With this issue, we begin a series on family life. Through the coming year or more, the Sentinel will explore with you many aspects of the family, the very building block of society.

Why write this series? Because Oregon families are facing all kinds of pressure, from an economy that has caused stagnated wages to a culture that glorifies individual choice over the common good. Oregon presents obstacles for parents and children: a preponderance of porn shops, legal marijuana on the way, and a “whatever” attitude about life choices. Worldwide, the Internet has brought both opportunity and peril to family life.   

Families need help and the church has always been here to offer it, via spiritual community, education, charitable services and social justice advocacy.  

Pope John Paul, soon to be declared a saint, urged each family to “become what you are.” The plan of God contains both the identity and the mission of the family, the pope said. One of the ongoing duties of the Church is to teach families about God’s loving, tender intention for them.

Families should know that the path to thriving is not blithe autonomy, but alignment with the ways of God as revealed in scripture, the life of Jesus, natural law and the time-tested tradition of the church.

As families are introduced to this path of joy, they should always be treated with great compassion.    

Pope Francis has wisely asked leaders of the church to find ways to help families with pastoral care that is “full of great love.” That will be the focus of a Vatican synod of bishops set for October. We should all support the pope and the bishops in this work.

We want our series to be inspiring and informative. May it also serve as an ongoing prayer for families.

We hope that — through letters to the Sentinel, our web site, Facebook and Twitter — you will engage with these stories and share your experience.