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Brief, off-the-cuff, and sometimes light-hearted Catholic commentary, observations and announcements.

Two good publishers, six new books for Lent by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Thursday

I try to follow the new titles coming out from both Ignatius Press and Sophia Institute Press, because I trust the judgment of these Catholic publishers. Particularly in the realm of spirituality, they will typically make sure their authors are firmly rooted in the Catholic tradition, and they...

Another awkward 'clarification' from the Vatican by Phil Lawler - Wednesday

Every reasonable person understands what Pope Francis meant when, in a private message to a friend in Argentina, he used the term “Mexicanization” to refer to the troubles of a country torn by drug trafficking. Among other things, we understand that the Pope did not intend this message for public...

Solidarity Campaign: Going well, thanks! And how can you help? by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Wednesday

When I decided to stress solidarity as the theme for February fundraising, I did not know how popular it would be. The idea is to stress participation rather than wealth. It is not so much how much you can give, but whether you are willing to lend a helping hand to our mission. To emphasize...

The dangerous slide toward further US military involvement in the Middle East by Phil Lawler - Tuesday

The gruesome record of atrocities committed by the Islamic State, and the urgent need to save our fellow Christians from persecution, explain the growing support for US military action, recorded in this Pew Research survey. Supporters of some sort of US military intervention now outnumber...

Do Christians need to defend "religion"? by Thomas Van - Tuesday

Over at Aleteia, David Mills comments on the oft-repeated cliche that religion has been the source of manifold evils - wars, persecution, bigotry, superstition, etc. Rather than trying to disprove that claim, Mills points out how absurd it is for Christians (or indeed members of any particular...

Sex in Leviticus by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Monday

The Book of Leviticus is a tough read, filled with both ritual and moral prescriptions. The two are closely connected, but it is not always obvious where ritual holiness ends and moral holiness begins. For example, the rule outlawing those who “kill” or “slaughter” an...

Can the 'new evangelization' succeed while cradle Catholics are leaving in droves? by Phil Lawler - Feb 20, 2015

Writing in the Catholic Herald, Stephen Bullivant suggests that we should “Put the New Evangelisation on Hold until we try to figure out what is causing a mass exodus of cradle Catholics from the Church. Bullivant is addressing a British audience (did you notice the “s” in...

More thoughts on the #ashtag meme and the message it sends by Phil Lawler - Feb 19, 2015

Yesterday—Ash Wednesday—I wrote that I am baffled by the popularity of the #ashtag meme. Maybe it would have been more accurate to say that I am fascinated by the phenomenon. Why do so many Catholics want to show off the smudges on their foreheads? Several kind readers have offered...

Confused California congressmen condemn Cordileone by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 19, 2015

Okay, I admit to a fondness for alliteration. But it is just as well. The California lawmakers are not actually congressmen. Five are members of the “assembly” (an A word) and three are “state senators” (an SS word). Moreover, they did not condemn San Francisco Archbishop...

Philosophy as antidote to anger and fear by Thomas Van - Feb 19, 2015

At the Huffington Post, Michael Shammas has written an excellent blog piece calling for a renewal of philosophy education in high schools. American politics is increasingly characterized by fear, anger and bitterness; according to Shammas this is caused at root by "the iron certainty we...

I'm not upset about the #ashtag meme; I'm just baffled by Phil Lawler - Feb 18, 2015

Why is Ash Wednesday—not Easter Sunday, not Christmas, not Good Friday or Pentecost—the day when American Catholics spend the most time talking about being Catholic? Why is it that, after hearing a reading about doing penance in secret, people feel a compulsion to show the world how...

Upping the Gift Count: A Very Easy Way to Help by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 16, 2015

In February of last year, CatholicCulture.org received a total of 607 individual donations. Of these, 288 had come in by today’s date, February 16th. But as it turned out, the sum total of all of these gifts left us about $10,000 short of our budget. This year things are looking a little...

A Snow Victory (a story of the real thing) by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 16, 2015

You’ve heard the legends of snow in Buffalo and Syracuse, New York, and in Erie, Pennsylvania. This year, these cities hold three of the top five positions for snowfall. However, as one who lived in the Buffalo area until age twenty, I can testify that these areas of the country cheat;...

Whiteout by Phil Lawler - Feb 16, 2015

Want to know what’s on my mind? OK, I’ll tell you. Snow. I know what you’re thinking. You know that I’m a Boston native, and you’ve read all about the pounding that Mother Nature has given to the Boston area in the past few weeks. You think I’m going to talk...

Honest judges in Italy by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 11, 2015

Italy may yet save the world. The top Italian court has found nothing in the Constitution that requires government to recognize same-sex marriage. It observed only that same-sex couples have the same right to legal protection as other unmarried couplies. This is a remarkable decision. In many...

Our most sensational headline ever by Phil Lawler - Feb 11, 2015

Catholic World News has been in business for 20 years now. What’s the most astonishing headline we’ve run over those years? That’s easy; it was exactly two years ago today: Pope Benedict announces...

A caution: beware misleading reports from Islamic State territory by Phil Lawler - Feb 11, 2015

For the 2nd time in a week, a Chaldean Catholic archbishop has debunked sensational reports about an atrocity allegedly committed by the Islamic State. This is an odd phenomenon, and one that bears watching. Last week the Chaldean patriarchate dismissed rumors that a Catholic priest named...

OTG: For teachers: Augustine Institute course on Catholic education by Thomas Van - Feb 10, 2015

For those who may be interested: the Augustine Institute will be offering a course for Catholic teachers and school administrators during the week of June 22. The course, entitled Philosophy 722: Catholic Education: Ends, Principles and Methods, will be taught at the campus in Denver and also...

Liturgical Year Volume 3 Released: LENT by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 9, 2015

Lent (the only liturgical season with a name that is also a four-letter word!) begins on February 18th, and so the Lenten volume of our ebook series for the 2014-2015 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This third volume in the annual series covers the entire season of...

The Pontifical Academy for Life did NOT argue it is morally obligatory to use tainted vaccines by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 5, 2015

If I may be permitted one brief follow-up to yesterday’s essay (Thinking morally about vaccinations: My turn!), it would be to single out a particular portion of the 2005 statement of the Pontifical Academy for Life that has led to confusion. Though I realize the PAL text is...

Romero’s martyrdom a witness against tunnel vision by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Feb 3, 2015

The Church’s decision earlier today that Archbishop Oscar Romero is a martyr settles a long-standing controversy which often pitted liberals against conservatives. The Salvadoran Archbishop was gunned down while celebrating Mass in 1980, shortly after delivering a sermon calling upon...

The vaccination debateS—notice the plural by Phil Lawler - Feb 3, 2015

If you’ve only followed the story in the American mass media, you might think that the hot new debate is whether or not children should be vaccinated. But that’s not the interesting question. The real issue—the question that interests me, anyway—is which vaccines should...

The common good: isn't that just a weasel word? by Thomas Van - Feb 1, 2015

I suspect I'm not the only one who, when learning about Catholic social teaching, has at times found the phrase "the common good" to be frustratingly vague. As a college student, I suspected that it was nothing more than a weasel word which could be used to get away with...

Can Islam confront its problem with violence? by Phil Lawler - Jan 30, 2015

Is Islam truly a religion of peace? The president of Egypt apparently doesn’t think so. Writing in Crisis, William Kilpatrick calls attention to a speech in which the Egyptian leader, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, called upon his country’s Muslim leaders to lead a “religious revolution” in the Islamic...

Salvation? No matter who we are, one price. by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 28, 2015

In reading through the Bible again I’ve ploughed far enough into Exodus to get to the ceremonial material—which is, let’s face it, pretty boring. That’s not to say its emphasis on the holiness of God, and how careful we must be in His Presence, is not enormously important....

Snowbound thoughts on natural law by Phil Lawler - Jan 27, 2015

Here in the northeastern US, the hysteria over the winter storm dubbed Juno began several days ago. It peaked on Monday, as the storm approached, with the Mayor of New York predicting a catastrophe of historic proportions. In fact, the storm breezed through New York, leaving only a genteel...

A rare “win” in the Venerable League: Laity 4, Priests and Religious 3 by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 23, 2015

The latest announcements from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints are noteworthy because so many laymen are included. Priests and religious are more likely to be canonized, but the latest batch of venerables includes four lay persons out of seven total. There are at least six good reasons...

The Didache Bible Is Here by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 21, 2015

I already mentioned the new Didache Bible, before it was actually available, in Two beautiful books to give as Christmas gifts. But I definitely want to call it to your attention again now that you can purchase it. It’s a brand new Bible developed and published jointly by the Midwest...

A revealing book recommendation from the Pope by Phil Lawler - Jan 20, 2015

Twice now, Pope Francis has recommended Robert Hugh Benson's apocalyptic novel, Lord of the World. It’s interesting that an English novel—written more than a century ago, and no longer easy to find—would figure prominently in the public remarks of a Pontiff who is not fluent...

Free speech and civility post-Charlie Hebdo by Phil Lawler - Jan 15, 2015

Two unreasonable positions: We must never say anything that could possibly be offensive to Muslims. We should say everything we can think of that will be offensive to Muslims. In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo killings we have seen both of these unreasonable positions advanced—usually...

False dichotomies dull our Catholicism by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 13, 2015

I would hate to try to trace a pattern through all the affected issues, but I think I’m on to something when I suggest that the world too often sees false dichotomies where the Church sees unities. To take an example I’ve already discussed, there is the marked tendency of...

News flash: the Pope doesn't tell God what to do by Phil Lawler - Jan 12, 2015

No doubt it’s a mistake to expect theological clarity in a statement by Elton John. Still when a friend called my attention to Sir Elton’s proclamation that Pope Francis is a saint, my eye was caught by the rock star’s assessment: “He is a compassionate, loving man who...

OTG: Evangelizing the Culture for Marriage and Family by Thomas Van - Jan 9, 2015

Those who wish to deepen their understanding of marriage and the family, and of the contemporary issues involving them, may be interested in a six-part miniseries on EWTN which begins on January 12. The episode schedule: RESOLVING CULTURAL CONFUSION ABOUT MARRIAGE- Monday, January 12 Learn...

Sin and judgment in Breaking Bad by Thomas Van - Jan 9, 2015

I’m not the first person to claim that Breaking Bad, which concluded its five-season run in 2013, is a deeply moral television series. Catholic NYT columnist Ross Douthat blogged about it extensively, and sources both Christian and secular have suggested that the show embodies an...

Liturgical Year Volume 2 Released: Advent before Lent by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 9, 2015

The second volume of our ebook series for the 2014-2015 liturgical year has been released in our ebooks download area. This is a relatively brief volume for the current liturgical year, covering the brief period of Ordinary Time between Christmas and Lent, from January 12 through February 17. It...

Our critical need for regular monthly support, and how you can help by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 7, 2015

CatholicCulture.org is planning a move to a more powerful and more stable technical infrastructure which will maximize both our uptime and our ability to serve growing numbers of users with maximum speed. Our current servers and software are now somewhat dated, and both stability and speed became...

Could we postpone debate on the Pope's encyclical until it appears? by Phil Lawler - Jan 7, 2015

At The Catholic Thing, Robert Royal has serious misgivings about the Pope’s forthcoming encyclical, which will tackle the issue of climate change. But the Crisis site, Rachel Lu tells us that we shouldn’t lose sleep about it. Writing for Forbes, Steve Moore worries that the...

A flood of closing churches by Dr. Jeff Mirus - Jan 5, 2015

Church closures have reached flood stage in northern Europe. According to the Wall Street Journal (“Europe’s empty churches go on sale”, unfortunately available only to subscribers), some 515 Catholic churches have been closed in Germany over the last decade and it is estimated...

OTG: Aid for Christians in Iraq and Syria by Thomas Van - Jan 5, 2015

If you read CatholicCulture.org regularly, you’re probably aware of the suffering of Christians in Iraq and Syria, who have been displaced from their homeland by Islamic extremists. Pope Francis has repeatedly asked Catholics to pray for our beleaguered brethren in the Middle East. Aside...

St. John Chrysostom on wealth redistribution by Thomas Van - Dec 31, 2014

St. John Chrysostom, Church Father and fourth-century Archbishop of Constantinople, was not what you would call a defender of the rich. He often pricked their consciences regarding both how they got their money and what they did with it. He went so far as to say that not to give to the poor is to...

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