Steve’s Columns

On What is Truly Natural

I recently read an on-line news article (8 Jan, Fox News) about Bo Derek (1980’s super model) and John Corbet (Sex and the City) who revealed the secret of their lasting relationship. They have been together now for 15 years – a long time by Hollywood standards.   Bo explains that they travel apart frequently yet still find time to be home together, “where the romance is”. John says that they make each other laugh, they hold hands, and have weekly barbecues with friends. They are not married. The article relates that “the couple insisted they don’t need rings to prove …

A Tribute to Tristan

On the day before New Year’s Day I was asked by a friend to accompany her to the vet to euthanize her pet of fifteen years.  She had been caring diligently and humanely for her cat Tristan over the last year who appeared to have cancer and a neurological illness.  A second professional opinion had concluded that to prevent further suffering it would be best to put Tristan to sleep, and so it was done very regretfully, but mercifully. My friend asked me why we are allowed as Catholics to “put down” terminal animals but not humans close to death.  …

Of Delightfulness

“Now therefore, O kings, be wise, be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, with trembling… lest he be angry and you perish in the way” (Ps 2:10-11).   I concluded last week’s column with a quotation from the Book of Psalms that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Ps 111:10). The fear of the Lord is often portrayed wrongly as a fire-and-brimstone mentality which seeks to frighten the populace into belief. However, Catholic doctrine teaches that the fear of the Lord is a gift of the Holy Spirit (Is 11:2) and …

On Speaking of God

   A few weeks ago a hostile media sowed mischief with Pope Francis’ suggestion that the Church change its translation of that part of the Lord’s Prayer which states “lead us not into temptation”. The Pope said during an interview that he preferred a new translation adopted by the Church in France which went into effect on the first Sunday in Advent.  The French bishops approved a change amounting to “do not let us fall into temptation”.  The Pope agreed with this change noting that “It’s me that falls. It’s not Him who pushes me…” thus emphasizing that it is …

The Risk of Innocence

You have probably seen the bumper sticker that reads “Grace Happens”. I always thought this an odd phrase because grace is purposeful, while anything that just happens is not. Thus, I thought I would investigate the story behind this bumper sticker since the arrival of grace is the theme of our Christmas chronicle. I visited the bumper sticker website and read a nine page story of its origin.  What “Grace Happens” signifies is the experience of “all the unexpected good things that happen just when you need them to happen…”  For example, you buy a car with a broken radio …

Of Counter Questions

I try my best to keep the weekly pieces I write for our bulletin cover artwork separate from this column for the purpose of variety.  However, when one fills one’s goblet with Mary’s esteemed Magnificat the cup must be allowed to overflow where it will. So… it happened a few Saturdays ago. After leaving a talk at a local parish on Carmelite spirituality I saw two Jehovah Witnesses standing across the street from the church with a portable display of brochures. They were targeting Hispanic individuals walking by (since the church sits in a Hispanic neighborhood). I walked by this …

On Dwelling Near

Every time I drive by the church building which was once Saint Kilian Parish of New Bedford, I want to make the sign of the cross; but I don’t.  I know that the Holy Eucharist was removed from the church sanctuary and that the people were moved to St. Anthony of Padua. So when I drive by St. Kilian I now simply bow my head in honor of its memory and the memory I have of it, particularly of how it brought a dear friend of mine into the Church – because she dwelt near to it. She, like most …

On Going Underground (Or Secluded Prayer)

In our meditation last week on the Carmelite spirituality of St. John Paul II, I made mention of the plight of the Polish people under the Nazi occupation during World War II.  In particular I wrote about how the outward observance of the Polish culture was utterly suppressed. However, the inward heart of Poland continued to pump in secrecy, as did the circulatory life of the Church. At this time Karol Wojtyla (young John Paul) was being counseled by Polish Cardinal Adam Sapicha to pursue the diocesan priesthood rather than a Carmelite vocation.  The cardinal no doubt saw in Karol …

Of Illumination

During the Nazi occupation of Poland, Karol Wojtyla (St. John Paul II) attended a parish run by the Salesians.  Many of the Salesian priests he came to know were deported to concentration camps.  This had no small effect on him.  In a young man such as Karol the example of priestly submission to suffering only drove him deeper into spirituality.  As the priests were taken away to Nazi persecution, Karol came under the spiritual tutelage of a Polish lay mystic, Jan Tyranowski, who directed the 20 year old Karol to Carmelite spirituality. The Carmelite Order began with a community of …

Of Preservation

After graduating high school Karol Wojtyla (young St. John Paul II) moved to Krakow with his father.  This move allowed him to expand his theatrical interests and to attend university where he studied Polish philology which is the study of the origin, history, and spirit of the oral and written language of Poland.  Philology means literally “love of the word”.  Thus Karol’s study reflected the track of his spirituality forming him as a steward of the time-honored word of man and the most holy Word of God. However, just one year later, Nazi Germany invaded and occupied Poland making it …