Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Diaconal Ordinations at Ottawa's Dominican Convent - Canada's 2009 Christmas Stamps



New Deacons: Frere Dominique, o.p. and Frere Gustave, o.p.

Last Saturday, at the Dominican Convent of Dominican University College-Paroisse St-Jean Baptiste, I ordained two Dominican brothers to the diaconate: Dominique Nguyen, born in Montreal but reared in Quebec City where his family attended Paroisse St-Dominique, directed by the Order of Preachers and Gustave Nsengiyumva from Kigali in Rwanda, where the Canadian Dominicans began a foundation some fifty years ago.

We met earlier last week to share our vocational journeys and to prepare for the ordination ceremony.

Each is presently preparing a Master's thesis in Theology after having done preliminary studies in philosophy and theology (when we posed for the obligatory photo, there just happened to be an image of St. Thomas Aquinas hanging outside the room where we met):

Frere Gustave (left) and Frere Dominique (right)

The new deacons at the festive luncheon afterwards with the Provincial Superior Frere Yvon Pomerleau (rear) and the Prior of Ottawa's Couvent St-Jean Baptiste, Frere Jean-Jacques Robillard (front row, right), who was the Prior at Couvent St-Etienne in Jerusalem when I arrived there to serve as Visiting Professor at the Ecole biblique in the fall of 1994

ORDINATIONS DIACONALES – FRÈRES PRÊCHEURS (Dominique Nguyen & Gustave Nsengiyumva) Couvent Dominicain/Paroisse Saint-Jean Baptiste, 28 novembre 2009 – Ottawa, ON [Textes : Jérémie 1, 1-9 (Psaume 70); Romains 10, 12-17; Matthieu 20, 25-28]

Chers freres et soeurs dans le Christ:

Les diacres, par l’imposition des mains de l’évêque, reçoivent le sacrement, l’assistance de l’Esprit Saint qui les habilite à devenir témoins des sollicitudes de Dieu. « Fortifiés par la grâce sacramentelle, ils servent le Peuple de Dieu dans la diaconie de la liturgie, de la parole et de la charité, en communion avec l’évêque et son presbyterium » (LG, n 29).

Le livre de Jérémie commence sans aucune mise en scène grandiose. Nous sommes témoins d’une parole intime prononcée et entendue, et de la conviction secrète qui accompagnera Jérémie tout sa vie : Dieu m’a devancé, il m’a aimé le premier.

Cet homme timide avoue son incapacité, et Dieu lui répond : « Je mets mes paroles dans ta bouche! » Il s’agit là d’un geste significatif et efficace et Jérémie sera vraiment l’homme de la « parole », celle de Dieu. Au cours de son ministère, il lui faudra tout recevoir de Dieu pour pouvoir dire quelque chose de valable. Désormais Jérémie sent et pense comme Dieu. Il acquiert une aptitude particulière pour servir la parole de Dieu, pour la commenter.

« Je t’ai consacré … je suis avec toi pour te libérer » - Quand Dieu charge quelqu’un d’une mission, il l’assure en même temps de sa présence et se fait Dieu-avec (Emmanuel). C’était vrai alors, ce l’est aujourd’hui.

Dans sa lettre aux Romains, Paul évoque un aspect essentiel du service de la parole : la foi vient de ce qu’on entend – non seulement par les oreilles, mais par le cœur (voir v. 10). Aux versets seize et dix-sept, il y a un jeu de mot voulu entre l’écoute (akoê) et l’obéissance qui en découle (hypakoê). La proclamation, l’annonce de la Parole doit être tellement crédible, que celui qui l’entend se sente invité à l’écouter attentivement et à croire.

L’évangile de Luc nous rappelle la réaction humaine de Jacques, Jean et leur mère, mais aussi des autres disciples qui veulent se tailler une place dans le Royaume. Or Jésus les appelle à un renversement de valeurs complet. Dans la communauté nouvelle à laquelle Il va bientôt donner sa vie, le premier se fait le dernier. Il explique clairement que l’ambition de commander et de se faire servir n’a rien à voir avec sa conception du service. Sera grand celui qui marchera sur ses traces.

En ce jour où deux de nos frères sont ordonnés diacres, portons-les dans notre prière et notre affection fraternelle afin qu’ils soient de vrais serviteurs de la Parole, témoins crédibles de l’action transformante de Dieu.

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Canada Post Christmas Stamps 2009

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11)

The above is the introduction to Canada Post's website description of this year's Nativity Series. 12 million of the Canada mailing rate have been printed (a similar number has been printed of the Christmas Tree stamp); it is important that they be asked for as there are recurring rumours that, if not requested, the religious version of the Christmas season would be dropped and secular versions only would be made available.

Here is the rest of Canada Post's treatment of the Nativity series, which has been part and parcel of the national postal service's acknowledgement of Christmas since 1965.

Saint Francis of Assisi is said to have made the first Nativity scene (or crèche) in a church at Greccio, Italy, in 1223. His idea brought the Christmas story to life and provided a new way to celebrate the miracle of Jesus’ birth. Though centuries have passed since, artists around the world continue to contribute to, and expand upon, the flourishing tradition of Nativity art.

Last Christmas, Canada Post celebrated the Nativity with a commemorative stamp featuring a sculpture of the infant Jesus. Created by renowned Italian-Canadian sculptor Antonio Caruso, the sculpture is part of a manger scene consisting of miniature wood statues. The figures, incredibly complex in their detailing, were engraved from lime wood and measure two to five inches in height each. They are currently part of an itinerant exhibit that will tour various North American cities, including Winnipeg, MB, in October, Philadelphia, PA (U.S.), in November, and Oshawa, ON, in December.

This year, Caruso’s phenomenal Nativity sculptures will appear on three new stamps. The international stamp will feature the Shepherd; the domestic stamp will feature the Madonna and Child; and the U.S. stamp will feature the Magi.



The figures are arranged on the souvenir sheet as they appear in the crèche. Toronto graphic designer Joe Gault explains, “When positioned side by side, they work together as a set and tell a story.” However, he notes, “The three stamps also vary considerably, each working as a unique artwork when applied to envelopes individually.” Last year’s Nativity stamp also appears on the souvenir sheet and first day cover, enhancing collectibility by bringing all four together as a set.

Antonio Caruso (born in Italy on March 28, 1951) studied at the Brera Fine Arts Academy of Milan and the Carrara Fine Arts Academy of Bergamo. His specialties are fresco, frescografia, and wood sculpture. An active artist in Canada since 1982, Caruso weaves Canadian themes into his work, and has found the country to be fertile ground for his artistic development. His artworks are featured in private collections, museums, cathedrals and churches in North America and Europe.

Canada Post began the tradition of featuring Nativity art on stamps in 1965, with an issue featuring the Gifts of the Magi. In the years since, the Nativity Scene has been portrayed in children’s illustrations (1970, 1975) stained glass windows (1976, 1997), gouache illustrations (1977), early Renaissance paintings (1978), icons (1988), Aboriginal art (2002), and more. The stamps have provided excellent opportunities to celebrate the birth of Jesus through Canadian art.

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TOMORROW, FIRST THURSDAY OF THE MONTH, PLENARY INDULGENCE AVAILABLE TO LAY FAITHFUL

In response to questions about the Plenary Indulgence for the Year of Priests, the decree says that, "all truly penitent priests"--having confessed their sins and received Holy Communion--may obtain a Plenary Indulgence each day by devoutly praying Lauds or Vespers before the Blessed Sacrament, and by making themselves available "with a ready and generous heart" for the Sacrament of Penance and the other sacraments.

This Plenary Indulgence may be applied to the souls of priests in purgatory. Priests may also obtain a partial indulgence so often as they offer prayers to ask for the grace of sacerdotal holiness. What a splendid opportunity for priests to come to the assistance of their brother priests in purgatory!

The decree also makes generous provision for the lay faithful. They may obtain a Plenary Indulgence on the opening and closing days of the Year of the Priest and on the 150th anniversary of the death of St. Jean Marie Vianney (August 4, 2009), on the First Thursday of the Month, or on any other day established by the ordinaries of particular places for the good of the faithful. The particular conditions are given below.

By way of example, a prayer suitable for obtaining the Plenary Indulgence would be:

O Jesus, Eternal Priest, keep Thy priests within the shelter of Thy Sacred Heart, where none may touch them. Keep unstained their anointed hands, which daily touch Thy Sacred Body. Keep unsullied their lips, daily purpled with Thy Precious Blood. Keep pure and unworldly their hearts sealed with the sublime mark of the priesthood. Let Thy holy love surround them from the world's contagion. Bless their labors with abundant fruit, and may the souls to whom they minister be their joy and consolation here and their everlasting crown hereafter. Mary, Queen of the Clergy, pray for us; obtain for us numerous and holy priests. Amen.

To acquire a plenary indulgence it is necessary to perform the work to which the indulgence is attached and to fulfil three conditions: sacramental confession, Eucharistic Communion and prayer for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff. It is further required that all attachment to sin, even to venial sin, be absent.

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