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All Catholic commentary from January 2016

The Octave of Christmas by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Jan 1, 2016

"On the 8th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me..." Everyone is familiar with the carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas." And although some people have already thrown their Christmas tree to the curb and taken down their Christmas decorations, there are the reminders...

Celebrating Epiphany and the Christmas Season by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Jan 3, 2016

This post was originally published in 2013. The Christmas season always seems over too quickly! It's not that we're packing the days full of activity, but rather our resting and relaxing and enjoying the Christmas glow makes time fly! Our family observes the Twelve Days of Christmas...

Why are we driven to distraction? (Or, how do saints keep their cool?) by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 4, 2016

Having just come through a long Christmas week of comparative relaxation and increased reflection, I’ve decided it is time to tell the truth about all the things that make me angry and tense. But let me admit right up front that I am drawing a larger lesson here. I am really talking about...

Isn't the Catholic Faith simply love unveiled? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 5, 2016

Transmitting and teaching the Catholic Faith is a tricky business. The way you go about it depends on a number of prior assumptions. For example, we will emphasize certain things and present key concepts differently based on whether the audience doubts God’s existence or already accepts...

Burning incense to the false gods of political correctness by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 5, 2016

We aren't--yet-- being required by law to bow before idols. But it is increasingly common to learn that if you want to win a contract, or earn tenure, or keep your business open, or hold onto your government job, or avoid a costly lawsuit, you will be expected to assent to propositions...

Links on Christian culture by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Jan 6, 2016

Today I return to work after a relaxing Christmas vacation! Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve read a number of valuable pieces, all of which relate in some way to Christian culture. A friend brought my attention to a remarkable First Things essay written in 2004 by Robert...

Chalk up another for Brother Andre by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 6, 2016

On this feast of St. Andre Bessette it seems appropriate to tell my own story. Several years ago, shortly after I had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, my sister visited the Oratory in Montreal and brought me back a medal of Brother Andre, reminding me that he had been involved in...

Has a Massachusetts court done what the Boston archdiocese was condemned for doing? by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 6, 2016

What caused the sex-abuse scandal within the Catholic Church? Too many bishops chose to protect abusive priests rather than innocent children. Now—right here in Massachusetts, where the whole mess exploded some thirteen unlucky years ago—the state’s highest court has made the...

Instant Gratification by Fr. Jerry Pokorsky in "On the News" - Jan 7, 2016

The consumer society has given us new phrases that lack subtlety. When you’re filling up at a gas station, it is presumed you’d be attracted to a “Big Gulp” beverage, going beyond the usual soda bottle size and providing a gallon or so of flavored sugar water (perfect for...

An effort to summarize how people think today by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 7, 2016

It seems that our dominant culture today is driven by men and women who reason very badly. It is as if they say to themselves: “Our life is short and difficult enough, and there is no way to avoid the inevitable end, for nobody returns from the dead. We were born by mere chance, and later...

Spotlight: a movie that says more than its makers realize by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 8, 2016

"I'll be writing more about Spotlight soon," I promised early in December. And I did. See my full-length review on the First Things...

In the war on family life, why are most American men neutral observers? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 8, 2016

What will it take to rouse the protective instincts of American fathers? The role of a father is to protect his family. The role of a man—a real man, I mean—is to protect the vulnerable. Yet the vast majority of American men today are sitting idly by, couch-potato spectators, while their...

Modern “objective” knowledge is a circular system: Why? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 8, 2016

I’ve already alluded to the groundbreaking work of Michael Polanyi in proving that a purely objective manner of knowing is impossible, for the simple reason that all knowledge is inherently personal. For background see Our mental prison: The myth of “objective”...

Business is a vocation; that’s why the Church won’t leave it alone. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 11, 2016

Cardinal Turkson’s recent address to the University of the Andes in Chile made an extraordinarily important point about Pope Francis’ attitude toward “business”. The head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace insisted that “the Holy Father is not...

On Gardening and Architecture...and the awareness of God by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 13, 2016

Speaking of rethinking how we think (e.g., Modern “objective” knowledge is a circular system: Why?), Christopher Alexander has tried to do much the same thing for the field of architecture. Professor emeritus of architecture at the University of California at Berkeley, Alexander has...

Catholic hospitals and the fight for medical standards by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 14, 2016

For the foreseeable future, political pressure on the Catholic Church in the US will be concentrated on medical issues. If you doubt that, join me on a quick tour through some of this week’s significant newspaper items: A Los Angeles Times columnist encourages readers to be...

Notes from around the web by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 14, 2016

In a fine piece appearing on the National Review site, David French makes roughly the same argument that I’ve made here recently: that the latest battles in the culture wars involve not only marriage and family, but the right to speak the truth—or worse, the compulsion to accept a...

The crucial topic missing from the State of the Union address [updated] by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 15, 2016

He was raised in the US, but has lived for years in Australia, so Michael Cook of MercatorNet has an interesting perspective on American political affairs: that of someone who speaks the language—the language of US politics, I mean—but does not hear it constantly. From that...

Politics is dead: This year, avoid the quadrennial silliness. by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 15, 2016

2016 is a presidential election year in America. Most citizens will fasten their attention on the Republican and Democratic candidates. A minor third-party candidate may emerge. Even those with outstanding Catholic values will invent some reason for insisting it is absolutely essential to elect...

Quick Hits: Trump, the Vatican gay lobby, and the next step after gay marriage by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 15, 2016

In 1999, Donald Trump said that he was "very pro-choice." Politicians can change their minds. As governor of California, Ronald Reagan once signed the nation's most liberal abortion legislation; as President he wrote a book against abortion. But until we have clear evidence that...

The Death of Politics, revisited with critics in mind by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 18, 2016

I was happy to see a good crop of comments on last week’s essay, Politics is dead: This year, avoid the quadrennial silliness. And I was not surprised to see some comments which took strong and even heated exception to the position I outlined. As is usually the case with sensitive topics,...

Will the first-ever Orthodox council occur this year? We'll know soon. by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 18, 2016

Since the Great Schism, the Roman Catholic Church has held 13 ecumenical councils; the Orthodox churches have held: none. That failure to arrange a worldwide gathering, for nearly a millennium, is a major failure for Orthodoxy. It is an indication that the Orthodox world has been troubled by...

The Catholic Navigator: Bon Voyage! by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 19, 2016

If you are actively involved in catechesis in your parish, or in other formation programs, you may be interested in subscribing to the Catholic Navigator. This is a lay apostolate of experienced catechists which provides printable weekly catechetical supplements for adults and children. The...

How to deal with suffering, suffering of any kind by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 20, 2016

We all suffer at one time or another, and some of us face chronic suffering. I am ever mindful, for example, of all those who regularly plow through my commentaries, an exercise which may be classified as the suffering of frustration. But we can also suffer from doubt, exploitation, failure,...

Quick Hits: Priest falsely accused?/Religious test for White House?/Liturgical changes we need by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 21, 2016

The highly publicized trials of Philadelphia priests are an instance of “prosecutorial lust,” according to reporter Ralph Cipriano. Since the trials began, Cipriano has been making a strong case that the key witness for the prosecution is completely unreliable. Now those strong...

Change in Holy Thursday liturgy encourages do-it-yourself liturgical experimentation by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 21, 2016

On its face, the Pope’s decision to include women in the foot-washing ceremony of the Holy Thursday liturgy does not seem a matter of earth-shaking importance. The question only arises once a year. The liturgical rule that included only males has been widely ignored for years, and the skies...

January 22: Day of Prayer and Penance in the United States by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Jan 21, 2016

January 22 marks the 43rd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court legalizing abortion. Most of us know it as the day for the March for Life, when pro-lifers from all over the country converge to be a public witness for those innocent lives that have no voice. Not everyone...

A few pointed remarks (from God) by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 22, 2016

A few weeks ago I read the Book of Proverbs again, and this time I decided to make a note of all the verses which struck me as particularly apt, insightful or, in some cases, entertaining. The next time I read this book, I have no doubt that other verses will stand out. That’s the way it is...

Darkness: The practical result of our contemporary mythology by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 25, 2016

My primary goal was theoretical when I explored the modern mythology of “knowing” in a three-part series beginning with “Our mental prison: The myth of “objective” knowledge”. I wished to lay bare the intellectual root of contemporary misconceptions about...

Church Fathers: Origen's Life and Legacy by Thomas Van in "In Depth Analysis" - Jan 26, 2016

At last we come to Origen, surely the most titanic intellectual figure of the first three centuries of Christianity after St. Paul. In the breadth of his writings and in the depth of his influence, he is equaled by few among the Church Fathers. He brought the catechetical school of Alexandria to...

Hot (but speculative) rumor: Pope to meet Russian Patriarch next month? by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 26, 2016

The veteran Vatican-watcher Sandro Magister of L’Espresso has gone out on a limb to suggest that Pope Francis could meet with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow next month. There has never been a face-to-face meeting between a Roman Pontiff and a Russian Orthodox Patriarch. Nor has there been any recent...

Christmas to Candlemas: When is the Real End of the Christmas Season? by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Jan 26, 2016

This post was originally published in January 2014. The Christmas season ended on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Or did it? It seems inevitable every Christmas that there will be polite disagreement among Catholics as to when the Christmas season officially ends. Usually...

The End of Christmas: Dispelling the Misconceptions by Jennifer Gregory Miller in "Liturgical Year Blog" - Jan 26, 2016

Most Catholics recognize the end of the Christmas season ends with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which occurred in the Ordinary Form/current calendar on Sunday, January 10, and the Extraordinary Form on January 13th. But there are some Catholics who claim that it is still Christmas and...

The lasting image of this year's March for Life: that Mass on the snowbound turnpike by Phil Lawler in "On the News" - Jan 27, 2016

In past years I have remarked on the mysterious temporary blindness that strikes reporters in Washington, DC, in late January, making it impossible for them to notice the March for Life. This year there was no mystery about it. With a blizzard of historic proportions bearing down on the city,...

Evangelization deformed or delayed: A danger of the quest for religious unity by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "On the Culture" - Jan 27, 2016

Beginning in the mid-20th century, the leaders of the Catholic Church have chosen to place a high priority on forging stronger ties between Catholics and members of other religions. They have sought to emphasize shared beliefs, to increase mutual understanding, and to create a more cohesive...

Quick Hits: Divine Mercy movie, IVF and surrogacy, the Saints' favorite books by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Jan 27, 2016

A documentary about the original painting of the Divine Mercy, which Jesus commanded St. Faustina to have made, is being released worldwide on Feb. 10. While representations of Jesus' Divine Mercy are now commonplace around the world, the original painting has been in obscurity for...

Church Fathers: Origen’s Works by Thomas Van in "In Depth Analysis" - Jan 28, 2016

Origen’s prodigious literary output was encouraged by his wealthy friends, in particular one Ambrose whom he had converted from Valentinianism. Out of his own pocket, this benefactor stationed in Origen’s lecture room “more than seven shorthand-writers, who relieved each other at...

Syrian Patriarch: A special Catholic leader? by Dr. Jeff Mirus in "The City Gates" - Jan 29, 2016

Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III (Ignace Youssif III) of the Syriac Catholic Church has become a fresh voice in the daily news. Yesterday we heard him scoffing at Italian museum curators for covering up nude statues during a visit from the President of Iran. Today, we find him praising the military...

Quick Hits: covering up nudes, Italy's pro-family resistance, the tragic assassination of Diem by Phil Lawler in "The City Gates" - Jan 29, 2016

The prudish draping of nude statues at the Capitoline Museum, in preparation for the visit by Iranian President Rouhani, neatly captures the story of Europe’s decline. The curators of a great cultural treasury are ready to apologize for their heritage, to eliminate any aspects that might...

Quick Hits: the myth of believers in a flat Earth, Europe’s failure to evangelize Japan by Thomas Van in "The City Gates" - Jan 30, 2016

This week brought us two worthwhile articles about Christianity in secular outlets. In the wake of rapper B.o.B. claiming that the earth is flat, Newsweek points out that people didn’t even believe this in the Middle Ages. It’s a myth made up in the nineteenth century to make...