Friday, June 25, 2010

G8 in Huntsville, Recalling Australia PM's WYD2008 Welcome - Our Lady of Perpetual Help Devotions at St. Patrick's Basilica

As the world prepared to focus on Canada's hosting of the G8 in Huntsville, Muskoka today and tomorrow and the G20 in Toronto on June 27-28, I learned of the news of the change in leadership in Australia and the replacement of Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister. This recalled to my mind the striking welcome to the World Youth Day pilgrims on July 15, 2008, one which, despite our secular era, affirmed the positive contribution of the Catholic Church.

Here's the text he gave a little less than two years ago:

The Honourable Kevin Rudd - World Youth Day Address:

I begin by honouring the first Australians on whose land we meet and whose great cultures we celebrate as among the oldest in human history.

Australia welcomes the youth of the world to Sydney. Australia welcomes the youth of the world to this celebration of faith and this celebration of life.

And as Prime Minister of Australia I welcome you from every land, every path, every continent on this, our planet.

[The Prime Minister welcomes pilgrims to Australia in various languages.]

And Australians. And Australians, g’day and have a great time down under.

You are here for this great celebration of life, this great celebration of faith and this great celebration of hope. And for this you are so much the light of the world at a time when the world has so much darkness.

Too often in the history of the world when young people travelled in great numbers to other parts of the world, they do so in the cause of war. But you here today are here as pilgrims of peace.

Some say there is no place for faith in the 21st Century. I say they are wrong. Some say that faith is the enemy of reason, I say, also they are wrong.

Because faith and reason are great partners in our human history and in our human future. Rich in humanity, rich in scientific progress.

Some say only that which they see wrong in Christianity and in the church, I say let us speak also about what is right in Christianity and the church.

It was the church that began first schools for the poor. It was the church that began first hospitals for the poor. It was the church that began first refuges for the poor and these great traditions continue for the future. And I say this, that Christianity has been an overwhelming force for good in the world.

Australia is a land of great freedom, a land of many cultures, a land of many faiths. But also a land deeply shaped by and proud of this nation’s Christian heritage and future. And within that great Christian heritage, we honour deeply the great catholic heritage of Australia as well.

Deep in its tradition, rich in its history, vital in its future. You come here as young pilgrims of the world. I say to you as I conclude, as Prime Minister of Australia, you are welcome guests in our land. May each of you be enriched by your time here among us in Australia just as you enrich Australia by your time here with us. Welcome to Australia.

* * * * * *


On Wednesday afternoon, as people were still coping with the experience of the Ottawa earthquake (5.0 on the Richter scale), I presided at the annual observance of the Perpetual Help devotion, celebrated in recent years at St. Patrick's Basilica.

Here is the homily delivered on the occasion, interspersed with photos take by Father Larry McCormick in the Scavi after Mass (I have not yet down-loaded my pix from the occasion):

72nd YEAR OF NOVENA DEVOTIONS TO OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP - Wednesday June 23, 2010 – 12th Wednesday in Ordinary Time - St. Patrick’s Basilica, Ottawa, Ontario, [Texts: 2 Kings 22. 8-13; 23. 1-3; Psalm 119; Matthew 7. 15-20]


The Scripture readings offer abundant nourishment. The high priest discovers the book of the Law. In turn, the King realizes that their fathers had not obeyed its prescriptions. He is determined to correct this. In a solemn ceremony, he and the people make a covenant before the Lord to follow His commands.

The book of the Law found is the book of Deuteronomy; its message: God loves, God waits to be loved, and God invites us to love Him. What moved the King deeply is that even if we forget God, He never forgets us.

How could this apply today? Maybe at one time or another in our lives, we felt we had “lost the Word of God”, and at other times, that we had “found it” again. Also, a known text can take a new meaning, touch us deeply, and even provoke a conversion.

And as in this historical event, no one ever converts to God alone. The high priest found the book – he had it read to the king – the king and all the people made a covenant. The Word of God passes from one hand to the other, goes from mouth to ear. God needs men and women to transmit the Good News! In other words, to bear fruit!

In the gospel, we hear a familiar phrase: “You will know them by their fruits.” For Matthew, the image of fruit as applied to the condition of man is important. It indicates the concrete behaviour of a person. It allows us to discern, or recognize (same verb in Greek) the authenticity of the activity of prophets.

Jesus is a realist. He reminds his disciples that the true value of a person is discovered through their deeds. Docility to the Spirit, humility, is one of the fruits by which a genuine prophet is recognized.

Actions, words, have authentic value when they are the expression of an inner faithfulness to God. As disciple of Christ, our most trustworthy model is Mary. With very few words, we know of her total dedication to God: “Fiat” – “Magnificat” – “Do as Jesus tells you”. Also, she stood at the Cross, and waited with the Apostles for the coming of the Spirit. These are fruits from the heart of Mary. She put into practice and lived personally the commitment made by her people centuries before.

To his disciples and to us today, Jesus warns also of possible falseness. Because they can easily deceive others, those who put on a show of virtue or religion are more dangerous than those who are evil outright.

The richness of our faith is such that even when emphasizing one aspect, the whole revelation is present. In celebrating Our Lady of Perpetual Help, we are aware that other devotions exist. Devotions also aimed at helping the faithful to live to the fullest the call of baptism: to become saints.

Gardeners know that a good tree will produce fruit given the appropriate time: patience is of the essence. No fruit can be “pulled” into existence. And that is also the beauty of God’s providential care for his creatures.

In contemplating the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, we are struck to see Mary looking straight at you. Her arms hold Jesus who seems to have fled from a frightening situation or vision. Mary holds Jesus, for Jesus is central to the faith. Just as He ran to his mother and found refuge, we may also run to Mary. Her hands remain open. She offers the same comfort, the same love she gave Jesus.

Help is given freely by God to men and women, to compensate for the inadequacy of natural powers; it is the object of the prayer of request of believers. Our Lady of Perpetual Help is ever ready to obtain for us and offer this loving assistance.


  1. Those were gratifying comments by the former PM of Australia; I'm not sure if I've ever heard a political leader openly support the church or recognize its value and importance.

  2. There ought to be a canon instituted soon that all homilies will NOT be more than 7 minutes.That or earphones for everyone so that channel choices are available