Guest columnist

VIEWPOINT | Important takeaways from the presynod gathering in Rome

The very fact that more than 300 young people — joined by another 15,000 virtual participants via social media — produced a document to be read and studied by bishops around the world in preparation for the Vatican's 2018 synod on "Young people, the faith and vocational discernment" is no small feat.

The near-unanimous consensus on a range of issues facing young people in the Church today offers an example to the rest of the Church at a time when some established leaders, continuing to fight old battles, are adding to the climate of polarization rather than overcoming it.

GROWING UP CATHOLIC | Penance, fried into a celebration of God’s forgiveness

Lent is a time for prayer, penance, and mounds of spaghetti on fried fish.

Look, I'm as surprised to have written that sentence as you may be to have read it. The Lenten fish fry is a cultural phenomena, and the Catholic fish fries in St. Louis are without compare. When I first encountered this curiosity, I quickly realized I was out of my depth. Sure, I have a Master of Divinity and can read Greek, but at a fish fry I'm surrounded by expert-level Catholics who continue to school me on the art of how to do Lent right.

A MORE HUMAN SOCIETY | Ending a culture of violence

A horrific mass shooting at a Florida high school placed school violence and gun control at the forefront of public debate.

Proposals include stricter regulations on semiautomatic weapons, a ban on "bump stocks," broader background checks, a higher legal age for gun purchasing, making it easier to get restraining orders against gun possession by some people, and increased investment in mental health programs.

These should be considered in light of the best evidence on what will save lives without violating our constitutional freedoms. In this area, I am no expert.

THEOLOGY OF TECHNOLOGY | Wisdom for the digital age

It was a bad afternoon at the ad agency. I was just finishing up a creative brief for a denture adhesive ad campaign when my boss came by to tell me about a new client, smokeless tobacco from Sweden.

The irony of trying to convince people to buy denture adhesive and smokeless tobacco wasn't lost on either of us, but it wasn't for us to make it an issue. This was business. It was our job to marshal all the persuasive power of media technology and marketing to make sure our client sold more product.

GUEST COLUMNIST | Black History Month … why?

Do you remember when flipping the calendar from January to February seemed to signal "time to learn about black people?"

Teachers scheduled field trips and presentations. Anyone who desired could tune into assorted TV programs, find films and attend stage performances. Librarians extended recommended reading lists to include books by, for and about African Americans. Schoolchildren wrote reports, prepared recitations and explored historical, scientific and cultural achievements of African Americans in the United States.

STEWARDSHIP | Being grateful, every day

What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday? Let that question sink in for a minute. Would you even be around today? Would your family, friends, job, home, food, clothing, car, parish, etc. be around today? The list goes on and on.

That question gets to the very core of stewardship — recognizing all the gifts we have been given and being grateful for them, every day.

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