Word on Fire

  • St. Luke: A Good Reader, Observer, and Listener
    on October 18, 2021 at 5:00 am

    The following is the introduction to the Gospel of Luke from The Word on Fire Bible (Volume I): The Gospels, the first installment of the forthcoming collection. You can find the Bible in three different styles here in the bookstore: https://bookstore.wordonfire.org/collections/bible  What are we to make of the Gospel of Luke—a Gospel traditionally believed to have come from the hand of a Greek physician (the same man who wrote the Acts of the Apostles) and whose words comprise nearly a quarter of the New Testament? We could do the usual research and access plenty of information about how and where it is sourced, but if we approach Luke and his “Good News” simply as curious readers and thinkers, then it is self-evident that the writer is intelligent. It is also clear that he is deeply read, because what Luke delivers is the…

  • Horror and Catholicism: Hounds of Hell Show Up for “Midnight Mass”
    on October 15, 2021 at 5:00 am

    Midnight Mass is a seven-part, supernatural horror series for Netflix about a predominantly Catholic island, long in decline, that is suddenly and miraculously reinvigorated. Creator and director Mike Flanagan’s previous offerings for streaming include The Haunting of Hill House (2018) and The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020), along with feature films including Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining. Flanagan was raised in the Catholic Church, and he recently told an interviewer that sometime between his first communion and Confirmation, he began asking his parents, “If we’re drinking blood and eating flesh to stay alive forever, aren’t we vampires?” Midnight Mass explores weird but apt questions like this one. But the show also goes beyond weird into…

  • Carrying Things to Term: Why Patience Is So Difficult
    on October 14, 2021 at 5:00 am

    It was pretty awkward. They all just stood there staring at me. And the sweat just trickled down the back of my neck. Let me start by saying that it had been a long night. I was a freshly minted third-year medical student. Awash in book knowledge but bereft of experience, I began my internal medicine rotation at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, with my short, white medical student coat stuffed with books, a stethoscope, and a reflex hammer. Of course, I would be on overnight call the first day, and, as luck would have it, I would get the complicated late-night patient admission: a seventy-three year old woman with new-onset thyroid storm. Susan (let us call her) came into my life with a plethora of complaints, including sweats, weight loss, a racing heart, heart failure (and swelling from her toes to her hips),…

  • John Henry Newman: Patron Saint of Novelists?
    on October 13, 2021 at 5:00 am

    St. John Henry Cardinal Newman, famous for his conversion from Anglicanism to Catholicism, is widely known as a gifted thinker and writer, with his powerful and incisive intellect demonstrated in closely argued scholarship, such as Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, A Grammar of Assent, and The Idea of a University. He was also a powerful preacher and writer of prayers and devotional pieces (many collected in Meditations and Devotions) that are readily engaging to any reader. What is perhaps slightly less well known is that he was also a poet and novelist. Newman is the author of Loss and Gain, an autobiographically-inspired story of a young man at Oxford becoming convinced of the truth of Catholicism, and of the historical novel Callista…

  • 2 Great Books to Complete the Year of St. Joseph
    on October 12, 2021 at 5:00 am

    When Pope Francis declared 2021 to be the Year of St. Joseph, many of my Catholic friends expressed enthusiasm for the opportunity to focus more intently on the foster father to the Christ and spouse of Mary, the Theotokos. Although popes and bishops and saints, to a one, have expressed admiration and spiritual gratitude to Joseph (with some, like Teresa of Avila, declaring that petitions to St. Joseph always redound to the good), many Catholics will confess themselves a bit puzzled by that enthusiasm. In fact, they will say they are puzzled by Joseph himself, largely due to his perceived silence throughout Scripture, where none of his speech is quoted. “We don’t know him,” a colleague of mine said, as the dedicated year began. “It feels like everywhere you go in this diocese, you see another parish named for Joseph, but I’ve never…

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