Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thursday in Lent Week III - The Bishops Offer Canadian Catholics a Voters' Guide

Prayer for Thursday of the Third Week of Lent

We implore your majesty most humbly, O Lord, that as the feast day of our salvation draws ever closer, so we may press forward all the more eagerly towards the worthy celebration of the paschal mystery. Through our Lord.

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Left to right: Lorna Dueck, cameraman Moussa Faddoul
The other afternoon, I wandered up on Parliament Hill to tape an interview with Lorna Dueck of ListenUp! (Crossroads Communications). I had rarely seen so few people on the Hill, which allowed me to snap the following photos, which serve as the framework for the introductory points in the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops suggestions of issues and values to keep in mind when choosing a new government on May 2.  The full text may be consulted at the CCCB/CECC website in English ( and French ( :

Voting: a right and responsibility

Canadian Catholics are being called upon as citizens to exercise their right to vote. The Church encourages and reasserts its belief in “the political freedom and responsibility of citizens.” By exercising their right to vote, citizens fulfill their duty of choosing a government and at the same time send a clear signal to the candidates being presented by the political parties.

Political candidates are citizens too. In addition, they assume responsibility for the well being of the public. Their commitment and dedication are a generous contribution to society’s common good. Indeed, the purpose of the political community is the common good. What is the common good? It is “the sum of those conditions of … social life whereby people, families and associations more adequately and readily may attain their own perfection.”

Examples of the application of Catholic moral and social teaching

The following are examples of how Catholic moral and social teaching is to be applied. They do not constitute a political platform but a magnifying glass by which to analyze and evaluate public policies and programs.

1. Respect for life and human dignity: from conception to natural death

Choosing life means:
• Demanding the right to life for even the smallest among us – the human embryo and the foetus – since they too belong to the human family, while also providing assistance to pregnant women facing difficulties;
• Protecting all persons from being exploited by biomedical technologies;
• Respecting the life and dignity of the dying, accompanying them until their natural death and promoting greater access to palliative care;
• Rejecting capital punishment, promoting the rehabilitation of criminals and ensuring support for their victims;
• Defending and caring for individuals in all circumstances, beginning with the poorest and most vulnerable;
• Supporting and accompanying individuals with disabilities, the elderly, the sick, the poor and those who are suffering.

What do the political parties say about these issues? What positions are the candidates taking?

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Voter : un droit et un devoir

En tant que citoyens canadiens, les catholiques seront appelés à exercer leur droit de vote. L’Église saisit l’occasion pour encourager et promouvoir « la liberté politique et la responsabilité des citoyens ». En exerçant leur droit de vote, les électeurs remplissent leur devoir de choisir un gouvernement et envoient un signal clair aux candidats des partis politiques.

Les candidats aux élections sont également des citoyens qui assument des responsabilités pour le bien-être de la population. Par leur engagement et leur dévouement, ils contribuent généreusement au bien commun de notre société qui est par ailleurs le but principal de la communauté politique . Qu’est-ce que le bien commun? C’est « l’ensemble des conditions de vie sociale qui permettent aux hommes, aux familles et aux groupements de s’accomplir plus complètement et plus facilement . »

Exemples de la mise en œuvre de l’enseignement moral et social catholique

Les exemples suivants ne constituent pas un programme politique, mais plutôt une lentille à travers laquelle on peut analyser et évaluer les politiques et les programmes publics.

1. Respect de la vie et de la dignité de la personne : de la conception à la mort naturelle

Opter pour la vie, c’est :
• exiger le droit à la vie pour les plus petits parmi nous – les embryons et les fœtus – qui font partie de la famille humaine, ainsi qu’apporter de l’aide aux femmes enceintes qui vivent des situations difficiles;
• protéger chaque personne contre toute tentative d’instrumentalisation liées aux technologies biomédicales;
• respecter la vie et la dignité des personnes mourantes et les accompagner jusqu’à leur mort naturelle en favorisant un plus grand accès aux soins palliatifs;
• rejeter la peine de mort et miser sur la réhabilitation des criminels et l’aide aux victimes;
• défendre les personnes et prendre soin d’elles en toutes circonstances – en commençant par les plus vulnérables et les plus pauvres;
• soutenir et accompagner les personnes handicapées, âgées, malades, pauvres ou souffrantes.

Qu’en disent les partis politiques? Qu’en pensent les candidats?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Anticipating the Lenten Sunday of Joy (Laetare) - Wednesday of Lenten Week III

Fourth Sunday in Lent (Year "A") – April 3, 2011 -  JESUS ENLIGHTENS AND INVITES BELIEF [Texts: 1 Samuel 16.1, 6-7,10-13 [Psalm 23]; Ephesians 5.8-14; John 9.1-41]

During a retreat some years ago, I delighted in Raymond Brown's last published work, A Retreat with John the Evangelist: That You May Have Life (Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 1998).  A slight volume, it distils the insights of Father Brown's lifetime spent studying the Fourth Gospel.

In arranging his presentations to the retreatant, Brown has the evangelist explain why, for him and his community, figures like the Samaritan woman, the man born blind and Lazarus—the very individuals the liturgy focuses on in the central Sundays of Lent—contain the key to discipleship.

As we saw last Sunday, the Samaritan woman illustrates the obstacles that must be overcome in coming to faith in Jesus. Today, the man born blind illustrates how faith grows by overcoming trials.

As we learn, enlightenment does not issue immediately in an adequate faith. Initially the man born blind came to physical sight. But the more important “sight” he gained was spiritual, leading him to confess that Jesus is God's emissary, the Son of Man.

In Jesus' encounters with the man born blind we learn the truth of Jesus' assertion that “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8.12).

The account of the man born blind's healing is rather straight-forward. Jesus drew near to him and anointed his eyes with a paste made of mud mixed with saliva. The healing power of clay mixed with spittle was a common element in stories of healing in the Greco-Roman world. Mark narrates similar “anointings” in his accounts of the cure of a deaf-mute and the blind man of Bethsaida (Mark 7.33; 8.23).

Samuel anoints David as king

Since the blind man came to healing and enlightenment through anointing, the Church adopted anointing as part of the baptismal rites. In the first reading, God's election of David—manifested in his anointing by Samuel—underlines the favour the candidate for Baptism has found with the Lord who “looks on the heart” rather than on outward appearances.

The symbolism of the water which restores sight (i.e. Baptism) would not have been missed by those reading the evangelist's account. For he had told them that the name of the pool where the blind man washed his eyes was “Siloam”, a name which he interpreted as “the one sent”, a Christian designation of Jesus.

The details in the story of blind man's healing hint at the process of baptismal conversion and enlightenment. The man born blind's healing was told with great simplicity. But his coming to the fullness of faith involved much suffering during several heated encounters.

At no time on the faith journey following his gift of sight did the man born blind flinch at the demands faith made on him. Asked by onlookers about his healer, the man born blind could only say 'the man called Jesus' (John 9.11).

Later, before Pharisees who challenged him with theological questions, he offered the opinion that Jesus was “a prophet” (9.17). Threatened with expulsion from the synagogue, he nevertheless declared of Jesus “if this man were not from God, he could do nothing” (9.33).

Finally, Jesus sought him out (“when Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he had found him”) and asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” Speaking for every catechumen and disciple, the man born blind—now healed and enlightened—declared, “Lord, I believe” (9.38). And, in a gesture that expresses the depth of Christian belief, the man born blind “worshipped him”.

Studying the attitudes and behaviour of the other characters in the Johannine drama would also be instructive. In Brown's commentary he has the evangelist contrast Christians who, like the blind man, decided for Jesus despite great cost with others who, for various reasons, held back from a belief that dares great things.

Chief among those criticized by the evangelist are “perhaps an even larger group of those who have been baptized and nominally accept Jesus but are not willing to confess him if it costs anything. To be honest, in my time I judged that failure as grave as to deny him” (Retreat, p. 48).

In closing, Paul issues the Lenten call to Christian and catechumen alike: “Now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light!”

* * * * * *
Prayer for Wednesday of the Third Week in Lent

Grant, we pray, O Lord, that schooled through Lenten observance and nourished by your word, through holy restraint we may be devoted to you with all our heart and be ever united in prayer. Through our Lord.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mgr Joseph Atanga, Archbishop of Bertoua, Cameroon - Tuesday of Lent Week III

During my visit to Quebec City last week, I had the pleasure of meeting in person someone I had know by correspondence and through Jesuit confreres, Joseph Atanga, S.J., Archbishop of Bertoua in Cameroon and the recently-elected President of the Conference of Bishops of that country.

In an afternoon stroll in the area around Notre Dame Cathedral, we visited the treasures of the basilica, noting particularly, in what had been the sacristy, the three beautiful stained glass windows of the Jesuit Martyrs. 

Here is the threesome of Saints Noel ChabanelCharles Garnier and Antoine Daniel:

Though it was a crisp, cold day reminding Bishop Joseph of the winters he spent in New York City as a doctoral student in economics at Fordham University, the sun shone brightly and it seemed milder than it was.

* * * * * *

Prayer for Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent
May your grace not forsake us, O Lord, we pray, but make us dedicated to your holy service and obtain us your help at all times. Through our Lord.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday in 3rd Week of Lent - Archbishop Lacroix Begins His Ministry and a New Evangelization

Prayer for Monday of the Third Week of Lent
May your unfailing compassion, O Lord, cleanse and protect your Church, and since without you she cannot stand secure, may she be always governed by your grace, Through our Lord.

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Photos de l’inauguration du ministère de Mgr Lacroix, archevêque de Québec Pictures from the installation of Archbishop Lacroix in Quebec (25 March 2011):

The proud parents of Mgr Lacroix

Sunday, March 27, 2011

La Joie de Québec - Troisième dimanche du Carême -- A -- Third Sunday of Lent

Vendredi soir au Centre de la Jeunesse, il y avait une grande joie parmi tous les prêtres, religieux et religieuses et fidèles de l’archidiocèse de Québec avec la présence du Cardinal Marc Ouellet, p.s.s., Mgr Lopez Quintana le Nonce apostolique, une quarantaine d’évêques du Québec et des autres régions du Canada, les États-unis et même un archevêque du Cameroun.

Above is a photo of the radiant joy of Cardinal Marc Ouellet and his successor as Archbishop of Quebec, Mgr Gérald Cyprien Lacroix on the occasion of the latter’s inauguration of his pastoral ministry.

Further coverage will follow in coming days as I am overloaded with writing commitments at present. (Photo : Erick Labbé, Le Soleil)

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La Samaritaine et Jésus

A la samaritaine qui lui affirne : " Je sais qu’il vient, le Messie, Jésus déclare :  "Moi qui te parle, JE le SUIS."

Alors, elle laisse là sa cruche. (il ne s’agit plus de l’eau du puits de Jacob, quand on a reçu la promesse de l’Eau Vive ... )

Elle court annoncer la Bonne Nouvelle. Elle ne dit pas : Avec ma réputation je ne suis pas celle qu’il faut pour évangéliser ! Au contraire, elle s’appuie presque sur son péché : " Venez voir un homme qui m’a dit tout ce que j’ai fait."

Tout ce qu’elle a fait ne l’empêche absolument pas d’être sa messagère.
Eh bien ! Nous avons la même assurance : Nous sommes ceux qui dans le désert ont bu l’eau jaillie du rocher, ( 1 ère Lecture)

Nous sommes ceux qui savent que" l’amour de Dieu a été répandu dans nos cœurs par l’Esprit-Saint qui nous a été donné." Nous sommes persuadés que Dieu nous aime" et la preuve, c’est que Le Christ est mort pour nous alors que nous étions encore pécheurs." ( 2ème Lecture )

Et nous sommes ceux qui l’annoncent et se réjouissent quand les autres leur disent : " Ce n’est plus à cause de ce que tu nous as dit que nous croyons maintenant car nous l’avons entendu nous-mêmes et nous savons que " C’est vraiment lui le Sauveur du monde." 

--Marie-José BOREL (

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Collect Prayer
O God, author of every mercy and of all goodness, who in fasting, prayer and almsgiving have shown us a remedy for sin, look graciously on this confession of our lowliness, that we who are bowed down by our conscience may always be lifted by your mercy.  Through our Lord.

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday of Lent Week II - Youngest Ukrainian Bishop Chosen New Major Archbishop

Prayer for Saturday of the Second Week of Lent

O God, who grant us by glorious healing remedies while still on earth, to be partakers of the things of heaven, guide us, we pray, through this present life, and bring us to that light in which you dwell. Through our Lord.
* * * * * *


The Ukrainian Catholic Church elected its youngest bishop to succeed Cardinal Lubomyr Husar of Kiev-Halych, who retired Feb. 10.

Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, 40, apostolic administrator of the Ukrainian Catholic Diocese of the Protection of the Mother of God in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was elected during a five-day synod of bishops in Lviv. His election was confirmed by Pope Benedict XVI March 25.

Archbishop Shevchuk, a moral theologian, was to be enthroned as major archbishop March 27 during ceremonies at the Cathedral of the Holy Resurrection of Christ in Kiev.

The Ukrainian Catholic Church is the largest of the Eastern churches in full communion with Rome, and it is pivotal in ecumenical relations.

Born at Stryi, near Lviv, May 5, 1970, the new archbishop was ordained to the priesthood in June 1994 by Cardinal Myroslav Lubachivsky, then the Ukrainian Catholic Church's leader. He later obtained a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas of Aquinas in Rome.

Ad multos et faustissimos annos!

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Annunciation of the Lord: a Mid-Lent Solemnity -- Les armoiries de Mgr Lacroix

As we did last week with the Solemnity of St. Joseph, the austerity of Lent is interrupted with the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, an important day in the cause of life as we see the joy brought with the announcement of a special Child, God's only-begotten Son, through the obedience of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

O God, who willed that your Word should take on the reality of human flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, grant, we pray, that we who confess our Redeemer to be God and man may merit to become partakers even in his divine nature, Who lives and reigns with you.

* * *

A tradition, which has come down from the apostolic ages, tells us that the great mystery of the Incarnation was achieved on the twenty-fifth day of March. It was at the hour of midnight, when the most holy Virgin was alone and absorbed in prayer, that the Archangel Gabriel appeared before her, and asked her, in the name of the blessed Trinity, to consent to become the Mother of God. Let us assist, in spirit, at this wonderful interview between the angel and the Virgin: and, at the same time, let us think of that other interview which took place between Eve and the serpent. A holy bishop and martyr of the second century, Saint Irenaeus, who had received the tradition from the very disciples of the apostles, shows us that Nazareth is the counterpart of Eden.

In the garden of delights there is a virgin and an angel; and a conversation takes place-between them. At Nazareth a virgin is also addressed by an angel, and she answers him; but the angel of the earthly paradise is a spirit of darkness, and he of Nazareth is a spirit of light. In both instances it is the angel that has the first word. 'Why,' said the serpent to Eve, 'hath God commanded you, that you should not eat of every tree of paradise?' His question implies impatience and a solicitation to evil; he has contempt for the frail creature to whom he addresses it, but he hates the image of God which is upon her.

See, on the other hand, the angel of light; see with what composure and peacefulness he approaches the Virgin of Nazareth, the new Eve; and how respectfully he bows himself down before her: 'Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women!' Such language is evidently of heaven: none but an angel could speak thus to Mary.

Scarcely has the wicked spirit finished speaking than Eve casts a longing look at the forbidden fruit: she is impatient to enjoy the independence it is to bring her. She rashly stretches forth her hand; she plucks the fruit; she eats it, and death takes possession of her: death of the soul, for sin extinguishes the light of life; and death of the body, which being separated from the source of immortality, becomes an object of shame and horror, and finally crumbles into dust.

But let us turn away our eyes from this sad spectacle, and fix them on Nazareth. Mary has heard the angel's explanation of the mystery; the will of heaven is made known to her, and how grand an honor it is to bring upon her! She, the humble maid of Nazareth, is to have the ineffable happiness of becoming the Mother of God, and yet the treasure of her virginity is to be left to her! Mary bows down before this sovereign will, and says to the heavenly messenger: 'Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to thy word.'

Thus, as the great St. Irenaeus and so many of the holy fathers remark, the obedience of the second Eve repaired the disobedience of the first: for no sooner does the Virgin of Nazareth speak her fiat, 'be it done,' than the eternal Son of God (who, according to the divine decree, awaited this word) is present, by the operation of the Holy Ghost, in the chaste womb of Mary, and there He begins His human life. A Virgin is a Mother, and Mother of God; and it is this Virgin's consenting to the divine will that has made her conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost.

This sublime mystery puts between the eternal Word and a mere woman the relations of Son and Mother; it gives to the almighty God a means whereby He may, in a manner worthy of His majesty, triumph over satan, who hitherto seemed to have prevailed against the divine plan.

Never was there a more entire or humiliating defeat than that which this day befell satan. The frail creature, over whom he had so easily triumphed at the beginning of the world, now rises and crushes his proud head. Eve conquers in Mary. God would not choose man for the instrument of His vengeance; the humiliation of satan would not have been great enough; and therefore she who was the first prey of hell, the first victim of the tempter, is selected to give battle to the enemy.

The result of so glorious a triumph is that Mary is to be superior not only to the rebel angels, but to the whole human race, yea, to all the angels of heaven. Seated on her exalted throne, she, the Mother of God, is to be the Queen of all creation. Satan, in the depths of the abyss, will eternally bewail his having dared to direct his first attack against the woman, for God has now so gloriously avenged her; and in heaven, the very Cherubim and Seraphim reverently look up to Mary, and deem themselves honored when she smiles upon them, or employs them in the execution of any of her wishes, for she is the Mother of their God.


Therefore is it that we, the children of Adam, who have been snatched by Mary's obedience from the power of hell, solemnize this day of the Annunciation. Well may we say of Mary those words of Deborah, when she sang her song of victory over the enemies of God's people: 'The valiant men ceased, and rested in Israel, until Deborah arose, a mother arose in Israel. The Lord chose new wars, and He Himself overthrew the gates of the enemies."

Let us also refer to the holy Mother of Jesus these words of Judith, who by her victory over the enemy was another type of Mary: 'Praise ye the Lord our God, who hath not forsaken them that hope in Him. And by me, His handmaid, He hath fulfilled His mercy, which He promised to the house of Israel; and He hath killed the enemy of His people by my hand this night. . . . The almighty Lord hath struck him, and hath delivered him into the hands of a woman, and hath slain him.' (excerpted from Abbot Prosper Gueranger O.S.B, The Liturgical Year).

* * * * * *


Ce soir j’assisterai a l’inauguration du ministère de Mgr Gérald Cyprien Lacroix comme nouvel Archevêque de Québec [le quinzième] et Primat de l’Église du Canada.

Ses armoiries (écu et devise) nous donnent un aperçu sur sa manière de voir les enjeux; le voici avec explication (


•Les cinq pierreries rouges sur la croix processionnelle représentent les cinq plaies du Christ, par lesquelles nous sommes guéris et sauvés. « C’est grâce à ses plaies que nous sommes guéris » (Is 53, 5).

•La croix dans le bouclier veut rappeler le nom de la famille de Monseigneur Lacroix; elle est en or, métal le plus noble, symbole donc de la première vertu théologale, la foi. Cette croix sans corpus représente le cœur de l’Évangile : le Christ est mort pour nous, mais Dieu l’a ressuscité.

•La couleur bleue (azur) est le symbole du ciel, là où nous attend la « Ville habitable », la vie éternelle.

•Le livre ouvert représente la Parole de Dieu, Bonne Nouvelle de Dieu pour toute l’humanité, alors que la flamme représente l’Esprit Saint, agent principal de l’évangélisation. Cette flamme nous rappelle aussi les paroles des pèlerins d’Emmaüs : « Notre cœur ne brûlait-il pas en nous tandis qu’il nous parlait en chemin et nous ouvrait les Écritures? » (Lc 24, 32).

•Le monogramme XP (chrismon) apparaît sur le logo de l’Institut Séculier Pie X, institut de vie consacrée auquel Monseigneur Lacroix appartient. Ce monogramme du Christ nous rappelle aussi le premier point de l’identité spirituelle de cet Institut : une rencontre personnelle avec Jésus Christ, Sauveur et Apôtre.

•La sandale rappelle la mission du pèlerin qui parcourt le monde avec joie pour annoncer la Bonne Nouvelle de l’Évangile; et elle veut rappeler ici les neuf ans passés par Monseigneur Lacroix en Colombie, Amérique du Sud. Cette sandale rappelle aussi la tâche que partage l’évêque avec le peuple de Dieu, car nous sommes tous envoyés à la mission.

•L’hameçon sur l’eau est un symbole évident de la fonction du « pêcheur d’hommes » qui caractérise la vie de tout disciple du Christ. L’eau rappelle la rivière Chaudière qui traverse la Beauce, la région natale de Monseigneur Lacroix. L’hameçon, et non le filet, représente la dimension personnelle de l’évangélisation, le contact personnel et l’attention à chaque personne rencontrée.

Description héraldique de l’écu

« D’azur, à la croix pattée d’or, cantonné au premier canton d’un livre d’argent, chargé d’une flamme de gueules; au second canton, d’un monogramme XP d’argent; au troisième canton, d’une sandale d’argent en bande; au quatrième canton, de deux burelles ondées d’argent surmontées d’un hameçon d’or. »


Mane Nobiscum Domine (Reste avec nous, Seigneur)

Cette devise est tirée du récit des pèlerins d’Emmaüs dans l’évangile de Luc (cf. Lc 24, 13-35). C’est le passage biblique préféré de Monseigneur Lacroix. Il offre un plan pastoral merveilleux en forme de tryptique.

1.De Jérusalem à Emmaüs : Alors que souvent nous nous trouvons déçus, abattus par les circonstances de la vie, n’ayant plus d’espérance pour soutenir notre marche, Jésus lui-même vient à notre rencontre. Le Ressuscité prend le temps d’écouter et de partager nos doléances. Mais plus important encore, il nous brûle le cœur par sa Parole, en nous révélant le mystère de sa mort et de sa résurrection.

2.À Emmaüs : Au cœur du récit évangélique, nous retrouvons la supplique insistante des deux disciples : « Reste avec nous, Seigneur! » (Lc 24, 29). L’étranger devenu compagnon de route fait semblant d’aller plus loin car il ne veut pas s’imposer aux disciples; il les laisse libres de le choisir. C’est alors que les deux disciples proclament que Jésus est Seigneur et ils insistent pour qu’il devienne partie prenante de leur communauté. Jésus célèbre la fraction du pain et même s’il leur devient invisible, il demeure dans l’Eucharistie et dans la communauté qu’est l’Église.

3.D’Emmaüs à Jérusalem : Les deux disciples, comme communauté évangélisée, s’empressent de reprendre la route vers Jérusalem. C’est la même route qu’ils avaient parcourue tristes et découragés peu d’heures auparavant; maintenant, elle est illuminée par une joie et une espérance renouvelée. À Jérusalem, en communion avec les Apôtres, ils rendront témoignage de leur expérience avec Jésus ressuscité.

Nobiscum : Avec nous et en nous. C’est la dimension communautaire de la vie chrétienne. C’est aussi dans ce mot que nous retrouvons l’expression Biscum, utilisée depuis la fondation de l’Institut Séculier Pie X. Cela exprime le désir apostolique profond qui doit habité tout apôtre : que toute personne fasse la rencontre de Jésus Sauveur et vive avec Lui à jamais!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Portuguese Parish of Senhor Santo Cristo - Thursday in Lent Week II

Prayer for Thursday of the Second Week of Lent
O God, who delight in innocence and restore it, direct the hearts of your servants to yourself, that, caught up in the fire of your Spirit, we may be found steadfast in faith and effective in works. Through our Lord.

* * * * * *

  On Sunday, the episcopal vicar Father Joseph Muldoon and I went over to Gloucester to the Portuguese Parish Senhor Santo Cristo to share with the faithful officially the news that some already knew, that Father Gimy, their spiritual father for the last several years, would be returning to Angola for health reasons and to take on a new assignment there.
I presided and gave the homily in English and French; Fr. Gimy gave a summary and added his own details afterwards.  The readings and most of the ordinary parts were in Portuguese; the rest of the Mass in English.
Father Gimy will leave Ottawa on April 4, after serving here since 2007; he leaves many grateful people behind. Interim measures are being put into place by the archdiocese to assure pastoral care until more permanent arrangements can be made for another Portuguese-speaking priest. Please pray for Fr. Gimy as he leaves us and for a suitable replacement to be found.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wednesday of Lenten Week II - St. Turibius - Third Sunday of Lent: the Scrutinies and the Samaritan Woman

Prayer for Wednesday, the 2nd Week of Lent

Keep your family O Lord, schooled always in good works, and so comfort them with your protection here as to lead them graciously to gifts on high. Through our Lord.

* * * * * *


St. Turibio of Mongrovejo, a Spaniard, served God from his infancy. Though a layman, he was appointed Archbishop of Lima and landed in South America in 1581. He died March 23, 1606, having, by his indefatigable zeal and by the boundlessness of his charity, literally renewed the face of the Church of Peru.
* * *

Together with Rose of Lima, Turibio is the first known saint of the New World, serving the Lord in Peru, South America, for twenty-six years.

Born in Spain and educated for the law, he became so brilliant a scholar that he was made professor of law at the University of Salamanca and eventually became chief judge of the Inquisition at Granada. He succeeded too well. But he was not sharp enough a lawyer to prevent a surprising sequence of events.

When the archbishopric of Lima in Spain's Peruvian colony became vacant, it was decided that Turibio was the man needed to fill the post: He was the one person with the strength of character and holiness of spirit to heal the scandals that had infected that area.

He cited all the canons that forbade giving laymen ecclesiastical dignities, but he was overruled. He was ordained priest and bishop and sent to Peru, where he found colonialism at its worst. The Spanish conquerors were guilty of every sort of oppression of the native population. Abuses among the clergy were flagrant, and he devoted his energies (and suffering) to this area first.

He began the long and arduous visitation of an immense archdiocese, studying the language, staying two or three days in each place, often with neither bed nor food. He confessed every morning to his chaplain, and celebrated Mass with intense fervor.

Among those to whom he gave the Sacrament of Confirmation was Saint Rose of Lima, and possibly Saint Martin de Porres. After 1590 he had the help of another great missionary, Saint Francis Solanus. (One time when I was celebrating at St. Rose of Lima parish in Enfield, NS, I encouraged Confirmation candidates to become saints because, if they got canonized, I, like Turibio who confirmed Rose and Martin, might have a shot at it!)

His people, though very poor, were sensitive, dreading to accept public charity from others. Turibio solved the problem by helping them anonymously.

When Turibio undertook the reform of the clergy as well as unjust officials, he naturally suffered opposition. Some tried, in human fashion, to "explain" God's law in such a way as to sanction their accustomed way of life. He answered them in the words of Tertullian, "Christ said, 'I am the truth'; he did not say, 'I am the custom."'  He is the patron of : Peru, Latin American Bishops, Native Rights

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Prayer of the Optional Memorial

O God, who gave increase to your Church through the apostolic labours for truth of the Bishop Saint Turibius, grant that the people consecrated to you may always receive new growth in faith and holiness. Through our Lord.

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Third Sunday in Lent (Year "A") - March 27, 2011 "A SPRING OF WATER GUSHING UP TO ETERNAL LIFE" [Texts: Exodus 17:3-7; [Psalm 95]; Romans 5:1-2, 5-8; John 4:5 -42]

Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, c. 1591-c. 1666): Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the Well (c 1640-41)

Recently, I welcomed the men, women and children of the parishes of the Archdiocese of Ottawa who are to be initiated into Christ through Baptism, Confirmation and their first reception of the Eucharist at the Easter Vigil. They are sharing in the process of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), the ancient catechumenate restored by the Second Vatican Council.

Whereas older converts will recall their one-on-one instructions, the RCIA is a communal process that involves the whole church, especially during the 40 days of Lent and the 50 days of Easter. Through an intense period of purification and enlightenment, the catechumens prepare for the sacraments of initiation.

Meantime, the members of the Church accompany the catechumens and candidates by works of prayer, fasting and almsgiving so that the whole Church may celebrate the Paschal Mystery "with mind and heart renewed" (Lenten Preface I).

On the first Sunday of Lent, the catechumens participated in the Rite of Election. There the Church ratified their readiness for sacraments of initiation and the catechumens--now the Elect--expressed their will to receive the sacraments.

Beginning with this third Sunday, and continuing on the fourth and fifth Sundays of Lent, the Church celebrates with the Elect "the scrutinies", ceremonies whose purpose is to strengthen the catechumen's ability to overcome temptation and to purify their intentions. The stories of the Samaritan woman, the man born blind and the raising of Lazarus--drawn from the Fourth Gospel--have a central place in these scrutinies.

As was the case when Jesus conversed with the Samaritan woman ("Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done!"), the scrutinies uncover and expose for the catechumens all that keeps the transforming love of God from setting them free of sin.

Some evil is freely chosen, the consequence of personal sin. Much that holds people in bondage, however, issues from structures known as social sin: racism, sexism, etc.

The scrutinies, based on Jesus' encounters with real people who--though trapped in sin--yearned for eternal life ("a spring of water gushing up to eternal life" in the core of each person's being), unmask the deception of evil and sin for what they truly are: destroyers of authentic life.

During the first scrutiny today and in those to take place on the next two Sundays, the presider officiates at a rite of exorcism and Trinitarian prayer to free the Elect from sin. God the Father is asked to free and protect the Elect from sin. The Holy Spirit's presence is invoked through the ancient symbol of the imposition of hands. Finally, Christ is invited to enter into the lives of the catechumens as once he entered into the life of the Samaritan woman.

The Samaritan woman illustrates the challenge of coming to faith in Jesus. But her story shows as well as Jesus' determination not to be sidetracked from drawing everyone to God's offer of eternal life.

Jesus used the language of this world to speak of heavenly realities ("If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who is saying to you 'Give me a drink', you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water"). This led to a misunderstanding on the Samaritan woman's part. She thought he was speaking of flowing, bubbling water. Instead, Jesus was speaking of water that gives life (a water symbolic of revelation, baptism).

If the Samaritan woman, slow in coming to recognize Jesus, symbolizes catechumens in their search, the disciples may represent the ongoing need for enlightenment by Church members.

As she mistook Jesus' saying about "living water", the disciples who had been with Jesus for some time failed to grasp his saying that "I have food to eat that you do not know about". While they wondered whether someone had given him food, Jesus set them straight by noting that "my food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work".

The completion of God's work is anticipated in the Samaritan villagers' declaration at the end of today's gospel narrative, "we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Saviour of the world".
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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bishop Patrick Ahern: Apostle of the "Little Flower" - Launching Development and Peace's Careme de Partage-Share Lent appeal

Yesterday, I heard the news that Emeritus Auxiliary Bishop Patrick Ahern of New York had passed away on the Solemnity of St Joseph, his 41st anniversary of episcopal ordination.

Most Reverend Patrick V. Ahern (March 8, 1919 - March 19, 2011)

I had only met Bishop Ahern once for a couple of days in 2001, when he came to Halifax to help us reflect on the spirituality of the Little Flower, St. Therese of Lisieux of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face on the occasion of the visit to Canada and the closing of the cross-country tour of the Relics of this remarkable woman, now a Teacher (Doctor) of the Church.

Bishop Ahern had a few years earlier edited, commented and published Maurice and Therese: The Story of a Love. Doubleday: 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036, 1998. Pp. 284. Hardback. $19.95. It is the interpretation of spiritual letters written by a seminarian and then a young priest to a Carmelite sister who could pray for him and support his vocation.

Of course, Therese far outstripped Maurice in spiritual insight, but theirs is a fascinating story of spiritual friendship. Bishop Ahern gave two conferences, one more technical for priests and those more familiar with spiritual realities, and a second for the general public.  Each was fascinating and engaging.

Bishop Ahern had become fascinated as a seminarian with the Journal of a Soul, Therese's spiritual autobiography, even though it had been "sanitized" by literary executors and, after his retirement as an active bishop, he travelled to France to understand her better and to persuade church officials to give the Theresian spiritual vision in its unadulterated form. 

Bishop Ahern and I never met again but I treasure still the hours we spent together at my residence and driving around Halifax to take part in the activities associated with the marvellous pilgrimage of the relics of the spiritual dynamo who discovered that her vocation was to be "love in the midst of the church". 

Later Therese was named co-patron of the missions (with the great St. Francis Xavier) for her "little way" of offering the tiniest sacrifices in union with the cross of Christ and, in the end, knowing that salvation was none of our doing but entirely God's free gift bestowed on his "little ones".

Archbishop Dolan will preside at his funeral at St Patrick's Cathedral in New York City on Thursday.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. 


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This took place last Wednesday, with a focus on Haiti's challenges; some photos follow.

Mercredi passé je suis allé au lancement du Carême de Partage à l’Église Sacré-Coeur (Ottawa).  Il y avait une belle assemblée, et nous avons dédié  beaucoup de notre attention au peuple de Haïti et leurs défis, possibilités, souffrances, peines et joies. 

Voici quelques photos de la session :

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Prayer for Tuesday in the Second Week of Lent

Guard your Church we pray, in your unceasing mercy, O Lord, and since without you mortal humanity is sure to fall, may we be kept by your constant helps from all harm and directed to all that brings salvation. Through our Lord.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday of the Second Week of Lent - Photos from Saturday's Visit to St. Joseph's Oratory

Prayer for Monday
of the Second Week of Lent

O God, who have taught us to chasten our bodies for the healing of our souls, enable us, we pray, to abstain from all sins and strengthen our hearts to carry out your loving commands. Through our Lord.

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Celebrating St. Joseph at the Oratory
On Friday afternoon, abbé Daniel Berniquez and I drove to Montreal, staying over at the Jesuit Community at Centre Vimont, not far from the Oratory.  We received a warm and gracious welcome.
Early Saturday morning, I drove to my sister-in-law Renée Prendergast's apartment for breakfast and conversation.
On the way to the Oratory, we paused briefly at Cote-des-Neiges cemetery to visit the grave of my parents (the white IHS marker in front of the artificial flowers) covered with snow (they've gotten more in Montreal this winter than we did in Ottawa).

Once at the Oratory, we saw that the basilica (the upper church was quickly filling up--in fact the escalators were turned off and people were redirected to the Crypt and an additional Mass was scheduled).  People had come from all over, including some I met from Ottawa.

On entering the basilica, where I would preside we met Brother Arthur White, S.J., who didn't want to miss the feast day in the year of Brother Andre's canonization:

The Mass began promptly at 10am, with a large number of concelebrants, the youth choir leading the procession (Les Petits Chanteurs du Mont Royal), a standing room only assembly and a powerful organ accompaniment.

After the Mass, there was a dinner for the Associates of Brother André to which I was invited, along with Mgr Martin Veillette, who would preside at the 2:30PM Mass in the Basilica (and Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte would celebrate the 7:30PM Eucharist). 

Some photos of the dinner and those attending: