Commentary

Choices of the heart

As September 2016 fades away, I have been reflecting on the Pro-Life month that our bishops have long declared October to be. I have noted some progress and some backsliding in various parts of this country, in which pro-life issues have taken a backseat to bizarre side-issues and strange personalities.

Building God's kingdom

At 17, my son entered the United States Military Academy at West Point. The year was 2004. Our country was at war in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Afghanistan war began in 2001, of course, in response to the terror attacks of September 11. The Iraq invasion occurred in 2003.

"Order in the court--here come da judge"

“Order in the courtroom — here come da judge!”

This mantra, which fans of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In will associate with Flip Wilson and Sammy Davis, Jr., was often chanted at Monsignor Francis J. Nelson, the long serving judicial vicar (“The Judge”) of the Diocese of Savannah, who died on August 28, not long after celebrating the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood for the Diocese of Savannah.

We welcome the stranger

I work at a Catholic Church in North Carolina. Besides being our pastor, the priest I work for is an immigration specialist. On his day off from the parish, he works in our diocesan Catholic Charities’ office, providing immigration assistance. In addition, during office hours at our parish, people come and go seeking his help with their immigration needs. Many travel a considerable distance to meet with him.

Saint Teresa of Kolkata

On Sunday, September 4, 2016, our Holy Father Francis will canonize Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (Kolkata), one of the most beloved and esteemed Catholics of the 20th century. The pope will solemnly enroll Mother Teresa in the canon (list) of saints, God’s holy ones in heaven with him.

Defensive listening is a kin to turning a deaf ear

My grandson, age 3, loves to talk. His parents joke that the most exhausting part of caring for him is listening. I remember that same feeling. Tommy’s mom, my daughter, was also a big talker.

And while listening to Tommy may not seem the most important part of their parenting, listening is crucial. And if their experience becomes anything like mine, before they know it, his parents will be eager to have long conversations with their son as a teenager and beyond.

Experience the life-changing benefits of travel

Toward the middle of the last century, when I was still young, my parents took my sister and me on various vacations around the United States. The first of these excursions was to Florida, whose late winters were far more pleasant than those of Dayton, Ohio. In 1952, 1953 and 1956, Dad drove us down Route 48, through the hills of Kentucky and Tennessee, through Georgia, to A1A, to Fort Lauderdale, which was then a rather sleepy town with beachside motels, heralded by pink flamingo statues.

Actions rooted in faith

If asked, most Christians would say we love God before everything else. But if we claim God is our first priority, how well do our actions support that claim? 
 

A new mercy

Early in 2004, I responded to an invitation from Benedictine Military School (“BC”) in Savannah to help establish a theater program. At the time, I was 55 years old and had been a priest of this diocese for 28 years and the editor of the Southern Cross for eight years.

Taboo political discussions

In my extended family we have a rule when we get together. Especially during an election year, we don’t talk about politics. Last May, I reunited with my siblings at my brother and sister-in-law’s mountain home. As I arrived I noticed they had adorned their front porch with homemade signs, red circles and slashes drawn on the photos of the presidential candidates at the time. Their home was deemed a politics-free zone. We abided by the rule and had a fine time together.
 

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