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

Little Flower: The Story of a Soul by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 1, 2012

Today is the feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux (St. Theresa of the Child Jesus), who died in 1897 of consumption (tuberculosis) at age 24 after living nine years as a Carmelite nun. Affectionately known as the Little Flower, St. Thérèse wrote, under obedience to two...

How Much Does Politics Matter? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 27, 2012

I’ve been writing a great deal about politics lately, because it is a presidential election year in America. But Catholics cannot afford to have faith in politics, especially in the current Western situation. The Psalmist was quite right when he advised Israel to “put not your trust in...

The Pew Survey’s Most Sobering Result by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 25, 2012

Now that a Pew Survey shows Catholics favoring Obama by a 15-point margin, it is time to point out what is truly significant about the survey results. It isn’t significant that those who attend Mass monthly or yearly favor Obama 53 to 39 percent or that those who attend Mass seldom...

Using Ecclesiastical Penalties to Shape Both Souls and Culture by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 24, 2012

The recent declaration by the Archbishop of Shkodrë-Pult that Catholics who participate in traditional Albanian revenge killings will be excommunicated calls to mind many other efforts by the Church over the centuries to use spiritual sanctions to purify human culture. Such disciplines as...

Blasphemy Laws and Modern Uber-Politics by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 20, 2012

The recent suggestion by both the Maronite Catholic Patriarch and four Anglican bishops from northern Africa that the United Nations should outlaw blasphemy is highly dubious. As the Anglican bishops put it, there should be an international policy “that outlaws the intentional and deliberate...

Is It Immoral to Purchase Health Insurance with HHS Mandate Coverage? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 17, 2012

In the wake of my recent commentary (Civil Disobedience and Health Care), some readers have begun to ask: “Is it immoral to purchase health insurance which implements the HHS mandate to provide coverage for contraception, sterilization and abortifacient drugs?” I will attempt to...

Civil Disobedience and Health Care by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 14, 2012

Writing in the October issue of First Things, R. R. Reno and Fr. Thomas Joseph White, OP address the question of civil disobedience in response to the Affordable Care Act and the HHS mandate requiring insurance coverage for contraception, sterilization and abortifacient drugs. Coincidentally,...

In the Face of the State: The Church Too Is a Res Publica, a Public Thing by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 10, 2012

Remember when questions about religious “displays” were raised primarily with respect to public property? In the United States, at least, the question has typically revolved around whether a particular manifestation of religious faith on public (that is, government) property...

The Church and the Market by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 7, 2012

With some frequency in recent years, both Phil Lawler and I have insisted that Catholics are not bound to accept, approve and follow the prudential judgments of their bishops, or even of the pope, in matters of public policy. This is because, as the Church herself has repeatedly insisted, the...

The American political impasse (yes, and everyone else’s, too) by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 6, 2012

Why don’t we get the political choices we want? Many deeply committed Catholic voters are asking themselves this question during the American presidential campaign. For decades now—certainly as long as I’ve been politically aware, and perhaps throughout American...

The Good, Bad and Ugly of Trying to Live the Faith by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 4, 2012

To paraphrase Kermit the Frog, it’s not easy being Christian. News coverage over the past several days certainly bears this out. There is some definite good among the bad and the ugly, but all if it pretty much represents the Christian struggle for fidelity to God. Let’s look at the...

Newman: On Writing Style, and on Original Sin by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 30, 2012

I said elsewhere that I wanted to be John Henry Newman when I grow up (see Newmanesque), although I realized the other night that, as an essayist, I wouldn’t mind also being Sigrid Undset. Anyway, in continuing to read through Fr. Saward’s anthology of The Spiritual Tradition of...

Cardinal Dolan and the Problem of Partisanship by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 28, 2012

The news that Cardinal Dolan will offer the closing prayers at the Democratic national convention followed by a few days the announcement that he would lead the closing prayers at the Republican convention. Naturally, some on each side have condemned the Cardinal’s involvement in the other...

Because I Love God by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 24, 2012

I found myself thinking about temptation the other night, and I concluded that, among all the motivations in the world, ultimately I would choose not to do certain things simply because I love God. Then it came into my mind how this would sound to someone who does not believe in God, or at least...

John F. Kennedy in Retrospect: A Damnable Privatization of Religion by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 22, 2012

When John F. Kennedy was running for President in 1960, he faced considerable opposition from those who believed a Catholic could not be a good national leader, because he would be controlled by his Church (a Church which was regarded by the majority of Americans as not only a foreign but an alien...

The Challenge of Getting Things Right by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 21, 2012

Hopefully, when it comes to serious personal decisions—such as claims about God, fundamental moral values, the behavior of our spouses and children, our personal vocations, or the best way to invest our life savings—we actually investigate thoroughly in order to differentiate truth...

The Moral Downside of Climate Change by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 16, 2012

Now that parishes and Catholic schools are being urged to show a documentary on climate change, perhaps it is time to comment on the wisdom of attempting to turn climate change into a moral issue. This is a danger currently being courted by those who portray climate change both as a disaster...

The LCWR Needs an Ecclesial Mission by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 13, 2012

Apparently the “good times” are over. The new normal for Catholic priests and religious, and for official Catholic organizations, is that if you don’t take the mission of the Church seriously, you’re going to draw unwanted attention and pressure from Rome. At least...

Intermediary Institutions Represent, Preserve and Shape a Robust Culture by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 10, 2012

Those who read After Liberalism, the Deluge? will see that once again I call for the formation and strengthening of culture through “intermediary institutions”. Some might say: “This sounds grand and noble, but what does it really mean? What can we concretely do to form and...

The Al Smith Dinner: Good Humor? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 8, 2012

President Obama’s appearance at the Al Smith Dinner is confirmed. He was invited by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York. This annoys (and in many cases alarms) serious Catholics everywhere. What can be said about it? As our news reports emphasize, the invitation is...

Correcting History Personally: Stages on the Road by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 1, 2012

How shall I interpret my title? It could be a call to sanctity, certainly. But I have in mind the remarkable work that Sigrid Undset did in Stages on the Road. As you may already know, Undset was a Nobel prize-winning Catholic novelist in the first half of the twentieth century, the author of such...

Beauty and Enmity: Life on the Point by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 25, 2012

For the second time this Summer, my wife and I are spending a few days with her mother at her “camp” on Willsboro Bay, just off Lake Champlain near Willsboro, NY. On much of the New York side, the lake is bordered by the Adirondack Mountains. Not surprisingly, then, it is an extremely...

All the Difference: The Former Pontifical University of Peru by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 23, 2012

Today the Vatican has finally revoked the right of a Peruvian university to use the terms “pontifical” and “Catholic” in its name. It took an incredible twenty-two years for this disciplinary measure to be taken. There are several important angles to the story. Most...

Aidan Nichols: Chalice of God by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 19, 2012

Fr. Aidan Nichols is a Dominican theologian who resides at the Dominican house in Cambridge, England. With roots in the Russian theological tradition and a special expertise in the work of Hans Urs von Balthasar, Fr. Nichols combines shining orthodoxy with an appreciation of the traditions of both...

Conflating Politics and Charity: A Mistake We All Make? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 17, 2012

It is evident in nature that men and women are social beings, but it is sometimes a shame that we are also political animals. This leads us, very often, into the neglect of the supernatural virtues which have been infused into Christian souls by God. Let me explain. This neglect is often seen in...

Facing the People: Cardinal Burke’s Opinion by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 11, 2012

I found Cardinal Raymond Burke’s lament over resistance to Summorum Pontificum interesting, but for a reason you might not expect. Cardinal Burke definitely decried the lack of cooperation by bishops in some dioceses with the Pope’s desire that the extraordinary form of the Roman rite...

A Cautionary Tale about Fatherhood by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 10, 2012

John Caldwell was a Texan who married an Australian, a man of incomparable drive and raw courage, and a determined atheist. His story is fascinating, but it raises enormous questions. Caldwell and his wife, Mary, were married in Australia during World War II, but were immediately separated by...

Gerhard Ludwig Müller: Another Faulty Traditionialist Condemnation by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 9, 2012

Archbishop Gerhard Müller—the brand new Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith—has also come under Traditionalist attack. A case in point is the July 9th Remnant Online blog entry, New Head of CDF Dissents from Certain Doctrines of Faith?, by “a concerned...

Joseph Augustine Di Noia: A Faulty Traditionalist Condemnation by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 9, 2012

Readers have called my attention to the Traditionalist denunciations of Archbishop Joseph Augustine Di Noia, since he has been appointed Vice President of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, and of Archbishop Gerhard Müller, now that he has been named Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of...

Ought we to beware of history? I'm afraid so. by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 6, 2012

A recent note in Chesapeake Bay Magazine reminds us of problems in the writing of history. This is from the issue for July 2012: “No, Captain John Smith and his merry crew didn’t make it all the way up the Susquehanna River…. Nor did the famous explorer make it past the fall...

The Synod of Bishops, an Instrument of Collegiality by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 2, 2012

With the appointment today of the presidents for the 2012 Synod of Bishops—in this case cardinals from Hong Kong, Mexico and the Congo—it might be useful to review exactly what the Synod of Bishops is. In a nutshell, the Synod is an instrument of episcopal collegiality which grew out...

Is Christopher (the novel) a myth? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 28, 2012

The number of Catholic writers attempting fiction appears to be growing by leaps and bounds. Among a handful of novels which have come across my desk over the past six months—which I am admittedly very slow to get to—is one that I managed to finish a couple of weeks ago. Then I let it...

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, for Freedom by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 22, 2012

The day before yesterday I spent several hours reprogramming our main Catholic World News page, which is the section page you should bookmark if you visit CatholicCulture.org primarily to catch up on Catholic news. We had some new ideas about how to display information on that page, and...

On Saving Everybody by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 15, 2012

It’s summer now, schools are closing for the year, and those with a little free time are beginning to travel. I’m on the road already, having driven my wife’s mother from Manassas, Virginia to Rochester, New York yesterday so that she can attend a wedding of a somewhat distant...

One-Eyed Liberals by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 12, 2012

According to the psychological research of Jonathan Haidt, liberals are capable of seeing only about half of the factors which conservatives appreciate when making moral judgments. Haidt, now a professor of social psychology at the University of Virginia, was quite certain as a graduate student...

Bishop Fellay’s Rhetoric by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 11, 2012

Last Friday’s headline, Bishop Fellay: ‘total acceptance of Vatican II’ no longer prerequisite for full communion with Holy See, has provoked a variety of reactions. What the Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X has said is undoubtedly face-saving and even to some degree...

Sacred Music and Religious Music, a Distinction by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 6, 2012

I hope you’ll read Paul Jernberg’s In Depth Analysis on The Logos of Sacred Music. By way of introduction, let me note that Jernberg’s presentation is made all the more relevant by a recent essay by Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, Singing the Mass, which has been published in several...

Does compassion require truth? Sister Margaret Farley by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 5, 2012

In 2006, Sr. Margaret Farley, now professor emerita at Yale Divinity School, published a book which contradicts, confuses or undermines Catholic teaching on, among other things, “masturbation, homosexual acts, homosexual unions, the indissolubility of marriage and the problem of divorce...

Surviving Hitler: A Memoir of the Austrian Chancellor’s Son by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 4, 2012

Kurt von Schuschnigg was the devoutly Catholic Chancellor of Austria when Hitler invaded and took control of his country. For several years prior to the invasion, von Schuschnigg negotiated desperately both with Hitler and with potential allies in an effort to preserve Austrian independence. He...

The HHS Whitewash and the Obliteration of Moral Distinctions by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 1, 2012

When I criticized Maureen Dowd’s take on the American bishops’ opposition to the HHS Mandate (as did Bishop John Wester a day later), I posed a number of questions. One of them was this: If, as a Gallup Poll cited by Dowd suggests, 82% of Catholics think that birth control is morally...

Words of Wisdom: The Book by Christopher Mirus - May 31, 2012

There is no questioning the importance of Thomas Aquinas for the Catholic intellectual tradition. Nor can one question the difficulty of reading him, in translation, nearly 750 years after his death. Indeed, to read any author separated from oneself by massive cultural and intellectual changes...

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