Wednesday, September 30, 2009

First Thursday of the Month: Year of the Priest Indulgence

Tomorrow, October 1 is the first Thursday of October and as such is a day designated for the Plenary Indulgence granted in the Year of the Priest.


The Vatican is offering a plenary indulgence for all faithful on the occasion of the Year for Priests, marking the 150th anniversary of the death of St. Jean Marie Vianney, also knows as the Curé de Ars (June 19, 2009-June 10, 2010).

The decree was made public and signed by Cardinal James Francis Stafford and Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, respectively penitentiary major and regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary in May 2009.

The decree noted that Benedict XVI would preside at the opening liturgy June 19, the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, "a day of priestly sanctification." The Year will end in St. Peter's Square, in the presence of priests from all over the world "who will renew their faithfulness to Christ and their bonds of fraternity."

For priests, the plenary indulgence can be gained by praying lauds or vespers before the Blessed Sacrament exposed to public adoration or in the tabernacle. They must also "offer themselves with a ready and generous heart for the celebration of the sacraments, especially the sacrament of penance."

The plenary indulgence, which under current norms must be accompanied by sacramental confession, the Eucharist and praying for the intentions of the Pope, can also by applied to deceased priests.

Priests are granted a partial indulgence, also applicable to deceased priests, every time they "devotedly recite the prayers duly approved to lead a saintly life and to carry out the duties entrusted to them."

For the faithful, a plenary indulgence can be obtained on the opening and closing days of the Year for Priests, on the 150th anniversary of the death of St. Jean-Marie Vianney, 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.

To obtain the indulgence the faithful must attend Mass in an oratory or Church and offer prayers to "Jesus Christ, supreme and eternal Priest, for the priests of the Church, or perform any good work to sanctify and mould them to his heart."

The conditions for the faithful for earning a plenary indulgence are to have gone to confession and prayed for the intentions of the Pope.

The elderly, the sick, and all those who for any legitimate reason are unable to leave their homes may obtain the plenary indulgence if, with the intention of observing the usual three conditions as soon as they can, "on the days concerned, they pray for the sanctification of priests and offer their sickness and suffering to God through Mary, Queen of the Apostles."

Reflections of a Priest-Diplomat - The Feast of St. Jerome

Msgr. Jose Bettencourt, priest of the Ottawa Archdiocese serving at the Vatican, presides at a family baptism while home in Canada this past summer.

This is the trunk of Msgr. Jose Bettencourt a priest of the Archdiocese of Ottawa, who labours as a diplomat in the service of the Holy See (the Secretariate of State) at the Vatican.

His reflections on his living out of the priesthood may be found on the Archdiocesan web site in English and French, part of this year's celebration of the Year of the Priest (

There is an international gathering of priests for a retreat at Ars, France under the leadership of Cardinal Christoph Schonborn O.P., archbishop of Vienna, Austria; the theme of the spiritual exercises is: "The joy of being a priest, consecrated for the salvation of the world".

Pope Benedict XVI sent a message to the retreatants, suggesting that one may see in a priest "the man of the future"!

"The priest", says the Holy Father in his Message, "is called to serve human beings and to give them life in God. ... He is a man of the divine Word and of all things holy and, today more than ever, he must be a man of joy and hope. To those who cannot conceive that God is pure Love, he will affirm that life is worthy to be lived and that Christ gives it its full meaning because He loves all humankind".

The pope then turns to address priests who have to serve a number of parishes and who "commit themselves unreservedly to preserving sacramental life in their various communities. The Church's recognition for you all is immense", he says. "Do not lose heart but continue to pray and to make others pray that many young people may accept the call of Christ, Who always wishes to see the number of His apostles increase".

The Holy Father also invites priests to consider "the extreme diversity of the ministries" they perform "in the service of the Church", and "the large number of Masses you celebrate or will celebrate, each time making Christ truly present at the altar. Think of the numerous absolutions you have given and will give, freeing sinners from their burdens. Thus you may perceive the infinite fruitfulness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Your hands and lips become, for a single instant, the hands and lips of God".

"This thought", His Holiness added, "should bring you to ensure harmonious relations among the clergy so as to form the priestly community as St. Peter wanted, and so build the body of Christ and consolidate you in love".

"The priest is the man of the future. ... What he does in this world is part of the order of things directed towards the final Goal. Mass is the only point of union between the means and the Goal because it enables us to contemplate, under the humble appearance of the bread and the wine, the Body and Blood of Him Whom we adore in eternity".

"Nothing will ever replace the ministry of priests in the heart of the Church", the Pope concluded. "You are the living witnesses of God's power at work in the weakness of human beings, consecrated for the salvation of the world, chosen by Christ Himself to be, thanks to Him, salt of the earth and light of the world".

Some might be puzzled by the expression, "The priest is the man of the future." Whatever does that mean? Aother way of putting might be, "The priest is the man of the eschaton."

As minister of the eschatological sacrament, the priest participates in a unique way in the anticipation and culmination of all things at the end of time.

* * * * * *

The Patron Saint of Scripture Scholars

Domenico Ghirlandaio, St. Jerome in His Study, 1480. A handsome Renaissance work, that, while filled with the era's distinct classical style, nonetheless retains in this instance the rich iconographic detail of earlier medieval works (though his lion appears to have gone missing in this instance). Formerly on the ponte or roodscreen of the church of the Ognissanti, Florence, it was balanced on the other side by a fresco of St. Augustine. In symbolism, the scissors represent biblical exegesis

Today, I would like to pay tribute to those who initiated me into the world of Scriptural scholarship, modern era Jeromes who interpreted the Word of God in a way that made it come alive for me: the late Fathers David Michael Stanley and Roderick A.F. Mackenzie, S.J., who taught me in the novitiate and encouraged me throughout my later Jesuit formation and from the era of the Toronto School of Theology, Father Joseph Plevnik, S.J. (Regis College) and several other professors who mentored me in my studies: His Eminence Aloysius Cardinal Ambrozic from St. Augustine's Seminary, my Doctervater, who guided my doctoral research on St. Mark; the late Terence J. Forestell, C.S.B. (St. Michael's University College); the late Cyril J. Blackman and the late Vernon Fawcett (Emmanuel College); Robert Lennox and the late J. Charles Hay (Knox College); Richard Longenecker (Wycliffe College) and John C. Hurd (Trinity College).

Many a spiritual writer has been fascinated by the fact that Jerome has been canonized, given his irascibility and curmudgeonliness; as someone put it, "I like Jerome because he is proof that even grumpy old men can become saints and get into heaven. Apparently, there is room for all temperaments in God's kingdom. [...] In Rome he had a benefactor who later became his best friend, a woman named Paula. She followed him to Bethlehem, and financed his monastery and three convents. When she died, crusty, cantankerous old Jerome was said to be inconsolable."

St. Jerome's contemporary and friend, St. Augustine of Hippo (himself a strong and pugnacious personality), put it this way when he learned of Jerome's passing, "The Scorpion is dead."

It is true that Jerome had a very bad temper and could use a vitriolic pen, but his love for God and his Son Jesus Christ was extraordinarily intense; anyone who taught error was an enemy of God and truth, and St. Jerome went after him or her with his mighty and sometimes sarcastic pen.

He was above all a Scripture scholar, translating most of the Old Testament from the Hebrew. He also wrote commentaries which are a great source of scriptural inspiration for us today. He was an avid student, a thorough scholar, a prodigious letter-writer and a consultant to monk, bishop and pope. St. Augustine said of him, "What Jerome is ignorant of, no mortal has ever known."

St. Jerome is particularly important for having made a translation of the Bible which came to be called the Vulgate. It is not the most critical edition of the Bible, but its acceptance by the Church was fortunate.

As a modern scholar says, "No man before Jerome or among his contemporaries and very few men for many centuries afterwards were so well qualified to do the work." The Council of Trent called for a new and corrected edition of the Vulgate, and declared it the authentic text to be used in the Church.

In order to be able to do such work, Jerome prepared himself well. He was a master of Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Chaldaic. He began his studies at his birthplace, Stridon in Dalmatia (in the former Yugoslavia). After his preliminary education he went to Rome, the center of learning at that time, and thence to Trier, Germany, where the scholar was very much in evidence. He spent several years in each place, always trying to find the very best teachers.

After these preparatory studies he traveled extensively in Palestine, marking each spot of Christ's life with an outpouring of devotion. Mystic that he was, he spent five years in the desert of Chalcis so that he might give himself up to prayer, penance and study. Finally he settled in Bethlehem, where he lived in the cave believed to have been the birthplace of Christ. On September 30 in the year 420, Jerome died in Bethlehem. The remains of his body now lie buried in the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

St. Michael's, Corkery Fetes 185 Years - The Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael - Pope's Message to Youth

This evening, I will celebrate Mass at St. Michael's Church, Corkery, on the occasion of the Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.

The faithful of St. Michael's, Corkery will observe the 185th anniversary of Masses being celebrated in their locale, a number of years before a parish was formally established (1853), although there was a church beginning in 1837.

In 1824, there were some thirty Catholics in Huntley township, and their numbers were augmented when new immigrants arrived from Ireland at the behest of Father Peter Robinson. A Father McNamara was sent from Montreal to care for their needs, with Masses being celebrated in homes until other provisions for a building were made.

The patronal feast brings to mind the ministry of angels within God's Providence: Angels—messengers from God—appear frequently in Scripture, but only Michael, Gabriel and Raphael are named.

Michael appears in Daniel's vision as "the great prince" who defends Israel against its enemies; in the Book of Revelation, he leads God's armies to final victory over the forces of evil.

Devotion to Michael is the oldest angelic devotion, rising in the East in the fourth century. The Church in the West began to observe a feast honoring Michael and the angels in the fifth century.

On Sunday April 24th 1994, Pope John Paul II recommended this prayer be used by all Catholics as a prayer for the Church when he said: "May prayer strengthen us for the spiritual battle we are told about in the Letter to the Ephesians: 'Draw strength from the Lord and from His mighty power' (Ephesians 6:10)".

Pope Leo XIII certainly had a very vivid recollection of this scene when, at the end of the last century, he introduced a special prayer to St. Michael throughout the Church. Although this prayer is no longer recited at the end of Mass as it was when I was a child, it still packs a spiritual punch and reminds us that our battle is "against principalities and powers":

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Gabriel also makes an appearance in Daniel's visions, announcing Michael's role in God's plan. His best-known appearance is an encounter with a young Jewish girl named Mary, who consents to bear the Messiah.

Raphael's activity is confined to the Old Testament story of Tobit. There he appears to guide Tobit's son Tobiah through a series of fantastic adventures which lead to a threefold happy ending: Tobiah's marriage to Sarah, the healing of Tobit's blindness and the restoration of the family fortune.

The memorials of Gabriel (March 24) and Raphael (October 24) were added to the Roman calendar in 1921. The 1970 revision of the calendar joined their feasts to Michael's.

Each of these archangels performs a different mission in Scripture: Michael protects; Gabriel announces; Raphael guides. Believers still experience God's protection, communication and guidance in ways which defy description. Angels are important for the Church, God's people and for each of us individually, as we shall note on Friday of this week, the feast of the Holy Guardian Angels.

* * * * * *

Pope Benedict XVI gave a goodly number of homilies, addresses and reflections. One that struck me was his remarks to youth:

Dear friends, it is not hard to see that in every young person there is an aspiration towards happiness, sometimes tinged with anxiety: an aspiration that is often exploited, however, by present-day consumerist society in false and alienating ways. Instead, that longing for happiness must be taken seriously, it demands a true and comprehensive response.

At your age, the first major choices are made, choices that can set your lives on a particular course, for better or worse. Unfortunately, many of your contemporaries allow themselves to be led astray by illusory visions of spurious happiness, and then they find themselves sad and alone. Yet there are also many young men and women who seek to transform doctrine into action, as your representative said, so as to give the fullness of meaning to their lives.

I invite you all to consider the experience of Saint Augustine, who said that the heart of every person is restless until it finds what it truly seeks. And he discovered that Jesus Christ alone is the answer that can satisfy his and every person’s desire for a life of happiness, filled with meaning and value (cf. Confessions, I.1.1).

As he did with Augustine, so the Lord comes to meet each one of you. He knocks at the door of your freedom and asks to be welcomed as a friend. He wants to make you happy, to fill you with humanity and dignity. The Christian faith is this: encounter with Christ, the living Person who gives life a new horizon and thereby a definitive direction.

And when the heart of a young person opens up to his divine plans, it is not difficult to recognize and follow his voice. The Lord calls each of us by name, and entrusts to us a specific mission in the Church and in society. Dear young people, be aware that by Baptism you have become children of God and members of his Body, the Church.

Jesus constantly renews his invitation to you to be his disciples and his witnesses. Many of you he calls to marriage, and the preparation for this Sacrament constitutes a real vocational journey. Consider seriously the divine call to raise a Christian family, and let your youth be the time in which to build your future with a sense of responsibility. Society needs Christian families, saintly families!

And if the Lord is calling you to follow him in the ministerial priesthood or in the consecrated life, do not hesitate to respond to his invitation. In particular, in this Year of Priests, I appeal to you, young men: be attentive and open to Jesus’s call to offer your lives in the service of God and his people. The Church in every country, including this one, needs many holy priests and also persons fully consecrated to the service of Christ, Hope of the world.

Monday, September 28, 2009

More on the Holy Father's Visit to the Czech Republic - "Good King Wenceslaus" - Photo Round-Up from the Past Ten Days

Today is the third and last day of Pope Benedict XV's Pastoral Visit in the Czech Republic. He celebrated Mass yesterday in Brno, the central city of Moravia, the most Catholic area of the Czech nation.

The Pope's interview on the plane heading from Rome to Prague included a question that touched on the difficulties of speaking of faith in this ex-Communist land which suffered more than other countries from the official atheism (perhaps only Albania's case was worse). At any rate, today more than half of the population of the Czech nation claims to be religiously indifferen, or even hostile to religion. But the Pope sees in this fact a wonderful opportunity for the believing minority.

Money quote: "Both [agnostics and believers] need each other".

Your Holiness, the Czech Republic is a very secularized nation in which the Catholic church is a minority. In that situation, how can the church contribute effectively to the common good of the country?

It’s normally the creative minorities that determine the future. In that sense, the Catholic church must understand itself as a creative minority with a legacy of values which are not a thing of the past, but which are a very living and relevant force that must be realized, rendered present in the public debate, and in our struggle for a true concept of liberty and of peace.

In that sense, the church can make contributions in various sectors. The first, I would say, is precisely in the intellectual dialogue betwween agnostics and believers. Both need each other: The agnostic cannot be content to not know, but must be in search of the great truth of faith; the Catholic cannot be content to have faith, but must be in search of God all the time, and in the dialogue with others, a Catholic can learn more about God in a deeper fashion. This is the first level, the great intellectual, ethical and human dialogue.

In the educational sector, the church has much to offer in formation. It Italy, we talk about the problem of the ‘educational emergency,’ a problem common to the whole West, and here the church must once again actualize, concretize, and open up for the future its great legacy.

A third sector is Caritas: the church has always regarded charity as a sign of its identity, to be in service to the poor, to be an organism of charity. Caritas in the Czech Republic does a great deal for different communities, in situations of need, and offers much also to suffering humanity on the different continents. It thereby gives an example of responsibolity for others, of international solidarity which is the basis for peace.

* * * * * *

St. Wenceslaus, Patron Saint of Bohemia (903-929)

Wenceslas , also known as Vaclav, was born near Prague and raised by his grandmother, St. Ludmilla, until her murder by his mother, the pagan Drahomira.

Wenceslaus's mother assumed the regency over Bohemia about 920 after her husband's death, but her rule was so arbitrary and cruel in Wenceslaus' name that he was compelled on behalf of his subjects to overthrow her and assume power for himself in 924 or 925.

A devout Christian, he proved a gifted ruler and a genuine friend of the Church. German missionaries were encouraged, churches were built, and Wenceslaus perhaps took a personal vow of poverty.

Unfortunately, domestic events proved fatal, for in 929 the German king Heinrich I the Fowler (ruled 919-936) invaded Bohemia and forced Wenceslaus to make an act of submission. This defeat, combined with his pro-Christian policies, led a group of non-Christian nobles to conspire against him.

On September 28, 929, a group of knights under the leadership of Wenceslaus' brother Boreslav assassinated the saint on the doorstep of a church.

Virtually from the moment of his death, Wenceslaus was considered a martyr and venerated as a saint. Miracles were reported at his tomb, and his remains were translated to the church of St. Vitus in Prague which became a major pilgrimage site.

The feast has been celebrated at least since 985 in Bohemia, and he is best known from the Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslaus."


Archdiocesan Youth Ministry Kick-Off, Praise and Worship at the Diocesan Centre, September 19, 2009

170th Anniversary Mass at Paroisse Saint-Luc, Curran, September 20, 2009

A visit to the Cemetery for Prayers, Saint-Luc, Curran

Life Teen Evening: Supper between Mass and the Meeting, Annunciation of Our Lord Parish, Gloucester, September 20, 2009

Getting ready for the Life Teen Mass, Annunciation Parish, 20-09-09

St. Paul's University, Ottawa: the newly-installed Rector and the Chancellor, following the Mass of the Holy Spirit inaugurating the Academic Year 2009-2010, September 25, 2009

Ukrainian Catholic clergy attend the Garden Party following the Mass of the Holy Spirit and the new Rector's Installation at St. Paul University, September 25, 2009

Marker indicating the burial site of Saints Jean de Brebeuf and Gabriel Lalemant, in the recontruction of Sainte-Marie-among-the-Hurons, Midland, Ontario

Right: Reliquary containing skull of St. Jean de Brebeuf and relics of other Canadian Martyrs, Martyrs Shrine, Midland, Ontario

Left: Jesuit Novices from the USA and Canada imbibe the spirit of the North American Jesuit Martyrs, Martyrs Shrine, Midland, ON, on their feast day, September 26, 2009

Concelebrants and servers vesting for the Feast Day Mass, Martyrs Shrine, September 26, 2009

Jesuit priests and brothers sharing conversation, fellowship prior to feast day dinner, Martyrs Shrine, September 26, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI in the Czech Republic - Hope Cemetery Commemoration - A Book on Notre Dame Cemetery

The Holy Father is on a three-day visit to the Czech Republic, one of the places most influenced by the atheistic propaganda and ideology of the Communist State (formerly Czechoslovakia).

If the Church is to begin to stimulate a taste for the Gospel message and a turning to the salvation offered in Christ, the challenge to Europe, which--as a continent that extends from the Atlantic to the Urals--has lost, and is increasingly losing, its roots in, and ties to, the Christian revelation, this is a liminal moment for the new evangelization.

Let us pray for God's blessing on this important moment. May Our Lady, Star of the New Evangelization, guide his words and steps these day.

At left: Pope Benedict prays before the statue of the Infant of Prague on the first day of his pastoral visit.

* * * * * *


Each year, I spend part of a Sunday afternoon at our two Archdiocesan cemeteries, Cimetière Notre Dame Cemetery on Montreal Road and Hope Cemetery/Cimetière d'Espoir on the south end of Bank Street.

I was at Notre Dame Cemetery on August 30 for prayers for the repose of the souls of our beloved Catholic deceased and for the consolation of the bereaved.

This afternoon, Sunday September 27 at 2 PM there will be a Liturgy of the Word with prayers for the deceased, the consolation of the bereaved and the blessing of the graves, columbarium niches and interment areas [Hope Cemetery, 4660 Bank St., Ottawa, ON].

You know, perceptions of death have evolved over millennia and continue to undergo change.

Cremation, for example, once was forbidden Catholics because those promoting it denied the afterlife. Separated from such ideological ties, it has become more common. It is now possible for a funeral Mass to be celebrated in the presence of cremated remains, though it is still preferable for the coffin to be present, with cremation taking place afterwards.

Funeral and burial customs, too, are in flux. Society’s focus on individual preferences has spread to the funeral home where directors help families make statements about the passing of the deceased. This has led to demands that funeral ceremonies take such desires into account, including permitting testimonies to be made at the funeral Mass.

Televised funerals—of politicians, celebrities or Canadian soldiers killed in action—show eulogies being given, leading to demands for similar courtesies to be extended at the local parish.

The Church, however, invites believers to see in the funeral liturgy an expression of hope in God who governed the life of the deceased, so as to situate the lives of survivors in the perspective of eternity.

So the eulogy—praise of the departed without reference to God—holds no place in a Christian’s funeral. However, references to God’s saving grace and power at work in the dead person’s life are not out of place.

Brief and well-prepared remarks by family and friends belong following prayers at the funeral home, at the graveside or, occasionally, prior to the funeral Mass.

Christians have remembered their dead from earliest times. Third century writers spoke of an intermediate place of rest where the faithful awaited God's Final Judgment. St. Monica, in dialogue with her son St. Augustine at Ostia where she lay dying, told her son not to worry about her burial place, asking only that he remember her at the Eucharist.

Thoughts of the ever-evolving place of the dead in our life and in society were evoked by the recent publication of Ottawa's Notre Dame Cemetery: An Historic Cemetery of National Importance Established in 1872(by Jean-Yves Pelletier; Quebec, QC: Editions GID, 2009, $35). This English edition was published at the same time as the French original; generally speaking the translation is serviceable though infelicitous or sloppy at times.

Mr. Pelletier’s research offers an overview of earlier burial grounds where Catholics had been buried and of how Mgr Guigues, conscious of the growing need to serve the Catholic populace with cemetery space well into the future, effected the creation of Notre Dame by a timely purchase of land.

The author then gives an overview of Notre Dame’s development to the point that now it has reached a total of 123,000 burials. This is considerably more than neighbouring Beechwood Cemetery, which, though having fewer interments, recently was granted national status, something the author argues is merited by Notre Dame.

As someone still new to Ottawa and gradually learning its history, I was fascinated by the way people I have heard about in politics, sports, commerce, education, scientific research and religion come together in this book. I have enjoyed dipping into the thumb-nail sketches of personalities featured in the main part of the book (pp. 42-145). Ten pages of photographs (le patrimoine mortuaire), a list of religious communities represented in the cemetery and a number of annexes round out this interesting collection of cemetery data.

In a little over a month, we will be entering the month of November, the month of the Holy Souls, extending the observance of the Solemnity of All Saints on November 1and the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed on November 2. The practice began at the abbey of Cluny under St. Odilo; in his view, prayer for the dead (that they “rest in peace”) joined with celebration of the saints showed more fully Catholic belief in the communion of saints (those on earth, in purgatory, in heaven).

As we remember the dead, let us be aware of the patrimony of our cemeteries. They are the places where we commend our loved ones and associates to the heavenly Father until the Lord Jesus’ return in glory and fulfilment of our hope in the resurrection.

For those who wish a copy, it is available in the French original or the English translation through Notre Dame Cemetery (613) 746-4175.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Feast of the Canadian Martyrs - The Shrine at Midland and Sainte-Marie-among-the-Hurons

Today, the Feast of the North American Jesuit Martyrs in Canada (the USA and Universal Church observes this feast on October 19th), I will be presiding at the Closing Mass of the Novena in the Shrine Church at Midland, ON.

One of my happy experiences as a Jesuit scholastic was to work at the Shrine explaining the mission and values of the martyrs who strove to share their faith and other values with the Huron (Wendat) people, who were caught in a long-standing war with the Iroquois over the fur trade. The following is the homily prepared for the occasion (it may not be delivered exactly as prepared).

Martyrs Shrine, Midland, Ontario - Feast of the Canadian Martyrs, September 26, 2009

THE SELF-SACRIFICING PASTOR: ST. ANTHONY DANIEL IN THE YEAR OF THE PRIEST [Texts: 2 Corinthians 4:6-15 (Ps 106:1-9); Hebrews 11:1, 35b-38; 12:1-2; Matt 16:21, 24-28]

At the beginning of my homily today, I wish to express my gratitude to Father Kirsten for his gracious invitation to preside at this Eucharist in what is a very special place for me and many of you. It is a joy for me to return to a spot that holds such precious memories for me as a Jesuit.

There is a phrase in the Epistle to the Hebrews that I have always associated with the missionaries of Huronia because it is used in the readings proper to the Jesuit celebration of the Martyrs Feast. In telling how people lived in faith, the author of Hebrews speaks of some wandering over the face of the earth while yearning for their heavenly homeland:

Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others suffered mocking and flogging and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented—of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains and in caves and holes in the ground (Hebrews 11:35b-38).

Our evangelist is giving a description of how, throughout salvation history, people signalled that they lived by faith, seeking a homeland better than they knew. Our biblical author shows us that he reads salvation history in a new way—in the lives of the faith community's forebears—hoping thereby to persuade his contemporaries that they, too, can live heroically. Similarly, the example of the Martyrs, though in a different time and culture, should model our witnessing to Christ in our daily lives.

For they in the past and we in the present are being enlightened by the Holy Spirit into discovering unexpected truths. The prism through which all of reality and every human experience are being filtered lies in Christ's passion, death and resurrection. For Jesus is described in Hebrews 12 as “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the sake of the joy that was set before Him Jesus endured the Cross, disregarding its shame” (Hebrews 12:2).

The same reality can be looked at from a variety of angles. This is what the New Testament did also with regard to the death of Jesus. The sign of opprobrium, of rejection, of disgrace and shame—the cross as instrument of crucifixion—became the sign of glory and the model for all of Christian discipleship.

The power of the Paschal Mystery to shed light on and interpret faith experiences is one of the many parallels we may find in the life and death of the Martyrs and the Epistle to the Hebrews.

Today, I would like to focus our reflection on the Martyrs upon the first missionary to die in Huronia, Anthony Daniel on July 4, 1648. Born in Dieppe on May 27, 1601, Antoine Daniel had already begun legal studies when he entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus at Rouen on October 1, 1621. He was a teacher of junior classes at the Collège in Rouen (1623–27), studied theology at the Collège in Clermont (1627–30), taught humanities (1630–1631), and was minister at the Collège in Eu (1631–32).

In 1626 Father Charles Lalemant wrote from Quebec to his brother Jerome: “A little Huron is going to see you; he longs to see France. He is very fond of us and manifests a strong desire to be instructed; nevertheless, his father and the Captain of the nation wishes to see him next year, assuring us that, if he is satisfied, he will give him to us for some years. It is of importance that he should be thoroughly satisfied, for if this child is once instructed, it will open the way to many tribes where he will be very useful.”

The young Huron lad in question, Amantacha, was baptized at Rouen during the time that Father Daniel was a teacher at the college and the presence of the young Huron at Rouen may have played some part in his missionary vocation.

In 1632, Father Daniel arrived at Cape Breton, where the habitation was under the command of his brother Charles, a French captain. The following year 1633, he was at Quebec and was assigned, with Jean de Brébeuf to the Huron Mission though their departure did not take place until 1634.

No missionary experienced the hardships and perils offered at that period by the trip into Huronia as much as Father Daniel did; in 1634 and again in 1638 he was abandoned on the way by his guides. He soon found himself not only alone but ill, and he attributed to special divine protection the fact that he was able to reach his destination at all. The return trip he made in 1636 was equally arduous, and on arrival at Trois-Rivières he was literally exhausted.

Daniel made rapid progress in learning the language, and he had soon taught the children to sing the Our Father and Creed in Huron. His kindness, his gentleness, and his gifts as a teacher caused him to be assigned to a new apostolate that the missionaries, in their lack of experience of the actual circumstances, thought both feasible and full of promise for the propagation of the faith: the founding at Quebec of a seminary to which young Hurons would come to be trained in Christian knowledge and virtues. That college in founded in Quebec is sometimes seen as the foundation of Toronto’s Regis College.

So great were the hopes aroused by this foundation that Huronia sacrificed for it one of its best missionaries, and the Jesuits at Quebec deprived themselves of the services of five very useful servants. Two years’ experience was to show that the children of Huronia were not suited to, and not suitable for, this European type of education.

The splendid dream came to naught, and brought about Father Daniel’s return to active missionary life. He devoted himself to it indefatigably and effectively for ten years. On July 4, 1648 the Iroquois overran the Saint-Joseph II mission (Teanaostaiaë, near Hillsdale, Simcoe County, Ontario) just as Father Daniel was finishing his Mass. He encouraged the neophytes and spoke so movingly of the truths of the faith that the pagans in large numbers asked him to baptize them.

After wreaking havoc in the village, the Iroquois attacked the chapel: “Flee,” said the missionary to his congregation, “and keep the faith to your dying breath.”
As for himself, his life belonged to the souls in his charge. He left the chapel and strode towards the enemy, who were astonished by such courage. When the first moment of stupefaction had passed, his body was riddled with arrows. A bullet struck him in the chest, passing through his body, and he fell uttering the name of Jesus. After desecrating his body, the Iroquois threw it into the fire that was consuming the chapel.

As the first martyr of Huronia, Father Daniel, even after his death, inspired in his brother missionaries a wealth of tenderness and encouragement. Father Ragueneau, his superior, spoke of him in a letter to the general of the order as "a truly remarkable man, humble, obedient, united with God, of never failing patience and indomitable courage in adversity" (Thwaites, tr. Relations, XXXIII, 253-269).

In this Year of the Priest 2009-2010, various models of selfless service are set before us: the holy Cure d’Ars and St. Padre Pio of Pietralcina, whose feast was earlier this week: great confessors and reformers of the priesthood in their day.

But the model of priestly heroism surely extends to the martyrdom of Anthony Daniel who, like Jesus the Good Shepherd, laid down his life for his flock.

“The first decades of the seventeenth century were a real springtime for the Church in France. Mysticism, missionary zeal, charitable works—all came together in an outburst of holiness” (M.J. Lacroix in Companions of Jesus: Spiritual Profiles of the Jesuit Saints and Beati; Rome: General’s Curia, 1974, p. 73). The outburst of holiness included St. John Francis Regis, to whose tomb St. Jean Marie Vianney made a pilgrimage as he discerned his call to the priesthood; it also included, I believe, Anthony Daniel and our other martyr saints of Huronia and New York recalled today.

The gospel reading, drawn from Matthew's gospel, encapsulates the spiritual motivation for all that the Christians of Huronia did—how they lived and with what dispositions they wished to die. The second half of the gospel begins with Jesus telling His disciples about the divine logic that permitted His suffering and death as the way of His total self-donation to others and the Father. God's response to such selfless love lies in the resurrection, the beginning of a new way of being present to people in their need, the Kingdom of God and life eternal.

The foolishness of the divine logic is that others are called to enter on the same way to eternal life by living in this world as Jesus did. “If anyone wants to be my follower, let him or her deny self, take up the cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25).

This was the outlook the Martyrs absorbed as they prayed daily, and as they steeped themselves in gospel spirituality during their annual retreat, when they contemplated their Lord and Saviour in the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola, their spiritual guide and mentor.

It was also the experience of St. Paul in the first reading which speaks of the missionary disciple as carrying in his body the “dying of Jesus” so that the risen “life may be made visible in our mortal flesh”.

Now well into the Third Millennium of Christ's coming in our midst, we want to share the Good News with our age. In the Jesuit Relation are contained words of advice on how to be an effective evangelist drawing people to Christ. Written by an experienced missioner for a newly-arrived recruit, it intended to draw the Native People to Christ. It can serve as a model for us in drawing those who do not yet know Christ to follow Him.

Not so much knowledge is necessary as friendship and sound virtue. The four elements of an apostolic person in New France are charm, humility, patience and generous friendship. Too anxious a zeal scorches more than it warms and ruins everything. Great kindness and adaptability are necessary to attract gradually these Indians. They do not understand our theology too well, but they understand our humility and our friendliness, and allow themselves to be won.

We pray today that, as we strive to emulate the Jesuit Martyr-saints of North America in evangelizing others with the Gospel of Life, we may take these words to heart along with the genuine self-sacrificing love of those who lived the faith in Huronia before us.

Then we will know how to give ourselves in love as Anthony Daniel did and gladly share the Good News in our day as the Canadian Martyrs did in theirs.

* * * * * *

Across the highway from the Martyrs Shrine in Midland is Sainte-Marie-aux-pays-des-Hurons (Sainte Marie-among-the-Hurons): a reconstruction of the Jesuit Mission among the Wendat by the Government of Ontario. The following is from their website backgrounder:

The Men Who Lived At Sainte-Marie

Jesuit Priest
With the exception of one Italian priest, the only people who lived at Sainte-Marie were Frenchmen. No women accompanied them. The Natives, drawn by curiosity, often came to visit the priests and their helpers to learn about their strange and different ways..

The Jesuit Priests belonged to the order of the Society of Jesus, founded by Ignatius Loyola in 1534. This active order was well organized, efficient and disciplined. Only outstanding men, whose character and particular talents could be well utilized, were admitted to the Society.

The Jesuits thought of themselves as the soldiers of Christ and were organized in a military manner. The order took a vow of complete obedience to the Pope and a "ranking system" was laid out with a General at the pinnacle. Beneath the General were various other levels. The process of becoming a Jesuit took between 13 and 15 years and involved eight separate steps.

Despite initial setbacks, the Society of Jesus rapidly enjoyed remarkable success in its role as a teaching and missionary order. An example of the order's missionary efforts was its work in Wendake.

A steady number of priests kept arriving at the Wendat missions. This indicated that once it had been decided that Sainte-Marie would operate as a mission headquarters, efforts were made to ensure a constant supply of manpower. It was necessary to have as many priests as possible, to ensure that newcomers could be properly trained under the direction of more experienced priests. Some of the priests found life in New France more difficult than others, but all of them without exception served God to the best of their ability.

Lay Brothers
Not all who joined the Society of Jesus wished to take the final vows of a priest. Some desired to serve God in a different capacity and took vows as Lay Brothers.

Each of the five Lay Brothers at Sainte-Marie was a skilled craftsman and devoted Catholic.

The Donnés were a very special group of men at Sainte-Marie. They signed a contract with the Jesuits to give their time and talents to helping the priests with their missionary work.

The vows taken by the Donnés committed them to hardship, danger and years of toil that they undertook cheerfully. Some of these men had skills such as carpentry or smithing, while others had no specific skill to give. But, whether ordinary labourers or highly skilled craftsmen, they all gave unceasingly to the best of their abilities.

Not all the men at Sainte-Marie took vows. Some simply wished to be part of the great happenings in Wendake. The Jesuits hired men to help with building the wilderness mission of Sainte-Marie. Often these men would take the vows of a Donné after a year or two of working at the mission.

Soldiers sometimes accompanied the flotillas of canoes making the 1,250 kilometres journey from Québec. They spent the winter in Wendake, returning to Québec the following spring.

The Jesuit Fathers worried at first that the soldiers' conduct might set a bad example for the Wendat but good behaviour soon set these fears to rest.

Friday, September 25, 2009

40 Days for Life in Ottawa - Inauguration of St. Paul's University's New Rector

Many different projects characterize the life of God's people in Ottawa. One of those that is an extraordinary witness to Christians embracing a culture of life is witnessing to life publicly, outside most people's comfort zone.

One such occasion is the semi-annual "40 Days for Life" that we held in Ottawa earlier this year during Lent.

This fall Ottawa is holding another forty days of fasting, prayer and witnessing in an effort to reduce and eventually eliminate abortion. This will also be the case in other cities in Canada, the USA and, for the first time this year, in Denmark.

Because of other commitments I was not able to attend the launch of the "40 Days" (a biblically-rooted period for devotional practices) on Parliament Hill, with prayers led by Bruce Clemenger, head of the Evangelical Christian Fellowship of Canada, and other religious and lay leaders earlier this week. On October 13 at 7PM in St. Patrick's Basilica, I will celebrate Mass to mark the approximate mid-point of the "40 Days".

Yesterday afternoon, I took advantage of the bright sunny weather to walk over to the witness being held opposite the abortion facility on Bank Street, to pray with those silently praying there and to thank them for their witness to the sacredness of life in the womb.

At midday today, I will be presiding at the Inauguration of the Rector of St. Paul's University, Madame Chantal Beauvais.

This will take place during the Mass of the Holy Spirit, asking God's blessings on all the academic research, teaching and learning of this year and particularly on the new leadership Dr. Beauvais represents.

After the entrance procession of the Mass, she will make her profession of faith and oath of fidelity, which will be followed by the Gloria and the Opening Prayers and Liturgy of the Word. All will be filmed for broadcast on Radio-Canada's "Jour du Seigneur" this coming Sunday.

Before the final blessing the new Rector will address the assembly briefly.

Here is the homily for today's Mass

Université Saint-Paul - Messe pour le lancement de l’année académique
L’installation de Chantal Beauvais, rectrice - Le 15 septembre 2009

[Aggée 2,1-9; [Psaume 42 (43)]; Luc 9,18-22]

Chers frères et sœurs dans le Christ,

Les écrits du prophète Aggée n’apparaissent jamais dans les lectures du dimanche et la présence de ses écrits dans le lectionnaire de la semaine se limite aux lectures d’hier et d’aujourd’hui. Donc, on lit les écrits de ce prophète seulement tous les deux ans. Assez curieusement, surtout pour un prophète que l’on cite rarement, il y a une statue de celui-ci dans la cathédrale d’Ottawa.

C’est peut-être parce que son exhortation à rebâtir le temple de Jérusalem dans toute sa splendeur a trouvé un écho dans les rêves de nos aïeux qui ont construit une cathédrale magnifique, un joyau pour les générations futures.

On retrouve plusieurs oracles dans les écrits du prophète, dont celui d’aujourd’hui qui est au cœur de cette lecture. Ce texte convient particulièrement bien, puisqu’on se trouve aujourd’hui au seuil d’une ère nouvelle de l’histoire de l’Université Saint-Paul, avec l’inauguration du mandat de la nouvelle rectrice.

Haggai’s message is two-fold, telling of God’s initiative and issuing a challenge to collaborate in ushering in an era that will be marked with peace:

« Courage, tout le peuple du pays! Au travail! Je suis avec vous…mon esprit se tient au milieu de vous : ne craignez pas! …je vous ferai don de la paix.»
Comme pour tous ceux et celles qui ont entendu le message du prophète Aggée à l’époque, quel défi et quel idéal réconfortants sont placés devant nous!

Par contre, l’annonce de la reconstruction du temple avait alors suscité, chez certaines personnes, de la critique et de l’insatisfaction, réaction bien humaine face à une nouvelle tâche. Mais Aggée savait bien qu’il était possible de reformuler des symboles anciens pour leur donner un jour nouveau, comme c’est le cas ici aujourd’hui.

The prophet Haggai’s word was a challenge to the present, for the sake of the future, based on God’s fidelity in the past.

This prophetic word also speaks to the challenges faced by every Catholic University which strives to live out its mission ex Corde Ecclesiae (from the heart of the Church) to bring Sapientia cristiana (“Christian wisdom”) to the church of our day.

Le 29 avril 1979, le pape Jean-Paul II décrétait toute une série de normes pour les facultés ecclésiastiques des universités catholiques, comme pour nos facultés de théologie et de droit canonique, et les énonçait dans les termes suivants :

« cultiver et promouvoir, grâce à la recherche scientifique, les disciplines qui leur sont propres, et avant tout approfondir la connaissance de la Révélation chrétienne et des disciplines qui lui sont connexes ; dégager de façon systématique les vérités qu’elle contient ; considérer à sa lumière les questions nouvelles qui surgissent au cours du temps ; les présenter d’une manière adaptée aux hommes d’aujourd’hui dans les diverses cultures» (Sapientia cristiana, Normes générales, Article 3.1).

On August 15, 1990, Pope John Paul’s attention was turned to Catholic universities in general, represented by our faculties of philosophy and human sciences, to describe their role in the church in the following terms:

“the tasks of a Catholic University assume an ever greater importance and urgency. Scientific and technological discoveries create an enormous economic and industrial growth, but they also inescapably require the correspondingly necessary search for meaning in order to guarantee that the new discoveries be used for the authentic good of individuals and of human society as a whole…”.

Indeed, “the Christian inspiration of a Catholic University “enables it to include the moral, spiritual and religious dimension in its research and to evaluate the attainments of science and technology in the perspective of the totality of the human person” (Introduction, #7).

The gospel today reminds us that we are to see everything through the prism of the paschal mystery, the death and resurrection of Jesus. We are not told, as we are in the gospels of Matthew and Mark, that this incident took place at Caesarea Philippi but rather that the context was Jesus at prayer. Nor are we told that Peter objected to Jesus’ prophecy.

Luke knows that the full import of the sufferings to come for the disciples are hidden from them by God. Later will come the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, in the context of the “breaking of the bread”.

Pierre s’oppose aux souffrances de Jésus annoncées à la dernière Cène. Et Jésus réconforte Pierre et les disciples en leur disant qu’il a prié pour eux et en leur promettant qu’il les réunira sous le leadership de Pierre.

Plus tard, Jésus s’est montré aux disciples d’Emmaüs qui étaient abattus. Il réchauffe leur cœur sur la route et il leur révèle sa présence en rompant le pain. C’est bien ce mystère que nous célébrons ici, aujourd’hui à cet autel, à la table eucharistique.

Prions les uns pour les autres. Demandons au Seigneur d’accompagner la nouvelle rectrice dans son leadership et de nous garder toujours unis par la joie et l’espérance, comme nous le sommes ici aujourd’hui, peu importe les défis qui se présenteront.

* * * * * *

Remarks of Dr. Chantal Beauvais prepared for delivery at the close of the Liturgy: (N. B. the translation into English of parts of this address were not yet available to me when this blog entry was being prepared):

Votre Grâce, distingué-es invité-es, Amis oblats, Membres de la communauté universitaire,

Tout d’abord, je veux dire combien la célébration d’aujourd’hui m’a émue et exprimer ma gratitude envers tant de générosité et de bonté. La beauté de la musique et des chants, les textes bibliques qui nous ont été présentés, l’homélie de notre Chancelier : tout cela renvoie à la mission que l’Église me confie en tant que rectrice de l’Université Saint-Paul. C’est avec une très grande disponibilité intérieure que j’accepte de rendre ce service, sachant que l’Esprit précède tous ceux et celles que le Seigneur envoie en mission.

« À l’Université Saint-Paul : j’ai trouvé mon avenir! »
Voilà des paroles que vous entendrez si vous avez l’occasion de voir les
messages diffusés à la télévision ces-jours ci. J’aime bien cet énoncé car il évoque pour moi le sens profond de mon expérience à l’Université Saint-Paul.

Depuis mon enfance, j’ai toujours voulu que ma vie ait un sens, et j’ai plus tard compris que la participation à la construction du Royaume de Dieu m’apporterait ce sens. Je veux remercier mes parents de m’avoir accompagnée, chacun à sa façon, dans cet apprentissage de ma mission. Je me permets également de remercier 2 personnes qui sont pour moi des témoins extraordinaires de l’authentiquement humain et du Royaume de Dieu et qui ont eu un profond impact dans ma vie. : S. Solange Gauthier, sco et P. Jacques Gervais, omi, qui m’ont appris à faire confiance à l’appel que je porte en moi, un appel qui ne cesse de m’étonner par ses multiples expressions.

« J’ai trouvé mon avenir » : cette parole ne témoigne-t-elle pas par ailleurs de notre engagement à tous et à toutes comme membres d’une université catholique? En effet, nos étudiants et étudiantes sont animés par une profonde quête de sens. Ils veulent laisser une marque durable dans notre société, ils veulent vivre en cohérence avec leurs valeurs. À ceux-là, il est une promesse : ils trouveront à l’Université Saint-Paul un lieu qui leur permettra de se mesurer aux questions les plus porteuses de sens, d’acquérir un savoir qui se décline en savoir-être et des professeurs hautement qualifiés pour les accompagner dans leur quête de vérité.

Conséquemment, ils trouveront chez-nous ce qu’ils devront être pour finalement être eux—mêmes. Indeed, one utmost principle of Catholic education is that education does not only concern the mind, but rather the whole person.

« J’ai trouvé mon avenir » illustre aussi notre cheminement institutionnel à travers les temps où sans cesse nous portons l’interrogation de notre avenir. L’avenir est un concept paradoxal en ce qu’il peut aussi bien provoquer l’anxiété, par rapport à ce qui pourrait ne pas être, que l’espoir, par rapport à ce qui pourrait être sans qu’on en soit sûr.

On ne peut apprivoiser l’avenir que si on apprend à faire confiance à sa plus profonde aspiration intérieure qui n’est finalement qu’un appel à devenir de plus en plus soi-même.

Il est certes vrai que la question de notre avenir comme institution catholique est préoccupante en ces temps marqués par l’abandon des méta-récits et des institutions en faveur du métissage culturel et religieux et de l’autonomie du sujet. Plusieurs signes indiquent que nous traversons un moment critique de notre développement. Sans faire une analyse exhaustive de tous les changements survenus depuis la création de l’Université Saint-Paul, notons que la société est entrée de plein fouet dans le paradigme de la postmodernité : ce qui signifie, entre autres, la méfiance à l’égard des métarécits, la désaffection des institutions. Les grandes institutions sociales, politiques et religieuses cherchent encore à trouver leur équilibre face à ce changement majeur.

Pour ces institutions, il s’agit d’une tâche difficile puisqu’il faut non seulement s’adapter, c’est-à-dire trouver des accommodements à l’intérieur de ce nouveau paradigme, mais aussi se réinventer. La question qui se pose alors à l’Université Saint-Paul, comme pour faire écho à celle que Jésus posait à ses disciples, est : qu’avons-nous à être aujourd’hui? Nous le savons car nous avons commencé à l’être.

Notre avenir se dessine déjà dans ce que nous sommes car l’évolution ne signifie pas une rupture complète avec le passé. Qu’on me permette ici d’évoquer une expérience personnelle.

L’autre jour, je marchais dans un sentier forestier assez bien balisé, mais il arrivait par moment que le sentier n’était pas tracé de manière claire au point où je doutais de la sureté de mes pas : je regardais en arrière pour voir si je n’avais pas manqué une balise … je prenais le temps d’observer mon environnement … puis je marchais en faisant confiance au chemin qui avait porté mes pas jusque là. Il suffisait de faire quelques pas de plus pour que le sentier se présente avec évidence. Le chemin n’est pas toujours tracé; c’est en marchant qu’on perçoit les pas qu’il faut faire. C’est la confiance en nos moyens, dont nos accomplissements passés sont la preuve, et l’espérance d’arriver au but qui nous fait oser des pas.

Quelle route mène vers notre avenir?
Nous avons raison de nous appuyer sur nos moyens car nous déployons une richesse incroyable au sein de notre société. Par nos programmes et par la diffusion de la recherche menée par nos professeurs, par l’esprit de service qui anime tous nos employés, l’Université Saint-Paul contribue à former des hommes et des femmes qui, par la démonstration de leur savoir, leur savoir-faire et leur savoir-être, sont capables de nourrir la vie communautaire (humaine et ecclésiale) partout où ils œuvrent.

Nous ne devrions pas être surpris de ce charisme propre à l’Université Saint-Paul puisqu’il nous est offert en héritage par les Oblats de Marie-Immaculée, eux qui se sont laissé habiter par un rêve et qui l’ont édifié, une pierre à la fois. En effet, nous ne sommes pas livrés à nous-mêmes dans la quête de notre avenir : les pas qu’ont tracés nos prédécesseurs nous ont conduits jusqu’à ce que nous sommes. Le charisme Oblat est agissant dans tout ce que nous sommes devenus et le sera dans tout ce que nous sommes appelés à devenir.

Comme leur fondateur, Mgr de Mazenod, les Oblats sont des hommes d’action et d’audace: ils ne craignent pas de se retrousser les manches pour répondre aux besoins du moment, là où ils se trouvent. Ce sont aussi des habilitateurs (« empowerers ») : non seulement ils bâtissent des institutions, mais ils suscitent et accompagnent des leaders qui pourront en assurer le développement. Voilà donc un trait essentiel de l’Université Saint-Paul: la vision missionnaire. Le nom que les Oblats ont choisi pour nous, Université Saint-Paul, rappelle celui de l’Apôtre qui a joué un rôle inestimable dans le rayonnement universel du message chrétien.

Notre université est missionnaire : elle est composée d’hommes et des femmes qui s’associent à l’effort d’évangélisation au sein d’un contexte social pluriel marqué par de graves problèmes sociétaux, qui misent sur les forces en place, et qui ont un souci pour les personnes marginalisées. C’est dans ce contexte résolument missionnaire que la dimension catholique de l’Université Saint-Paul trouve ses racines et sa pertinence pour aujourd’hui car —et j’évoquerai ici le Cardinal Poupard—, « il n’y a pas d’évangélisation possible sans humanisation ». Ainsi, tous les programmes offerts par l’Université (et tous ceux que nous offrirons à l’avenir), portent la marque du charisme oblat et appellent notre monde à une humanité plus grande.

« La grâce ne détruit pas la nature, mais la présuppose et la parfait ». Cette conviction nous est donnée en héritage par le Moyen âge chrétien où, pour la première fois, la cohabitation non conflictuelle de la foi et de la raison a été pleinement articulée. Il y a une force inouïe dans la conviction qui anime les penseurs chrétiens : nous croyons dans la mesure où l’objet de notre foi soutient et nourrit notre quête d’intelligence. Pour les croyants et croyantes, il n’y a pas deux vérités, mais une seule qu’on approche de façon différente. Toutes les disciplines contribuent à la constitution d’une perspective vraie sur le monde. Cette quête de vérité est une valeur en soi.

Pour les croyants et croyantes, le message chrétien est une perspective sur le vrai qui peut nourrir toute quête authentiquement humaine. Il incombe d’une manière particulière à la théologie d’articuler ce lien entre foi et raison dans le monde d’aujourd’hui. Je souhaite de tout cœur que l’Université Saint-Paul représente de plus en plus un acteur incontournable dans l’édification d’une théologie à l’heure de la postmodernité et de la mondialisation.

J’ai la ferme conviction que le christianisme constitue une richesse pour le monde et que les Universités catholiques sont, chacune à sa manière, appelées à participer au défi de la civilisation des cultures. C’est le cœur rempli d’espérance que je nous vois participer à l’avènement de notre avenir ; compte tenu d’une riche tradition qui nous guidera vers l’innovation.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Blessed Emilie Tavernier-Gamelin - Pastoral Visitation Photos (L'Orignal and St. Eugene, September 17-18, 2009)

Today, the Church in Canada celebrates Blessed Emilie Tavernier-Gamelin, foundress of the Sisters of Providence of Montreal.

Beatified in Rome by Pope John Paul II on October 7, 2001, Emilie was the 14th child of Antoine and Josephite Tavernier. Her affinity and compassion for the poor was evident from the time she was three.

At first, Emilie's life seems nothing but a progression of sorrows, yet from her sorrow sprang the joy that comes from living a life in which her compassion for the poor was matched by her work on their behalf.

Her mother died when she was only four, and an aunt raised her. In the years that followed she also lost her father and a sister. At 18 she took charge of her widowed brother's household, using one of the rooms in the home as a dining room for the poor.

Under the disapproving eyes of her friends who frowned on the differences in their ages, Emilie married John Baptiste Gamelin when she was 23, he 50. A prominent, wealthy member of Montreal society, he supported her charitable works so she was able to spend her spare time and resources reaching out to the poor. The couple had three sons, but only one survived infancy. In 1827, Emilie lost not only her beloved husband but her last child as well.

Overcome with grief, she immersed herself even more in her charitable endeavors, particularly the work of Montreal's Ladies of Charity. Soon her heart was taken with the plight of abandoned and neglected elderly women. Selling some of her property, she used the proceeds to purchase a residence for some of these women. Her first guest was 102 years old. She went on to fill the house with 15 others.

Despite criticism of friends who questioned the value of such a young attractive woman devoting herself to this type of work, she purchased two other houses giving her the ability to quarter up to 30 women. She alone carried the burden of all expenses incurred and when her resources were depleted she relied heavily and totally on the help of our provident God. Time after time, that trust was rewarded. Whenever she prayed for Divine intervention, whatever she needed soon came her way.

In time she was able to purchase a large building known as the Yellow House. This house was so roomy the elderly guests were able to work on projects that brought in revenue to help with expenses.

In 1833, when an epidemic of cholera ravaged Montreal, Emilie began visiting the sick and dying in their homes. Her work with orphans began when she brought six children whose parents succumbed from the sickness to live with the elderly guests at the Yellow House.

Though they initially questioned the wisdom of her work, many of her wealthy friends were won over by her example and stepped forward to help ease the financial burdens. Her work made her a familiar and welcome figure in all of Montreal.

Following the political insurrection of 1837, she gained easy access to the city's prisoners facing death or deportation. Every day "The Angel of the Prisons," as she was called, brought the prisoners food and messages and gifts from their loved ones. One of her most difficult tasks was assisting at the farewells between the condemned and their families.

Beginning with her care of Dodais, a mentally afflicted child befriended by her husband, Emilie also put great energy into the care of the mentally ill. Her strong interest in this population resulted in the establishment of many institutions to care for them.

As Emilie's works mushroomed, the Montreal Bishop saw the long-term need for a community of Sisters, rather than volunteer lay women, to carry on Emilie's work. When his efforts to interest an established community of Sisters failed, the bishop decided to establish a religious community of his own.

Seven women already working with Emilie formed the nucleus and on March 25, 1843, they became novices of the new community, named the Sisters of Providence. When one of that number returned to her home, Emilie received the Bishop's permission to take her place. A year later, these very first Sisters of Providence pronounced their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and Emilie became their first Superior.

Less than ten years later, on September 23, 1851, Emilie woke one of her Sisters with the news that she had contracted the most recent outbreak of cholera and was going to die. Her last words were to urge her Sisters to practice the virtues of "humility . . . simplicity . . . char " She lapsed in unconsciousness before completing her last word and died soon after. She was only 51.

* * * * * *

The parish visitation in 2009-2010 has different resources: in addition to the breviary there's the cell phone (not a Blackberry so as not to play into potentially addictive tendencies)....

...but who can do without checking in on emails for messages from back at the office?


The story of L'Orignal (French for "moose") which abounded in the early 1800's...

Left: the parish church of Saint Jean-Baptiste, established in 1836, earliest francophone congregation in what is now the Archdiocese of Ottawa....

School assembly at Ecole Saint Jean-Baptiste for Grades 3-6....

A visit to the second grade students, who learned about the mitre and the bishop's pastoral staff...

A Mass for the residents of Champlain Nursing in L'Orignal was followed by a meeting with staff of the home in the foyer....

An evening gathering of representatives from the six parishes guided by Abbe Gilles Marcil, at the Salle des Chevaliers de Colomb in L'Orignal, led to lots of conversation, some of it heated, afterwards....

After an overnight stay at the rectory in VanKleek Hill,

The students from the parishes of Saint Joachim in Chute-a-Blondeau, Sainte Anne in Sainte-Anne-de-Prescott and Saint Eugene all attend Ecole Cure-Labrosse (a priest who served 55 years in the village, first as curate, then as pastor) in St. Eugene, ON.

Mass was a bit late as a sudden cloud burst made it impossible to leave for the church. So I spent some time explaining episcopal paraphernalia to the grade 5 and 6students.

Then, we celebrated Mass and afterwards visited the faculty and students during recess (Abbe Gilles and I are seen chatting with the principal on the soccer pitch, then I tried a few shots to the net in ball-hockey, though the cassock impedes movement a good bit!)