Robert Barron, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, is a singularly gifted and accessible voice in Catholic media. He manages to be erudite without being pedantic. He can talk to young people about Irenaeus and lose none of his listeners to the lure of their smartphones. His YouTube videos are addictive, instructive, and terrific examples of how to speak to the age in a way that is respectful, positive, affirming but fully Orthodox. He might, in fact, be considered a model for how the Church as a whole can and should speak to the world in an increasingly secular age, most particularly to the young.
So, it’s not surprising that Barron, the founder of Word on Fire Ministries, should speak before 8,000 Catholic students at a Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) conference in Chicago, and set their hearts ablaze.
Watch and be amazed: Barron shows up with 45 minutes prepared, discovers he’s only been scheduled for 18, and manages to launch into an exposition of the Acts of the Apostles and “the task of the Church” as it is today that is both inspiring and uplifting. He’s preaching from the heart about “bringing something of heaven to earth” and about the necessity of incarnational missionary outreach, and he’s doing it while bringing in historical perspective, and warning against justifications toward pastoral reductionism or anti-intellectualism.
“The church engages from the beginning in bold, fiery, coherent, confident and intelligent speech. This is not the time for anti-intellectualism in our church. We have [lots of young people] who leaving the church for ‘intellectual’ reasons — you know, it’s ‘opposed to science’, or ‘it doesn’t make sense’ … No, no, we need people (I nominate all of you) to have tongues of fire settle over their heads, so they can engage in this bold speech, and what’s at the heart of this speech?”
Well, watch and find out. It’s brief, but it’s breathtaking. Give it a second to load, and enjoy!