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

The dispensations of the Jubilee Year are a two-edged sword. by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Friday

I want to add to what Phil Lawler has already written on the special dispensations Pope Francis has announced for the Jubilee Year of Mercy (December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2015). Actually, I was prompted to do this by a friend who has heard some Catholics discussing priestly absolution of the...

News Posturing: How the dramatis personae use each other by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 28, 2015

One of the reasons following the news is often so depressing is that so many of the situations that receive publicity are characterized by deep moral flaws. When I spoke about developing a “theology of the news” in a recent Insights Message, I pressed the case that we must...

Christian happiness is the key to cultural renewal. by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 24, 2015

In the August/September 2015 issue of First Things, James Kalb explored the possibilities for rolling back the technocratic culture which dominates the modern West. Technocracy is a problem because it is based on the belief that nature is something to be manipulated according to our own desires,...

Convincing the World: St. John Paul II's Encyclical on the Holy Spirit by Thomas Van - Aug 23, 2015

The Holy Spirit may seem, from a human perspective, the most obscure person of the Holy Trinity. He is certainly the least “personifiable” in an anthropomorphic sense, as is easily seen in countless depictions of the Trinity in Christian art. In the course of human history He has been...

What I learned on my vacation, about God and man by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 18, 2015

I returned to my desk full-time yesterday after spending a couple of weeks denying, as much as possible, that my desk even existed—attempting to slip quietly from routine into refreshment. Everyone knows that this process has inescapably limited results. The reason is found in a variation on...

The mystery of conversion, always deeply rooted in Divine mercy by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 30, 2015

There is a three-year-old in the house these days, as my oldest son and his family are visiting. Today young Jeffrey got to play on the red caboose which is displayed on the pavilion grounds in our town. This prompted a discussion of the traditionally lamentable demise of the caboose. By the...

God the Designer: Yes or No? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 28, 2015

Two weeks ago we saw how Fr. Robert Spitzer explored the nature of human happiness as a means of opening others to both the presence of God and a relationship with Him. I reviewed his book in Fr. Robert Spitzer on happiness: An effective approach to God? Today I will examine a different way to God...

Call me Troglodyte: The Cross and carbon credits by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 22, 2015

At the recent Vatican conference on climate change and human trafficking, Governor Jerry Brown of California accused powerful U.S. corporate interests of denying climate change. He said these “interests” use their money and influence “to keep from office people such as yourselves...

The religious liberty defense can, and probably will, obscure the truth. by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 15, 2015

To build on Phil Lawler’s comments on the plight of the Little Sisters of the Poor (The Little Sisters case: being forced by government to act against one's principles), I’d like to take a brief but hard look at why religious liberty is such a weak basis for moral political action....

Fr. Robert Spitzer on happiness: An effective approach to God? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 14, 2015

Those of us who consider it important to know and love Jesus Christ find ourselves frustrated by the difficulty of convincing others. Over the centuries, a great many Catholic thinkers have turned their attention to questions of apologetics, spiritual development and conversion in the hope of...

Pope Francis: Change rooted in local realities, not imposed from above by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 10, 2015

If you haven’t read our news story on two dramatic addresses Pope Francis gave today in Bolivia, you owe it to yourself to do so. The Pope insisted on a change of heart, on the development of a society in which we enter into the lives of others, rather than permitting ourselves to be ruled...

Through an even darker glass: On knocking the popes for socialism.... by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 7, 2015

If I have to read one more email explaining that modern popes have failed the Church by preaching socialism instead of the Gospel, I will not be held responsible for my reply. This complaint surfaces from time to time in orthodox Catholic circles for the simple reason that most politically...

Political battles vs. sacrificial service: The Brooks paradox revisited by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 2, 2015

My colleague Phil Lawler has identified a problem in David Brooks’ tactical recommendations for social conservatives (see ’Helpful’ advice for social conservatives: ignore causes, deal with effects). I agree that there are grounds for suspicion, but I am not at all sure that...

Acedia and the Unbearable Lightness of Being by Thomas Van - Jun 29, 2015

In his recent book The Noonday Devil, Jean-Charles Nault suggests that one aspect of acedia, or spiritual torpor, in modern society is that man does not want to receive goods that have a source outside and above himself. This leads him to deny the infinite, which in turn leads him to a...

On marriage, law, politics and the death of the West by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 26, 2015

Here we go again. The United States Supreme Court has created a new legal definition of marriage and ruled that all states must recognize same-sex marriage. In other recent news, a UN committee has demanded that Ireland hold two referendums—or referenda, according to grammarians of the...

What Laudato Si' is really about by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 19, 2015

I have read and heard many comments by politicians and activists on Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’. But all the comments focus on the question of human-caused global warming, the reality of which the Pope accepts. Thus comments from “liberals” predictably express...

Read like a Catholic: Avoid category mistakes in assessing the new encyclical. by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 17, 2015

Tomorrow we will have a new encyclical. Based on the earlier version leaked to Sandro Magister, it is going to be a fairly long one. Responsible commentators are using the leaked version to be able to respond more quickly to the encyclical when it appears, but they are holding their fire until...

Marion Cotillard in Joan of Arc at the Stake by Thomas Van - Jun 13, 2015

This weekend, the New York Philharmonic has been performing Arthur Honegger’s oratorio Joan of Arc at the Stake, with the wonderful French actress Marion Cotillard as St. Joan. I was fortunate to attend Friday night’s performance. Honegger, a Swiss composer born in France and...

Vibrant Catholicism, 3: Unity by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 10, 2015

For the third installment in this series, I have been wondering whether I wanted to take up the importance of Catholic consistency in lifestyle decisions, particularly for parents, or instead to focus on the need to exemplify a deep practical unity with the Church. The recent outcry in the...

Pope Francis simply doesn’t take sides. by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 5, 2015

It’s been an odd last few days. On Wednesday we learned from Cardinal Robert Sarah that Pope Francis charged him, in his leadership of the Congregation for Divine Worship, to continue the goals for the liturgy as envisioned by Pope Benedict. The next day, the news broke that Cardinal...

The vernacular in, Latin out. Why? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 4, 2015

I’ve changed my mind about not delving into the liturgical arguments in the discussions on the liturgy at Vatican II. I did not quote many of these in my ongoing extracts from Henri de Lubac’s notes on the Council, because the arguments are pretty much the same now as they were then....

Vibrant Catholicism, 2: A life of constant prayer by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 2, 2015

I suspect this series on “vibrant Catholicism” will be the most difficult series I have ever written. There is almost no conceivable topic which could not be taken up and dissected to help us understand the nature of an effectively Catholic response. It is hard to know where to begin,...

Vibrant Catholicism, 1: Lamenting the entire 20th century by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 28, 2015

I have this vision of offering a comprehensive plan to ensure a vibrant, effective Catholicism going forward—because we certainly haven’t had anything like it for a long time. But this is a seductive vision. Even the best and most comprehensive plans for renewal will run into enormous...

Modeling King David’s awareness of God by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 20, 2015

The fascinating Second Book of Samuel tells of the rise of the monarchy in Israel, transitioning from the period of the judges, including Samuel, to King Saul and King David, who establishes the line of Christ. Both spiritual and exegetical lessons abound here. Let me briefly combine just one of...

Reuniting Exegesis and Theology: Toward an Incarnational study of Scripture by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 14, 2015

If you have been reading my highlights from Henri de Lubac’s Vatican Council notebooks, you may already have seen this trenchant observation from 1962 by the great twentieth century theologian: It must be confessed that our exegetes...withdraw into a philological and critical role; they...

Can solidarity actually work in the modern world? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 12, 2015

In Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict defined “solidarity” as “first and foremost a sense of responsibility on the part of everyone with regard to everyone” (#38). In other words, a person who practices the virtue of solidarity (a) Always shapes self-interested actions so...

Swiss Catholics remind us of the iron law of Faith by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 7, 2015

The Swiss are now on record (see Swiss Catholics call for same-sex partnerships), though their record is arguably worse even than that of their German neighbors. But the Swiss report includes critical information which we outsiders learned about Germany only by juggling multiple news...

Beyond Our Ken: Henri de Lubac's Paradoxes of Faith by Thomas Van - May 4, 2015

From the truest truth to the falsest falsehood, there is often only one step. It has often been noted, quite rightly. But from the noting of that fact to the condemning of certain truths, as being dangerously near falsehood, there is also one step, and that step as well is often taken, this time...

Not Fully Human: Anthony Esolen’s compelling verdict on personal formation today by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 27, 2015

The modern notion of freedom is a kind of slavery. Over the years, I’ve tried to make this point by explaining that we are free only when we have the power to direct ourselves toward the good. Insofar as we fall into evil or sin, it is because we are enslaved by vice. To take but one...

Final take on the LCWR: A time to plant, a time to uproot by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 24, 2015

Though I have little doubt that Phil Lawler is correct in the rationale he outlines in “With the LCWR, has the Vatican taken Gamaliel's advice?”, I cannot help recalling Ecclesiastes 3:2. Even if we can understand the Pope’s decision against disenfranchising the Leadership...

What happened to the Vatican reform of the LCWR? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 23, 2015

The recent positive conclusion to the Vatican’s investigation into the Leadership Conference of Women Religious raises more questions than it answers. The kind words that LCWR leaders are now heaping on the Pope and curial officials do nothing to reassure. Questions arise because these...

Evangelization Itself by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 21, 2015

I have brought this ongoing discussion of the importance of meaning to evangelization nearly as far as we can take it without actually beginning to evangelize. If we look back at what we have learned so far, we can see ourselves drawing perilously close to the limits of philosophical speculation....

Piano improvisations, chamber music, Irish dances: Catholic musician Mark Christopher Brandt presses forward by Thomas Van - Apr 15, 2015

Catholic pianist and composer Mark Christopher Brandt has had a productive year—the busiest in his career so far. Back in March 2014, he released Round Trip, an album of duets with guitarist Dan Leonard. Several months later came December Moment, his jazz trio’s Christmas...

Buenos Aires, Moscow, the Vatican, and Baghdad: News without change? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 14, 2015

If our age is characterized by anything at all, I’ll lay money on the conflict between desire and reality. At least this is a major theme in the news over the past few days. Everybody seems to want to latch on to something that isn’t really there. Take for example, the decision by...

Christian Meaning and Divine Providence by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 9, 2015

In my series on the importance of “meaning” to evangelization, I’ve already covered (a) the crisis of meaning in modern culture; (b) the natural thirst we have for meaning; (c) the methods proper to the human person for finding meaning; and (c) the special claim of Christianity...

Holiness: Purging the evil from our midst by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 7, 2015

During Lent I read again the classic “boring” books of the Bible: Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Of the five books that are attributed to Moses (the Pentateuch, including Genesis and Exodus), these are the ones which emphasize regulatory laws and liturgical rubrics. They are, I...

Making Our Case: Is CatholicCulture.org Worth Supporting? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 31, 2015

I am a firm believer that the support of apostolic work should stand or fall on whether a large number of people find it valuable. It sometimes happens even in Catholic work that the availability of substantial funds from a small group of financial angels can obscure this usefulness...

Cardinal Marx’s Devastating Misconception of the Church by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 31, 2015

Cardinal Reinhard Marx’s unfortunate assertion that the German bishops “cannot wait for a Synod” to approve Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics has drawn severe criticism from two other German cardinals. Clearly, there are significant divisions within the German...

Recognizing the Noonday Devil by Thomas Van - Mar 27, 2015

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 - Mar 27, 2015

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...

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