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Extended commentary and thoughtful Catholic essays on complex topics.

The Surprising Implications of Man’s Natural Ends by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 9, 2014

Recently I’ve revisited the massive shakeup of Catholic theology occasioned by Henri de Lubac’s remarkable study Surnaturel (French for "supernatural"), published just after the close of World War II. The whole episode demonstrates the immense consequences that can...

Western rationalism vs. the commitment of the whole person to God by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 4, 2014

Not long ago a Jesuit priest posted a reflection about the Catholic approach to truth in his personal blog. I am not going to quote, and I am not going to identify the Jesuit. It was an off-the-cuff sort of reflection (always a grave risk when blogging), and I have no desire to hold him to the...

Pitfalls Surrounding Catholic Consideration of the Arts by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 27, 2014

Several of us who set the direction for CatholicCulture.org have been discussing the obvious connections between “culture” (which is part of our name) and “the arts”. These connections are always of interest, of course, but in fact we have done very little with the arts...

Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage, Fidelity, Communion, Vocation by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 19, 2014

In response to Phil Lawler’s City Gates piece about the Impending Catholic debate on divorce (March 14th), a Sound Off! comment by “Dan” raises the question of whether we really want abandoned women to be barred from receiving the Eucharist. Here’s the full question: In...

Are we tempted beyond our strength? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 7, 2014

We have all heard from the time we were knee-high to a tadpole that God never permits us to be tempted beyond our strength. If we’ve done any spiritual reading, this axiom has been drummed into us by more than one author. Sometimes its very repetition can make us feel guilty or spiritually...

God, Character, and Literature: Paula Huston’s Land without Sin by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 20, 2014

As longtime readers may have noticed, I occasionally pick up and review newly published examples of what we loosely call “the Catholic novel”. Unfortunately, since Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy passed from the scene, there seems to have been a dearth of top-tier Catholic...

German bishops should emphasize mission, not change rules by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 6, 2014

The assessment of attitudes on sexuality, marriage and family life by the bishops of Germany, while not surprising, is extraordinarily telling. In the end, the bishops ask for rule changes to admit divorced and remarried Catholics to Communion, as well as formal blessings for such couples. Some...

On the Spiritual Growth of Larry and Carl and...Us by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 28, 2014

I have a friend named Larry who is as secular and as liberal as they come. He thinks religious dogma divides people, preventing them from reaching out to each other in their common humanity. He is convinced that science is the key to human progress. I have another friend named Carl who is about as...

Death by Association: The Church Transcends Your Own Identity by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 14, 2014

One of the most significant perils within modern Catholicism is the tendency to regard the Church in an intensely individualistic way. In a rising crescendo over the past hundred years, we have seen one Catholic constituency after another subject the Church, her faith and her mission to...

Toward Effective Christian Witness: Making Room for the Gospel by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 9, 2014

The concerns most often expressed about my writings on the New Evangelization fall into two categories. I’ve emphasized the importance of apostolates of service, both for their own sake and to attract and open others to the Gospel. Given this emphasis, it would be rather disturbing if some...

Can there be too many good Catholic writers? Four books on Catholicism by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 20, 2013

In the most important sense, the question in my title can be taken rhetorically. “Certainly not!” we should reply, for it is eminently desirable that every person on the God’s green earth should be able to write, and write well, about the Catholic Faith. At another level,...

Political principles rooted in Christ? This is not easy. by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Dec 12, 2013

It is a rare treat amid all the December fundraising to sit back and reflect on deeper issues. Surely one of the most vexing of these is the strange relationship between Catholics and the left-right dialectic in American politics. When it comes down to individuals, this relationship is confused...

Persecuted Indian Christians Evangelize…by Forgiving by Various - Dec 12, 2013

Editor’s Note: During the Year of Faith, when Catholics from all walks of life were called to participate in the “new evangelization,”’ a question naturally arose: What sort of evangelization works? Are there any proven programs, that have demonstrated the power to attract...

Sing of Mary, 2: A True Song of the Undeserving Poor by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 21, 2013

Today is the feast of the Presentation of Mary, and it has a way of focusing our minds on an aspect of Mary’s life that we sometimes fail to consider. In this feast the Church hearkens back as close as we can get in the visible life of Mary to “the beginning”. The feast that...

The New Evangelization: What Does It Look Like? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 14, 2013

As I mentioned in my latest Insights message (Evangelization Forever!), we should end this Year of Faith not with some sort of boxed memorial, but by making what we have learned the basis of a new era of Catholic evangelization. That is the challenge before us, and I think we really have made some...

Nothing Short of a Miracle: Three New Books by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Nov 5, 2013

Most of us get into a kind of rhythm in living our faith. We get into a groove, but sometimes the groove can become a rut. When this happens, we need something to jolt us—to make us recognize once again that we are called to much that is not yet incorporated into our daily habits. Sometimes...

The End of Modernism: Joseph Ratzinger’s Dialogue with Love by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 29, 2013

When the Modernists came on the scene in the late nineteenth century, they were abuzz with historical consciousness. There is actually a good reason for this, though the use they made of it was seldom helpful. Nonetheless, by the 20th century, Modernist ideas were having an enormous impact on...

Liberal and Conservative: Christ vs. Church? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 10, 2013

It has not yet ceased to amaze me how much delight some people take in the discomfiture of others when the Pope says something about the Faith which those others are presumed not to like. And it works the other way, too, with people becoming astonishingly angry when the Pope says something that...

Reading Francis: The Furor Continues by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Oct 2, 2013

In view of comments received, it seems I have no choice but to write something about Pope Francis’ interview with Eugenio Scalfari (or see the original Italian text), which appeared yesterday in the Italian daily La Repubblica. But I think I have to make a pact with my readers. We are under...

Five Reasons to Think Differently about Pope Francis by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 24, 2013

I’ve been surprised and even angered by the criticism of Pope Francis in the wake of his famous interview, but I’ve been forced to admit that a significant number of serious Catholics found his words upsetting. That’s not something that should be dismissed lightly. It could, of...

Latin Americans Give Jesus for Christmas by Various - Sep 19, 2013

Editor’s Note: During this Year of Faith, when Catholics from all walks of life have been called to participate in the “new evangelization,”’ a question naturally arises: What sort of evangelization works? Are there any proven programs, that have demonstrated the power to...

Why should faith have primacy over reason? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 13, 2013

In my review of Fr. Martin Tripole’s excellent book, Church in Crisis (Church in Crisis: What is wrong? Why? Can we fix it? How?), I mentioned that I would return to his insight that we must reunite faith and reason. In fact, to escape the current crisis in the Church (and, to be sure, in...

Church in Crisis: What is wrong? Why? Can we fix it? How? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 9, 2013

If you had to pick one central factor to explain both the collapse of Western civilization and the contemporary crisis of the Catholic Church, what would it be? For Martin R. Tripole, SJ, that factor is the shift in the modern world from the primacy of faith over reason to the primacy of...

On Melting Snowflakes and Saving Babies: The State of the Question by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 5, 2013

The debate continues on the morality of embryo adoption, often called the adoption of “snowflake babies”. What is at issue here is whether it is moral to transfer a frozen embryo created through some other procedure into the uterus of a woman who is willing to carry the child to term...

In the modern world, what does it mean to lose one’s faith? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Sep 3, 2013

In response to my previous On the Culture essay (“Marginalization Gamesmanship” and Catholic Love), I received a very thoughtful message wondering whether I had been unfair to the sisters in dissident religious institutes. This question was raised on three grounds: (1) It seems to be...

Public Life and Godly Mission: What Are the First Things Today? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 23, 2013

There is a good deal of soul searching going on over at First Things. In the August/September issue, editor R. R. Reno explores “The Challenges We Face” and three other contributors respond—the Catholic George Weigel (“Fighting on New Terrain”), the Evangelical...

The Pride of St. Dominic: Muscular Renewal by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Aug 16, 2013

A few of our readers seem intent on rebuking me for not taking every possible opportunity to condemn bishops for their weak leadership, as if my job is to be a whistle blower. Of course, I’ve offered my fair share of criticism, and that is unlikely to end any time soon. But it is...

Battles There Will Be, but Christianity Is Not about Winning by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jul 9, 2013

We have a natural tendency to approach the conflicts of our times with a desire to “win”. We want to win the battle over the HHS Mandate; we want to win the fight for traditional marriage; we want win court cases that might marginalize Christians; we want win rights for the unborn; we...

Reality, Science, God: The Need to Learn How to Know by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 25, 2013

The key to the proper use of all branches of human study is the correspondence of a discipline’s methods with its object of examination. For example, it makes no sense to study history with the scientific method, as if we can do experiments to prove whether our understanding of the past is...

What should our attitude toward other religions be, anyway? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 12, 2013

My little City Gates item, “And what is Islam, anyway?”, produced surprising reactions. Some emphasized that Islam is a lie from first to last, about which nothing good should ever be said. And some took exception to my perceived criticism of Islam (along with every other religion...

Loving to Discipline: The Case for Excommunication by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jun 6, 2013

It seems to me that it is time to reconsider—again—whether bishops ought to excommunicate Catholics who lead the way in promoting or implementing policies which are clearly contrary to the moral law. Just now Andrew Cuomo would make an excellent case study. Should he be the poster boy...

The Spiritual Peril of Our Own Sensibilities by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 30, 2013

Our “sensibilities” are our receptiveness to the impressions made on us by our environment. They manifest themselves as feelings based on these impressions, making us emotionally responsive either for or against the source of the impressions. When our...

The Rise and Fall of the (American?) Church by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 23, 2013

Writing about the rise and fall of the Catholic Church in the United States is a very tricky thing, and Russell Shaw has done a fine job of it in his new book from Ignatius Press, American Church: The Remarkable Rise, Meteoric Fall, and Uncertain Future of Catholicism in America. The task is...

Abstinence-Only Sex Education: A Caution by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 16, 2013

Being a 65-year-old curmudgeon, I sometimes have to be reminded that social media has its uses, despite the fact that CatholicCulture.org maintains two different Facebook pages (see www.facebook.com/catholicculture and www.facebook.com/liturgicalyear). Heck, I even tweet the appearance of most of...

Christ Loved the Church: Francis Throws Down the Gauntlet to Religious by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 9, 2013

Pope Francis has begun his assault against the secularization of religious life, attacking the late-20th century tendency to separate religious commitment from the Church in order to serve the spirit of the world. We have seen this tendency in the shift to purely secular service among women...

Proper Theological Method Prevents Enormous Problems by Dr. Jeff Mirus - May 3, 2013

The late Fr. William Most—the theologian and Scripture scholar represented in our special Most Collection—influenced me in many ways. One of the most valuable lessons he taught me was a fundamental principle of theological method in resolving apparent differences in Magisterial...

OK, so what sort of renewal did Vatican II prescribe? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 19, 2013

Pope Francis recently insisted once again on the importance of implementing the renewal called for by the Second Vatican Council. Unfortunately, every time I insist (with the last five popes) that the Second Vatican Council gave us the program of Catholic renewal that we are supposed to be...

The Mandatum Issue: Beware of Superficial Judgment by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Apr 4, 2013

Pope Francis’ decision to wash the feet of women in the prison in which he celebrated the Mass of the Last Supper has created a bit of a stir, especially among liturgically-conservative Catholics. Critical responses have ranged from a mild concern about the larger impact on rubrical...

Liberalism: Must we really make it all on our own? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 19, 2013

When a serious Catholic talks about liberalism, he is not referring primarily to a political preference but to a philosophical outlook. For example, the Catholic is far more interested in whether the fundamental principles of liberalism conflict with a Christian worldview than in whether many...

The Church: Like Us in All Things, But Without Sin by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Mar 8, 2013

I love the Church so much, and in fact so intimately, that I can hardly express it. Many people seem to accept the Church as a sort of necessary evil, putting up with its hierarchical structure, its authority, its sacramental system, its Magisterial teachings, and so on, because they suppose,...

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