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Bishop Barron on the Disorienting Quality of Real Prayer



most impressive literary figures in the west century was Iris Murdoch the Irish writer known for her fiction think of like the severed head and the good apprentice wonderful thoughtful novels also her nonfiction work think of the sovereignty of the good and many others she was both a novelist and a philosopher maybe she's best known because of her husband's book about her death she died of after a long struggle with Alzheimer's disease and her husband John Bailey wrote this beautiful book about her last illness but I recommend people read the great iris verdict I bring her up because some of her take on human wife and her take and what I would call Spiritual Exercises she had really an accord with a I say a Christian view of the world a rather dark view of human nature she saw us as tending toward self absorption self preoccupation it was difficult for us to seek the authentic good to break out of our own you know self-interest and so on and she recommended a series of Spiritual Exercises that would help you make this transition to help you get out of yourself and they're very interesting because they're not spiritual exercise in the normal sense of the term a first one she said was wrestling with a foreign language and as someone who has done that most of his life I've wrestled a number of foreign languages I know exactly what she means she means that the language is there in all of its majestic other knows there whether you get it or not you know so there's the French language which I spent a lot of here study French with all of its beauty and all of its complexity all of its at least to our minds kind of weirdness the weird Spelling's and the weird Julie ERA T's of it and French doesn't care it just doesn't care whether you get it or not I mean you could you could throw the book across the room French doesn't care it's just there it is challenging you to leave your comfortable linguistic world and to move into it's world and to operate according to its demand or think of German another language I've spent some years studying to an English speaker it's confounding word order I mean why do you put the words in the order in a sentence it's very complicated grammar think of Greek I studied Greek when I was doing Bible years ago in Greek with a different alphabet first time I approach the language where it just wasn't ABCD but it's different alphabet you have to learn and then then once you get past that the grammar of Greek is beyond the difficulty even of Latin Greek doesn't care you know I was struggling to learn it and I'm trying to read some of the Bible which is pretty simple Greek day it doesn't care whether I get it or not it's there in all of its majesty at a real concrete example is when I was newly arrived in Paris years ago and I went to a cafe with these friends of mine and it was busy busy lunchtime you know on the waiter was very agitated nervous and pressed and over to the table he comes to get our order wait you know and so the other guys worker came to me and suddenly at that moment with this guy glaring at me I just forgot everything I forget every past participle I forgot every word and there I stood sat just sort of babbling away until the waiter left he left to take care of our table but he's a symbol for me what she's talking about of the sheer other nurse he didn't care that I didn't know the right past participle now why is this good well it's very good for us as iris murdered because it breaks us out of our little world of self regard the world revolves around me no it doesn't much the world doesn't care about you I'm trying to draw these things into myself to make them easy for me no you shouldn't do that you should be cracked open by the hard rock of these objective beauties and truths so that you can be drawn into them see spiritual exercise here's a second example she gives the confrontation with a real work of art now compare for example you go into a hotel and there's a painting over your bed you know and it's a painting that's designed just to kind of please you or to calm you down or let's say you're in a doctor's office and there's a painting that's meant to soothe your nerves so it's you know easy it corresponds to all the expected canons of what makes a painting you know acceptable well it doesn't it doesn't change your movie or anyway it just kind of pleases you in a superficial way now think of a real work of art whether it's the Sistine ceiling or its Picasso's Guernica or it's a Beethoven's Ninth Symphony or something that isn't there to please you it doesn't care whether you like it or not you know I don't like the Sistine Chapel I mean how stupid that sounds or you know I don't really care for Beethoven's fifth symphony well it's just first of all stupid and secondly Beethoven's fifth symphony doesn't care less whether you like it or not it's there in all of its beauty power sublimity complexity and its purpose is to break through the carapace of your own self regard and self isolation and break into a higher world that's why James Joyce who knew this principle really well in his great portrait of the artist is young man has that scene of its himself he's the narrator really looking out at his beautiful girl who'll become his wife and there she stands and all of her beauty and he admires her and contemplates her and at one point she turns and it says suffers his gaze like she she tolerates the fact that he's gazing at her she's not there to please him that's pornography by the way it says Joyce it is like a sexual presentation meant to just please or titillate the viewer but authentic sexuality for example isn't like that at all it's meant to break you out of your self regard for iris Merrik this too is a spiritual exercise because it gets you out of the ego okay I thought of Iris Murdoch because of that great passage in the Gospels about the Pharisee and the publican member the two men that go into the temple to pray and there is the Pharisee who stands up very confidently and thanks God for making them not like other people so here I thank you Lord for making me so good and not like that poor Republican over there that poor tax collector well what is that but an exercise in self-indulgence that is not a prayer it's not authentic spiritually it doesn't break him out of his self regard it's just self-congratulation right there's nothing spiritually viable in that prayer then the publican barely raising his head so his posture gives away his attitude feeding his breasts you know at mercy on me I'm a sinner I'm a sinful man it's a real prayer or why because he's not the principal actor and God is the audience rather God is the principal actor and this poor man is is barely seeing himself worthy to stand in God's presence it's the sheer power and objectivity of the divine goodness that breaks through his self regard that breaks him into a higher world and so even though he's like look Lord I'm I'm a I'm a sinner I'm unworthy of you he's uh turd an authentic prayer a prayer of real spiritual power now think of how his prayer in that beautiful parable has made its way into the Jesus Prayer you know Lord Jesus Christ son of the Living God have mercy on me a sinner that's a real prayer you're not in command you're not Boston got around you're not looking for God to please you just the contrary Lord Jesus Christ I'm living God have mercy on me a sinner that's a prayer that breaks you out of this self regard you know some years ago I was reading Rolling Stone magazine and they were asking a lot of classic rocker types you know what's the first song that rocked your world and I loved about that question I got it right away I knew what they meant not the first song that you liked the first song that pleased you the first song that you thought was cool that's all a relatively superficial the first song that rocked your world that made you think in a different way that broke you out of your complacency you know I know what my woes is Bob Dylan's like a rolling stone when I was about 17 I first heard that it rocked my world to this day it rocks my world it's a song that breaks you out of your normal sections you know the thing is the prayer of the publican is a prayer that rocked his world you know the prayer the Pharisee didn't rock his world in any way it left him exactly where he was spiritually speaking and so with Iris Murdoch in mind think about your own prayer life your own spiritual religious life is it a superficial kind of ego pleasing spiritual life or is it a spiritual life that really rocks your world

Jean Kelley

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35 COMMENTS

  1. sean marshall Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    there is nothing that you can define in any of the arts that has absolute value!!!!!

    Reply
  2. Wallace Liechty Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    Thank you, I needed that.

    Reply
  3. Ashwin Acharya Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    This is superb. I have been missing my regular dose of Bishy Baz.

    Reply
  4. Nia Sosa Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    As a college music major, the point about art was so good to me

    Reply
  5. Alan Bourbeau Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    “Whoever exalts himself, will be humbled. Whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Take for example, the Blessed Virgin Mary was visited by the archangel Gabriel and he gave told her that God has selected her to be the mother of God and conceive a male child named Jesus Christ. The promised messiah. She would’ve arrogantly refused to but she humbly accepted the mission.

    Reply
  6. Stephan Maria Hitzel Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    Searching some explanation about religious issues I more or less stumbled into these great YouTube-videos. They are just wonderful. They are a very good guidance. Thank you Fr. Barron for being a sheepherder of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Reply
  7. I am Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    That's funny. I can say when I was 17, Bob Dylan's Like a rolling stone was that song that rocked my world as well. Cheers!

    Reply
  8. Ben Johanson Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    hey you should delete the exclamation mark (!) after the wordonfire.org link in the description because it doesnt link up to the page right. just an FYI. God bless you Bishop Barron! keep Christ first!!

    Reply
  9. Sam Noah Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    The Roman Catholic Church contends that its origin is the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ in approximately AD 30. The Catholic Church proclaims itself to be the church that Jesus Christ died for, the church that was established and built by the apostles. Is that the true origin of the Catholic Church? On the contrary. Even a cursory reading of the New Testament will reveal that the Catholic Church does not have its origin in the teachings of Jesus or His apostles. In the New Testament, there is no mention of the papacy, worship/adoration of Mary (or the immaculate conception of Mary, the perpetual virginity of Mary, the assumption of Mary, or Mary as co-redemptrix and mediatrix), petitioning saints in heaven for their prayers, apostolic succession, the ordinances of the church functioning as sacraments, infant baptism, confession of sin to a priest, purgatory, indulgences, or the equal authority of church tradition and Scripture. So, if the origin of the Catholic Church is not in the teachings of Jesus and His apostles, as recorded in the New Testament, what is the true origin of the Catholic Church?

    For the first 280 years of Christian history, Christianity was banned by the Roman Empire, and Christians were terribly persecuted. This changed after the “conversion” of the Roman Emperor Constantine. Constantine provided religious toleration with the Edict of Milan in AD 313, effectively lifting the ban on Christianity. Later, in AD 325, Constantine called the Council of Nicea in an attempt to unify Christianity. Constantine envisioned Christianity as a religion that could unite the Roman Empire, which at that time was beginning to fragment and divide. While this may have seemed to be a positive development for the Christian church, the results were anything but positive. Just as Constantine refused to fully embrace the Christian faith, but continued many of his pagan beliefs and practices, so the Christian church that Constantine promoted was a mixture of true Christianity and Roman paganism.

    Constantine found that, with the Roman Empire being so vast, expansive, and diverse, not everyone would agree to forsake his or her religious beliefs to embrace Christianity. So, Constantine allowed, and even promoted, the “Christianization” of pagan beliefs. Completely pagan and utterly unbiblical beliefs were given new “Christian” identities. Some clear examples of this are as follows:

    (1) The Cult of Isis, an Egyptian mother-goddess religion, was absorbed into Christianity by replacing Isis with Mary. Many of the titles that were used for Isis, such as “Queen of Heaven,” “Mother of God,” and theotokos (“God-bearer”) were attached to Mary. Mary was given an exalted role in the Christian faith, far beyond what the Bible ascribes to her, in order to attract Isis worshippers to a faith they would not otherwise embrace. Many temples to Isis were, in fact, converted into temples dedicated to Mary. The first clear hints of Catholic Mariology occur in the writings of Origen, who lived in Alexandria, Egypt, which happened to be the focal point of Isis worship.

    (2) Mithraism was a religion in the Roman Empire in the 1st through 5th centuries AD. It was very popular among the Romans, especially among Roman soldiers, and was possibly the religion of several Roman emperors. While Mithraism was never given “official” status in the Roman Empire, it was the de facto official religion until Constantine and succeeding Roman emperors replaced Mithraism with Christianity. One of the key features of Mithraism was a sacrificial meal, which involved eating the flesh and drinking the blood of a bull. Mithras, the god of Mithraism, was “present” in the flesh and blood of the bull, and when consumed, granted salvation to those who partook of the sacrificial meal (this is known as theophagy, the eating of one’s god). Mithraism also had seven “sacraments,” making the similarities between Mithraism and Roman Catholicism too many to ignore. Church leaders after Constantine found an easy substitute for the sacrificial meal of Mithraism in the concept of the Lord’s Supper/Christian communion. Even before Constantine, some early Christians had begun to attach mysticism to the Lord’s Supper, rejecting the biblical concept of a simple and worshipful remembrance of Christ’s death and shed blood. The Romanization of the Lord’s Supper made the transition to a sacrificial consumption of Jesus Christ, now known as the Catholic Mass/Eucharist, complete.

    (3) Most Roman emperors (and citizens) were henotheists. A henotheist is one who believes in the existence of many gods, but focuses primarily on one particular god or considers one particular god supreme over the other gods. For example, the Roman god Jupiter was supreme over the Roman pantheon of gods. Roman sailors were often worshippers of Neptune, the god of the oceans. When the Catholic Church absorbed Roman paganism, it simply replaced the pantheon of gods with the saints. Just as the Roman pantheon of gods had a god of love, a god of peace, a god of war, a god of strength, a god of wisdom, etc., so the Catholic Church has a saint who is “in charge” over each of these, and many other categories. Just as many Roman cities had a god specific to the city, so the Catholic Church provided “patron saints” for the cities.

    (4) The supremacy of the Roman bishop (the papacy) was created with the support of the Roman emperors. With the city of Rome being the center of government for the Roman Empire, and with the Roman emperors living in Rome, the city of Rome rose to prominence in all facets of life. Constantine (AD 272–337) and his successors gave their support to the bishop of Rome as the supreme ruler of the church. Of course, it is best for the unity of the Roman Empire that the government and state religion be centralized. While most other bishops (and Christians) resisted the idea of the Roman bishop being supreme, the Roman bishop eventually rose to supremacy, due to the power and influence of the Roman emperors. When the Western half of the Roman Empire collapsed in 476, the popes took on the title that had previously belonged to the Roman emperors—Pontifex Maximus. Pope Gregory I, ruling from 590–604, is usually considered the first bishop to truly wield papal authority.

    Many more examples could be given. These four should suffice in demonstrating the origin of the Catholic Church. Of course, the Roman Catholic Church denies the pagan origin of its beliefs and practices. The Catholic Church disguises its pagan beliefs under layers of complicated theology and “church tradition.” Recognizing that many of its beliefs and practices are utterly foreign to Scripture, the Catholic Church is forced to deny the authority and sufficiency of Scripture.

    The origin of the Catholic Church is the tragic compromise of Christianity with the pagan religions that surrounded it. Instead of proclaiming the gospel and converting the pagans, the Catholic Church “Christianized” the pagan religions, and “paganized” Christianity. By blurring the differences and erasing the distinctions, yes, the Catholic Church made itself attractive to the people of the Roman Empire. One result was the Catholic Church becoming the supreme religion in the Roman world for centuries. However, another result was the most dominant form of Christianity apostatizing from the true gospel of Jesus Christ and the true proclamation of God’s Word.

    Second Timothy 4:3–4 declares, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”

    Reply
  10. Richard de la Sota Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    The world does not revolve around you. Some years ago, I almost drowned at Hanauma Bay on Oahu. As the ocean's surge pushed me deeper into an underwater cave came the thought that not only was I about to die, but that the ocean didn't care whether I drowned, and it didn't care whether I was the nicest fellow on God's green earth or a complete scoundrel. The ocean just was. It was doing what it had done for millions of years and I in my insignificance just happened to be there. Fortunately (and obviously) I didn't drown, but that knowledge has stayed with me in a powerful way ever since.

    Reply
  11. Cheryl M Burton Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    I must be jealous of good artists! Thanks for reminding me Bishop Barron of my nothingness.

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  12. Joshua Alexander Pagliara-Nydam Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    Everyone's commenting on how Fr. Barron helped them escape their mental comfort zone, while I'm here to validate my nihilistic tendencies haha

    Reply
  13. Palesa Mogale Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    I have a feeling that you and I are going to become close friend Bishop. I have been having doubts as a results of spending or should I say entertaining protestants, and its people like you who kept me where I am today. All the way from South Africa with love

    Reply
  14. Killer CD Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    Beautiful video

    Reply
  15. PROJECT PINOY Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    needed this one Bishop Barron 🙂

    Reply
  16. Bluewren Reilly Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    Very enlightening for me thank you. May God bless and protect you Bishop Barron.

    Reply
  17. Deborah Anne Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    Does this mean that we are not breaking out of ourselves when we ask God to bless those that we love and thank God for what he has blessed us with in this beautiful world? Can someone clarify for me, thank you.

    Reply
  18. Randy Mudge Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    Thank you, Bishop Barron. The Holy Father recently said that the internet and social media has made more self centered and isolated. It's taking us in the wrong direction. Humility isn't "in". BTW, I was on a consulting assignment in Mundelein from mid 2014 until earlier this year. We're now back in Iowa. I was hoping to see you speak when I was in Illinois, but alas, it didn't happen! 🙁 May God continue to keep you strong in your ministry and your journey. God bless!

    Reply
  19. scienquist Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    This video articulates a lot of my own concerns about some interpretations of the New Evangelization. It often seems that the sole focus of many engaged in the initiative is to "meet people where they are at" and, in the process, almost completely ignores the transcendent nature of religion.

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  20. Edward De Burca Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    Your excellency, your words are so beautiful. From a broken sinner. May God bless you.

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  21. Tim Spangler Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    God tells us to pray to HIM..not people created by him.

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  22. ichthus1890 Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    For Heavens sake Bishop, don't wear your cross hidden in your pocket like all the other Bishops!

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  23. TKMP1964 Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    Your videos are excellent.  If you are ever looking for ideas I would Love to hear about atonement theories.  It seems that the Ransom theory (Christus victor) is Patristic (first 1000 years), but then Satisfaction (St. Anselm) seems to be the Church official view, but didn't begin until about 1000 years ago.   Then penal substitution which seems very bizarre to me.

    Reply
  24. Zeel Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    I love Bishop Barron, but how about an honest video on that loser of a Pope…How can Catholics allow that pathetic excuse of a "Christian" man represent them?

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  25. crustyoldmetalhead Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    Once again Bishop, you have rocked my world. I am so glad you are here in California.

    Reply
  26. P.G. Burgess Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    I do like Murdoch's philosphy.. she is a real inspiration to anyone trying to find him/herself.
    Though she is rooted in Catholic Ireland… she was not herself, not even theistic for that matter. All the wonderous things you have gotten out of her writings…. they are available to all men. It does not require a god.

    Reply
  27. Matthew Bodnarek Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    One of your best videos Bishop! Thoughtful, and personally challenging to my prayer life.

    Reply
  28. Tin Man Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    I'm grateful that Picasso's Guernica doesn't care if I like it. I'd be in big trouble else.

    Reply
  29. misti2 Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    A lovely commentary. This one will definitely stick. It created some great images in my head. I love the idea of how the "French" is there…regardless of our own level or personal perceptions….almost like the existence of God.

    Reply
  30. anthtan Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    Bishop Barron, I could not help but draw liturgical reflections from this video – I have to say: all this almost sounds like a explication of the merits of the Extraordinary Form (over the Ordinary Form of the mass as it is commonly celebrated at an average parish). Just as French, German or Greek does not care – so does Latin not care as well! Its objectivity invites all those who assist as Mass to break out of "our little world of self regard". In the Extraordinary Form, I would it put it to you that we are pointedly confronted, challenged by Mystery and invited to enter into it and embrace it fully. In addition, we can harken to its many unique elements and structures which remind both the celebrant and the congregation of the humility needed to approach the Mystery of God in the Mass: the prayers at the foot of the altar, the repetitions of "Domine, non sum dignus…", the audible "nobis quoque peccatorum…" And of course our postures and positions are completely aligned and oriented towards the Lord Himself. By contrast, in the Ordinary Form, many of these uncomfortable things are removed. Modern day "hymns" have a comforting, coddling quality at times. It has to be said, there is a greater tendency currently that our worship, we lose the awareness of the need to be oriented correctly, as you have described.

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  31. Enlight Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    great reflexion 🙂

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  32. microbroadcast Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    Many thanks for posting.

    Reply
  33. Paul Burbridge Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    This was worth watching twice. I am a Born-Again Christian and I appreciate your commentary's. They are something worth pondering.

    Reply
  34. Timothy Clishem Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    This orientation toward life is also a powerful antidote to boredom and mental distraction.

    Reply
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