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Beauty and Substance: A Reflection on the Anniversary of “Evangelization & Culture”

September 25, 2020


Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.

—Luke 5:4

Over eighteen months ago, on a chilly day in February, I was honored to join Bishop Robert Barron’s Word on Fire Institute to help bring a new venture to life. That venture was Evangelization & Culture, the flagship journal of the Word on Fire Institute.

Excited by the task at hand and accompanied by a small cohort of talented designers and editors, writers and marketers, we at once had to ask ourselves, “How will we do this and, more importantly, why?” Thus, with child-like enthusiasm, the intercession of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and plenty of Dot’s Pretzels, coffee, and Diet Mountain Dew, our work began.

From the very beginning, we wanted Evangelization & Culture to be different. At its root, we wanted the journal to be a feast for the eyes as well as an intellectual/spiritual wonderland. Thus, we came to some decisive conclusions.

In an age of screen-reading, we produced a journal in print.

In a culture of throwaway magazines, we crafted a journal of enduring delight.

Where the world would trade in cynicism, we would offer sincerity.

Where the culture’s tone is rife with stridency, we would bring forth thoughtfulness.

Eschewing oversimplification, we embrace the wonder of divine complexity.

Foregoing the base and profane, we envision our higher selves as God would have us be.

And transcending the material, we celebrate the ineffable.

Quite simply, we aspired to create the most beautiful and most substantive Catholic journal that has ever been crafted. In so doing, we designed Evangelization & Culture to be the host and platform for a modern Catholic intellectual and literary renaissance.

But that didn’t mean Evangelization & Culture would be some ethereal, otherworldly journal too delicate for use and too far removed from the raw and gritty life in the world’s trenches. In order for Evangelization & Culture to be effective, it first had to be relevant.

This journal’s very reason for being is to equip Catholic evangelists to thoughtfully engage the larger secular culture and approach it through the lens of a well-formed Catholic sensibility. To evangelize the culture, we must first know truth and then we must understand the culture that has lost track of it.

Who, then, is Evangelization & Culture for?

It is for you and me.

It is for Word on Fire Institute members (a community that has become like family) eager for resources to develop their faith and cultivate their evangelizing skills.

It is for the unformed faithful who have never wandered from the faith, but have never fully immersed themselves in its vast riches.

And it is for the seeking skeptics who are uncertain of truth in a muddled world, but hungry enough to go in search of it.

What does Evangelization & Culture have to offer?


G.K. Chesterton once noted, “I would rather try to suggest that [Catholicism] is not only larger than me, but larger than anything in the world; that it is indeed larger than the world.” As such, Evangelization & Culture’s topics and writers are Catholic in the truest sense of the word. They speak to everything simply because God is forever present and always concerned.

Quarterly, the journal focuses on diverse themes that speak to the interior, the intellectual, and the aesthetic life. Topics range from Creativity to Economics, from Hope to the Digital Age, and from Scripture to Cinema.

We feature wide-ranging works from professors and poets, priests and artists, nuns and filmmakers, musicians and podcasters, housewives and animators, broadcasters and actors, and so many more. Evangelization & Culture goes to the oft-neglected spaces where God and culture meet.

It has been one year since we released the inaugural issue of Evangelization & Culture (eighteen months since that chilly day in February), and the uncertain world needs God more than ever.

I couldn’t be more proud of the journal, more awestruck by my colleagues (who are also my dear friends), and more committed to the mission.

We are called by Christ to put out into deep water. We are called to the storms and the squalls of uncertain peripheries armed with unconquerable truth, transformative goodness, and unparalleled beauty. With God’s infinite grace, we are forming disciples of Christ. Brothers and sisters, all.

Happy first birthday, Evangelization & Culture. May God gift us with many more!