Nothing but R-E-S-P-E-C-T for the Queen of Soul

It is a bit silly for fortysomethings to be speaking about a “bucket list” but that’s what I heard leaving Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall after an Aretha Franklin concert. A man my age, who should be busy about living rather than thinking about dying, commented that seeing Aretha Franklin in concert was on his bucket list. That’s rather a nice compliment to Aretha, who has made all sorts of lists in her life, including some years back taking the No. 1 position in Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 100 singers of all time.

How exactly one measures the top 100 singers is not clear, but to finish first in such a manner of list-making is be acknowledged as a rare talent. Aretha is still that, 50 years after she got her start.

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Even Tiger shouldn’t mess with the golf gods

After last week’s Masters golf tournament, perhaps Tiger Woods’ sponsor should change its marketing campaign to: “Don’t mess with the golf gods.”

The world’s Number 1 ranked golfer again found himself in the middle of a media storm when in the second round of the Masters he took an illegal drop after his ball careened off the flagstick and into the water.

When Woods later admitted to the mistake, the rules committee assessed him a two-stroke penalty and used a new rule to allow him to remain in the tournament instead of facing disqualification, which was the automatic penalty up until two years ago. Some thought he should have been disqualified, others thought a two-shot penalty was ample punishment...

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Our mysterious exchanges with God

When asked by a deacon how best to communicate the Christian faith, St. Augustine encouraged him to share the story of salvation, especially drawing from the Bible. Scripture can be summarized as stories of God’s dealings with men and women and the unfolding of His love in their lives in order to bring them salvation.

At long last, Ralph Klein finally embraced Jesus

As someone who can smell the incense from the last pew of the church, it was no challenge for me to sniff the billows of the beer coming off Ralph Klein.

Right until death Ebert dodged the most fundamental question

He spent a life chronicling show business, so why not a show at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago for the funeral of Roger Ebert? Chicago’s great clerical showmen were on hand for the premiere. Jesse Jackson sent a message that Ebert “sought to explain America to itself,” which may well be apt if you consider America to be a vast, leisured people busy about entertaining themselves.

Catholic schools offer education from a Gospel culture

On my desk sit two books, one on top of the other, spines facing outwards so that the titles are clear to the students and the parents with whom I meet. Both are authoritative texts in the context of Catholic education. One is the Education Act, the other is the Bible.

Free speech everywhere but Parliament

The late-March decision to declare Private Members’ Motion-408 “unvotable” has generated a debate about the control of party leaders and the Prime Minister’s Office over what Members of Parliament can and can’t say in the House of Commons.

The what ifs of all those years ago

When I was 12 years old, a Grade 8 classmate at Holy Cross Catholic School in East York was working at Maple Leaf Gardens selling ice cream and popcorn.

We need God’s divine mercy

“Jesus is risen, there is hope for you, you are no longer in the power of sin, of evil! Love has triumphed, mercy has been victorious! The mercy of God always triumphs!”

In Jesus we have nothing to fear

Second Sunday of Easter (Year C)April 7 (Acts 5:12-16; Psalm 118;Revelation 1:9-11, 12-13, 17-19;John 20:19-31)

People are seldom brought to faith by mere words — it is what they see and experience that stirs their soul. The people of Jerusalem had probably heard the preaching of many would-be prophets and messiahs but these movementshad sputtered out and disappeared from the scene. The early community of Jesus followers wasdifferent — here divine power was clearly at work, just as in the words and actions of Jesus...

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An abundance of good news from Rome

ROME - A friend of mine settled in for an interview with a British national broadcaster after the election of Pope Francis. She had been asked to join an American Jesuit to discuss the implications of the March 13 election.

Before going on air, the inter­viewer received a phone call from his producer in London, who was unhappy with recent interviews. “There’s too much good news,” the producer said...