Steve’s Columns

Of Rock and Sand

In July 1967 a group of educators from ten major Catholic universities gathered in retreat in Land ‘O Lakes, Wisconsin where twenty six of them signed a statement declaring their academic independence from the U.S. bishops.  They did this to prohibit the authority the Church exercised over them with the explanation that such freedom would allow them a less hindered pursuit of the truth. I was too young at that time to attest now if it was true (as some have suggested) that back then the bishops had become mostly administrators, surrendering their duty of authoritative teaching to the theologians …

Of Commitment

Many years ago an unmarried female colleague announced to me (and others) that she had not had sexual relations for three months.  Thus she declared herself to be “celibate”. I responded that even when she is sexually active she is still technically celibate since the term celibacy comes from the Latin caelibatus meaning “single life” so pointing out that she is unmarried.  I did however concede that while she is having sexual relations outside of marriage she is not truly embracing the single life, so much as the sinful life. In Catholic parlance there are two basic ways of life: …

On Liking Jesus

I once worked with a woman who had questions about the Church and in particular about why non-believers cannot receive Holy Communion.  I explained as best I could, but when pressed on proving this prohibition from the Bible, I resorted to a phrase of Jesus which was read just last week on the memorial day of St. Cyril of Alexandria: “Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine…” (Mt 7:6). That’s a tough saying to swallow and the woman to whom I was speaking was not happy with me for many days. Even many …

Of Bread & Wine

While on vacation a few weeks back I began reading the first volume of A History of Christendom by Warren Carroll (all six volumes were bequeathed to me by Monsignor O’Connor before leaving for his new assignment in Portland).  I was struck by one sentence in the second chapter which reflects on God’s call to Abraham: “Coming into a world of hideously distorted images of counterfeit deity, of lewd ecstasies, of metaphysical terrors, of hopeless resignation, God sought a man who would listen and believe – simply, totally…” Dr. Carroll is not saying here that God is like Diogenes of …

The Visible and Invisible

I first met Monsignor O’Connor when I was an active parishioner at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in New Bedford.  The pastor, Father Landry, was taking a summer sabbatical and Monsignor was given temporary charge of the parish just fresh from his many years of service in Rome in the Congregation of the Clergy.  I can’t recall the year, but we met just about the time of a Boston Men’s Conference. Then a month later in late May, we learned that the people who usually organized the parish Feast of St. Anthony were unable to do so that year.  This …

Of Qualifications

A few of my friends and I once agreed that being able to name one’s high school in only three or four words should be the norm. Thus we had fun expanding the much longer name of a local vocational high school which eventually came to be known to us as: Greater New Bedford Local Regional Vocational Technical Industrial Physical Mechanical Economical Municipal High School or something like that.  My friend Manny always came up with the longest names and would lose his breath by the time he came to the end of his recital. I know it seems a …

Of Bears and Bullies

A recent online petition  started in Hanover, New Hampshire averted the euthanizing of a family of black bears by state Fish and Game wardens. The effort to save the bears gathered over 10,000 signatures and also gained the support of the governor; and so the bears are instead to be captured and relocated further north (although one bear expert who was interviewed suggested that the bears will probably find their way back to Hanover). Situations like this are more complicated than they appear (of the 32 bears shot in New Hampshire over the last two years, seventy-five percent were shot …

To The Holy Spirit (A Poem)

O’ Spirit Blest, come forth, renew, My mind and will which run askew, Of thy most deep and holy truths, Which thou hast known from time afore, And kept in place in sacred store; Lend now to me, my soul to soothe.   Temptation calls to leave your side, And with the world to walk astride, Away from your most well-lit way; Into darkness, into prison, Into that place where none-arisen, Shall ever catch the light of day.   Your Knowledge great, your Counsel true, Your Wisdom sure, we must eschew, To keep apace with culture lost. Yet from your …

Go Therefore

As mentioned in a previous article (some time ago), I was the only Christian in my graduating class in philosophy at U Mass Dartmouth in 1989.  Yet in the pursuit of my degree, I studied mostly under Professor Thomas Aquinas Wassmer.  He was also Father Wassmer, as he was (by that time) a retired Jesuit priest. No one addressed him as “Father”.  He wasn’t clothed as a priest, and because of his great resemblance both in speech and demeanor to John Houseman in The Paper Chase, the salutation “Professor” most suited him. Yet one day as I sat in his …

Of Weaving

Doubtless the most basic task of the New Evangelization (besides the selling of books and accessories for the gainful employment of the laity) is to convince and assure the people that God is wholly active in their lives.  The common approach to this has been to tell the people that God loves them.  Yet, what many people distant from the Church want to know is how God loves them – right now!  That is, like the rest of us, they need to experience God’s presence in their daily lives. However, because the discernment of God’s presence requires prayer and patience, …

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