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  • Holidays with intention
    When last we met on this website, I pontificated (er, shared) about approaching the holiday season with intention, using the church’s liturgical calendar for reference. Now that Advent has begun, how’s it going? Have you found the candles for your Advent wreath yet? Are all your days merry and bright? Well, be of good cheer and be not afraid: There are still plenty of ways to make this season count.
  • Combat loneliness
    A chain smoker in her mid-60s, our neighbor Marie is not someone you’d describe as chipper. When my family moved into our Portland home, I made her cookies. “I don’t eat sugar,” she told me, peering through her screen door and promptly snuffing out my self-satisfaction.
  •  Gifts to community and culture
    It’s only fair that leaders of our state and cities understand how broadly and deeply religious groups benefit society. Though the spiritual advantages are priceless, other contributions actually add up.
  • Many years ago as a young man born and raised in Baltimore, I spent a very different week getting a taste of life in Appalachia.

  • With charities, watch the cash and ignore the in-kind?
    The mean side of this trick is that it covers up what happens to cash donations. 
  • PHILADELPHIA — Americans have long been disturbed by the fraud and waste that often surrounds the federal government’s use of their tax dollars. They now have further reason to be up in arms because of the way those tax dollars support the practice of abortion, even though such support, technically speaking, remains illegal.
  • Recharging spiritual batteries in a difficult time
    As I do every year, I recently visited my ancestral homeland in New Mexico. I told one of my editors I needed to recharge my spiritual batteries. In these difficult times, it is easy to lose our balance and we need to regain our perspective, to assess once again what our faith is all about.
  • Path for reform goes through Rome
    It is not often when a meeting of all U.S. Catholic bishops is described as having a "consensus of anger." But that is how one bishop described their recent fall assembly in Baltimore. Judging from comments, there was a lot to be angry about.
  • Use your words

    Two groups ask me often what they can do to help their children grow in faith: parents of toddlers and parents of young adults.

  • Good and bad ideas on church reform
    These are good ideas. There are also bad ideas, coming from church factions seen as being on the "right" and "left" -- though partisan loyalties have no place in the body of Christ.
  • From the Archives

    The Sisters of Charity of the House of Providence respectfully tender their grateful acknowledgements to their many patrons and friends for the bountiful liberality which has been displayed at their late fair, held for the support of the orphan children.

  • As we approach the end of the liturgical year, it’s appropriate that the church designates the last Sunday as the Solemnity of Christ the King; for it calls to mind the last day of history, when Christ the King of the universe will come in all his glory to judge the living and the dead.
  • Thanksgiving is a chance to consider all the good in our lives. That begins with God’s constant love for us. God’s love is sure even when we are afflicted by loss and sorrow.
  • As a kid, I often wondered how long it would be until the weekend, or spring break, or when we ate dinner. My mom advised me to enjoy the present moment, because she said time would fly by at lightning speed when I was an adult.
  • God’s love is not political
    The love we are missing does not require personal agreement; its essence lies in basic respect and empathy for the human condition.

  • For human dignity
    Not long after these appallingly regular massacres, most of us forget and move on. Not so for the parents, children and friends, whose enduring and suffocating pain is a truer measure of these assaults against the dignity of life. The Second Amendment, penned in the flintlock era, can be honored while we use reason in the face of advanced gun technology.

  • We arrived at the ferry to Gozo with one minute to spare. After a series of mishaps, from being trapped in a parking garage to taking the wrong exit on one of Malta's many roundabouts, our hopes of making the 9 a.m. ferry were fading fast. When we pulled up to the dock, we were the last car allowed on the boat.
  • On not being a vegetable
    Of all the dilemmas classified under end-of-life issues, the most divisive even for Catholics has been the treatment of people diagnosed as being in a “vegetative state.”
  • From the Archives
    It would appear that the Catholic people of this area have an attitude toward these children which is less than Christian.
  • Heroes, leaders

    The people detained are human beings fighting for their human dignity, needing our support. Those detained persons are the heroes and leaders.

  • All Souls Day: Come along, Jamesie
    Suppertime at the Flynn home was family time.  Rounding up her brood, Sarah would stand by the gate and call each by name. Reaching out her hand to her youngest, she would say, “Come along, Jamesie, it’s time to go home.”
  • Catholics can vote for God's creation
    Many Catholics in the Portland area put their faith into action a few months ago by circulating the petition to put Measure 26-201, a social justice/climate action initiative, onto the ballot. Jesuit Father Craig Boly of St. Ignatius Parish endorsed the measure, and hundreds of Catholics signed the petition, along with thousands of other Portlanders. The measure made the ballot, and now we have the opportunity to put our faith into action again by voting for it.
  • A patron for our times
    It was the morning of Armistice Day, 1918. Sunken-eyed American troops — wearied and disillusioned by explosions, clouds of poison gas and ruthless bayonet attacks — had a glimmer of hope. Optimism was hard to come by while encased in muddy trenches in a denuded French field. The shooting was due to stop at 11 a.m.
  • As the colors of the trees outside begin to disappear and the air turns crisp, we have this season to contemplate death. Let’s take some time to honor and pay tribute to those who’ve gone before us, knowing the glory of God’s victory over death.
  • Sexual orientation: Hope for restoration and healing with SOCE
    PHILADELPHIA — Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) rely on professional therapy and counseling, often in a religious context, to assist those struggling with unwanted homosexual inclinations who would like to diminish their same-sex attractions and grow in their ability to abstain from same-sex behaviors.
  • From the Archives
    We have ever rightly considered the closing of the churches as un­justifiable, unholy, and unchristian in character.
  • The United States and the world are in trouble! We need to take it seriously. And we need to elect candidates who will take it seriously.
  • Family and parish community support my priestly vocation
    ST. BENEDICT — The tradition in the Archdiocese of Seattle is for seminarians to be ordained to the diaconate at their home parish. Celebrating my diaconal ordination with my family and parish community last June was an incredible gift. I have attended St. Anthony in Renton, Washington, since I was 8 years old. It was here where I altar served and received my confirmation, and where I have been blessed with many memories of church and family.
  • Let’s do better
    The Catholic Church, for all her beautiful witness to life, must do a better job ministering to families who’ve lost a child through miscarriage or stillbirth.
  • St. Oscar Romero: An example for bishops
    At a time when the bishops of the United States are faced with a crisis of credibility, it seems fitting that Pope Francis canonized a model bishop during the Vatican's Synod on Youth in Rome.
  • Keep your eye on the ball
    While we’ve tied ourselves into knots over the Supreme Court and become glued to intra-Vatican spats, the earth steadily has gotten sicker. We’ve taken our eye off the big blue ball. That’s a mistake, because if we get care for creation wrong, nothing else will matter.
  • The holiness of the church is a gift given by Christ
    This year, along with many of the faithful in this country, we can’t help but feel as though we are under a cloud.
  • How did I write a book?

    Late last month, on the eve of the Feast of the Archangels, a childhood dream became reality: in the suffocating humidity of a convention center in San Angelo, Texas, I held my book in my hands for the first time. Tears of joy and relief fell as I considered what a long, strange trip this process has been.

  • Circle of faith
    We were like Moses confronting Pharaoh and saying, “Let My People Go!” We would be strong, courageous and not be moved. We sang “No Nos Moveran,” “We shall not be moved.”
  • From the Archives
    He was an exemplary Catholic young man, the worth of whose character is given testimony to by a wide circle of friends.
  • The courageous witness of Saints Oscar Romero and Paul VI
    Two very different men, facing different sets of dire challenges with prophetic courage, faithfully journeyed along two different paths to the same destination: sainthood!
  • Stepping back from the partisan fray, the troubled confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh has exposed truths about our culture — or rather about humanity — on which most people of good will can agree, at least when politics aren’t involved.
  • Yes on 106
    Oregon voters in November have a chance to stand up for individual conscience and fight for the little guy — the littlest. These are Oregon values — and Catholic principles. 
  • Christian literature from the first three centuries affirms that the earliest followers of Jesus Christ completely rejected all forms of violence and bloodshed – no abortion, no euthanasia, no capital punishment, no war.

  • Church needs management reform
    The universal church and the U.S. church is lacking standardized management structures as well as clergy leadership development to prevent numerous and recurring scandals, exercise accountability and achieve the church’s mission.
  • Opioids, pain management, and addiction: Balancing ethical duties
    Almost two million Americans are now addicted to opioids. At a minimum, a three-pronged approach is required.
  • A both-and people
    No one can pigeonhole the Catholic Church. That’s a sign that divine genius is at work. We Catholics stand firm for principles taught by the Lord, but in practice that often means we are a both-and people.
  • The Holy Hour and the New Testament
    “By one offering He had perfected forever them that are sanctified.  And the Holy Spirit also testifies this to us.  For after that He said: this is the testament which I will make to them after those days…  I will give My laws in their hearts and on their minds will I will write them. Heb 10:15-16.  This quote is from Jeremiah 31:33. 
  • Hear our cries
    Every strongly worded homily and letter from church leadership on the evils of the crisis is encouraging. Every transparent step is appreciated. But healing a wound so deep does not come from simply being preached at — it comes from being heard.
  • With Mary’s intercession, we can persevere
    After all the wretched, evil things that happened under the banner of “church” — unspeakable abuses and shameful cover-ups and various other allegations — wouldn’t it be reasonable to just cut and run?
  • What kind of justice will he be? The answer is clear
    Federal appellate judge and lifelong Catholic Brett Kavanaugh is expected to be confirmed to a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Based on a speech he gave last year and his 12-year record as a judge, we know what type of justice he will be.
  • The Most Holy Hour – The Mass
    “On this day, beloved sons, I am asking you to renew your pledge of love for Jesus present in the Eucharist.  Make Holy Mass the center of all your piety, the summit of your priestly day, the heart of your apostolic action.  Celebrate it with love, with the scrupulous observe to the liturgical laws; live it, participating personally in the Sacrifice which Jesus renews by means of you.”  MMP #421.
  • Remembering Sean Dooney and his impact on CYO/Camp Howard
    Over the past 10 years, I came to know Sean Dooney and his wife, Sheri, and their seven kids. In no time at all, I loved every one of them. Sean and Sheri made an extraordinary impact on CYO and Camp Howard through their own contributions and by enrolling their children in the various sports programs and Camp Howard over the years. Sean coached the teams while Sheri shuttled them around to practices and games. 
  • The desire of Our Blessed Mother, The Mother of the Church could not be more explicit.  Now Our Blessed Mother gives us Her precise role to make us very pleasing to God.
  • The ongoing discussion of clergy sex abuse has moved to proposals for church reform.
  • It’s that time of year again, when many children, teens and adults fortunate enough to have access to formal education head back to school to learn about such things as math, science, history and the arts.
  • From the Archives
    From 1983: Father Thomas Laughlin Tuesday will begin serving a one-year sentence in a Multnomah County jail after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor charges of sexual abuse of boys under the age of 18.
  •   Parish taking in homeless and refugee women
    Imagine living here in Oregon, and leaving to find a better life in another country only to be denied. Imagine having to then live for several years in a tent on an island (which is a detention center for immigrants) 30 miles from the equator. And imagine finally making it to a country that is half way around the world where strangers welcome you and provide for your needs. One more thing: Imagine having to leave your children behind in your homeland during all this.
  • Learning from the unchurched

    These pages often acknowledge that western Oregon, Portland in particular, is unchurched. God, however, is alive and well.

  • On clergy sex abuse, here are three thoughts from a Catholic dad. First, include parents on review boards.
  • New church on the border symbolizes God’s presence among migrants
    Everyone knows families that have been torn apart by violence and injustice. For them, the prayer is a common mission statement: a pledge to one another that this church, this new temple, will be a place where people will rejoice when people say “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
  • From the ethical point of view, our ultimate goal should be not so much to “incentivize donation,” as to “support or encourage personal generosity” on the part of those individuals who may desire to donate freely one of their kidneys.
  • In the last judgment scene of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus sends a severe warning that hell awaits those who ignore meeting the essential human needs of the poor and vulnerable – and thus likewise, ignore him.
  • From the Archives

    Both contribute to a misunderstanding of our na­tion’s purposes, confuse the young peo­ple who are in their spiritual charge and painfully arouse the emotions of par­ents whose sons may be called to honor­able service for their country and the cause of peace.

  • Dangerous lies

    In 2010, Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner, who served in the White House under Ronald Reagan and both Bush presidents, wrote a book, “The City of Man,” about Christianity and politics. Christians, they wrote, best influence public policy by speaking and acting with grace and truth.

  • Every Monday morning for the past 30 years, members of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker community in Washington, D.C. have been making their way across the Potomac River to pray and nonviolently witness for peace in front of the most symbolic war planning, war-making headquarters on earth: the Pentagon.

  • We were blessed to have him
    Cardinal George was a shining beacon in the church. His leadership, his intellectual integrity and rigor, his witness of resilience and steadfastness in the faith, are tremendous examples for the faithful to follow.
  • The souls we meet

    In upstate New York, a slim young nature lover who looked like St. Francis stopped on the roadside and handed us bananas and cupcakes just purchased from a meager budget. He cooked us a meal as we lounged in his tree house.

  • Thank God for ‘scary’ immigrants

    There is a lot of fear-mongering these days about immigrants. We’re told that we should fear them because they’re dangerous, untrustworthy criminals out to get us. I don’t really feel that way, but maybe it’s because I was born in an immigrant family.

  • From the Archives
    The frugal, thrifty, industrious Italian is to do for us even more than was done for us by the Irish.
  • Reflections from an ‘Officer of Faith’
    As he heads to Seattle University in the fall, La Salle Prep graduate Evans Brackenbrough has left behind a legacy as a young Catholic committed to his faith.
  • MEMO

    We Catholics of the Portland metro area have noticed both of you tearing your hair out. We are here to help.

  • Our minivan is one big silver stereotype.

    Granola bar wrappers on the floor. Cheerios stuck between seats. Baseball gear rolling around the back. I'll admit our car is overlooked; I'd never let the house get this dirty. It's also much-maligned, as I crack jokes regularly about minivan life.

  • Catholics are rightly horrified by the reported sexual exploitation of boys and men by Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, now resigned from the College of Cardinals. Other church leaders knew of his misdeeds but remained silent and kept advancing him to leadership posts. We even hear of churchmen involved in grave offenses who protect and advance each other in a conspiracy of shame.

  • God’s plan
    I’ve made a habit in my life of controlling as much of it as possible. Well, trying to control it anyway. God often reminds me who really is in charge.
  • Things have come to a sorry pass in Canada. Trinity Western University, the country's largest privately funded Christian university, was established by the Evangelical Free Church of America in 1962. It aims to promote "total student development through ... deepened commitment to Jesus Christ and a Christian way of life."

  • He relied on God, not weapons of war
    Known as “Dutch” by his siblings and nieces and nephews, Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen was a quintessential Northwest down-to-earth and soft-spoken lover of the great outdoors, a fine athlete, an inspiring coach, a gentle and kind character, and a person of prayer with a listening attitude and an empowering spirit in how he related to people.  He was grounded — in every sense of the word.
  • From the Archives
    What a poor, mean, dwarfed piece of matter is man’s manufacture, when compared to God’s creation such tremendous differences in size, in smoothness of operation, in permanency of life and delicacy of action.