Tuesday, January 31, 2012

St. John Bosco, Lover of Youth - A Visit to St. Ignatius Martyr Parish


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

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From American Catholic's Saint of the Day:

John Bosco’s theory of education could well be used in today’s schools. It was a preventive system, rejecting corporal punishment and placing students in surroundings removed from the likelihood of committing sin.

He advocated frequent reception of the sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion. He combined catechetical training and fatherly guidance, seeking to unite the spiritual life with one’s work, study and play.

Encouraged during his youth to become a priest so he could work with young boys, John was ordained in 1841. His service to young people started when he met a poor orphan and instructed him in preparation for receiving Holy Communion. He then gathered young apprentices and taught them catechism.

After serving as chaplain in a hospice for working girls, John opened the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales for boys. Several wealthy and powerful patrons contributed money, enabling him to provide two workshops for the boys, shoemaking and tailoring.

By 1856, the institution had grown to 150 boys and had added a printing press for publication of religious and catechetical pamphlets. His interest in vocational education and publishing justify him as patron of young apprentices and Catholic publishers.

John’s preaching fame spread and by 1850 he had trained his own helpers because of difficulties in retaining young priests. In 1854 he and his followers informally banded together, inspired by St. Francis de Sales [cf. January 24].

With Pope Pius IX’s encouragement, John gathered 17 men and founded the Salesians in 1859. Their activity concentrated on education and mission work. Later, he organized a group of Salesian Sisters to assist girls.

John Bosco [1815-1888] educated the whole person—body and soul united. He believed that Christ’s love and our faith in that love should pervade everything we do—work, study, play. For John Bosco, being a Christian was a full-time effort, not a once-a-week, Mass-on-Sunday experience.
It is searching and finding God and Jesus in everything we do, letting their love lead us. Yet, because John realized the importance of job-training and the self-worth and pride that come with talent and ability, he trained his students in the trade crafts, too.
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Last week, welcomed by Pastor Father Michael Wright, with Father Joseph Muldoon, E.V. I visited St. Ignatius parish in Overbrook, Ottawa.  This included meeting with the members of the Catholic Women's League council, visiting St. Michael's and Blessed John Paul II schools and attending the Lord's Day Masses on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.  Following two receptions in the parish hall, we met with representatives of the parish finance and pastoral committee; the brothers of the Franciscans of Halifax regularly attend the Sunday Masses.

Some photos:

St. Michael's School

Blessed John Paul II School

Photos of the Parish Events

Monday, January 30, 2012

Exploring Jesuit Spirituality at St. Paul's University - The Skating Oval at Ottawa City Hall


Last Wednesday evening at St. Paul's University -- as part of the Feast Day celebrations -- I was invited to introduce Father Gilles Mongeau, S.J., who spoke on the Jesuit charism in the context of the 400th anniversary of the Society of Jesus' arrival in Canada. 

Fr. Gilles grew up in Ottawa and his parents live here in Kanata, (cf. photo below) so it was a bit of a homecoming,  It was an honour for me to present him to a home-town audience. 

The seminarians from Holy Spirit Ukrainian Seminary (whose church celebrated St. Gregory [Nazianzen] the Theologian that same day) were present and we posed for picture to mark the occasion.
The photos:


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Yesterday was such a lovely sunny afternoon that, after getting back from the Visitation of St. Ignatius Martyr Parish (more on that later in the week), I walked around the ice sculptures and other displays for the NHL All Star Game and saw the recently-opened skating oval outside the Ottawa City Hall.  Given the cancellation of skating on the Canal because of the mild weather, there were lots of people enjoying getting some exercise in the open air. 

A few photos of the rink, of the Canal and the hockey game decorations:

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Jesus Teaches with Authority - WITNESS Interview on Salt + Light Television


Today's Gospel, "Jesus Teaches with Authority" (Mark 1.21-28)

Grant us, Lord our God, that we may honour you with all our mind, and love everyone in truth of heart. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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Prendergast WITNESS Interview premieres
this Sunday on the S+L network

Father Thomas Rosica, CSB informed me a short time ago that the WITNESS interview he conducted with me last October at the Bishops’ Plenary in Cornwall, Ontario will premiere on the Salt and Light Television Network this Sunday evening, January 29.

This is the description of it that the S + L website offers:

October 20, 2011 - In 2011, the English-speaking world welcomed the new translation of the Roman Missal. One of the key figures responsible for the translation was a Canadian Jesuit: Archbishop Terrence Prendergast. The Montreal native is presently the Archbishop of Ottawa, as well as Canada's representative on the Vox Clara committee of the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship. He previously served as Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto and Archbishop of Halifax. Witness host Fr. Thomas Rosica spoke with the Archbishop at the 2011 plenary assembly of the Canadian bishops' conference.

You can get see it in an advance screening by clicking on the following:

L.D.S. & M. I.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ottawa: NHL All-Star Game Host City - St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor - Le centenaire de la province canadienne des dominicains

In previous years, the NHL All Star Hockey Game could not be held in Ottawa due to the lack of convention facilities.  But the opening last year of the Ottawa Convention Centre has made this year's big game a possibility.  However, the inconsistent weather (not sufficiently cold for long enough) has wreacked havoc with hopes to skate on the Rideau Canal (which the locals have been grousing about too).
Welcome, visitors!  Enjoy your stay!

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

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100 Ans de la Province dominicaine canadienne

Les dominicains au Canada fêtent un Jubile en 2011-2012 ; j’ai pu assister a quelques sessions d’un colloque ces jours-ci.  Voici un message du provincial sur le site web des Frères Prêcheurs :

Centenaire des Dominicains au Canada

Les dominicains au Canada [1911-2011]

Le Jubilé de notre Province est bien lancé. En deux occasions, plusieurs d’entre nous se sont retrouvés à Saint-Hyacinthe. Tout d’abord pour cette belle journée du 1er octobre où, dans une remarquable conférence, le frère Jean-Jacques Robillard nous a permis de mieux saisir nos origines. Autour de l’évêque du diocèse, Mgr François Lapierre, dans le cadre d’une célébration eucharistique joyeuse, nous avons rendu grâces à Dieu pour tout ce qu’a réalisé notre Province. Avec nos invités, tout particulièrement le Prieur provincial de la Province de France qui a su nous égayer, nous avons poursuivi la fête autour d’un bon buffet. Plus tard, le 8 novembre, nous avons procédé à la bénédiction de notre nouveau cimetière et fait mémoire de tous les frères de notre Province qui nous ont précédés…

Merci à tous les frères qui se sont déplacés pour ces deux événements. Beau signe de vitalité et d’attachement à la communauté que nous formons.

Le prochain rendez-vous est fixé à Ottawa. Un colloque développera le thème de la présence dominicaine en milieux universitaires. Il se conclura par la célébration de la Saint-Thomas. Retenez les dates : les 26, 27 et 28 janvier 2012….

Les générations des dominicains canadiens:
le frère Rick van Lier, 39 ans, le frère Benoît Lacroix, 96 ans

Le frère Hervé Tremblay parle du commentaire
du frère Marie-Joseph Lagrange sur la Genèse

Notre Province est à un tournant. Je le vis moi-même bien directement et simplement. Je me suis rendu compte que je suis le seul dominicain à temps plein au Provincialat avec tout ce que cela implique bien concrètement dans l’exécution de certaines tâches. Il a suffi d’un chapitre provincial pour que les choses changent à ce point.

Ce que je vis, des prieurs le vivent, plusieurs frères le vivent. Cela exige une transformation des mentalités et surtout de comprendre que, même après cent ans, nous sommes encore à nos débuts. Non seulement parce que nous sommes moins nombreux, non seulement parce que nos ressources ont diminué, mais fondamentalement parce que notre monde a changé.

Et pourtant, dans la foi, nous sommes convaincus que ce monde difficile à comprendre est toujours aimé de Dieu. Il a encore besoin d’entendre la Bonne Nouvelle de la joie de Noël : vous est né, aujourd’hui, un Sauveur qui est Christ et Seigneur! Aujourd’hui, ici au Québec, au Canada, au Japon, au Rwanda et au Burundi.

En mai, nous nous retrouverons, dans le cadre des nos Assises, pour réfléchir sur le thème de la nouvelle évangélisation... Il s’agit de notre raison d’être, de notre avenir, de notre identité, car nous sommes prêcheurs, porteurs de la Bonne Nouvelle. Comment l’annoncer? Quel est ce monde dont nous sommes partie prenante? Quelle parole lui adresser? Comment notre parole peut-elle renvoyer à cette Parole, à ce Verbe, que Dieu a enfoui dans notre monde? Comment, à la manière de Dominique, poursuivre le dialogue avec l’hôtelier?

Au moment où nous célébrons notre jubilé, je vous souhaite cette joie, cette joie de Noël, que nous ne pouvons garder pour nous-mêmes, cette joie des débuts, aussi modestes soient-ils, cette joie pour laquelle nous sommes encore prêts à risquer notre avenir.

Fr. André Descôteaux, o.p., Prieur provincial

Friday, January 27, 2012

Optional Memorial: St. Angela Merici / SAINTE ANGÈLE MÉRICI - Visit to St. Theresa's



May the Virgin Saint Angela never fail to commend us to your compassion, O Lord, we pray, that, following the lessons of her charity and prudence, we may hold fast to your teaching and express it in what we do. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

* * *


Vierge, fondatrice de la Congrégation des Ursulines (1474-1540)

Sainte Angèle Mérici naquit à Desonzano, sur le lac de Garde. Ses parents, profondément chrétiens, désiraient que leurs enfants trouvent leur bonheur dans la gloire de Dieu. Pour réaliser cet idéal, ils avaient fait un vrai sanctuaire de la maison paternelle où chacun travaillait sous le regard de Dieu et récitait la prière en commun. Une lecture dans un livre de piété ou dans la Vie des Saints terminait la journée.

A ces pieuses pratiques, Angèle ajoutait les rigueurs de la pénitence. Elle voua sa virginité au Seigneur à l'âge de neuf ans et renonça le jour même à toute parure. Elle perdit son père vers l'âge de treize ans; sa mère mourut deux ans plus tard. Un oncle nommé Barthélémy la prit alors chez lui et s'attacha à favoriser ses pratiques de dévotion. Six ans s'écoulèrent avant que Dieu vienne lui ravir son unique soeur de sang et de sentiments; le décès de l'oncle Barthélémy suivit de près cette perte vivement ressentie.

Doublement orpheline, Angèle rentra à la maison paternelle, acheva de se dépouiller de tout ce qu'elle possédait et se livra aux plus grandes austérités. Elle était alors âgée de vingt-deux ans. Afin de se sanctifier plus sûrement, elle s'affilia au Tiers-Ordre de Saint-François d'Assise.

En 1506, un jour qu'elle travaillait aux champs, une lumière éclatante l'environna soudain. Angèle vit une échelle s'élever du sol jusqu'au ciel et une troupe innombrable de vierges qui en parcouraient les échelons, soutenues par des anges. Une des vierges se tourna vers elle et lui dit: «Angèle, sache que Dieu t'a ménagé cette vision pour te révéler qu'avant de mourir tu fonderas, à Brescia, une société de vierges semblable à celles-ci.» Dieu fournit à Sa servante les moyens de réaliser cet oracle, seulement vingt ans après la mémorable vision.

La réputation de sainteté d'Angèle Mérici s'était répandue jusque dans la ville de Brescia. Les Patengoli, riche famille et grands bienfaiteurs des oeuvres pies, habitaient cette cité. En 1516, ayant perdu coup sur coup leurs deux fils, ils invitèrent Angèle à venir habiter avec eux pour les consoler dans leur peine. A partir de ce moment, sainte Angèle se fixa à Brescia, édifiant la ville par ses vertus. Chaque jour, on la voyait en compagnie de jeunes filles de son âge, rassembler les fillettes et leur enseigner la doctrine chrétienne, visiter les pauvres et les malades, instruire les grandes personnes qui venaient, en foule, écouter leurs conférences. Ces pieuses filles s'ingéniaient à rechercher les pécheurs jusque dans leur lieu de travail.

Suivant une pratique très usitée à cette époque, sainte Angèle Mérici entreprit plusieurs pèlerinages. Comme elle se rendait un jour à Jérusalem avec un groupe de pèlerins, une mystérieuse cécité se déclara dans la ville de Candie, l'affligeant tout le reste du parcours, pour ne cesser qu'à son retour exactement au même endroit où elle avait perdu l'usage de la vue. Dans cette pénible circonstance, la Sainte vit comme un symbole du renoncement qui devait être à la base de tous ses projets. Le pape Clément VII, instruit des vertus et des miracles de sainte Angèle, lui réserva un accueil des plus bienveillants.

Le souvenir de la merveilleuse vision demeurait toujours au fond de son coeur. Un jour, Angèle réunit douze jeunes filles qui désiraient tendre à la vie parfaite. Elle leur proposa de mener une vie retirée dans leurs demeures et les rassemblaient fréquemment pour les former à la pratique des vertus chrétiennes. En 1533, ce noviciat achevé, sainte Angèle Mérici leur révéla son plan, leur démontrant que l'ignorance religieuse était la cause des ravages exercés par le protestantisme et que la fondation d'une société de religieuses d'une forme nouvelle pour l'époque, unissant la vie contemplative à l'instruction des enfants, constituerait un remède efficace à l'état déplorable qui régnait dans l'Église.

Afin de mieux atteindre toutes les âmes dans le besoin, la fondatrice implanta les bases d'un Ordre sans clôture. Ses soeurs parcouraient les prisons et les hôpitaux, recherchaient les pauvres pour les instruire et rompaient généreusement leur pain avec eux. Remontant le cours du mal jusqu'à sa source, sainte Angèle Mérici pensait qu'on ne pouvait réformer les moeurs que par la famille, laquelle dépendait surtout de la mère. Elle réalisait que la mauvaise éducation des jeunes filles provenait de la carence de mères chrétiennes. Dans les desseins de Dieu, la congrégation des Ursulines devait rayonner à travers le monde par l'éducation des jeunes filles.

Le 25 novembre 1535, à Brescia, les premières religieuses du nouvel institut prononcèrent les trois voeux traditionnels de pauvreté, chasteté et obéissance, ajoutant celui de se consacrer exclusivement à l'enseignement. Sainte Angèle Mérici plaça sa congrégation sous le patronage de sainte Ursule.

Dieu l'avait gratifiée des dons éminents de science infuse et de prophétie. Elle parlait latin sans l'avoir étudié, expliquait les passages les plus difficiles des Livres Saints et traitait les questions théologiques avec une si admirable fermeté et précision, que les plus doctes personnages recouraient volontiers à ses lumières. Ses dernières années furent marquées par de fréquentes extases.

Sainte Angèle Mérici mourut le 28 janvier 1540. Pendant trois nuits, toute la ville de Brescia contempla une lumière extraordinaire au-dessus de la chapelle où reposait le corps de la Sainte qui s'est conservé intact de toute corruption. Le pape Pie VII l'a canonisée en 1807. Tiré de J.-M. Planchet, édition 1946, p. 217-218 -- Marteau de Langle de Cary, 1959, tome II, p. 295-296

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Recently, late on a Sunday afternoon, I joined close to a hundred members of St. Theresa's Parish and their pastor, Father Vincent Pereira, for an evening of dining and entertainment in thanksgiving for generous service to the parish community.

It was a delightful occasion; some photos:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Saints Timothy and Titus - Lunar New Year Images - Sunday 4B: JesusTeaches "with Authority"

Rembrandt van Rijn, St. Timothy as a child and his grandmother Lois
(cf. 2 Timothy 1.5), c. 1648


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

* * *
Saints Timothy and Titus were two of the most beloved and trusted disciples of St. Paul, whom they accompanied in many of his journeys.

St. Timothy has been regarded by some as the "angel of the church of Ephesus", Rev 2:1-17. According to the ancient Roman martyrology he died Bishop of Ephesus.

The Bollandists (Jan. 24) give two lives of St. Timothy, one ascribed to Polycrates (an early Bishop of Ephesus, and a contemporary of St. Irenæus) and the other by Metaphrastes, which is merely an expansion of the former. The first states that during the Neronian persecution St. John arrived at Ephesus, where he lived with St. Timothy until he was exiled to Patmos under Domitian. Timothy, who was unmarried, continued Bishop of Ephesus until, when he was over eighty years of age, he was mortally beaten by the pagans.

According to early tradition Titus continued after St. Paul's death as Archbishop of Crete, and died there when he was over ninety. (Principal source - Catholic Encyclopedia - 1913 edition)

St. Paul and St. Titus

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On Monday, a few photos were posted on the parish celebration at Sheng Shen (Holy Spirit) Chinese Catholic Parish. Here are some additional photos of the exchange of greetings by the Vietnamese Parish representatives (they brought gifts of spring rolls, Oriental fruits and Canadian ice wine) and of my visit to the Chinese community and celebration of Mass with them. 

The Vietnamese choir came from Our Lady of LaVang Parish to sing at the Mass at Sheng Shen Parish; two Vietnamese priests also concelebrated the liturgy.

A few photos : 


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Meeting with Deacon Peter Fan and the Parish Executive on arrival

Meeting with Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults Team and Catechumens

The catechumens are sent forth after the homily

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Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year “B”) - January 29, 2012

[Deuteronomy 18.15-20 [Psalm 95]; 1 Corinthians 7.32-35; Mark 1.21-28]

Last Sunday's second reading ended with Paul observing, “The present form of this world is passing away”. This weekend, a similar note is struck when Paul speaks of the value of celibacy—singleness, being unmarried—so that men and women may be “concerned about the affairs of the Lord”.

Paul says this not because, as is sometimes asserted, he has a negative view of sex. His outlook is quite realistic and positive regarding human sexuality. He recognizes it as a divine blessing meant to issue in intimacy within marriage.

Beginning his mini-treatise on marriage, divorce and celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom (1 Corinthians 7.1-40), Paul told the Corinthians, who thought everyone should be celibate, that, instead, “each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband” (7.2-3).

Later, treating the issue of the single state, Paul praised it for allowing one to serve the Lord without distraction (“the unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord”).

By contrast, Paul said, marriage presents complications, producing divided interests. The married Christian must rightly consider how to please his or her spouse rather than concentrating on pleasing God alone (`for the married woman is concerned about the affairs of the world, how to please her husband').

In contrast with our culture, which claims the unmarried state is unhealthy and that wholeness for humans is possible only through sexual relationships, Paul reminds believers that the single state has dignity and value before God.

Through the ages, the Church has affirmed the truth of what Paul says through admiration for religious life, for the celibacy of priests in the Latin Rite and for disciples who, being single for a variety of motives, thereby offer “unhindered devotion to the Lord”.

There is only one reference in the New Testament to Jesus' celibate state, though it is everywhere presupposed. A single saying of Jesus on this theme has been preserved: “Some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the Kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19.12; New International Version).

Those who “make themselves eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom” (New Revised Standard Version) remain celibate to devote themselves fully to Christian ministry or witness. Marriage and the family are highly esteemed by disciples of Jesus. Still, exceptional people of the early community remained unmarried as a mark of their singular calling.

Jesus' single-minded devotion to heralding the Kingdom is evident from the outset. Mark's initial description of Jesus' ministry is that it presents “a new teaching—with authority!” The power in his teaching is evident when linked with an exorcism (“he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him”).

Mark stressed the impact of Jesus' teaching without telling us what feature of it displayed that authority. His focus was on the authority as such and on the people's reaction (“they were astounded”). Or, as one translator suggests, ‘they were being knocked out with astonishment’ (R. Gundry).

Mark wanted to emphasize the overwhelming power of Jesus' teaching authority. As long as Jesus taught, astonishment overwhelmed the residents of Capernaum. Mark thought it unimportant to inform his readers what Jesus said in his teaching. Instead, Mark showed that the power of Jesus' teaching authority became manifest in his casting “an unclean spirit” out of a man who came into the synagogue of Capernaum.

As Mark's gospel progresses, readers will observe Jesus working three other exorcisms (Mark 5.1-20; 7.24-30; 9.14-29). Yet Mark multiplies the impression of the extent of Jesus' exorcising activity through summary statements that generalize this feature of His ministry (cf. 1.34, 39; 3.11-12; 15, 22-23; 6.13; 9.38).

Mark identifies an exorcism as the first of Jesus' mighty acts and links the exorcism to the authoritative teaching of Jesus. The two activities coordinate and support each other, evoking astonishment and causing the fame of Jesus to spread through the surrounding Galilean countryside.

The people of Capernaum's question (“What is this?”) will soon become a question dominating the first half of Mark's gospel, “Who is this?” (4.41). ultimately, it will become the question Jesus poses to each person, “Who do you say that I am?” (8.29). [Living God's Word: Reflections on the Sunday Readings for Year B; Toronto/Montreal: Novalis, 2011, pp. 49-51]