Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Saints Cornelius and Cyprian - John Paul II in Winnipeg - Scenes from a Halifax Visit

On September 16, the Church commemorates two friends in the service of Christ and his Church.

Cornelius, a Roman, was the twenty-first Pope during the reign of the Emperor Gallus and Volusian.

He had to oppose Novatian, the first anti-pope, who believed that apostates who repented could not be forgiven.

Helped by St. Cyprian, Cornelius confirmed his papal authority.

He was beheaded in exile at Civitavecchia, Italy in 253.

Saints Cyprian and Cornelius are mentioned in the Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I) of the Mass.


On Sunday, September 16, Pope John Paul II celebrated the Eucharist at Bird's Hill Park, Winnipeg, Manitoba. He spoke there of the bicultural history of Canada being enlarged and enriched by a multicultural dimension. He urged Canadian Christians, and Catholics in particular to love one another in their diversity:

The historical experience of the two founding peoples of Canada who bound themselves to live in mutual respect for the unique cultural identity of each other has providentially created that atmosphere of respect for cultural diversity which characterizes Canada today. In her own multicultural interaction, Canada not only offers to the world a creative vision of society but she also has a splendid opportunity to show consistency between what she believes and what she does. And this is accomplished by applying Christ’s commandment of love.

Manitoba itself truly reflects a variety of many different cultures. Besides its population of British origin and French origin - in addition to native peoples - so many other Western countries are represented here. Immigration from Western and Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa and South America contributes to making up the reality of this civil society. Latin and Ukrainian ecclesial jurisdictions compose one Catholic Church.... Yes, you come from almost "every tribe and tongue, people and nation" (Apoc. 5, 9). And this is expressed in our liturgical assembly today, not only through different languages but also through the different liturgical traditions of Christianity, both in the West and the East. In this Eucharist the Church in Canada celebrates her diversity and proclaims he unity in Christ and in the universal Church.

Against the broad background of history and culture, the first and most important commandment which Moses transmitted to the one Chosen People of the Old Covenant takes on a fresh eloquence in our times.

Jesus Christ says: "This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you" (Io. 15, 12).

The commandment of love is rooted, in a new way, in love of God: "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love" (Ibid. 15, 9-10).

Therefore, love of God above all things is a sharing in Christ’s love - the love whereby Christ loves.

And at the same time: love of God is organically linked with love for others - with mutual love. This love makes us Christ’s friends. "I shall not call you servants any-more . . . I call you friends" (Ibid. 15, 15).

This love is a moral and existential expression of the election and calling by Christ "to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last; and then the Father will give you anything you ask him in my name" (Ibid. 15, 16).

Le pluralisme des traditions, le pluralisme des cultures, le pluralisme des histoires, le pluralisme des identités nationales - tout cela est compatible avec l’unité de la société.

Aujourd’hui nous prions pour l’unité morale de cette société, le dénominateur commun de toutes les “nécessités du monde”.

Depuis les époques les plus anciennes, le christianisme a éduqué les fidèles - témoins du Christ - à avoir le sens des responsabilités envers le bien commun de la société. Ceci reste tout aussi vrai quand la société présente nettement un caractère pluraliste. L’importance de l’enseignement de l’Eglise à cet égard a été exprimée par le Second Concile du Vatican en des termes perspicaces: “Que l’on ne crée donc pas d’opposition artificielle entre les activités professionnelles et sociales d’une part, la vie religieuse d’autre part. En manquant à ses obligations terrestres, le chrétien manque à ses obligations envers le prochain, bien plus envers Dieu lui-même, et il met en danger son salut éternel” (Gaudium et Spes, 43).

A la source de cet enseignement se trouve le commandement de l’amour mutuel dont parle l’Evangile d’aujourd’hui. L’amour mutuel, cela veut dire, dans sa dimension essentielle, que les relations entre les personnes humaines sont fondées sur le respect de la dignité personnelle de l’autre et sur une attention effective à son bien.

L’amour mutuel a une importance particulière pour la formation de la communauté du mariage et de la famille. Et cet amour mutuel s’étend à de nombreux cercles et à différents niveaux de la coexistence humaine: au sein de divers milieux, communautés, sociétés, et même entre les sociétés.

En ce sens, cet amour est “social”, et constitue la condition essentielle pour la formation de la civilisation de l’amour proclamée par l’Eglise, et spécialement par Paul VI.

Dans ce grand pays du Canada, l’amour mutuel entre toutes les communautés différentes qui constituent cette société pluraliste marquée par la multiplicité des cultures devient une force immense de bien. L’amour mutuel qui élève et unit les éléments individuels leur permet à tous, quand ils sont ensemble, d’être des instruments particulièrement efficaces au service de l’humanité. L’amour donne la possibilité à des personnes aux talents très variés de s’unir pour accomplir une action cohérente. Par cette action cohérente, une société aux cultures multiples devient capable de mettre à la disposition des autres tous les dons dont elle a été largement comblée.

Rappelle-toi, ô Canada, que la plus grande richesse reçue de la diversité de tes cultures te permet de donner aux autres et de les aider, d’aider tes frères et sœurs dans le besoin. C’est ce que la foi rend possible; c’est ce qu’exige l’amour. Au nom de l’amour, je demande instamment que la disponibilité manifestée à tant d’immigrants et de réfugiés des minorités ethniques et l’accueil généreux qui leur a été réservé continuent à caractériser le Canada et à être sa richesse, à l’avenir comme dans le passé.

In this regard it is worthwhile to recall those prophetic words of John XXIII: "The best interests of justice are served by those public authorities who do all they can to improve the human conditions of the members of ethnic minorities, especially in what concerns their language, culture, customs, and their economic activity and enterprises" (Ioannis XXIII, Pacem in Terris: AAS 55 (1963) 283).

This contribution of public authority must be coupled by the active efforts of all individuals and groups to continue to build a socially just Canadian society - a lasting civilization of love in which are ensured "the priority of ethics over technology, the primacy of the person over things, and the superiority of spirit over matter" (Ioannis Pauli PP. II, Redemptor Hominis, 16)- and all this for the glory of God, who is the Father of us all.

Let us pray for this intention, especially in this Eucharistic assembly, and through this prayer let us unite ourselves with Christ. Truly, we wish to accept his invitation: "Remain in my love". Amen.

* * * * * *

Scenes from my visit to Halifax (September 14)

The Catholic Pastoral Centre staff--my "family" during the Halifax years--and Archbishop Mancini.

Consoling the family and friends of Carolyn Petropolis at the committal service, Fairview Cemetery.

Left: Virginia Turner and Jeff Peyton from Pangnirtung, Nunavut (at the Ottawa airport)

Below:Franciscans of Halifax enjoying morning coffee

Veritas Books and Gifts founder and manager Luciano Bianchini and Brother Nathanel ready to greet clients and seekers.... Occupying space vacated by a Halifax landmark, "The Bookroom", "Veritas" is staffed entirely by volunteers, which has allowed it to survive when other book stores have closed.

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