Steve’s Columns

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 …

Of Discernment

The philosopher Plato divided the human soul into three parts.  He further taught that two of these parts, the mind and the appetite, were constantly battling against each other for supremacy so that either the mind ruled the soul through a life of virtue, or the appetite ruled through a life of pleasure. The third part of the soul for Plato was the spirit (or will) which he believed aligned itself with either the mind or the appetite.  For example, one person’s spirit might uphold the work of the mind against the appetite and so that person would be passionate …

Of True Sorrow

Every year that I prepare adults to receive their sacraments I dedicate one full instruction to the subject of prayer.  In this class I teach them about the four forms or expressions of prayer.  These four are: Praise (or Adoration), Thanksgiving, Sorrow (Contrition), and Petition (or Intercession).  Having just completed this class last week with our adult students I though it pertinent to write a short piece on that one particular expression of prayer most allied with the approaching Lenten season: Sorrow. Speaking for myself, I always enter Lent unprepared for deep sorrowful prayer.  In recent years it is not …

Of Loss and Gain

“And when he lay dead, of no wound or grief, but stricken by age, the Eldar saw for the first time the swift waning of the life of Men…” (The Silmarillion, J.R.R Tolkien) I feel the death of my mother.  I felt the death of my father who died at home in our care with hospice many years ago after a long struggle with brain cancer.  I felt my father’s death as one might expect to feel after being told eight years earlier to expect it. Yet, when I say I feel the death of my mother, I mean to …

Philosophy Of Law – A Primer

Our President just announced his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Now all media outlets are abuzz with their coverage of Neil Gorsuch, the man said to be replacing Antonin Scalia as his indistinguishable replica. After all, Scalia was an originalist and a textualist as is Judge Gorsuch (so it is being said). For many news pundits this means that Scalia believed in a strict interpretation of the Constitution and in an appraisal of laws through precise examination of the ordinary meaning of their original text.  This is mostly true, however Scalia once noted that that law should not be …

Tribute to a Goodly Mother (or an Imitation of Christ)

(1/26/17) “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father.” (Jn 14:12) My mother’s life on earth ended just six days ago.  She was a good mother, but she was also a goodly mother: larger in stature than her small frame; more substantial than she appeared in the body.  She was a believer of the Catholic faith, but also its defender.  No more than an 8th grade education she knew her faith to the core and …

On Privacy

   I often marvel at the fact that my mother was one of twelve children and my father one of fifteen.  Growing up as one of three I had my own bedroom, my own place to keep my own things, and my own space to keep my own thoughts.  As children my parents shared bedrooms with two or three other siblings.  Not much was private. And with large gaps in age between the first and last born there was always a young one around to spill the beans about the personal secrets of the older ones. I am a private …

Ashes to Nothing

“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust; man once born, begins to rust…” (Anonymous poet) We tend to think of the life in the body like the drawing of a bell curve.  We ascend from a low place, reaching our physical peak at the hump of the curve, gradually descending in a sloping wave of weakness.  Where on this curve God will call us back to him is not known.  We may be called-back in our beginnings, or in our prime, or when old age and infirmity has us utterly spent.  As Catholics we do not fret, holding that when we …

A Catholic Kind of Politic

We now begin a new year.  This New Year brings with it a new presidency and a new way of governing which have made some people very doubtful and others very hopeful.  I prefer to be watchful (and hopeful). We just had a free election.  Free elections are wonderful things.  Lest we forget, history is not full of them.  In the ancient Greek city-state (e.g. Athens, Corinth, etc.) known as the polis only certain people of a certain high rank or position retained the status of citizen and could vote.  It is from the word polis that we get our …