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Extended commentary and thoughtful Catholic essays on complex topics.

No items posted on February 01, 2013.

A Day of Salvation that Wasn’t: On Reading Catholic Writers by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 31, 2013

I read two rather strange articles in the February 2013 issue of First Things last night, and all I can say is that I am grateful to the authors for stimulating thought. That’s an important function of a magazine which explores religion and public life in an ecumenical setting. Very often,...

Mythbusters: Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 22, 2013

You may recall the appointment of Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in July of last year. The announcement created a tempest in a teapot as both Traditionalists and Modernists loudly denounced the new prefect’s theological...

The Precepts of the Church: An Invitation to Life by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 18, 2013

We all know the Ten Commandments, or I think we do. I notice we do not have a handy copy of them on our website, but there is an excellent Scripture-based table of the Ten Commandments in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Among other things, the Commandments are an excellent basis for...

Models of Apologetics by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 9, 2013

In some situations, apologetics is more valuable to believers than to non-believers. Most believers—especially young believers in the process of internalizing their faith—go through periods of questioning, and unanswered questions can lead to doubt. At the same time, of course,...

Life to the Full: The Gift of Christmas by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 21, 2012

One of the most important things about Christmas is that it is the first and most tender of all Christian reminders that every aspect of human life is an occasion of grace. The birth of Our Lord is the most accessible reminder of the Incarnation, by which God’s Son took on our nature so that...

Ten Keys to Effective Evangelization by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 12, 2012

One of our supporters wrote recently to ask what was supposed to be “new” about the New Evangelization. He had found that many people seemed to be waiting for Rome to issue instructions on a new kind of evangelization, different from the past, which would somehow solve the problem of...

Knowing Everything: The Mystery Paradox by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 5, 2012

We moderns don’t like to admit there is anything we don’t know. We experience a kind of dreadful insecurity in admitting ignorance. And the suggestion that somebody else might know more than we do is a terrible affront to our pride. More tribal men and women of former ages might have...

To Emphasize Politics or Not: The Sequel by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 29, 2012

It is time for a follow-up on my controversial In Depth Analysis, The End of Pro-Life Politics. The piece has occasioned a good deal of comment—not only in Sound Off! and via email, but in blogs and social media. Indeed, that may well be the most important thing about it. I argued that our...

The End of Pro-Life Politics by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 19, 2012

Have we as pro-life Catholics been wrong to invest the lion’s share of our time, talent and energy in the political battle against abortion over the past forty years? Or even if we have not been wrong the whole time, are we wrong now? Perhaps it is obvious that I believe the answer is yes....

New Rules of Engagement: Christ instead of the Modern State by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 8, 2012

The bishops of Pennsylvania cut right to the core of our fundamental political problem in their message to voters on November 1st, in preparation for Election Day in America. They identified this problem as the totalitarian war of the secular State not only against natural human rights but also...

Must a Genuine Pro-Lifer Vote for Romney? Exposing a Critical Moral Fallacy by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 30, 2012

Some readers have been genuinely confused (and sometimes angered) by my insistence that voters are not morally constrained to vote for whichever candidate offers the immediate lesser of two evils with respect to abortion. Please remember the context of my earlier remarks: To vote for Obama-Biden...

Living the Year of Faith: How Pope Benedict Wants You to Begin by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 17, 2012

The Holy Spirit has urged me to read the inaugural documents for the Year of Faith. Of course while one should seek the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in all things, one should never claim the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for anything. Those of us who are prone to expose all too clearly our own...

Climatism’s Mad, Mad World: A Review by Thomas B. Fowler - Oct 8, 2012

[The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism, Steve Goreham, New Lenox Books, 2012, vii+301 pp, paperback and Kindle (see links following review)] The theme of this book is the unsound science behind “global warming” and “climate change”, and the irrational behavior that it has...

Government and the Limits of Human Law by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 4, 2012

Earlier this week, a federal judge in Missouri ruled against Frank O’Brien’s claim that the HHS mandate violates his religious liberty by forcing him to act against the moral principles he must hold as a Catholic. Judge Carole Jackson stated instead that “this court rejects the...

The Dangers of Voting Your Heart: An Intrinsically Moral Guide by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 26, 2012

Every four years around this time I feel compelled to say something about voting, because American presidential elections tend to bring the moral questions which surround voting to the fore. This year our choices are somewhat worse than usual, but not so much as to be atypical. Neither is the...

Will Many Be Saved? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 19, 2012

We’ve all experienced it; we’ve all been affected by it: The endemic lack of concern about evangelizing others so that they can be saved. I’ve already given my most heartfelt response to this problem in The Catholic Side of Salvation, but I’ve hardly exhausted everything...

Why Religion and the Church Are the Ultimate Public Things by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 11, 2012

Yesterday I made the assertion that religion in general and the Catholic Church in particular are inescapably public realities (see In the Face of the State: The Church Too Is a Res Publica, a Public Thing). This assertion contrasts sharply with the prevailing attitude in the modern West that...

Practical Economics: How Things Work, Why There is Room for Morality, Where to Go from Here by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 31, 2012

There is a great deal of debate over the economy in the current Presidential election. Indeed, the Republican ticket has focused the election on economic issues, and particularly on government spending, by adding Paul Ryan as its Vice Presidential candidate. This enables the Democratic Party to...

Scientific Disagreement about Climate Change by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 22, 2012

In my previous essays on the moral dimensions of climate change (see The Moral Downside of Climate Change and Climate Change and Moral Knowledge) I promised to write something about the actual scientific disagreements concerning climate change, for this is a case where moral...

Climate Change and Moral Knowledge by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 17, 2012

Since writing yesterday’s On the Culture entry, The Moral Downside of Climate Change, I’ve received quite a bit of email, including some from Catholic climate scientists, contesting and, in some cases, misunderstanding the point I was trying to make. Let me say at the outset that,...

The Assumption, Tradition, and a Pledge for You and Me by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 15, 2012

The Feast of the Assumption calls to mind the importance of Tradition as a source of Revelation, and the importance of the Magisterium as the only authority that can determine what is part of Sacred Tradition, and what is not. There is, of course, a strong argument for the...

After Liberalism, the Deluge? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 9, 2012

With the great social experiment of the Enlightenment crumbling all around us, we may well wonder what guiding principles will inform the culture of the future. In other words, what comes after liberalism? The subject is worth serious thought, and not long ago First Things sponsored a...

Diocesan and Parish Renewal: Better Now? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 27, 2012

I’ve been saying for some time that the Catholic Church is slowly regaining its strength following the serious illness which weakened her, especially in the West, between around 1965 and 1985. And that’s certainly been my experience in the United States. I’ve been privileged to...

Eternal Rome vs. the Magisterium: A Contemporary Myth by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 17, 2012

One may still hope that the Society of Saint Pius X will seek to return to full communion with the Catholic Church. Bishop Bernard Fellay’s comments following the General Chapter of the Society could indicate acceptance of an arrangement similar to that of the Fraternity of St. Peter, or...

Rules for Good Catholic Social Teaching by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 12, 2012

Last year’s convention of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars was devoted to “Catholic Social Teaching and Economics”. The proceedings have just been published, and the lead essay (originally a “paper” read at the Convention), by Notre Dame professor Gerard V....

Living the Will of God: Vocation, Avocation, and Moment to Moment by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 5, 2012

As many of my long-time readers know, I enjoy sailing small boats. As a result, I’ve also read a good deal of literature by and about sailors. Much of this comes from full-time live-aboard sailors or those who have circumnavigated the world in smallish craft. It’s a life that brings...

Governing Politics by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 29, 2012

How are we to keep politics under any kind of legitimate control? The question is not simply a matter of political legitimacy, for the legitimacy of any specific political authority is fairly murky. It is easy enough to see why political authority in general is always part of the human experience....

New Evidence of the Dark Side: Hubris and the SSPX Rejection of the Church by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 19, 2012

I am indebted to one of our readers for pointing me to the homily preached by Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais on the occasion of the ordination of priests and deacons for the Society of St. Pius X. The event took place on June 15th at the SSPX seminary in Winona, Minnesota. Bishop...

Marriage: The Old, the New, and the Normative by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 8, 2012

The Week magazine has a standard “briefing” page, which it devotes to providing background on a particular issue each week. On June 1st, the briefing was on How marriage has changed over the centuries. The subtitle aptly expresses the point of the briefing: “Critics of gay...

The Logos of Sacred Music by Paul Jernberg - Jun 5, 2012

[Editor’s introduction: Composer Paul Jernberg wrote his Mass of St. Philip Neri as a choral setting for the new English translation of the Roman Missal. In the essay that follows, he explains not only his approach to the challenge of composing music for the liturgy, but—more...

Opposition to Grace: Giannone as a Microcosm of Fordham by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 30, 2012

I’ve pulled it back out of my trash can. I’m talking about Richard Giannone’s new book, Hidden: Reflections on Gay Life, AIDS, and Spiritual Desire. Giannone is a Professor Emeritus at Fordham. His book’s title strongly suggests its contents; it describes the...

The Natural Law and Sex by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 16, 2012

Let’s suppose you want to construct an effective case for confining sexual relations to lifelong marriage between one man and one woman, in which each marital act is open to both life and love. You might turn directly to official Catholic teaching, but not unless your intended...

Subsidiarity: What It Really Means by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 10, 2012

Earlier this week, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a statement saying that Paul Ryan’s budget proposal, which had just passed the House Budget Committee, failed to meet a “basic moral test”. The failure consisted in cuts to three specific programs,...

US Defense Spending and Cultural Imperialism by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 2, 2012

Each time I have written about the horrendous tendency of Western states to spend beyond their means, I have emphasized the need to pull back from the creeping totalitarianism which characterizes first world nations. This would reduce or eliminate the nearly incredible costs associated with...

Why Philosophy Matters by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 26, 2012

Reviewing God, Philosophy, Universities by Alasdair MacIntyre, which was first published in paperback last year, is a little like writing a summary of a summary. But it is an important summary. Subtitled “A Selective History of the Catholic Philosophical Tradition”, the book teaches us...

The Two Percent Rule: Damning Catholics with Impunity by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 18, 2012

Mystery writer Robert Crais entitled one of his novels The Two Minute Rule. It is based on the premise that, when committing a crime such as robbing a bank, if you cannot get in and out within two minutes, your chances of being caught rise exponentially. This has inspired my...

The Sovereignty Myth: On the Limits of Political Authority by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 15, 2012

Let me try again to make the limited and uncertain character of human government clear enough so that everyone can see the point. My first effort was in yesterday’s commentary, The Immigration Paradox: Blindness is Forbidden. There I attempted to explain, though perhaps confusedly, that no concept...

On the Guilt of “the Jews” by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 7, 2012

From time to time, a theological question is raised about whether “the Jews” are guilty of the death of Christ in a way which reduces or even eliminates the guilt of the rest of us. A misunderstanding of the answer to this question has often been used as a pretext for Christian...

Proving God by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 29, 2012

Robert J. Spitzer, SJ wrote an impressive book in 2010 entitled New Proofs for the Existence of God. It was impressive because Fr. Spitzer sought to update both the physical and the philosophical proofs for the existence of God, taking into account the kinds of problems which have been introduced...

Doctrine, Discipline and Holiness: Not Always What They Seem by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 14, 2012

A letter in the latest Adoremus Bulletin reminded me that we “conservative Catholics” can go off the rails, at times, on disciplinary questions. The correspondent insisted that only musical instruments made from God’s own materials (that is, natural materials) were appropriate for use in Church....

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