Friday, April 30, 2010

St. Pius V - What Future for Vox Clara?

Pope St. Pius V by El Greco

Today the Church allows for an optional memorial of Pope St. Pius V (served 1566-1572) and one of the foremost leaders of the Catholic Reformation; he was also the pope responsible for the Roman Missal used, with some modifications notably by Pope Pius XII until Vatican Council II.

Born Antonio Ghislieri in Bosco, Italy, to a poor family, he labored as a shepherd until the age of fourteen and then joined the Dominicans, being ordained in 1528. Called Brother Michele, he studied at Bologna and Genoa, and then taught theology and philosophy for sixteen years before holding the posts of master of novices and prior for several Dominican houses.

Named inquisitor for Como and Bergamo, he was so capable in the fulfillment of his office that by 1551, and at the urging of the powerful Cardinal Carafa, he was named by Pope Julius III commissary general of the Inquisition. In 1555, Carafa was elected Pope Paul IV and was responsible for Ghislieri’s swift rise as a bishop of Nepi and Sutri in 1556, cardinal in 1557, and grand inquisitor in 1558.

While out of favor for a time under Pope Pius IV who disliked his reputation for excessive zeal, Ghislieri was unanimously elected a pope in succession to Pius on January 7, 1566.

As pope, Pius saw his main objective as the continuation of the massive program of reform for the Church, in particular the full implementation of the decrees of the Council of Trent. He published the Roman Catechism, the revised Roman Breviary, and the Roman Missal; he also declared Thomas Aquinas a Doctor of the Church, commanded a new edition of the works of Thomas Aquinas, and created a commission to revise the Vulgate.

The decrees of Trent were published through all Catholic lands, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and the New World, and the pontiff insisted on their strict adherence.

In 1571, Pius created the Congregation of the Index to give strength to the Church’s resistance to Protestant and heretical writings, and he used the Inquisition to prevent any Protestant ideas from gaining a foot hold in Italy.

In dealing with the threat of the Ottoman Turks who were advancing steadily across the Mediterranean, Pius organized a formidable alliance between Venice and Spain, culminating in the Battle of Lepanto, which was a complete and shattering triumph over the Turks. The day of the victory was declared the Feast Day of Our Lady of Victory in recognition of Our Lady’s intercession in answer to the saying of the Rosary all over Catholic Europe.

Pius also spurred the reforms of the Church by example. He insisted upon wearing his coarse Dominican robes, even beneath the magnificent vestments worn by the popes, and was wholeheartedly devoted to the religious life.

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What Next for Vox Clara?

During the recent meeting of the Vox Clara Committee, which brought an end the work of translating the Roman Missal (third typical edition) into English, Cardinal Canizares indicated his wish to continue Vox Clara as a group of bishops who would serve as consultors to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDW) and Cardinal Pell indicated his willingness to stay on as Chairman. However, there is as yet no clarity on the membership or the tasks. Below is the Press Release, not including the Holy Father's address which was included in full in it.

Vox Clara Committee members, advisors and the personnel of the CDW with Pope Benedict XVI (missing: Cardinal Justin Rigali) on April 28, 2010

The Vox Clara Committee met at the Pontifical North American College in Rome from April 28-29, 2010. This was the nineteenth meeting of this Committee of senior Bishops from Episcopal Conferences throughout the English-speaking world. The Vox Clara Committee was formed by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on July 19, 2001 in order to provide advice to the Holy See concerning English-language liturgical books and to strengthen effective cooperation with the Conferences of Bishops in this regard.

The Vox Clara Committee is chaired by Cardinal George Pell, Sydney (Australia). The participants in the meeting were Archbishop Oscar Lipscomb, Emeritus Mobile (USA), who serves as First Vice-Chairman; Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, Emeritus Westminster (England), who serves as Secretary, Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I., Chicago (USA), Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Bombay (India), who serves as Second Vice-Chairman; Archbishop Alfred Hughes, Emeritus New Orleans (USA); Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J., Ottawa (Canada); Archbishop Peter Kwasi Sarpong, Emeritus Kumasi (Ghana); Archbishop Kelvin Felix, Emeritus Castries (Saint Lucia), and Bishop Philip Boyce, O.C.D., Raphoe (Ireland). Cardinal Justin Rigali, Philadelphia (USA), who serves as Treasurer, is also a member of the Committee, but was not present for the meeting.

The members were assisted in their work by the following advisors: Reverend Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B. (USA), Reverend Dennis McManus (USA), Monsignor Gerard McKay, Abbot Cuthbert Johnson, O.S.B. (England), and Monsignor James P. Moroney (USA), Executive Secretary. The customary assistance of officials of the Congregation, led by Reverend Anthony Ward, S.M., Undersecretary, was also appreciated.

The meeting opened with the happy announcement that the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments had completed its work of reviewing the English language edition of the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia. Following careful consideration of the advice provided over the past eight years by the members of the Vox Clara Committee, a final text was arrived at by the Congregation, confirmed by a decree dated 25 March, 2010 (Prot. 269/10/L) and signed by Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, Prefect, and Archbishop J. Augustine DiNoia, O.P., Secretary to the Congregation.

The Committee celebrated the occasion by hosting a luncheon with His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, on the first day of the meeting. On this happy occasion, the Holy Father addressed the group.

The second day of the meeting was spent in a study of issues which had emerged in the course of the development of the confirmed text of the Roman Missal, including a review of efforts to assure internal consistency in the translation of deprecatory language and other specialized terms, the poetic and musical dimensions of the text, and its suitability for proclamation. An extended review of various programs developed throughout the English speaking world for the effective implementation of the new translation was also undertaken.

At its closing session, commemorative medals were presented by the Cardinal Prefect on behalf of the Holy See to each of the members and advisors of the Committee. He expressed the thanks of the Congregation for the work of the members and advisors over the past nine years.

Cardinal Cañizares also announced the intention of the Congregation to continue the work of the Vox Clara Committee in advising the Holy See on matters pertaining to the English language translation of liturgical books. The Prefect also expressed his gratitude to Cardinal George Pell, chairman of the Committee, for his willingness to continue as Chairman of the Committee.

Vox Clara members examine their own copy of the English Roman Missal given them by Cardinal Canizares

On behalf of the members and advisors, Cardinal Pell expressed his appreciation for the Prefect’s words and reiterated the gratitude of the Committee to the Cardinal Prefect and his predecessors for their continuing encouragement of the project. He also thanked the Executive Secretary, Monsignor James Moroney, for his outstanding contribution over the many years since the Committee began its work. The Chairman also expressed his gratitude for the participation of other officials and Superiors of the Congregation throughout the years, most especially Father Anthony Ward, S.M., Undersecretary to the Congregation, who has played an indispensable role in facilitating the work of the Vox Clara Committee.

The meeting closed with the Collect “For the Church” from the new Roman Missal:

O God, who in your wonderful providence
decreed that Christ’s Kingdom should be extended throughout the earth
and that all should become partakers of his saving redemption;
grant, we pray, that your Church may be the universal sacrament of salvation,
and that Christ may be revealed to all as the hope of the nations and their Savior. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Salt and Light and Catholic News Service team came to interview me about the new English Roman Missal on the grounds of the North American College

Thursday, April 29, 2010

St. Catherine of Siena, Teacher of the Church

The Church remembers today a remarkable woman Saint Catherine of Siena the Dominican (1347-1380)

Catherine of Siena was one of the greatest women that ever lived. When she was a little girl, our dear Lord appeared to her. "Please give me your heart," he asked. She gave it willingly. Jesus gave her His Sacred Heart in return. Many rich young men wanted to marry this beautiful girl. Instead, she became a Dominican sister.

In those days, the Pope did not live in Rome. He had moved to France. Catherine went to see him. "Holy Father," she said, "your place is in Rome. Come home to your people." The Pope obeyed this simple little nun. Many of the princes were furious. They did not want the Pope in Rome. So they tried to elect a false Pope. Catherine, without fear, told them this was wrong. They were afraid of her. They listened and obeyed.

The Pope knew she was very wise, and often asked for her advice. She always told him just what Jesus wanted and what would please God. Although she was only thirty-three when she died, the whole world knew this saintly girl. They loved this brave woman. Her Feast is April 29th. --from Daniel A. Lord, S.J., Miniature Stories of the Saints


The 25th child of a wool dyer in northern Italy, St. Catherine started having mystical experiences when she was only 6, seeing guardian angels as clearly as the people they protected. She became a Dominican tertiary when she was 16, and continued to have visions of Christ, Mary, and the saints.

St. Catherine was one of the most brilliant theological minds of her day, although she never had any formal education. She persuaded the Pope to go back to Rome from Avignon, in 1377, and when she died she was endeavoring to heal the Great Western Schism.

In 1375 Our Lord give her the Stigmata, which was visible only after her death. Her spiritual director was Blessed Raymond of Capua. St. Catherine's letters, and a treatise called "a dialogue" are considered among the most brilliant writings in the history of the Catholic Church. She died when she was only 33, and her body was found incorrupt in 1430.

St. Catherine is also one of three women who hold the title Doctor (=teacher) of the Church and is the patron saint of Italy.

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Busy days in TURIN, ROME

The trip to Turin to take part in the showing of the Holy Shroud was a moving experience and a very full day. And very tiring.

So, I am resting today and tomorrow, limiting myself to the Vox Clara sessions and a few calls to Vatican dicasteries on pending business. I plan to write up an account of the travel to the Piedmont capital before returning to Ottawa on Saturday.

Here is a brief report that appeared in Tuesday's chronicle of the Shroud of Turin's exhibition; even the local soccer players have attended:

OGGI I GIOCATORI DELLA JUVENTUS; DOMANI LA METROPOLIA ORTODOSSA ROMENA... Alle 14.15, mescolato tra i pellegrini, ha fatto visita alla Sindone anche l'Arcivescovo di Ottawa mons. Terrence Prendergast, arrivato ieri dal Canada per la presentazione ufficiale al Papa del nuovo messale romano tradotto dal latino in lingua inglese. «È la prima volta che vengo - ha esordito mons. Prendergast - e sono stato molto toccato: la Sindone, immagine della sofferenza, ci fa meditare su quanto grande è l'amore di Dio. Mi ha anche impressionato il motto, quanto mai vero, di questa ostensione "Passio Christi Passio Hominis"».

TODAY, JUVENTUS SOCCER PLAYERS, TOMORROW, THE ROMANIAN ORTHODOX METROPOLITAN ARCHBISHOP'S DELEGATION... At 2:15, mixed in with the pilgrims, was the Archbishop of Ottawa Terrence Prendergast, just arrived from Canada for the official presentation to the Pope of the new Roman Missal translated from Latin into English. "It's my first time here, remarked Msgr. Prendergast, and I feel deeply touched: the Shroud, an image of suffering, makes us reflect on how great God's love is. The motto chosen for this showing of the Shroud, 'The Passion of Christ is the Passion of Man' (Passio Christi, Passio Hominis) has also made a deep impression on me--for it's so true".

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

St. Louis de Montfort - Convivial Luncheon of Pope Benedict XVI with Vox Clara Members

St. Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort (January 31, 1673-April 28, 1716)

Happy Feast Day to all who are inspired by the Marian spirituality of today's saint, particularly two foundations that have long been present in the Archdiocese of Ottawa, the Montfort Fathers and the Filles de la Sagesse (Daughters of Wisdom).

From his childhood, Louis de Montfort was indefatigably devoted to prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, and, when from his twelfth year he was sent as a day pupil to the Jesuit college at Rennes, he never failed to visit the church before and after class. He joined a society of young men who during holidays ministered to the poor and to the incurables in the hospitals, and read for them edifying books during their meals.

At the age of nineteen, he went on foot to Paris to follow the course in theology, gave away on the journey all his money to the poor, exchanged clothing with them, and made a vow to subsist thenceforth only on alms. He was ordained priest at the age of twenty-seven, and for some time fulfilled the duties of chaplain in a hospital.

In 1705, when he was thirty-two, he found his true vocation, and thereafter devoted himself to preaching to the people. During seventeen years he preached the Gospel in countless towns and villages. As an orator he was highly gifted, his language being simple but replete with fire and divine love. His whole life was conspicuous for virtues difficult for modern degeneracy to comprehend: constant prayer, love of the poor, poverty carried to an unheard-of degree, joy in humiliations and persecutions.
The following two instances will illustrate his success. He once gave a mission for the soldiers of the garrison at La Rochelle, and moved by his words, the men wept, and cried aloud for the forgiveness of their sins. In the procession which terminated this mission, an officer walked at the head, barefooted and carrying a banner, and the soldiers, also barefooted, followed, carrying in one hand a crucifix, in the other a rosary, and singing hymns.

Grignion's extraordinary influence was especially apparent in the matter of the calvary at Pontchateau. When he announced his determination of building a monumental calvary on a neighbouring hill, the idea was enthusiastically received by the inhabitants. For fifteen months between two and four hundred peasants worked daily without recompense, and the task had just been completed, when the king commanded that the whole should be demolished, and the land restored to its former condition. The Jansenists had convinced the Governor of Brittany that a fortress capable of affording aid to persons in revolt was being erected, and for several months five hundred peasants, watched by a company of soldiers, were compelled to carry out the work of destruction. Father de Montfort was not disturbed on receiving this humiliating news, exclaiming only: "Blessed be God!"

This was by no means the only trial to which Grignion was subjected. It often happened that the Jansenists, irritated by his success, secure by their intrigues his banishment form the district, in which he was giving a mission. At La Rochelle some wretches put poison into his cup of broth, and, despite the antidote which he swallowed, his health was always impaired. On another occasion, some malefactors hid in a narrow street with the intention of assassinating him, but he had a presentiment of danger and escaped by going by another street.

A year before his death, Father de Montfort founded two congregations -- the Daughters of Wisdom (Filles de la Sagesse), who were to devote themselves to hospital work and the instruction of poor girls, and the Company of Mary (Montfort Fathers), composed of missionaries. He had long cherished these projects but circumstances had hindered their execution, and, humanly speaking, the work appeared to have failed at his death, since these congregations numbered respectively only four sisters and two priests with a few brothers. But the blessed founder, who had on several occasions shown himself possessed of the gift of prophecy, knew that the tree would grow.

At the beginning of the twentieth century the Daughters of Wisdom numbered five thousand, and were spread throughout every country; they possessed forty-four houses, and gave instruction to 60,000 children. After the death of its founder, the Company of Mary was governed for 39 years by Father Mulot. He had at first refused to join de Montfort in his missionary labours. "I cannot become a missionary", said he, "for I have been paralysed on one side for years; I have an infection of the lungs which scarcely allows me to breathe, and am indeed so ill that I have no rest day or night." But the holy man, impelled by a sudden inspiration, replied, "As soon as you begin to preach you will be completely cured." And the event justified the prediction. Grignion de Montfort was beatified by Leo XIII in 1888 and canonized by Pius XII in 1947.

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A Luncheon for Pope Benedict XVI and Members and Staff of Vox Clara

The Casina ("cottage") of Pope Pius IV is a lovely building in the Vatican Gardens that now houses the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Social Sciences, presided over by Archbishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, our host today.

Following our morning session, which was report on the last stages of editing of the English translation of the Roman Missal, we travelled by bus to the Casina and enjoyed the magestic views of St. Peter's, the Vatican Gardens and the nearby Vatican Museums from it.

During our luncheon with the Holy Father, Cardinal Pell, our Chairman at Vox Clara and Cardinal Canizares Llovera, the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments spoke to the occasion. As did the Holy Father in the following words, which stressed the steps ahead now, the preparation of the priests and people to receive positively the new translation:

Dear Cardinals, Dear Brother Bishops and Priests, Members and Consultors of the Vox Clara Committee,

I thank you for the work that Vox Clara has done over the last eight years, assisting and advising the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in fulfilling its responsibilities with regard to the English translations of liturgical texts. This has been a truly collegial enterprise. Not only are all five continents represented in the membership of the Committee, but you have been assiduous in drawing together contributions from Bishops’ Conferences in English-speaking territories all over the world.

I thank you for the great labour you have expended in your study of the translations and in processing the results of the many consultations that have been conducted. I thank the expert assistants for offering the fruits of their scholarship in order to render a service to the universal Church. And I thank the Superiors and Officials of the Congregation for their daily, painstaking work of overseeing the preparation and translation of texts that proclaim the truth of our redemption in Christ, the Incarnate Word of God.

Saint Augustine spoke beautifully of the relation between John the Baptist, the vox clara that resounded on the banks of the Jordan, and the Word that he spoke. A voice, he said, serves to share with the listener the message that is already in the speaker’s heart.

Once the word has been spoken, it is present in the hearts of both, and so the voice, its task having been completed, can fade away (cf. Sermon 293). I welcome the news that the English translation of the Roman Missal will soon be ready for publication, so that the texts you have worked so hard to prepare may be proclaimed in the liturgy that is celebrated across the anglophone world. Through these sacred texts and the actions that accompany them, Christ will be made present and active in the midst of his people. The voice that helped bring these words to birth will have completed its task.

A new task will then present itself, one which falls outside the direct competence of Vox Clara, but which in one way or another will involve all of you – the task of preparing for the reception of the new translation by clergy and lay faithful. Many will find it hard to adjust to unfamiliar texts after nearly forty years of continuous use of the previous translation. The change will need to be introduced with due sensitivity, and the opportunity for catechesis that it presents will need to be firmly grasped.

I pray that in this way any risk of confusion or bewilderment will be averted, and the change will serve instead as a springboard for a renewal and a deepening of Eucharistic devotion all over the English-speaking world.

Dear Brother Bishops, Reverend Fathers, Friends, I want you to know how much I appreciate the great collaborative endeavour to which you have contributed. Soon the fruits of your labours will be made available to English-speaking congregations everywhere.

As the prayers of God’s people rise before him like incense (cf. Psalm 140:2), may the Lord’s blessing come down upon all who have contributed their time and expertise to crafting the texts in which those prayers are expressed. Thank you, and may you be abundantly rewarded for your generous service to God’s people.

The photo shows the Canadian flag at the edge of a photo of Pope Benedict in St. Peter's square.

It is being used to symbolize the contribution of Canada to the luncheon: Ice wines from Ontario served with the dessert at today's luncheon.

In all fairness, I must report that two other English-speaking wine-producing countries represented in the Vox Clara membership also contributed to today's festivities: an Australian white wine with the salad and risotto courses and a red wine from Oregon, USA that accompanied the main meat course.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Travel Report - A Visit to the Ummayad Mosque, Damascus - Blessing of St. Vincent de Paul Store, Ottawa

Travel to Rome overnight Sunday-Monday, via Air Canada to Frankfurt and on Swiss Air via Zurich was uneventful. My first time in Switzerland in over thirty years set me to marvelling at the order and precision that is everywhere and the fluency with which the Swiss handle languages.

Besides the usual high end stores one finds in most airport shopping and duty free areas, there were the Swiss icons: "Swatch" along with other watchmakers, chocolatiers who continue to produce "Swiss chocolate" and, of course, the airline snack was a "Swiss cheese" bun sandwich.

Today, I am going to take the train with one of our Ottawa priests who works for the Holy See in Rome, Msgr. Jose Bettencourt, P.H., on pilgrimage to the Shroud of Turin (and to pray at the tomb of Blessed Piergiorgio Frassati in the Torino cathedral).

Whatever science may disclose about the Holy Shroud's origins, this devotional object reminds us of the depths of degradation that Our Lord suffered before being laid in the tomb.

Still, all Jesus’ suffering out of love was simply a prelude to the consolation that came with Christ’s resurrection: to him personally, henceforth the Lord of life and of history; to his Blessed Mother; to his apostles who had let him down; to the women disciples who had not broken faith; and to the countless little ones whom he had encountered in his ministry and whom he would encounter in the proclamation of the gospel—including through our present day labours at his side.

The remainder of today's post consists of photos of the CNEWA visit on April 11 to the Ummayad Mosque in Damascus (Pope John Paul II visited it during his visit to Syria) and photos of the blessing ceremony last Wednesday of the refurbished St. Vincent de Paul store on Wellington Street West.

The store has a sizeable budget with which it employs forty persons to work in sorting, repairing, arranging goods that are left in the StVdeP boxes near some of our churches in the Archdiocese. It was a delight to meet many of the employees, to pray briefly and to celebrate with early morning refreshments (coffee and sweets):

CNEWA Visit to Ummayad Mosque, Damascus

The Ummayad Mosque, also known as the Grand Mosque of Damascus, is one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world. Located in one of the holiest sites in the old city of Damascus, it is of great architectural importance.

After the Arab conquest of Damascus, the mosque was built on the Christian basilica dedicated to John the Baptist since the time of the Roman emperor Constantine I. The mosque holds a shrine which still today contains the head of John the Baptist (Yahya), honored as a prophet by both Christians and Muslims alike.

In 2001 Pope John Paul II visited the mosque, primarily to visit the relics of John the Baptist. It was the first time a pope paid a visit to a mosque (from Wipidedia).

Being received in the antechamber to the majestic mosque by a representative of the Grand Mufti of Damascus, who was unavoidably absent

A model of the mosque complex

Ceiling decoration inside the entry-way

Carpet pattern

The ceiling arches

The central pulpit

The shrine in honour of John the Baptist

The spacious central courtyard

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The St. Vincent de Paul Store and Its Local Outreach

CTV newscameraman agrees to be part of the photo of record

Enjoying the refreshments

A panoramic view of the newly-blessed St. Vincent de Paul store

Monday, April 26, 2010

Confirmations in Eastertide - Nouveau Serviteur Général et Conseil de la FMJ

Today, I am travelling to Rome for a quick visit this week. So, the blogging is light: some photos from recent celebrations of Confirmation in some of Ottawa's francophone parishes, and a photo of the new leadership team of Famille Marie-Jeunesse.

Confirmations at Paroisse Saint-Viateur, Limoges

Confirmations at Paroisse Saint-Sebastien, Ottawa

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Confirmations at Paroisse Sainte-Marie, Orleans

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Félicitations aux nouveau Serviteur général de la Famille Marie-Jeunesse, Nicholas Favart et son conseil:

De gauche à droite: Annie Laberge - P. Françis Gadoury- P. Nicolas Favart - Maryse Landry

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Good Shepherd Sunday - A Word about St. Mark, the Evangelist

Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year "C") – April 25, 2010 THE CHRISTIAN'S VOCATION IS TO SHARE CHRIST'S VICTORY [Texts: Acts 13:14,43-52 [Psalm 100]; Revelation 7:9,14b-17; John 10:27-30]

Known as Good Shepherd Sunday, since the gospel is always taken from the tenth chapter of St. John, for 47 years now the Fourth Sunday of Easter has been designated by the Church as a day of prayer for religious vocations.

Conversing with God, listening to Jesus, is central to discipleship, to following the Lord. Jesus speaks of this intimate relationship when he notes that, 'My sheep hear my voice, and they follow Me'. The fellowship Jesus shares with His followers leads Him to promise they will not be lost. One day they will share His victory, participating fully in the risen life He now lives with God: 'I give them eternal life, and they will never perish'.

When Jesus says that He and the Father 'are one', He means they have a single purpose. He and the Father are united in the work they do. God gives life, so does Jesus (John 5:21; 10:28). God judges; Jesus also judges (5:22; 9:39).

In the rich period of theological reflection, that lasted from the second to the fourth centuries, Christological and Trinitarian controversies led the Church to conclude from this and similar scriptural passages to Jesus' participation in the godhead.

The seventh chapter of Revelation speaks of those who participate in the conquest of Christ, 'the Lamb'. The palm branches in their hands represent victory. And their triumph is evoked by a vivid mixed metaphor, 'they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb'.

In this chapter of Revelation, the completeness of Christ's achievement is symbolized numerically, using two perfect numbers: 7 and 12 (the first being the sum of, and the latter the multiple of, the positive numbers 3 and 4) and the number 1000 for fullness. Thus the number of the elect of Israel is 144,000 (12 times the 12 tribes, times a thousand), not a literal number but representative of all God's chosen people.

Those saved from the Gentiles are so great in number that they cannot be computed by any human being: 'a great multitude that no one could count from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages'. God's saving designs touch all humanity.

Finally, God's salvation is seven-fold, full and complete: God shelters them with His presence; they will hunger no more; they will not be thirsty; the sun shall not strike them nor any scorching heat; the Lamb will be their shepherd; He will guide them to springs of living water; and God will wipe every tear from their eye.

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The Feast of St. Mark on April 25 is not observed this year because it falls on the Lord's Day. However, Mark's Good News because of its energy and enthusiasm speaks to every age:

St. Mark the Pastor

Just as there is uncertainty about the precise identity of Mark – whether he was in fact the person whom Peter in his letter referred to as his ‘son’, whether he was the John Mark who accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their missionary travels – there is also uncertainty about the purpose and circumstances of this gospel.

But it may well have had its origin in Rome in the time of Nero in his later years (AD 68). We know from the Roman historian Tacitus that the Christians there were under grave threat from the Roman authorities who were blaming them for a great fire that had recently devastated the city.

Many, unjustly accused, paid with their lives. Others denied that they were Christians and apostasised. It was dangerous to be a Christian in those days. Mark was writing for such people. The Jesus whom they professed to follow was one who had willingly walked to Jerusalem, the city of his enemies where he knew he faced death. His disciples had struggled in many ways unsuccessfully to remain faithful to their calling but Jesus, despite their failings, summoned them to meet him again in Galilee.

Thanks to Mark, memories and traditions were repeated of ‘little people’ who had said or done something that in turn instructed and encouraged the ‘little people’ of that small group of Christians in Rome. What Mark wrote has a call on our attention today.

As we read it or listen to his words, we can join ourselves in spirit and imagination with that group of poor Christians in Rome centuries ago. We know that like the seed in Jesus’s parable that was sown in good soil, it can produce a hundred fold (4:20).

As the shortest of the gospels, it might seem as insignificant as the mustard seed described in another parable of Jesus, but it can become a great tree in whose branches we can all find shelter (4:32). We celebrate it every year on April 25.

Cf. the rest of the treatment of Mark by Father Edmonds, S.J. at

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Fifteen Years of Episcopacy

Ottawa, February 2009

Today is the anniversary of my episcopal ordination on the feast of St. Mark, 1995. Some days that moment seems like just yesterday, at other times it feels like a lifetime ago. I give thanks to the Lord for this call to serve in the apostolic succession, first as auxiliary bishop in Toronto (1995-1998), then as archbishop of Halifax (1998-2007) and administrator bishop of Yarmouth (2002-2007) and, since 2007, in this wonderful Church of Ottawa.

Toronto, April 1995

In this decade and a half there have been moments of light and joy as well as experiences of darkness and desolation. They have not been unlike the experiences of the disciples in the Gospel of Mark, which was the subject of my thesis and one of the reasons I chose his feast day for my consecration.

Throughout the Gospel of Mark, the disciples seem to be lacking in insight, uncomprehending, even “hard of heart”. They desert or betray Jesus in his Passion and there seems to be no hope for them.

And yet, Jesus always invites them to “be with him and to be sent out on the mission” of preaching and healing (3:13-15). As well, when they misunderstand, he still urges them to “come” with him (1:38; 14:42) as he leads them through suffering and the “gift of his life as a ransom for many” (10:32-34, 45) and “goes ahead” to Galilee, the place of reconciliation and new beginnings (16:7).

The original gospel likely ended at 16:8, though other interpretations are possible. This means Mark did not conclude his gospel with resurrection encounters, though later traditions supplied them (see the various conclusions to Mark in your New Testament, especially 16:9-20).

But meetings with the Risen Lord—and all that we can imagine took place in them—are the presupposition of the life of faith and of each believer’s call to follow Christ Jesus.

May spiritual renewal and restoration be ours and strengthen us at this time. May it also inspire us clergy to work for the healing of all who in any way have been hurt by priests and bishops and help all to find the spiritual resources we need for ourselves and all God’s people at this time.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen - Anniversary Pope Benedict's Installation 2005 - Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East

Today's liturgy permits an optional memorial in honour of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen (born Mark Rey in Hohenzollern, Germany 1577; murdered April 24, 1622 at Grusch, Grisons, Switzerland).

Lawyer and philosophy teacher. Disgusted by the greed, corruption, and lack of interest in justice by his fellow lawyers, Mark Rey abandoned the law, became a priest, became a Franciscan friar with his brother George, changed his name to Fidelis, and gave away his wordly wealth to poor people in general and poor seminarians in particular.

Fidelis served his friary as guardian, and laboured during epidemics, especially healing soldiers. He led a group of Capuchins to preach to Calvinists and Zwinglians in Switzerland. The success of this work, and lack of violence suffered by mission was attributed to Fidelis spending his nights in prayer. Eventually, however, he was martyred for his preaching.

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Fifth Anniversary of the Inauguration of the Holy Father's Ministry

Five years ago today, Pope Benedict XVI began his Petrine ministry of uniting the brethren despite any personal weakness. His ministry's strength has been in teaching, interpreting the Scriptures and this present moment. A homily he gave (without preparation) to the Pontifical Biblical Commission shows the depths of his thought about our world--worth meditating for its breadth of vision. Let us pray for the Holy Father that he may continue to lead us with God's grace for many years to come:

For Pope Benedict XVI, All Is Grace, Even "The World's Attacks on Our Sins"

[Complete transcription of the homily given by the pope early in the morning of Thursday, April 15, 2010, during a Mass in the Pauline Chapel with the members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. Texts: Acts 5:27-33; John 3:31-36]

Dear brothers and sisters, I couldn't find the time to prepare a true homily. I would simply like to invite each one to personal meditation, presenting and emphasizing a few of the phrases from today's liturgy, which lend themselves to the prayerful dialogue between ourselves and the Word of God. The word, the phrase that I would like to propose for shared meditation is this great statement by Saint Peter: "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). Saint Peter is standing in front of the supreme religious institution, which normally one must obey, but God is above this institution, and God has given another "order": one must obey God. Obedience to God is freedom, obedience to God gives him the freedom to oppose the institution.

And here the exegetes draw our attention to the fact that Saint Peter's reply to the Sanhedrin is almost identical, word for word, to Socrates' response to his sentence in the tribunal of Athens. The tribunal offers him freedom, liberation, but on the condition that he not continue to seek God. But seeking God, the search for God is for him a superior mandate, it comes from God himself. And a freedom purchased with the renunciation of the journey to God would no longer be freedom. So it is not these judges that he must obey - he must not buy his life by losing himself - but he must obey God. Obedience to God has the primacy.

Here it is important to emphasize that this is a matter of obedience, and that it is precisely obedience that gives freedom. The modern age has spoken of the liberation of man, of his full autonomy, and therefore also of liberation from obedience to God. It is said that obedience should no longer exist, man is free, he is autonomous: nothing else. But this autonomy is a lie: it is an ontological lie, because man does not exist on his own and for himself, and it is also a political and practical lie, because collaboration, the sharing of freedom, is necessary. And if God does not exist, if God is not an imperative accessible to man, what remains as the supreme imperative is only the consensus of the majority. As a result, the consensus of the majority becomes the last word, which we must obey. And this consensus - we know this from the history of the last century - can also be a "consensus in evil."

So we see that so-called autonomy does not truly liberate man. Obedience to God is freedom, because it is the truth, it is the imperative that stands before all human imperatives. In the history of humanity, these words of Peter and of Socrates are the true beacon of liberation for man, who is able to see God and, in the name of God, can and must obey not so much men, but Him, and thus free himself from the positivism of human obedience. The dictatorships have always been against this obedience to God. The Nazi dictatorship, like that of Marxism, cannot accept a God who stands above ideological power; and the freedom of the martyrs, who recognize God precisely in obedience to divine power, is always the act of liberation by which the freedom of Christ comes to us.

Today, thank God, we do not live under dictatorships, but there exist subtle forms of dictatorship: a conformism that becomes obligatory, to think the way everyone else thinks, to act the way everyone else acts, and the subtle forms of aggression against the Church, or even the less subtle ones, demonstrate how this conformism can really be a true dictatorship. What matters to us is this: we must obey God rather than men. But that supposes that we truly know God, and that we truly want to obey Him. God is not a pretext for one's own will, but it is really He who calls and invites us, if it is necessary, even to martyrdom. Therefore, confronted by this word that begins a new history of freedom in the world, let us pray above all to know God, to know God humbly and truly, and, knowing God, to learn the true obedience that is the foundation of human freedom.

Let's take a second passage from the first reading: Saint Peter says that God has raised Christ to his right hand as leader and saviour (cf. v. 31). "Leader" is a translation of the Greek term "archegos," which implies a much more dynamic vision: the archegos is the one who shows the way, who goes before, it is a movement, a movement upward. God has raised him to his right hand - therefore speaking of Christ as archegos means that Christ walks before us, precedes us, shows us the way. And being in communion with Christ means being on a journey, ascending with Christ, it is following Christ, it is this upward ascent, it is following the archegos, the one who has already gone before us, who precedes us and shows us the way.

Here, obviously, it is important that we be told where Christ arrives, and where we must also arrive: hypsosen - on high - ascending to the right hand of the Father. Following Christ is not only an imitation of his virtues, it is not only living in this world, as much as we are able, as Christ did, according to his word, but it is a journey that has a destination. And the destination is the right hand of the Father. There is this journey of Jesus, this following of Jesus that ends at the right hand of the Father. It is to the horizon of this following that the entire journey of Jesus belongs, including his arrival at the right hand of the Father.

In this sense, the destination of this journey is eternal life at the right hand of the Father in communion with Christ. Often today we are afraid of talking about eternal life. We talk about things that are useful for the world, we show that Christianity also helps to improve the world, but we do not dare to say that its true destination is eternal life, and that it is from this destination that the criteria of life come. We must again come to understand that Christianity remains a "fragment" if we do not think about this destination, that we want to follow the archegos to the height where God is, to the glory of the Son who makes us sons in the Son, and we must again come to recognize that only in the grand perspective of eternal life does Christianity reveal all of its meaning. We must have the courage, the joy, the great hope that eternal life exists, it is true life and from this true life comes the light that also illuminates this world.

If it can be said that, even apart from eternal life, from the promised Heaven, it is better to live according to Christian criteria, because living according to truth and love, even if it is under many persecutions, is in itself a good and is better than all the rest, it is precisely this will to live according to the truth and according to love that must also open to all the breadth of God's plan for us, to the courage to have already the joy in anticipation of eternal life, of the ascent following our archegos. And Soter is the Saviour, who saves us from ignorance about the last things. The Saviour saves us from solitude, he saves us from a void that remains in life without eternity, he saves us by giving us love in its fullness. He is the guide. Christ, the archegos, saves us by giving us the light, giving us the truth, giving us the love of God.

Let's look at another verse: Christ, the Saviour, has given Israel conversion and forgiveness of sins (v. 31) - in the Greek text the term is metanoia - he has given penance and forgiveness of sins. This for me is a very important observation: penance is a grace. There is a tendency in exegesis that says: Jesus in Galilee had announced a grace without condition, absolutely unconditional, therefore also without penance, grace as such, without human preconditions. But this is a false interpretation of grace. Penance is grace; it is a grace that we recognize our sin, it is a grace that we know we need renewal, change, a transformation of our being. Penance, being able to do penance, is the gift of grace. And I must say that we Christians, even in recent times, have often avoided the word penance, it has seemed too harsh to us. Now, under the attacks of the world that speak to us of our sins, we see that being able to do penance is grace. And we see that it is necessary to do penance, that is, to recognize what is wrong in our life, open ourselves to forgiveness, prepare ourselves for forgiveness, allow ourselves to be transformed. The suffering of penance, of purification, of transformation, this suffering is grace, because it is renewal, it is the work of divine mercy. And so these two things that Saint Peter says - penance and forgiveness - correspond to the beginning of the preaching of Jesus: metanoeite, which means be converted (cf. Mk. 1:15). So this is the fundamental point: metanoia is not a private thing, which would seem to be replaced by grace, but metanoia is the arrival of the grace that transforms us.

And finally a word from the Gospel, where we are told that those who believe will have eternal life (cf. Jn. 3:36). In faith, in this "transformation" that penance gives, in this conversion, in this new way of life, we find life, true life. And here I am reminded of two other texts. In the "Priestly Prayer," the Lord says: this is life, to know you and the one you have consecrated (cf. Jn. 17:3). Knowing the essential, knowing the decisive Person, knowing God and the One he has sent is life, life and knowledge, knowledge of realities that are life. And the other text is the Lord's reply to the Sadducees about the Resurrection, where from the books of Moses the Lord proves the fact of the Resurrection, saying: God is the God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob (cf. Mt. 22:31-32; Mk. 12:26-27; Lk. 20:37-38). God is not the God of the dead. If God is God of these, they are alive. Those who are written in the name of God participate in the life of God, they live. And so to believe is to be inscribed in the name of God. And so we are alive. Those who belong to the name of God are not dead, they belong to the living God. In this sense we must understand the dynamism of the faith, which is a writing of our name in the name of God, and so an entry into life.

Let us pray to the Lord that this may happen and that, with our life, we may really know God, so that our names may enter into the name of God, and our existence become true life: eternal life, love and truth.

(From:, the blog of Sandro Magister, English translation by Matthew Sherry)

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Visit to Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir in Bkerke, Beirut

The role of the head of the Maronite Church is a key one in Lebanon and so the Patriarch's influence includes not only his own faithful but the nation as a whole. His Eminence received us warmly on Monday, April 12. A backgrounder on the Patriarchate and a couple of photos:

The Maronite Catholic Church By Fr. Ronald G. Roberson

The Maronites of Lebanon traditionally trace their origin back to the late 4th century when a group of disciples gathered around the charismatic figure of the monk St. Maron. They later founded a monastery located midway between Aleppo and Antioch and evangelized the surrounding population. In the 5th century the monastery vigorously supported the Christological doctrine of the Council of Chalcedon.

By the 8th century, the monks had moved with their band of followers into the remote mountains of Lebanon, where they existed in relative isolation for centuries. It was also during this period that they began to develop a distinct identity as a church and to elect a bishop as their head, who took the title of Patriarch of Antioch and All the East.

The Maronites came into contact with the Latin Church in the 12th century, when the Latin crusader principality of Antioch was founded. In 1182 the entire Maronite nation formally confirmed its union with Rome. There is a strong tradition among the Maronites that their church never lacked communion with the Holy See.

Patriarch Jeremias II Al-Amshitti (1199-1230) became the first Maronite Patriarch to visit Rome when he attended the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. This marked the beginning of close relations with the Holy See and a continuing Latinizing tendency. The 16th century saw the conquest of the Maronite homeland by the Turks and the beginning of long centuries of Ottoman domination.

A major reforming synod took place at Mount Lebanon in 1736. It drafted an almost complete Code of Canons for the Maronite Church, created a regular diocesan structure for the first time, and established the main lines of Maronite ecclesial life that endure to this day.

By the 19th century the western powers, especially France, began to offer protection to the Maronites within the Ottoman Empire. A massacre of thousands of Maronites in 1860 provoked the French to intervene with military forces. After World War I both Lebanon and Syria came under French control.

When France granted Lebanon full independence in 1943, it attempted to guarantee the safety of the Maronite community by drawing boundaries that would ensure a permanent Maronite majority, and leaving behind a constitution guaranteeing, among other things, that the president would always be a Maronite. This arrangement was threatened by the 15-year long civil war that erupted in Lebanon in 1975. Soon Christians were no longer a majority in the country since many thousands of Maronites left the country to make new lives for themselves in the West, and the very existence of Lebanon seemed uncertain.

On September 7, 1989, Pope John Paul II issued an Apostolic Letter on the Situation in Lebanon to all the bishops of the Catholic Church. In the text he warned that “without doubt, the disappearance of Lebanon would be one of the world’s greatest sorrows,” and said that saving Lebanon is “one of the most urgent and most noble tasks that the contemporary world must take upon itself.”

The civil war ended in 1990, but much of the country was left in ruins. The Pope later called for a Special Assembly for Lebanon of the Synod of Bishops, which took place in Vatican City from November 26 to December 14, 1995. It recommended that the various Catholic churches in Lebanon work together more effectively, develop closer ecumenical relations with other churches not in full communion with Rome, and foster a spirit cooperation and mutual respect with Lebanese of other religions. Pope John Paul II visited Lebanon, in May 1997.

In view of the new situation in Lebanon, a three-year Maronite Patriarchal Assembly began in June 2003. The first session was attended by 433 people, including the patriarch, the bishops, other prominent clergy and 255 laymen. The goals of the Assembly were to rediscover the Maronite heritage and traditions, to consolidate Maronite identity, to promote the renewal of ecclesial life, and to confirm the unity of the Maronite Church both within Lebanon and abroad. The results of the Assembly were gathered into an 853-page book that was presented at the Assembly's conclusion on June 11, 2006.

The Maronite Patriarchs have resided at Bkerke, about 25 miles from Beirut, since 1790. Today there are ten dioceses in Lebanon with over 800 parishes, and seven other jurisdictions in the Middle East. No national census has been taken in Lebanon since 1932. But it is clear that over the past sixty years, there has been a steady decline in the number of Christians as compared to Muslims, mostly through emigration of large numbers of Maronites. Christians now make up about one third of the total population of four million. Official Vatican statistics indicate that there were 1, 413,652 Maronites in Lebanon at the end of 2006.

There is a Maronite Patriarchal Seminary at Ghazir and a diocesan seminary at Karm Sadde, near Tripoli. Advanced theological education is provided at the University of the Holy Spirit at Kaslik. A Maronite College was founded in Rome in 1584. The college moved to a new building in 1893, but was closed during the Second World War. It did not reopen until February 2000.

The Maronite liturgy is of West Syrian origin, but it has been influenced by the East Syrian and Latin traditions. The Eucharist is essentially a variation of the Syriac liturgy of St. James. Originally celebrated in Syriac, the liturgy has been for the most part in Arabic since the Arab invasions.

The steady emigration of Maronites from Lebanon in recent years has produced flourishing communities abroad. In the United States, there are two dioceses with a total of 60 parishes and 99 priests serving about 75,000 faithful. The diocese of St. Maron of Brooklyn is presided over by Bishop Gregory J. Mansour (Pastoral Center, 109 Remsen Street, Brooklyn, New York, 11201), and Bishop Robert J. Shaheen heads the diocese of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles (1021 South Tenth St., St. Louis, Missouri 63104), founded in 1994.

In Canada, the diocese of St. Maron of Montreal, headed by Bishop Joseph Khoury (12475 Grenet Street, Montreal, Quebec H4J 2K4) has 14 parishes for about 80,000 faithful. Bishop Ad Abikaram oversees the diocese of St. Maron of Sydney (105 The Boulevard, PO Box 385, Strathfield, NSW 2135 Australia), which has ten parishes for an estimated 150,000 Maronites in Australia.
There is also a very large Maronite presence in Latin America. Three Maronite dioceses are based in Buenos Aires with an estimated 700,000 faithful, in Sao Paolo, Brazil, with 468,000 members, and in Mexico City with about 150,000 faithful. But for these estimated 1,318,000 Maronites there are only 17 parishes served by 48 priests.
Location: Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus, Egypt, Brazil, USA, Canada, Australia; Head: Patriarch Nasrallah Cardinal Sfeir (born 1920, elected 1986, cardinal 1994) ; Title: Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites; Residence: Bkerke, Lebanon; Membership: 3,106,000

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There are TRUE Believers...

"Go, Sens, Go!"

Friday, April 23, 2010

St. George - The Melkite Catholic Patriarch of Antioch and All the East

St. George is venerated by the Eastern Church among her "great martyrs" and "standard-bearers." He belonged to the Roman army; he was arrested and, probably, beheaded under Diocletian, c. 304. He is the patron of England, since AD 800; St. George is one of the "Fourteen Holy Helpers."

Many legends are attached to Saint George. The most famous is the one in The Golden Legend. There was a dragon that lived in a lake near Silena, Libya. Not even armies could defeat this creature, and he terrorized flocks and the people. St. George was passing through and upon hearing about a princess was about to be eaten, he went to battle against the serpent, and killed it with one blow with his lance. Then with his great preaching, George converted the people. He distributed his reward to the poor, then left the area.

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The Melkite Greek Catholic Church by Fr. Ronald G. Roberson

We are received by Patriarch Gregory III Laham at his residence in Damascus

The word “Melkite” comes from the Syriac and Arabic words for “King,” and was originally used to refer to those within the ancient Patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem who accepted the Christological faith professed by the Byzantine Emperor after the Council of Chalcedon (451).

Today, however, the term more often refers to Byzantine Catholics associated with those three Patriarchates.

Jesuits, Capuchins and Carmelites began missionary activity in the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch in the mid-17th century. While there were some conversions, the missionaries were primarily concerned with forming a pro-Catholic party within the Patriarchate itself. By the early 18th century, the Antiochian church had become polarized, with the pro-Catholic party centered in Damascus and the anti-Catholic party in its rival city, Aleppo.

Patriarch Athanasios III Debbas, who died on August 5, 1724, had designated as his successor a Cypriot monk named Sylvester. His candidacy was supported by the Aleppo party and the Patriarch of Constantinople. But on September 20, 1724, the Damascus party elected as Patriarch a strongly pro-Catholic man who took the name Cyril VI. A week later, the Patriarch of Constantinople ordained Sylvester as Patriarch of Antioch. The Ottoman government recognized Sylvester, while Cyril was deposed and excommunicated by Constantinople and compelled to seek refuge in Lebanon. Pope Benedict XIII recognized Cyril’s election as Patriarch of Antioch in 1729. Thus the schism was formalized, and the Catholic segment of the patriarchate eventually became known as the Melkite Greek Catholic Church.

Melkite Patriarch Gregory III Laham welcomes his visitors to the annual celebration of "doubting" St. Thomas

In the beginning this new Catholic community was limited to what is now Syria and Lebanon. But Melkite Catholics later began to immigrate to Palestine, where Melkite communities had long existed, and especially to Egypt after that country rebelled against Turkish control. In view of the new demographic situation, the Melkite Catholic Patriarch was given the additional titles of Patriarch of Jerusalem and Alexandria in 1838.

At first the Ottoman government was very hostile to this new church and took strong measures against it. But conditions improved with the passage of time. In 1848 the government formally recognized the Melkite Catholic Church, and the Patriarchate itself moved to Damascus from Holy Savior Monastery near Sidon, Lebanon, where it had been established by Cyril VI after he fled there. This was followed by a period of growth, enhanced by the popular perception of the Melkite church as a focus of Arab resistance against the Turks. The Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, on the other hand, was viewed by many as dependent upon Constantinople and therefore upon the Ottoman government.

At the close of the Annual St. Thomas Mass

In the 19th century the Melkite church experienced tensions in its relationship with Rome because many Melkites felt that their Byzantine identity was being overwhelmed by the Latin tradition. This uneasiness was symbolized at Vatican I when Melkite Patriarch Gregory II Youssef left Rome before the council fathers voted on the constitution Pastor Aeternus, which defined papal infallibility and universal jurisdiction. At Rome’s request, the Patriarch later assented to the document, but he only did so with the clause, “all rights, privileges and prerogatives of the Patriarchs of the Eastern Churches being respected” added to the formula.

At the Second Vatican Council, Melkite Patriarch Maximos IV Sayegh spoke forcefully against the latinization of the Eastern Catholic churches, and urged a greater receptivity to the eastern Christian traditions, especially in the area of ecclesiology. The Melkite Holy Synod has stated that, in the event of a reconciliation between the Orthodox and Catholic churches, the Melkite Church should be reintegrated into the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch. A bilateral commission for dialogue between the Melkites and Antiochian Orthodox was established in 1995, and both sides have expressed the firm intention to heal the schism of 1724.

St. Anne’s Seminary in Jerusalem, under the direction of the White Fathers (now called the Missionaries of Africa), was the main seminary for the Melkite church until it was closed in 1967 because of the political situation. There are now three major seminaries in the Melkite church: the patriarchal seminary of St. Anne in Raboueh, Lebanon; Holy Savior Seminary in Beit Sahour, Israel, for dioceses in Israel, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza; and St. Gregory the Theologian Seminary in Newton, Massachusetts, USA, for the United States and other English-speaking countries.

There are several religious orders in the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. The most prominent is the Basilian Salvatorian Order, which was founded by Antiochian Orthodox bishop Eftimios Sayfi in 1683, one year before he became Catholic. The community, whose motherhouse is at St. Savior monastery in Saida, Lebanon, serves in Melkite parishes around the world, and has a special mission to promote ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. The Melkite Paulist Fathers direct an important theological institute at Harissa and administer a well-known publishing house. Altogether there are 131 Melkite priests who belong to religious orders, 108 brothers, and 532 women religious.

After the Maronites, the Melkite Catholic Church is the largest and most prosperous Catholic community in the Middle East. The majority of its faithful live in Syria, Lebanon, Israel and occupied territories, and Jordan.

Ongoing emigration from the Middle East in recent years has created flourishing Melkite communities in the West. Archbishop Cyrille Salim Bustros presides over the Diocese of Newton of the Melkites in the United States (19 Dartmouth Street, West Newton, Massachusetts 02165) with 35 parishes and 25,000 members. In Canada, the diocese of Saint-Sauveur de Montréal, under the guidance of Bishop Ibrahim Ibrahim (34 Maplewood, Montréal, Québec H2V 2M1), has eight parishes and missions, and 33,000 faithful. Archbishop Issam John Darwish heads the diocese of St. Michael's of Sydney in Australia (80 Waterloo Road, Greenacre N.S.W. 2190), which has 13 parishes for 45,000 Melkite Catholics.

Everyone's talent is pressed into service for the Thomas festival

There is also a parish in London. In addition, there has been a large Melkite Greek Catholic emigration to Latin America. There are dioceses based in Sao Paulo and Mexico City, and Apostolic Exarchates in Buenos Aires and Caracas, with a total of about 450,000 faithful.

Location: Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, the Americas, Europe, Australia. Head: Patriarch Gregory III Laham (born 1933, elected 2000); Title: Patriarch of Antioch of the Greek Melkites
Residence: Damascus, Syria; Membership: 1,347,000

Festivities continue in a nearby family restaurant

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Famille Marie-Jeunesse Chapter

Our prayers are asked for the Chapter of friends in the Lord, Famille Marie-Jeunesse, gathered in their chapter of affairs this week and whose labours will culminate in the election of a new leadership team tomorrow.

Famille Marie-Jeunesse in Ottawa, October 2009