Commentaries

Reflecting on sacrifices of others 50 years into the priesthood

The privilege of being a priest hit me powerfully recently when I was part of an assembly of priests who gathered to celebrate their respective ordination anniversaries at a concelebrated Mass. It made me think of all our contributions. Priests serve all over the world and have long been part of good and bad moments in history.

Discarding fear in the image we develop of God

Years ago, I was shopping with an older relative. After a clerk rang up her purchase, my relative realized there was a mistake and she'd been given 75 cents extra change. This must have been in the days before the idiot-proof checkout machines that allow folks who can't add to nonetheless successfully complete a transaction. When my shopping companion saw the mistake, she alerted the clerk and handed back the extra change. I thought this was the honorable thing to do because I believe in the old adage that the person who is honest in small matters is also honest in large ones. I must have made some comment to that effect.

Fear is good in some instances, but not when it stunts our potential

Are you afraid of the dark? Almost everyone is, at some point. Sometimes when we're young, we're absolutely convinced that monsters are living under our bed. But, as we grow up, so do the monsters. They move out of the dark corners of our closets and into other parts of our lives. They show up when we're lost. They stand around and taunt us when we have to make a class presentation or ask our crush out on a date.

The meaning of mendacity

I remember using the word "mendacity" in a passing comment during a lecture on contemporary business ethics; I may even have used the word "mendacious" in describing an auditor's complicity in filing a false income statement. In any case, a mid-level manager later came up to me and said, "You used a word that I never heard before -- 'mendacity' -- what does it mean?"

Don’t be holier than the pope

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the official domestic anti-poverty agency of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, works to break the cycle of poverty by helping people help themselves. It has been doing good deeds for more than four decades. It has also been the subject of repeated criticism by those who say the agency does not directly help the poor and works for social change. The most recent criticisms focus on the agency's grants made to coalitions, not all of whose member organizations support all Catholic positions on social issues.

The past worries about parenting turned into joy

Before we had children, my husband was deeply worried about whether he would be a good father. It is the biggest responsibility to bring a person into the world: to raise, guide, nurture and love him or her. As an only child who majored in industrial engineering modeling and estimating complex systems, David thought the "learn as you go" approach was laden with opportunities for mistakes. I, who came from a family of six children, assured him that children are resilient; they don't need perfect parents, just sensible ones.

Battle lines of conscience protection run through Pa.

For 50 years, the Pennsylvania Catholic Health Association (PCHA) has defended conscience rights for individuals and Catholic health care institutions. Its many victories are worth celebrating, but the fight to defend religious liberty rages on. The battle lines of freedom remain the same – defending the boundaries where the government cannot interfere with religious conscience.

Immigration: A Catholic matter

When 11-year-old Sebastian De La Cruz sang the national anthem at Game 3 of the NBA playoffs June 13 between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat, the reaction by people on Twitter to his appearance and talent was venomous. People assume that Sebastian De La Cruz is Mexican from Mexico, but he was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. As one can see, the debate on immigration is often wrought with misunderstandings, fear, misconceptions and even hatred.

Humans: Trash or treasure?

A good understanding of the principle of human dignity can be found in examples from new technology. Or from the straight talk of Pope Francis. Both can be equally effective. "We have begun this culture of disposal where human beings themselves are nowadays considered as consumer goods, which can be used and thrown away," the pope said in a meeting with diplomats. Two recent magazine articles demonstrated how technology can lead to either the commoditization of humans or to celebrating their individuality.

Caring for a family member is a blessing and benefit

Washington, D.C., where I live, is a government town, and reminders of this fact crop up in places you might not expect. Many cities run ads in their transit systems for consumer goods and services. The ones in the Washington Metro often focus instead on advocacy and policy. I noticed one this month decrying cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. "Today you're an accountant," it reads. "Tomorrow you're dad's nurse. Further cuts to Medicaid and Medicare will impact 78 percent of post-acute and skilled nursing care patients. We have a solution."