Fr. Vidal Martinez, new rector of The Grotto in Northeast Portland, often takes early morning or evening walks and shares photos or videos in the sanctuary’s daily emails. Here he captures trees soaring above the St. Anne Chapel in the upper gardens.
Fr. Vidal Martinez, new rector of The Grotto in Northeast Portland, often takes early morning or evening walks and shares photos or videos in the sanctuary’s daily emails. Here he captures trees soaring above the St. Anne Chapel in the upper gardens.
Two major Catholic spiritual sites in Oregon have reopened partially yet continue regular email outreach to help people thirsting for prayer during the pandemic.

The Grotto in Northeast Portland is welcoming visitors with face coverings even as it sends out a daily email with reflections, photos and videos, often bringing the peace of the sanctuary grounds to the computer screen.

A Sept. 3 email included a prayer from Vinci Paterson, The Grotto’s director of community engagement. She entitled it, “Lord, I’m your fool.”

“Jesus spent his time with the poor, the sick, the lost, the broken and disenfranchised,” Paterson wrote. “Jesus saw the world, and humanity, as you do. Jesus is your wisdom personified. May I seek your wisdom, and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, that I may be the most compassionate and faithful fool that I can be.”

In a daily feature called “30 Seconds of Peace,” a video shows the serenity of the sanctuary. On Sept. 3, the camera pans slowly from the cobblestones that form a walking prayer labyrinth up to the horizon full of evergreens.

In a video and photo series called “A Stroll in the Sanctuary with Father Vidal,” the new rector of The Grotto, Servite Father Vidal Martinez, catches scenes such as two owls hooting back and forth or the sun rising behind a statue of St. Joseph. One of his photos, expertly composed, shows trees soaring above small St. Anne Chapel in the Upper Gardens.

In Mount Angel, Benedictine Abbot Jeremy Driscoll has continued weekly video reflections and emails, giving an inside look into monastic spirituality.

On Sept. 3, the abbot discussed a passage from St. Augustine, one of the church’s most seminal thinkers. In the video, the abbot reads from St. Augustine’s “Confessions,” a public statement of faith: “Late have I loved you, Beauty so ancient and so new, late have I loved you! Lo, you were within, but I outside, seeking there for you, and upon the shapely things you have made I rushed headlong, I, misshapen. You were with me, but I was not with you. They held me back far from you, those things which would have no being were they not in you. You called, shouted, broke through my deafness; you flared, blazed, banished my blindness; you lavished your fragrance, I gasped, and now I pant for you; I tasted you, and I hunger and thirst; you touched me, and I burned for your peace.”

Abbot Jeremy said that St. Augustine was pondering how he had lived his life and missed God’s abiding presence.

“God is calling to us every day, appealing to our five senses, inviting us to come back to ourselves, where he is,” the abbot said. “Dear friends, what a way for us to pray too and maybe especially in these times of turmoil and tension and fear and national strife. We need to come back to ourselves, where God is.”

Abbot Jeremy explained that St. Augustine realized that his and every Christian life follows the pattern of the Christian story: creation, fall, resurrection.