This busy day began with Mass at 9:30 o'clock at St. Martin de Porres Parish, Bells Corners (a western locality in Greater Ottawa) that included the Confirmation and First Holy Communion of 18 second graders.
The parish is directed by the Missionaries of the Holy Family [abbreviation MSF, a congregation with three members present in the Archdiocese (Fr. Daniel Hawkins, pastor; Fr. Arthur Ockwood, retired but still active in supply ministry; and Fr. Andrea Spatafora, a biblical scholar and Dean of the Theology Faculty at St. Paul's University [one of two pontifically-chartered centres of learning in the diocese--the other is Dominican University College]).
On my return home, I presided at the 2:30 PM Eucharist in Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica for French-speaking couples celebrating a significant anniversary of their marriage: there were a few 15- and 20-years married couples and one of 70 years of married love, but most were 25, 40, 50 and 60 years. [Next Sunday, the ceremony will be repeated for English-speaking or other language couples.]
In greeting all of the couples after Mass and giving them a certificate recognizing the witness to God's call that they have given over the years, I was moved by the frailty of the elderly couples and also by their joy and gentleness. At the start of Mass I had mentioned to them that, earlier in the week, while signing the 80+ certificates, I had prayed for each of them and their families. They were very kind in their encouraging words to me in return!
Celibates and married couples--each in their own way in love with the Lord and his will for them--need and complement each other.
This evening I journeyed to Paroisse Sainte-Trinite in Rockland, a church that is one of the architectural and artistic gems of the Ottawa diocese for Vespers with the Knights of Columbus and their Ladies from the 72 councils and 16 assemblies. Each year they gather for prayer followed by a special dinner, the proceeds of which--along with other donations--go to make up a gift for the Archbishop's Charities. I was blown away with my first experience of this event last year and am equally moved this year by their support.
During the homily at Evening Prayer, I linked the text of the Epistle to the Hebrews which speaks of the Risen Christ's having brought his followers to perfection while there remains the ongoing challenge of sanctification. Borrowing from Benedict XVI, I gave them a brief summary of the Holy Father's audience last Wednesday in which he suggested that the writings of Ambrose Autpert on greed offer much for all of us to reflect upon in regard to the recent economic crisis the world is going through.
At the dinner, I offered a brief overview of Supreme Knight Carl Anderson's book Building a Civilization of Love (suggesting there is a need in Canada for a French version of this striking work) and inviting them to make the ideals he describes a personal commitment of theirs.
In particular, I invited them to take part in this year's March for Life on May 14 by coming in large numbers to the Pro-Life Mass at the Cathedral and for the demonstration for the cause of life that begins on Parliament Hill in the early afternoon.