Wednesday, February 29, 2012

LEAP DAY - Wednesday in Lent Week I - Sunday of the Transfiguration (Lent 2B)

FEBRUARY 29, known as a LEAP DAY in the Gregorian calendar, is a date that occurs in most years that are evenly divisible by 4, such as 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016.

Years that are evenly divisible by 100 do not contain a leap day, with the exception of years that are evenly divisible by 400, which do contain a leap day; thus 1900 did not contain a leap day while 2000 did. Years containing a leap day are called leap years.

February 29 is the 60th day of the Gregorian calendar in such a year, with 306 days remaining until the end of that year. Leap years

Although most years of the modern calendar have 365 days, a complete revolution around the sun takes approximately 365 days and 6 hours. Every four years, during which an extra 24 hours have accumulated, one extra day is added to keep the count coordinated with the sun's apparent position.

It is, however, slightly inaccurate to calculate an additional 6 hours each year. A better approximation is that the Earth makes a complete revolution around the sun in 365 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes, and 16 seconds. To compensate for the difference, an end-of-century year is not a leap year unless it is also exactly divisible by 400. This means that the years 1600 and 2000 were leap years, as will be 2400 and 2800, but the years 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not, nor will be 2100, 2200 and 2300.

The Gregorian calendar repeats itself every 400 years, which is exactly 20,871 weeks including 97 leap days. Over this period, February 29 falls 13 times on a Sunday, Tuesday, or Thursday; 14 times on a Friday or Saturday; and 15 times on a Monday or Wednesday.

* * * * * *

Look kindly, Lord, we pray, on the devotion of your people, that those who by self-denial are restrained in body may by the fruit of good works be renewed in mind. Through our Lord.

* * * * * *

Second Sunday in Lent (Year "B") - March 4, 2012

[Texts: Genesis 22.1-2, 9-13, 15-18 [Psalm 116]; Romans 8.31b-35, 37; Mark 9.2-10]

On the First Sunday of Lent, Christians found themselves with Jesus in the wilderness of temptation.

This Second Sunday of Lent finds believers with Him and three chosen disciples on a high mountain. Tradition situates this gospel episode on Mount Tabor in Galilee, now known as the Mount of Transfiguration though other mountains are candidates for the honour.

The context of the Transfiguration fits in very well with Lent, which is oriented to the Paschal Mystery celebrated in Holy Week.

For at mid-point in the gospel narrative, the issue of Jesus' identity had been resolved with Peter's confession—speaking on behalf of the Twelve—that he was “the Messiah” (literally, ‘the Christ’ or the ‘anointed one’ [cf. Mark 8.27-30]).

Jesus then commanded Peter and the others to be silent about his identity. However, he began to tell them “quite openly” about his coming Passion, death and resurrection. And to invite them and all would-be disciples to “deny themselves, take up their cross and follow me”. Several additional sayings by Jesus on the cost of discipleship culminated with his promise that “there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see” the Kingdom of God come in power (Mark 8.31-9.1).

Interpreters are divided about whether the Transfiguration narrative should be interpreted as fulfilling Jesus' promise. Some have maintained that Jesus' was pointing, instead, to his resurrection as the fulfilment of this saying. Other scholars say that Jesus spoke of the Parousia, and that this promise was not realized, becoming instead an embarrassment for the Church.

In favour of the Transfiguration as the accomplishment of Jesus' saying is the temporal notice (“six days later”) that ties the mountain-top experience to the mini-catechism on discipleship. [These words have been omitted from the introductory verse of today's gospel reading.]

Another thematic link with the sayings on cross-bearing and self-offering, however, is found in the words from heaven urging Peter, James and John to “listen to him”. Within the framework of the gospel narrative, God's voice guides the disciples to the teaching on self-surrender that Jesus has just begun to give them.

From this point on in the gospel virtually all of Jesus' sayings will speak of the cost of being a follower of the messiah who fulfils his vocation by dying on the cross. Henceforward—whether the subject matter is true greatness, family life, the use of riches or some other dimension of life—Jesus will be continually referring to the presence of the Cross and its meaning at the heart of the believer's life (Mark 9.14-10.52).

Indeed, a careful reading of the central section of Mark's gospel (8.27-10.52) reveals a recurring pattern. Three times Jesus foretells His Passion (8.31; 9.31; 10.32-34). Each time, the disciples show that they resist this teaching and its implications for their lives (8.32; 9.33-34; 10.35-41). Still, on each occasion, Jesus renews his teaching on dying to self and spells out the price of being his follower (8.34-9.1; 9.35-37; 10.41-45).

A key feature of the Transfiguration is Peter's suggestion to Jesus that he and his companions build three tents, “one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”. The evangelist observed that “Peter did not know what to say, for they were terrified”.

Their fear is relieved by the discovery, after God's voice falls silent and the heavenly visitors depart, by their seeing “only Jesus” who encouraged them to remain silent “until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead”. The disciples need for continuing instruction is hinted at in the notice of their “questioning what rising from the dead could mean”.

Another tale of terror on the mountain is that of Abraham's ‘binding of Isaac’ and willingness to offer him up in obedience to God's command. The people of Israel continue to remind God of this devotion by Abraham when they make petitions.

Paul reminds Christians that God willingly made for sinful humanity the sacrifice not demanded of Abraham—the sacrifice of his only-begotten Son—(“God did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us”). This is the ground of the Christian's hope that God will give believers everything else as well, including one day the glory of being transfigured into the likeness of Christ (cf. Philippians 3.21).

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tuesday in the First Week of Lent - Father Charles Holland, S.J. (R.I.P.)

JPEG - 352.6 ko

Look upon your family, Lord, that, through the chastening effects of bodily discipline, our minds may be radiant in your presence with the strength of our yearning for you. 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.

* * * * * *


Commended to our prayers is the soul of Father Charles Peter Holland, a native of Prince Edward Island, who adopted Newfoundland as his home (or was adopted by the people of Newfoundland), who passed away on Sunday.

Father Charlie was among the first Jesuits to go "the Rock" when the Society of Jesus took on responsibility for Gonzaga High School and St. Pius X parish in St. John's fifty years ago.  He taught at Gonzaga, served in the parishes of the Archdiocese (particularly at Topsail, where a wake was held last night).  Later, when a private school "in the Jesuit tradition" was established in response to the deconfessionalization of the schools in Newfoundland and Labrador, he directed St. Bonaventure's School.

The wake will continue today at St. Pius X church where his funeral will be held tomorrow.



Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday of the First Week of Lent - Inauguration du ministère épiscopal de Mgr Noel Simard à Valleyfield

JPEG - 28 ko

Monday of the First Week of Lent

Convert us, O God our Saviour, and instruct our minds by heavenly teaching, that we may benefit from the works of Lent. 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.

* * * * * *



Among the duties Bishop Noel Simard exercised before his transfer to Valleyfield was that of Ontario State Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus

Not surprisingly, then, a good delegation of the KofC leadership and membership was in attendance at his installation service in Valleyfield last Thursday.  

Past Ontario State Deputy Arthur Peters kindly emailed me these excellent photos which he took that evening:

Mgr Simard welcomes guests to the reception in his honour

Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, Metropolitan Archbishop of Montreal, presides at the installation formalities

Mgr Jean-Louis Plouffe (Bishop of Sault Sainte Marie), Mgr Pierre-Andre Fournier (Archbishop of Rimouski and President of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Quebec), Mgr Simard

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Jesus Tempted: 1st Sunday of Lent - Bishops for Quebec Church


Grant, almighty God, through the yearly observances of holy Lent, that we may grow in understanding of the riches hidden in Christ and by worthy conduct pursue their effects.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ.

* * * * * *


These days there are some changes in the Church of Quebec. 

Today, the Servite of Mary Mgr Gaetan Proulx and Mgr Denis Grondin will be ordained auxiliary bishops to aid Archbishop of Quebec and Primate of Canada, Mgr Gerard Cyprien Lacroix at the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre.

Mgr. Gaetan Proulx, osm (left), Mgr Denis Grondin
in Valleyfield on Thursday evening

On Thursday evening Mgr Noel Simard returned to Quebec after twenty years in Ontario (as a professor of bioethics at the University of Sudbury and St. Paul's University), assuming the office of ninth Bishop of Valleyfield (which borders our archdiocese on the east and from which Mgr Joseph-Medard Emard came to us as third Archbishop of Ottawa [1922-27] after thirty years of episcopacy).

Mgr Noel Simard

On Thursday, March 15, Mgr Paul Lortie will move from Quebec, where he served as auxiliary bishop for less than two years to become Bishop of Mont-Laurier.

Finally, on March 26, transferred Solemnity of the Annunciation, Mgr Luc Bouchard, heretofore Bishop of St. Paul in Alberta becomes Bishop of Trois-Rivieres.

Prayers and best wishes to all the newly designated members of the episcopacy, successors of the apostles.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday & Saturday after Ash Wednesday - A rabbi, an iman and an archbishop meet at YOW...

Friday after Ash Wednesday

Show gracious favour, O Lord, we pray, to the works of penance we have begun, that we may have strength to accomplish with sincerity the bodily observances we undertake. 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.

* * * * * *


On Shrove Tuesday, Ottawa religious leaders and members of the United Way gathered at the Ottawa International Airport for some Kindness Week action: giving chocolates to arriving passengers (some returning home, others visiting on business or family affairs. 

Reactions were various: startled, happy, indifferent, pleased.  It was a happy experience and the happiness was contagious. 

Today is the last day of Kindness Week, but kind gestures are always in season (they go well with Lenten disciplines!)

More photos:

* * * * * *

Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Almighty ever-living God look with compassion on our weakness and ensure us your protection by stretching forth the right hand of your majesty. 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.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thursday after Ash Wednesday - St. Polycarp, bishop-martyr - New Holy Korean Martyrs Parish Priest

Prompt our actions with your inspiration, we pray, O Lord, and further them with your constant help, that all we do may always begin from you and by you be brought to completion. Through our Lord Jesus Christ..

* * * * * *


God of all creation, who were pleased to give the Bishop Saint Polycarp a place in the company of the Martyrs, grant, through his intercession, that sharing with him in the chalice of Christ, we may rise through the Holy Spirit to eternal life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ.

* * * * * *

Welcome to Fr. John Baptist Ha

Father Gregori Kim (left), pastor of Holy Korean Martyrs Parish, will be leaving for sabbatical in early March; taking charge of the Parish for the duration of his absence is Father John Baptist Ha(right),  freshly arrived from Taiwan.  They dropped by my office earlier this eek for a brief exchange in the company of Esther Choi Broussard (centre).

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday - 40: A Lenten Spiritual Program on the Web - First Lenten Sunday (Year B)

Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint. Through our Lord Jesus Christ.

* * * * * *


40 – A Lenten Series

In partnership with Loyola Press and Loyola Productions, the Jesuits in the United States are offering 40, a provocative and entertaining spiritual resource and companion for Lent 2012.

Context: 40 has been developed to invite a wide variety of audiences—from active Catholics to spiritual seekers—to (re)discover the spiritual journey and lessons of this vital season. It’s also been developed to offer teachers, ministers, and parents a different approach to engaging others in Lent.

40 is something of an experiment, both for its use of story and its web-based outreach through the Jesuit network…and beyond. By sharing 40 and related resources free of charge, their hope is to engage as many people as possible this Lent. By working with Loyola Press, Loyola Productions, the Jesuits are hopeful that this Lenten program will foster conversation and community in new and exciting ways.

More about 40: 40 is a web-based “post-apocalyptic drama” (akin to Lost) that begins on Ash Wednesday - February 22, 2012. In the debut episode, we are introduced to seven strangers who appear to be the only survivors of a mysterious event that has left Los Angeles empty, devoid of people.

From there the story unfolds throughout Lent in 14 episodes—2 per week—that run 4 to 7 minutes apiece. As a Lenten allegory, the themes of exile and journeying, loss and grief, hunger and thirst, mortification and fasting, sin and redemption, the path through the desert and the way of the Cross are dramatically “mirrored” by the story as it develops onscreen.

40 is accompanied by reflection questions and resources that can be used individually or in groups. These companion materials help viewers make connections between the storyline, scriptural references, and meaning of Lent.

You are invited to learn more and view the trailer at the 40

* * * * * *


First Sunday of Lent (Yr “B”)—February 26, 2012

[Texts: Genesis 9.8-15 [Psalm 25]; 1 Peter 3.18-22; Mark 1.12-15]

“Lent” derives from the Old English “lencten” and refers to the lengthening of the days as spring approaches. The renewal of the earth and of Christian life in baptism are linked.

The Second Vatican Council's decree on the renewal of the Sacred Liturgy stressed two features about Lent: that during it Christians recall their baptism—or prepare for it—and practice penance. 

Through prayer, fasting and almsgiving, “the Church prepares the faithful for the celebration of Easter, while they hear God's word more frequently and devote more time to prayer.”

The traditional Lenten practices of prayer each day, fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, almsgiving to benefit the Share Lent campaign of Development and Peace—all are means to beg from God the grace of reconciliation so needed in human relationships, in each Christian's life.

In Genesis and First Peter, Noah and his family (“eight persons”, according to a tradition mentioned by Peter), figure prominently as symbols of God's desire to save people from the primeval flood and through the waters of baptism.

In the Bible God tempers divine justice, which requires the wicked to be punished for their sins, with mercy to the righteous that offers people hope.

For the author of Genesis, destruction cannot be God's final word.  Instead, salvation appears as God's ultimate purpose: “Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth”.

The rainbow stands as a reminder to God of this covenant promise made to Noah “and every living creature of all flesh”.

The author of First Peter appropriates the ark theme in his baptismal homily. ‘Prefigured’ by the experience of Noah's family, the new ‘ark’ of the Church offers salvation through the waters of baptism.

Baptism is described “not as a removal of dirt from the body (as bathing might suggest), but as an appeal to God for a good conscience”.  This means that, for believers, the act of undergoing baptism is a commitment by them, in all good conscience, to make sure that what baptism symbolizes becomes a reality in their lives.

Peter's baptismal homily notes that Christ, after his suffering and resurrection, proclaimed the gospel to disobedient beings (“He went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison”). 

This obscure statement evokes a tradition that the Risen Lord, while ascending to God, declared his triumph over sin to spirits blamed for leading people astray in the rebellion that led to the flood.  This forever ended their spiritual and psychological hold over human beings.  Another interpretation holds that Christ preached to the souls of the people destroyed in Noah's flood.

The gospels of the first two Sundays in Lent focus on Our Lord's testing and transfiguration.  They remind disciples of the struggle against sin—individual and social—for which Christians do penance, and of the glory of Christ that awaits them in overcoming temptation and sin.

The gospels of the third, fourth and fifth Sundays of Lent present selections from John's gospel, which tell of Christ's glorification through his Cross and resurrection. 

Passion (Palm) Sunday recalls Jesus' entry into Jerusalem and His sufferings.  The Passion Narrative brings Lent to a climax and leads into the Sacred Triduum (Holy Thursday to the Easter Vigil).

On this first Lenten Sunday, Christians hear Mark's account of Jesus' testing, which is utterly spare: “Jesus was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him”.

Underlying this tradition is a contrast between Adam and Christ; the disobedience of Adam is contrasted with the obedience of Jesus.  Adam yielded to the tempter, leading to hostility with creation and hardships.

In overcoming the tempter's blandishments—left unmentioned—Jesus restored harmony to creation and lived on the nourishment provided by God's ministering angels. 

Thus, there comes about a new creation, a notion Paul applies to each believer's baptism into Christ (cf. 2 Corinthians 5.17).

Jesus is the second Adam, the obedient servant of God.  By his example, Jesus teaches disciples to overcome the temptations of life and to serve God along their individual paths of life in the world.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

St. Pierre Damien - Mgr Gérard Deschamps fête 45 ans d'épiscopat - Shrove Tuesday / Mardi Gras

Saint Pierre-Damien,
évêque d'Ostie, docteur de l'Église

L’austère réformateur des mœurs chrétiennes au XIe siècle, le précurseur du saint pontife Grégoire VII, Pierre Damien paraît aujourd’hui sur le cycle des saints comme mémoire facultative.

A lui revient une partie de la gloire de cette magnifique régénération qui s’accomplit en ces jours où le jugement dut commencer par la maison de Dieu. Dressé à la lutte contre les vices sous une sévère institution monastique, Pierre s’opposa comme une digue au torrent des désordres de son temps, et contribua puissamment à préparer, par l’extirpation des abus, deux siècles de foi ardente qui rachetèrent les hontes du Xe siècle.

L’Église a reconnu tant de science, de zèle et de noblesse, dans les écrits du saint Cardinal, que, par un jugement solennel, elle l’a placé au rang de ses Docteurs.

Apôtre de la pénitence, Pierre Damien nous appelle à la conversion, dans les jours où nous sommes ; écoutons-le et montrons-nous dociles à sa voix en cette veille du Mercredi des cendres.

* * *


Grant, we pray, almighty God, that we may so follow the teaching and example of the Bishop Saint Peter Damian, that, putting nothing before Christ and always ardent in the service of your Church, we may be led to the joys of eternal light. Through our Lord Jesus Christ.

* * * * * *

Une fête pour 45 ans d’épiscopat

Dimanche après-midi bon nombre de fidèles se sont réunis a la paroisse Notre Dame de Lourdes (Vanier) pour honorer un fils de la paroisse pour ses 45 ans de service en Église comme évêque.

Mgr Gérard Deschamps, montfortain, est né en 1929 sur la rue John a Eastview (désigné plus tard «rue Deschamps » en son honneur).

Missionnaire en Papouasie, il a été nommé préfet apostolique de Daru en 1962 et, a ce titre, a participé au Concile Vatican II de 1962 a 1965.

Élevé a l’épiscopat en 1966, il a été sacré évêque par Mgr Marie-Joseph Lemieux le 21 janvier 1967. Responsable d’Église pour 50 ans, il a rendu sa reconnaissance au Seigneur pour cet appel dans son discours de remerciement.

Voici quelques photos de la célébration :

* * * * * *


Shrove Tuesday is a term used in English-speaking countries for the day preceding Ash Wednesday, the first day of the season of fasting and prayer of Lent.

The word shrove is the past participle of the English verb to shrive, which means to obtain absolution for one's sins by way of confession and doing penance. During the week before Lent, sometimes called Shrovetide in English, Christians were expected to go to confession in preparation for the penitential season of turning to God.

Shrove Tuesday was the last day before the beginning of Lent and noted in histories dating back to 1000 AD. The popular celebratory aspect of the day had developed long before the Protestant Reformation, and was associated with releasing high spirits before the somber season of Lent. It is analogous to the continuing Carnival tradition associated with Mardi Gras (and its various names in different countries) that continued separately in European Catholic countries.

In many countries, the day is often known as Pancake Day. Making and eating such foods was considered a last feast with ingredients such as sugar, fat and eggs, whose consumption was traditionally restricted during the ritual fasting associated with Lent. (

Monday, February 20, 2012

Kindness Week / Semaine de la bonté - Bishop JF MacDonald (RIP)

From last Friday until Friday of this week, Ottawa is observing Kindness Week. How did this get started?

Having heard enough bad news, Rabbi Reuven Bulka started Kindness Week. Five years later, its mission continues. “To celebrate the kindness that is and to encourage the kindness that can be,” says Rabbi Bulka.

This year, the city-wide initiative that encourages people to choose to be kind and recognizes those who engage in every day acts of kindness is focusing on five ways to be kind: Give, volunteer, say thanks, celebrate kindness and pay if forward.

This says, Rabbi Bulka, can be achieved from donating your time and money to charitable causes to recognizing acts of kindness around you to encouraging people to make generous efforts in their own lives to better someone else’s.

Rabbi Bulka kindly invited me to join him in the launch of Kindness Week last Friday at City Hall but I was out of the country.  However, I will join him tomorrow morning for an hour at the Ottawa International Airport.  Together, we will welcome those coming to Ottawa at the Arrivals Level from 8:15 on for about an hour. 

Seeing that Lent gets underway the next day, Ash Wednesday, perhaps we Catholics could add some positive kindly act to another as an expression of the renewal of our baptismal commitment, a dimension of our conversion to go along with our acts of prayer, self-denial and almsgiving.  Just a thought!

* * * * * *


January 20, 1932-February 18, 2012

I was saddened to learn of the death on Saturday in Charlottetown, PEI of Most Reverend J. Faber MacDonald, Bishop of Grand Falls, NL (1980-1998) and emeritus Bishop of Saint John, NB (1998-2006).  His first diocese was the home diocese of my dad (born Cupids, Conception Bay) and his appointment to the latter diocese came about just several months after my own transfer to Halifax in June 1998. 

So thereafter we often had occasion to meet at the Atlantic Episcopal Assembly and from time to time out of the blue he would call to discuss the challenges we faced or just to let me know what was on his mind and the topic of his next pastoral letter (which tended to be extensive in length).

As Father Faber MacDonald, he was involved very early in the charismatic renewal and also played a role, in the Maritime Region, in the revival of fiddling as a collaborative, rather than a competitive, endeavour.

Following Confirmation services, he endeared himself to the faithful of his dioceses by playing the fiddle after the photos were done, then sitting down and chatting people up while sharing some scoff.  He had a most distinctive and unmistakeable laugh, one that could fill a room! 

May he be granted a merciful judgment by the Lord he loved to proclaim and serve, and soon may he, freed from the traces of sin, be admitted to the heavenly banquet and there contribute to the merriment of the Kingdom.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Jesus Forgives Sins: a Reminder for Lent - Roman Feast of the Chair of Peter - Cardinal Collins

Grant, we pray, almighty God, that, always pondering spiritual things, we may carry out in both word and deed that which is pleasing to you.  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.
* * *

Today's gospel in which Jesus forgives the sins of a paralytic and the arrival of Lent this week on Ash Wendesday recalls the importance for one's spiritual life of regular use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (the Sacrament of Confession, Peace, Healing).

Question of the Day: Why not make the Lenten Confession early this year and tell all our friends (and family)?  This way we can encourage fellow Catholics (especially those who might have been away from this sacrament for some time) to meet the Son of Man in this beautiful spiritual experience of renewal of baptism, a dress rehearsal for our meeting with him at the end of our lives.

* * * * * *


The feast of the Chair of Peter at Rome falls on February 22, but this year Ash Wednesday displaces it in the liturgical calendar.  But today at St. Peter's in Rome (where the statue is normally decorated with vestments on this feast and on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul on June 29), in light of the consistory creating new cardinals yesterday and the concelebration by the new cardinals with the Pope at the Eucharist, I believe this feast will be observed on this occasion. 

Whether the statue will be "vested" will have to await publication of the photos. Meantime, here's a photo of our newest Canadian cardinal:

Cardinal Thomas C. Collins of Toronto walks in St. Peter's Basilica after being receiving his red hat from Pope Benedict XVI during a consistory at the Vatican Feb. 18.
Cardinal Thomas Christopher Collins
Titular Church of St. Patrick

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Today is Consistory Day in Rome - Twenty-two New Cardinals Created

Today Archbishop Thomas Christopher Collins of Toronto was created a Cardinal of the Church by Pope Benedict XVI, along with twenty other bishops and one priest. 

Congratulations, Your Eminences!

* * * * * *

The format of today’s consistory followed the traditional format, but the ceremony was modified slightly to include prayers borrowed from ancient Roman liturgies.

Red, of course, is the colour of the day as the new cardinals are reminded that they are called to give their lives to God and the church, even to the point of shedding their blood.

Tradition and innovation, solemnity and festivity, high honour and a call to sacrifice are key parts of the creation of new cardinals.

The hushed moment when a churchman kneels before the pope and receives his red hat as a cardinal contrasts sharply with the mood in the Apostolic Palace that will prevail this evening when the public—literally anyone who wants to come—is invited in to congratulate the new cardinals.

Pope Benedict created the twenty-two new cardinals this morning during an "ordinary public consistory" in St. Peter's Basilica.

This evening, the Bronze Doors will open and the public will be allowed to swarm up the Scala Regia—the royal stairway—and into the Apostolic Palace to meet and greet the new cardinals.

A consistory is a gathering of cardinals with the pope. According to canon law, an ordinary consistory is called for consultation or for the celebration “of especially solemn acts,” such as the creation of new cardinals or a vote approving the canonization of candidates for sainthood, which took place this morning with the cardinals approving the canonization of several new saints, including Kateri Tekakwitha. Normally, the public consistory for new saints is attended by cardinals living in Rome, but the creation of new cardinals is an opportunity for all of them to exercise their role as advisers to the pope.

This will be the fourth time Pope Benedict has created new cardinals and will bring his total to 84 cardinals, of whom 79 are still alive; 63 of his appointees in the College of Cardinals will be under the age of 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope.

Like the consistories he held in 2007 and in 2010, today’s ceremony was preceded by a daylong meeting of the pope with the College of Cardinals and the cardinals-designate. Yesterday the cardinals and cardinals-elect discussed “Proclaiming the Gospel today, between 'missio ad gentes' and new evangelization” with Cardinal-designate Dolan of New York opening the meeting with his reflections.

The three-cornered, red biretta the pope placed on the new cardinals' heads is traditional, but the ceremony for this 2012 consistory has also been changed. In early January, the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, reported, “The rite used up to now has been revised and simplified with the approval of the Holy Father,” in part to avoid any impression that becoming a cardinal is a sacrament like ordination.

But two ordinations preceded the consistory. Three of the new cardinals named by Pope Benedict are priests, not bishops. Church law says new cardinals must have been ordained at least to the priesthood and should be ordained bishops before entering the College of Cardinals. However, in recent decades, many of the elderly priests named to the college as a sign of esteem and gratitude for their service to the church have requested, and received, an exemption from episcopal ordination.

Maltese Augustinian Father Prosper Grech, an 86-year-old biblical theologian and one of the co-founders of Rome's Augustinian Patristics Institute, was ordained a bishop on February 8 in Malta and Father Julien Ries, 91, an expert on the history of religions, was ordained a bishop on February 11 in Belgium. On the other hand, in keeping with the Jesuit promise not to strive for a dignity in the church, Father Becker, a retired professor at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University, said he would become a cardinal without becoming a bishop.

Another small change made to the consistory this year involves timing. The prelates received their cardinals' rings from Pope Benedict during the consistory this morning, rather than at the Mass they will concelebrate with the pope tomorrow. And, as customary, during the consistory they also received their assignments of a “titular church” in Rome, making them formally members of the Roman diocesan clergy, which is what the church's first cardinals were.

Now that the new cardinals have been created, the College of Cardinals has a record-high number of members. The total number of princes of the church has reached 213, surpassing the total of 203 reached with the consistory in 2010.

The incoming cardinals did not receive the traditional ring which was designed during the papacy of Pope Paul VI, depicting the crucifixion in bas relief (see below). 

The new gold rings (shown above), instead, bear the image of Saints Peter and Paul, underscoring the Church’s continuity from the time of the apostles.

Here is the description of the new ring from the program for today’s consistory:

The back part of the ring represents a stylized column like those found in Saint Peter’s Basilica, while the face is a bas-relief in the shape of a cross.

On the face are figures of Saints Peter and Paul, modeled on their statues located in front of the Basilica, representing faith and missionary proclamation.

Between the two Saints, as if to illumine them, is placed an eight-pointed star, a clear reference to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Inside the ring, beneath the face, are the arms of Pope Benedict XVI in bas-relief.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order - Biblical Conference in Maryland


Impart to us, O Lord, in kindness the filial devotion with which the holy brothers venerated so devoutly the Mother of God and led your people to yourself. 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.

* * * 
Les sept Fondateurs des Servites de Marie
Les Servites de Marie preparent le centenaire de la fondation de la paroisse Saint Anthony d'Ottawa (pour les catholiques italiens) en 2013.  Le recteur de la basilique cathédrale Notre-Dame, le père Paul McKeown est membre de cette communauté:

Au XIIIème siècle, sept nobles Florentins : Bonfilio Monaldi, Bonajuncta. Manetto, Manetto d'Antella, Amédée de Amidéis, Uguccio Uguccioni, Sostène de Sosteneis et Alexis Falconiéri se retirèrent à la campagne, dans une humble demeure, pour honorer continuellement la passion du Christ et les souffrances de sa Mère si affligée.

La bienheureuse Vierge, leur apparaissant le jour du Vendredi-Saint, leur montra l'habit sombre qu'ils devaient revêtir et leur déclara sa très grande satisfaction de les voir établir dans l'Église un nouvel Ordre régulier, pour honorer et propager le souvenir perpétuel des souffrances qu'elle-même endura au pied de la Croix du Seigneur.

Alors, ces saints hommes, aidés du bienheureux Pierre, Martyr de l'Ordre des Frères Prêcheurs, instituèrent l'Ordre des Servites de la bienheureuse Vierge et, avec leurs compagnons, commencèrent à parcourir les cités et les bourgs, prêchant partout, par la parole et par l'exemple, le Christ crucifié.

Mais ceux qu'un même amour avait associés pendant la vie, par les liens de la religion et d'une vraie fraternité, n'eurent après leur mort qu'un seul et même tombeau et devinrent, pour le peuple, l'objet d'une seule et même vénération.

C'est pourquoi Clément XI et Benoît XIII confirmèrent le culte commun qui leur était rendu ; et Léon XIII les ajouta à la liste des Saints.

* * * * * *


Father Edgar Diaz of the Institute of the Incarnate Word (IVE) has organized for the last seven years in February a biblical conference for the seminarians studying philosophy and theology at Fulton Sheen House of Formation in Chillum, Maryland, just across the District of Columbia line from Washington. 

The sisters who are associated with this new congregation, founded in Argentina in 1984 and which has grown rapidly, the Sisters Servants of Matera, also took part.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, emeritus archbishop of Washington, lives on the grounds of the study centre next to St. John Baptist de la Salle parish church, now under the direction of IVE priests and came over to visit during the conference.

Some photos of the speakers, the interlocutors and the attendant events (including a closing Eucharist) [photos: IVE sources]:

The Speakers:

Dr. William Bales, Mt. St. Mary's Seminary, Emmitsburg, MD:
"The Raising of Lazarus: A Study of John 11"

Dr. Joseph Atkinson, Pontifical John Paul II Institute, Washington, DC:
"Divorce and the Covenant: Conflict or Accommodation?"

Abbot Denis Farkasfalvy, O.Cist., Our Lady of Dallas Cistercian Abbey:
"Problems of Historicity in John's Gospel"

"The Importance of Scripture in the New Evangelization"

The Interlocutors:

Other Scenes: