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  • Missionary discipleship
    I guess I have a small confession to make. I went to the recent Convocation of Catholic Leaders held in Orlando, Florida, with very low expectations. I was unsure and somewhat skeptical about the intent and expected outcome of the event. I was pleasantly surprised, as was our local delegation.
  • Lessons from the Woman at the Well
    As soon as she realizes who Jesus is and what he means, the woman puts down the jar and goes into town to proclaim the Lord.
  • Our celebration is a pledge to unite men and women. It is a pledge to acknowledge our unity in the Risen Lord even at a time when our disunity is manifest whenever we read the daily newspaper or tune in the evening news.
  • Today, those who gather at the Eucharist remember that we are called to pay the cost of discipleship.
  • Again and again, we hear in both the Old Testament and the New Testament that God was moved with pity or compassion.
  • Of this I am sure:  any and every human attempt to express God's self-revelation and our response to that revelation is limited by the simple reality that God is too great for us ever to comprehend much less commit to writing.
  • The Feast of the Ascension is the “Rosetta Stone” that unlocks the mystery of Christ’s Paschal Mystery and his very identity.
  • At the Eucharist, we praise the Lord for his tender care of us. At the same time, we promise to do for others what the Lord has done for us.
  • We are a people moving toward a faith we have yet to achieve. Our good actions are hints of what we can be. Our lapses and failures are reminders of our continual need to reach beyond ourselves.
  • Christian commitment is a willingness to take our place at the foot of Jesus’ cross.  There will be nothing for us to do but to be.  We may not be able to alleviate physical pain or mental anguish, but we can look to the community around us — at all those willing to proclaim their faith—and by embracing them, relieve their pain.  
  • At first sight, the parable of the Prodigal Son is about forgiveness and mercy.  It is also a story about the waywardness in each of us and the petty jealousies which consume us.
  • February 21, 2016 Second Sunday of Lent. Since most of us are more like Jesus’ disciples than we are like him, it is helpful to look at this narrative from the perspective of Jesus’ followers.
  • Recent efforts to recreate the magic of the Muppets and “Sesame Street” have not captured my imagination. It seems that every character and song has garnered new meaning. My favorite song still belongs to Kermit. “It isn’t easy being green,” he croons. Despite the various interpretations the words have been given throughout the years, green has always been the color of hope for me. 

  • Most people do not have a very favorable view of law. Perhaps that is because we think of it in a restrictive way. Today’s Scripture leads us to see the law found in the Torah and in the Gospel as good news.
  • Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016
    The Baptism of the Lord
    Everyone needs affirmation in life. When I was a young woman and decided to work in the Church, I waited anxiously for my parents to tell me that I had made the right decision. Their support saw me through those first years and affirmed my initial decision. I had no idea at the time that my choice was linked to my own faith and not simply my parents’ faith in me.
  • Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015
    Fourth Sunday of Advent
    Where does Marian devotion arise? What fuels it? What sustains it? The intellectual answer might well be articulated from the works of the early Church or the writings of the Church Councils. To take that approach would be somewhat like saying Marian devotion begins in the muscles in our heads. I believe that it is more than an intellectual devotion. Like a smile, I think it begins in the heart – in the core of what makes us the persons we are.
  • Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015 
    Second Sunday of Advent
    When I reflect on some of the reasons I like being Catholic, I almost always begin with the simple fact that Catholicism makes sense to me. All the direction I need to live a good life is available to me in the Scripture, our magisterium, and in the example of others. Advent is part of the “sensible Church.” The liturgies of Advent and Pope Francis’ proclamation of a Jubilee Year of Mercy give me a map that leads to the Kingdom.
  • Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015
    Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
    Christ introduces us to a form of kingship that is alien to our world. In this Gospel, he tells us about his kingship. He is the one whose crown is made of thorns and whose throne is a cross.
  • Look to Mary, she knows our lives
    OREGON CITY — We often do not think about it, but Mary was only around 13 years old we she said yes to God. That is really young to be the mother of God. 
  • Sacraments linked to seasons
    Ever since I moved out of my crib, I have been surrounded by the rituals of farm life and have learned the routine of each season. Over these years of growing in faith, I have found that the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church have a peculiar way of connecting to the seasons of the year.
  • Don't let distractions keep you from maintaining, growing your faith

    Through school, sports, struggles, friends, and family it's easy to become pulled away and distracted from your faith and relationship with God. If you’re experiencing this, you’re not alone and you can still become recommitted to your faith and relationship with God.

  • Catholic youth are the Church of today

    In late September, it was common to see thousands of people gather to listen to Pope Francis as he visited the East Coast of the United States. During this time, the Holy Father went to numerous Cathedrals, addressed the Congress, and went to many important U.S monuments where he met with the public to address important matters. 

  • Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015
    Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
    There are many sayings that have been quoted so often that no one seems to know who first said them. “We do not see things as they are but as we are ourselves” is one of those. It has been attributed to Anaïs Nin, the Babylonian Talmud and to dozens of others. It might well apply to the many ways we interpret the story of the rich people and the poor widow.
  • CHICAGO — Some years ago, I officiated at a wedding. As the officiating priest, I was invited to the reception and dance that followed upon the church service. Not knowing the family well and having church services the next morning, I left right after the banquet and the toasts, just as the dancing was about to start. When I was seemingly out of earshot, I heard the bride’s father say to someone: “I’m glad that Father has gone; now we can celebrate with some rock music!”

  • Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015
    Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
    When I was younger, most of what I wanted was material and its cost could be measured in dollars and cents. I knew that “How much will it cost?” would always be a question my parents would ask. I don’t remember when all that changed. There came a day when “How much will it cost?” was no longer only a question of money as much as it was a question of time, of sacrifice, of work, and sometimes of separation and loneliness. Sometimes I discovered that the cost was too much. At other times, I was surprised at how my values had changed. The cost of maintaining certain values seemed less important as I matured.

  • When we live out our faith, unknown love becomes known
    At the end of July my grandpa turned 90. He is the full time care-giver of my 85-year old Grandma who has Alzheimer’s disease. She does not remember me anymore. Over the last couple of years she has forgotten who her children are, and for a while now she has not recognized Grandpa and has been unable to speak in sentences. When I would go visit, Grandpa would explain to me how Grandma was doing. When I would ask him about how he was doing he would just smile and then pay attention to what Grandma was trying to say as she noticed something out the window.
  • This summer, Stephen Colbert gave an interview in which the depth of his Catholic faith was on clear display.
  • Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015
    Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
    The Synod on the Family begins its second session in Rome today. The Oct. 4-25 synod will have the theme: “The vocation and mission of the family in the church and the modern world.” Today’s Gospel offers a powerful reminder of one of the most difficult issues facing today’s families and, consequently, the Synod.

  • Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015
    Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
    The most puzzling questions of human existence seem to revolve around the enigma of suffering. It should not surprise us that this was a question Jesus wanted to put before his followers. Neither is it remarkable that the disciples simply didn’t want to hear about it.
  • Sunday, Sept. 6, 2015
    Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
    We speak and we listen, and as we mature our communication skills take on a pattern. In our age, much of our communication is by means of media that would have been unknown to the people of Jesus’ time. Nonetheless, the essence of our communication has not radically changed.
  • Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015
    Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
    Many of my co-workers at the Pastoral Center have come and gone throughout the years. Generally, we honor their time with us by having a small gathering. Some of them have become good friends during our time together. Before they leave we often express our determination not to let our friendship wane. In the beginning, we meet for lunch, call one another and email. Then, sometimes suddenly, we realize that weeks have passed and we have not communicated. Our friendship flourishes again if one of us becomes ill or we encounter other problems. It seems easier to find a friend to share our hardships than it is to find someone to share the glad moments.  “A friend in need is a friend indeed,” might account for that phenomenon.
  • Recently, I wrote a piece on Bruce Jenner’s transformation into Caitlyn Jenner. I argued that the manner in which Jenner spoke of the transition reflected a Gnostic anthropology, which is repugnant to a biblical view of the human being. I didn’t say a word about Jenner personally; I urged no violence. I didn’t question motives. I simply made an observation that the moral and spiritual context for transgenderism is, from a classically Christian standpoint, problematic.
  • One of the worst movie lines of all time is, "Love means never having to say you're sorry."  On the contrary, our faith as married couples should encourage us to seek God’s mercy and forgiveness on a regular basis, to come before him and say with King David, “My offenses, truly I know them. My sin is always before me, against you, you alone have I sinned. What is evil in your sight, I have done.” Armed with the weapons of prayer and fasting we rend our hearts, turning back to our gracious and merciful God to show Him our dedication, love, and devotion.

  • Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015
    Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
    Elijah repaired God’s altar on Mount Carmel, which had fallen apart from disuse and neglect, and brought the people from the worship of Baal to God. This did not please Queen Jezebel who promised to have him killed. Elijah fled. Tiring, he sat down under a broom tree, prayed he would die and then fell asleep. While he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him to get up and eat. Elijah ate and drank and fell asleep once more. Again the angel awakened him and Elijah ate and drank and traveled another 40 days and nights until he reached Mount Horeb, where God gave Moses the 10 Commandments.
  •  July 19, 2015
    Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
    The New American Bible speaks of God as “the Lord our justice.” The Jerusalem Bible translation refers to God as "the Lord-our-integrity." Together, the two translations provide a good description of what should be God's place within our lives. He is the One who holds our doing and our being together. He is the One helps us make sense of what might otherwise seem without meaning. Our prayer life helps us form ourselves in God's image and achieve that inner integrity that gives us peace.
  • Sunday, July 5, 2015
    Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
    Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si, has already been acknowledged as the most significant papal document of recent times. Nonetheless, there are still people, even Catholics, who do not accept it. They cannot believe that a religious leader can speak such a profound scientific message to the world. Just as those who were astonished at Jesus’ teaching thought they knew what to expect of a carpenter and the son of Mary.
  • Sunday, June 21, 2015
    Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
    As a child, I do not recall having ever been afraid. I was totally certain that if my father was not nearby, my brothers would protect me. It never occurred to me that there were forces over which they would have no power. Bad things happened to other people but not to me…or so I thought. In the best of all worlds, that is the way it should be. Children should be protected until they can protect themselves. But this is not the best of all worlds and too soon we learn about the evils that cannot be controlled. Perhaps that is when we learn to fear.
  • Sunday, June 7, 2015
    The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
    As a little girl in a Catholic school, I attended Mass every day. The focal point—of course—was that walk up the aisle to receive Jesus. When I received my first Holy Communion, I knew what all Catholic children are taught even today — this is truly Jesus that we receive. Like many children my age, I thought the rest of Holy Mass was simply a preparation for Communion.
  • Sunday, May 17, 2015
    The Ascension of the Lord (observed)
    In today’s Gospel Reading, Mark provides the sort of literary structure with which most of us are familiar. Listening to the commissioning of the apostles, we know what is expected of us. Today’s Gospel becomes the light that illumines the Church in this age.
     
  • We risk trivializing our human procreative faculties and diminishing our offspring by sanctioning these kinds of “eggs-as-Lego-pieces” or “embryos-as-Lego-pieces” approaches. Ultimately there is a steep price to be paid for the ever-expanding project of upending our own beginnings and rupturing the origins of our children.
  • Sunday, May 3, 2015
    Fifth Sunday of Easter
    Those who are received into the Church at the Easter Vigil are special for me. I like hearing their stories and learning how they were introduced to the Lord. More often than not, they were brought to the Church because they observed a Catholic whose life they admired. In a sense, they come to this community of believers with the recommendation of another. Often, this person is their sponsor.
  • By nature, I am a storyteller. Once I would have said that was because I come from an Irish background. Today, I would have to say that I tell stories because organized religion has always centered on stories of faith and because faith lives where Scripture and the community come together in our lives.

  • CHICAGO — Kenneth Branagh’s “Cinderella” is the most surprising Hollywood movie of the year. The director allows the spiritual, specifically Christian, character of the tale to emerge. I realize that it probably strikes a contemporary audience as odd that Cinderella might be a Christian allegory, but keep in mind that most of the fairy stories and children’s tales compiled by the Brothers Grimm found their roots in the Christian culture of late medieval and early modern Europe.

  • Sunday, April 5, 2015
    Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord
    Christianity is a commitment to expect the unexpected. Easter, our reason for enthusiasm and hope, is a reminder of what Jesus has done and continues to do for his people. As we relive Christ’s paschal mystery, we are reminded of a future greater than we would otherwise have dared to believe. Jesus’ resurrection is a pledge of continued and renewed life.
  • Sunday, March 22, 2015
    Fifth Sunday of Lent
    Today’s Gospel centers on the Paschal Mystery in a variety of ways. The grain of wheat that must die so that it can bear fruit seems a weak analogy of what will happen to each of us. We will die and we will have eternal life. Those who love their lives will lose them. This is not an abstract Gospel. Death is not a subject that most of us want to contemplate. How many of us, because we do not want to think about death, miss the joy of resurrection? Because we do not confront Good Friday, our Easter alleluia lacks enthusiasm.
  • There is a pithy saying that is used to help biblical theologians: “A text taken out of context is not a proof text but a pretext.” It means that when we are reading things and making judgments we need to make sure that we are aware of the big picture; prudence and right judgment exhort us to understand individual threads in the context of the whole tapestry.
  • Sunday, March 8, 2015
    Third Sunday of Lent
    Before I came to Oregon, I looked in vain for signs of spring and new life during Lent. For the better part of three months snow and ice covered the city sidewalks. In Oregon, spring comes early and this year it seems to have come even earlier than usual. The crocuses are already blooming in my yard and the trees are filled with buds. We are in the midst of Lent and I already have that Easter feeling.
  • The British writer, actor, and comedian Stephen Fry is featured in a YouTube video which has gone viral: more than 5 million views as of this moment. As you may know, Fry is, like his British counterparts Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, a fairly ferocious atheist, who has made a name for himself in recent years as a very public debunker of all things religious. In the video in question, he articulates precisely what he would say to God if, upon arriving at the pearly gates, he discovered that he was mistaken in his atheism.
  • Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015
    First Sunday of Lent
    In all three cycles, the Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent is always about Jesus being led into the desert by the Spirit. In Cycle A (Matthew) and C (Luke) the Gospel seems far more demanding than the one we hear today. The reading from Mark, though, is clearly good news. It is very clear that Jesus is led to the desert by the same Spirit that came upon him at his baptism in the Jordan. The Gospel that begins with John emerging from the desert continues with that same desert theme. Jesus enters the desert to prepare for his mission. His temptations clarify Jesus’ mission and our own place in it. During these 40 days, we are invited to enter the desert with Jesus and evaluate our lives in light of his.
  • ST. BENEDICT — The family is the focus of many discussions in the culture and in the church. What is a family? How can we serve families? How can we help single parents? How do we form hearts to be open to being a family focused on Christ?
  • ST. BENEDICT — The family is the focus of many discussions in the culture and in the church. What is a family? How can we serve families? How can we help single parents? How do we form hearts to be open to being a family focused on Christ?
  • Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015
    Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
    All of us have “down times” and for me they often come in February. No matter how mild the winter, I am weary of the gray days. I am tired of the rain. It is a perfect time for me to hear from Job. I have always thought that this particular book of the Bible must have been written on a Monday morning in February.
  • Jan. 18, 2015
    Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
    Most of the vocation stories I have heard seem quite ordinary. Most people are called to follow the Lord in the midst of their everyday lives. This year’s focus and the encouragement to recognize God’s call should make us keenly aware of the particular relevance of today’s liturgy to God’s call. Today, we are reminded that even ordinary time can be quite extraordinary … if we are paying attention.
  • A recent news report described the unusual story of a baby’s birth from his grandmother’s womb. A 29-year old woman from Sweden, born without a uterus, received a transplanted womb from her mother, the same womb that had brought her into the world a generation earlier. The woman then became pregnant through in vitro fertilization (IVF) and delivered a healthy baby boy
  • PHILADELPHIA — Occasionally we hear disturbing stories in the media about young people who perpetrate abuse against the elderly. In a widely reported 2009 story, for example, caretakers at the Quadrangle Assisted Living facility outside Philadelphia were charged in connection with the abuse of an elderly patient named Lois McCallister. Three employees, aged 19, 21 and 22 were caught on a surveillance camera as they taunted, mocked and assaulted the partially naked 78 year old woman.
  • SAN ANTONIO — It's common for us to see God's grace and blessing in what unites us. We naturally sense the presence of grace when, at our core, we feel a strong moral bond with certain other persons, churches, and faiths. That, biblically, is what defines family.

  • Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015
    The Epiphany of the Lord
    Many Americans see the Feast of the Epiphany as simply an “add-on” to Christmas. As children, we called it “Little Christmas” as if to make certain that it should not be thought of as significant as the one we have just celebrated. For us the main event was over. In European countries and in the Eastern Church, though, today’s feast is of primary importance. The truth is that if we ignore this festival, we will have missed the full meaning of Christmas itself.

  • Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014
    Fourth Sunday of Advent
    The Gospels offer alternative images of the Blessed Mother — Mary as the first and most perfect of Jesus’ disciples; as a strong woman who experienced poverty, suffering, flight and exile; and as a spokesperson for the poor and oppressed of society. The changed situation of women in society can sometimes cause them to be alienated from some of the devotional images of Mary that might seem to glorify a restricted and passive role for women. However, the Gospel always presents a Mary that all of us can embrace.

  • Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014
    Second Sunday of Advent
    Every catechist knows that no matter how fine a teacher he or she might be, a child’s appreciation of the sacraments is largely learned in the home. This seems to be particularly true of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. If children have seen unconditional forgiveness in their homes, it is easy for them to believe that there is a God whose love is so generous that forgiveness is ours for the asking. If forgiveness is withheld or grudgingly given, the child expects similar treatment from God. Unfortunately, not all those who hear the words of today’s Gospel have lived in a forgiving environment. Not all those who hear these words are able so easily to forgive others or even themselves.
  • CHICAGO — One of the classical demonstrations of God’s existence is the so-called argument from desire. It can be stated in a very succinct manner as follows: Every innate or natural desire corresponds to some objective state of affairs that fulfills it.
  • As Christians, we have been warned that we must be vigilant against the powers of Satan and various other forces of evil. 
  • Obama immigration plan largely welcomed; critics challenge its legality

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama's package of actions affecting millions of people without legal immigration status received support from Catholic organizations, labor unions and immigration advocates even as critics contended that the steps he announced violated the Constitution.

  • Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014
    Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe 
    Thirty-fourth or Last Sunday in Ordinary Time

    Every corporate employer — and the Church is no exception — has evaluation instruments for its employees and there are literally hundreds of ways to evaluate their effectiveness. In a very short time, most of us become “evaluation-wise.” We learn what our employers are seeking and we become adept at responding to their questions. We learn our employer’s values and the criteria by which we will be measured. It should be especially easy if one works in ministry. 
  • The prospect of a very attractive, recently-married young woman with a terminal illness facing excruciating pain and suffering as she dies is enough to move anyone.
  • CHICAGO — The controversies surrounding the recent Extraordinary Synod on the Family have often put me in mind of John Henry Cardinal Newman, the greatest Catholic churchman of the 19th century. Newman wrote on an extraordinary range of topics, including university education, the play between faith and reason, the nature of papal authority, and the subtle manner in which we come to assent in matters of religion. But the arguments around the Synod compel us to look at Newman’s work regarding the evolution of doctrine.