Open up and let God into our lives

I just can’t do it in my own. We vain humans have such difficulty admitting that.

    Mandela a model of putting natural virtue to service

    The death of Nelson Mandela has produced the most extravagant laudations, and his funeral rites have attracted a parade of the great and the good not seen since the funeral of Pope John Paul II, and which will not be seen again until the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. I made my own modest contribution in the National Post, praising Mandela for the virtue of magnanimity, that large-heartedness which enabled him to renounce vengeance first, and political power later.

      Francis and Flannery: their two sharp pens

      Anyone sifting around for Advent reading might consider the just-out apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis to lay alongside a strange and beautiful new book bearing Flannery O’Connor’s name.

      Reading Evangelii Gaudium alternately with O’Connor’s prayer journal creates the sense of listening to a yearning yet joyful dialogue between two immensely gifted writers whose very habit of being is illumination of the Catholic soul.

      It is not habitual — perhaps even unheard of — to praise a pontiff for his literary prowess. The job generally places far heavier emphasis on other gifts, talents and skills. Wherever he ranks in the pantheon of pontifical pens, however, there can be no doubt that Francis is the first to use the noun “sourpuss” in an apostolic document. More, he positions the word perfectly in his sentence to make it clear that it is us that he is concerned about.

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        Artist has terrific theological insight

        At the general audience of Nov. 20, the work of Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz was presented to Pope Francis. The sculpture, Jesus the Homeless, is a striking image of a homeless person sleeping on a park bench. With the face wrapped in a heavy blanket against the cold, it is impossible to tell who it might be. Only the feet are exposed and then it becomes clear who it is — there are the marks of the nails. It is the crucified one, Jesus Christ. There is space on the bench for someone to sit down alongside the sleeping, homeless Jesus. One could well imagine the Holy Father, with his heart for the poor and the suffering, sitting alongside someone on that bench. In St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis beheld the statue and then blessed it.

          Restoring my faith in media balance

          As a young lad, I remember coming home after being teased at school and my mother immediately asking me what was wrong.

            Packing up family memories

            Emptying the house I grew up in, after the passing of my mom, has been one of the most difficult, rewarding, surprising, touching and inspiring times of my life. It was so fitting that this emptying culminated in November, the month that starts with us remembering those who have died and ends on the eve of Advent.

              Is politics suffering from a death of character?

              Writing in The Death of Character, James Hunter argues that character is frequently associated with words like honour, reputation, integrity, manners, duty and even manhood. Character, he argues, is always associated with an explicitly moral standard of conduct oriented towards work, building, expanding, achieving and sacrifice on behalf of a larger good.

                Cyberbullying only one part of a bigger picture

                A wide-ranging cyberbullying bill introduced in Parliament on Nov. 20 covers far more than the distribution of sexually explicit images without the person’s consent. It also gives police new tools to investigate the use of the Internet for terrorism, organized crime and hate propaganda. Justice Minister Peter McKay acknowledged that Bill C-13 (Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act) goes beyond cyberbullying and will modernize parts of the Criminal Code that were written before text messaging and e-mail existed.

                  Where are we?

                  Two years ago, my wife and I were in her mother’s room at an extended-care facility when we heard another patient calling out plaintively. I poked my head out the door in plenty of time to see Madame Beaudoin moving up the hallway with halting walker-steps, calling out: “Where am I?”

                    The world was present for Christ’s birth

                    KINGSTON, ONT. - Local Catholic Tony Vella had an effective evangelizing idea. How to remind local schoolchildren about the birth of Jesus amid the commercial clutter of the season? The St. Paul the Apostle parishioner thought that the best way to remind children about Jesus was to show them, well, Jesus.

                      The good side of human nature wins

                      As quickly as human nature can leave you discouraged, it can turn around and uplift you.