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

My Top Ten Prayers for the Year of Faith by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 1, 2012

We all have both goals and worries, and while our anxiety is certainly worthless, our prayers are not. In most cases, our perspectives are dominated by what is closest to ourselves. Our own health and financial well-being, for example, generally take precedence over that of our friends. Family...

A Case for Defrocking: Preaching in Support of Same-Sex Marriage by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 30, 2012

It was very sad to see the news that a long-time Catholic pastor in Baltimore took the occasion of his bishop’s condemnation of same-sex marriage to preach vigorously in favor of it. Fr. Richard Lawrence of St. Vincent de Paul Church in the Diocese of Baltimore not only publicly defied...

A Note on Political Choices, and Political Lies by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 25, 2012

In the past few weeks I’ve exchanged a number of shrillish emails with those who strenuously object to my assertion that there are two moral choices in this year’s American presidential election: Vote for Romney or vote for neither of the major candidates. Some have argued that a vote...

The Light Dawns: American Bishops and the State by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 24, 2012

For a generation now, a great many Catholic lay people in the United States have marveled at their bishops’ ability to advocate one government program after another in the name of the common good, apparently never dreaming that putting too much trust and power in government could actually...

Paying the Price of Faith: Muhammad Fadel-Ali Becomes Joseph Fadelle by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 22, 2012

If you lived under a militantly Muslim regime and wanted to convert to Christianity, you would probably assume you could quietly make contact with one of the small Catholic communities in your region and so seek entrance into the Church. But your assumption would very likely be wrong. Because of...

The Synod on New Evangelization: An Opportunity by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 19, 2012

The Synod for the New Evangelization has an interesting set of problems to consider. Reading the instrumentum laboris for the Syno (The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith) is an illuminating exercise. This document is generated from the responses of bishops around the...

Catholic Myth Busting: One Step Is Often Enough by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 18, 2012

One of the interesting things about misunderstandings of the Catholic Church is this: If we are able to dispel one misunderstanding for a particular person, we’re well on the way toward dispelling all of that person’s misgivings concerning the Faith. This is true largely because of the...

Coercion vs. Tolerance: The Real Crisis in Public Life by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 16, 2012

We’ve been fighting legal abortion with little or no success for a very long generation now, and we’ve rightly regarded it as a horrific scourge, a massive breakdown of the public order. Perhaps this is why we have been slow to recognize and oppose the sea change that is taking place...

Frustration with Ryan and Biden by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 12, 2012

It was frustrating to hear both Catholic Vice Presidential candidates botch the question of the relationship of abortion to their Catholic Faith in the debates. Joe Biden, of course, simply repeated the same canards that faithless Catholics have always used to justify being pro-abortion. Paul...

The New Evangelization: Down with Optimism, Up with Hope by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 10, 2012

The current Synod on the New Evangelization is not optimistic about the state of the world. This, I am prepared to argue, represents a seismic shift in episcopal perceptions over the past fifty years. In the second half of the twentieth century, the Catholic hierarchy in the West seemed possessed...

Hunted Priests: The Resistance of John Gerard, SJ by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 10, 2012

It is difficult to over-estimate the importance of the Elizabethan period in English history to the problems of our own times. In the sixteenth century, the English crown was determined to assert the authority of the State over the minds and hearts of all those within its borders. This...

New Doctors of the Church: St. Hildegard, St. John of Avila by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 8, 2012

Yesterday Pope Benedict opened the Synod on the New Evangelization and declared two new doctors of the Church, St. John of Avila (1500-1569) and St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179). Given the occasion, it is not surprising that both of these saints excelled in re-evangelizing—in stirring up...

San Francisco, London, Ephesus, and Catholic Relevance by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 5, 2012

“The man who chained me up seemed sorry he had to do it, but I did not feel the least bit sorry for myself. Quite the contrary I became very happy—so good is God to the least of His servants. To recompense the man for his good turn I gave him a little money and told him that it was no...

The Faith: A Personality, a Thing by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 2, 2012

As you probably know, the new Year of Faith begins on October 11th (see our Year of Faith Workshop). I thought I’d help kick it off by reflecting on what the great 20th century apologist Hilaire Belloc had to say about the Catholic Faith. The following passage is taken from a letter to G. K....

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...

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