Dead Sea Scrolls open our eyes to first-century Judaism

{mosimage}The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls was the 20th century’s biggest archeological story.

It had the romance of the desert: Bedouin lads, poking into dry caves near the ancient Dead Sea settlement of Qumran in early 1947, find traces of a mysterious Jewish sect from the time of Jesus.

Coming when it did, on the eve of the post-war surge of new Bible translations, the unearthing of the scrolls caused astonishment by bringing to light the oldest texts of the Old Testament Scriptures in existence.

Papal social encyclicals help to renew values

{mosimage}From the Industrial Revolution to the Great Depression to the onset of the Digital Revolution, papal social encyclicals have erected guideposts to steer Catholics through the mazes of hardship that confront society.

Pope Benedict XVI has more than maintained that tradition with Charity in Truth, a sweeping encyclical that reinforces traditional church teachings while issuing bold challenges to world leaders to do a better job and to individuals to lead more charitable lives. (For full text: www.vatican.va/latest/latest_en.htm)

Lessons learned along the career path

The end of the academic year is particularly significant in our family this time around. Our eldest child just graduated from high school and our youngest completed elementary school.

My daughter is fortunate to have a career plan mapped out. It’s too early to guess my son’s future path.

It won't go away

{mosimage}The report is in but the final chapter may not yet be written regarding allegations that have swirled  around Development and Peace since March.

Amid charges that D&P was aligned with five Mexican groups that support abortion, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has concluded an investigation and exonerated D&P, according to CCCB president Archbishop James Weisgerber.

Thank you, Father

{mosimage}Father’s Day. Bring out the greeting cards, new ties and socks. My dad is an inspiring guy, a role model, someone who’s shown me the kind of person I’d like to be in life. So dad, never forget you’re #1 (along with mom) in my books.

But this Father’s Day, I’d like to thank some other “fathers” out there. They probably won’t be taken out for brunch this weekend and are unlikely to receive any great classroom art from the kids at school, but I’d like to say thanks just the same.

Pray for the artistic commitment to truth

Catholics who pray the Liturgy of the Hours know that the intercessions frequently guide us to petition God for the arts.

Not that artists nowadays care whether we pray for them or not. (They are more likely to be grateful that Christians no longer have the power to censor or suppress them.) It has been a long time, after all, since churches commissioned artworks that were important in the history of art, and since artists had anything better than contempt for Christianity, its teachings and institutions.

Coming to grips with Irish abuse scandal

{mosimage}When I was at a meeting for the International Council of Universities in Limerick, Ireland, last April, it was in the air.  Menacingly on the horizon.

Over a year ago when my own university honoured Diarmuid Martin, archbishop of Dublin, for his record of service in the cause of global human rights, the topic came up, and the dread was palpable.

And now, at last, it has happened, and the church in Ireland is convulsed.  Again.

Give the gift of life

{mosimage}There are currently 1,662 people in Ontario on waiting lists for organ transplants. At year’s end, in rough numbers, just 450 will have received a new organ, 1,150 will still be suffering and 62 will have died waiting for a donor.

The numbers are startling but, sadly, are nothing new. There has always been a huge gap between  demand and supply when it comes to human organs.

Deacon gives nun the gift of life

TORONTO - You never know what you’ll spot in the parish bulletin. One Sunday last summer Deacon Michael Hayes read a plea from a woman seeking a liver donor to save her critically ill sister. He put down the bulletin, booted up his computer and sent an e-mail to his pastor.

Living on less a bonus for this family

{mosimage}It’s amazing how what initially seems like a major crisis can sometimes end up being just what is needed to get your priorities straight. I wouldn’t have believed it at the time, though.

I’m referring to my husband’s job loss a decade ago due to workplace restructuring. The anniversary is this month.

He’d been with the company longer than I’d known him. His job necessitated a two-hour, round-trip commute and long, demanding workdays. Originally it also involved travel; the last two years he was continually on call via pager.

Parental rights in the spotlight

The Alberta government recently enacted controversial changes to its human rights code that affirm the fundamental right of parents to intercede in the classroom on matters related to the moral education of their children.

In a decision regarded as a victory for religious freedom, Bill 44 amended Alberta’s Human Rights Act to give parents the right to remove their children without academic penalty from classes which include discussion of sexual orientation, sexuality or religion. The amendment requires teachers to notify parents if the sensitive topics are scheduled for inclusion in formal lessons. Informal or “incidental” classroom discussion is not covered by the requirement.