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  • A Dutchman in New York

    As he disembarked, my dad could not believe how cordial New York was. The city actually threw a parade with marching bands, in honor of the newly arrived immigrants. In fact, even the archbishop and the mayor showed up. To top it off, all the beer in Times Square was free. My dad felt so honored, that he paraded down Broadway, right alongside the marching bands, waving at the crowds, waving to all his new countrymen.

     
  • We’ve barely scratched the surface of our Lenten journey, which means I’ve faltered at least 462 times in my observances so far, with approximately 2,954 failures to go until we finally reach Easter Sunday.
  • Becoming Peter's father
    Then I met a girl, and from April 1 to April 6, 2012, we I we had a baby. But we wanted him gone, and we had our way.
  • From the archives
    Funny creatures, we are, and never content.
  • How beautiful is it to remember that every life, even one seemingly insignificant is in fact incredibly significant?
  • The whole package
    The late Father Francis Kennard loved a reverent liturgy and was a giant in western Oregon’s social justice movement in the mid-20th century. He’s a patron we could use now.  
  • Imagine you’re sitting in front of your doctor, and he says that your health definitely needs to improve. He then looks you square in the eyes and says, “If you wish to live a healthy long life, you must stop eating junk food and living a sedentary lifestyle, and start eating plenty of healthy foods and exercise every day.”
  • Pray, even if poorly
    “I’ll pray for you.” In college, these words felt like nails on a chalkboard to me — pretentiously pious. Were they really going to pray for you? At my Catholic university the phrase was as common as Claddagh rings and miraculous medals. For some it was sincere, for many it seemed showy.
  • Trust, but verify
    With the conclusion of the Vatican’s summit on sexual abuse by clergy, what should we average Oregon Catholics in the pews do now? To quote Ronald Reagan, “Trust, but verify.”
  • Fast, but keep some calories for good works
    As adults we learn to give instead of giving up, or maybe we do both. We give our time, our efforts and our caring to volunteer in a classroom, or help a neighbor child with homework. Driving a carless person to get groceries is always appreciated, as is visiting a lonesome person of any age.
  • The New Evangelization
    With the advent of social media, when it is easier to reach masses at the push of a button, it is crucial that the church leap forward with these innovations to spread God’s word on a scale unseen before.
  • PHILADELPHIA — Whenever we make small exceptions to universal moral rules, we shouldn’t be surprised that the rules themselves can be quickly undermined. Establishing an “exception” in one case makes people think they’re due an exemption for their case as well. Certain norms of moral behavior, however, do not admit of any exceptions, and we risk undermining morality altogether if we don’t recognize them. Moral norms governing the protection of human life are one such example.
  • Drawing forth specific examples of racism, the bishops highlight the fact that often Hispanics and African Americans “face discrimination in hiring, housing, educational opportunities, and incarceration.
  • Amid scandals, a way forward
    We should be as well informed as necessary. But how much information do we need to act responsibly as Catholics? Do we need, for example, to read the sordid details of every instance of abuse?
  • The message of dishonorable leaders gets lost
    A leader must behave and operate above reproach. It is a leader’s striving for noble perfection that indicates commitment and dedication to the organization and its people. 
  • Healing the hurts of porn
    Betrayal trauma hurts like nothing else. This is what many wives feel when they found out about their husband’s secret porn use.
  • My fellow Americans and fellow citizens of the world, the greatness of a nation is not measured by its military or economic power, but to the degree it is willing to help the poor and vulnerable. 
  • Conscience and the measles
    Holy Cross Brother William Dygert, superintendent of schools in the Archdiocese of Portland, reminds Catholic parents that the church does not support claiming a religious or personal exclusion when it comes to vaccines.
  • Extend the invitation

    Pope Francis has made it clear that we are not to ignore these brothers and sisters in need. They are other Christs. At the same time, they are human beings, and common sense tells us that our cash gifts might be used for alcohol or drugs. It hurts to participate in someone’s self-destruction. Blanchet House, a Catholic ministry in operation since the 1950s, has given us a better option.

  • Surrounded by prayer
    There are no answers. There is no understanding. However, I believe that God is with us in the suffering, in the questioning, and that there is power in prayer. 
  • Love for the Lord
    Is there any more love one can feel for a spouse than in the moment they’re exchanging vows? Most people would probably say, “Yes, actually.” And I’d agree. Still, there’s a beautiful innocence in the feeling of love I had while exchanging vows with my husband. There was love. There was excitement and there was pure joy.
  • This happened to me
    I am a simple man, a farmer, a family man. What would you do if this happened to you?
  • During the course of pregnancy, receiving an adverse prenatal diagnosis can be a tremendously jolting experience for parents. In severe cases, physicians may tell them that their unborn child has a condition that is “incompatible with life.”
  •  One of their campaign slogans was, “Don’t let them shove their religion down your throats,” as if millennia of hard-earned wisdom about life and death were a threat rather than a help. 
  • Her death was not sud­den, for disease had for some time been mak­ing inroads on her constitution until it finally did its insidious work.
  • In the more than 30 annual Washington, D.C. Marches for Life I have participated in, I always think the current march is the largest ever. But since accurate figures are hard to come by, it usually comes down to taking a good guess. 
  • Unforeseen problems with death penalty stance
    The pope’s decision also means Catholics will automatically be removed from juries handling capital crimes. Instead of having more influence on how criminals should be treated, Catholics will have less. 
  • The benefits of Kavanaugh
    Now, three months after the addition of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, it’s clear he is good news for supporters of religious liberty, backers of the right to life and opponents of judicial activism.   
  • Honoring Mother Earth
    In Oregon, we can honor our Mother Earth by taking action and passing legislation that will protect our planet. The Clean Energy Jobs bill will help ensure a clean energy future for the state we love.
  • Hate on the rise
    Many Oregonians, especially those in hip Portland, see their state as a bastion of open-mindedness. Recent trends should squelch that perception and jolt Catholics into action.
  • Ode to parish life
    Where I wait in line for confession on Saturday afternoons and really am sorry for my sins, one of which is wishing I could hear what the person in front of me is saying in the confessional — This is a Catholic parish.
  • President Trump’s words are absolutely correct: “This is a humanitarian crisis, a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul.” But how he applies these words are absolutely incorrect.
  • From the Archives
    The informal dancing party given in Hibernia Hall by the Auxiliary to Ancient Order of Hibernians, last Fri­day, was a delightful success. 
  • Holy Family into Egypt
    The couple and their toddler sat in a booth at the McDonalds on West Burnside, not far from St. Mary Cathedral. I couldn’t stop watching them. Their few words sounded so gentle, their faces were so filled with love and caring, and yet their demeanor revealed them to be so weary.
  • A year for ethics
    We begin a yearlong series that will explore everyday ethical situations, from watching pirated videos to imagining a love affair with someone in the office. We all face such situations. And like it or not, our choices make a difference to others and to our souls. 
  • Elections are our responsibility
    This case serves as one example of the profound effect elections and the Supreme Court can have on the way the Catholic Church is able to operate in this country.
  • As the saying goes, “Politics and religion don’t mix.” Although this cliché is espoused by many, you will not hear it from Pope Francis.
  • Are Catholics more like cats or dogs?
    Knowing someone’s preferred pet tells a lot about the personality. I think it’s about time someone asked, “Are Catholics more like cats or dogs?”
  • Gene-edited babies and the runaway train of IVF
    One of the great tragedies of our age has been our tone deafness to the evils of IVF.
  • How donating your distributions can lower your tax bill
    Do you have an IRA account? Are you 70 ½ or older and withdrawing your required minimum distributions (RMDs) from your IRA account every year? If so, and you are donating money to charities and the church, you might be paying more in taxes than you need to.
  • Fifty years ago on Christmas Eve (Dec. 24, 1968) the crew of Apollo 8  entered lunar orbit and began circling the moon – the first time in history for humans to visit another world (see: https://bit.ly/2EkLJda). 
  • My Christmas crush on Sister Mary Athanasia
    Joel and I were surprised and embarrassed that our teacher probably overheard me singing her praises. So we did what shy nine-year-old boys would do: we ran home to hide until the problem went away. 
  • If we confront life with pure hearts and a simple faith, it might be true. And so on those days that seem the most hopeless, there’s hope.
  • The church turns our funds into the loving, protective presence of Jesus Christ.
  • From the Archives
    Because of blackout restrictions placed upon the city of Portland, His Excellency, Most Reverend Archbishop Howard, has instruct­ed the local pastors not to commence Mass in their respective churches either on Sunday or on weekdays before 8 o’clock.
  • 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.