Thursday, January 31, 2013

Memorial St. John Bosco - Young People Are Confirmed in Rockland

O God, who raised up the Priest Saint John Bosco as a father and teacher of the young, grant we pray, that, aflame with the same fire of love, we may seek out souls and serve you alone. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Saint John Bosco was born near Castelnuovo in the archdiocese of Turin, Italy, in 1815. His father died when John was only two years old and it was his mother Margaret who provided him with a good humanistic and Christian education. 

His early years were financially difficult but at the age of twenty he entered the major seminary, thanks to the financial help received from Louis Guala, founder and rector of the ecclesiastical residence St. Francis of Assisi in Turin

John Bosco was ordained a priest on June 5, 1846, and with the help of John Borel he founded the oratory of St. Francis de Sales.

At this time the city of Turin was on the threshold of the industrial revolution and as a result there were many challenges and problems, especially for young men. Gifted as he was as an educator and a leader, Don Bosco formulated a system of education based on "reason, religion and kindness."

In spite of the criticism and violent attacks of the anti-clericals, he conducted workshops for the tradesmen and manual laborers, schools of arts and sciences for young workers, and schools of the liberal arts for those preparing for the priesthood.

In 1868 there were 800 students involved in this educational system. To ensure the continuation of his work, Don Bosco founded the Society of St. Francis de Sales (Salesians), which was approved in 1869. Also, with the help of Sister Mary Dominic Mazzarello, he founded the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Auxiliatrix.

In 1875 a wave of emigration to Latin America began, and this prompted the inauguration of the Salesian missionary apostolate. Don Bosco became a traveller throughout Europe, seeking funds for the missions. Some of the reports referred to him as "the new St. Vincent de Paul."

He also found time to write popular catechetical pamphlets, which were distributed throughout Italy, as was his Salesian Bulletin. This great apostle of youth died on January 31, 1888, and was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1934. Pope John Paul II named him "teacher and father to the young."  [— Excerpted from Saints of the Roman Calendar by Enzo Lodi]

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Confirmations à la Paroisse
Très-sainte-Trinité de Rockland

Mardi soir je suis allé à l’est d’Ottawa pour confirmer 89 jeunes de la Paroisse dirigée par monsieur l’abbé Jean-François Morin. Voici quelques photos prises à l’occasion de cette belle célébration :

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Missionary Dimension of Love and the "Little Way" (Sunday 4C)

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year "C")—February 3, 2013
[Texts: Jeremiah 1.4-5, 17-19 [Psalm 71]; 1 Corinthians 12.31-13.13; 4.21-30]

A decade ago, Canadian dioceses hosted a visit of the reliquary of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, ‘the Little Flower’. In preparation for this event I began reading about her spirituality of the ‘little way’, something I have continued since the fall of 2001.

In her convent, Thérèse dreamed of travelling the world (she had wanted to go to the new Carmel in Vietnam), preaching the word of God and, like the Doctors of the Church, enlightening souls with their understanding of the gospel. She believed God would not have inspired such desires in her without wanting to fulfil them.

She sought a resolution by reading Paul's first letter to the Corinthians and found solace in his teaching that, just like a human body, the Church is composed of many different members (last Sunday's epistle reading). However, she remained unsatisfied until she came to today's passage on love, what Paul calls “a still more excellent way”.

There she discovered what she was looking for. “I finally had rest,” she declared.

“Considering the mystical body of the Church, I had not recognized myself in any of the members described by St. Paul, or rather I desired to see myself in all of them. Love gave me the key to my vocation... I understood it was Love alone that made the Church's members act. I HAVE FOUND MY PLACE IN THE CHURCH. In the heart of the Church, my Mother, I shall be Love.... Thus I shall be everything, and thus my dream will be realized”.

Commenting on this vision, Bishop Patrick Ahern writes, “Thérèse pushed love to the limits of its meaning and anchored it in its foundation, which is God. She aspired to be love, even as God Himself is Love. No other saint we know of ever entertained such an aspiration” (Maurice and Thérèse: The Story of a Love [New York: Doubleday, 1998, p. 80]).

Now declared a Doctor of the Church, Thérèse shows in her teaching how the most ordinary human existence contains material for extraordinary holiness. She invites others to follow her path of ‘spiritual childhood’, reflecting an attitude of unlimited hope in God's merciful love. Though she never left her convent she has been named co-patron, with St. Francis Xavier, of missionary activity.

God's compassionate love prompts a mission of mercy to the nations of the world in the prophetic vocations of Jeremiah and Jesus, as depicted in today's other scriptures.

Master of Aix Annunciation (1443-45): The Prophet Jeremiah

Jeremiah's call was a difficult one—to be a rejected by his own people, thereby becoming a “prophet to the nations”. Still, he learned to confide in God's Word before handing it on.

There are several points of comparison between Jeremiah and Jesus. Both Jeremiah and Jesus faced hostility from those upset by their message. Jeremiah's confidence parallels Jesus' total trust in his Father.

Jeremiah believed God would deliver him. And Jesus understood that his Father intended to rescue him from death.

Jesus' enemies thought they could silence him for good, but time and again he slipped away from them as, later, he would definitively do so in his resurrection (“they led Him to the brow of the hill ... so that they might hurl him off the cliff; but Jesus passed through the midst of them and went on his way”).

In the second half of His Nazareth address, which opened with a proclamation of God's year of favour, Jesus articulated the meaning of his ministry: he was following in the footsteps of God's prophetic servants.

Like Elijah and Elisha, Jesus offered God's salvation to ‘outsiders’, to foreigners. Jesus' rejection on the cross would bless all the nations of the earth as they came to accept the Good News, believe in it and be saved.

The manifestation of God's mercy, Jesus declared, extends from the poor and captive of Israel to all Gentiles yearning for God's favour. Precedents for divine outreach to Gentiles, Jesus said, may be found in the careers of Elijah and Elisha. In their ministries many in Israel did not receive God's healing touch, but Gentiles did.

Because they were not open to sharing God's bounty with others, Jesus' acquaintances and neighbours were unable to receive it themselves. In every age, believers are challenged to lay hold of the infinitely wide breadth of God's loving plan.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Father Carl Reid to Serve in the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter

Remarks at the Mass of Ordination of Carl Leonard Reid
Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica, Ottawa, ON
The Feast of Saints Timothy and Titus—January 26, 2013

With joy, I welcome all who have come for this ordination Mass this morning: the priests, deacons, religious and the lay faithful of Ottawa. A particularly warm welcome is extended to the congregation of the sodality of the Annunciation of Our Lady served by our ordinand Carl Leonard Reid and representatives of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter in which he will exercise his ministry.

I acknowledge Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, the Houston-based Ordinary, who exercises oversight of what is a far-flung diocese, Father Lee Kenyon of Calgary, Dean of the Canadian Deanery of St. John the Baptist, Father Peter Wilkinson of Victoria and local candidates for priestly ordination in the Ordinariate, Douglas Hayman and Kipling Cooper. As this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity draws to a close, we recognize the spiritual leadership of these men and particularly that of Carl Reid.

On this day, the church’s liturgy commemorates Saints Timothy and Titus, associates of St. Paul who were challenged by him to put their gifts of leadership at the service of the Church. In Paul’s first epistle to Timothy we learn of his family ties to Lois and Eunice, strong women of God. And so today we acknowledge the experience of family that lies at the core of each ordinand’s personal life journey.

So, I extend a most cordial welcome to (Barbara) the wife and siblings, to the friends and associates of our brother in Christ, Carl Leonard Reid. We give thanks to God for the way in which his family and friends nurtured faith in him, primarily but not solely in the Anglican tradition.

Carl, my son, your life up to now has been one of profound commitment and witness. Your formation and ministry within the Anglican tradition have provided you solid spiritual bedrock. You have been a bold witness to Christ and to the truths of Catholic Christianity–often at great cost to yourself.

Coming into communion with the Catholic Church through the Ordinariate, you bring with you the rich spiritual patrimony of the Anglican Church. Now, your ministry of bridge-building extends to creating bonds of friendship and communion between the Catholic Church and ecclesial communities of the Anglican and other Christian traditions. We ask God’s blessing on you and your ministry.

Msgr. Steenson gave the sermon

Kipling Cooper (left) and Douglas Hayman, candidates for ordination


Father Francis Donnelly CC vests Father Reid

Mrs. Barbara Reid take part in the offertory procession




Fathers Reid and Wilkinson

Monday, January 28, 2013


St. Thomas Aquinas is the Dominican order's greatest glory. He taught philosophy and theology with such genius that he is considered one of the leading Christian thinkers. His innocence, on a par with his genius, earned for him the title of "Angelic Doctor".

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O God, who made Saint Thomas Aquinas outstanding in his zeal for holiness and his study of sacred doctrine, grant us, we pray, that we may understand what he taught and imitate what he accomplished. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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Best wishes to all those studying philosophy and theology, particularly at Ottawa's Dominican University College, on the patronal feast!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

"Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing": Jesus in Nazareth

"Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region. He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all (Luke 4.14-15)."

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Almighty ever-living God, direct our actions according to your good pleasure, that in the name of your beloved Son we may abound in good works. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Visitation to St. Bernard Parish Begins with Three School Visits - Memorial: Sts. Timothy and Titus

Earlier this week, Father Geoffrey Kerslake, EV and I began the visitation to St. Bernard's Parish with an excursion to the three schools served by the Pastor, Father Lukose Kochupurackal, C.M.F., namely St. Thomas More School, St. Marguerite d'Youville School and St. Bernard School

Here are some photos from visits to the first two schools.  Others from St. Bernard School and from visits to nursing homes and to the Parish Masses will appear next week.


O God, who adorned Saints Timothy and Titus with apostolic virtues, grant through the intercession of them both, that, living justly and devoutly in this present age, we may merit to reach our heavenly homeland. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Timothy was Paul's dearest disciple, his most steadfast associate. He was converted during the apostle's first missionary journey.

When Paul revisited Lystra, Timothy, though still very young (about twenty) joined him as a co-worker and companion. Thereafter, there existed between them a most intimate bond, as between father and son. St. Paul calls him his beloved child, devoted to him "like a son to his father" (Phil. 2.22).

Of a kindly disposition, unselfish, prudent, zealous, he was a great consolation to Paul, particularly in the sufferings of his later years. He also assisted the apostle in the establishment of all the major Christian communities and was entrusted with missions of highest importance.

Timothy was with Paul during his first Roman imprisonment. Paul made his self-sacrificing companion bishop of Ephesus, but the finest monument left him by his master are the two canonical Epistles bearing his name.

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Titus, a pagan by birth, became one of St. Paul's most illustrious disciples. He accompanied the apostle on several of his missionary journeys and was entrusted with important missions. Finally he came with St. Paul to the island of Crete, where he was appointed bishop. He performed this duty in accordance with the admonition given him, ". . . in all things show yourself an example of good works" (Tit. 2.7).

Tradition tells us that he died a natural death at the age of 94, having lived in the state of virginity during his whole life. St. Paul left a worthy monument to Titus, his faithful disciple, in the beautiful pastoral letter which forms part of the New Testament. Today's feast in his honor was introduced in 1854.

[— Excerpts from Pius Parsch, The Church's Year of Grace]

Friday, January 25, 2013

Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul

O God, who taught the whole world through the preaching of the blessed Apostle Paul, draw us, we pray, nearer to you through the example of him whose conversion we celebrate today, and so make us witnesses to your truth in the world. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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The Church celebrates the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul on 25 January. Yet, throughout the ages, countless people from many different cultures were also converted to Jesus, moving from sin to a holy life, from atheism to the Christian Faith. Like Paul, some of these individuals were martyred for their fidelity to Christ. But the “conversion” of Saul is very different and has no comparison among the great conversions that have marked the story of the saints.

Paul himself did not like to use the word “conversion” to describe his experience. He says that throughout his life, from childhood to adulthood, he sought with all his might to love the God of his fathers and to be faithful to him by observing his laws. Even though Saul was not seeking the crucified and risen Christ, the Lord Jesus, he nevertheless unexpectedly met him and that encounter completely changed his way of relating to God, as well as his way of understanding himself and others.

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Le thème offert à notre méditation au cours de la Semaine de prière que nous concluons aujourd’hui est : « Tous, nous serons transformés par la victoire de Jésus Christ, notre Seigneur » (cf. 1 Co 15, 51-58).

La signification de cette mystérieuse transformation, dont nous parle la seconde lecture brève de ce soir, nous est merveilleusement indiquée par l’expérience personnelle de saint Paul. Suite à l’événement extraordinaire sur le chemin de Damas, Saul, qui se distinguait par le zèle avec lequel il persécutait l’Eglise naissante, fut transformé en un inlassable apôtre de l’Evangile de Jésus Christ. Dans l’expérience de cet extraordinaire évangélisateur apparaît clairement que cette transformation n’est pas le résultat d’une longue réflexion intérieure ni même le fruit d’un effort personnel. Elle est avant tout l’œuvre de la grâce de Dieu qui a agi selon ses voies impénétrables. C’est pour cette raison que Paul, en écrivant à la communauté de Corinthe quelques années après sa conversion, affirme, comme nous l’avons entendu lors de la première lecture de ces Vêpres : « C’est par la grâce de Dieu que je suis ce que je suis, et sa grâce à mon égard n’a pas été stérile » (1 Cor 15, 10).

Par ailleurs, si l’on considère attentivement l’expérience de saint Paul, on comprend que la transformation qu’il a connue dans son existence ne se limite pas au plan éthique — comme conversion de l’immoralité à la moralité —, ni au plan intellectuel — comme changement de sa façon de comprendre la réalité —, mais il s’agit plutôt d’un renouveau radical de son être, semblable par bien des aspects à une renaissance.

Une telle transformation trouve son fondement dans la participation au mystère de la Mort et de la Résurrection de Jésus Christ, et se présente comme un chemin graduel de configuration à Lui. A la lumière de cette conscience, saint Paul, lorsque par la suite, il sera appelé à défendre la légitimité de sa vocation apostolique et de l’Evangile qu’il annonce, dira : « Et ce n’est plus moi qui vis, mais le Christ qui vit en moi. Ma vie présente dans la chair, je la vis dans la foi au Fils de Dieu qui m’a aimé et s’est livré pour moi » (Ga 2, 20).

L’expérience personnelle vécue par saint Paul lui permet d’attendre avec une espérance fondée l’accomplissement de ce mystère de transformation, qui concernera tous ceux qui ont cru en Jésus Christ ainsi que toute l’humanité et la création tout entière. Dans la seconde brève lecture qui a été proclamée ce soir, saint Paul, après avoir développé une longue argumentation destinée à renforcer chez les fidèles l’espérance de la résurrection, en utilisant les images traditionnelles de la littérature apocalyptique de son époque, décrit en quelques lignes le grand jour du jugement dernier, où s’accomplit le destin de l’humanité : « En un instant, en un clin d’œil, au son de la trompette finale... les morts ressusciteront incorruptibles, et nous, nous serons transformés » (1 Co 15, 52).

Ce jour-là, tous les croyants seront rendus conformes au Christ et tout ce qui est corruptible sera transformé par sa gloire : « Il faut, en effet — dit saint Paul —, que cet être corruptible revête l’incorruptibilité, que cet être mortel revête l’immortalité » (v. 53). Alors le triomphe du Christ sera finalement complet, parce que, nous dit encore saint Paul en montrant que les anciennes prophéties des Ecritures se réalisent, la mort sera vaincue définitivement et, avec elle, le péché qui l’a faite entrer dans le monde et la Loi qui fixe le péché sans donner la force de le vaincre : « La mort a été engloutie dans la victoire. / Où est-elle, ô mort, ta victoire ? / Où est-il, ô mort, ton aiguillon ? / L’aiguillon de la mort, c’est le péché, et la force du péché, c’est la Loi » (vv. 54-56).

Saint Paul nous dit donc que chaque homme, à travers le baptême dans la mort et la résurrection du Christ, participe à la victoire de Celui qui le premier a vaincu la mort, en entamant un chemin de transformation qui se manifeste dès lors dans une nouveauté de vie et qui atteindra sa plénitude à la fin des temps.

Il est très significatif que le texte se conclue par une action de grâce : « Mais grâces soient à Dieu, qui nous donne la victoire par notre Seigneur Jésus Christ ! » (v. 57). Le chant de victoire sur la mort se transforme en chant de gratitude élevé au Vainqueur. Nous aussi ce soir, en célébrant les louanges vespérales de Dieu, nous voulons unir nos voix, nos esprits et nos cœurs à cet hymne d’action de grâce pour ce que la grâce divine a opéré dans l’Apôtre des nations et pour le merveilleux dessein salvifique que Dieu le Père accomplit en nous au moyen du Seigneur Jésus Christ.

Tandis que nous élevons notre prière, nous sommes convaincus que nous serons transformés nous aussi et configurés à l’image du Christ. Cela est particulièrement vrai dans la prière pour l’unité des chrétiens. En effet, lorsque nous implorons le don de l’unité des disciples du Christ, nous faisons nôtre le souhait exprimé par Jésus Christ à la veille de sa passion et de sa mort dans la prière adressée au Père : « Afin que tous soient un » (Jn 17, 21).

C’est pour cette raison que la prière pour l’unité des chrétiens n’est rien d’autre que la participation à la réalisation du projet divin pour l’Eglise, et l’engagement actif pour le rétablissement de l’unité est un devoir et une grande responsabilité pour tous.

Bien que faisant l’expérience à notre époque de la situation douloureuse de la division, nous chrétiens pouvons et devons regarder vers l’avenir avec espérance, car la victoire du Christ signifie le dépassement de tout ce qui nous empêche de partager la plénitude de la vie avec Lui et avec les autres.

La résurrection de Jésus Christ confirme que la bonté de Dieu l’emporte sur le mal, l’amour va au-delà de la mort. Il nous accompagne dans la lutte contre la force destructrice du péché qui entâche l’humanité et la création de Dieu tout entière. La présence du Christ ressuscité nous appelle tous, en tant que chrétiens, à agir ensemble pour la cause du bien. Unis dans le Christ, nous sommes appelés à partager sa mission, qui est celle d’apporter l’espérance là où dominent l’injustice, la haine et le désespoir. Nos divisions rendent notre témoignage au Christ moins lumineux.

L’objectif de la pleine unité que nous attendons dans une espérance active et pour laquelle nous prions avec confiance, n’est pas une victoire secondaire, mais elle est importante pour la famille humaine.

Dans la culture aujourd’hui dominante, l’idée de victoire est souvent associée à un succès immédiat. Dans l’optique chrétienne, en revanche, la victoire est un long processus de transformation et de croissance dans le bien qui, à nos yeux d’hommes, n’apparaît pas toujours linéaire. Celle-ci arrive selon les temps de Dieu, et non les nôtres, et exige de nous une foi profonde et une persévérance patiente.

Bien que le Royaume de Dieu fasse définitivement irruption dans l’histoire avec la résurrection de Jésus, celui-ci n’est pas encore pleinement réalisé. La victoire finale adviendra uniquement avec la seconde venue du Seigneur, que nous attendons avec une espérance patiente. Notre attente pour l’unité visible de l’Eglise doit elle aussi être patiente et confiante. C’est uniquement dans de telles dispositions que trouvent tout leur sens notre prière et notre engagement quotidien pour l’unité des chrétiens.

L’attitude d’attente patiente ne signifie pas passivité ou résignation, mais une réponse prompte et attentive à toute possibilité de communion et de fraternité, que le Seigneur nous donne....

Je souhaite confier à l’intercession de saint Paul tous ceux qui, par leur prière et leur engagement, travaillent pour la cause de l’unité des chrétiens. Même si on peut parfois avoir l’impression que le chemin vers le plein rétablissement de la communion est encore très long et pavé d’obstacles, j’invite tous à renouveler leur détermination à poursuivre, avec courage et générosité, l’unité qui est volonté de Dieu, en suivant l’exemple de saint Paul qui, devant les difficultés en tout genre, a conservé toujours ferme la confiance en Dieu qui conduit à l’accomplissement de son œuvre.

D’ailleurs, sur ce chemin, ne manquent pas les signes positifs d’une fraternité renouvelée et d’un sens partagé de responsabilité face aux grandes problématiques qui affligent notre monde. Tout cela est un motif de joie et de grande espérance et doit nous encourager à poursuivre notre engagement pour parvenir tous ensemble à l’objectif final, en sachant que nos efforts ne sont pas vains dans le Seigneur (cf. 1 Co 15, 58). Amen.  [Benoit XVI, 25 janvier 2012]

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Saint François de Sales - Patron Saint of Catholic Communicators

François de Sales, c’est avant tout une vie dédiée à l’apostolat. Homme de coeur, il fait preuve d’un puissant charisme de directeur spirituel. Proclamé Docteur de l’Église par Pie IX, saint Fançois de Sales développe une spiritualité évangélique à la portée de tous, qui fait de lui un véritable Prophète de l’Amour.

Une vie dédiée à l’apostolat François est né le 21 août 1567 au château de Sales, sur la commune actuelle de Thorens, à une vingtaine de kilomètres d’Annecy en Haute-Savoie. Il est baptisé le 28 août en l’église paroissiale de Thorens, où il sera sacré évêque le 14 décembre 1602.

Originaire de la petite noblesse campagnarde de Savoie, terre alors indépendante, François de Sales a rapidement développé des qualités humaines indéniables lors de ses études d’humanités et de droit à Paris, puis à Padoue.

Devenu prêtre malgré les réticences de son père, il s’illustra courageusement dans une mission de quatre ans (1594 – 1598) en terre chablaisienne (région du nord de la Savoie et du sud du lac Léman) envahie par les Bernois calvinistes, avant de devenir évêque du diocèse de Genève en résidence à Annecy de 1602 à 1622. Il mourut à Lyon, épuisé par la tâche apostolique.

Un charisme de directeur spirituel: François de Sales et Jeanne de Chantal - Homme de relations, prédicateur apprécié dans son diocèse et au-delà, médiateur entre les princes du monde, conseiller dans les discussions théologiques (surtout entre jésuites et dominicains) au sujet de la liberté humaine et de la providence divine, François est connu comme fondateur, avec Jeanne de Chantal, de la Visitation Sainte-Marie (en 1610), foyer d’oraison qui connaîtra une rapide expansion au XVIIe siècle en France puis à travers le monde (en particulier en Amérique latine).

Prêchant, catéchisant, il a pris soin de visiter toutes les paroisses de son diocèse, ce qui nous paraît aujourd’hui normal ; ce l’était moins au sortir d’une époque où les évêques étaient plus princes que pasteurs et où les communications dans une région montagneuse et menacée étaient souvent périlleuses.

Monseigneur de Genève, puisque tel était son titre, ne put jamais célébrer dans sa cathédrale Saint-Pierre devenue réformée en 1536, mais il rayonna depuis sa terre d’exil, Annecy, où de nombreuses congrégations religieuses avaient trouvé refuge. À l’image de son modèle, saint Charles Borromée, François de Sales fut un bel exemple de pasteur selon le cœur de Dieu et dans l’esprit du concile de Trente. Au milieu des transformations culturelles de la Renaissance et des réformes religieuses (protestante puis catholique), il a promu une voie spirituelle ouverte à tous.

Il nous a laissé de nombreux sermons et entretiens ainsi qu’une intéressante correspondance (plus de 2000 lettres), témoin de son charisme de directeur spirituel et de son inlassable activité apostolique. L’Introduction à la vie dévote (1608), rassemblant des lettres adressées à une Philothée (amie de Dieu), connut plusieurs éditions de son vivant et fut un best-seller du XVIIe.

Son rayonnement spirituel  François fréquenta à Paris le cercle Acarie, qui rassembla de hautes figures spirituelles comme Bérulle et Vincent de Paul, qui devint son ami et nous livra cette confidence : "J’étais porté à voir en lui l’homme qui a le mieux reproduit le Fils de Dieu sur terre". François confia à Vincent la direction spirituelle de la Visitation qu’il venait de fonder à Paris tandis que, de leur côté, les "Filles de la Charité" de saint Vincent de Paul et de Louise de Marillac devaient étudier l’Introduction à la vie dévote.

La postérité spirituelle de François fut grande, en particulier à travers l’École Française et, au XIXe, par les congrégations et sociétés spirituelles qui se sont inspirées de son œuvre (Missionnaires et oblats, oblates de saint François de Sales, salésiens et salésiennes de Don Bosco, sociétés saint François de Sales) à l’heure où Pie IX le proclama "Docteur de l’Église" (1877). Patron des écrivains et journalistes catholiques, François est d’abord un communicateur et un maître spirituel que découvrent de plus en plus de laïcs qui participent à des retraites salésiennes ou des groupes de lecture de ses œuvres.

Un homme de coeur En lui, tout est harmonieux ; c’est un humaniste à la riche personnalité et au grand équilibre. François est un affectif, mais jamais victime de sensiblerie : c’est un homme de cœur.

Il paraît fragile et vulnérable, mais sait être souvent ferme et courageux. Il aime la sérénité, mais sent parfois monter en lui une violence qu’il apprend à maîtriser. Sa douceur est acquise à force de patience et de remise de soi dans les mains de Dieu. Il est homme de justice tout en sachant être indulgent, conciliateur mais pas naïf. Il affectionne la multiplicité qu’il gère avec humour et il a l’art de simplifier ce qui est compliqué. On fera souvent appel à ses talents de médiation.

Il se méfie de l’affectation et des apparences et valorise la motivation et la qualité du cœur, comme l’illustre cette remarque concernant la prédication : "Il faut que vos paroles soient enflammées, non par des cris et des actions démesurées, mais par l’affection intérieure. Il faut qu’elles sortent du cœur plus que de la bouche. On a beau dire mais le cœur parle au cœur, la bouche ne parle qu’aux oreilles" (lettre à Mgr Frémyot, 1604). C’est un réaliste qui privilégie la voie de la simplicité et de l’humilité : "Ce n’est pas par la grandeur de nos actions que nous plaisons à Dieu, mais par l’amour avec lequel nous les faisons".

Une spiritualité évangélique à la portée de tous Sa spiritualité est profondément évangélique et accessible : parlant la langue du peuple, utilisant de nombreuses images tirées de la nature ou de l’expérience humaine, en particulier conjugale et familiale, il sait nous révéler un Dieu cordial, amoureux de notre humanité.

Familier du Cantique des cantiques dont un commentaire l’a enflammé lors de ses études parisiennes, il insiste sur la convenance qui existe entre Dieu et le cœur de l’homme, convenance qui trouve son origine dans la ressemblance que Dieu y a inscrite en le créant. Sa vision de Dieu est celle de l’Écriture, en particulier des prophètes de l’alliance : un Dieu "jalousement" amoureux de l’homme, un Dieu "maternellement paternel" qui est communion d’amour.

Dieu n’a qu’un désir : communiquer son amour et solliciter une réponse dans la liberté qu’il accompagne de sa grâce ; François utilise volontiers des images maternelles pour dire cette sollicitude : "Les enfants, à force d’ouïr leurs mères et de bégayer avec elles, apprennent à parler leur langage ; et nous, demeurant près du Sauveur par la méditation et observant ses paroles, ses actions et ses affections, nous apprendrons, moyennant sa grâce, à parler, faire et vouloir comme lui".

1ère édition du TraitéL’homme, travaillé par l’Esprit Saint, est sans cesse ramené à son cœur pour y consentir au Dieu vivant et y vivre le "trépas". François entend par là la nécessité de consentir à la dimension pascale de l’existence chrétienne. Dans le Traité de l’Amour de Dieu (1616), ouvrage "pour les âmes avancées en dévotion", il exprime sa vision de l’amour de Dieu et montre que "trépasser en la volonté de Dieu" est le sommet de l’adhésion au Christ.

Loin d’appuyer comme d’autres spiritualités sur le caractère mortifiant du sacrifice du Christ, il en retient surtout la logique d’amour. François se méfiera toujours des manifestations mystiques exceptionnelles : "Elles ne sont nullement nécessaires pour bien servir et aimer Dieu, ce qui doit être notre unique prétention".

Faisant écho au double commandement évangélique, François dira que l’amour de Dieu et l’amour des frères sont "sortis comme jumeaux des entrailles de la miséricorde de Dieu". L’amour fraternel est le lieu le plus familier des petits "trépas" que Dieu nous propose chaque jour pour rencontrer l’autre en mourant à nous-même.

Prophète de l’Amour Telle est la sainteté à laquelle tout homme est appelé, une sainteté pour tous, adaptée à la profession, l’histoire et la vocation de chacun : "C’est une erreur, une hérésie, de vouloir bannir la vie dévote de la compagnie des soldats, de la boutique des artisans, de la cour des princes, du ménage des gens mariés…. Où que nous soyons, nous pouvons et devons aspirer à la vie parfaite" ; toute son œuvre comme pasteur et guide spirituel est une éducation à la sainteté, une sainteté qu’on pourrait qualifier de cordiale et ordinaire.

Comme les fleurs qui, par la diversité de leurs formes, couleurs et parfums, font l’harmonie d’un bouquet, ainsi "les plantes vivantes de son Église" sont appelées à produire des fruits de dévotion, "un chacun selon sa qualité et vocation".

Basilique de la Visitation d’Annecy Elle abrite les reliques de saint François et de sainte Jeanne.À l’heure actuelle où, pour beaucoup, Dieu semble étrangement silencieux, ce prophète de l’Amour qu’est François de Sales nous propose un chemin divin à hauteur d’homme : "Tout faire par amour et rien par force" (lettre à Jeanne de Chantal du 14 octobre 1604).

Au milieu des difficultés et des doutes, il nous prend doucement par la main pour nous accompagner dans cette disponibilité à la grâce de Dieu qui "est si gracieuse et saisit si gracieusement nos cœurs pour les attirer, qu’elle ne gâte rien en la liberté de notre volonté". [Extrait de l’article : "Saint François de Sales, Maître spirituel" par le Père Alain VIRET, publié dans la revue "FRANCE CATHOLIQUE", N°2859 - 6 décembre 2002.]

Pour le salut des âmes, Seigneur, tu as voulu que l'évêque saint François de Sales devienne le serviteur de tous en toutes choses ; fais que, soutenus par son exemple, nous donnions une preuve de ta douce charité en nous dévouant pour nos frères. Amen.

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St. Francis de Sales

Francis was born on August 21, 1567, and ordained to the priesthood in 1593. From 1594 to 1598 he labored at the difficult and dangerous task of preaching to the Protestants of Chablais and effected the return of some 70,000 souls to the Catholic faith. In 1602 he became bishop of Genf. His zeal for souls is attested in 21,000 extant letters and 4,000 sermons which exemplify how he applied St. Paul's words: "I have become all things to all men."

You may epitomize his character in two words, kindliness and lovableness — virtues that were the secret of his success. His writings reflect his kindheartedness and sweet disposition.

Most widely known is the saint's Introduction to the Devout Life, which, with the Imitation of Christ, is rightly considered the finest outline of Christian perfection. Francis' Introduction proves to the world that true piety makes persons amiable, lovable and happy. A renowned and holy friendship existed between him and St. Frances de Chantal. In cooperation with her he founded the Visitation Nuns in 1610. Out of love for his own poor diocese, he refused opportunities for advancement, including the cardinalate. In recognition of the Introduction and his other writings, Francis has been declared a doctor of the Church.

How Francis developed a gentle and amiable disposition is a story in itself; he was not born a saint. By nature his temperament was choleric, fiery; little was needed to throw him into a state of violent anger. It took years before he mastered his impatience, his unruly temper. Even after he became bishop, there were slips, as for instance, when someone rang a bell before he had finished preaching. The important point, of course, is that by constant perseverance he did in time attain perfect self-mastery. Wherein lies a lesson.  [— Excerpted from Piis Parsch, The Church's Year of Grace]

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O God, who for the salvation of souls willed that the Bishop Saint Francis de Sales become all things to all, graciously grant that, following his example, we may always display the gentleness of your charity in the service of our neighbor. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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Here are several photos from the ecumenical prayer service held at Eglise St-Gabriel in Gloucester on Sunday afternoon (thanks to Paul Lauzon).

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

3C: Preaching "Good News to the Poor" in the Nazareth Synagogue - Saint Marianne Cope

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year "C")—January 27, 2013
[Texts: Nehemiah 8.2-4a, 5-6, 8-10 [Psalm 19]; 1 Corinthians 12.12-30; Luke 1.1-4; 4.14-21]

Each part of Luke's two-volume work begins with a literary prologue—addressed to Theophilus—following conventions found in historical and biographical writings of the day (cf. Acts 1.1-2). Like a writer's preface today, prologues indicated something about the author's predecessors; the work's subject matter, plan and arrangement; the author's name, qualifications and the official addressee(s).

Still, Luke does not tell us his name, mention Jesus by name or indicate the scope of his work. Origen thought that Theophilus, which means ‘friend of God,’ referred to any reader open to God's message. More likely, however, he was a wealthy Christian who served as the patron for the preparation and publication of Luke-Acts.

The evangelist's statement of purpose speaks of others having tried to give an “orderly account” of the “events that have been fulfilled among us”. And of Luke's own try at an orderly account, so that Theophilus and subsequent readers might know “the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed”. The point Luke stressed about ‘the truth’ may also mean ‘security’ or ‘assurance’—i.e., something on which one's faith may be safely grounded.

Jesus' synagogue sermon at Nazareth, ‘where he had been brought up’, illustrates how Luke intends us to understand what he had in mind in his prologue. From Mark's gospel, one of Luke's sources, we learn of the negative response to Jesus' address in Nazareth (Mark 6.1-6a). In Mark's chronology, this visit home took place well after had Jesus begun the Galilean phase of his career.

Luke does not deny Mark's chronology. He even has Jesus' townspeople refer to miracles that Jesus had worked in Capernaum (“Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum” [4.24]). But Luke made this episode the frontispiece of Jesus' whole ministry because it manifested key gospel themes, particularly that Jesus fulfils the prophets by evangelizing outcasts and declaring the “year of the Lord's favour”.

Leviticus had prescribed, at 50-year intervals, times of “jubilee” when debts would be forgiven and lost land holdings regained by the poor. Isaiah foretold this would be effected by the Spirit working through the coming “Servant of the Lord”. Jesus declared that these promises had found their fulfilment “today ... in your hearing”.

In the portion of this encounter read next Sunday, Jesus says that God's outreach extends to Gentiles, an assertion that evoked so hostile a reaction from his compatriots that it foreshadowed his death and resurrection. However, God's designs are not thwarted by human resistance.

As in the paradox of the cross, God's compassion—far from being extinguished by hardness in human hearts—continues to spread in ever-widening circles. For God seeks out every human heart “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1.8).

Rejoicing in God's favour is also a theme in the first reading. Nehemiah described the circumstances of God's people during the Persian Empire's annexation of Israel. The Temple had not yet been rebuilt, the office of king had disappeared and the land was occupied by a foreign power. Only one ‘institution’ remained that no one could suppress: reading and adhering to God's Torah handed down by Moses.

Celebrating a time of renewal and the birth of ‘Judaism’, Ezra the priest solemnly proclaimed God's Law. The people were united in their commitment to it. It mattered little that Jerusalem's ramparts had not yet been erected, “for the joy of the Lord is your strength”.

The analogy of the body—which is “one” despite its “many” members—was a commonplace in antiquity. Paul used it to challenge the Corinthians to transcend rivalries over which spiritual gifts or offices in the church were more important. Instead of partiality, each was asked to see that “in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body ... and we were all made to drink of one Spirit”.

Accordingly, “if one member [of Christ's Body] suffers, all suffer together with it”; and conversely, “if one member [of the Church] is honoured, all rejoice together with it”. Disciples are asked to express the oneness effected in them, the Body of Christ, by the Holy Spirit. Prompted by the Spirit, Christians encourage each other by sharing each other's hurts and by celebrating each other's blessings.

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Saint Marianne Cope

Reverend Sister Marianne, Matron of the Bishop Home, Kalaupapa

To see the infinite pity of this place,
The mangled limb, the devastated face,
The innocent sufferers smiling at the rod,
A fool were tempted to deny his God.

He sees, and shrinks; but if he look again,
Lo, beauty springing from the breast of pain!—
He marks the sisters on the painful shores,
And even a fool is silent and adores.

--Robert Louis Stevenson, Kalawao, May 22, 1889

Mother Marianne Cope is one of the new saints canonized October 21 by Pope Benedict XVI. The new saint from New York was born Maria Anna Barbara Koob on January 23, 1838 in Heppenheim in the Grand Duchy of Hesse (modern-day Germany). When she was just a year old, her family emigrated to the United States—settling in the farming community of Utica, New York.

From early childhood Maria Anna was attracted to religious life. Attending school at the Parish of St. Joseph, she admired the sisters who had devoted their lives to Christ. However, her vocation was to be delayed: Her father became an invalid when Maria Anna was in eighth grade, and she went to work in a factory to help support her family. At age 24, when her younger siblings were old enough to assume responsibility for the family and after her father had died, Maria Anna entered the Sisters of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis, based in Syracuse, New York.

After one year in the novitiate, Maria Anna received the habit of the Franciscan sisters and with it, her new name: Sister Marianne. She became a schoolteacher, then a principal, at newly established schools for German-speaking immigrants in the region.

By the 1860s, Sister Marianne had been elected to the Governing Council of her religious order; and in that role, she was instrumental in opening two new hospitals in Central New York. She was appointed by the Superior General to direct St. Joseph’s Hospital, the first public hospital in Syracuse, and she served in that role from 1870-1877.

Unlike other hospitals of the time, the Franciscan hospitals stipulated in their Charter that medical care was to be provided to all, regardless of race or creed. She helped to further patients’ rights, insisting in a letter of negotiations with the Medical College at Syracuse University that it was the right of the patient in each and every case to decide whether or not he or she wished to be brought before medical students. Sister Marianne was often criticized for accepting into treatment “outcast” patients such as alcoholics, who were spurned by hospitals at the time; but she was well-known and loved among New Yorkers for her kindness, wisdom and down-to-earth practicality.

In 1883, Mother Marianne—by that time the Provincial Mother in Syracuse—received a letter from a Catholic priest asking for help managing hospitals and schools in the Hawaiian Islands, mainly caring for leprosy patients. She responded enthusiastically, writing,

“I am hungry for the work and I wish with all my heart to be one of the chosen ones, whose privilege it will be to sacrifice themselves for the salvation of the souls of the poor Islanders…. I am not afraid of any disease; hence, it would be my greatest delight even to minister to the abandoned ‘lepers’.”

With six other Sisters of St. Francis, Mother Marianne arrived at Honolulu in November 1883. The sisters would manage and serve at the Kaka’ako Branch Hospital on Oahu, a receiving station where Hansen’s disease (leprosy) patients from throughout the Hawaiian Islands were sent to prevent further spread of the disease. Within two years, the sisters had cleaned the hospital and treated the 200 patients, making major improvements in living conditions; and in 1905 they founded the Kapi’olani Home, a residence for the daughters of leprosy patients, within the walls of the hospital compound. Fear of the disease had made public officials unwilling to care for the close relatives of those afflicted by the disease; only the sisters would welcome them and offer the home and education that these girls needed.

In January 1884, Mother Marianne met Fr. Damien de Veuster, who would become known as the “apostle to the lepers.” Two years later, after Father Damien had been diagnosed with Hansen’s disease, the Church and the Government were afraid to welcome him; only Mother Marianne offered hospitality, after hearing that his condition had made him an outcast. In 1888, in the last months of Father Damien’s life, Mother Marianne became his caretaker—promising him that she would continue to care for the patients at the Boys’ Home at Kalawao which he had founded.

After Father Damien’s death Mother Marianne, with Sr. Leopoldina Burns and Sr. Vincentia McCormick, cared for 103 girls at the Bishop Home for Girls, and operated the Home for Boys. Her cheerful countenance was an encouragement to the children and to the religious sisters in her order. Never fearful that she would contract leprosy herself, she said,

“God giveth life; He will take it away in His own good time. Meanwhile it is our duty to make life as pleasant and as comfortable as possible for those of our fellow-creatures whom He has chosen to afflict.”

Mother Marianne Cope, O.S.F., never contracted leprosy. She and her sisters were honored in the poem (above) written by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1889. She died of natural causes on August 19, 1918, and was buried at the Bishop Home.

On April 19, 2004, Pope John Paul II issued the decree officially naming her Venerable. She was among the first group of people to be beatified by Pope Benedict XVI, and is now often referred to as Blessed Marianne of Molokaʻi.

Her feast day (January 23) is celebrated by her Congregation, as well as by the Diocese of Honolulu and the Diocese of Syracuse. With her canonization her feast day should be celebrated and commemorated by all American Catholics; precise details are expected. [Since January 22 in the USA is observed as a Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children, the Deacon-Martyr St. Vincent is kept on January 23; choosing a date for St. Marianne Cope will be determined later.]

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Nouvel Évêque pour Bathurst, NB - Optional Memorial: St Vincent of Saragossa, Deacon and Martyr

Daniel Jodoin, prêtre curé
Today in Rome it was announced that His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Reverend Father Daniel Jodoin, currently Pastor of the Parish Bon Pasteur of the Archdiocese of Sherbrooke, as Bishop of Bathurst.

* * *
Aujourd’hui à Rome, on a annoncé que Sa Sainteté le Pape Benoît XVI a nommé Monsieur l’abbé Daniel Jodoin, présentement curé de la paroisse du Bon Pasteur de l’archidiocèse de Sherbrooke, évêque de Bathurst.

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L’aîné d’une famille de quatre enfants, je suis né à Granby un 2 mars. Après des études secondaires au Séminaire des Pères du Verbe Divin de Granby et des études collégiales au Collège Jean de Brébeuf de Montréal, j’ai poursuivi des études universitaires à l’École des Hautes Études Commerciales de Montréal (HEC) où j’ai obtenu un baccalauréat en administration (BAA) et une maîtrise en administration des affaires (MBA) en plus de devenir membre de l’Ordre des comptables agréés du Québec (CA).

Par la suite, j’ai entrepris des études théologiques au Séminaire Saint-Paul d’Ottawa. Après un stage pastoral dans la région de Farnham / Bedford et à la paroisse Saint-Joseph de Sherbrooke, je fus ordonné prêtre le 3 octobre 1992 en la chapelle de la Maison des Petites Sœurs de la Sainte-Famille de Sherbrooke. Ma première messe eut lieu le lendemain à la paroisse de Bedford, soit le 4 octobre 1992, jour de la fête de saint François d’Assise.

Quelques mois plus tard, Mgr Jean-Marie Fortier décida de me nommer curé des paroisses Saints-Anges de Ham Nord, Saint-Fortunat et Notre-Dame de Ham auxquelles s’ajouta par la suite la paroisse de Saint-Julien. Après un terme de 6 ans comme curé, Mgr André Gaumond me nomma aux études à Rome à l’Université pontificale Grégorienne afin d’obtenir une licence en théologie dogmatique, plus précisément en ecclésiologie.

Au terme de ce séjour à Rome, Mgr Gaumond me demanda d’être le pasteur de la paroisse St-François-d’Assise, ce que j’ai accepté alors avec joie. Devenant par le fait même membre et maintenant président de la Zone pastorale Sherbrooke-Est, ces rencontres m’ont permis de mieux connaître les acteurs et la vie paroissiale des différentes paroisses de ce quartier.

[Plus tard] Mgr Gaumond me demanda de relever un nouveau défi, celui d’assumer la cure des paroisses Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption, Sainte-Famille et Très-Saint-Sacrement étant donné le départ du curé, ce que j’ai aussi accepté avec joie sachant le désir de chacun(e) d’intensifier sa foi et de rendre vivante sa communauté.

Nous serons donc tous ensemble appelés à relever des défis, à bâtir des projets, à partager des moments de joie et à s’épauler mutuellement dans les moments plus difficiles. Pour écrire ce nouveau chapitre de notre histoire tant personnelle que paroissiale, nous ne serons cependant pas seuls, le Christ sera avec nous, lui qui nous a promis son aide et une présence indéfectible.

En terminant, je tiens à vous assurer de mon entière disponibilité à votre égard. N’hésitez donc pas à venir me rencontrer soit au presbytère ou lors d’une de nos célébrations. Comme prêtre, j’essaierai alors de vous accueillir comme le Christ Lui-Même vous accueillerait, Lui qui est notre Unique Pasteur.
Daniel Jodoin, prêtre curé

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Most of what we know about this saint comes from the poet Prudentius. His Acts have been rather freely colored by the imagination of their compiler. But St. Augustine, in one of his sermons on St. Vincent, speaks of having the Acts of his martyrdom before him. We are at least sure of his name, his being a deacon, the place of his death and burial.

According to the story we have (and as with some of the other early martyrs the unusual devotion he inspired must have had a basis in a very heroic life), Vincent was ordained deacon by his friend St. Valerius of Zaragossa in Spain. The Roman emperors had published their edicts against the clergy in 303, and the following year against the laity. Vincent and his bishop were imprisoned in Valencia. Hunger and torture failed to break them. Like the youths in the fiery furnace (Book of Daniel, chapter three), they seemed to thrive on suffering.

Valerius was sent into exile, and Dacian, the Roman governor, now turned the full force of his fury on Vincent. Tortures that sound very modern were tried. But their main effect was the progressive disintegration of Dacian himself. He had the torturers beaten because they failed.

Finally he suggested a compromise: Would Vincent at least give up the sacred books to be burned according to the emperor’s edict? He would not. Torture on the gridiron continued, the prisoner remaining courageous, the torturer losing control of himself. Vincent was thrown into a filthy prison cell—and converted the jailer. Dacian wept with rage, but strangely enough, ordered the prisoner to be given some rest.

Friends among the faithful came to visit him, but he was to have no earthly rest. When they finally settled him on a comfortable bed, he went to his eternal rest. []

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Almighty ever-living God, mercifully pour out your Spirit upon us, so that our hearts may possess the strong love by which the Martyr Saint Vincent triumphed over all bodily torments. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sainte Agnès, vierge et martyre

Almighty ever-living God, who choose what is weak in the world to confound the strong, mercifully grant, that we, who celebrate the heavenly birthday of your Martyr Saint Agnes, may follow her constancy in the faith. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

St. Agnes

Agnes is one of the most glorious saints in the calendar of the Roman Church. The greatest Church Fathers vie with one another in sounding her praise and glory. St. Jerome writes: "All nations, especially their Christian communities, praise in word and writing the life of St. Agnes. She triumphed over her tender age as well as over the merciless tyrant. To the crown of spotless innocence she added the glory of martyrdom."

Our saint's name should be traced to the Greek hagne - the pure, rather than to the Latin agna - lamb. But the Latin derivation prevailed in the early Church. The reason may have been that eight days after her death Agnes appeared to her parents with a train of virgins, and a lamb at her side. St. Augustine knew both derivations. "Agnes", he writes, "means 'lamb' in Latin, but in Greek it denotes 'the pure one'".

The Latin interpretation occasioned the yearly blessing of the St. Agnes lambs; it takes place on this day in the Church of which she is patron, and the wool is used in weaving the palliums worn by archbishops and, through privilege, by some bishops. Every year on her feast day, lambs--a sign of Saint Agnes's purity--are blessed at the basilica, and their wool is then used to create palliums, the distinctive garments given by the Pope to archbishops to show their unity with the Holy Father.

In the church built by the Emperor Constantine over the saint's grave, Pope Gregory the Great preached a number of homilies. Reliable details concerning the life of St. Agnes are very few. The oldest material occurs in St. Ambrose's De Virginibus, parts of which are read today at Matins. The value of the later (definitely unauthentic) "Passion" of the saint is enhanced by the fact that various antiphons and responsories in the Office are derived from it.

From such liturgical sources we may construct the following "life of St. Agnes". One day when Agnes, then thirteen years old, was returning home from school, she happened to meet Symphronius, a son of the city prefect. At once he became passionately attracted to her and tried to win her by precious gifts. Agnes repelled him, saying: "Away from me, food of death, for I have already found another lover" (r. Ant.).

"With His ring my Lord Jesus Christ has betrothed me, and He has adorned me with the bridal crown" (3. Ant., Lauds). "My right hand and my neck He has encircled with precious stones, and has given me earrings with priceless pearls; He has decked me with lovely, glittering gems" (2. Ant.). "The Lord has clothed me with a robe of gold, He has adorned me with priceless jewels" (4. Ant.). "Honey and milk have I received from His mouth, and His blood has reddened my cheeks" (5. Ant.). "I love Christ, into whose chamber I shall enter, whose Mother is a virgin, whose Father knows not woman, whose music and melody are sweet to my ears. When I love Him, I remain chaste; when I touch Him, I remain pure; when I possess Him, I remain a virgin" (2. Resp.). "I am betrothed to Him whom the angels serve, whose beauty the sun and moon admire" (9. Ant.). "For Him alone I keep my troth, to Him I surrender with all my heart" (6. Ant.).

Incensed by her rebuff, Symphronius denounced Agnes to his father, the city prefect. When he threatened her with commitment to a house of ill fame, Agnes replied: "At my side I have a protector of my body, an angel of the Lord" (2. Ant., Lauds). "When Agnes entered the house of shame, she found an angel of the Lord ready to protect her" (1. Ant., Lauds). A light enveloped her and blinded all who tried to approach. Then another judge condemned her to the stake because the pagan priests accused her of sorcery.

Surrounded by flames she prayed with outstretched arms: "I beseech You, Father almighty, most worthy of awe and adoration. Through Your most holy Son I escaped the threats of the impious tyrant and passed through Satan's filth with feet unsullied. Behold, I now come to You, whom I have loved, whom I have sought, whom I have always desired."

She gave thanks as follows: "O You, the almighty One, who must be adored, worshipped, feared - I praise You because through Your only begotten Son I have escaped the threats of wicked men and have walked through the filth of sin with feet unsullied. I extol You with my lips, and I desire You with all my heart and strength."

After the flames died out, she continued: "I praise You, Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, because by Your Son the fire around me was extinguished" (4. Ant., Lauds). And now she longed for union with Christ: "Behold, what I yearned for, I already see; what I hoped for, I already hold in embrace; with Him I am united in heaven whom on earth I loved with all my heart" (Ben. Ant.). Her wish was granted; the judge ordered her beheaded. —Pius Parsch, The Church's Year of Grace.

Symbols: Lamb; woman with long hair and a lamb, sometimes with a sword at her throat; woman with a dove which holds a ring in its beak; woman with a lamb at her side.

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Sainte Agnès

La fête de ce jour nous rappelle un des plus touchants et des plus beaux triomphes de la foi chrétienne ; elle nous montre une faible enfant sacrifiant, pour l'amour de Jésus-Christ, tout ce que le monde a de plus séduisant : noblesse, fortune, jeunesse, beauté, plaisirs, honneurs.

Agnès, enfant de l'une des plus nobles familles de Rome, se consacra au Seigneur dès l'âge de dix ans. Elle avait à peine treize ans quand un jeune homme païen, fils du préfet de Rome, la demanda en mariage ; mais Agnès lui fit cette belle réponse : "Depuis longtemps je suis fiancée à un Époux céleste et invisible ; mon cœur est tout à Lui, je Lui serai fidèle jusqu'à la mort. En L'aimant, je suis chaste ; en L'approchant, je suis pure ; en Le possédant, je suis vierge. Celui à qui je suis fiancée, c'est le Christ que servent les Anges, le Christ dont la beauté fait pâlir l'éclat des astres. C'est à Lui, à Lui seul, que je garde ma foi."

Peu après, la noble enfant est traduite comme chrétienne devant le préfet de Rome, dont elle avait rebuté le fils ; elle persévère dans son refus, disant : "Je n'aurai jamais d'autre Époux que Jésus-Christ." Le tyran veut la contraindre d'offrir de l'encens aux idoles, mais sa main ne se lève que pour faire le signe de la Croix.

Supplice affreux pour elle : on la renferme dans une maison de débauche. "Je ne crains rien, dit-elle ; mon Époux, Jésus-Christ, saura garder mon corps et mon âme." Et voici, ô miracle, que ses cheveux, croissant soudain, servent de vêtement à son corps virginal, une lumière éclatante l'environne, et un ange est à ses côtés. Le seul fils du préfet ose s'approcher d'elle, mais il tombe foudroyé à ses pieds. Agnès lui rend la vie, et nouveau prodige, le jeune homme, changé par la grâce, se déclare chrétien.

Agnès est jetée sur un bûcher ardent, mais les flammes la respectent et forment comme une tente autour d'elle et au-dessus de sa tête. Pour en finir, le juge la condamne à avoir la tête tranchée. Le bourreau tremble ; Agnès l'encourage : "Frappez, dit-elle, frappez sans crainte, pour me rendre plus tôt à Celui que j'aime ; détruisez ce corps qui, malgré moi, a plu à des yeux mortels." Le bourreau frappe enfin, et l'âme d'Agnès s'envole au Ciel. [Abbé L. Jaud, Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l'année, Tours, Mame, 1950.]

Dieu éternel et tout-puissant, tu choisis les créatures les plus faibles pour confondre les puissances du monde ; tandis que nous célébrons l'anniversaire du martyre de sainte Agnès, accorde-nous d'imiter sa fermeté dans la foi. Amen.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Wedding Feast at Cana in Galilee

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the Mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the Mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." (And) Jesus said to her, "Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come." His Mother said to the servers, "Do whatever He tells you." (John 2.1-5)

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Almighty ever-living God, who govern all things, both in heaven and on earth, mercifully hear the pleading of your people and bestow your peace on our times. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Travel Day: Rome-Frankfurt-Ottawa - Prayer for Christian Unity

Today was a travel day, so the blogging is light.  Early next week, I hope to have a report on some of the activities in Rome from Wednesday through last night: the Holy Father`s Wednesday audience, Thursday Mass at the Congregation for Oriental Churches followed by a visit to the Pontifical Oriental College then Friday morning Mass at the Confession of St. Peter in the Vatican Basilica celebrated by Cardinal Sandri and, last evening a festive supper at St. Josephat College with representatives of the seminaries of the Eastern churches--all the work of CNEWA, along with humanitarian assistance to Christians suffering in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt.

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O God, who have united many nations in confessing your name, grant us, we pray, the grace to will and to do what you command, that the people called to your Kingdom may be one in the faith of their hearts and the homage of their deeds. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: What does God require of us?

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will be celebrated around the world, January 18-25, 2013.

This worldwide week of prayer encourages all Christians to meet, to participate in common prayer and other community activities, and especially to pray that all be one as Christ desires.

Catholics across the country and throughout the Universal Church will be celebrating the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

One event that I will take part in is the Capital Area Christian Council's bilingual celebration of prayer at St. Gabriel's Church, 55 Appleford, Gloucester on Sunday afternoon, January 20 from 4-5 PM (with a reception following in the parish hall).  All are most welcome.

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Semaine de prière pour l’unité chrétienne 2013 :
Qu’est-ce que Dieu exige de nous? (Michée 6, 6-8) 

La Semaine de prière pour l’unité chrétienne sera célébrée dans le monde du 18 au 25 janvier 2013.

Elle vise à encourager les chrétiens et les chrétiennes du monde entier, de toutes les Églises chrétiennes, à se rencontrer, à participer à des activités communautaires, et particulièrement à prier ensemble afin que tous soient unis comme le Christ Jésus le désire.

Les catholiques de partout au pays et dans l’Église universelle célébreront la Semaine de prière pour l’unité chrétienne.

Le Conseil chrétien de la région de la capitale invite les Catholiques et les autres chrétiens à une prière œcuménique bilingue qui aura lieu le dimanche 20 janvier à 16h à la paroisse Saint-Gabriel sur 55 Appleford, Gloucester.

Les chants de quatre (4) chorales animeront la rencontre de prière : Paroisse Saint-Gabriel, paroisse de l’Annunciation of the Lord, l’église unie de Rothwell et l’église anglicane de l’Épiphanie.

Une collation suivra la cérémonie.

Renseignements: l’abbé Jacques Kabangu 613-745-4342 ou

Thursday, January 17, 2013

St. Anthony of the Desert - Saint Antoine le grand, fondateur du Monachisme chrétien

O God, who brought the Abbot Saint Anthony to serve you by a wondrous way of life in the desert, grant, through his intercession, that, denying ourselves, we may always love you above all things. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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Anthony "the Great", the "Father of Monks", ranks with those saints whose life exercised a profound influence upon succeeding generations. He was born in Middle Egypt (about 250) of distinguished parents. After their untimely deaths, he dedicated himself wholly to acts of mortification.

One day while in church he heard the words of the Gospel: "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give it to the poor" (Matt. 19:21). It seemed as if Christ had spoken to him personally, giving a command he must obey.

Without delay he sold his property, gave the proceeds to the poor, and went into the desert (about 270). When overcome by fatigue, his bed was the hard ground. He fasted rigorously, ate only bread and salt, and drank only water. Nor would he take food before sundown; at times he passed two days without any nourishment. Often, too, he spent whole nights in prayer.

The saint suffered repeatedly from diabolical attacks, but these merely made him more steadfast in virtue. He would encourage his disciples in their struggle with the devil with such words: "Believe me; the devil fears the vigils of pious souls, and their fastings, their voluntary poverty, their loving compassion, their humility, but most of all their ardent love of Christ our Lord. As soon as he sees the sign of the Cross, he flees in terror." He died in 356 on Mount Kolzin by the Red Sea, 105 years old.

A year later his friend, the fearless bishop and confessor St. Athanasius, wrote his biography, which for centuries became the classic handbook of ascetics. As seen by St. Anthony, the purpose of asceticism is not to destroy the body but to bring it into subjection, re-establishing man's original harmonious integrity, his true God-given nature.

St. Anthony lived in solitude for about twenty years. "His was a perfectly purified soul. No pain could annoy him, no pleasure bind him. In him was neither laughter nor sadness. The sight of the crowd did not trouble him, and the warm greetings of so many men did not move him. In a word, he was thoroughly immune to the vanities of the world, like a man unswervingly governed by reason, established in inner peace and harmony."

Here are a few of his famous sayings to monks. "Let it be your supreme and common purpose not to grow weary in the work you have begun, and in time of trial and affliction not to lose courage and say: Oh, how long already have we been mortifying ourselves! Rather, we should daily begin anew and constantly increase our fervor. For man's whole life is short when measured against the time to come, so short, in fact, that it is as nothing in comparison with eternity. . . .

Therefore, my children, let us persevere in our acts of asceticism. And that we may not become weary and disheartened, it is good to meditate on the words of the apostle: 'I die daily.' If we live with the picture of death always before our eyes, we will not sin. The apostle's words tell us that we should so awaken in the morning as though we would not live to evening, and so fall asleep as if there were to be no awakening. For our life is by nature uncertain and is daily meted out to us by Providence. If we are convinced of this and live each day as the apostle suggests, then we will not fall into sin; no desire will enslave us, no anger move us, no treasure bind us to earth; we will await death with unfettered hearts."  — Excerpted from Pius Parsch, The Church's Year of Grace

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Antoine est un nom d'origine latine qui signifie "inestimable".

La liturgie célèbre le 17 janvier saint Antoine le grand, fondateur du Monachisme chrétien. Il naquit en Égypte à Quéman en 251, aux environs de Memphis. A 18 ans, il prend l'Évangile du Christ à la lettre : "Tout ce que tu as : vends-le, donne-le aux pauvres... puis viens, et suis-moi". Il distribue tous ses biens aux indigents et va s'enfoncer de plus en plus profondément dans le désert, poursuivant sa quête de l'Absolu de Dieu. Il se fixera en Haute-Égypte, dans le désert de la région de Thèbes.

Or Antoine est poursuivi par les visiteurs et se réfugie à l'est du Nil près d'Arsinoé, au pied du mont Golzim, au voisinage de la Mer Rouge. Pour vivre, il cultive blé et légumes, tresse des cordes, est ravitaillé par les nomades du désert. A tous ceux qui veulent imiter sa vie, Antoine enseigne l'art de lutter contre le démon. Parmi ses disciples que l'on appellera avec lui "les Pères du Désert", on rencontre Hilarion et Macaire. A la suite de saint Antoine, appelé "le grand", des foules de moines mèneront la vie des "anachorètes", ermites contemplatifs.

On représente souvent, dans nos vitraux d'églises, saint Antoine et son cochon ! De fait, Antoine est fréquemment poursuivi et assailli par le Tentateur qui, par tous les moyens, cherche à décourager sa vocation. A la suite de son Seigneur Jésus au désert de Juda, Antoine expérimente la Tentation, sans doute avec violence. Il en sortira finalement victorieux, par sa fidélité à la prière et à la pénitence.

Désormais, le saint pénitent et son cochon endiablé vont devenir inséparables dans l'imagerie populaire. La légende a brodé avec complaisance sur la réalité initiale de la "Tentation de saint Antoine", ainsi que nombre d'artistes comme Jérôme Bosch, Bruegel et Véronèse.