What we can learn from tragedy

Some ask how people who seem to "have it all" could throw it all away on drugs. But they don't understand the living hell of addiction. No matter what pop songs say and movies show, there is no safe drug. There is no fun drug. Drugs create a dependency in your body from the first moment you take them. Once you've started down that path, it's hard to turn back, even if you desperately want to stop.

The American way to change

Youth should regard service as a "rite of passage" she writes. They need a sense of purpose, as do adults, and a sense of purpose can be gained through service. "Having a purpose is as important for youths making choices about their futures as it is for people rebuilding their lives after a crisis or older adults finding a way to make their retirement years meaningful," she says. And then Sagawa adds this telling point: "Service is not the only path to purpose, but it is a well-walked one that can help Americans of all ages and backgrounds transform their own lives for the better."

Cheeseburgers and the catechism

These part-time jobs are part of a business model that was not designed nor never meant to be a career in order to support a family of four. Part-time jobs in fast-food restaurants were for teenagers, not for careers. "Real" restaurants with tables, tableware, and place settings and tips could be the place for a career.

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.