{mosimage}The Jesuits used to claim that if they could take charge of a boy’s education at age seven, they would turn out a fine mature man ready to serve God and country. Today, as we celebrate this Father’s Day, in much of industrialized society, the boys are still there, but the men are increasingly missing in action.

The trees fluttered to and fro in a brisk autumn breeze. The scene at the back of St. Isaac Jogues Church was one filled with the sound of people tapping their feet to the music as the air was filled with the tantalizing smell of hamburgers and hot dogs cooking on the barbecue. Our pastor warmly greeted my family as he mixed and mingled among the crowd.

I’m writing this column in a room on the psychiatric ward of a large downtown hospital. I’m not here as a visitor or observer. I’m a patient.

{mosimage}Last week, we offered some general comments on the report of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission on reasonable accommodation in Quebec. By and large, the commissioners used common sense and open-mindedness in dealing with very real tensions over religious and cultural differences between immigrants and older Quebec communities.

{mosimage}It’s 2 a.m. It is that time of the day when a man filled with stress lays in his bed staring at his alarm clock. I ask Jesus to help me sleep, but sleep doesn’t come.  

{mosimage}In April, after four Canadian seal hunters were killed in the Gulf of St. Lawrence when their ship capsized while being towed, the animal rights activist Paul Watson provided a provocative quote. Speaking for his organization, which engages in direct action to protest abuse of marine wildlife, he said: “The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society recognizes that the deaths of four sealers is a tragedy but Sea Shepherd also recognizes that the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of seal pups is an even greater tragedy.”

{mosimage}The release of the Bouchard-Taylor report May 22 on reasonable accommodation of religious and ethnic differences in Quebec offered a useful corrective to some of the alarmism creeping into public debate on this issue. As one of the first official and systematic examinations of how Canadians integrate newcomers into our midst, it holds valuable lessons for all of us.

{mosimage}No one says being an Ontario Catholic school trustee in these times is easy. The vast majority of trustees recognize, too, that theirs is a vocation with few rewards and a grinding workload. So the temptation to ease that burden in questionable ways may be understandable — even as succumbing to it is never acceptable.

{mosimage}The residential towers now sprouting up across downtown Toronto regularly rouse the ire of citizens. People don’t like these structures for all kinds of reasons: because they cast long shadows, because they increase local traffic, because they make bad fits with the often low-rise neighbourhoods that surround them. But until now, I’ve never heard people objecting to a high-rise development because it threatens to eat up a parking lot.

{mosimage}As a Lenten discipline, I re-read the earliest documents of Christianity, namely the letters (or Epistles) of St. Paul. It is easy to forget that when Paul wrote these letters there were no Gospels, nor anything else of what today we call, with easy familiarity, the New Testament. My purpose was to see if, across two millennia, St. Paul’s authentic voice could still be heard.

{mosimage}Economists — practitioners of the “gloomy science” — are gleefully telling us the party’s over. The boom times have disappeared, pffft, into thin air, replaced by recession and unemployment. But statisticians are now saying that most Canadians were not even invited to the party to begin with.