Saturday, July 31, 2010

Memorial of St. Ignatius Loyola - Jesuit Jubilarians

Today I will join fellow Jesuits for a feast day Mass at Holy Rosary Parish in Guelph and for the celebration at Ignatius College of our Order's founder, Inigo de Loyola y Onaz and, as well, to honour confreres celebrating major anniversaries of their religious life or priestly ordination.

Among these are five men who entered the Jesuit Novitiate fifty years ago, in August 1960, the year before my classmates and me: Fathers J. Winston Rye (Province Treasurer, formation house superior, Toronto), Michael J. Parent (serving in Tibet), G. William Robins (missionary in Nepal), Joseph J. Schuck (high school teacher, pastoral associate, St. John's,NL), Roger A. Yaworski (director, Ignatian Jesuit Centre, pastoral associate, Guelph, ON).

Our novice master, Father Leonard Fischer celebrates this year 75 years as a Jesuit, Marc Gervais marks 60 years and Lawrence Brennnan and Charles Holland are fifty years in the priesthood.

Ad multos annos, one and all!

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O God who raised up Saint Ignatius Loyola in your Church to further the greater glory of your Name, grant that, by his help, we may imitate him in fighting the good fight on earth and merit to receive with him a crown in heaven. Through our Lord.

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Pilgrim and Man of Prayer Who Founded the Society of Jesus

Ignatius Loyola (Iñigo Lopez de Loyola, 1491-1556) walked with a slight limp after being injured while defending the fortress at Pamplona in northern Spain. Slowed down by a lengthy recovery from that injury, he experienced an interior conversion that sent him on ever further journeys, a pilgrim propelled by an abiding devotion to Jesus Christ.

He crisscrossed Europe, walking back and forth through Spain, France and Italy. He wandered further by boat, sailing from Venice to the Holy Land. Eventually he took the name Ignatius, which is how we now refer to him; but in his memoir, he preferred to call himself simply, "the pilgrim."

Beyond the physical distance and the endless roads, Ignatius covered a great historical distance. He moved from the medieval world of a family of minor Basque nobility—proud of their defense of the king and hostile to the rising power of the towns—to the flowering of Renaissance learning in Paris and the rebuilding of Rome under artists like Michaelangelo and reformers like Charles Borromeo. He lived during a period of transition shaped by key figures such as Henry VIII and Mary Tudor, Raphael and El Greco, Luther and Calvin, Cervantes and Palestrina.

Had he followed his family's plans for himself, the youngest of 13 children, he would have become a cleric and settled into a comfortable life with benefices to support him and privilege to protect him. His own plans for himself led to one dead end after another.

His first journey set the stage for what would follow. He left the lush, steep-sided valley of the Urola River where his family owned the best land in the center of the valley, in order to journey to the broad plains of the south where Ferdinand the Catholic, the King of Castile, ruled over a sophisticated and wealthy world.

Ignatius was an ambitious young man who had no desire to stay at home with older brothers who had already won honor and some wealth. He wanted to become a courtier like his mentor, Don Juan Velásquez de Cuéllar, the royal treasurer who take Ignatius into his household at Arévalo.

For 11 years Ignatius learned skills of administration, diplomacy, arms and courtly manners that would prepare him for a career in public administration and political intricacies. He dreamed of being sent as an emissary of the king or ruling over a royal town such as Arévalo. However, his mentor's fall from power for opposing the new king, Carlos I, put an abrupt end to that ambition.

Next came his service with the Duke of Nájera, viceroy of the northern part of the Kingdom of Navarre which bordered on France. After a promising start where his diplomacy and leadership qualities made him a "gentilhombre" very useful to the Duke, this second career also came to an abrupt halt when a French cannon ball badly injured his legs.

After his convalescence and conversion a new desire to serve Jesus replace his former hopes of glory. His first efforts in this new service led to a complete reversal of values as the proud courtier became a poor beggar, imposing harsh penances upon himself in a literal imitation of the legends of the saints. He set out from Loyola for the Holy Land, stopping first at the shrine of the Black Virgin at Montserrat.

A one-night vigil stretched out to an intense year of prayer in the city of Manresa, not far Montserrat, before he continued his journey to Rome and Jerusalem. He planned to live in the Holy Land as a sort of permanent pilgrim, visiting the places where Jesus lived and talking with people about Jesus. When his reckless actions threatened the precarious situation of the Franciscans in charge of the holy places, they forced him to return to Europe.

Likewise, his initial efforts as a student at Barcelona, Alcalá and Salamanca were fruitless. Not until he learned to study in a disciplined manner at the University of Paris did Ignatius finally realize one of his plans--obtaining the education necessary to continue his work of conversing with people about God and spiritual matters.

In Paris other doors started to open for him as well. He met men who would be true companions and share his vision, men like Francis Xavier. Their education as Masters of the University of Paris qualified them for high positions; instead they set out as pilgrims looking for opportunities to serve God. Together these companions weathered the failure of their initial goal of going to the Holy Land; they waited in vain for an entire year for a ship to sail from Venice to Japha.

With their plans for the Holy Land frustrated, Ignatius and his companions turned to Rome where God's plan for them finally became clear. Rome became the center where the Society of Jesus came into being and then spread throughout the world. After all the previous journeys, Ignatius himself spent his last 18 years living in the crowded center of the city of Rome and working within a few small rooms. His most important journey continued, however, for it centered on his search for God and was graced with a profound mystical prayer.

Our most familiar image of Ignatius comes from this last part of his life. He is usually portrayed as a dour lawmaker pointing to the book of the Constitutions he wrote to govern the Society of Jesus. His own self-image remained that of the Pilgrim, which is how he constantly referred to himself as he dictated his autobiography towards the end of his life. []

Painting: Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), The Vision of St. Ignatius Loyola (c. 1617-18)

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From the British Jesuits' website, a reflection on the meaning of Ignatian spirituality:

To celebrate the Feast of St Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, James Hanvey SJ exposes the theological vision manifested in the Spiritual Exercises and in Ignatius’s life.

‘What Ignatius gives us is not a scholastic or academic theology; it is not a theory, but a theology that is lived and experienced. In this sense, too, our theology becomes a daily action, shaping and making our lives.’

...The Spiritual Exercises are a sort of practical, experiential theology that leads to a converted and consecrated freedom in action, not a treatise on Christology, ecclesiology, grace and nature. The same is true for the Constitutions of the Society and we can see how much this theology is his life in Ignatius’s letters and Spiritual Diary. Everything in these writings reveals an immanent living theology which is applied to the realities of persons, places and circumstances....

...The Exercises, and indeed the whole example of Ignatius’s life, certainly expect the subject to spare nothing in the service of God and his Kingdom, but this flows from an inexhaustible gratitude for what one has received from the Divine Majesty at such cost. The determined ordering of all one’s energies in the service of Christ, and the desire to participate as completely as possible in the work of salvation require a disciplined asceticism of love for God and for neighbour, but this ‘freedom’ is far from the indifference of a stoic self-mastery, though it may teeter on the brink of this distortion.

The subject’s life, the interior drama of desires and freedom, and the struggle and the discipline of realities that both circumscribe us and offer new possibilities are all present, but Ignatius sees them in relation to God who is actively present at their centre. The whole work of the Exercises is to give us a new point from which to see the world in all its astonishing diversity and especially to see the way in which the Son is present in its midst, ‘labouring and working’ for its healing. That work is to bring all things under the sovereignty of the Divine Majesty so that all created things, and especially the glory of God’s creation, the human person, can enjoy the plenitude of life....

...There are many aspects of Ignatius’s vision and practice that merit close study. His understanding of the Trinity or the Incarnation, the struggle of the Kingdom of the Enemy and the Kingdom of Christ, or the Rules for Thinking with the Church, have in various ways received attention. It would require much greater scope than this limited essay affords to treat these themes and others as they deserve.

There is one aspect, though, which has not received much attention, yet in part it may account for the modernity of Ignatius’s thought. It is the extraordinary relational way of thinking and seeing that marks the Ignatian vision; the refusal to distort these into some logical form or process and the determination to try to comprehend the vitality of our interconnectedness. It is a wisdom but it is not detached. Rather it is an ‘active wisdom’ that is alive both to the unity and the creative diversity of our relational realities.

This relational way of seeing things is undoubtedly grounded in his own mystical experience of a Trinitarian God: a God who chooses to be intimately related to the world as both Creator and Lord. The relational structure of Ignatius’s theology is immediately apparent in the Spiritual Exercises, the Spiritual Diary, the Letters and the Constitutions, even when parts may have been written by his secretary, Polanco.

The human person is never considered except in and through a nexus of relationships. We are never allowed to stand outside these relationships on our own; there is no sovereign self, exercising a contemplative grasp of the whole from some vantage point outside the material, historical and existential process of life. Indeed, it is part of the illusion of sin to think that we can exercise such independence.

In fact, Ignatius understands that sin is itself a web in which we are caught whether it be in the primal history of the Fall of the Angels or in the active malignity of evil that seeks to delude and ensnare us, ‘so that no province, no place, no state of life, no individual is overlooked.’

This is not just a colourful medieval mystery play in which we are given a part. It is an engagement with the ‘mysterium inquitatis’ that cannot be reduced to a projection of our own subjective woundedness. We can only begin to understand the extent of our entrapment – epistemological as well as psychological and existential – when we allow ourselves to stand in our relationship to Christ.

Christ suddenly casts a light that exposes the way in which evil spins its own relational reality; it has a history, it creates its own determining structures from which we cannot break by our own strength or intelligence. In this, Ignatius takes us into the apocalyptic understanding of the Gospel, but he never allows us to stand lost outside of the saving relationship with Jesus, our Saviour and Lord. It is a mark of our healing when we come to appreciate the truth of our dependence, our connectedness. But this connectedness is a living experience of being sustained and cared for, of being upheld and carried even when I want to deny or break away from this truth.

Our ‘conversion’ is one of mind and will when we come to understand all creation – natural and supernatural – ‘interceding... for me’. That action of intercession is not a trivial act – it is the movement of life itself, of being which expresses its goodness in this act of life-giving generosity even when I wound it....

...God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life. For God sent his Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that through him the world might be saved. (John 3:14-17)

It is because we live that experience of Love and are drawn into it through our relationship with the Son, that we become the bearers of the message of life to the world in the words and deeds given us by the Spirit, who is the Lord and Giver of Life. Indeed, for Ignatius our whole life is to be sent, to participate in this mission of the Spirit. It is the Spirit that is at the heart of all our relationships and orders them in this dynamic of reciprocity – the response we make to God’s self-gift in our ‘take and receive all...’

The final great active moment in which Ignatius asks us to find ourselves is the Contemplation to attain the Love of God at the end of the Exercises. It is not contemplation in the sense of an intellectual exercise; it is a performative act of loving self-gift. Only in that offering, in which we are both giving and being given being – the graced indwelling kenosis of the Spirit of Love (Jn 14:21; 15:8-17) – can we really experience the life that is God’s life, the life that is the life of all life.

Yet the Contemplation to attain Love is not only the end to which all our Exercises have been leading, it is also the daily reality in which we live. There is a sense in Ignatius, something we have learnt through the Exercises, that to live in this God, to be taken in His mission to the world, is also to go on growing. Indeed, there is a relationship between our practice of the ministry and works of God’s love in the world and the deepening of our capacity to receive this life in ourselves.

Here, living this grace increases our capacity and aptitude for it and there is no limit to this growth. With this comes a growth in our ability to judge or discern things correctly because we come to see them more and more in relation to God and His salvific plan. Our mind and heart become healed and our will becomes strengthened and attuned to do what is right – what generates that new life of the Kingdom. Love ‘sets things in order’; in loving we come to develop a ‘compassio’ with the things of God.

This is the source and shape of our mission and the gift of discernment. We have already indicated the relational nature of wisdom in Ignatius, but now we can recognise that it comes as gift of the Spirit active in our lives: not just understanding but of knowing how to love. It is the Spirit, the astonishing grace-filled generosity of God, that continues to pour into our hearts (Rom 5:5).

Friday, July 30, 2010

St. Peter Chrysologus, bishop & doctor of the Church - A Visit to Salt and Light TV

O God, who made the Bishop Saint Peter Chrysologus an outstanding preacher of your Incarnate Word, grant, through his intercession, that we may constantly ponder in our hearts the mysteries of your salvation and faithfully express them in what we do. Through our Lord.

St. Peter Chrysologus ("the man of golden speech") earned the title of Doctor of the Church for his eloquent sermons, of which some two hundred remain. Made Archbishop of Ravenna by miraculous intervention of St. Peter in 433, he rooted out all remaining traces of paganism, as well as a number of abuses among the Christians. In his sermons he strongly urged frequent Communion. He is supposed to have given us the saying: "He who wants to laugh with the devil cannot rejoice with Christ." St. Peter died about the year 450 in his native city of Imola.

In the fifth century, Ravenna, not Rome, was the capital of the Roman Empire in the West, and Ravenna itself became a metropolitan see. St. Peter Chrysologus was one of the most distinguished archbishops of that see.

Peter was born in Imola about the year 400 and studied under Cornelius, bishop of that city, who ordained him deacon. In 433, the archbishop of Ravenna died, and when a successor had been chosen by the clergy and people of Ravenna, they asked Bishop Cornelius to obtain confirmation of their choice from Pope Sixtus III. On his trip to Rome, Cornelius took his deacon, Peter, as his companion; upon seeing Peter, the pope chose him for the see of Ravenna instead of the one selected by the clergy and people of Ravenna.

Peter was consecrated and was accepted somewhat grudgingly at first by both the clergy and the people. Peter, however, soon became the favorite of Emperor Valentinian III, who resided at Ravenna and was also highly regarded by Pope St. Leo the Great, the successor of Pope Sixtus.

There were still traces of paganism in Peter's diocese, and his first effort was to establish the Catholic faith everywhere, rooting out abuses and carrying on a campaign of preaching and special care of the poor. Many of his sermons still survive, and it is on the basis of these that he came to be known as "the golden word."

In his concern for the unity of the Church, Peter Chrysologus opposed the teaching of Eutyches, condemned in the East, who asked for his support. Peter also received St. Germanus of Auxerre to his diocese and officiated at his funeral. Ravenna, his episcopal city, still harbors treasures of ancient Christian liturgical art dating to his day.

Knowing that his own death was near, Peter returned to his own city of Imola and after urging great care in the choice of his successor he died at Imola about the year 450 and was buried in the church of St. Cassian. In 1729, Pope Benedict XIII declared him a Doctor of the Church. — The One Year Book of Saints by Rev. Clifford Stevens

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Yesterday, I had an opportunity to visit the offices and studios of Salt and Light Television in downtown Toronto.

This gave me an opportunity to celebrate Mass for the staff in their compact but reverent chapel, honouring the memorial of St. Martha, with the rich scriptural theme of the biblical notion of hospitality.

Earlier, I had been introduced to new staffers or summer interns, as well as spent some time getting reacquainted with part of the S+L team I had not seen on site in more than a year.

Father Tom Rosica, CSB, the CEO and inspiring sparkplug of this going concern, had invited me to lunch in a nearby eatery and there we got caught up on news ecclesial from the past several months.

As it had been some time since we could do this, he arranged for me to be interviewed for the daily evening Perspectives 5-minute newscast in both English and French.

The English themes were fostering unity in matters of liturgy in the Archdiocese of Ottawa and my participation in the forthcoming Apostolic Visitation to the Archdiocese of Tuam; in French, in addition to brief remarks on this visitation, the focus of discussion was the significance of St. Ignatius Loyola as an aspect of my Jesuit religious life and more recent experience as a bishop, in light of the approach of his feast day on Saturday, July 31.

The interviews are posted at (the English version) and at (en francais).

Alessia Domanico conducts her Perspectives interview in English

Rita Sawaya hosts the Perspectives newscast in French

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Today's Memorial is of Saint Martha

Almighty everliving God, whose Son was pleased to be welcomed in Saint Martha's house as a guest, grant, we pray, that through her intercession, serving Christ faithfully in our brothers and sisters we may merit to be received by you in the halls of heaven. Through our Lord.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Visit to Parliament Hill

On Sunday, with St. John's NL Archbishop Martin Currie, who was visiting for a few days to celebrate a marriage joined me and Fr. Jim Knapp for a very informative visit to the Parliament of Canada.

The process of getting free tickets is quite expeditious, though we do have to go through airport security style clearance (which adds a half-hour to the 45-minute visit).

The tour guides were friendly and informative. Unfortunately for our group, an MP brought some of his constituents into the House of Commons, which meant we had to take a pass on the Green Chamber, but we did see the Senate, the Parliamentary Library (which is a gem) and, after the tour, took the elevator to the top of the Peace Tower dedicated in 1919 (and so named to express the aspirations of our country after the horrow of World War I).

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Midweek pause - Pope's Message for Chapel Island, NS celebration of Grand Chief Membertou

Today's post is rather later than normally, as I have been busy with visitors touring Ottawa (the Museum of War, Parliament, the Peace Tower, St. Patrick's Basilica and Notre Dame Cathedral--more on these in a future blogging effort). As well, I mislaid my memory card with recent photos and only found it just before bedtime last night, so downloading of pix has been delayed.

Meantime, the Vatican Information Service published on Saturday the Holy Father's message in Latin to Cardinal Marc Ouellet as his special envoy to the celebrations at Chapel Island, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia (Antigonish Diocese) on Sunday, August 1.

The VIS notes that when designated as his representative Cardinal Ouellet was primate of the Canadian Church as Archbishop of Quebec, though he is now Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops (I understand he will begin his duties on August 28).

The Papal Party will be comprised of Rev. Robert McNeil, Episcopal Vicar to the Mik’maq; Rev. Douglas J. Murphy, of Holy Rosary Parish, as well as Msgr. Luca Lorusso, Counsellor at the Holy See's Nunciature in Ottawa.

The message and the Papal Representation indicates the great significance of the 400th Anniversary of the Baptism of Grand Chief MEMBERTOU and replies to the invitation extended to the Holy Father some time ago by Grand Chief (Kji Saqmaw Sante’ Mawiomi) Ben Sylliboy, Keptin (Kji Keptin Sante’ Mawiomi) Andrew S. Denny, and then-Premier of Nova Scotia Rodney MacDonald.

Here is the letter, dated June 30, in its original Latin, which stresses the fittingness of this celebration for strengthening the Gospel first proclaimed to Membertou and the people of his time and which should bring great joy in these days.

This is why, wishing to associate himself with the people on this occasion the Pope has turned to Cardinal Ouellet to represent him. Pope Benedict expresses the wish that the Mik'maq renew their commitment and bestows on all his apostolic blessing:

Venerabili Fratri Nostro

MARCO S.R.E. Cardinali OUELLET, P.S.S.

Archiepiscopo Metropolitae Quebencensi

Quarta iam appetit saecularia memoria ex quo tempore sacro Baptismate est ablutum Magnum Caput Mi’kmaq Nationis Membertou atque Domini salutaria beneficia gentibus illis latius subministrari coepta sunt, sollertibus operantibus Evangelii praeconibus.

Admodum ideo decet et convenit ut eventus hic congruenter commemoretur et optimo iure extollatur. Celebratio enim haec copiam dat et facultatem rursus inter indigenas et reliquos Canadienses cives conciliandi animos, ut firma fide roborati certioribusque propositis suffulti una simul expedite in via salutis procedant.

Miserenti igitur favente Domino, evenientibus Kalendis Augustis in loco Chapel Island sollemnis erit ab illius Baptismi quarta centenaria commemoratio agenda, concurrentibus quoque fidelibus circumcirca commorantibus, ut Ecclesiae ista particula, inde fere sumens vim, vel uberiores fructus fundat et laetiores spiritales commoditates in dies experiatur.

Quocirca Mi’kmaq gentis primorum Kji Saqmaw Sante’ Mawiomi Ben Sylliboy et Kji Keptin Sante’ Mawiomi Andrew S. Denny, Novae Scotiae Primi Ministri Rodney Mac Donald postulationibus subvenientes, ut ritus hic magnificentius efficaciusque evolvatur, mittere aliquem eminentem Praesulem statuimus, qui partes Nostras sustineat et Personam agat. Ad te autem, Venerabilis Frater Noster, cogitationem convertimus, qui, Canadiensis Nationis inclitus filius, prorsus idoneus occurris ad ministerium hoc praestandum et luculenter explendum. Itaque permagna moti affectione, te, Venerabilis Frater Noster, Missum extraordinarium Nostrum renuntiamus et constituimus ad celebrationem quam supra diximus agendam.

Universis igitur participibus fidelibusque inibi cunctis mentem Nostram benignam ostendes, ut maiorum probandas consuetudines sectantes, firmissime teneant fidei pietatisque cursum. Omnibus Nostro nomine Benedictionem Apostolicam impertias volumus, quae sit animorum renovationis signum et futuro de tempore supernarum nuntiatrix gratiarum.

Ex Aedibus Vaticanis, die XXX mensis Iunii, anno MMX, Pontificatus Nostri sexto.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Sts. Joachim & Anne, parents of the Blessed Virgin

O Lord, God of our Fathers, who bestowed on Saints Joachim and Anne this grace, that of them should be born the Mother of your incarate Son, grant through the prayers of both, that we may attain the salvation you have promised to your people. Through our Lord.

Of St. Anne we have no certain knowledge. She is not mentioned in the New Testament, and we must depend on apocryphal literature, chiefly the Protoevangelium of James, which dates back only to the second century.

In this document, we are told that Anne, wife of Joachim, was advanced in years and that her prayers for a child had not been answered.

Once as she prayed beneath a laurel tree near her home in Galilee, an angel appeared and said to her, "Anne, the Lord hath heard thy prayer and thou shalt conceive and bring forth, and thy seed shall be spoken of in all the world." Anne replied, "As the Lord my God liveth, if I beget either male or female, I will bring it as a gift to the Lord my God; and it shall minister to Him in holy things all the days of its life".

And thus Anne became the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Devotion of St. Anne was known in the East in the fifth century, but it was not diffused in the West until the thirteenth. A shrine at Douai, in northern France, was one of the early centers of the devotion. In 1382, her feast was extended to the whole Western Church, and she became very popular, especially in France.

The two most famous shrines to Saint Anne are at St. Anne d'Auray in Brittany and at St. Anne-de Beaupre in the province of Quebec.

"Good Saint Anne" is the patroness of housewives, women in labor, cabinet-makers, and miners. Her emblem is a door. St. Anne has been frequently represented in art, and the lovely face depicted by Leonardo da Vinci comes first to mind in this connection. The name Anne derives from the Hebrew Hannah, meaning "grace."

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While making retreat last week, I reread some of the Rules St. Ignatius gives as appendices to the Spiritual Exercises, notably those for Thinking, Feeling and Judging with the Church, which I shall return to later this week. But in the Rules for the Distributing Alms, I noticed this point on the simple life-style of the bishop in imitation of Our Lord, and that married couples should also have simplicity, taking as their model Christ's grandparents Sts. Joachim and Anne:

For the reasons already mentioned and for many others, it is always better and more secure in what touches one’s person and condition of life to spare more and diminish and approach more to our High Priest, our model and rule, who is Christ our Lord; conformably to what the third Council of Carthage, in which St. Augustine was present, determines and orders—that the furniture of the Bishop be cheap and poor. (Sp. Exx. 344, 1-3)

The same should be considered in all manners of life, looking at and deciding according to the condition and state of the persons; as in married life we have the example of St. Joachim and of St. Ann, who, dividing their means into three parts, gave the first to the poor, and the second to the ministry and service of the Temple, and took the third for the support of themselves and of their household. (Sp. Exx. 344, 4-6)

In making these observations, Ignatius was probably influenced by a book important in his conversion, the Life of Jesus Christ by Ludolf of Saxony.

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Who does not know about the great shrine of Ste. Anne de Beaupre in Canada, where miracles abound, where cured cripples leave their crutches, and where people come from thousands of miles to pray to the grandmother of Jesus? At one time, July 26 was the feast of St. Anne only, but with the new calendar the two feasts of the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary have been joined and are celebrated today [note: except in Quebec, where St. Anne is the patron of the civil and ecclesiastical Province and where her day is celebrated as a feast rather than a simple memorial].

There is a church of St. Anne in Jerusalem and it is believed to be built on the site of the home of SS. Joachim and Anne, when they lived in Jerusalem (excerpted from The One Year Book of Saints by Rev. Clifford Stevens)

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The Shrine of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré has been a place of pilgrimage for the past 350 years. It has never stopped growing despite numerous obstacles.

There is one common thread that can explain how such a phenomenon could exist for so long: faith in God and confidence in Saint Anne. .

Firstly, this phenomenon is tied to the Christian Faith. We discovered Saint Anne through her blood relationship with Jesus the Redeemer. She was the mother of the Virgin Mary and the grandmother of Jesus, a woman of Jewish faith who believed in the God of the Bible.

Secondly, people have confidence in Saint Anne. She has always given astounding proof of her presence and affection towards her grandchildren, to such an extent that Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré has been called "The land of miracles".

Since the very beginning of the French colony, this devotion has been at the heart of our people. It has enlightened them and has helped them face hardships and difficulties of all kinds, by giving them a source of light and consolation, of comfort and joy.

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The Native People of Canada have a spiritual resonance with devotion to the Grandmother of Jesus. This is manifest at Lac Sainte Anne in Alberta as described by Ramon Gonzalez in today's online edition of the Western Catholic Reporter (

They came by tens of thousands to the shores of Lac Ste. Anne to seek healing.

"We all need to be healed; that's why we are here," said Grouard-McLennan Archbishop Gerard Pettipas.

"We all want to go into the blessed waters (of Lac Ste. Anne) because past experience has told us that there is healing in these waters. There is a new spirit and a new life."

At the end of the July 18 Mass, Pettipas and the congregation walked in procession down to the shore of the lake and blessed it. As he did, dozens of pilgrims waded into the waters in the hope of finding healing - both physical and spiritual. Some filled plastic jars with the blessed liquid to take back home.

The procession and blessing of the lake are rituals engraved in the annual Lac Ste. Anne Pilgrimage, that this year ran July 17-22.

"I come here for healing and for cleansing," said Wabasca nurse Pauline Auger, as she stood knee-deep in the lake beside her friend Dorothy Badger. "I have sore knees and I come here so I can dip them in the water so that I can walk better. I also pray that my children and grandchildren will not drink much alcohol."

"I came because I want to get better," added Badger. "I have sore knees and sore legs (because) of arthritis and I am a diabetic. Now I feel the pain is more manageable. I feel a little better."

Holding hands, a group of women pray the rosary. Nearby is a man with his hands upraised to heaven. He is Chief White Buffalo Man (of) Many Feathers from Coldstream, B.C. This is his first year at Lac Ste. Anne.

"I'm praying for the people," he declares. "I pray for healing and forgiveness. I pray for guidance - that they find their own purpose in life and that all would be forgiven."

The roots of the pilgrimage date back to 1844 when Father Jean-Baptiste Thibault blessed the lake - then called Manito Sakahigan or Spirit Lake - and renamed it in honour of St. Anne, the mother of the Virgin Mary. Before 1844, aboriginal families and clans and tribes were drawn to its shores for ceremonial summer gatherings.

Four hundred people attended the first pilgrimage 120 years ago. Now it is a major pilgrimage destination - the largest event of its kind in North America. This year close to 55,000 pilgrims, mostly aboriginal and Métis, made their way to the lake.

Camped in tents and trailers along the south shore of the lake the pilgrims come from across Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and Manitoba.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Seventeenth Sunday C - Jubilee Sunday of St. James at Compostella

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year "C") July 25, 2001, "ASK AND IT WILL BE GIVEN YOU" [Texts: Genesis 18:20-32; [Psalm 138]; Colossians 2:12-14; Luke 11:1-13]

One of the richest sections of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is Part Four on Christian Prayer. Its centrepiece consists in an extended reflection on the central section of today's gospel, the "Lord's Prayer".

But there is much else as well. For example, prayer as adoration and blessing, petition, intercession, thanksgiving, praise. Treatments of vocal prayer, meditation, contemplative prayer. And brief essays on prayer in the Bible, in the life of Jesus and in the Church.

The Catechism's teaching about prayer in the life of the disciples of Jesus and His Church begins with a definition by Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, "For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and love, embracing both trial and joy". There is room here for each person to see echoes of his or her unique manner of praying.

When the disciples, seeing Jesus praying, asked Him to teach them to pray, He urged them to pray simply and directly to God as Father.

Jesus said they should be concerned first of all, each time they pray, to glorify God's name in the world, fostering the coming of God's rule among those who dwell in the world.

Leaving the future to God, they should then pray each day for their daily needs and ask, as well, God's forgiveness for their failings, even as they extend the release of debts to those indebted to them. Finally, recognizing their own frailty, they are to ask God to spare them trials that might overpower them.

St. Augustine taught that Jesus' prayer is a summary of the biblical teaching on prayer, "Run through all the words of the holy prayers [in Scripture], and I do not think that you will find anything in them that is not contained and included in the Lord's Prayer".

St. Thomas Aquinas called the Lord's Prayer the most perfect of prayers, "In it we ask, not only for all the things we can rightly desire, but also in the sequence in which they should be desired. This prayer not only teaches us to ask for things, but also in what order we should desire them".

Though people today question the appropriateness of petitionary prayer, the Lord's teaching stresses habitually making known to God several petitions. The importance of asking God for what one needs and desires is also the focus of two parables Jesus tells to illustrate the Heavenly Father's willingness to grant His children's prayers.

The parable of the visitor at midnight informs us of the sense of hospitality that ruled in the Palestinian village of Jesus' day. If a neighbour were to refuse to come to the aid of his fellow villager by refusing to share food he had with an unexpected late-night visitor next door, he would experience shame the next day for causing the village's failure in hospitality.

To this motive of shame, the parable adds the theme of determination ("even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs").

Jesus then makes an a fortiori ("how much more") argument. If this scoundrel of a neighbour will most certainly act and provide what is required, how much more will the God who is all good grant the persevering petitions of those who tell Him of their needs.

In the other parable, Jesus makes a similar point about the way parents want to give good things to their children, not giving a snake when they ask for fish, or a scorpion when they ask for an egg. "If you then, who are evil (as human beings in comparison with God) know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father...."

Therefore, Jesus concludes, "ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you".

Persistence in prayer is evident in Abraham's compassionate intercession for the residents of Sodom. And Paul says that in Christ's death on the cross, God heeded humanity's need for forgiveness, "when He forgave us all our trespasses".


The Way of St James has existed for over a thousand years. It was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during medieval times, and a pilgrimage route on which a plenary indulgence could be earned; other major pilgrimage routes include the Via Francigena to Rome and the pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

Legend holds that St. James's remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain where he was buried on the site of what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela.

The Way can take one of any number of pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. Traditionally, as with most pilgrimages, the Way of Saint James began at one's home and ended at the pilgrimage site. However a few of the routes are considered main ones.

During the Middle Ages, the route was highly traveled. However, the Black Plague, the Protestant Reformation and political unrest in 16th-century Europe led to its decline. By the 1980s, only a few pilgrims arrived in Santiago annually.

Since then however the route has attracted a growing number of modern-day pilgrims from around the globe; many wear the shell, an emblem both of baptism and of the pilgrimage to St. James. The route was declared the first European Cultural Route by the Council of Europe in October 1987; it was also named one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.

Whenever the Feast of the Apostle St James (July 25th) falls on a Sunday as it does in this year 2010, the cathedral declares a Holy or Jubilee Year. Depending on leap years, Holy Years occur in cycles of 6, 5, 6 and 11 year intervals. The most recent were 1982, 1993, 1999 and 2004. The next will be 2021, 2027 and 2032.

Today, tens of thousands of Christian pilgrims and other travellers set out each year from their front doorstep, or popular starting points across Europe, to make their way to Santiago de Compostela. Most travel by foot, some by bicycle, and a few travel as some of their medieval counterparts did, on horseback or by donkey.

In addition to people undertaking a religious pilgrimage, there are many travellers and hikers who walk the route for non-religious reasons: travel, sport, or simply the challenge of weeks of walking in a foreign land. Also, many consider the experience a spiritual adventure to remove themselves from the bustle of modern life. It acts as a retreat for many modern "pilgrims".

Most pilgrims have a document called the credencial, which they have purchased for a few euros through a Spanish tourist agency or their local church, depending on their starting location. The credencial is a pass which allows (sometimes free) overnight accommodation in refugios.

Also known as the "pilgrim's passport", the credencial is stamped with the official St. James stamp of each town or refugio at which the pilgrim has stayed. It provides walking pilgrims with a record of where they ate or slept, but also serves as proof to the Pilgrim's Office in Santiago that the journey is accomplished according to an official route.

The credencial is available at refugios, tourist offices, some local parish houses, and outside Spain, through the national St. James organization of that country. The stamped credencial is also necessary if the pilgrim wants to obtain a compostela, a certificate of completion of the pilgrimage.

A Pilgrim's Mass is held in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela each day at noon for pilgrims. Pilgrims who received the compostela (certification that they have made the journey) the day before have their countries of origin and the starting point of their pilgrimage announced at the Mass.

The musical and visual highlight of the mass is the synchronisation of the beautiful "Hymn to Christ" with the spectacular swinging of the huge Botafumeiro, the famous thurible kept in the cathedral. Incense is burned in this swinging metal container, or "incensory".

As the last chords die away, the multitude of pilgrims come forward to reach the spiritual highlight of the Mass, the reception of Holy Communion. Earlier, priests will have administered the Sacrament of Penance, available in many languages, permitting most pilgrims to complete the indulgence attached to the pilgrimage upon satisfying the other canonical conditions (Confession; Mass and Communion; Prayers for the Holy Father's intentions).

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Saint Sharbel Mahkluf, priest - Visit to St. Joseph`s ORATORY

O God, who called the Priest Saint Sharbel to the solitary combat of the desert and instilled in him all manner of devotion, grant us, we pray, that being made imitators of the Lord's Passion, we may merit to be co-heirs of his Kingdom. Who lives and reigns with you.

* * *

Although this saint never traveled far from the Lebanese village of Beka-Kafra, where he was born, his influence has spread widely.

Joseph Zaroun Mahkluf was raised by an uncle because his father, a mule driver, died when Joseph was only three.

At the age of 23, Joseph joined the Monastery of St. Maron at Annaya, Lebanon, and took the name Sharbel in honor of a second-century martyr. He professed his final vows in 1853 and was ordained six years later.

Following the example of the fifth-century St. Maron, Sharbel lived as a hermit from 1875 until his death. His reputation for holiness prompted people to seek him to receive a blessing and to be remembered in his prayers. He followed a strict fast and was very devoted to the Blessed Sacrament.

When his superiors occasionally asked him to administer the sacraments to nearby villages, Sharbel did so gladly. He died in the late afternoon on Christmas Eve.

Christians and non-Christians soon made his tomb a place of pilgrimage and of cures. Pope Paul VI beatified him in 1965 and canonized him 12 years later.

Pope John Paul II has often said that the Church has two lungs (East and West) and it must learn to breathe using both of them. Remembering saints like Sharbel helps the Church to appreciate both the diversity and unity present in the Catholic Church.

Like all the saints, Sharbel points us to God and invites us to cooperate generously with God's grace, no matter what our situation in life may be. As our prayer life becomes deeper and more honest, we become more ready to make that generous response.

When Sharbel was canonized in 1977, Bishop Francis Zayek, head the U.S. Diocese of St. Maron, wrote a pamphlet entitled “A New Star of the East.” Bishop Zayek wrote: “St. Sharbel is called the second St. Anthony of the Desert, the Perfume of Lebanon, the first Confessor of the East to be raised to the Altars according to the actual procedure of the Catholic Church, the honor of our Aramaic Antiochian Church, and the model of spiritual values and renewal. Sharbel is like a Cedar of Lebanon standing in eternal prayer, on top of a mountain.”

The bishop noted that Sharbel's canonization plus other beatification cases prove “that the Aramaic Maronite Antiochian Church is indeed a living branch of the Catholic Church and is intimately connected with the trunk, who is Christ, our Savior, the beginning and the end of all things” (, Saint of the Day).

* * * * * *


A good friend from the Missouri Jesuit Province, Fr. James Knapp is visiting with me these days during which I am also spending time with family in Montreal.

Yesterday, in company with Fr. Joseph Mroz, who serves at Loyola High School and at the Jesuit Novitiate, we went to St. Joseph's Oratory to honour Our Lord's foster-father and his great promoter, Blessed (soon to be Saint) Brother Andre.

We asked at the sacristy of the Crypt Church about the hours of Masses and learned the next one would be at 11:30 in French but that there was a pilgrim group from Sts. Peter and Paul Parish, Mississauga who would be celebrating in a smaller chapel at 11:15 in English. Some of the parishioners remembered me from my time as Toronto Auxiliary Bishop there (1995-1998) and, on their arrival, we discovered that they were being led in their five-day pilgrimage by Fr. Michael Coutts, S.J. of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Toronto.

Later in the day we joined Montreal's Loyola Jesuit Community at supper time: Herewith some photos:

With Fathers James Knapp and Michael Coutts

[Left to right]: Montreal Jesuits Fathers Michael Rosinski and Joseph Mroz

Friday, July 23, 2010

St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious - Pilgrimage - Pope Benedict XVI's advancement

O God, who guided Saint Bridget of Sweden along different paths of life, and wondrously taught her the wisdom of the Cross, as she contemplated the Passion of your Son, grant us, we pray, that walking worthily in our vocation, we may seek you in all things. Through our Lord.

Patron saint of Sweden, Bridget married a young prince and lived happily with him for 28 years, bearing him eight children. St. Catherine of Sweden was their daughter.

After her husband died, Bridget founded the Order of the Most Holy Savior, erecting at Vadstena a double monastery for monks and nuns. Following the guidance of the Holy Spirit, she later went to Rome, where she worked for the return of the Popes from Avignon. This Scandinavian mystic is famous for her Revelations concerning the sufferings of our Redeemer.

Bridget was born in Sweden of noble and pious parents, and led a most holy life. While she was yet unborn, her mother was saved from shipwreck for her sake. At ten years of age, Bridget heard a sermon on the Passion of our Lord; and the next night she saw Jesus on the cross, covered with fresh blood, and speaking to her about his Passion. Thenceforward meditation on that subject affected her to such a degree, that she could never think of our Lord's sufferings without tears.

She was given in marriage to Ulfo prince of Nericia; and won him, by example and persuasion, to a life of piety. She devoted herself with maternal love to the education of her children. She was most zealous in serving the poor, especially the sick; and set apart a house for their reception, where she would often wash and kiss their feet.

Together with her husband, she went on pilgrimage to Compostella, to visit the tomb of the apostle St. James. On their return journey, Ulfo fell dangerously ill at Arras; but St. Dionysius, appearing to Bridget at night, foretold the restoration of her husband's health, and other future events.

Ulfo became a Cistercian monk, but died soon afterwards. Whereupon Bridget, having heard the voice of Christ calling her in a dream, embraced a more austere manner of life. Many secrets were then revealed to her by God. She founded the monastery of Vadstena under the rule of our Savior, which was given her by our Lord himself. At his command, she went to Rome, where she kindled the love of God in very many hearts. She made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem; but on her return to Rome she was attacked by fever, and suffered severely from sickness during a whole year.

On the day she had foretold, she passed to heaven, laden with merits. Her body was translated to her monastery of Vadstena; and becoming illustrious for miracles, she was enrolled among the saints by Boniface IX [Excerpted from The Liturgical Year, Abbot Gueranger O.S.B.]

* * * * * *


Now that my retreat is over, I feel quite refreshed spiritually and look forward to facing with the Lord the challenges ahead.

Not everyone can arrange for a week of spiritual renewal, and there are other ways of encountering with the Lord, particularly pilgrimage trips in the summer months. I had a wonderful five-day trip organized by John Simpson of the Halifax Archdiocese several years back to St. Anne de Beaupre, St. Joseph's Oratory and Cap de la Madeleine.

* * *

Closer to home, this year marks the 136th consecutive pilgrimage to St. Anne de Beaupre begun by Mgr Thomas Duhamel, Ottawa's first archbishop. For many years now, lead by a local bishop, the faithful have journeyed on a common pilgrim weekend to Our Lady of the Cape and to pray for the intercession of "Good Saint Anne" from Ottawa, the Archdiocese of Gatineau and the dioceses of Alexandria-Cornwall, Mont Laurier and Pembroke.

This year, Mgr Roger Ebacher of the Archdiocese of Gatineau will be the spiritual guide. The poster gives some details. For more information, contact Mike Budge by email at: or 613-224-8110.

* * *

One other special spiritual gathering to watch for is the celebration with the Canadian Bishops of the Canonization of Blessed Brother Andre (to take place in Rome on Sunday, October 17) at a special Mass of Thanksgiving at Montreal's Olympic Stadium on the afternoon of Saturday, October 30, 2010.

More details about this extraordinary event will be forthcoming shortly from the Pastoral Services sectors of the Diocesan Centre.

* * * * * *


His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI is now the seventh oldest Pope since reliable records began being collected in the year 1400, according to a U.S. statistician.

In the words of Pope Benedict himself, however, age is not as important as wisdom.

Anura Guruge, an IBM information systems expert, IT adviser and obvious fan of papal history, presented a table offering a ranked list of the oldest known Popes on his site on Monday.

On that very day, Benedict XVI passed into the seventh slot on his list, just behind John Paul II who died at 84 years old (and whom the Holy Father would pass on the list of oldest popes on Leap Day, February 29, 2012).

Not all Popes in history are considered in the study, explains Guruge on the site, because dates logged in records before the year 1400 "are either unreliable or unavailable and as such are impractical for meaningful analysis."

According to his information, at the age of 83, Benedict XVI is currently seventh on the list of most aged Popes, but should he remain at the helm of the See of Peter until 2015, he will overtake Clement XII, currently in second place after living to 87.

Topping the list of oldest Popes in the last six centuries is Leo XIII, who died at 93 years of age in 1903.

An earlier entry on the same site reports that, since 1400, Joseph Ratzinger was the fifth oldest Pope on his election date and more advanced in age at that time than any other Pontiff in the 274 years prior. He had only just turned 78 years old three days before his election.

Guruge's table also features the number of years each of the oldest 11 Popes reigned and the percentage of their lives they spent as the Successor of Peter.

Vatican Radio, in a Wednesday article that picked up the story, commented on the latter as a "curious" statistic which points to "a deeper reflection, if we look at it on a different level."

"It suggests a spiritual characteristic proper to the Petrine ministry" that is tied to the value of longevity, about which the Holy See's radio station pointed out, Pope Benedict himself made an observation in a Nov. 2008 homily remembering deceased cardinals and bishops.

Reflecting on a passage from the Book of Wisdom, Benedict XVI said, "True, honorable old age is not just an advanced age, but wisdom and a pure existence, without malice ... The world reputes that he who lives a long life is fortunate, but God, more than at age, looks at the rectitude of the heart. The world gives credit to the 'wise' and to the 'learned,' while God prefers the 'little ones'.

"God," asserted the Pope at the time, "is the true wisdom that does not age, he is the genuine richness that does not spoil, he is the happiness to which the heart of every man aspires profoundly."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

St. Mary Magdalene

Christ's resurrection and manifestation to his disciples John 20:1-18, Douai-Rheims translation

[1] And on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalen cometh early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre; and she saw the stone taken away from the sepulchre. [2] She ran, therefore, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and saith to them: They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. [3] Peter therefore went out, and that other disciple, and they came to the sepulchre. [4] And they both ran together, and that other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. [5] And when he stooped down, he saw the linen cloths lying; but yet he went not in.

[6] Then cometh Simon Peter, following him, and went into the sepulchre, and saw the linen cloths lying, [7] And the napkin that had been about his head, not lying with the linen cloths, but apart, wrapped up into one place. [8] Then that other disciple also went in, who came first to the sepulchre: and he saw, and believed. [9] For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. [10] The disciples therefore departed again to their home.

[11] But Mary stood at the sepulchre without, weeping. Now as she was weeping, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, [12] And she saw two angels in white, sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been laid. [13] They say to her: Woman, why weepest thou? She saith to them: Because they have taken away my Lord; and I know not where they have laid him. [14] When she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing; and she knew not that it was Jesus. [15] Jesus saith to her: Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, thinking it was the gardener, saith to him: Sir, if thou hast taken him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

[16] Jesus saith to her: Mary. She turning, saith to him: Rabboni (which is to say, Master). [17] Jesus saith to her: Do not touch me, for I am not yet ascended to my Father. But go to my brethren, and say to them: I ascend to my Father and to your Father, to my God and your God. [18] Mary Magdalen cometh, and telleth the disciples: I have seen the Lord, and these things he said to me. [19] Now when it was late that same day, the first of the week, and the doors were shut, where the disciples were gathered together, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them: Peace be to you. [20] And when he had said this, he shewed them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore were glad, when they saw the Lord.

Let us Pray

O God, whose Only Begotten Son
entrusted Mary Magdalene before all others
with announcing the great joy of the Resurrection,
grant, we pray,
that through her intercession and example,
we may proclaim the living Christ
and come to see him reigning in your glory.
Who lives and reigns with you.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

St. Lawrence of Brindisi, priest and doctor of the church

Today's liturgy permits the optional memorial of St. Lawrence of Brindisi:

O God, who for the glory of your Name and the salvation of souls bestowed on the Priest Saint Lawrence of Brindisi a spirit of counsel and fortitude, grant, we pray, that in the same spirit we may know what must be done and, through his intercession, bring it to completion. Through our Lord.

At first glance perhaps the most remarkable quality of Lawrence of Brindisi is his outstanding gift of languages. In addition to a thorough knowledge of his native Italian, he had complete reading and speaking ability in Latin, Hebrew, Greek, German, Bohemian, Spanish and French.

Our saint was born on July 22, 1559, and died exactly 60 years later on his birthday in 1619. His parents William and Elizabeth Russo gave him the name of Julius Caesar, Caesare in Italian. After the early death of his parents, he was educated by his uncle at the College of St. Mark in Venice.

When he was just 16, he entered the Capuchin Franciscan Order in Venice and received the name of Lawrence. He completed his studies of philosophy and theology at the University of Padua and was ordained a priest at 23.

With his facility for languages he was able to study the Bible in its original texts. At the request of Pope Clement VIII, he spent much time preaching to the Jews in Italy. So excellent was his knowledge of Hebrew, the rabbis felt sure he was a Jew who had become a Christian.

In 1956, the Capuchins completed a 15-volume edition of his writings. Eleven of these 15 contain his sermons, each of which relies chiefly on scriptural quotations to illustrate his teaching.

Lawrence’s sensitivity to the needs of people—a character trait perhaps unexpected in such a talented scholar—began to surface. He was elected major superior of the Capuchin Franciscan province of Tuscany at the age of 31. He had the combination of brilliance, human compassion and administrative skill needed to carry out his duties.

In rapid succession he was promoted by his fellow Capuchins and was elected minister general of the Capuchins in 1602. In this position he was responsible for great growth and geographical expansion of the Order.

Lawrence was appointed papal emissary and peacemaker, a job which took him to a number of foreign countries. An effort to achieve peace in his native kingdom of Naples took him on a journey to Lisbon to visit the king of Spain. Serious illness in Lisbon took his life in 1619 (--Saint of the Day:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Optional Memorial: St. Apollinaris, bishop and martyr - Soul of Christ prayer

According to tradition, St. Peter sent Apollinaris to Ravenna, Italy, as its first bishop.

His preaching of the Good News was so successful that the pagans there beat him and drove him from the city. He returned, however, and was exiled a second time.

After preaching in the area surrounding Ravenna, he entered the city again. After being cruelly tortured, he was put on a ship heading to Greece. Pagans there caused him to be expelled to Italy, where he went to Ravenna for a fourth time.

He died from wounds received during a savage beating at Classis, a suburb of Ravenna. A beautiful basilica honoring him was built there in the sixth century.

Direct your faithful, Lord, in the way of eternal salvation which the Bishop Saint Apollinaris showed by his teaching and martyrdom, and grant, through his intercession, that we may so persevere in keeping your commandments as to merit being crowned with him. Through our Lord.

* * * * * *

Anima Christi

Soul of Christ, make me holy.

Body of Christ, save me.

Blood of Christ, inebriate me.

Water from the side of Christ, wash me clean.

Passion of Christ, strengthen me.

Kind Jesus, hear me.

Hide me within your wounds.

Let me never be separated from you.

Defend me from evil.

In the hour of my death call me to yourself,

that with your saints I may praise you

in everlasting life.


Monday, July 19, 2010

A Spirit To Know You

Gracious and holy Father, please give me:
intellect to understand you,
reason to discern you,
diligence to seek you,
wisdom to find you,
a spirit to know you,
a heart to meditate upon you,
ears to hear you,
eyes to see you,
a tongue to proclaim you,
a way of life pleasing to you,
patience to wait for you
and perseverance to look for you.

Grant me a perfect end,
your holy presence,
a blessed resurrection
and life everlasting.

St. Benedict of Nursia
(ca. 480-547)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sixteenth Sunday

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year "C") July 18, 2010, CHOOSING THE ONE THING NEEDED, "THE BETTER PART" [Texts: Genesis 18:1-10a; [Psalm 15]; Colossians 1:24-28; Luke 10:38-42]

Pope Gregory the Great read in the story of Jesus' visit to the home of Martha and Mary the superiority of the contemplative life over the active one. Other interpreters have seen Martha and Mary representing, respectively, the present world and the world to come, Judaism and Christianity, justification by works and justification by faith. At its core, the story is a tiny jewel, exquisitely told by Luke, to help disciples sort out priorities in their lives.

Recent commentators, who tend to focus on the narrative links Luke has made in the overall structure of his work, stress the connections between this story and the parable of the Good Samaritan which preceded it.

Just as that parable began with "there was a certain man", this tale begins with "there was a certain woman". The parable emphasized love of neighbour as it tried answer the question, "who is my neighbour?"

This story implicitly takes up the question of love of God, which we might phrase in words such as the following, "how and where may I manifest love of God?"

In the Good Samaritan parable Jesus helped clarify the person-to-person aspect of God's demand that disciples love others. Now the disciples' attention is turned to the vertical dimension of loving God, which Luke expresses as a preoccupation with the Word of God brought by Jesus ("Mary ... sat at the Lord's feet and listened to what He was saying")

The parable, then, joined with the dialogue between Martha and Jesus, links the dimensions of loving God and loving one's neighbour so that, together, they make up the one, great commandment of the law.

We learn from the story of Martha and Mary that the person who loves God must be taken up with His Word. Disciples discover this by listening to Jesus, as Mary did. Even when a person is apparently given over to serving within the Kingdom--as Martha was--the practicalities of life can seduce one away from total attention to the things of God ("Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things").

Jesus gently reproached Martha before setting her straight. There is a difficulty with His message, because the manuscript traditions differ on what Jesus said. Some manuscripts read, "few things are necessary, (or) only one", other manuscripts read (as in our NRSV translation), "there is need of only one thing".

In any case, what constitutes the "one" or "few" things needed? Some interpreters think Jesus is preaching simplicity of life. Others think the issue has to do with hospitality. Only one or a few dishes are needed for a simple meal, but also attention must be given to the guest.

In this view, Mary has chosen to attend to the guest by conversation, while leaving her sister to do everything needing to be done in the kitchen. Faced with these two choices, Mary has claimed for herself the better task ("Mary has chosen the better part").

More likely, however, the meal context has simply been employed to illustrate a spiritual truth. Life in the world causes disciples to be stressed and fragmented. Attending to the Word of God, however, gives one an integrating power that makes a singleness of vision possible.

It is important that attention to the cares of this world--even in service to God's Kingdom--do not distract from the central need disciples have. They need to hear the Word of God by listening in prayer at the feet of the Lord Jesus ("Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her").

The story of Abraham playing host to God in the guise of three mysterious strangers is a story rich in subtle details that exemplifies Hebrew narrative style at its best.

Abraham's dozing is contrasted with the purposefully journeying men. Then, Abraham's frantic preparations are followed by the commanding silence of the men and their probing questions about Sarah. God, in the person of one of the travellers, promised to return "in due season" when elderly, barren Sarah would be blessed with a son.

Paul's contemplation revealed what underlies Christian existence in this world: "the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory".

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Beauty of Creation Bears Witness to God

Question the beauty of the earth,
the beauty of the sea,
the beauty of the wide air around you,
the beauty of the sky;

question the order of the stars,
the sun whose brightness lights the day,
the moon whose splendour softens
the gloom of night;

question the living creatures
that move in the waters,
that roam upon the earth,
that fly through the air;
the spirit that lies hidden,
the matter that is manifest;
the visible things that are ruled,
the invisible that rule them;
question all these.

They will answer you:
“Behold and see, we are beautiful.”

Their beauty is their confession of God.

Who made these beautiful changing things,
if not one who is beautiful and changeth not?

St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Optional Memorial: Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

May the venerable intercession of the glorious Virgin Mary come to our aid, we pray, O Lord, so that, fortified by her protection, we may reach the mountain which is Christ. Who lives and reigns with you.

* * * * * *

The Memorare

Remember, most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, and sought your intercession, was left unaided.

Inspired with this confidence, I fly to you, O Virgin of virgins, my mother.

To you I come; before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful.

Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions but in your mercy hear and answer me.

--St. Bernard of Clairvaux, 1090-1153

Thursday, July 15, 2010

St. Bonaventure, bishop & doctor of the Church - On retreat...

Grant, we pray, almighty God, that just as we celebrate the heavenly birthday of the Bishop Saint Bonaventure, we may benefit from his great learning and constantly imitate the ardor of his charity. Through our Lord....

"In Bonaventure we meet a unique personality. He was unsurpassed in sanctity, wisdom, eloquence, and gifted with a remarkable skill of accomplishing things, a heart full of love, a winning disposition, benevolent, affable, pious, charitable, rich in virtue, beloved by God and man. . . . The Lord endowed him with such a charming disposition that everyone who saw him was immediately attracted to him."

In these words the historian of the Council of Lyons concludes his account on St. Bonaventure (1221-1274).

At an early age Bonaventure was a celebrated teacher and a powerful preacher. At thirty-six he was called to the highest post among the Franciscans, the Order which honors him as a second founder. He was an important figure at the Council of Lyons. His virtue and wisdom, his versatility and mildness were major factors in attaining the happy result that the Greeks so easily returned to the unity of the Church.

Bonaventure was a subtle scholastic and a profound mystic. Because of the latter he is known as the "Seraphic Teacher." In philosophy he was the principal leader of the Platonic-Augustinian school of Franciscan thought; as such he stood opposed to the Aristotelianism that was making its way into the schools of the time (Thomas of Aquin).

Bonaventure's Life of St. Francis was a favorite book of the Middle Ages. When St. Thomas was told about Bonaventure's work, he said: "Let us allow one saint to labor for another." His contemporaries are said to have believed that no one was "more handsome, more holy, or more learned" than he (excerpted from Pis Parsch, The Church's Year of Grace).


Pierce, O most sweet Lord Jesus, my inmost soul with the most joyous and healthful wound of Thy love, and with true, calm and most holy apostolic charity, that my soul may ever languish and melt with entire love and longing for Thee, may yearn for Thee and for thy courts, may long to be dissolved and to be with Thee.

Grant that my soul may hunger after Thee, the Bread of Angels, the refreshment of holy souls, our daily and super substantial bread, having all sweetness and savor and every delightful taste.

May my heart ever hunger after and feed upon Thee, Whom the angels desire to look upon, and may my inmost soul be filled with the sweetness of Thy savor;

may it ever thirst for Thee, the fountain of life, the fountain of wisdom and knowledge, the fountain of eternal light, the torrent of pleasure, the fullness of the house of God;

may it ever compass Thee, seek Thee, find Thee, run to Thee, come up to Thee, meditate on Thee, speak of Thee, and do all for the praise and glory of Thy name, with humility and discretion, with love and delight, with ease and affection, with perseverance to the end;

and be Thou alone ever my hope, my entire confidence, my riches, my delight, my pleasure, my joy, my rest and tranquility, my peace, my sweetness, my food, my refreshment, my refuge, my help, my wisdom, my portion, my possession, my treasure; in Whom may my mind and my heart be ever fixed and firm and rooted immovably.


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Today I begin a week of retreat, so until July 22 the entries will be the Sunday homily, notes about the saint of the day and/or some of the church's tradition on prayer.

Oremus pro invicem: union de priere, let us pray for one another.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ontario CWL Convention, Cornwall - St Camillus de Lellis

The Alexandria-Cornwall host delegation of the CWL Provincial Convention

Yesterday, after a meeting with the Episcopal Council to review the past pastoral year and prepare for the new pastoral year beginning in September, I drove to Cornwall to assist at the Ontario Provincial Convention of the Catholic Women's League of Canada.

Hamilton Bishop Anthony Tonnos, the provincial spiritual moderator was joined by host Bishop Paul-Andre Durocher and a number of diocesan and parish spiritual moderators for the closing banquet.

Here are some photos of these radiant dynamos of our Catholic Church:

Some of the Ottawa delegation

Bishop Durocher invited me to stay over at his residence, which enabled us to get caught up on recent news.

I admired an icon that was "written" for his episcopal ordination, and which is in his chapel, featuring his patrons Sts. Paul and Andrew.

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Today's Optional Memorial is of St. Camillus de Lellis, who was born in Bacchianico, Italy in 1550 and died in Rome, Italy in 1614.

His mother died while he was still a child and his father was an officer in both the Neapolitan and French royal armies, leaving him neglected. While still a youth, he became a soldier in the service of Venice and later of Naples, remaining there until 1574.

While Camillus referred to himself as a great sinner, his only vice seemed to be gambling. He gambled away everything he had and to atone for actions, he went to work as a laborer on the new Capuchin buildings in Manfredonia. Here, after a moving exhortation from the Friar, he completed his conversion and begged God for mercy, at the age of twenty-five.

Camillus entered the Capuchin novitiate three times, but a nagging leg injury, received while fighting the Turks, each time forced him to give it up. He went to Rome for medical treatment where Saint Philip Neri became his priest and confessor. He moved into San Giacomo Hospital for the incurable, and eventually became its administrator.

He decided to become a priest at the encouragement of St. Philip Neri, and was ordained at the age of 34. He established his Order, the Fathers of a Good Death, for the care of the sick.

Camillus chose a red cross as the distinguishing badge for the members of his Order to wear upon their black cassocks, and he taught his volunteers that the hospital was a house of God, a garden where the voices of the sick were music from heaven. Once when he was discouraged, he heard the consoling words from the crucifix, “This is my work, not yours”.

Camillus was a strong and powerful man, about 6'6" tall, but suffered throughout his life from abscesses on his feet. In spite of this infirmity, he was active in organizing his Order.

After leading the movement throughout Italy, Camillus died on July 14, 1614. In 1742, Pope Benedict XIV proclaimed Camillus de Lellis blessed; in 1746 he canonized him, calling him the “Founder of a new school of charity”.

O God, who adorned the Priest Saint Camillus with a singular grace of charity towards the sick, pour out upon us, by his merits, a spirit of love for you, so that, serving you in our neighbour, at the hour of our death we may pass safely over to you. Through our Lord....