The challenge

In the aftermath of the recent ISIS attacks in Paris and Beirut, we are shocked, grieving, and angry. We are afraid. We are concerned that one among us may become the next to betray and attack us. We are tempted to protect ourselves by any means necessary, including avenging the attacks and shutting out refugees. We are fearful of living in a world where innocent people are slaughtered in public places by people who seem to lack all humanity, whose brutality knows no boundaries.

Giving in to the Christmas spirit

Before you know it, the “Holiday Shopping Season” will be upon us when Black Friday rolls around.

November  27 this year, the day after Thanksgiving, Americans will be urged, cajoled and enticed to spend their hard-earned (or merely borrowed) money on a vast array of stuff, ostensibly on Christmas presents that should express their love for their relatives and friends.

Gratitude and grace

Working at a parish, I encounter parents wanting to involve their children and teens in community service. Sometimes the community service is required for a school, a club, or to create a well-rounded college application. Other times, for younger children, parents say they want their children to help others less fortunate so that their children can become more appreciative of the privileges and material goods they possess. By encountering those who are less privileged, their children, these parents hope, will be more grateful for what they have.

The Father of mercies

Time to act

I’ve been writing these columns for over 20 years, and I rarely remember specific columns or the experience of writing them.

One I do remember, however, is a column I wrote after the mass shooting at Columbine High School. I remember sitting down at my desk to write the column shortly after my oldest daughter, Katie, drove herself to high school for the first time. She had just received her license, and on the morning after Columbine, I remember my anxiety about her safety, not just on the road, but on her school campus as well.

“What would Rome be without a good conspiracy?”

— Delivered by Jeremy Irons as Pope Alexander VI in “The Borgias”

The Pope and I at Independence Hall

On Saturday, September 26, Ann Pinckney and I — after standing for four hours in front of a Jumbotron on Philadelphia’s Independence Mall — were suddenly and unexpectedly invited to sit in the VIP section, in front of Independence Hall for Pope Francis’ address at the cradle of liberty.

The Holy Father circled Independence Mall in his Popemobile and then dismounted at the back of the hall where he blessed the “Encuentro Cross” before entering the Hall through a back door.

Shedding light on the agony of divorce

As a married person, I believed divorce happened when people didn’t try hard enough. I thought divorce was an easy way out of a life-long commitment. To say I judged people who were divorced may be a little harsh, but I definitely saw them as less willing to hang in there. I saw divorced people as flawed in a way I wasn’t.

Pope Francis the “Untier of Knots”

Much is being said about “political correctness” these days

Much is being said about “political correctness” these days. Apparently being politically correct has come to mean that we fail to speak truth because we are trying too hard not to offend.


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