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  • Discerning the spirits

    Given a tough question, St. Thomas Aquinas sometimes declined to give a simple yes or no answer. Instead he began with: "distinguo." The question can be taken different ways; we must "distinguish" these to get a valid answer.

  • Young adult ministry accompanied me during addiction recovery

    The young adult ministry at St. Brigid Parish in San Diego saved my life. On a Wednesday evening in October 2011 -- having about 72 hours of sobriety from alcohol and drugs under my belt -- I was greeted with a firm handshake by a young man who ultimately led the sea of men and women surrounding us in a weekly Bible study.

  • The prerogative power

    Before hurricanes took over the news cycle, two other stories absorbed the country's attention -- President Donald Trump's chest-thumping exchange with Kim Jong Un, and his decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). In an odd way, these issues are alike.

    Let us begin with the potential nuclear conflict. Asked by a reporter during a trip to church whether he would attack North Korea, the president replied, "We'll see." As though he just hadn't made up his mind yet.

  • Technology: An unknown pilgrimage

    This month marks a significant anniversary in the history of technology: It is the 10-year anniversary of the iPhone. Apple celebrated by unveiling yet another iPhone, this one called the iPhone X.

  • The purpose of the lectures is to explain the doctrines and practices of the Catholic Church, and answer in a kindly manner the difficulties and objections of all earnest seekers after truth.
  • Good columns
    This one deserves great kudos.
  • This is about taking away people’s reasons for hate, anger and fear. If they know that they are loved for who they truly are in God’s eyes, abortion will become unthinkable.
  • Pray for the brave
    As we peacefully drink our morning tea or coffee, they are working long hours to contain fire from spreading despite heavy winds and high temperatures.
  • Make a good law
    Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle must set aside recriminations. Their job is to craft legislation that helps young immigrants who came here without authorization, but through no fault of their own. President Trump has asked for good, compassionate lawmaking and Congress should deliver.
  • The smiling pope’s reminder
    BEAVERTON — On Aug. 26, 1978, Cardinal Albino Luciani was elected to succeed Blessed Paul VI as pope. He took for himself the name John Paul, after his two saintly predecessors. Tragically, he would die just over one month later, totally unexpectedly. We are now in the midst of the 39th anniversary of his papacy.
  • A Christian perspective on the sandwich generation
    Christians look to the Bible for advice on a number of issues, trusting God’s word above all else. When it comes to how the Christian community should respond to those in need, the Bible is very clear.
  • All should be worried

    Oregon must be more careful. If religious liberty is not respected, all people suffer and are deprived of religion’s irreplaceable contribution to the common good.

  • Keep the peace, Portland
    As children played in a fountain nearby and families biked beside the river, punches were thrown by dueling protestors last month at Portland’s Waterfront Park. One group was pro-Trump and the other was composed of anti-fascist demonstrators. Bodies were hurled to the ground, and pepper spray was used.
  • From the Archives

    The thrilling walk on the moon was made possible by a cooperative effort which has never been equaled in peace time.

  • Fixes for the problem of life direction

    On Friday, my cable went out. An ominous error message appeared on the screen, sticking like glue.

  • More pro-life possibilities

    The head of Democrat campaigning in the House of Representatives has announced that his party no longer will withhold funds from candidates who oppose abortion rights.

  • Not so ordinary
    We must get away from these negative connotations of the word “ordinary.” Remember that there is nothing ordinary whatsoever in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, if by “ordinary” one means dull, run-of-the-mill, pedestrian, or lackluster. Nothing! The Mass is remarkable, stupendous, unfathomable, ineffable, glorious, divine.
  • A lot to swallow

    The editorial was certainly a lot to swallow with its sweeping assertions that the president’s actions were selfish, immoral, in violation of Catholic teaching, plus a threat to life and the climate.

    President Trump stated that our country’s withdrawal from the accord was based on the “draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement poses on our country.”

  • Yes, it’s the greatest of vocations
    This spring men were ordained to the priesthood throughout the church, and surely this is a cause for great rejoicing. However, it is no secret that here in the United States we have far too few ordinations. Yet, given our obvious reticence about celebrating the priesthood, it is amazing that we have as many as we do. Perhaps a species of false humility on the part of parents, priests and bishops is partially at fault.
  • Holy Women: a Note
    We nod to them in friendly fashion when we see them here and there, and then we forge ahead to the bank or the bakery, and we do not stop for a long moment to consider that this quiet woman swore to devote her entire life to light and love and mercy and epiphany and kindness and tenderness and the battle against arrogance and greed and cruelty and lies and violence.
  • Praise God for eclipses

    Father Bill Holtzinger, amateur astronomer and pastor of St. Anne Parish in Grants Pass, is a fan of physics. He says that’s because science glorifies God and humbles us in the face of God’s creation. “The heavens proclaim the glory of God,” he says, quoting Psalm 19.

  • Teens around the globe seek peace

    Early in July, Christian, Jewish and Muslim teenagers from different countries gathered at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to "build peace through a culture of encounter."

  • Six deadly sins

    One of my favorite criticisms of the church is that it is fixated on sex. "Why is the church so obsessed with what I do in the bedroom," I will be asked with great seriousness.

  • From the Archives
    The “elite” of the so-called Christian world — who expect to go to heaven in the same coach in which they ride to church —would nev­er permit their favorite popular preach­er to pollute his precious person by acting as chaplain to a convict.
  • The spirit of almsgiving
    Almsgiving fosters letting go of possessions, teaching us nothing we own is really ours; everything is a gift from God.
  • Only the violent
    The Trump administration should continue deporting those who commit violent crimes and leave peaceful immigrants alone.
  • It's cool to be Catholic in college
    School’s out and summer’s in full swing. That means the return of Oregon’s finest faith-filled college students, many of whom have spread their enthusiasm for the church across the country in diverse ways.
  • Discover the Christian East in Oregon

    St. John Paul II said the church breathes with both its lungs. By this, he meant the Western and Eastern Catholic traditions. The majority of Catholics the world over are Western or Latin rite, or “Roman Catholics.” However, there are 23 particular Eastern churches in full communion with the pope.

  • A picture is worth a thousand tears
    Having those pictures reminded me that everything wasn’t hard all the time. That sometimes we really like one another. That sometimes we can have fun together. That sometimes we are all pretty happy, even if we can’t look at the camera at the same time.
  • The blessing of berries

    I still have a lot to learn in this life, but I feel blessed to be given these brief moments when I can truly appreciate things like the dirt, the juice from a deliciously-ripe berry and the joy of a child.

     

  • Insonsistent thought
    We applaud health coverage for young undocumented immigrants. They need the help. Now we demand the same respect for the utterly distinctive and vulnerable human beings — who have unique DNA just hours after conception.
  • St. Bonaventure says, in his little treatise "Bringing Forth Christ," "Seek the company of good people. If you share their company, you will also share their virtue." With this thought in mind, we used to pay close attention to who our children's friends were.

  • On a flight to Washington, D.C., the woman next to me was jubilant over getting married. However, when she told me about her first husband, I was stunned.
  • The day that Matt Puckett was executed by the state of Mississippi, I was caught in an emotional conundrum.

  • You would not know it from the national secular news, but a lot is happening on the contentious issue of physician-assisted suicide.
  • From the Archives
    Next morning he repaired to our humble Chapel where he offered up the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at his usual early hour.
  • What joy to be fully known. But what joy, too, to discover all along who God is calling us to be.
  • My life as refugee
    We sought love for so long, the real love, the love of God. Here you are.
  • Was that a sin?
    They were so honest and open and unadorned and not defensive and quietly haunted by what they dimly but truly knew to be small failures of honesty and mercy that I wanted to cup their faces in my hands and kiss their foreheads and hug them with all my might for their grace and character.
  • The wheels have been in motion for more than a year in preparation for the October 2018 synod. Bishops, observers and other voices from around the world will gather to reflect about "Young people, faith and vocational discernment." This is definitely a most timely conversation.
  • Grateful for monasteries
    Monasteries are among the most important places in Oregon. Few other institutions do so much good.     

     

  • Better coverage of Islam
    Catholics who read Catholic media have a worse view of Islam than those who read secular news.
  • Getting into a political discussion in Washington these days is about as hard as finding a Fighting Irish fan at a Notre Dame football game. In the era of Trump — where those who dislike the president are as obsessed about him as his strongest supporters — the real challenge is extricating oneself from one.
  • My grandfather used to say that "God granted us two ears and one mouth, so we need to listen twice as much as we talk." Through his interactions with others, he showed that listening can be an act of selfless love because it shows that you want to understand those around you, that you genuinely care.

  • I always hope to have a real-world example to go along with the subject I write about in this column. As I type this, I am alternating between the need to laugh and the temptation to cry (or, at least, furl my brow and shake my head).
  • Our last 11 grandchildren in a row have been girls, so I've gotten careful about asserting claims of male prerogative. But this Father's Day got me thinking about how we talk to God. Pope Francis recently reminded us, in one of his general audiences, that "when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, he taught them to call God Our Father."
  • After the rain, I checked my garden and found everything I planted had jumped up significantly. Not only did I jump with joy, but I took a second look at the word "up" to learn why it often connotes delight.

  • How are your technological 'practices' affecting your memory and imagination?
    If the goal is finding a healthy balance with our technological creations, then we have to start with practice. Just as a doctor practices medicine, a Catholic practices religion. We know it's the cure for our spiritual maladies, but sometimes we shirk our duty to rise and pursue the good.
  • From the Archives - 1970
    Human exploitation and pollution of the natural order have, in the fears of many, brought the earth to the brink of an evening followed by dawn on an uninhabitable planet.
  • Top kudos go to Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Illinois, and other sponsors from both parties. But they could not have done it without the help of a lobbyist unknown to the public named Mark Gallagher.
  • That they may be one

    All too often, it seems, the aim of an apologist can be to “win” an “argument,” rather than to convert hearts, to save souls. In all we do, this should be our mission: to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to bring our brothers and sisters to the fullness of life in Jesus and his Church.

  • A remembrance to and for Brian Doyle
    You were a meteor. A ball of sometimes hilarious, sometimes passionate fire hurling towards one topic or another.
  • So when it comes to education, no two children should be forced into an educational model that targets one of the children but not the other. In this country where education is prioritized and funded by the people, the people’s children should be the priority, not just one school or the public school system.
  • All the light we think we can see
    I forge ahead along a path of my own design, adding items to my basket, taking them out, feeling accomplished, and asking God to check me out.
  • Rejoin the accord
    President Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate change agreement is a violation of Catholic teaching and sensibility for many reasons.
  • Once upon a time, we were told to allow dissent from time-honored legal and moral norms in the name of "freedom of choice."

  • While visiting with friends and family who work with the homeless population and elderly veterans, the conversation turned to how many of these men are estranged from their families. Some have had no interaction with their children for decades. This brokenness, deep and searing, is probably encrusted in dark stories of abandonment, addiction or abuse.
  • It's that time of year again — time to fight over commencement speakers. It happens every spring. Some Catholic college will feature a speaker who has taken public positions at odds with the church's teaching.

  • Truly gifts
    The archbishop was my spiritual director for nearly three years and was responsible for helping me find a very deep spirituality. He and his mother are truly gifts to every parish and diocese in which they reside.
  • Finest of Catholic voices
    He pointed out hints of the divine in the hurly-burly of humanity, and what could be more Catholic than that?
  • Heroes, not victims
    The men’s varied backgrounds should remind us that we are called to love all, not just our own partisans. Love “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres,” (1 Cor 13:7), as one of the chalk memorialists wrote at Hollywood, where that bloodied train stopped.
  • Looking back over the past four years, I can't pinpoint when or where the scale tipped. When my days became more "not-grieving" than grieving.

  • The recent tragic death of a rock musician has me thinking about St. Benedict.

  • Could the reason many feel down these days be frustration with not learning the real truth and feeling duped? If so, how might we combat these anxieties best?
  • The occasion is the solemn observ­ance of Mother’s Day, which incident­ally is a special feast at the Sanctuary, to which the privilege of celebrating a “Mother’s Day Mass” has been ac­corded by papal rescript.

  • The Archdiocese of Portland seems to have a particular devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
  • A gift to the pope

    Each year on May 18, I bake a special Polish cake to celebrate the birthday of Karol Wojtyla. St. John Paul II was canonized by Pope Francis three years ago. It was 12 years ago that I got this crazy idea to send Pope John Paul II a birthday gift.

  • We hope for friendship
    Oregon may be the right place to begin a revolution of Christian-Muslim respect.
  • That’s what my children have done for me—they’ve pushed me to be a better human being, in spite of myself.
  • Thank a teacher

    The financial piece is unmistakably there, and teachers — like many Catholic families — make a sacrifice to be part of a faith-filled academic community.

  • I suppose the often-overlooked lesson for parents -- rookies, veterans and those at all stages in between -- is this: You never get caught up on your parenting.

  • During these 50 days of Easter joy, we also can look forward to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. The Holy Spirit strengthened the disciples so they could preach God's word without fear. What would you do if you let the Holy Spirit inspire you?
  • 'Amid the Fray': Dispatches from the front
    I've been a Catholic all my life, if not always a good Catholic. I've been a parent for 28 years, if not always a good parent. I've been a husband for 34 years, if not always a good husband. Like you, I'll bet, I'm a work in progress.
  • I balance the laundry basket on my hip while coaxing a sleepy preschooler downstairs. He wants me to carry him. I explain that my hands are full. He crosses his arms and pouts. I ask him to come with me. He takes one stubborn step down the first stair and glares.

  • A few months ago, His Excellency, Most Reverend Archbishop Howard, directed a group of the local clergy to undertake the work of outdoor “Street Preaching” in Portland. As a result this work has been and is being carried on and with very sat­isfactory results.
  • He scatters the proud

    Even by Oregon standards, what Kim Kardashian did around Easter is outrageous — not to mention vapid, exploitative and in poor taste.

  • Social scientists studying happiness have found, to no one’s surprise, that living in sunnier cities (sorry, Portland) with fewer rusting, empty factories (there you go, Portland) tend to make people happier. As does faith, which turns out to be measurably good for happiness.

  • I believe that she is not extinguished, and that perhaps someday I will be sprawled again in some unimaginable lawn, and I will look up, and see her grin, and leap up with deep delight.
  • In search of a new life
    Shrouded in darkness, we sat in a circle as we fingered rosary beads, mouthing the forsaken words. Our knuckles were white, clenched tightly onto the rosaries as bombs sailed through the air. They would never kill us. No, prayer was more powerful.
  • Christ is risen! Death is conquered! As Christians, when Easter Sunday arrives, we finally understand just what makes Good Friday “good.” After a long Lent of self-denial, sacrifice, and hearing and reflecting on the sins of our fathers, we have come to the crux of the whole matter.
  • Church could lead way on climate fix
    The church is large enough to move markets and policy if it operates in solidarity.
  • Our planners and phones are filled to the brim with lists, tasks and meetings, yet how many of us schedule regular time for prayer? Or time with our spouse? Children? Friends? When is our appointed time for meaningful communion with God and neighbor?
  • From the Archives
    The train reaches the station of Mount Angel about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and at the sound of the whistle of the locomotive, the bells of the distant monastery commenced to chime, cannons thundered the joyous salute from the “Butte.”
  • Amid the general, bipartisan enthusiasm for the president's decision to fire 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian air base, I worry that we have lost sight of an important principle.

  • A fond farewell

    This column is a "fond farewell" to those who have enjoyed my writing over the years. Writing a column is like putting a note in a bottle and tossing it into the river so it can float down and across the bay and out into the ocean. You never know whose shore it will wash up on.

  • The church's future
    The glares from people in the congregation when a toddler starts screaming in the pew because his sister stole his Cheerio don’t help a family feel embraced by fellow churchgoers.