Glen Argan

Glen Argan

Glen Argan, former editor of Western Catholic Reporter, writes from Edmonton. See

In 1949, Abbé Pierre, a young French priest, welcomed Georges Legay, a homeless man who had tried to commit suicide, into his rundown home in Paris. Instead of giving Legay housing, work and money, Abbé Pierre said, “You are totally miserable, and I have nothing to give you. So why not help me help others?”

Ash Wednesday is on the horizon. While Catholics are getting ashes on our foreheads, much of the rest of the Western world will be buying chocolates and flowers. I don’t remember Ash Wednesday falling on Valentine’s Day previously. Google says the last time was in 1945, a little before my time.

On the evening of Saturday, Jan. 13, the Alberta Emergency Management Agency sent a province-wide alert on people’s cellphones stating that the province’s electrical grid was at high risk of having to implement rotating power outages. The day had been bitterly cold across Canada, including Alberta where all-time low temperatures were recorded.

This new year has rolled in with a sense of helplessness in the face of major crises facing humanity. How do we have any realistic expectation of overcoming:

Angels are in the spotlight during Advent and Christmas. There is Gabriel’s appearance to Mary, the angels who came to Joseph in three separate dreams, the multitude of angels who appear to the shepherds and the angel’s warning for the wise men to avoid Herod. Then there is the plethora of angels who decorate our Christmas festivities, both secular and religious.

Recently, I have been thinking about indifference, which seems to me to be the defining attitude of our times. At least, I thought of indifference as an attitude. Then I was asked to reflect on a statement by St. Teresa of Kolkata which included these words: “The greatest evil in the world is the lack of love, the terrible indifference towards one’s neighbour.”

I love Israel. But I hate what it is doing in Gaza. I yearn for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the Middle East. But Hamas, especially its Oct. 7 raids on Israel, is the greatest obstacle to that state becoming reality.

This morning I filled the hatch of my car with donations of winter clothing from parishioners to be distributed to homeless people in Edmonton’s inner city. It’s the start of a Christmas collection by the ecumenical Inner City Pastoral Ministry, and this is early November. The donations will likely swell in the weeks ahead.

The first question in judging the morality of an action is not who performed the act but rather what action was performed. One would think that would be obvious, but in our day it isn’t. Too often otherwise immoral actions are given a nod of approval if it is our fellow partisans who perform those acts.

Canada’s dioceses should adopt new measures to recruit more young men to choose a priestly vocation, says a new study of Canadian seminarians and recently ordained priests.