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."

Music education: The lessons that keep on giving

On May 3, The Rolling Stones, whose average age is 68, kicked off the band's "50 and Counting" tour at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. A few days earlier, I had attended an end-of-the-year recital hosted by a friend. It featured his piano students, whose collective age is much younger (the youngest performer was 5). Both events showcased the enduring power of all kinds of music and music education at all ages. There is an ever-growing body of scientific research finding intriguing connections between music and how it can enhance brain health, reduce blood pressure and provide a challenging way to make one's older years inspiring and fulfilling.

Freedom of expression also comes with responsibility

Nothing we do is private. In a world where our every movement is tracked, it's best to assume that anything we do can be known by anybody at the touch of a button. Recently, many have expressed concern about the news that the government required a certain company to provide records of customer phone calls and has made efforts to track email, video and voice chats, file transfers and other personal information.

Making family memories this summer

I'm not surprised that this summer is bringing back many memories of times when our three children were younger. This is the first one since their mom, my wife Monica, died last winter. What surprises me, but shouldn't, was how wise she was about making family memories. She was the one who realized how precious and fleeting these moments become, and how important it is to spend time together and take advantage of each summer.

Drones: Effective, accurate but moral?

President Barack Obama's speech in which he presented his long-awaited policy for use of drones in targeted strikes has shifted the focus from the policy to how well it may be observed and enforced. The president, in a May 23 speech to the National Defense University, said the new policy will restrict how and when the U.S. will launch targeted drone strikes as part of counterterrorism activities to target only imminent threats and limit civilian casualties.

Finding the good in the nation’s capital

The news these days is anything but praiseworthy of Washington, D.C. Congressional investigations of corruption and mismanagement, Republicans and Democrats at each other, financial bickering, gridlock and career-ending scandals are a routine diet on which our nation imbibes. To make matters worse, dedicated staffers to the Congress have mournfully confided, "The last few years have been a total waste."

FOCUS meeting draws 200 to learn about New Evangelization

This year, FOCUS chose Philadelphia to be one of four cities to host REACH. The goal was to “reach” out further into the Catholic community to offer those in attendance an opportunity for encountering Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, for gathering in prayer, for hearing from inspiring speakers -- including Archbishop Charles Chaput -- and for being equipped to take part in the New Evangelization.

Putting the talents of parish youth to work

When I was a teenager, my mother worked as the youth minister at my parish, so I ended up going to every service project and every prayer service we hosted. We weren't a big group. There were four of us on the core committee, with others coming in and out when they needed service hours for confirmation or graduation. I remember having a lot of fun. While we ran service projects, such as collecting coats for the homeless in the fall and painting Habitat for Humanity houses in the spring, a lot of other groups in the parish requested our help, too.