Commentaries

Remembering a musical legend

The incident occurred in a chapel at Omaha's St. Cecilia Cathedral. The chapel was put to use as an impromptu interview room prior to a rehearsal for his concert in the cathedral the next night. The white-haired figure stared at me and asked, "Why?" The concert was titled "Brubeck at the Cathedral." I had asked him whether a jazz pianist performing in a sacred space was an oxymoron. He did not think that, he said, and explained the place of cathedrals in culture during medieval times. He listed examples of music and art that found a home there.

A better understanding is a tweet away

Everyone has goals. Some people have big goals. They want to be president of a company or feed undernourished children. Others have simple goals that are just as meaningful. They want to graduate from college or raise a family. Goals can be extremely public or very private. You may learn of someone's goal, but unless you also know why they want to achieve it, you really don't know much at all. Vanessa Riddle had one of those goals.

Making a list, but not for Christmas

I am a list maker, a devotee of the "to do" variety. Although I try not to let my list rule my life, I find it keeps me organized: setting goals and keeping them. I'm a visual person who finds it helpful to be reminded in print of my priorities. I have to guard against obsessiveness, however. Once, when my son Mike was young, he taught me something important about my list that I've never forgotten.

NYPD officer’s example of goodness turned into an excuse to deny help

It had all the elements to be the best feel-good New York Christmas story since "Miracle on 34th Street." Instead, it exemplified how we feel about our relationship to the poor. It was a frigid November night when New York City police officer Larry DePrimo noticed a homeless man, shoeless, sitting on the sidewalk.

The holiday folly of needs and wants

Once it was easy, now it is more difficult each year to write about the excesses of the Christmas season. For one, the name has long been perverted by merchants into "the holiday season." Still, there ought to remain some targets to spoof.

Breakups don’t always lead to a bad outcome

Lately, I've been reconnecting with old high school friends on Facebook. Since it has been more than 10 years since graduation, we're naturally all wondering what has happened in each other's lives. Is the class clown still funny? Is that bully still a jerk? What are my classmates doing with their lives?

Bishops turn their attention to preaching

At their November 2012 meeting in Baltimore, the U.S. bishops gave overwhelming approval to a document titled "Preaching the Mystery of Faith: The Sunday Homily." They didn't say so explicitly, but the bishops seem to think that we are losing the game in the pulpit, and the people -- those who are still showing up -- are looking for and deserving of much better preaching. As a friend put it to me not long ago, here in the U.S., "we have Saturday Night Live and Sunday morning dead." We can do better. And the bishops are now saying we must.

Help special-needs people enjoy Advent, Christmas events

Holiday celebrations are wonderful for gathering loved ones from far and near. Christmas Masses usually are packed, and other activities, from tree trimming to Advent services, are usually abundantly attended, too. But for all the lights and warmth that illuminate the holiday season, sometimes we inadvertently forget that there are some in our communities who might not be as mobile or otherwise able to fully participate in all that this time of year has to offer. Yet, for these fellow Catholics, the Christmas season is no less important or treasured.

Crossing the borders as Jesus did

If the recent election proved anything, it's that the face of the U.S. is a changing face: younger and more diverse. It's an exciting time to be a citizen, but a challenging one as well.

The real marriage crisis

A great deal of ink has been spilled on the Petraeus scandal. We hesitate to spill more, but we can't help but note that much of the finger-pointing seems a bit off target. What gets ignored is the fact that this isn't just the comeuppance that comes to celebrity. The disregard of marriage vows is widespread in society -- not just in the media and popular culture, but also in our communities. Ask not at whom the finger points. It points at us.