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

Recognizing the Noonday Devil by Thomas Van - Friday

If you had to guess the characteristic vice of our age, what would you pick? Some might say lust, and that’s certainly a big one, but it doesn’t seem to get to the root of the problem. The safe choice, perhaps, would be pride. It’s certainly true, but the same could be said of...

Patricia Jannuzzi on gay activists: And the real problem is? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Friday

Anne Hendershott wrote a pretty good column on the Crisis website the other day (A Catholic School Removes Teacher for Defending Faith). She rightly identifies the excessive backlash (both popular and official) against Catholic priests, religious and teachers who put a foot wrong on the question...

Christianity, Poster Child for the Examined Life? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Tuesday

In my last installment in this series on the relevance of meaning to evangelization, I discussed the importance of self-examination as a counter-weight to human fallibility. I concluded that Christianity has a powerful claim to consideration as a source of meaning precisely because, as I put it,...

Pope Francis on the death penalty by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 20, 2015

When Pope Francis addressed the International Committee against the Death Penalty on March 20th, he emphasized: “Nowadays the death penalty is inadmissible, no matter how serious the crime committed.” This raises the question of whether the Pope is prepared to further develop the...

Our Failure to Penetrate Reality: The Role of the Examined Life by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 18, 2015

When I explored the nature and sources of meaning in our lives (see What is ‘meaning’ and where does it come from?), I emphasized that the answers were largely self-evident. But if that is so, why do the men and women of our age have so much trouble embracing them? Part of the...

What is ‘meaning’ and where does it come from? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 13, 2015

I have already argued that we must learn again to trust our own native ways of knowing, our own holistic human perception of reality, if we are going to discover meaning (see Opening Ourselves to Meaning and Purpose). Given a basic acceptance of our own humanity and a corresponding trust in...

On Pope Francis: Getting our heads out of the sand by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 10, 2015

Every pope is controversial, but not all are controversial in the same quarters. You may recall how controversial (indeed, how annoying and even appalling) Pope John Paul II was to all those who aspired to worldly sophistication (and to schismatic Traditionalists). How they loved to denigrate the...

Opening Ourselves to Meaning and Purpose by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 5, 2015

If it is true that many or most people in our time are frustrated by a lack of meaning in their lives (see Evangelization and the Gift of Meaning), then it makes perfect sense for Christians to try to open their neighbors to the possibility of meaning. This will serve both as a genuine human...

Evangelization and the Gift of Meaning by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 3, 2015

Ever since Pope Francis said that we don’t need to talk about “these issues” all the time—referring to today’s most contested moral issues—Catholics have thought more deeply about evangelization. Whether we welcomed the comment or were appalled by it (a reaction...

Ukraine: A great lesson in thinking like a Catholic. by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 27, 2015

The current competition for sovereignty in Ukraine is apt to bring out the worst in armchair quarterbacks. I’ve heard Catholics rant on all sides of this issue, but every position seems to me to be determined by preconceptions. The clearest thing about the conflict in Ukraine from a distance...

NCIS Toes the Pro-Gay, Anti-Catholic Line by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 24, 2015

I’m a big fan of NCIS, the most-watched television show in the United States last season. It was also voted America’s favorite show in 2011. It has spawned two popular spinoffs, NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans. As a card-carrying contrarian, I’m not proud of my attraction...

Pope Pius XII's Apostolic Exhortations on the Ideal Film by Thomas Van - Feb 22, 2015

Recently the Catholic Artists Society shared on its Facebook page a link to two Apostolic Exhortations of Pope Pius XII, given in 1955 to representatives of the film industry (Italian and international, respectively). I had never heard of these documents before, and was intrigued that a Pope...

The decline and fall of the Person: Musings on my stack of unread books by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 20, 2015

It is no coincidence that there are four new books on my desk which are all centered on the human person. It is not a coincidence because the loss of a clear sense of the person is the overriding tragedy of modern history. This tragedy lies at the root of the gradual collapse of our secular...

Unseemly arguments? Conflict in Rome over financial reform by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 17, 2015

Once again we have a news story emphasizing the disagreements among the various cardinals and offices of the Curia when it comes to financial reform. Such conflict at the Vatican—or even just pointed questions—will always be eagerly reported. It is not insignificant; it makes a good...

Dear Judge Bariso: How do we recognize disordered desires and actions? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 13, 2015

Readers may scream or laugh at Judge Peter Bariso’s ruling that a group offering therapeutic services to homosexuals has committed fraud. The New Jersey Superior Court’s argument is that it is fraudulent to present as disordered something modern science claims is normal. A host of...

Shooting the Messenger, Catholic Style by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 6, 2015

A minor brouhaha occasioned by our discussion of morally tainted vaccines is depressingly illustrative of a larger tendency in human nature to shoot the messenger, or perhaps throw the messenger under the bus. It is an almost paradigmatic example, in that some Catholics (though hopefully not most)...

Thinking morally about vaccinations: My turn! by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 4, 2015

In two recent posts, Phil Lawler has ably summarized several important factors in the moral debate over vaccinations made from fetal tissue (see Conscientious objection to vaccinations and The vaccination debateS—notice the plural). In response, critics in some quarters have advanced moral...

St. Katharine Drexel shows how spiritual poverty and submission to Providence go hand in hand by Thomas Van - Feb 1, 2015

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...

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