A little girl, a potato and the President

A long-anticipated trip to Ireland, researching ancestors, a poignant story about children playing with a potato, even the name Barack Obama, all eventually led me to pondering the plight of Syrian refugees and the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace.

A question thousands of years in the asking

Standing recently inside one of the oldest tombs in the world, with about 200,000 tonnes of stone above and around me, strange thoughts manifested in the darkness. The thoughts were not of fear but of perplexity about today’s materialistic, even hedonistic, culture.

Seeing Christ in the face of all: we are worthy of love

It was a sight of beauty. Perhaps as beautiful a thing as I have ever seen. I saw it during morning rush hour on a freezing cold day in front of a busy Toronto bus stop. I was driving and fortunately the light turned red, allowing me to look more closely at what was taking place.

Beware taking Christ’s passion for granted

My father once told me the story of a Japanese tourist who wandered into a historical European church. A guide hurried to meet him and point out the intricate carvings, the famous paintings. It took her a moment to realize that the Japanese visitor was paying no attention. He was standing frozen in the middle of the aisle with his face contorted in horror. Finally he raised a shaking finger to the baroque and bloody crucifix and asked, “Who is THAT?”

Long shot worth taking

After years writing about euthanasia as the religion reporter for the National Post, followed by two years of public talks to convince Canadians that government-sanctioned killing would be a disaster, I think I have finally figured out what bothers me the most about what is taking place in our country: the disturbing lack of imagination that has taken over the public psyche about how to deal with people who are suffering.

The Virgin of Guadalupe is the star of the new evangelization

It was a good idea that didn’t work. Before the reform of the Roman calendar in the 1960s, the octave day of Christmas — Jan. 1 — was celebrated as the feast of the circumcision and holy name, as Jewish boys were named on the eighth day after birth. There was a minor feast of the divine maternity of Mary in the calendar on Oct. 11, which St. John XXIII chose for the opening of Vatican II, and now serves as his feast day.

This is Christ

In the final week of Advent, I was in an Ottawa sandwich shop having coffee with two photographer friends when a man behind us pitched himself into our conversation.

My most memorable Christmas gift

At a recent dinner party, talk turned to most memorable Christmas gifts received. There was a first bicycle, some jewelry and a couple “bucket-list” trips mentioned.

Prayer is the answer

It seems unimaginable that America’s incomprehensible deadlock over gun control could become any stranger. Yet somehow the quasi-ritualized mass slaughter of citizens by other citizens with high-powered weapons has produced the unfathomable effect of making prayer a victim.

Let’s keep Advent in Christmas

I spent the eve of Advent polishing the makeshift communion rail in our little wooden church. All around me parishioners vacuumed the rafters or cleaned the windows or mopped the floors. Someone had decided that this year we should clean the church for Christmas, and I thought that a great idea.

Understanding ‘why’

Even as the world was reacting in horror to the slaughter in Paris on Nov. 13, Fr. John Walsh was moving past the how and what to asking why.