Thursday, September 30, 2010

Memorial of St. Jerome - Meeting with Sts. Cosmas & Damian Doctors Guild - A Borgia Saint

Today, the Church observes a Memorial of St. Jerome (b. 347 in Dalmatia - d. 419 in Bethlehem), Scripture scholar extraordinaire.

Born to a rich pagan family, Jerome led a misspent youth. Studied in Rome and became a lawyer. Converted in theory, and baptised in 365, he began his study of theology, and had a true conversion.

Becoming a monk, he lived for years as a hermit in the Syrian deserts. He is reported to have drawn a thorn from a lion’s paw; the animal stayed loyally at his side for years (and is often represented in paintings of St. Jerome; other symbols are the cardinal's hat, the Bible, the skull representing meditation on death, the last things).

Later, he became a priest, a student of Saint Gregory of Nazianzen, and secretary to Pope Damasus I who commissioned him to revise the Latin text of the Bible. The result of his 30 years of work was the (Latin) Vulgate translation, which is still in use.

Friend and teacher of Saint Paula, Saint Marcella, and Saint Eustochium, an association that led to so much gossip that Jerome left Rome to return to the desert solitude. He lived his last thirty-four years in the Holy Land as a semi-recluse. He wrote translations of histories, biographies, the works of Origen, and much more.

He is known as a doctor of the Church, indeed a Father of the Church. Since his own time, he has been associated in the popular mind with scrolls, writing, cataloguing, translating, which led to those who work in such fields taking him as their patron - a man who knew their lives and problems.

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O God, who gave the Priest Saint Jerome a living and tender love for Sacred Scripture, grant that your people may be ever more fruitfully nourished by your Word and find in it the fount of life. Though our Lord.

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On Scripture

Can there be a more fitting pursuit in youth or a more valuable possession in old age than a knowledge of Sacred Scripture?

In the midst of storms it will preserve you from the dangers of shipwreck and guide you to the shore of an enchanting paradise and the everlasting bliss of the angels...

“Wisdom overcomes evil: it stretches from end to end mightily and disposes all things sweetly. Her have I loved from my youth” (Wisdom 8:1)

[St. Boniface, ca. 680-754]

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On Saturday, I presided at the 4:30 anticipated Lord's Day Mass with medical students and professionals at St. Patrick's Basilica.  Afterwards, there was a festive dinner in the Scavi (parish hall).  Here's a photo, courtesy Deborah Gyapong:

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A Borgia Saint Born 500 Years Ago

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the birth of the saint who became the third superior general of the Jesuit Order. He died on this day in 1572; his feast is observed among Jesuits and in Spain on October 3.

St. Francis Borgia (1510-1572) gave up incredible wealth, power and privilege as a Spanish nobleman to enter the Society of Jesus where his experience brought him to leadership as the third superior general of the young Society of Jesus. The oldest son of the third duke of Gandía, Borgia was born in the family palace in Valencia. His great grandfather on his father's side was Pope Alexander VI, and his mother's grandfather was King Ferdinand the Catholic.

Like other young nobles he was trained for life at court and in 1522 was appointed page to his cousin Catherine, the sister of Emperor Charles V who invited him back to court after he studied philosophy for three years. In 1529 he married Leonor de Castro of Portugal, Empress Isabella's first lady-in-waiting. The 20 year-old Borgia was honoured by the Emperor who named him Marquis of Llombai and placed him in charge of the imperial household. During the next 10 years Francis and Eleanor had eight children and lived in great familiarity with Charles and Isabella until the Empress unexpectedly died May 1, 1539.

Her death led directly to Borgia's conversion when Francis accompanied the funeral cortege to the burial place in the royal chapel in Granada. When the coffin was opened, he saw not the beautiful face of the 36-year-old queen but a face beyond recognition. Not wanting to serve another master who would die, he began to devote himself to prayer and penance.

After he returned from Granada, he was appointed Viceroy of Catalonia in June 1539 and then became the fourth duke of Gandía after his father died four years later. He returned to the family palace to manage his estates, but when his wife Leonor died March 27, 1546, he resolved to dedicate the rest of his life to God's service. He was familiar with the Jesuits, having founded a Jesuit college in Gandía and being a personal friend of Father Peter Favre whom he asked to inform Ignatius of his decision. Ignatius welcomed him into the Society but recommended that he tell no one until he arranged affairs for his children and finished studying theology. Meanwhile, the founder of the Jesuits encouraged the duke to continue living as a nobleman. Francis pronounced his vows as a Jesuit on Feb. 1, 1548 and on Aug. 20, 1550 earned a doctorate in theology from the university which he himself had founded.

Since 1550 was a Holy Year, Francis took the opportunity to make a pilgrimage to Rome so he could visit Ignatius and arrange his public entrance into the Society of Jesus. He left his home in Gandía, never to see it again, and lodged in the Jesuit residence in Rome with Ignatius rather than taking Pope Julius III's offer to stay in the Borgia apartments in the Vatican. After living as a Jesuit from the end of October until early February 1551, he returned to Spain where he resigned his title in favor of his son, Carlos. As soon as he received the Emperor's letter accepting his resignation, Francis donned the Jesuit cassock. He was ordained a priest on May 23 and celebrated his first Mass in the chapel in the Loyola family home.

For a few years Borgia worked as an ordinary parish priest. In 1554 he was named Commissary General in Spain, with power over provincials in Spain and Portugal. He founded Spain's first novitiate, at Simancas, and set up over 20 schools. He did not attend the first general congregation, convened almost two years after Ignatius died, but did return to Rome in 1561 at Pope Pius IV's request. He was chosen to be vicar general when Father James Laínez, who succeeded Ignatius as superior general, attended the last session of the Council of Trent. Upon Laínez's return, Borgia became assistant for Spain and Portugal, and then was elected to succeed Laínez after his death in 1565.

Borgia served as the third superior general of the Jesuits for seven years and devoted himself to revising the Society's rules, expanding its missions in India and the Americas, and shepherding the growth of the young Society.

His final project was a mission to Spain accompanying Cardinal Michele Bonelli in an effort to secure Spain's help against the Turks. The two churchmen left Rome in June 1571 and arrived in Barcelona by the end of August. Borgia was overwhelmed by the reception he received from people who had known him as a nobleman and honoured his choice of religious life. In December Borgia left Spain for France to continue the diplomatic mission, but he fell ill from fever and pleurisy because of the unusually cold. He had to spend weeks resting in Turin on the return trip to Rome and then stayed with relatives in Ferrara during the summer. Finally he set out for Rome on Sept. 3, 1572, going to bed immediately upon his arrival. His final illness lasted three days before the 61-year-old general died during the night of September 30.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel & Raphael - Events at St. Paul's University

In the three and a half years since my arrival in Ottawa, I have come to admire the extraordinary beauty of Notre Dame Cathedral. With the help of interpreters, I am beginning to grasp the catechetical dimensions of the sanctuary and its vision of salvation history.

Above the gathering of patriarchs, prophets, apostles and saints in the alcoves, there is a whole panoply of angelic orders: The Cherubim and Seraphim, Thrones, Dominations, Virtues, Choirs, Principalities, Powers, Angels and Archangels.

Two of these are illustrated by specific designations: St. Michael the Archangel and the Guardian Angel  (both feasts occur this week).

This sense of the angelic protection God sends to humanity must have been very strong in the 19th century as this majestic decoration of the cathedral testifies.

Let Michael stand for God’s overall protection of town, village, diocese, city and country and let the Guardian Angel stand for God’s providential care of each of us individually.

In any case it is clear that our ancestors placed great stock in the knowledge that God is very close to us, caring for us and protecting us amid the trials and tribulations, joys and sorrows of our life in common and each of our individual lives.

Angels from God—the word angel means messenger—appear frequently in Scripture, but only Michael, Gabriel and Raphael are named. Michael appears in Daniel's vision as "the great prince" who defends Israel against its enemies; in the Book of Revelation, he leads God's armies to final victory over the forces of evil. Devotion to Michael is the oldest angelic devotion, rising in the East in the fourth century.

The Church in the West began to observe a feast honouring Michael and the angels in the fifth century. May this feast day help us continue in knowledge of God’s protecting love for all in this region.

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O God, who dispose in marvelous order ministries both angelic and human, graciously grant that our life on earth may be defended by those who watch over us as they minister perpetually to you in heaven. Through our Lord.

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Last week I visited St. Paul's University twice.

On Thursday evening it was to hear a lively and informative presentation given by Sister Nuala Kenny of Dalhousie University, Halifax, on the topic of Euthanasia ("A Good Death: Understanding Decisions and Practices") to a packed hall.

On Friday at midday, I returned to preside at the Mass of the Holy Spirit, inaugurating the 2010-2011 Academic Year. Afterwards, I took part in the unveiling of a plaque designating the large assembly hall as  the Alumni/ae Amphitheatre and joined the alumni/ae in a luncheon at which I won the first of the door prizes, a St. Paul's U tee-shirt.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

St. Lawrence Ruiz & Companions, Martyrs - Episcopal Visitation of St. Monica's Parish

Today the liturgy permits optional memorials of martyr saints, St. Wenceslaus or a new feast that of the Asian Martyrs.

St. Lawrence (Lorenzo) Ruiz was born in Manila of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother, both Christians. Thus he learned Chinese and Tagalog from them and Spanish from the Dominicans whom he served as altar boy and sacristan. He became a professional calligrapher, transcribing documents in beautiful penmanship. He was a full member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary under Dominican auspices. He married and had two sons and a daughter.

His life took an abrupt turn when he was accused of murder. Nothing further is known except the statement of two Dominicans that "he was sought by the authorities on account of a homicide to which he was present or which was attributed to him."

At that time three Dominican priests, Antonio Gonzalez, Guillermo Courtet and Miguel de Aozaraza, were about to sail to Japan in spite of a violent persecution there. With them was a Japanese priest, Vicente Shiwozuka de la Cruz, and a layman named Lazaro, a leper. Lorenzo, having taken asylum with them, was allowed to accompany them. But only when they were at sea did he learn that they were going to Japan.

They landed at Okinawa. Lorenzo could have gone on to Formosa, but, he reported, "I decided to stay with the Fathers, because the Spaniards would hang me there." In Japan they were soon found out, arrested and taken to Nagasaki. The site of wholesale bloodshed when the atomic bomb was dropped had known tragedy before. The 50,000 Catholics who once lived there were dispersed or killed by persecution.

They were subjected to an unspeakable kind of torture: After huge quantities of water were forced down their throats, they were made to lie down. Long boards were placed on their stomachs and guards then stepped on the ends of the boards, forcing the water to spurt violently from mouth, nose and ears.

The superior, Antonio, died after some days. Both the Japanese priest and Lazaro broke under torture, which included the insertion of bamboo needles under their fingernails. But both were brought back to courage by their companions.

In Lorenzo's moment of crisis, he asked the interpreter, "I would like to know if, by apostatizing, they will spare my life." The interpreter was noncommittal, but Lorenzo, in the ensuing hours, felt his faith grow strong. He became bold, even audacious, with his interrogators.

The five were put to death by being hanged upside down in pits. Boards fitted with semicircular holes were fitted around their waists and stones put on top to increase the pressure. They were tightly bound, to slow circulation and prevent a speedy death. They were allowed to hang for three days. By that time Lorenzo and Lazaro were dead. The three Dominican priests, still alive, were beheaded.

Pope John Paul II canonized these six and 10 others, Asians and Europeans, men and women, who spread the faith in the Philippines, Formosa and Japan. Lorenzo Ruiz is the first canonized Filipino martyr.

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Grant us, we pray, Lord God, the same perseverance in serving you and our neighbour as your Martyrs St. Lawrence Ruiz and his companions, since those persecuted for the sake of righteousness are blessed in your Kingdom.  Through our Lord. 

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On September 11-12, Father Muldoon, my Episcopal Vicar, and I began the Pastoral Visitation of St. Monica's faith community; it included on Wednesday, September 22 assemblies at St. Monica's and St. Andrew's elementary schools, meet-and-greet sessions at two seniors' residences and closed with a visit to the Holy Cross Sisters' convent.  This latter time allowed us to speak about the forthcoming canonization of Brother Andre (who belonged to the male branch of their Holy Cross institute).

On Sunday evening, we completed the Visitation by holding cordial consultations with representatives of the Parish Council and other representative bodies, as well as with the Land Use committee. 

So many pictures were taken and choosing from among them was difficult. 

Herewith is an extensive selection of the many features of the Visitation that even included an inspection of Fr. Freely's garden and delightful meals in which we savoured some of vegetables harvested from it.  

Monday, September 27, 2010

350th Anniversary of Deaths of St. Vincent de Paul & St. Louise de Marillac - Blessed Chiara Badano

2010 is the 350th anniversary of the deaths of the great promoters of the Church's vocation to care for the poor: Saint Vincent de Paul (whose memorial we celebrate today) and of St. Louise de Marillac.

Louise de Marillac was born probably at Ferrieres-en-Brie near Meux, France, on August 12, 1591. She was educated by the Dominican nuns at Poissy. She desired to become a nun but on the advice of her confessor, she married Antony LeGras, an official in the Queen's service, in 1613.

After Antony's death in 1625, she met St. Vincent de Paul, who became her spiritual adviser. She devoted the rest of her life to working with him. She helped direct his Ladies of Charity in their work of caring for the sick, the poor, and the neglected.

In 1633 she set up a training center, of which she was Directress in her own home, for candidates seeking to help in her work. This was the beginning of the Sisters (or Daughters, as Vincent preferred) of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul (though it was not formally approved until 1655).

She took her vows in 1634 and attracted great numbers of candidates. She wrote a rule for the community, and in 1642, Vincent allowed four of the members to take vows. Formal approval placed the community under Vincent and his Congregation of the Missions, with Louise as Superior. She traveled all over France establishing her Sisters in hospitals, orphanages, and other institutions.

By the time of her death in Paris on March 15, the Congregation had more than forty houses in France. Since then they have spread all over the world. She was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1934, and was declared Patroness of Social Workers by Pope John XXIII in 1960. Her feast day is March 15th.

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St. Vincent de Paul The deathbed confession of a dying servant opened Vincent's eyes to the crying spiritual needs of the peasantry of France. This seems to have been a crucial moment in the life of the man from a small farm in Gascony, France, who had become a priest with little more ambition than to have a comfortable life.

It was the Countess de Gondi (whose servant he had helped) who persuaded her husband to endow and support a group of able and zealous missionaries who would work among poor tenant farmers and country people in general. Vincent was too humble to accept leadership at first, but after working for some time in Paris among imprisoned galley-slaves, he returned to be the leader of what is now known as the Congregation of the Mission, or the Vincentians. These priests, with vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and stability, were to devote themselves entirely to the people in smaller towns and villages.

Later, Vincent established confraternities of charity for the spiritual and physical relief of the poor and sick of each parish. From these, with the help of St. Louise de Marillac, came the Daughters of Charity, "whose convent is the sickroom, whose chapel is the parish church, whose cloister is the streets of the city." He organized the rich women of Paris to collect funds for his missionary projects, founded several hospitals, collected relief funds for the victims of war and ransomed over 1,200 galley slaves from North Africa. He was zealous in conducting retreats for clergy at a time when there was great laxity, abuse and ignorance among them. He was a pioneer in clerical training and was instrumental in establishing seminaries.

Most remarkably, Vincent was by temperament a very irascible person—even his friends admitted it. He said that except for the grace of God he would have been "hard and repulsive, rough and cross." But he became a tender and affectionate man, very sensitive to the needs of others.

Pope Leo XIII made him the patron of all charitable societies. Outstanding among these, of course, is the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, founded in 1833 by his admirer Blessed Frederic Ozanam (September 7).
[Saint of the Day from]

"Strive to live content in the midst of those things that cause your discontent. Free your mind from all that troubles you, God will take care of things. You will be unable to make haste in this [choice] without, so to speak, grieving the heart of God, because he sees that you do not honor him sufficiently with holy trust. Trust in him, I beg you, and you will have the fulfillment of what your heart desires" (St. Vincent de Paul, Letters).

* * *
O God, who for the relief of the poor and the formation of the clergy endowed the Priest St. Vincent de Paul with apostolic virtues, grant, we pray, that afire with that same spirit, we may love what he loved and practice what he taught. Through our Lord.

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Dans l'évangile de ce dimanche (Lc 16, 19-31), Jésus raconte la parabole de l'homme riche et du pauvre Lazare. Le premier vit dans le luxe et dans l'égoïsme, et quand il meurt, il finit en enfer. Le pauvre, au contraire, qui se nourrit des restes de la table du riche, est emporté par les anges, à sa mort, dans la demeure éternelle de Dieu et des saints. « Heureux vous les pauvres - avait proclamé le Seigneur à ses disciples - car le Royaume de Dieu est à vous » (Lc 6, 20).

Mais le message de la parabole va plus loin : il nous rappelle qu'alors que nous sommes dans ce monde, nous devons écouter le Seigneur qui nous parle par les saintes Ecritures et vivre selon sa volonté, autrement, après la mort, il sera trop tard pour se raviser. Donc, cette parabole nous dit deux choses : la première c'est que Dieu aime les pauvres et les relève après leur humiliation ; la seconde, c'est que notre destin éternel est conditionné par notre attitude. C'est à nous de suivre la voie que Dieu nous a montrée pour arriver à la vie, et cette voie c'est l'amour, non pas entendu comme sentiment, mais comme un service aux autres, dans la charité du Christ.

C'est une heureuse coïncidence que demain (le 27 septembre) nous célébrions la mémoire liturgique de Saint Vincent de Paul, patron des organisations caritatives catholiques : c'est le 350e anniversaire de sa mort. Dans la France du XVIIe s., il a touché du doigt le fort contraste entre les plus riches et les plus pauvres.

En effet, en tant que prêtre, il a pu fréquenter les milieux aristocratiques, les campagnes et les bas-fonds de Paris. Poussé par l'amour du Christ, Vincent de Paul a su organiser des formes stables de service aux personnes marginalisées, en donnant la vie à ce qu'on a appelé des « Charités », c'est-à-dire des groupes de personnes qui mettaient leur temps et leurs biens à la disposition des personnes les plus marginalisées. Parmi ces bénévoles, certaines ont choisi de se consacrer totalement à Dieu, et ainsi, avec Sainte Louise de Marillac, saint Vincent a fondé les « Filles de la Charité », première congrégation féminine à vivre la consécration « dans le monde » au milieu des gens, avec les malades et les nécessiteux.

Chers amis, seul l'Amour, avec un A majuscule, donne le vrai bonheur ! C'est ce que montre un autre témoin, une jeune qui a été proclamée bienheureuse hier ici, à Rome. Je parle de Chiara Badano, une jeune fille italienne née en 1971, qu'une maladie a conduite à la mort à un peu moins de 19 ans, mais qui a été pour tous un rayon de lumière, comme le dit son surnom : « Chiara Luce ». Sa paroisse, le diocèse d'Acqui Terme et le Mouvement des Focolari, auquel elle appartenait, sont aujourd'hui en fête, et c'est une fête pour tous les jeunes, qui peuvent trouver en elle un exemple de cohérence chrétienne. Ses dernières paroles, de pleine adhésion à la volonté de Dieu, ont été : « Maman, au revoir. Sois heureuse parce que moi je le suis ». Elevons notre louange vers Dieu parce que son amour est plus fort que le mal et que la mort ; et remercions la Vierge Marie qui conduit les jeunes, même à travers les difficultés, et les souffrances, à devenir amoureux de Jésus et à découvrir la beauté de la vie.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday 26C: God urges gratitude for blessings, sharing with the poor

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year "C") – September 26, 2010 "ALAS FOR THOSE WHO ARE AT EASE" [Texts: Amos 6:1, 4-7; [Psalm 146]; 1 Timothy 6:11-16; Luke 16:19-31]

Every winter the frozen bodies of poor street people are found in Canada's urban centres. Often these tragedies happen near luxury hotels and centres of finance.

The first reaction of city residents is usually shock. How could this happen here? The sad story, one must admit, is a repetition of the tale of the Rich Man and Lazarus told by Jesus in today's gospel.

However, the Bible is consistent in taking the side of the poor. Evenhandedly, it criticizes the people of Amos' day and the Rich Man's family.

For preoccupation with consuming goods and enjoying affluence tends to make wealthy people indifferent to the plight of the poor nearby. Yet, the God of compassion asks that those who have been blessed go out of themselves--as He does--to the needy. Disciples are asked to share the divine agenda by championing the oppressed, the hungry, the prisoner, the orphan and widow (see today's psalm).

The complexity of modern-day life means that the response of Christians to the needs of those on the margins of society will be varied. For example, as citizens Catholics propose strategies to assist the large number of street people in difficult straits.

Indeed, thoughtful disciples of Jesus propose ways of helping them in a way that ensures the dignity each deserves. As individuals, believers get involved in their neighbourhood with those barely able to cope.

In this way, members of the faith community heed the warning which Jesus gave in his parable and escape the fate of the Rich Man. Such a path also fulfils the challenge given in baptism--that Christians be "saintly and religious, filled with faith and love, patient and gentle" (today's epistle).

The rich of Amos's day cared not for their kindred in the faith. The Rich Man who, like all good Jews, recognized Abraham as his father, unfortunately did not recognize Lazarus as his brother. His circle of interest did not extend beyond his five brothers.

At times, the global village can seem to put impossible demands on one's concern and resources. The Christian's reply, however, cannot be one of doing nothing. The gospel suggests that believers can begin to make the world a family home by extending their concern beyond the family unit.

God urged Israel to 'widen the space of your tent' (Isaiah 54:2). This is a good image of what it means to belong to God's family, to share God's home life.

Both the reading from Amos, the great prophet of social justice, and the Gospel parable urge believers to a responsible use of material goods instead of a mere consumption of goods and services, the lifestyle which increasingly typifies global or western societies.

John Paul II in his constant cautions against the sinfulness of consumerism points out the insidiousness of this evil. Consumer consumption leads to practical atheism--the refusal to heed God's will for one's life--and steels one's heart against the needs of others through self-centredness.

As foils to self-centred dispositions, biblical teaching constantly presents gratitude to God for what has been received from the divine bounty--whatever role one's labor may have played in the acquiring of such goods--and the sharing of them with the less fortunate. St. Paul's wise advice on how goods can be shared may be helpful here (cf. 2 Cor 8:13-15).

Often the collections which are a regular part of the Church's calendar seem disconnected from the liturgical themes of a given Sunday.

Today's collection for the "Needs of the Canadian Church", however, may be seen to be part of the challenge to mete out the riches of the gospel to those who have not heard it. Or of interpreting the social demands of a gospel-based faith for today.

These directions are typical of the functions carried out by staff of the Bishops Conference, who must research the social and spiritual needs of the Catholic people of Canada for their religious leaders. Besides material goods, of course, Canadian Catholics are invited to share their spiritual capital by prayer and labour to support and implement the policies of their bishops.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Letter on the Pastoral Year 2010-2011 - The Saints among Us

Thème de l’Année pastorale 2010-11: Appelés à la sainteté - les saints et les saintes de chez nous

Chers frères et sœurs dans le Christ,

Le 17 octobre prochain, le frère André (Alfred Bessette), religieux de la Congrégation de Sainte-Croix, sera proclamé saint par le pape Benoît XVI. Il sera le premier homme, né au Canada, à joindre le rang des saints.

Le frère André sera « notre saint ». Plusieurs Canadiens ont entendu parler des guérisons obtenues par le frère André qui s’adressait à Dieu par l’intercession de saint Joseph. Plusieurs affirment avoir reçu de l’aide du frère André après avoir fait appel à lui. Cependant, ces guérisons n’étaient pas seulement physiques; plusieurs personnes furent réconfortées par les mots d’encouragement offerts par cet humble serviteur de Dieu.

Ma grand-maman, une veuve avec dix enfants, me raconta combien elle fut particulièrement touchée lors de sa rencontre avec le frère André. J’ai également entendu d’autres personnes me raconter combien le frère André a joué un rôle important dans la vie de personnes qui leur sont chères.

Accompagné de quelques personnes de notre archidiocèse, je me rendrai aux cérémonies de canonisation à Rome et, le 30 octobre prochain, à la messe d’action de grâce au Stade olympique de Montréal. Le soir du 6 janvier 2011, jour de la fête du frère André, nous célèbrerons une messe diocésaine d’action de grâce en la cathédrale Notre-Dame. Retenez cette date et venez participer en grand nombre.

Le 3 octobre 1610 - cela fera déjà quatre cents ans le mois prochain – naissait saint Gabriel Lalemant. Celui-ci était un des huit Martyrs canadiens canonisés lors de la solennité du Sacré-Cœur de Jésus en juin 1930, il y a quatre-vingts ans. Ils sont également « nos saints » puisqu’ils ont joué un rôle déterminant dans l’évangélisation des peuples des Premières nations.

En pensant à ces « saints et saintes de chez nous », j’aimerais partager avec vous quelques réflexions au sujet du thème que nous avons choisi pour notre Année pastorale 2010-2011. Dieu nous appelle à devenir des saints et des saintes. Les saints et les saintes de chez nous nous offrent des pistes vers la sainteté, sur la façon de nous abandonner à la volonté de Dieu dans nos vies.

Au 21e siècle, nous entendons plus souvent parler des vedettes du cinéma, d’athlètes et de chefs religieux. Le culte des saints, c’est un peu différent. Nous reconnaissons en eux quelque chose d’unique et d’extraordinaire, quelque chose qui va bien au-delà des héros et des idoles de ce monde.

À travers les saints et les saintes, Dieu nous fait sentir sa présence, nous parle et nous montre comment poursuivre la mission de son Fils. Par sa vénération pour les saints et les saintes, l’Église nous encourage à suivre leur exemple, incluant la façon dont ils ont répondu généreusement à la grâce de leur appel.

Le concile Vatican II nous rappelle que l’Église considère les saints et les saintes comme des personnes ayant été si transformées qu’elles sont devenues images du Christ.

Ce qui fait la sainteté des saints et des saintes est difficile à définir, mais facile à reconnaître. Lorsque nous les regardons, nous pouvons entrevoir Dieu. Nous détectons chez elles les mêmes qualités, attitudes et comportements que Dieu a manifestés en son Fils, Jésus Christ, Dieu fait homme.

Les croyants admirent les saints et les saintes qui leur rappellent la présence et les promesses de Dieu. Les non-croyants et les personnes de peu de foi se sentent parfois mal à l’aise lorsque les saints et les saintes leur rappellent la façon dont ils devraient se conduire dans leur vie.

Un aspect important de la réponse à l’appel à la sainteté est de prendre le temps de reconnaître nos faiblesses et nos péchés et, suivant une longue tradition de l’Église, chercher à faire réparation pour nos fautes et pour celles d'autres membres de l’Église.

Étant donné que le Saint-Siège m’a confié la charge d’une visite apostolique à l’archidiocèse de Tuam, dans le cadre des efforts de guérison de l’Église d’Irlande suite au terrible scandale des cas d’abus par des prêtres et des religieux, je consacrerai le premier vendredi de chaque mois, d’octobre 2010 à juin 2011, à la prière et au jeûne. Je vous invite à vous joindre à moi dans cet exercice pénitentiel, peu importe la forme de prière et de pénitence que vous choisirez.

Je prierai non seulement pour l’Église en Irlande, mais aussi pour l’Église de chez nous. Je prierai Dieu pour lui demander la guérison, en solidarité avec toutes les victimes d’abus et pour lui demander d’accorder la grâce de repentir, l’acceptation de la justice et de sa miséricorde à ceux qui ont commis des abus.

Prions les uns pour les autres afin que chacun puisse répondre, à sa manière, à l’appel universel de Dieu à la sainteté. Que Dieu vous bénisse,

+Terrence Prendergast, s.j.
   Archevêque d’Ottawa

Le 26 septembre 2010
Solennité des Martyrs canadiens

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TOMORROW WOULD NORMALLY BE THE FEAST OF THE CANADIAN MARYTRS.  But this year it is displaced by the weekly celebration of the LORD'S DAY. However, I chose this day for the publication of a letter to the Archdiocese on the theme of our Pastoral Year, Called to Holiness: the Saints among Us.  My official photo (illustrated) was taken in front of the stained glass representation of the Canadian Martyrs in the Archbishops Chapel on the ground level below Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

On October 17, the Holy Cross religious Brother André (Alfred Bessette) will be proclaimed a saint by Pope Benedict XVI, the first native-born Canadian male to reach sainthood.

Brother André will be “our saint,” as many Canadians have heard of healings through his approach to God through St. Joseph or been helped by bringing petitions to him. Such healings were not only physical, however, for many received comfort from the simple words of encouragement of this humble servant of the Lord.

My grandmother, a widow with ten children, spoke of the consolation her meeting with Brother André had given her. I have heard others speak of the impact of Brother André in the lives of those dear to them.

With others from our Archdiocese, I will attend the canonization ceremony in Rome and the Mass of Thanksgiving at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on October 30. We will hold our own evening Mass of Thanksgiving in Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica on the Feast Day of Brother André, January 6, 2011. Plan now to attend.

Four hundred years ago next month, on October 3, 1610, St. Gabriel Lalemant was born. Eighty years ago, on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in June 1930, he was among the eight saints canonized as the Canadian Martyrs. They were “our saints” too, having played a key role in the evangelization of the Native Peoples.

Thinking about these “saints among us” leads me to share with you a few thoughts on the call to holiness, the theme for our 2010-2011 Pastoral Year. Since the call to be holy calls us to be saints, they offer important clues on how to give ourselves over to God’s will in our lives.

In the 21st century we may hear more about celebrities such as movie stars, athletes and even some religious leaders. Veneration of the saints is something different. We recognize in them something unique and extraordinary, a dimension different from worldly heroes and idols.

God makes us feel His presence in the saints; in them He speaks to us and shows us how to continue the mission of His Son. And the Church’s devotion to the saints reminds us to follow their example, to follow their whole-hearted response to the grace of their calling.

The Second Vatican Council explained that the Church recognizes people as saints because they have been perfectly transformed into the image of Christ.

The transparent holiness of the saints is hard to define but easy to recognize. When we look at them, we catch a glimpse of God. We sense the same qualities, attitudes and behaviour that God first made manifest in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man.

People of faith admire saints for reminding them of God's promises and presence. Those without faith, or with a seldom-used faith, sometimes feel uneasy when the saints remind them how they ought to be living their lives.

An important aspect of our call to be holy is facing our own weaknesses and sins and, following a long church tradition, making reparation for them and for those of other members of the Church.

Because I have been asked by the Holy See to lead an apostolic visitation to the Archdiocese of Tuam as part of the Church in Ireland’s healing from the terrible scandal of clerical abuse, I am going to devote the First Friday of each month from October 2010 to June 2011 as a special day of prayer and fasting. I invite you all to join me in this penitential exercise, in whatever form of prayer and penance you choose.

I will be praying not only for the Church in Ireland but at home as well, praying for healing in solidarity with all victims of abuse, and asking God to give perpetrators of abuse the grace to repent and to accept the course of justice along with His mercy.

Let us support one another in prayer that each of us may heed God’s call to answer—each in his or her unique way—the universal call to holiness. God bless you all.

+Terrence Prendergast, S.J.
Archbishop of Ottawa

September 26, 2010
Feast Day of the Canadian Martyrs

Friday, September 24, 2010

Douglas Crosby New Bishop of Hamilton - 150th of St. Michael's Parish, Fitzroy Harbour - Optional Memorial: Blessed Emilie

Today, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of the Most Reverend Anthony F. Tonnos (at the microphone) from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Hamilton (in Ontario) and has appointed the Most Reverend Douglas Crosby, O.M.I. (top), currently Bishop of Corner Brook and Labrador, and CCCB Co-Treasurer, as Bishop of Hamilton.

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Last Saturday afternoon, Father Joseph Muldoon, whose family has roots there, drove me to Fitzroy Harbour for the Mass of Thanksgiving marking the sesquicentennial of the construction of St. Michael's Church and the celebratory banquet in the Town Library Centre.

Purusing the historical record, I noted that the first priest to serve the folks in this part of the Archdiocese [then part of the Kingston Diocese] was an Irish-born priest named Father Terrence Smith. In the course of the evening, reference was often made to the founding families (e.g. the Stantons, Muldoons, Smiths and O'Learys) and the clergy who served them.

The Mass was very reverently celebrated, with former pastors Msgr. Leonard Lunney and Father Leonard St. John joining current parish priest Father Glicerio Jimenez in the festivities. Former pastor Father Thomas Riopelle came for the banquet as did the ecumenical visitors, the ministers at the Anglican and United Churches.

A wonderfully charming evening was had by all; some photos follow:

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Founding the Sisters of Providence

Today, the Church in Canada permits in the liturgy the optional memorial of Blessed Emilie Tavernier-Gamelin (1800-1851), foundress of the Sisters of Providence of Montreal.

"In her life as mother of a family and religious foundress of the Sisters of Providence, Emilie Tavernier Gamelin was the model of a courageous abandonment to divine Providence. Her attention to persons and to situations led her to invent new forms of charity.

"She had a heart open to every kind of trouble, and she was especially the servant of the poor and the little ones, whom she wished to treat like kings. She remembered that she had received everything from the Lord and she wanted to give without counting the cost. This was the secret of her deep joy, even in adversity.

"In a spirit of total confidence in God and with an acute sense of obedience, like the anonymous servant in the Gospel of today, she accomplished her duty which she considered a divine commandment, wishing above all to do the will of God in everything.

"May the new Blessed be a model of contemplation and action for the sisters of her institute and for the persons who work with them" (Homily at beatification of Blessed Emilie Tavernier-Gamelin, October 7, 2001).