” Circumcision is a central biblical theme, yet it’s rarely discussed. It just makes people uncomfortable. Sorry: we have to discuss it. Why was this the sign of the Old Covenant? It would seem God wanted to teach the men of Israel something the women already knew: participating in his fatherhood calls us to sacrifice our flesh and blood for others. Women bleed every month. They offer their bodies quite literally to their offspring. As we know from the New Covenant, God is ultimately after the circumcision of our hearts, hearts ready to bleed for others. But it couldn’t be more significant that the bleeding heart of the New Covenant is foreshadowed by the bleeding loins of the Old. Christ experiences both in order to reveal in his body and blood the true character of the Father. From the beginning, tempted by Satan’s lie, we had come to conceive of God as a tyrant, as someone who wanted to sacrifice us for himself. The truth that Christ reveals in both his bleeding loins and his bleeding heart is that God wants to sacrifice himself for us. When Jesus teaches us the “Our Father” in this Sunday’s Gospel, he definitively rebukes Satan’s lie and invites us to do the same. God is life-giving Love. He is our Father.
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Here’s another excerpt from a new book I’m working on unfolding the riches of Pope Francis’s reflections on St. Paul’s famous hymn to love. The Pope himself called this section “the heart” of his document The Joy of Love (Amoris Laetitia).
In what follows, I’m commenting on Francis’s teaching on the fact that love “shows its fruitfulness and allows us to experience the happiness of giving, the nobility and grandeur of spending ourselves unstintingly, without asking to be repaid, purely for the pleasure of giving and serving” (94).
I had various manual labor jobs in my teens and early twenties, and they were always drudgery to me. I would slog my way through them for one reason: a paycheck.