Steve’s Columns

Of Quiet

Last week while we were still in between groundskeepers Monsignor O’Connor decided to perform some yardwork.  Much of the work had already been completed by parish volunteers so when Monsignor told me he was going to cut the lawn and prune some shrubs, my left eye began to immediately twitch. You see, the shrubs did not need pruning and so I instantly envisioned our azaleas being remade into some abstract topiary. I immediately ran to the shed and hid the trimming implements. Monsignor cut the lawn.  I was finally able to convince him not to lower the lawnmower too much.  …

Of Distinctions

Last week I observed the famous naturalist, Jane Goodall, not telling the truth.  In an interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News, Ms. Goodall affirmed that prior to her research on chimpanzees (which began in the 1960s) it was believed than man was the only species which made use of tools.  She asserted that up until the time her team filmed chimps using sticks to draw termites out of fallen logs, the accepted belief was that what distinguished man from animals was man’s exclusive use of tools. The conclusion we should draw from this is of course that man is …

Of False Wheat

Weeding is one of those tasks that can make even the most motivated person procrastinate. Yet, I find that once I begin weeding an area in the yard I quickly come to enjoy it, and when the task is finally completed I feel a great sense of satisfaction. There is something almost military about weeding: the identifying and removal of an invader or group of invaders encroaching on dedicated soil. Weeds are confrontational all the way down to their root system.  Some are easily pulled up, yet propagate everywhere; others you may never be able to pull up completely; still …

On Living Long

“There were some who shook their heads and thought ‘This was too much of a good thing’; it seemed unfair that anyone should possess (apparently) perpetual youth… They said ‘It isn’t natural and trouble will come of it!’” (The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R Tolkien) Unable to secure eternal life on earth, pagans have ever sought ways to lengthen their years.  As early as the 5th century B.C. the Greek philosopher Herodotus spoke of the supposed fountain of youth which in the 16th century was finally declared to exist somewhere unseen in the Bahamas! A few of today’s pagans place …

Of Visitations

My Uncle Roger is coming to Easter dinner.  I invited him the week before Palm Sunday and he accepted.  I wasn’t sure that he would accept since there has been some estrangement in the family over the past few years.  But I asked, he accepted, and this is good; especially since it is what my mother would have wanted. Uncle Roger is my mother’s brother.  She would speak to him on the phone from time to time.  She prayed for his peace and for peace in her family and I believe that Uncle Roger coming for Easter dinner will answer …

Of Signs

Last week I had the opportunity to not only attend the parish mission but also daily Mass and so hear some excellent homilies by the visiting Father of Mercy priest, Father Pineda.  In one insightful homily concerning sanctifying grace, Father asserted that if only the doubtful and lax could see the grace flooding into a child at baptism or Jesus descending on the altar at the consecration of the Eucharist, then they might finally come to believe. I agree with the good Father’s thesis that wonders and signs can jumpstart or invigorate a person’s faith.  We have many examples of …

Of Living Things

    U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch recently completed intense questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  I was able to stream some of this confirmation hearing during my lunch breaks at work catching up on what I missed with the evening news. The hearing was interesting in that it represents the great divide between the two political parties on many key issues such as abortion and religious freedom, to name only two. Widening this divide is another developing disagreement that should draw the attention of all Americans, especially Catholic Americans.  It is the growing chasm between the opposing sides on …

Of Discipleship

Most of what one reads today in the secular newspapers is much of the same.  Even those of us who try to keep up with the Catholic periodicals can be quite disappointed with a New Evangelization which often lapses into the methods of the “new secularization”, while not presenting much that is new (or renewed).  We read and we read more, hoping for a golden nugget; not so we can quote it and show it off to others but so we can make better sense of the cyclone of information swirling all around us.  Then it happens… someone breaks through …

Discernment Part Two (or The Main Thing)

There are many important things in the spiritual life: prayer, charity, worship, examination of conscience, confession, absolution, etc.  These are all important.  Saying which of these is the most important is not always easy because if we were to say, for example, that worship is the most important, it might not be the most important for this particular person at this particular time because the person might rather need an examination of conscience and confession before he goes off to worship (as Jesus so aptly pointed out (Mt 5:23-24)). The most important thing in the spiritual life is without a …

Of Encouragement

   “Now Theoden, son of Thengel, will you hearken to me… Not all is dark.  Take courage… for better help you will not find… Too long have you sat in the shadows and trusted to twisted tales and crooked promptings.” (The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R Tolkien) Each time that I attend the 40 Days for Life vigil, I am wholly moved by the pitiable procession of young ladies marching into the abortion clinic across the street from me – and I begin to wonder: What have they been told to get them here?  What deception, what discouragement has …