Monday, September 14, 2009

The Triumph of the Cross

The Triumph of the Cross by Agnolo Gaddi, Italian painter, Florentine school (active 1369-96 in Florence); Santa Croce, Florence, 1380s

Eleven years ago today, I was installed as the eleventh archbishop of Halifax; I hold many happy memories of my fifteen years in Halifax, six as a professor of New Testament at Atlantic School of Theology (1975-81) and nine as archbishop (1998-2007).


On September 13, Pope John Paul II travelled from Moncton, New Brunswick to Halifax, Nova Scotia where, hosted by Archbishop James Martin Hayes, he spoke at a Liturgy of the Word in Saint Mary's Cathedral Basilica to an assembly of priests, religious and laity, excerpts of which are reproduced below.

On the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, an important day in the history of the Archdiocese whose motto is "sub Cruce salus" = "under the Cross (we find) salvation", the Holy Father celebrated Mass on the Halifax Commons under a lashing rain, which failed to dampen the spirits of the hardy souls present that day.

From the address to the clergy, religious and laity at St. Mary's Cathedral:

Since the primary aim of the Church’s apostolate is to announce to the world by word and action the message of Christ and to communicate to it the saving grace of Christ, the principal means of bringing this about is the ministry of the word and of the sacraments. This task is fulfilled in a specific way through the ordained ministries conferred by the Sacrament of Orders. Christ himself has instituted the ministerial priesthood to make available to the whole People of God the Eucharistic Sacrifice, which is "the source and summit of the whole Christian life" (Lumen Gentium, 11). Hence all ministry is directed to this Sacrifice as to its goal and centre.

Some lay people are called to be associated in a particular way with the activities of the bishops, priests and deacons, or to exercise certain pastoral or ministerial tasks in a stable manner. When there is a shortage of clergy, this aspect of lay ministry is particularly providential. Yet all the laity are permanently assigned by Christ himself to the service of his Gospel within the unity of his Church. The Church rejoices when clergy, religious and laity work together, each group according to its specific calling, to give a united witness to the world of a common mission - the mission of Christ.

There is so much to be done. There are whole areas of human life which seem to be withdrawn from any ethical or religious influences. In this situation we are reminded of Jesus: "When he saw the crowds he felt sorry for them because they were harassed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest’ " (Matth. 9, 36-37). The true disciple is eager to announce Christ by word, either to unbelievers so as to draw them to the faith, or to the faithful in order to instruct them, strengthen them and incite them to more fervent Christian lives (Apostolicam Actuositatem, 6). There is truly an urgent need in the Church today for more lay people engaged in teaching Christian doctrine to the young.

The diversities of human needs requires a diversity of response on the part of the Church. The Church is one, as is her saving Gospel and her Eucharist, but she counts on the diligence of her members to discover effective ways to face new problems and new needs. Paul VI has clearly stated the Church’s stand: "We cannot but experience a great inner joy when we see so many pastors, religious and lay people fired with their mission to evangelize, seeking ever more suitable ways of proclaiming the Gospel effectively" (Pauli VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 73).

We know that the foundation and the fruitfulness of every apostolate and ministry in the Church depends on our living union with Christ our Lord and Master. This life of intimate union with Christ is maintained and nourished by prayer. In a very real sense we can say that the apostolate is the unfolding of Jesus’ love for others from within ourselves. However, without that union with Christ which is fostered through prayer our energy flags, we lose fervour and we run the risk of becoming as "a sounding brass or tinkling cymbal" (1 Cor. 13, 1).

Moreover, all ministry requires the support of the whole Christian community, especially through our perseverance in prayer for each other. How we need to pray for each other! How I appreciate and need your prayers! How your bishops, priests and deacons count on your prayerful support! They know how much you contribute to the well-being of the entire Church, how much you do to promote the saving mission of the Church to the world.

De cette vie spirituelle et apostolique, nous trouvons un modèle dans l’humble Vierge de Nazareth, la Mère de Jésus, la Reine des Apôtres. Le Second Concile du Vatican dit d’elle: “Tandis qu’elle menait sur terre une vie semblable a celle de tous, remplie par les soins et les labeurs familiaux. Marie demeurait toujours intimement unie a son Fils et coopérait a l’œuvre du Sauveur a un titre absolument unique. Aujourd’hui ou elle est au ciel, son amour maternel la rend attentive aux frères de son Fils dont le pèlerinage n’est pas achevé, et qui se trouvent engages dans les peines et les épreuves jusqu’à ce qu’ils parviennent a la patrie bienheureuse” (Apostolicam Actuositatem, 4)

Frères et sœurs, rendez grâce a Dieu pour la possibilité qu’il vous donne de servir le Christ et son Eglise. Servez avec reconnaissance et avec joie! Remerciez Dieu pour la foi que vous avez reçue dans vos foyers et vos communautés, et qui s’est répandue partout dans votre pays, et même autour du monde. Remerciez Dieu pour tous ceux qui l’ont servi avant vous, pour tous ceux qui ont annonce l’Evangile de notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ au long de ces rivages de l’Atlantique. Remerciez Dieu pour vos parents, vos éducateurs et vos pasteurs qui ont été les premiers a vous initier a l’Evangile!

As a servant of Christ who loves you all, I urge you, my companions in the faith, fellow pilgrims in our journey to the Father, to listen again to the words which Saint Peter wrote to the early Christian community:

"Each of you has received a special grace, so, like good stewards responsible for all these different graces of God, put yourselves at the service of others. If you are a speaker, speak in words which seem to come from God; if you are a helper, help as though every action was done at God’s orders; so that in everything God may receive the glory, through Jesus Christ, since to him alone belong all glory and power, for ever and ever. Amen" (1 Petr. 4, 10-11).

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Later in the day, the Holy Father flew to Toronto where, welcomed by Cardinal Gerald Emmett Carter, he addressed the clergy at St. Michael's Cathedral and prepared for numerous events, including the next day, an encounter with the Native Peoples at the Shrine of the Canadian Martyrs, Midland and Mass before half a million at Downsview Airport.

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