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Commentary and reflection on Catholic life and ideas by Dr. Jeff Mirus, President of CatholicCulture.org.

St. Katharine Drexel shows how spiritual poverty and submission to Providence go hand in hand by Thomas Van - Sunday

After St. Katharine Drexel founded her religious order, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, everyone around her urged her to set aside some of her annual income to set up a fund which would endow the order’s works after her death. It would have been easy for her to do so, and certainly the...

Christ freed us from our sins! But this is not enough. Really. by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 19, 2015

I have known a number of Catholics who were able to speak very eloquently about the forgiveness of our sins and our freedom in Christ. They had a knack for helping others realize how much God loved them, so that they could be unburdened by fear, doubt and guilt. Unfortunately, in some cases, they...

How do we react when the Pope fails to express our top concerns? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 15, 2015

Pope Francis’ in-flight interview on January 15th touched on a number of issues that have profound social implications: Freedom of religion, reconciliation among different religious groups, freedom of speech, the exploitation of children, and the misuse of nature, including climate...

Our Paradoxical Times: An economy of waste, a culture of the absurd by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 13, 2015

Anyone who has read John Steinbeck’s harrowing novel The Grapes of Wrath, or anyone who knows anything about the marketing of both baby formula and cigarettes in the third world, or anyone who examines military contracts, knows the lengths to which businesses will sometimes to go to enhance...

The Ecumenical Imperative: Intrinsic to the Church by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 6, 2015

In late November, Pope Francis told the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity that ecumenism—the quest for unity among Christians—must be an ever-present concern for the Church. Acknowledging problems created by new divisions over moral and doctrinal issues, the Pope emphasized the...

The Hobbit Party: Tolkien and the Social Order by Thomas Van - Jan 5, 2015

It is well-known even among non-Catholic readers that J.R.R. Tolkien was a devout Catholic and that his Catholicism deeply informed his fiction. Indeed, there is something of a cottage industry in Catholic interpretations of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. But Tolkien also had a unique...

Tear me down, Lord! by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 29, 2014

If I must reduce my New Year’s resolutions to just one, I guess it would be to do a better job of pointing to Christ without blocking the view. Every one of us has personality characteristics which, despite our best intentions, tend to shout “look at me!” instead of “look...

Policing, torture, reasons of State, and our Christian mistake by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 16, 2014

Consider recent news. A generation or two ago, if I had described a government which jettisoned the natural law in favor of the desire for power, which tried to impose its vision of society through ever-increasing bureaucratic control, which ensured that the ideology of the ruling class was taught...

The “Orthodox Practice”: A solution to divorce, remarriage and Communion? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 12, 2014

Since the working document for the 2015 Synod on the Family includes, among its points for discussion, the “Orthodox practice” on marriage, we should take a few moments to discover the questions this raises. It is a case of discerning whether the Church can find, in the way the...

Francis listens to critics, clarifies the issues, and stays his course by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 10, 2014

Pope Francis has made a strong effort to take into account the criticisms of “conservative” Catholics which boiled over during the October Synod of Bishops. For example, he has deliberately appointed “conservative” Churchmen to important posts recently, he has explained his...

Surprise! Marriage is the foundation of Catholic social teaching. by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 5, 2014

When I write about Catholic social teaching, I often highlight key principles such as the universal destination of goods, solidarity, the common good, and subsidiarity. All of these principles fit together to make a seamless whole, with each drawing life from the others. But articulating a series...

December Moment: A jazz trio's lovely, tasteful take on traditional Christmas music by Thomas Van - Dec 2, 2014

For working musicians, the season leading up to Christmas presents a twofold artistic challenge. The traditional holiday repertoire, whether sacred or popular, has been played and recorded so many times that creative musicians naturally want to find some new take on the old classics. At the same...

The gift of orthodoxy: A mercy and a challenge to mercy by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 26, 2014

It is said that even the Devil is orthodox. I have used this expression myself, and it can be very effective. It is a convenient way to emphasize that orthodoxy does not guarantee the love of God and neighbor which Our Lord identified as the very foundation of the Christian life. So it is a useful...

Public perception demands a way of mercy by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 24, 2014

In last week’s discussion (It is a failure of mercy to deny sin), I explained how the love and mercy of God are undermined by human efforts to be “nice”. This frequently takes the form of denying or minimizing sins in accordance with the spirit of the times, which obscures our...

It is a failure of mercy to deny sin by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 20, 2014

Previously, I promised to explore how we too often obscure the life-changing mercy of the Gospel, despite our best intentions (see Light of the World: Morality vital, but mercy first). We will discover very quickly that this failure usually arises from our own complacency—our refusal to...

Light of the World: Morality vital, but mercy first by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 19, 2014

I doubt anyone has forgotten the famous words of Pope Francis in his premier interview with Antonio Spadaro, SJ of La Civiltá Cattolica back in September of 2013. Many were struck especially by this comment: We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of...

The Foundation of Prayer for Priests by Thomas Van - Nov 17, 2014

In 2007, in light of increasing attacks on the priesthood from within and without, and particularly after the scandals that had done such damage to the Church, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy saw the need to begin a global movement of prayer for priests. To that end, the...

Helping troubled marriages; making good marriages stronger by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 11, 2014

With Pope Francis and the recent Synod of Bishops attempting to place marriage and the family at the heart of evangelization, it is an excellent time to consider the ways in which we can strengthen and protect our marriages against the stresses, misunderstandings and conflicts that tend to break...

Catholic controversy and serenity of faith by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 7, 2014

We have just gone through a month or so of rather heated controversy in the Church, primarily surrounding the Synod of Bishops. This was amply reflected in our writings and discussions here. Sometimes tensions ran high. In some quarters they are still running high. For example, in the last...

Bergoglio’s List: Pope Francis and political oppression in Argentina by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 6, 2014

Within hours of the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio to the papacy, the world press began to retail stories that Fr. Bergoglio may have been complicit in serious human rights violations under the military regime which ruled Argentina between 1976 and 1983. This innuendo was based primarily on...

Episcopal action on the SSPX: A basic strategy for unity by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 4, 2014

In the past few days, two bishops have been reported as announcing the excommunication of Catholics who attend Masses offered by priests of the Society of St. Pius X. First we heard from Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano, Italy, who reaffirmed the policy of his predecessor. Today there are...

Contentious Spirits, Beware! by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 30, 2014

For many years, as a much younger man, I far too frequently interpreted my tendency to criticize and complain about others as evidence of my great zeal for the truth. I am well aware of the huge shock this admission will produce in those who read my work now. All right-thinking readers today...

Does the Kasper Proposal make Pope Francis a heretic? Invalid marriages and mortal sin by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 28, 2014

I have been, from the first, among those who have opposed the Kasper Proposal. My first commentary on the subject suggested that Cardinal Kasper’s emphasis on moral principles as mere ideals seemed to presuppose a world without grace (see Does the Kasper proposal undermine the New...

Ignatius Press into the Breach: Trumping the Kasper Proposal by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 22, 2014

Ignatius Press deserves the gratitude of English-speaking Catholics for its publication of three books in direct response to the Kasper Proposal, as part of the discussion encouraged by Pope Francis leading up to the synods on the family. These books succeed in refuting the arguments in favor of...

A chaotic synod? Not in its results by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 21, 2014

Those who read between the lines in both Phil Lawler’s and my own series of commentaries on the recent Synod could probably tell that neither of us was particularly worried in the long run. Phil strove to point out aspects of the synodal process which were counterproductive, and I tried to...

A chaotic synod? Reason three: Marriage itself by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 16, 2014

In my last installment, I concluded that we must still consider why marriage presents the Synod on the Family with the most difficult topic of all. In reflecting on the distinctive nature of marriage, we will soon see more than ever why we should expect the synodal process, stretching over a year...

A chaotic synod? Reason two: The Church in our time by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 13, 2014

The second reason the current Synod on the Family will inevitably seem chaotic is the unique situation of the Church in this period of history. In my last installment, I explained that a certain degree of chaos is integral to the synodal process, and in the third and final installment I will...

A chaotic synod? Reason one: The nature of synods by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 10, 2014

It is very difficult to assess what is in the minds of most bishops as they work behind the scenes at the current Synod on the Family. The reports of the proceedings are very scanty, and often couched in terms that can be interpreted in multiple ways. A perceived lack of direction may be more...

While his cause is stalled: Remembering Bishop Fulton Sheen by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 7, 2014

The cause for beatification of the Venerable Bishop Fulton Sheen is on hold because of a dispute over Sheen’s body between the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois. Born in 1895, Sheen was ordained for the Diocese of Peoria in 1919, and it is Peoria that has taken...

Bishop Finn in Kansas City: Not quite up to date? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 30, 2014

Frankly, I was among the most vigorous supporters of Bishop Robert Finn when he took over the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in May of 2005. It did not take this “Opus Dei” bishop long to start making the kinds of changes which are so critical to both Catholic renewal and the New...

Annulment Motivation: The Crux of the Matter by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 25, 2014

It created a stir on our Facebook page when Phil Lawler called attention to Edward Peters’ argument that, on annulments, the process is not the problem. One person became so heated in his castigation of Peters that I felt obliged to delete the entire thread so the discussion could start...

SSPX adherents pose an obstacle to reconciliation by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 23, 2014

I am delighted that the Vatican and the Society of St. Pius X are talking again. This means that hope for a reconciliation of the SSPX with the Church has not been abandoned. But in thinking about this today, I realized something quite significant. Because the SSPX is not territorial in nature,...

Each of us is destined to marry Jesus Christ by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 18, 2014

Long ago and far away (I mean the mid-1970s in North Carolina), I wrote a book. Trained as an historian but always more interested in evangelization, I decided to do a sort of popular survey of history from creation to the end of the world. The purpose was to trace the action of God in His plan of...

Gregory the Great, Christ, the Church and the Soul in the Song of Songs by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 16, 2014

The Song of Songs is a fascinating book of Sacred Scripture, and one that has an equally fascinating interpretive history. It has the form of an erotic poem of love between a man and a woman, but nearly all commentators have understood it as an allegory of the love between God and His people. For...

Calvary is a must-see Catholic film by Thomas Van - Sep 15, 2014

The first half of 2014 saw the release of a number of high-profile films with religious themes which have ranged in quality from abysmal to decent. I don’t even need to tell you to forget them all, because you probably have already. The only one you need to see came out last month –...

The Mystery of Music, Part I by Thomas Van - Sep 12, 2014

Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent. —Victor Hugo The unique power of music to move the human heart is universally acknowledged. Music is often given a special place among the arts, as in Walter Pater’s claim that “all art...

Successful societies are (always) rooted in the family by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 11, 2014

Creating the ideal society through individualistic emancipation is a fool’s project. It cannot be done. That is why the more our politics emphasizes the freedom of each individual to pursue his own vision of reality, the more government control is necessary to keep the social order from...

Insurance Coverage: A Litmus Test for Institutional Catholic Communities by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 8, 2014

The University of Notre Dame, which had been fighting the HHS Mandate to provide contraceptive insurance in student health-care programs, has now reversed field. Despite having claimed that such coverage would constitute scandal, the University now intends to offer it. At least two observations...

Reality 101: The fat between our ears by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 2, 2014

I had my annual physical exam today, always a pleasant experience for an old man who looks (or perhaps I mean acts) as if he is 25. In the examination room, my doctor pointed out the June 23rd issue of Time magazine, the one with the cover story entitled “Ending the War on Fat”. It...

An Appointment that Francis Should Withdraw by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 28, 2014

At his Wednesday audience, Pope Francis lamented divisions in Catholic parishes, so often caused by gossip and other sins of the tongue. He also explained that the unity of the Church has its origins in the unity and communion of the Trinity itself. But last December he appointed Bishop Nunzio...

A lesson in prudence: Stopping the Black Mass in Oklahoma City by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 26, 2014

The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City filed a lawsuit against the group which intended to conduct a Black Mass in the OKC Civic Center Music Hall. The suit was grounded in the claim that the Satanist group could not hold a Black Mass without a consecrated host, and that the group could not possess a...

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