The dark age of science

There is an ancient human desire to pin the blame on someone -- anyone -- when things go wrong. In the Dark Ages, some Christian Europeans blamed Jews for the Black Death, or the plague. As late as the 17th century, suspected witches were executed to mitigate real and perceived evils in New England communities. Today, it's scientists who are taking the fall.

Pastoral care as an important part of health care

There is an interesting discussion, some might call it a debate, making the rounds in Catholic health care circles these days relative to what the department or board committee that deals with the sacramental and spiritual needs of patients should be called. Traditionally, this service has been known as "pastoral care." Some are suggesting that it now be called "spiritual care."

A scary future is now, so think of ethics now

It is not difficult to imagine a time, centuries -- even millennia -- ago, when humans gathered outside a cave to discuss the ramifications of their newest weapon. They admired its efficiency. A string could be tied between the ends of a supple branch to form a bow which, when pulled back and released, would propel a sharp-tipped arrow. Killing at a distance had arrived. It brought new concerns, of course. Was it right to use this distance rather than bashing the opponent with the traditional club?

Sitting down for what she stands for

It was a breezy October day when Norma Fleisher settled her 86-year-old body into a foldout camp chair on a Nebraska street corner in front of the state Capitol, with the governor's mansion directly at her back. Norma's been doing this every Monday from noon to 1 p.m. for 13 years, holding signs with a group of activists to protest Nebraska's death penalty. Through snow, heat, humidity and the Great Plains' punishing winds, Norma has been faithful to her belief that "it's ridiculous to kill people to prove killing is wrong."

Peace through the strength of a loving heart

Fear suddenly gripped me as I viewed Washington, D.C.'s National Archives exhibit on the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. I lived through it but never realized that planes carrying nuclear bombs were airborne, and our submarines and silos were prepared to launch nuclear warheads. It led me to think, “How can a nuclear holocaust be avoided?”

Eradicating child marriage today

When I was growing up in Hong Kong, I listened with amazement to the stories about girls who were married off when they were hardly 12 years old. I was relieved that such an old-fashioned practice had vanished. Cramming for exams didn't seem so bad after all. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

Splitting the Catholic vote

The findings of a national study on the relation of faith and political views appear innocuous on the surface. But a drawback to such surveys is that they advance the idea of splitting that which is inseparable, often found useful to those in politics who want to split the Catholic vote to achieve their ends.

The crucial importance of the Catholic high school

If I ruled the world of Catholic education from kindergarten through graduate studies, and if I were pushed up against a wall of choice and told I could have only four years under explicitly Catholic auspices, I would without hesitation take the high school years. I'm convinced that the potential for a positive educational impact is greater in the secondary school years than in any other four-year block of time allocated to the formal educational process. Every year from K through the Ph.D. is important, but there is something special about those years between elementary school and college. Why?

After Sandy: Patience, hope and the work of the church

What we have seen and experienced in the last two weeks has been mind-numbing. Since we have weathered many hurricanes in the past, it is hard to believe that such a storm could create such havoc in our communities as Sandy did. The power may have been pulled, but the church has never stood stronger as when one person reached out across the street and brought his brother or sister to shelter. This is the work of the church of Jesus at its best.

Roses bloom in November, in the form of modern-day miracle workers

"Mooommm…” I cried. “Peter escaped from his cage! Can you help me find him?” Peter was my golden-haired, fluffy hamster − my first real pet.  Peter was lovable, adorable and so very clever. Peter’s attempts at freedom were a semi-regular occurrence, so there I was once again, sitting on the basement steps with head in my hands — crying — at the impending reality that Peter was gone forever. “Oh Missy,” my mom would say, “it will be OK.  Say a prayer to St. Anthony.  He will help us find him.”  St. Anthony, St. Anthony, please come around. Something is lost and can’t be found.