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

Renewal with God before Us: Christ Determines All by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Wednesday

As I outlined previously, Hans Urs von Balthasar found the main lines of Catholic renewal sullied by various human evasions—by our pervasive eagerness to soften our goals according to human standards. It is in the third section of the book we have been discussing that he finally sets forth...

Renewal with God Behind Us: Man Determines All by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Monday

In the first section of Who Is a Christian?, Hans Urs von Balthasar discusses the difficult situation the Church finds herself in today (or, to be more precise, in 1983 when the book was published; for background, see the previous installment, Hans Urs von Balthasar on Renewal that Matters). He...

Hans Urs von Balthasar on Renewal that Matters by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Friday

The brilliant Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905 – 1988) was for a long time a controversial figure. Perhaps in some circles he still is. During his formation and education as a Jesuit, von Balthasar encountered Henri de Lubac and Jean Daniélou, and so found himself drawn...

Gay and Transgendered: What Comes Next? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 22, 2014

In 1965, Lyndon Johnson prohibited Federal discrimination in hiring based on race, religion, gender and nationality. President Obama’s latest executive order amends that to include sexual orientation and gender identity. In 1969, Richard Nixon prohibited any sort of discrimination in Federal...

Living the Faith prescriptively by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 11, 2014

In yesterday’s On the Culture essay (Preoccupation with salvation inhibits love), I talk about the problems of living the Faith prescriptively, as a series of tricky external requirements, the fulfillment of which guarantees salvation. In response, koinonia raised a point in Sound off! which...

Preoccupation with salvation inhibits love by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 10, 2014

Our Lord spoke about eternal salvation. I do not mean to say that He didn’t. “Today salvation has come to this house,” Jesus told Zachaeus (Lk 19:9). To the woman who washed his feet with her tears, he said, “Your faith has saved you” (Lk 7:50). As the Good Shepherd,...

Image Journal: Reconciling Faith and Imagination by Thomas Van - Jul 7, 2014

My favorite thing about Pope Francis, from day one, has been his insistence that Catholicism cannot be reduced to an ideology or a moral program. The chief reason for this is that such a reduction leads us to neglect the person of Jesus Christ. But there is another, related way in which...

Reading Scripture with St. Augustine: A Return to God by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 7, 2014

There are all kinds of reasons for reading Scripture. These vary from person to person, culture to culture, age to age. But for the Fathers of the Church in general, the purpose of reading and meditating on Scripture was (as I mentioned in Augustine’s two rules for reading the Bible) to find...

Independence Day: No future without evangelization by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 4, 2014

If you are a reflective American, I’d imagine you find it hard to observe Independence Day. It is simply too hard to avoid this question: “Independence from what?” At one time, the answer was political and the question referred to Britain. Today, the answer is fundamentally...

Augustine’s two rules for reading the Bible by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 30, 2014

St. Augustine, whom most consider the greatest of all the Church Fathers, spends the last three “books” of his Confessions interpreting the spare outline of the Creation recorded in Genesis. The result is a moving tribute to Divine Love, and to the surpassing fulfillment each soul...

More on Communion with the Church from Pope Francis by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 26, 2014

In his second Wednesday catechesis on the Church, Pope Francis continued explaining what we might call the ecclesiality (or churchiness) of the Christian faith. You will recall that in a homily on June 19th, the Pope emphasized that it was possible for people to break their communion with God and...

Pope Francis: Some “Catholics” are not really Catholics by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 24, 2014

Considering the subject of my last In Depth Analysis (Speaking clearly about dangerously imperfect communion with the Church), Pope Francis’ statement last Thursday that mobsters are excommunicated calls for additional comment. What did the Pope say, and how is it to be understood? The...

Exercising human authority in a vacuum: This must stop. by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 20, 2014

An Italian court has struck down a ban on the use of donated eggs and sperm in assisted reproduction. According to the court, a couple’s right to reproduce must be preserved even if the couple is infertile. In exactly the same way, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has...

Beneath a religion teacher’s dismissal, the madness of the modern world by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 16, 2014

My interest was caught by the recent case in which the European Court of Human Rights upheld a Spanish bishop’s decision to dismiss an ex-priest from his position as a teacher of Catholic religion at a public school. The bishop’s decision was a sound one, so the Court’s decision...

St. Augustine on our sins in the enjoyment of the Mass by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 13, 2014

It is hard to read Augustine’s Confessions without understanding human nature better, and particularly our own weaknesses. Writing in the form of a prayerful reflection on his life and a general confession of his faults to God, Augustine carefully describes the course of his life from his...

Defending the Catechism against the Calendar by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 10, 2014

It is noteworthy that Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller defended the Catechism of the Catholic Church in a recent address at St. Patrick’s College Seminary in Maynooth, Ireland. And it is telling that he spent a significant amount of his speech refuting two false ideas: (1) That the...

The Will of the People: Dangerous Political Rhetoric? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 6, 2014

The comments of the bishops of Oregon on the Supreme Court’s refusal to stay same-sex marriage there demonstrate the limits of political rhetoric. Recalling the 2004 referendum in which Oregonians approved an amendment to the State Constitution defining marriage as the union between a man...

Ukraine: Orthodox Territorialism Skews Spiritual Judgment by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 4, 2014

I see in the news today that the chairman of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Department of External Church Relations has complained that the Ukrainian Greek Catholics have been spiritually destructive in their response to the current crisis in Ukraine. In contrast, the Ukrainian Orthodox...

Exemptions to the HHS Mandate? Exchanging “beliefs” for reality is too high a price by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 2, 2014

In the current (June/July) issue of First Things, Professor Hadley Arkes points out the absurdity of the effort to create exemptions from civil law based on religious beliefs (see Recasting Religious Freedom). Arkes, who teaches jurisprudence at Amherst College and is a noted pro-life strategist,...

Ideology vs. individual: a novel of ideas by Thomas Van - May 29, 2014

One of the tragedies of World War II is that, as much as it was “the good war,” many of its winners never completely understood what they were fighting for. This is true even in an external sense – the British and Americans were simply unaware of much of what was going on in...

Sensitive Topics, Myself, Bishops, and Removing All Doubt by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 28, 2014

After several years of self-restraint, I finally gave voice to misgivings about what I regard as abuses in the otherwise legitimate celebration of patriotic holidays. In each previous year, I had decided not to borrow trouble. This year, on the US holiday of Memorial Day, I thought I could avoid...

Patriotic Holidays: Catholic Misgivings by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 26, 2014

Each year in the United States, on both Independence Day and Memorial Day, I have decidedly mixed feelings. This is especially true at Masses which emphasize American “freedom” and honor all those in the armed forces who have “died for our freedom”. There is a certain...

Entering the Kingdom of God: What Does This Mean? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 22, 2014

The Kingdom of God is a fairly difficult concept to pin down. The phrase does not occur in the Old Testament, but we find it directly referenced some sixty times in the books of the New Testament, with even more references in slightly different terms. Five of the NT writers—Matthew, Mark,...

The Church on Marriage and Family: Joining Battle by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 20, 2014

I confess that I was surprised by the response of Manila’s Cardinal Tagle to the preparatory work for the Synod on the Family. For Cardinal Tagle said he was “shocked” by the results of the worldwide pre-Synodal questionnaire, which revealed that in most places Catholics do not...

Making Gay Okay: Robert Reilly Explains How and Why by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 14, 2014

Ignatius Press has recently published an excellent book by Robert R. Reilly, entitled Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior Is Changing Everything. The focus is on the extraordinary rapidity of the change from social rejection to social affirmation of homosexuality. The author...

Have the Popes Written Enough? A Sharp Turn in Renewal by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 12, 2014

In a discussion with family members gathered for Mother’s Day yesterday, the question arose as to why modern popes have tended to write so much. One of our number suggested that perhaps enough had been written, and it was time for something else. The discussion then turned to whether Pope...

The Church’s Jurisdiction Today: Action Trumps Inaction by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 5, 2014

Two stories in the news today demonstrate problems with the jurisdiction of the Catholic Church as it is currently understood and implemented. The first concerns attacks on the Vatican by a UN Panel charged with implementing the UN Convention against Torture. The second concerns the rebellion...

Smaller Church, Bigger Faith 6: Our Responsibility by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 2, 2014

I intend here to complete my series on improving the Church’s membership. The improvement is to be desired both for the sake of the members and—in the particular context of this series—so that the Church is not so often her own worst enemy for the New Evangelization. In the...

Smaller Church, Bigger Faith 5: Social Services and Universities by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 30, 2014

I predicted one final installment to this Smaller Church, Bigger Faith series, but I have since thought of a separate penultimate point which should not be passed over. I mean the need to reform the Church’s ancillary institutions, such as her semi-official social service organizations and...

Smaller Church, Bigger Faith 4: The Challenge of Preaching by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 28, 2014

In the preceding installment of this series, I had to acknowledge certain limitations on the Church’s ability to reform her own membership, the deficiencies of which not infrequently pose obstacles to the New Evangelization. To take just one example, while effective discipline is absolutely...

Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism by Thomas Van - Apr 24, 2014

For as long as atheism has existed as a significant intellectual movement, there have been attempts by atheists to psychoanalyze religious belief – to explain it or explain it away not with regards to its inherent truth or falsehood, but rather in terms of psychological needs, as...

Round Trip to the present moment: a Catholic jazz artist's latest offering by Thomas Van - Apr 22, 2014

“Art is not something that has ceased to be created.” Michael Levey began and ended his History of Western Art with these words, and what with the tendency of modern Catholics towards cultural pessimism, we could always do with a reminder. Of course, since a mere assertion will not be...

Smaller Church, Bigger Faith, 3: Ecclesiastical Discipline by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 17, 2014

In the previous installment emphasizing the “impact of grace”, I noted the problematic nature of any kind of institutionalized program to press deficient Catholics to select themselves out of the Church. Once again, I am referring to those who claim the Catholic name but do not fully...

Journey to the Sun: A Strange Biography of Junípero Serra by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 16, 2014

Gregory Orfalea’s biography of the great missionary to California, Junípero Serra, is exceedingly strange. In the good sense of the word, it is genuinely foreign and fascinating. The author has a gift for telling an exotic story with plenty of intriguing detail, even when the evidence...

Smaller Church, Bigger Faith, 2: The Impact of Grace by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 15, 2014

I suggested in the previous installment that the Church’s membership ought to consist not just of anybody who happens to have acquired the name of “Catholic” but of sinners who recognize the mission of the Church and fully accept the need for that mission in their own lives. At a...

Smaller Church, Bigger Faith? The Problem of the New Evangelization by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 14, 2014

It seems to me that the Church faces a critical obstacle to the New Evangelization, an obstacle which arises inescapably because this is in significant part a re-evangelization. I am referring to the profound deficiency in Christian witness within the Church herself. Again, I beieve this...

Theological Bias, or, What’s our news department thinking, anyway!? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 11, 2014

We get the darnedest emails. In this case I’m referring to the one which accused us of cherry-picking what we wanted, rather than what happened, in our coverage of Pope Francis’ advice to students at the Gregorian University in Rome. Our headline was: “Do theology on your knees,...

Divorce is the most prevalent form of child abuse. by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 10, 2014

We have a donor who occasionally posts in Sound Off!, offering insight into current issues from a psychological point of view. This is not surprising. His Sound Off! alias is Shrink and he is, in fact, a psychologist. I call your attention to a trenchant comment he made following my second essay...

Fighting the Devil: Dangerous Emotions at Work by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 8, 2014

Late last week I had an unusual experience. I found myself getting impossibly angry over the situation in Charlotte, North Carolina, about which I had written twice and Phil Lawler once (see list of essays at the end). I realized I was experiencing an unpredictable emotional reaction which was not...

What the Charlotte controversy reveals about the acceptance of Catholic teaching by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 3, 2014

News coverage is now available for the resolution of complaints about Sister Jane Dominic Laurel’s controversial presentation at a Catholic high school in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Nashville Dominican sister spoke at a school assembly about Church teaching on marriage, divorce,...

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