Saturday, February 2, 2013

Cardinal Speaks in Ottawa - 2013 World Day of Consecrated Life - Presentation Ends Christmas Cycle

Beyond Religious Tolerance - Building Bridges of Inclusion in Our World:  Reflection on Muslim-Christian Relations in Sub-Saharan Africa (February 4th  4:00-5:30 PM; Amphitheatre of St. Paul University, 223 Main Street, Ottawa) 

Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria
Biblical scholar; 2012 International  Pax Christi Peace Laureate; 2012 nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize; Past President of  the Christian Association of Nigeria; Past-President of the Synod of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar; member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the International Theological Commission; Joint Chair of the African Inter-Faith Council.

Welcome to Ottawa, Your Eminence!

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Today on the Feast of the Presentation, the Church celebrates the World Day for Consecrated Life 2013 (many dioceses in the USA observe on the Sunday nearest the feast, this year on February 3. 

In the Archdiocese of Ottawa we will celebrate at St. Maurice Parish in Nepean, with a conference at 10am, a Mass concelebrated with religious priests and a luncheon for the religious sisters, brothers, priests, consecrated lay people living in the world but witnessing to the Kingdom of God.

Established in 1997 by Pope John Paul II, World Day for Consecrated Life was created: to recognize the importance of Consecrated Life to the mission of the Church; to thank those who have embraced the Consecrated Life for their commitment and dedication; to encourage men and women to listen attentively to God's call... a life of service to the Church as a sister, brother, religious priest, consecrated virgin, hermit or member of a secular institute is filled with many blessings.

What is consecrated life? The Apostolic Exhortation "Vita Consecrata" says "Consecrated Life is at the heart of the Church and essential to her mission of holiness,” for consecrated life is the radical following of Christ through the public profession of Vows of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience.

Consecrated men and women seek to imitate the compassion, mercy and love that Christ lived and taught during his public ministry; the consecrated life is dedicated to prayer and service to the Church.

The lives of consecrated men and women witness to the primacy of God in their lives. The Vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience proclaim loudly that what the culture offers as fulfilling is not enough. Materialism, consumerism, individualism do not bring fulfillment. Only God can totally satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts.

Please join in person or by your prayers and ask the Lord to send devoted religious and priests to serve the People of God.

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Presentation of the Lord: 
End of the Christmas Cycle of Feasts

The tradition in Rome is to keep the creches and decorations of Christmas present until today, forty days after Christmas.  The crib at St. Peter's Square this year came from an artist in the Basilicata region of Italy and was most impressive.  The photos were taken in mid-January during my trip to Rome.

The feast was first observed in the Eastern Church as "The Encounter." In the sixth century, it began to be observed in the West: in Rome with a more penitential character and in Gaul (France) with solemn blessings and processions of candles, popularly known as "Candlemas."

The Presentation of the Lord concludes the celebration of the Nativity and with the offerings of the Virgin Mother and the prophecy of Simeon, the events now point toward Easter.

"In obedience to the Old Law, the Lord Jesus, the first-born, was presented in the Temple by his Blessed Mother and his foster father. This is another 'epiphany' celebration insofar as the Christ Child is revealed as the Messiah through the canticle and words of Simeon and the testimony of Anna the prophetess. Christ is the light of the nations, hence the blessing and procession of candles on this day. In the Middle Ages this feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or 'Candlemas,' was of great importance.

"The specific liturgy of this Candlemas feast, the blessing of candles, is not as widely celebrated as it should be, except of course whenever February 2 falls on a Sunday and thus takes precedence. There are two ways of celebrating the ceremony, either the Procession, which begins at a 'gathering place' outside the church, or the Solemn Entrance, celebrated within the church." [— From Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year]

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