When compassion grows feet

Most of us are compassionate people, raised by parents who felt and expressed compassion toward others. But the response to suffering varies from person to person, family to family. What makes the difference between those who act on their feelings of empathy and those who don't? Parents play a great role in encouraging their children to become people of action.

Who is my neighbor?

On the same weekend the Gospel passage of the good Samaritan was proclaimed in Catholic churches all over the nation, a jury deliberated a case in which two neighbors met on a roadside with a decidedly less morally edifying outcome. The timely intersection of Luke's narrative with the July trial of neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman for the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin offers Catholics an opportunity to reflect on our own interactions with others who may run outside of our personal social sphere.

A Church united

On July 5, Pope Francis released his first encyclical, a newsworthy event in itself, but then he knocked himself from the headlines by approving the sainthood causes of two of his renowned predecessors. If the rapid-fire announcements seemed unusual, well, that should come as no surprise from a pope who keeps doing things his way.

Fighting the fear of broader horizons

The phrase "prayer in school" means different things to different people. For some, it's about religion and the freedom to pray, or not, for assistance and guidance. Others see it as an absolute line in the sand, as if freedom of religion meant the same as freedom from religion.

Faith is a common good

It has been a long-standing personal practice, following the publication of a papal encyclical, to scan the Internet to see how it is received by the media.

A noble profession worth exploring

In the play "A Man for All Seasons" the character of Thomas More encourages Richard Rich to forgo political life for the life of teaching. One of the dialogues in the play summarizes the glory of teaching and for anyone contemplating becoming a teacher, it is well worth reading the play and taking it to heart.

The Supreme Court does not decide right or wrong

Now that the fireworks -- political as well as pyrotechnic -- have faded, it's time take a deep breath and look at what the U.S. Supreme Court did and did not do in two same-sex marriage cases.

Racism is still alive, but it doesn’t have to be

For a while, everything looked like it was coming up roses for TV chef Paula Deen. She had lucrative deals with more than a dozen major companies, a rabid fan base, and worldwide name recognition. Now, she is notorious for something else.

From one end of the church to the other

The first time I visited Assisi, St. Francis' Italian hill town in Umbria, I was with a large tour group. We had just spent several days in Rome and the contrast between the two cities was striking. Rome, the seat of power for emperors and popes, is incredible, of course, with its history, its art and architecture, its links to the apostles. But as we neared Assisi, the priest who led our group told us, "You have just moved from one end of the church to the other end." Assisi was the place where power was shed and poverty embraced. Certainly our new pope's choice of the name Francis carries much meaning for our modern age.

Helping to rebuild lives and communities for those fleeing despair

The occurrence of World Refugee Day in June and the celebration of this country's birthday in July bring to mind those who are displaced, without a country to call home, without the most basic sense of security.