Thursday, June 25, 2009

THE ARCHDIOCESAN FEAST DAY (JUNE 25, 1847) --- Parish Catechetical Formation

Holy Redeemer Parish Sacramental Initiation Team
Yesterday, my Episcopal Vicar Father Joseph Muldoon and I met with members of the Christian Initiation Program at this large parish in Kanata that has been taking seriously preparing children to be initiated into the mystery of Christ (First Reconciliation, Confirmation and First Holy Communion).

Cathy Moloney, Sharon Groulx and Colleen Wiltse were full of enthusiasm for the way in which the parents and families of those being initiated were drawn into the life of faith--a process of ongoing evangelization. We also explored how this could be nurtured and strengthened as Confirmation will now be celebrated at a common age [in grade six] for all of our young people (I recently published a Pastoral Letter on this matter, which is available on the Archdiocesan website). All of us left encouraged by this fruitful exchange.

The Diocese of Bytown was established on this day in 1847, so this is the 162nd birthday of what became the Diocese of Ottawa (June 14, 1860) and subsequently the Archdiocese of Ottawa June 8, 1886).

Our Mass of Thanksgiving this evening will focus on two themes: the Close of the Year of St. Paul (at left is the Icon of St. Paul commissioned by the Archdiocese of Toronto for the Jubilee Year marking 2000 years since Paul's birth; the explanation by Sister Marie-Paul the writer of the icon follows below) and the welcoming of the Ark of the New Covenant (explained below) in anticipation of the Montee Jeunesse/Youth Summit 2010.

(Sr. Marie Paul is French-speaking; her description has been left unaltered)

“From the very day that the Archdiocese of Toronto asked me to prepare the icon of St. Paul who is standing, I have written for you a Paul who is bold and convincing. His experience of the Christian mystery and all that he learned from the Lord himself, gives him much assurance and conviction, while the Apostle to the nations remains simple and humble. His gaze is penetrating as if he wished to transmit the sense of the infinite that is within him. His gesture gives much importance to the book of Scriptures and his letters that he bears in his hand.

His robe is blue, a color that signifies wisdom, faith, experience of God and union with God. His cloak is an earth brown color that signifies the asceticism of the desert. Paul left everything to follow Christ. As you gaze upon this icon and pray to the Apostle Paul, hear once again Paul's own words and experience his vocation: “For me, to live is Christ.” (Gal 2:20)


Preparations for the International Eucharistic Congress got underway with the First Youth Summit held in May 2005. Participants at this initial mobilization of youth enjoyed a weekend of renewal and discussions; they noted how the Cross of World Youth Day had been used, and expressed the desire to produce a symbolic object that could travel the country to prepare the way for the congress.

A committee of youth from Quebec City and Montreal recommended to the Eucharistic Congress Steering Committee that it consider using an original artistic work. This artistic creation, the Ark, would expand understanding of the Eucharist and serve as the springboard for a wide variety of activities related to the objectives of the Eucharistic Congress.

The originality of the Ark as a first in the history of International Eucharistic Congresses wanted to foster creativity wherever it travelled and bring generations together – that it be come an impetus to unite many people in Christian reflection, to discover, deepen and celebrate the Eucharistic Mystery and render it in every way possible the gift of God for the life of the world.

Why an Ark? The Ark: A Chest: In this case, the Ark of the New Covenant is a seat, as well as a container. It is a “seat” for the King, that is, Christ, present under the form of the Eucharistic species exposed in a monstrance. It is also a chest containing the Scriptures, the Bible, which, proclaimed in the liturgy, becomes the presence of Christ who through his word teaches the people, his Church. The ship’s hold at the base of the Ark is a place where people can put testimony of their commitment as Christians, to make the passage of the Ark as it travels from one community to the next.

A Symbolic Boat: The base of the Ark is in the form of a boat, bringing to mind Noah’s Ark (cf. Genesis 6:18-22). However, it refers more to the boat of Peter. Ever since the institution of the New Covenant, the boat has been a symbol of the Church, the people of God who are journeying together.

The New and Eternal Covenant: Its name “Ark of the New Covenant,” of Biblical origin, refers to the spiritual experience of the people of Israel and the pact they concluded with God in the time of Moses in Sinai. Since that time, Jesus signed the New Covenant with the people of the Old Covenant. The expression “New Covenant” refers in fact to the new and eternal Covenant, which came from Jesus Christ, marked by the Pascal Mystery of his death and resurrection and celebrated in the Eucharist.

Mary, Ark of the New Covenant – A Marian Title: T he title, “Ark of the Covenant” was bestowed on the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus.

What do the icons at the top of the Ark represent? At the top of the Ark are four large icons, representing moments in the Paschal Mystery, or the Paschal Triduum: The Last Supper; The Passion and Death of Jesus; The Vigil of Mary, Jesus’ Mother; The Resurrection.

There are other smaller icons that also bring to mind various aspects of the Eucharist, the table of the New Covenant: The Multiplication of the Loaves; The Wedding at Cana; The Washing of the Feet; The Disciples at Emmaus

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