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Catholic Culture Dedication
Catholic Culture Dedication

The Curmudgeon Stone

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | May 18, 2012

Admit it, I’m a curmudgeon.

Oh, wait, I’m the one who has to admit to being a curmudgeon. You only need to admit that you think I’m a curmudgeon.

And the evidence is? Well, for one thing, reading about the healing stone to be unveiled at the next International Eucharistic Congress brings out the curmudgeon in me. This “healing stone” is dedicated to victims of clerical sexual abuse.

On the plus side, it is very difficult to imagine the organizers of a Eucharistic Congress being influenced by pagan ideas. And I do like Fr. Kevin Doran’s explanation, that the proposed healing stone derives from the stone at Christ's tomb, symbolizing the transition between death and life. On the other hand, call me ignorant, but in 64 years of Catholic life, I have never been exposed to this symbolism of The Stone except when it is being rolled out of the way, and I wonder whether such symbolism exists apart from this particular gesture.

My first reaction on encountering the idea of The Stone was to think of New Age crystals and Stonehenge. My second was to make a root-and-rock connection with St. Boniface in the Sacred Grove, cutting down the Oak of Thor. My third was to recall that the Eucharistic Congress is in Ireland, and to wonder if we were really kissing the Blarney Stone.

But my fourth thought brought me back to Christian symbolism, specifically the serious and established symbolism of the three synoptic gospels (Mt 18:6, Mk 9:42, and Lk 17:2). This settled symbolism prompts a question:

Why not a mill stone?

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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  • Posted by: brenda22890 - May. 21, 2012 11:36 AM ET USA

    I'm a curmudgeon too, Dr. Mirus. I wasn't going to say anything, because I thought (being Irish, myself) perhaps they should be given the benefit of a doubt, and because, well, I didn't want to appear curmudgeonly. So I'm glad you did it!!!

  • Posted by: koinonia - May. 18, 2012 9:45 PM ET USA

    After another bad week for priests, years and billions of dollars into this, the conclusion is not altogether unreasonable. There are some prosecutors out there whose expressed outrage after extensive investigations have been not too far removed. Good priests are essential, but good priests must persevere. Even among those reputed to be among the best, the downfalls continue. Pray one Hail Mary for the victims. It's value is infinitely greater than any "healing stone." And pray for priests.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - May. 18, 2012 10:03 AM ET USA

    The Eucharist Itself, Confession, why do we need a stone...?