Commentaries

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.

Archbishop Chaput on the politics of secularism

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput talks about the need to defend religious freedom and how religious points of view have a place in the public square.

Nothing to be thankful for? Think again

Whether you live with the extreme pressures of daily life or your daily stressors are compounded by illness and pain, as Thanksgiving nears it might be difficult to feel truly thankful. Yes, lifting up thanks for family, friends, a place to live and food to eat are the obvious. But that deep, resonant, soul-inspiring sense of gratitude that springs from a well of comfort and joy may seem far away, if not unreachable. And yet, despite everything, when I truly look at the year that has passed, I can say that I am very thankful.

What’s wrong with our election process?

Without exception, everyone I've spoken to about the presidential race has said, "I can't wait until it's over." They weren't looking forward to the next elected president taking office; rather, they were fed up. One woman told me, "We've been over saturated with commercials and have indigestion!" Another man said, "The negative atmosphere has poisoned us." Another bemoaned, "We've lost our sense of values, especially civility." And then there was the observation: "All we heard was 'you said that and I say this.'"

What the years have to teach

Recently my young cousin shared a video of her daughter, just a few months old, playing in her jump-up seat. A jump-up is a child's contraption which hangs from a door frame, tethered by a sturdy but flexible elastic band. The baby sits, her legs dangling, while she watches the world and enjoys a soothing bouncing motion. The humor in my cousin's video was that her daughter, Elizabeth, had discovered that with a little extra effort, the jump-up can take her careening toward the door frames. Although not exactly rappelling off the walls yet, Elizabeth is happily shaking it up. Elizabeth, who has an older sister, seems to be living up to the second-child stereotype: discovering adventure in all things.

These are the facts about the HHS mandate

One of the most serious threats to religious freedom is the current mandate by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to force religious organizations to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraception and sterilization to their employees. This mandate uses devastating financial penalties -- far greater than if an employer refuses to provide any health insurance at all -- to coerce Catholic organizations to violate the teachings of their church and their consciences. And while it claims that it has exemptions for religious institutions, it so narrowly defines such institutions that only houses of worship qualify. If a Catholic organization does not employ primarily Catholics and does not serve primarily Catholics, it does not qualify for this exemption.

The inevitable process of aging is part of the journey

It was a brief scene in a movie where the husband and wife were having a conversation. He was in the foreground; she was in the background, brushing her hair as they talked. "I hope you will always look that way," he said admiringly. "I won't," she said, her correction politely spoken with a slight smile. There is a billion-dollar industry trying to prove her wrong.

A dream built on 25 cents a day and resilience

On a recent trip to Madagascar, I visited a rather extensive vocational training center, Ankohonana Sahirana Arenina, run by the Franciscans. The center offers workshops in embroidery, basket-making, sewing, formal tailoring, textile weaving, plumbing, wood-carving and other subjects. Such skill development offers participants a chance to make a good living. For many, that means starting their own businesses.