Thank you, Lord, for the gift of Your presence during my time of silence. You have given me the human ability to still myself and listen. You have blessed me with freedom from physical or emotional maladies which could hinder my ability to be silent and still. Yet, despite that gift, a million excuses keep me from coming to You.

Published in Register Columnists

We’re all guilty to some degree, aren’t we? I mean, guilty of taking things for granted.

Published in Guest Columns
The mountain ash tree in our front yard is at the peak of its autumn brilliance. I sit on the couch in our living room awed by the array of gold, green, yellow and red.
Published in Glen Argan

Crisp air, fiery-coloured leaves, pumpkins and apples — the smell of autumn is in the air! It’s October, and Thanksgiving is upon us.

Published in YSN: Speaking Out

TORONTO – Come Thanksgiving Day, everybody eats — including the homeless. This year Toronto’s Good Shepherd Centre is asking you to skip lunch for one day and donate what you would have spent so the poor and homeless of Toronto can eat a Thanksgiving Day feast.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

VATICAN CITY - At a Mass of thanksgiving for the canonization of Canada’s two newest saints, Pope Francis said missionaries do enormous good for the Church by bringing God’s love to the far corners of the Earth and by keeping the Church healthy and fruitful.

Published in Faith
October 16, 2014

Model Canadians

The year-long celebration of the 350th anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Quebec reached into the Vatican on Oct. 12 with a papal Mass to honour Canada’s two newest saints. 

Published in Editorial

VATICAN CITY - Missionaries do enormous good for the world and the church by bringing God's love to the far corners of the earth and by keeping the church healthy and fruitful, Pope Francis said.

Published in Faith

Thanksgiving is always special because it is the day my parents were married many years ago and I take time to feel thankful for them, though they are both long departed. And this Thanksgiving weekend was extra special because we celebrated the 80th birthday of my wife’s mother.

Though my own mother and my wife’s mother met only once, I have always felt a bond between them. They were raised very differently (one in the city, the other in the country) and they married men with polar opposite personalities. But the two women were similar in many ways; namely, they always put others first.

My mom was a saint and my dad a character. It may not have been a marriage made in heaven, but it was certainly a love story lived on Earth that I am sure continues in heaven.

In many ways, my parents were so different. She was a worker bee who wanted to get the job done (whatever the job), behind the scenes, away from the limelight. He was a free-spirit who loved the attention and often put a job around the house off until tomorrow. But he loved his wife beyond anything; even more than the racetrack, golf course or poker table. She died way too young at age 56. Her death was 15 years before his at age 73. Though he had some good years after her, he really was never the same on his own.

In his later years, he once told me the best thing I could give my children was to love their mother above all else. I said, “Dad, of course, I do.” With an unfamiliar serious look on his face, he said, “Always put her first. Your love of her reflects to them.”

On Thanksgiving, as I thought about my parents, I couldn’t help but think that he got to have more fun than she did. In some ways, he was a product of the times and a swashbuckling journalist in the 1950s and ’60s.

There was a story when he was in Manhattan at a party at a swanky nightclub and he danced with Liz Taylor. The next morning, he called home to tell mom about the evening but she was scrubbing floors so my oldest brother had the conversation with him on the phone. He was about eight years old and he relayed the story to mom and then looked at her on her hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor, and said, “Mom, you’re just like Cinderella and daddy was at the ball.”

In our family, given who our father was, teasing was a sport. Once, when I was upset over being teased, mom consoled me by saying it is okay to be teased because it means that person isn’t teasing someone else. A very Christian attitude that, unfortunately, I sometimes forget. Long ago, at Sunday dinner mom was getting teased by several of her seven children and she exasperatedly said: “How come women at the CWL, or at the beauty salon or our friends in the bowling league all like me but you guys treat me like this?”

I was about 10 years old and I blurted out: “Mom, they just don’t know you like we do!” They say there is a grain of truth in any joke, but she knew there was no truth in that one and she smiled. Later, I heard her tell that story on more than one occasion.

This brings me back to this past Thanksgiving weekend. It started with a birthday dinner for my wife’s mother with her children, grandchildren and her brothers and their wives at the table. Then the next night she took 10 of her family to the production of War Horse and also paid for the dinner at a fancy restaurant. We tried to pay but she just shook her head and said: “This is my birthday present to myself. I am paying.”

She has done things like this regularly for the 30 years I’ve known her and it is just another example of how she puts others first, just like my mom did. And it’s one of the reasons I have never, ever referred to her as my “mother-in-law” because of the negative connotations associated with that phrase. She is my second mother, period. And how many people are lucky enough to have two fantastic mothers in one lifetime? That’s why Thanksgiving is a second Mother’s Day for me.

Published in Robert Brehl