To give thanks for our own good

November brings a favorite celebration for many of us: a special day set aside to consider our blessings and give thanks. Meister Eckhart noted that if the only prayer we ever offer is, "Thank you," that would be good enough. If we make of our life a prayer, then giving thanks would be the foundational act from which everything else flows.

Finding an answer in the parking lot

Consider the events during a week in October. The first one took place on Monday in which Jose Reyes, 12, took a semi-automatic 9 mm pistol to his middle school in Sparks, Nev., shot a fellow student in the shoulder, killed math teacher Michael Landsberry and shot a second student in the abdomen before fatally shooting himself.

Exploring solutions to stop the abuse of alcohol and other drugs

Should we turn our heads away, call the police or shut it down? These questions were posed in an article about Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, who was photographed in a house full of young people attending a wild drinking party.

A glimpse into the mind of Pope Francis

In the self-revelatory interview of Pope Francis published by several Jesuit journals around the world in September 2013, the Holy Father mentioned that he had read Alesandro Manzoni's 1828 novel "The Betrothed" three times and had it on a nearby table for a fourth reading whenever the opportunity presented itself. Three times and looking forward to a fourth -- that's a recommendation to be taken seriously. It prompted me to pick up the book and give it a read; one way, I thought, of getting inside the mind of this fascinating pope.

An example of a poverty that frees us

One of the things folks admire about Pope Francis is his decision to live simply. Rather than live in private apartments at the Vatican, he has chosen to live in guest quarters, partly because these are closer to other people and it allows him to live in a community, which, as a Jesuit, he values. But as an archbishop and cardinal, he set the same standard of simplicity, rejecting fancy homes and a lifestyle above that of the people he served. In continuing with this tradition, he's setting a beautiful example, not just for other bishops and clergy, but for all of us.

The dangers of drinking alcohol too early in life

History's proven it: People have been drinking alcohol since the beginning of time. Romans had their wine, Egyptians had their beer and the medieval English had their mead. Despite this long and storied history of partying, humans apparently still haven't learned that drinking too much alcohol can be extremely bad for us.

A wake-up call, until you don’t wake up

We don't know the day or the hour when our time on earth will end. Is there not an appointed time for man's existence on earth to end? Job asked. Now the 21st century has the answer to that Old Testament question with something called the death watch, as in wristwatch. Formally known as the Tikker, the watch's digital display shows the years, months, days, hours, minutes and seconds until its wearer runs out of time. It provides a wake-up call until you don't wake up.

A partnership between generations

A recent ad for a Swiss watch shows a well-groomed father getting out of a first-class Pullman car and putting his arm around his 8-year-old son, also nattily attired in khakis, Docksiders and a sport coat. "You never actually own a Patek Philippe," the ad said. "You merely look after it for the next generation." It was a little rich for my taste. But there were some things I liked about the ad. It showed a father in a positive light -- something one rarely sees on Madison Avenue or in Hollywood. The fathers there are typically absent, unconcerned or inept.

Woe to our government

Are you distressed over the recent behavior of the U.S. Congress? You aren't alone. As a resident of Washington D.C.'s Capitol Hill neighborhood, I daily encounter staffers to the Senate, Capitol Hill and the U.S. Supreme Court. I see the reactions of police officers, maintenance personnel and others working in the area. Reactions range from disgust and anger, to distrustfulness and having lost all respect. I also encounter loyalists who couldn't care less about the criticism or damage their party is causing. They feel they are right and that is it.

Observations from a texting hermit

Compared to you, I am not a social creature. In the past week, I've only sent or received text messages from nine people. Actually, nine is a bit of an exaggeration. If I remove automatic texts from companies wanting my business and messages that I sent myself as reminders, that number is reduced to four.