Renowned 19th-century novelist Robert Louis Stevenson once wrote that “mankind was never so happily inspired as when it made a cathedral.”

Each year, there are more than 5,000 heart transplants around the world — that’s about 14 every single day.

As traumatized civilians in war-torn Syria face little near-term hope of returning to their homes, Canada’s refugee resettlement program is running on low battery and needs to be re-charged.

When Canada legalized assisted suicide earlier this year, the National Post’s coolly analytical Andrew Coyne wondered in a column whether we haven’t lost our way as a country. Barely two months after the legislation’s passage, a marker of how lost we are shows up in our insistence on going both ways at once.

When discussions about Catholic fiction arise certain names are always mentioned: J.R.R. Tolkien, Flannery O’Connor, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, Thomas Merton and so forth. Even C. S. Lewis comes up, even though he was a member of the Church of England.

Fall temperatures will empty beaches in southern France and bring a natural end to the burkini furor and ugly confrontations that have triggered a worldwide debate. But the underlying tension won’t be folded away with the beach blankets. And that is unsettling.

School’s in, and again I look upon my lost youth with mingled regret and nostalgia. Not to terrify 14-year-old readers, but occasionally I see an ex-classmate on Facebook wailing, “If only I were 14 again and could do things differently.” Having read an excellent book called Make It Stick: the Science of Successful Learning (Brown, Harvard, 2014), I too long for the time machine.

Only a handful of Catholics are quoted more often than Mother Teresa. Even today, 19 years after her death, the words of the saintly sister still resonate whenever the topic is mercy and compassion.

For centuries there was only one Teresa, the Carmelite reformer who was canonized on March 12, 1622, in the single most impressive canonization in the history of the Church. Gregory XV crowned the Catholic Counter-Reformation that day, canonizing in one ceremony the great Teresa of Avila, along with St. Francis Xavier, St. Philip Neri and St. Ignatius Loyola.

Is the West’s tepid response to the religious cleansing of Syrian and Iraqi Christians a sign of naivety, greed or maybe cowardice? Or is there a Machiavellian strategy to ease religious tension in the region by silently watching a 2,000-year-old Christian presence simply fade away?

The swiftness of Pope Francis setting up a Vatican panel to study the question of women deacons clearly indicates His Holiness wants resolution to the prickly issue.