Steve’s Columns

On Freedom

“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go” (Jn 21:18). Moral philosophers since Immanuel Kant speak of two particular forms of freedom.  The first is exterior freedom or “freedom from.” It is freedom from outside interference. This is the freedom that Jesus tells Peter he is about to lose. The second type of freedom is often called “freedom to”.  This is the freedom “to” …

On Identifying Enemies

“You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Mt 5:42-43). The word of Jesus Christ is to be regarded by his disciples with supreme seriousness.  His word deserves the utmost attention, for through this word the Holy Spirit encourages obedience for the renewal of man.  Through his divine word Jesus reforms our minds and wills against fear, emboldening us so that we may even approach our enemies in love. In order to obey this new command to …

A Bully Pulpit or Just Plain Bullying?

Lacking any cogent argument that might satisfy common sense, the editors of The Standard Times (S-T), our local regional newspaper, thought it just might be interesting to have a go at gratuitously insulting Christians who oppose the so-called “bathroom bills” which if passed by state governments would grant anatomical males the right to use the ladies room. The “Our View” article, Transgender Rights Need Strength of Law (March 30, 2016), is suitably titled since all such arbitrary social experiments lacking the right of reason require the might of unjust law for their implementation over the will of the people.  In …

The Eleventh Station

   My favorite pew at St. Francis Xavier Parish is the one with the best view of the 11th Station of the Cross.  All the stations in the church have profound themes for the contemplation of Christ’s Passion.  The 12th Station – Jesus Dies on the Cross – has by tradition the most revered place among the stations, as it obliges the most revered response.  However, whenever I look over at our 11th station – Jesus is Nailed to the Cross – I immediately begin to see myself in the roles of the three supporting characters.    There are actually …

Adoration of the Shepherds

When pharaoh calls you, and says, ‘what is your occupation’… you shall say, “Your servants have been keepers of cattle from our youth even until now, both we and our fathers,’ in order that you may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.” (Gn 46:34) This seemingly inconsequential statement by Joseph, son of Israel, great grandson of Abraham and steward of the Kingdom of Egypt by the will of God, bothered me just enough to get me researching why shepherds would be so repulsive to the Egyptians. In my reading I discovered …

Praying for the Dead

“I would give my bread to the hungry and my clothing to the naked; and if I saw anyone of my people dead and thrown out behind the wall of Ninevah, I would bury him”(Tob 1:17) A few years ago a parish priest asked me and other members of my Knights of Columbus council to stand in and attend the funeral rite of a new-born which had died and whose mother had no close relations. If this pastor had not invited us, then only the child’s mother would have been present for the funeral and graveside committal. The passing of …

“Right over Might”

“Here, Hephaestus, you must now dispatch that mandate which [Zeus] laid on you and clamp this rebel to the crag-capt rocks” (Prometheus Bound – Aeschylus) Those familiar with the story of Prometheus know it to be a classic piece about Might vs. Right. This Titan who had once aided Zeus in the overthrow of his father Cronus later finds himself shackled and pinned to a Caucasus mountaintop for taking fire from the abode of the gods and gifting it to mankind. In a dramatic opening to Aeschylus’ play, the personification of Might stands in force over Prometheus offering surety of …

“Truth Be Told”

One might think that only news articles, reports, and commentary which faithfully present an accurate and true account of a specific event or topic are helpful for gaining further knowledge. Such articles are of course best for acquiring understanding. However, lately I have found that I learn just as much by reading or listening to reports or commentary which stray from the truth. Similarly, there is a knack to learning from those in the media who oppose your positions or who even display a blatant contempt for your beliefs. The trick is to scrutinize these writers or commentators by catching …

“Trump This…”

In an early and recent presidential debate, candidate Donald Trump was asked a question about specific comments he has made about women.  The script of the question suggested that because of some indelicate to indecent sexual references he has made concerning women, Mr. Trump might have difficulty capturing the female vote.  He responded to this question in usual Trump fashion – on the offensive – showing his frustration with what he referred to as political correctness run-amuck in our present culture. People are usually accused of being “politically correct” because of their obsessive calculation and excessive sensitivity in avoiding certain …

“Behold the Man of Faith” Christ Before Pilate (Tintoretto – 1567) “Therefore the civil authority, the purpose of which is the care of the common good in the temporal order, must recognize and look with favor on the religious life of the citizens. But if it presumes to control or restrict religious activity, it must be said to have exceeded the limits of its power” (Declaration on Religious Liberty, I, 3; Second Vatican Council). We do not live in a time in which the civil authority looks favorably on the religious life of its citizens.  In fact, in a span …