A Jesuit at Georgetown (for 20 years) who is Catholic and offers the traditional Latin Mass!
The Cardinal Newman Society spoke to a Catholic theologian and Jesuit priest who noted that “the values of the Jesuit order are [or rather, should be] the same as those of the Catholic Church.”
All human persons, whatever their race, color, creed, gender or sexual orientation, are made in the image and likeness of God, and so possess unique value and are unconditionally loved by their Creator,” said Father Stephen Fields, SJ, associate professor of philosophy of religion and systematic theology at Georgetown University. “We believe that persons are responsible for their behavior, and we believe that all persons should exercise sexual activity only within marriage between male and female.
From the MAY 1, 2013, Hoya (Georgetown student newspaper): A Worthy Honor for Father Fields, S.J.
BY CHRIS CANNATARO (then, a sophomore in the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown)
Fr. Stephen Fields, S.J. delivers an address after having received the 2013 Dorothy Brown Award.
I had the great privilege of dining with Fr. James Schall, S.J., prior to his departure from Georgetown. The dinner featured several graduating government majors who enjoyed Schall’s classes as well as Fr. Stephen Fields, S.J., recipient of the 2013 Dorothy Brown Award, which is presented to an outstanding faculty member nominated by students.
I distinctly remember expressing my regret to Schall that I hadn’t taken a class with him. He replied with his quick wit, “Just keep taking Fields, and you still may learn something.”
That may be the understatement of 2013.
It is rare to see a professor gain a large following when he does not teach in 300-person lecture halls, and frankly it is even harder when the professor teaches a maximum class size of 35 students in the theology department. Clearly, however, Fields has achieved this near-impossible feat.
Fields’ teaching style is what makes him Georgetown’s best professor of this year. He embodies a certain charisma that few could ever possess and an intellect that even fewer are fortunate to have.
Each time I walk into one of his classes, I know I will leave mentally exhausted from — as he would say — “reaching the limits of human reason.” However, arriving at reason’s limits, as Fields knows all too well, requires the Socratic model rather than a monologue.
The point of the human person, as Fields taught me in his course “Newman: the Catholic Way,” is to “relentlessly pursue truth.” How can one go about this pursuit? Fields points to Socrates, who pursued truth by asking questions.
Vague opinions are insufficient in a Fields class. He requires his students to make arguments using recta ratio or right reason. He requires his students to explain why their claims are “good,” “true” and “authentically beautiful.” He requires his students to be normative.
Students love Fields because he treats us like the intelligent adults that our Georgetown education helps us become. In Field’s class, arguments are not accepted as fact; rather, the student must engage with them, question them and — by virtue of these dialogues — discover truth.
But Fields’ investment in students goes far beyond just using the Socratic method and emphasizing normative questions.
Last October I mentioned in passing to Fields that my parents were coming to visit. I never would have expected his response: “Chris, would you and your parents like to have lunch with me at the Jesuit residence?”
This type of kindness and generosity is characteristic of Fields. Many of his students have similar stories. His office door has always been open for me, and I know it always will be for anyone who needs his compassionate smile or words of comfort.
I cannot leave Fields’ easygoing sense of humor out of this portrait. From his array of impressions and accents to his self-deprecation, there is never a dull moment with Fields — in or out of the classroom. He often jokes that he is a “museum piece” that Georgetown will ship down to the Museum of Natural History, because he is resistant to such modern marvels and educational necessities as the PowerPoint and iclicker.
I would not be painting a full picture of this man if I did not discuss the ease with which he fills the spiritual needs of Georgetown students. Fields’ work as the Knights of Columbus chaplain has been exceptional. His availability for Mass, Eucharistic adoration, retreats and spiritual direction has truly benefited the Knights council. Fields also celebrates the extraordinary form of the Mass frequently for Catholic students who prefer it.
Fields has had a profound impact on my development as a student, a Catholic and as a moral being. Last Friday, my mentor, professor and chaplain, Fields, received the Dorothy Brown Award for his “strong commitment to the educational advancement of students.” This is a long-deserved honor for a Jesuit who has devoted his last 20 years to the education of Georgetown students.
On the behalf of so many, from the bottom of our hearts, congratulations, Fr. Fields, and thank you for making a profound impact on “swift Potomac’s lovely daughter.”
Starting Feb. 11, 2010 the traditional Latin Mass will be offered one weekday per week every other week. This will be the first time that this Mass has been offered on campus since May 2008.
The main advocate for the pre-Vatican II Mass (Mass said entirely in Latin]) Kieran Raval (COL ’13) describes the Latin Mass as a way to feel a greater connection to the long historical and religious traditions of the Catholic Church as well as to grasp a greater understanding of the Novus Ordo Mass (post-Vatican II Mass).
“I gained a sense of our Catholic spiritual and liturgical heritage by attending the traditional Latin Mass, which has helped me better understand the Novus Ordo,” Raval said.
He stressed that neither Mass is spiritually superior to the other, but that they can work in unison to enhance one’s overall religious experience. The two Masses are aesthetically different, and preference for one over the other is based upon personal choice.
In the traditional Latin Mass, the Mass is celebrated in Latin and the priest faces away from the congregation as a gesture symbolic of leading the congregation toward God. The traditional Latin Mass uses Gregorian chants as well as a more complex set of actions, gestures and postures by the priest.
Fr. Stephen Fields, S.J., the priest who celebrated the traditional Latin Mass when it was previously offered on campus, indicated that the traditional Mass is very popular among young people, possibly due to its contemplative nature.
“My assumption is that, in a world of constant [noise], [young people] find that the contemplative silence of the Extraordinary Form nourishes their lives of prayer,” Fields said.