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Extended commentary and thoughtful Catholic essays on complex topics.

No items posted on December 01, 2011.

The Moral Obligation of Reality, II by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 28, 2011

In a Sound Off! comment on my last essay (The Moral Obligation of Reality), bservaes4399 explains that he does not see how my argument moves from what is to what ought to be. This question is not to be taken lightly. I have frequently raised it in my own mind as well. I’ll try here to make the...

Purgatory in Scripture: New Developments by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 17, 2011

The Catholic doctrine of Purgatory and the Catholic practice of prayers for the dead stretch back to the earliest Christian period, but the emphasis on salvation by faith has typically caused Protestants to deny the existence of Purgatory. They also believe that Purgatory is unscriptural. Yet the...

Abortion, the Poisoning of Social Justice, and the Rush to Judgment by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 8, 2011

I have a theory. I cannot provide statistical evidence to support it, but I still think it explains a good deal about why contemporary social services and anti-poverty initiatives, even in the Catholic Church herself, so often seem to be tainted by the culture of death. My theory is that the...

Parsing Beleaguered Words: The Perils of Getting Things Wrong by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 3, 2011

Under duress, people say the darndest things. Often these comments help shape the world, for better or worse. But to get real value from these incidents, you have to parse the text; you have to grasp what is really being said. Here are four examples from recent news: The SSPX and the...

Shooting the Messenger: What the Church teaches about her own authority by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 26, 2011

Phil Lawler and I have had some very negative responses to our commentaries on Monday’s recommendation by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace to establish a new stratum of world government to regulate certain aspects of the global economy (see PL, Spare us from Vatican economic analysts...

Fundamentalism and the Abandonment of Reason by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 18, 2011

Is fundamentalism a significant problem? Do we even know what fundamentalism is? Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil drew my attention to it at the end of September when he asserted that, in Asia at least, “the greatest danger is precisely religious fundamentalism”. Archbishop Menamparampil is the...

What is Special about What We Do? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 5, 2011

The bottom line is that you can’t get what CatholicCulture.org offers anywhere else. This is a case we need to make effectively to our users if we expect them to dig deep to support this Catholic apostolic work. Let me make that case now. No potential supporter will doubt the importance of...

Toward a Viable Catholic Political Strategy for our Times by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 30, 2011

Yesterday’s Catholic World News story about the brutality of China’s one-child policy is heart-wrenching. You’ll find the testimony from the recent US Congressional hearing compelling. But it raises a question which, in America at least, we too often fail to ask. I’m not referring to the...

Difficult Theology and the Goodness of God by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 20, 2011

It is amazing, sometimes, the corners into which religious thinkers can paint themselves as they strive to unravel the mind of an infinite God. This can be true of any of us meditating on an aspect of God’s plan, and perhaps placing it somewhat askew in our own catalogue of truth. It can be true...

Prayer: A Primer on the Path to Union by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 9, 2011

Prayer can be classified in more ways than we can count. From one point of view, we are either praying with the Church in liturgical prayer, or praying more generally in a group, or praying alone. From another point of view, we are praying either vocally or mentally. From still another vantage...

What Does it Mean to Be Saved? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 1, 2011

  A point that confuses both Catholics and Protestants is what Scripture means when it speaks of “salvation” or being “saved”. Protestants, following Luther, often think that being saved in Scripture refers to making it to heaven, without reference to membership in...

Catholic Gender Moralism and Cultural Chauvinism by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 25, 2011

Bro. Rex Anthony Norris of the Little Portion Hermitage in the Diocese of Portland, Maine was kind enough to send us the text of a letter to the editor he found in the August 9th issue of Christian Century. I cannot recommend the magazine as a guide to faith of any sort, but it does occasionally...

Our Collective Wisdom: Responding Properly by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 18, 2011

It is time to unveil the wisdom of the many CatholicCulture.org users who have kindly submitted their thoughts on how best to respond to those who condemn or rudely challenge the Church, the Faith and the related positions we must take in defending and advancing a Catholic worldview. You may...

Government, Natural Law, and the Modern State by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 8, 2011

The governmental horse still has life enough, I think, for one more beating. Several of our readers have commented on the importance of governmental adherence to a law higher than itself. One of the grave problems in America and many other modern states is that the reigning philosophies of...

The Question of Government Size and Scope by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 4, 2011

In Budgetary Reform: Opportunity Knocks, I made the point that budgetary problems should be perceived as an opportunity scale back the size of government. My premise was that, at least in the modern first world, government tends to be very big, deeply committed to social engineering, militantly...

Christian Human Dignity by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 27, 2011

I explained in the last installment why it made perfect sense to look to Revelation to determine the nature of human dignity, and I also explained why Judaism and Christianity were the first two places one should look for Revelation. But since I have often also explained the grounds on which I...

Clarifications on Sterile Marriages by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 8, 2011

My recent writings have caused some readers to raise two problems with respect to my arguments against homosexual unions. More than one person has written to question my emphasis on the procreation of children in marriage as the key to its special worth. And one seriously misguided correspondent...

Indifference to Evangelization, Rebuked by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 30, 2011

Not long ago I noticed some spam-like emails circulating from a certain Feeneyite source (to which I do not wish to give any publicity whatsoever), in which I was gratuitously denounced once again for my assertion that people can be saved without explicitly embracing Jesus Christ and His Church....

The Green Pope’s Dilemma by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 27, 2011

Criticism tends to run high on CatholicCulture.org whenever bishops speak out on environmental issues, though it is generally more muted when it comes to the statements of the Pope. It seems to me that there are two legitimate reasons for this concern. But as we’ll see, these reasons do not get...

Hiding from Truth: Denying What We Can’t Not Know by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 9, 2011

In the second installment in this series on human dignity I asserted that “anyone who advances a particular understanding of the nature of man, the nature of intellect, the nature of will, or the nature of purpose and meaning, must decide, before he advances this understanding, whether or not he...

Federal Rulings Against Catholic Colleges Raise Hard Truths by Patrick Reilly - Jun 3, 2011

After years of urging from the Vatican and the bishops to renew Catholic identity in Catholic higher education, it seems the U.S. government is forcing the issue. The lesson? A college or university can’t be Catholic and secular at the same time. Too bad we need the secularists to drive...

How to Discuss the Liturgy by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 16, 2011

Inevitably the publication of Universae Ecclesiae has stimulated heartfelt exchanges on the liturgy, and once again I have seen a tendency (though not generally in the public posts on CatholicCulture.org) for each side to denigrate the other. The presumption, too often, is that those who oppose...

How Do We Know Our Faith? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 2, 2011

This is hard for us. Every day we come across people who make the wildest assertions about what is true and not true with respect to faith in God, Jesus Christ, Mary, the Saints, Christian morality, hell, heaven and so much more. Many people sound absolutely certain about these things, one way or...

Socio-Economics from the Outside by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 15, 2011

There is a certain paralysis that can afflict socio-economic discussions even among committed Catholics. For example, the other day I thought of adding my two cents to the discussion list for the Society of Catholic Social Scientists, where every member must sign a statement of fidelity to the...

Caring, Inclusive, and Afraid: A Case Study by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 5, 2011

One could hardly fail to notice the doctrinaire rhetoric of St. Columban’s College in Caboolture, Queensland, Australia. It seems the school (similar to an American high school) was forced to defend its values by withdrawing permission for a Protestant group to use its facilities for a talk on how...

Benedict’s Second Volume and the Historical Critical Method by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 24, 2011

Jesus of Nazareth Part II is out, and I’m working my way through it, not only to pass along the highlights but for spiritual reading. The Pope’s first volume (see Benedict’s New Book, The “Our Father” according to Benedict, and A Final Note on Benedict’s Jesus...

The Catholic Approach to Scripture by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 14, 2011

One of our users, who is in the process of converting from a Protestant background, asked me to comment on some things she was taught about Scripture in her RCIA class. In particular, she was concerned about statements that some parts of Scripture she had taken literally in the past were not...

Human Judgment and the Neutral Public Square by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 9, 2011

Did you ever stop to consider that no moral or political judgment can be made without reference to the nature, purposes and ends of the human person? There is a kind of theory, or perhaps more properly simply an “aura”, surrounding modern liberal democracies which causes us to imagine that a sound...

Fathoming the Mercy of God by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 3, 2011

When I was a professor at Christendom College in the early 1980’s, I had an outstanding student named John Janaro, who also played bass in our little swing band. About the time John graduated, I left Christendom to start Trinity Communications, which began life as a book publisher. One of our...

What This Means: Christian Witness in the Modern World by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 24, 2011

In classical apologetics, arguments proceed step by step toward something which at least approaches a proof. The arguments are important, but they cannot logically force someone to believe. If that were possible, then Faith would not be Faith. Rather, what classical apologetics is best at is...

Can the Legion of Christ Be Fixed? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 10, 2011

A searching article by former Legion of Christ priest Fr. Richard Gill, Can the Legion of Christ Be Repaired?, raises all the right questions, questions which merit serious consideration as the Church seeks to salvage the Legion. I’d like to present Fr. Gill’s concerns in a somewhat larger...

Is There Scandal in Ecumenical Prayer? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 3, 2011

In response to last week’s In Depth Analysis (Ecumenism: The Conversion Question), one of our readers suggested, with reference to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, that praying with non-Catholics causes scandal. As he put it: Yes Catholics should pray for Christian unity. However, what...

Ecumenism: The Conversion Question by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 27, 2011

At Vespers on January 25th, Pope Benedict stressed the obligation each Christian has to work for Christian unity. That is clearly true, of course; after all, Our Lord prayed that His disciples might all be one. But the difficulty of the task and the desire to avoid offending people often leads to...

Ex Corde Ecclesiae in America by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 21, 2011

This year each Catholic college and university president will meet with his local bishop to review institutional progress in implementing The Application of Ex Corde Ecclesiae in the United States, which the American bishops put into effect in 2001. This application grew out of Pope John Paul...

Accommodations in Converting Muslims by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 12, 2011

The hostility of the Arab Islamic world to Muslims who convert to Christianity is so great that it creates severe tactical problems for missionaries. Even when the governments in power do not take action against a convert, individual citizens may do so as an implementation of the idea that all...

Our Lost World: Anthony Esolen on Killing the Imagination by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 7, 2011

Anthony Esolen is rapidly becoming one of my favorite contemporary writers. I first encountered Esolen when I read his brilliant 2007 study Ironies of Faith, a marvelously engaging and profound introduction to great literature. Now Esolen is back with what we might consider a more pragmatic title:...

On Love and Fear by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 5, 2011

I actually succeeded in listening to the readings at Mass today, or at least almost. No sooner had I made the resolution to really concentrate on the Liturgy of the Word than I found myself awakened from various preoccupations by the need to join in the responsorial psalm. The first reading was...

Authority Both Apostolic and Petrine by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 20, 2010

In my review of C. E. Hill’s Who Chose the Gospels (Apostolic Authority and the Selection of the Gospels), I suggested that the author missed an opportunity to consider how apostolic authority would have been exercised if there had been a serious dispute about which gospels were authentic. Hill...

Apostolic Authority and the Selection of the Gospels by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 17, 2010

In his fine book Who Chose the Gospels? Probing the Great Gospel Conspiracy, the Protestant New Testament professor C. E. Hill debunks the widespread contemporary myth that the four gospels we know today were imposed by one or more dominant figures in the fourth century, presumably in order to...

Catholic Novels: What Are They? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 8, 2010

I began my series on recent Catholic novels with a question: Must the Catholic novel present the Christian message explicitly and more or less entirely so that the reader, through the characters in the book, is forced to acknowledge it and either accept it or reject it? In other words, is it the...

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