End the death penalty, build the culture of life

That people continue to be put to death under the control of state governments and courts of the United States is indicative on how we, as a nation and Christians, view human rights and even life itself.

Compassion, forgiveness and a baby’s baptism echo across the years

I was 20 years old and unmarried when I had my daughter. I was raised by a single mother who sporadically took my sister and me to Mass. We were Christmas-Easter Catholics. I wanted to get my daughter baptized but I knew I wasn't living an active Catholic lifestyle. When I went to my parish pastor for a meeting about baptizing my daughter he wasn't very nice and I felt no guidance from him. At one point he referred to me as “stupid” and I was in tears. I was very much lost but not stupid.

A lesson for teens or anyone: Texting while driving kills

Driving while drunk kills. Driving while exhausted kills. Texting while driving kills. Driving while distracted kills. Before you get behind the wheel of a car, put away the phone. Texts and calls can wait. Give the keys to someone else if you're overly tired, or if you've had just a swallow of alcohol. Don't speed. Ever. If your friends are distracting you while you're driving, tell them to stop or pull over until they shut up.

Starting the new year with an Epiphany — an awakening

I love words, as any writer should, and "epiphany" is a favorite word of mine. It names a great January liturgical feast, namely the Scripture story about three mysterious men bearing gifts, appearing from the East, looking for the baby Jesus to worship him. The church uses it as the occasion to remind us that Christ came for all, and by extension all of us throughout history. It was an epiphany, an awakening, for all humankind.

How much killing will it take to replace the 2nd amendment?

Could this be a tipping point for gun control? No. Why should it be? Why should it break the well-established cycle of shock, grief, outrage, complacency that has followed every other mass shooting in the United States? What will it take? Is the murder of 20 young children and six adults in Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School sufficient? Or must there be greater numbers, more shocking locations?

We are not meant to be alone, and we need ‘communio’ more than ever

In this age of ruthless bottom-line efficiency, of a libertarian ethos that celebrates the strong individual and scorns the weak, there is a need to recover the Catholic sensibility of communio. We are not alone, nor are we meant to be alone. Instead, we are called to support and sustain one another. In the Acts […]

Connecticut shootings hit close to home for mom

The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., has had a profound effect on me because my younger son Sean is 6 years old -- the same age as many of the victims -- and my older son Christopher, 10, has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. While it has been reported that the alleged killer had been diagnosed with an autism-spectrum disorder, I don't believe this had anything to do with the shooting. The young man was obviously mentally unstable, as is often the case with people who perpetrate mass killings.

Now, what do we do about the massacre at Newtown, Conn.?

What can we even say about December's massacre in Newtown, Conn.? Adam Lanza murdered his mother, forced his way into a school, and killed 20 children and six adults before killing himself. The slaughter was especially frightening and sad because it involved so many little children and the adults protecting them. We were still praying for the children and their parents when the media began airing the debate about how to keep this from happening again. This too has a familiar air about it. We always turn to the government and the psychiatric profession for solutions.

Putting social media to work for the church

There was a little-noticed engine of progress at work in President Barack Obama's successful re-election campaign. Introduction of the so-called "social media" into the national political campaign made a world of difference, what Bloomberg Business Week described as the Obama team's "maniacal focus on personal data yielded millions of voters." The success of the Catholic Church with that same age group is anything but impressive. It is time for managers of diocesan and parish affairs to be talking to the techies in search of answers to the question of how to reach not only the young but also the not-so-young who are no longer showing up on Sundays. This is a crisis that must be met in new and creative ways.

Remembering a musical legend

The incident occurred in a chapel at Omaha's St. Cecilia Cathedral. The chapel was put to use as an impromptu interview room prior to a rehearsal for his concert in the cathedral the next night. The white-haired figure stared at me and asked, "Why?" The concert was titled "Brubeck at the Cathedral." I had asked him whether a jazz pianist performing in a sacred space was an oxymoron. He did not think that, he said, and explained the place of cathedrals in culture during medieval times. He listed examples of music and art that found a home there.