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

No items posted on January 01, 2013.

Through the Pass: A Christmas Reflection by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 26, 2012

I was hiking in a fairly remote region when a few other hikers told me of a mountain pass leading into a spectacular valley resonant with cascading waters, lush with rolling meadows, dotted with innumerable wild flowers, and protected on all sides by snow-capped peaks. This sums up my idea of...

Expect More Catholic Caveats about Government by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 19, 2012

I found some extraordinarily important distinctions in Pope Benedict’s recent address to the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. These distinctions ought to affect significantly how we approach the Church’s social teaching regarding governmental authority...

The English Bible According to Msgr. Ronald Knox by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 17, 2012

Baronius Press has just brought out an attractive edition of the Knox Bible—the English translation of the Bible done single-handedly by the famous Catholic apologist Msgr. Ronald Knox between 1936 and 1945. This is a gilt-edged, leather-bound edition with two colored ribbons; its verse...

On Talking in Church by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 14, 2012

All those who are serious about prayer will experience, at least occasionally, the problem of noisy conversation in church. Moreover, church decorum varies from place to place. Usually this arises from the encouragement or discouragement of silence by pastors, which over time results in a habit...

Advertising the World's Greatest Pearl by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 10, 2012

I think it was Chesterton who observed that modern commercial life is exceedingly strange in that we so often spend our hard-earned funds based on advertising—that is, based on what a particular company says about itself. Yet there is no conceivable reason for us to consider advertising a...

Economics: The American Church Matures in Christ by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 7, 2012

Presumably nobody has missed the fact that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, at its November meeting, failed to issue its proposed statement on the economy. The document was approved 134 to 85, with nine abstentions, but that was short of the two-thirds majority (152 votes)...

Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 6, 2012

I've just read the third and final volume of the Pope's study of Jesus of Nazareth. This was originally projected as a separate monograph, in which the Pope applies his special brand of exegesis, which is really a profound renewal of exegesis, to the infancy narratives. Chronologically, of...

The Natural Law Is Not Enough by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 3, 2012

I have argued repeatedly for the importance of the natural law and particularly for an appeal to the natural law in public affairs. But today I wish to introduce a note of caution. As important as the natural law is, it can obscure things that are more important still. Most creatures reflect the...

Grace through Suffering by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 30, 2012

Elie Gilges died in her parents arms on March 11, 2004. Elie had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor when she was eight months old, and her parents expected to lose her almost immediately. Hope was rekindled when they found surgeons who would operate, but Elie had a stroke during or...

The Three Most Important Characteristics of an Evangelizer by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 27, 2012

Evangelizer or evangelist? Depending on your frame of reference, the term “evangelist” conjures up the writers of the gospels, slick Protestant TV personalities, or the kind of modern corporate marketing fervor pioneered by Apple. And the term “evangelizer” sounds just...

Marriage in Heaven by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 21, 2012

We have already sensed the conclusion to this series on marriage and church in the foreshadowing of nuptial union with God in the Song of Songs, referring at once to the individual soul, Israel and the Church. Other passages in the Old Testament point to such a nuptial union, both personal and...

Reading the Greats during the Year of Faith: Newman and Chesterton by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 20, 2012

There are all kinds of special reading we could and should be doing during the Year of Faith. The Church recommends the documents of Vatican II and the Catechism and so, as far as study goes, these should be at the top of our list. But neither of these is properly spiritual reading, and that...

The World without Marriage by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 15, 2012

I’ve been combining marriage and church in this series of articles. The reason for doing this was initially a pragmatic one, as I explained in There is the World, and There is the World with Marriage: Exit polls from the recent American presidential election showed clearly that people who...

Marriage in this World and the Next by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 13, 2012

I could have gone in one of two directions in this second installment on marriage and church in Scripture—which are two sides of a priceless coin in the currency of evangelization. Going in one direction, I might have devoted this installment to the evils, including estrangement from God,...

There is the World, and There is the World with Marriage by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 9, 2012

By now I hope you’ve read Phil Lawler’s fine essay, To fix the American political system, first fix the American culture, where he indicates that the American Presidential election exit polls give us a clear sense of direction for the restoration of a culture of life. When I...

The Next Four Years by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 7, 2012

In the wake of yesterday’s election results, it is clear that the Republican Party did not offer a credible candidate or a credible platform, at least as far as most Americans were concerned. It certainly offered neither one as far as serious Catholics are concerned. This is hardly news. But...

The Election: Final Advice on Discernment by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 5, 2012

In the midst of all the arguments and counter-arguments about how best to cast our votes in the American presidential race on Tuesday, let us not forget the need to pray to discern God’s will. His will must be discerned, obviously, within the range of options that are not intrinsically...

The Church on Abortion: A Misconstrued History by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 2, 2012

A reader called my attention this morning to the strange history of the Church’s position on abortion found on the Catholics for Choice website (The History of Abortion in the Catholic Church). The article is sixteen years old, but it might still be causing problems, so let’s take a...

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...

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