Friday, October 23, 2015

Archbishop’s 8th Charity Dinner: LIVING GOD'S MERCY & OURS:

Archbishop’s Remarks, Ottawa Conference & Event Centre
Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Your Excellencies,
Reverend Fathers,
Dear Sisters,
Dear Friends of the Archdiocese of Ottawa
My dear friends of those who are in need:

The Catholic world is praying for a meeting now taking place in Rome. The Synod of Bishops will conclude its deliberations on Sunday. Its theme is “The vocation and mission of the family in the church and the modern world.”

We know the issues well: separation, divorce, and remarriage even among Catholic couples; legislative change in the definition of marriage in some countries to include “same-sex marriage” and adoption; the breakdown in family life, new structures in child-rearing, blended families, et cetera. We see the effects of this in our parishes and in our schools. Adults and children are grappling with their own unique family situations. Our hearts go out to those who face such difficulties.

You can appreciate, then, why in the Archdiocese, we have taken as our theme for this Pastoral Year 2015–2016, “The Family: Home of Love and Mercy.” Children, families, parents and grandparents, siblings, uncles, and aunts crave a hearth where they can find love, affirmation, and support. But because families are also places where hurts occur, misunderstandings take place, and disappointments are common, family members do not find what they deeply yearn for. We need to help the family to be the locus of mercy, of healing, of renewal, of transformation.

Humbly aware that God alone is perfect, we must safeguard each person’s dignity. Every child should know that his identity, his value, is in being God’s handiwork and the adopted son or daughter of God (Romans 8.15; Ephesians 1.5). We have to distinguish between identity and behaviour. Couples, cherish each other. Children, obey and honour your parents (cf. Ephesians 6.1-3). Parents, correct your children’s misbehaviour, but do not anger them; leave their identity intact (cf. Ephesians 6.4; Colossians 3.21). Be kind always. When behaviour leads to offence, we must forgive and seek forgiveness. That is mercy.

So, in the Archdiocese, we have chosen to link the family not only with love, but also with mercy. Pope Francis has invited us to celebrate a Jubilee Year of Mercy from the Feast of the Immaculate Conception—December 8th—this year, until the Feast of Christ the King, in late November 2016.

The Scripture text we have chosen to accompany our pastoral year theme is taken from an early sermon by Jesus. He urges his followers to “Be merciful as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6.36).

In Matthew’s account of Jesus’ address, Jesus phrases his command slightly differently, when he calls his disciples to love their enemies, “Be perfect, he says, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” After all, who else is there to love after one has loved the enemy? The motivation to be “perfect” in love or to be “merciful” is grounded in the Father’s perfect and merciful love. He gives without measure.

God causes rain to fall on the crops of the righteous and the unrighteous and his sun to rise on the fields of the evil and the good (Matthew 5.45), so that each may reap a plentiful harvest. Jesus proclaims that God is kind “to the ungrateful and the wicked” and that is why we, too, should be merciful.

We are designing a Holy Door of Mercy for Notre Dame Cathedral. It will give expression to our desire to receive God’s mercy towards us and to share it with others. I hope you will make a pilgrimage to pass through the Holy Door, beginning December 12, perhaps with members of your parish, religious community, prayer group, fellow Knights of Columbus, Filles d’Isabelle, friends in the Catholic Women’s League, or other associations.

In a pastoral letter, I will shortly invite each of the faithful of the Archdiocese of Ottawa to perform, sometime during the Year of Mercy, one spiritual work of mercy and one corporal work of mercy. I will encourage each Catholic to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation—to go to Confession—during the Year of Mercy.

Tasting God’s merciful love and forgiveness in the confessional or reconciliation room can be a great motivator for expressing mercy to others.

Performing the corporal works of mercy is frequently satisfying and gives us a sense of achievement. To feed the hungry and to give drink to the thirsty at the Hawkesbury Food Bank or St. Joseph’s Supper Table; to clothe the naked; to welcome the stranger; to shelter the homeless through the Catholic Centre for Immigrants, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, or Chez Mère Bruyère; to visit the sick and imprisoned; or to bury the dead through various outreach programs—all can touch us profoundly for the better. Compassion to others changes something in our hearts, in the core of our beings.

The spiritual works of mercy are less known and often harder to perform. They are: to instruct the ignorant; to counsel the doubtful; to admonish sinners; to bear wrongs patiently; to forgive offences willingly; to comfort the afflicted; to pray for the living and the dead. Yet these spiritual works of mercy often are very close to what is done through Kateri Native Ministries to support, heal and renew our aboriginal brothers and sisters or to what we do when we support the struggling parents of our young people, the children themselves, or our fellow workers, relatives, and friends.

One of the Pope’s many titles is the “Servant of the Servants of God.” Pope Francis continues to draw people to him. He humbles himself to go out to the margins. He meets and embraces those who are on the peripheries. He challenges us to do the same: go out to those who are hurting, lost, abandoned, or alienated, and bring them in. Serve them. Humbly remind them of their glorious identity in Christ. This is being a servant-leader.

The great Carmelite mystic and reformer St Teresa of Avila, whose feast was last Thursday, and the 5th centenary of whose birth we observe this year, wrote this prayerful reflection: “Christ has no body now on earth but yours; no hands but yours; no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ must look out on the world. Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which he is to bless His people.”

The life of a baptized Christian is not meant to be like a shooting star that lights up the world for a few minutes. We are to let our light shine forth every day. We care for our children. We get up and go to work, rendering service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord (Ephesians 6.7). We care for the needy whom God sets on our path. We share our means, our meals, our lives, and our love.

So, I leave you with this question. What can you do to be an example of merciful love and service, reflecting in some small way God’s love and mercy? Whom should you forgive? Of whom should you ask forgiveness? Who needs your kindness? If we seek them, God will provide us with opportunities to be merciful to others, as the heavenly Father has been and will be merciful to us.


Allocution de l’Archevêque au 8ième Souper-bénéfice de l’Archevêque
Archidiocèse d’Ottawa—Ottawa Convention & Event Centre
Le mercredi, 21 octobre 2015

Révérends Pères,
Chères Sœurs,
Chers membres et amis de l’Archidiocèse d’Ottawa
et chers amis de tous ceux et celles qui souffrent d’un besoin :

Tout le monde catholique porte dans la prière une rencontre qui a lieu à Rome à ce moment-ci, le Synode des évêques qui terminera ses délibérations dimanche prochain. Ce synode a pour thème « La vocation et la mission de la famille dans l’Église et le monde contemporain. »

Nous connaissons bien les enjeux : la séparation, le divorce, le remariage dans les couples catholiques; les changements législatifs qui affectent la définition du « mariage de personnes de même sexe » et l’adoption; les brisures au sein des familles, les nouvelles méthodes d’éducation des enfants, les familles reconstituées et encore plus. Nous en voyons les conséquences dans nos paroisses et dans nos écoles. Des adultes, comme des enfants, sont aux prises avec des situations familiales particulières. Nous sympathisons avec ceux et celles qui doivent faire face à des situations de ce genre.

Vous comprendrez donc, pourquoi l’archidiocèse a choisi comme thème pour l’année pastorale 2015-2016 « La famille, foyer d’amour et de miséricorde ». Les enfants, les familles, parents et grand-parents, soeurs et frères, oncles et tantes, brûlent d’envie pour un foyer où ils peuvent trouver amour, affirmation de soi et appui. Mais, puisque nos familles sont aussi des endroits où nous connaissons des blessures, la mésentente et la déception ne sont pas chose rare. Nous devons appuyer nos familles afin qu’elles puissent être des havres de miséricorde, de renouvellement, de transformation.

Conscients que Dieu seul est parfait, nous devons tous sauvegarder la dignité de chaque personne. Chaque enfant devrait reconnaître que son identité, sa valeur, repose dans le fait qu’il ou elle est oeuvre de Dieu et fille, fils adoptif de Dieu. (Rm 8,15; Ep 1,5). Nous devons faire la distinction entre l’identité et le comportement. Que les couples se chérissent l’un l’autre. Que les enfants soient respectueux et obéissants à l’égard de leurs parents. Que les parents corrigent les écarts de conduite de leurs enfants sans les irriter et en laissant leur identité intacte. (Ep 6,4; Col 3,21). Soyons toujours aimables. Quand des comportements mènent à l’offense, nous devons pardonner et savoir demander pardon. La miséricorde, c’est ça.

Dans notre archidiocèse, nous avons, donc, choisi de lier la famille, non seulement avec l’amour, mais, aussi, avec la miséricorde. Le pape François nous a invités à célébrer le Jubilé de la miséricorde qui s’étendra de la fête de l’Immaculée Conception – 8 décembre prochain – jusqu’à la fête du Christ-Roi, à la fin novembre 2016.

Le texte des écritures que nous avons choisi afin d’accompagner notre thème est tiré d’un des premiers sermons de Jésus où il exhorte ses disciples ainsi : « Soyez miséricordieux comme votre Père est miséricordieux » (Lc 6,36).

Matthieu nous rapporte le discours un peu différemment alors que Jésus demande à ses disciples d’aimer leurs ennemis. « Soyez donc parfaits, tout comme votre Père qui est au ciel est parfait. » En somme, qui reste-t-il encore à aimer, si nous avons aimé jusqu’à aimer nos ennemis? Notre motivation à être « parfait » en amour ou afin d’être « miséricordieux » est ancrée dans l’amour du Père, amour parfait et miséricordieux. Il donne sans mesure.

Dieu fait lever son soleil aussi bien sur les méchants que sur les bons, il fait pleuvoir sur ceux qui agissent bien comme sur ceux qui agissent mal (Mt 5,45), afin que chacun puisse bénéficier d’une abondante récolte. Jésus proclame que Dieu est bon « envers les ingrats et les méchants ». Voilà pourquoi, nous devons être miséricordieux à notre tour.

Nous sommes à concevoir une Porte sainte pour la cathédrale Notre-Dame. Elle sera l’expression de notre volonté de goûter à la miséricorde de Dieu et de la partager avec les autres. J’espère que vous ferez un pèlerinage afin de passer par la porte sainte à compter du 12 décembre. Peut-être pourriez-vous y venir avec votre paroisse, votre communauté religieuse, votre groupe de prière, en groupe de Chevaliers de Colomb ou de Filles d’Isabelle, avec des amies du Catholic Women’s League ou avec d’autres associations.

Dans une lettre pastorale qui paraîtra bientôt, j’inviterai tous les fidèles de l’archidiocèse à faire, durant l’année de la miséricorde, une oeuvre spirituelle et une oeuvre corporelle de miséricorde. J’encourage chaque catholique à célébrer le sacrement de la réconciliation — à se confesser — durant l’année de la miséricorde. Goûter à l’amour miséricordieux de Dieu et à son pardon, dans le confessionnal ou dans la salle de réconciliation, peut être une grande motivation afin d’être miséricordieux envers les autres à notre tour.

Souvent, nous ressentons une grande satisfaction et un sentiment d’accomplissement lorsque nous faisons des oeuvres corporelles de miséricorde. Nourrir les affamés et donner à boire aux assoiffés à la Banque alimentaire centrale de Hawkesbury ou à St. Joseph’s Supper Table; vêtir les personnes nues; accueillir les étrangers; donner un toit aux sans-abri par l’entremise du Centre catholique pour immigrants, la Société Saint-Vincent de Paul ou Chez Mère Bruyère; visiter les malades et les prisonniers; ou enterrer les morts par l’entremise de divers programmes communautaires — tout cela peut nous toucher profondément et nous rendre meilleurs. La compassion manifestée envers les autres change nos coeurs, à l’essence même de notre être.

Les oeuvres spirituelles de miséricorde sont moins connues et plus difficiles à accomplir. Ce sont : instruire les ignorants; affermir ceux qui doutent; corriger ceux qui font du tort aux autres; endurer les injures avec patience; pardonner les offenses et les mauvaises actions; réconforter les affligés; prier pour les vivants et pour les morts. Pourtant, ces oeuvres de miséricorde ressemblent bien à ce que fait Kateri Native Ministries afin d’appuyer, guérir et réaffirmer nos soeurs et frères autochtones et ce que nous faisons lorsque nous offrons notre soutien aux parents qui ont de la difficulté avec leurs jeunes, aux enfants eux-mêmes ou à nos collègues de travail, aux membres de notre famille et à nos amis.

Un des titres du pape, parmi tant d’autres, est « Serviteur des serviteurs de Dieu ». Le pape François continue d’attirer les gens vers lui. Il se fait humble et se tourne vers les marginalisés. Il rencontre et il embrasse ceux et celles qui vivent en marge de la société. Il nous lance le défi de faire de même; aller auprès de ceux qui souffrent, qui sont égarés, abandonnés ou rejetés, et les ramener auprès de nous. Nous mettre à leur service; leur rappeler humblement leur glorieuse identité en Jésus-Christ. C’est cela être un maître-serviteur.

La grande mystique carmélite et réformatrice Sainte-Thérèse d’Avila dont c’était la fête jeudi dernier et, pour laquelle nous célébrons cette année le 500e anniversaire de naissance, a écrit cette méditation : « Le Christ n’a pas de corps que le vôtre : pas de mains, pas de pieds sur terre que les vôtres. Vôtres sont les yeux avec lesquels il jette son regard de compassion sur le monde; vos pieds avec lesquels il marche en faisant le bien; vos mains par lesquelles il bénit son peuple ».

La vie du baptisé ne doit pas être comme une étoile filante qui n’illumine le monde que pour quelques minutes. Nous devons laisser notre lumière briller et éclairer à chaque jour. Nous nous soucions de nos enfants. Nous nous levons et allons au travail, nous servons avec enthousiasme, comme si nous servions le Seigneur. (Ep 6,7) . Nous prenons soin de ceux qui sont dans le besoin et que Dieu met sur notre route. Nous partageons nos biens, nos repas, nos vies et notre amour.

Je vous laisse avec cette question : que pouvez-vous faire afin d’être un exemple d’amour miséricordieux et de service, reflétant ainsi, un peu l’amour et la miséricorde de Dieu? À qui devriez-vous accorder votre pardon? À qui devriez-vous demander pardon? Qui a besoin de votre gentillesse? Si nous les cherchons, Dieu nous accordera l’occasion d’être miséricordieux envers les autres comme notre Père céleste a été, et continue d’être, miséricordieux envers nous.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

NET Canada—Les Équipes NET—Missioning Mass—Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica, Ottawa

Anticipated 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year “B”)
Saturday, October 3, 2015


[Genesis 2.7ab, 8b, 18–24 [Psalm 128]; Hebrews 2.9–11; Mark 10.2–16]

Let’s talk about sex. Rarely do priests bring up this subject from the pulpit. But given how much ink it gets in the Bible, it’s an important subject to God, so it should be important to you how to do sex right.

We hear these scriptural readings on marriage and divorce as the eyes of the world turn toward the Vatican. There, tomorrow, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass with bishops from around the world to invoke God’s blessing on the Synod of Bishops on the family and evangelization.

The synod, which will run until October 25, has as its theme: “The vocation and mission of the family in the church and the modern world.” We know the issues well: separation and divorce among Catholic couples, breakdown in family life, new structures in child-rearing, blended families, and legislative changes worldwide in the definition of marriage to include “same-sex marriage” and adoption.

Jesus’ view on divorce is a widely-attested aspect of his teaching found in the New Testament (cf. Matthew 5.32; 19.6, 9; Mark 10.9; Luke 16.18; 1 Corinthians 7.11). However, Jesus’ teaching on marriage takes some study.

Jesus brought out the deeper sense of the Scriptures. Jesus pointed to God’s plan in creating man and woman, citing two texts from Genesis, 1.27 (“from the beginning of creation ‘God made them male and female’”) and 2.24 (“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”).

Jesus grounded his teaching about marriage on the order of creation, God’s intention in creating human beings. In marriage, man and woman are “no longer two, but one flesh.” Jesus’ concluding remark, “what God has joined together, let no one separate” serves as the conclusion to the debate with his adversaries.

The high percentage of couples living together before marriage is of great concern to priests who help Catholics preparing for marriage these days. Not long ago, cohabitation was uncommon and was frowned upon by society. Today, cohabitation by couples planning marriage and common-law marriages are much more frequent. And there is less social stigma attached.

The world tells us that there are good reasons for having sex before marriage and living together. It’s convenient. It will save money. It’s a trial run to see whether the relationship will work out. Unfortunately, these are grave deceptions.

Sex before marriage and cohabiting are contrary to the witness the Lord Jesus expects of his disciples. Also, they don’t make good sense for relationships.

Recent studies have shown that, contrary to popular belief, couples who live together before getting married have higher rates of divorce and domestic violence. When compared with those who did not cohabit, those who lived together before marriage scored significantly lower in both quality of marital communication and satisfaction in intimacy.

There is an even bigger picture than your happiness and your success as a couple. God certainly loves you as an individual, but His perspective spans generations and nations. What you decide today will have profound consequences in eternity.

Roman Catholic teaching sees in marriage a “covenant by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of their whole life and which of its own very nature is ordered to the well-being of the spouses and to the procreation and upbringing of children” (canon 1055).

Generosity, self-restraint, and good communication are needed for a good marriage and must be cultivated beforehand. Living chastely during one’s engagement teaches a couple many things about each other, can draw them closer together, and may even reveal to them that they are not ready for Christian marriage.

The sacrament of marriage places the couple under a seal, within the walls of God’s protection. Marriage vows give God permission to mature the couple, to place angels at the doors of their home, and to soften their hearts when there are conflicts. God can keep the temptation of infidelity at a distance. He can bless them with health and prosperity. As the two have become one flesh, Jesus’ salvific work now operates in and through the couple.

In contrast, the cohabiting or unchaste couple have said “no” to God’s plan, effectively refusing His Providence and His protection, opening themselves up to all kinds of spiritual attacks.

When the married couple conceives a child, that new life has God’s hedge of protection around him. The child is within the defences of his parent’s covenant with each other and with God.

In contrast, the child conceived outside of marriage is exposed to spiritual attack. God loves that child no less, but He will not provide the protection that comes from the sacrament of marriage when his parents have refused it.

You are here, I imagine, because you know that every Christian is called to be an evangelist. You have received the Good News that your sins have been forgiven by Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross in your place. You want to share that Good News with others, so that they, too, can follow Christ right into heaven. But you have probably heard the expression, “You may be the only Gospel some people will ever read.” If your life does not witness to the Gospel, your words will have no effect.

Starting with your children. In a few years, and they will come faster than you think! In a few years, you will want to tell your children to be chaste and not to cohabit before marriage. I’ll give you three guesses what they will ask. “Were you and Mom chaste?” “Did you and Dad cohabit?” Nothing you will say after that will carry the same weight as your answers to those two questions. Nieces, nephews, and neighbours will also emulate you.

Then will come your grandchildren. And their children. Your decision today will affect generations.

God frequently uses the marriage covenant as the model for us to understand his covenant with Him. The Church is the Bride of Christ. He is the bridegroom. It’s explicitly in Psalm 19, in Isaiah, in the synoptic Gospels and in the Book of Revelations. No wonder Satan despises this sacrament and seeks to despoil it. He does not want the nations to be evangelized by your marriage!

To accept Jesus’ teaching on divorce and marriage is counter-cultural today. To grasp that God’s plan is natural marriage, the blessed union of one man and one woman, is counter-cultural. It requires a conversion of heart, a rebirth, and continued compassion toward those with same-sex attraction, whom God loves no less.

Those struggling with the Church’s proclamation of Jesus’ teaching on marriage may take heart from the Epistle to the Hebrews. Its message tells those struggling to be good that “Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.”

Sex is a gift from God. It is so precious that He has even told us how to do it right.

Let us pray for people who struggle with sexual purity and those whose families are not under His Grace. Let us pray that even those in serious sin know they are precious in God’s eyes and the mercy of God is available to them. And let us pray that the Synod members will discern wise paths to assist the Church with all who seek the grace of God to live as Jesus would have us live.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Homily at the Funeral of Jean-André Potworowski [1947-2015]

Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica, Ottawa, ON—October 17, 2015 
[Texts: Wisdom 3.1-9 (Psalm 42); 1 Corinthians 15.51-57; John 14.1-6] 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ: 

[Expressions de bienvenue, condoléances à la famille, aux amis et collègues d’André; expression of sympathy to the family on their loss, of welcome to colleagues, associates and friends.] 

Catholic Christians believe that the Mass is the supreme gift that we can give to a person when they die. When we greeted André’s body at the door, we said that we were surrounding him with the Church’s prayer and asking that the promise made to him in baptism—that he would one day inherit eternal life—might be fulfilled. We pray for André and those who loved him and now cherish his memory. 

We pray that our friend and brother in Christ will accept the great invitation from God to enter into the fullness of eternal life. 

We meditate, too, on the Scriptures we have just heard. Reflecting on the first reading from the book of Wisdom: we see that in the eyes of the unwise—those of unbelievers—the person we cherished appears to have died and that is the end of it; but we know in faith that it is not the end. We know, following the teaching of St. Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians that death will be swallowed up in the victory of the Risen Lord Jesus.  As Paul says in his epistle to the Romans, in baptism we died with Christ and began to share in his risen, eternal life. We believe also, according to Jesus’ promise in the gospel, that in death He comes to take us to himself to share with us an eternal dwelling-place in heaven. 

Jean-André Potworoski was born in 1947 in Lyon, France. He immigrated to Canada with his family in 1953 where he attended first Loyola High School and then Loyola College. Having developed a love of science, he then went to the University of Toronto to do a PhD in physical chemistry. 

There were three children from his second marriage: Charles 23, Christian 18, and Clara 16. All three are now living with their mother Barbara. 

André was proud of his Polish heritage and faithful to his family’s cultural traditions. Through his mother he was the grand-nephew of Metropolitan Andryj Szeptycki of the Ukrainian Catholic Church and was equally proud of this lineage. During his doctoral studies, he stayed at the pretty exclusive Massey College. There, he was known for organizing bicycle races (he owned a small folding Raleigh bicycle); the circuit was the length of the basement maintenance corridors, which formed a complete loop underneath the college. These races were held at night, and the janitor wondered during the day about the provenance of the mysterious skid marks. He was also known for whistling Bach whenever he walked. The Master of the college, the author Robertson Davies, said of him “His Bach is worse than his bike.” 

Later, he went back to school and completed the MBA from Harvard. He continued this involvement with Harvard by reawakening and leading the Harvard Alumni’s Ottawa chapter. [When I arrived in Ottawa, André presented me with a Harvard Business School publication on “How to Manage Change” which to this day rests on my night-table not completely read.] 

From his early days in government service, his involvement in the Conserver Society, his friendship with Fr. Bill Ryan, he was an advocate of responsible management of resources and the protection of the environment. He was particularly excited at the publication of Laudato Si, the recent encyclical on the environment by Pope Francis. He even participated in a group discussion on the subject of the encyclical in his home less than a week before his death. His excitement at the Church’s involvement in this issue at the highest level was difficult to contain. 

In later life, he met the lay Catholic movement Communion and Liberation founded by Luigi Giussani. He was attracted by the lack of dualism there between faith and life and the absence of moralism. There was a small community here in Ottawa and he quickly saw it as his place of belonging in the Church. The summer vacations sponsored by CL were a favorite for him and his children. He helped to organize the yearly Way of the Cross through downtown Ottawa which drew close to a thousand people. Friends from CL were crucial for him in facing the greatest challenge of his life. 

In 2011, he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of terminal cancer. In a letter to his brother he explained how he saw things. During a retreat the previous year at St. Benoit-du-Lac, he prayed for greater clarity in discovering God’s will for his life. A year later, he saw his illness as the answer to that prayer. This is what was being asked of him. This is what was given to him; this was his vocation. There was of course much rebellion on his part, but it was clear that the illness was to be lived in a relationship with God. He had an acute awareness of the different graces that came with the illness. He found renewed strength to focus on the happiness of his children. This was translated in multiple trips with one or more children to visit family in Alberta, British Columbia, or with trips to Poland, Britain, or Rome. 

In addition, he was aware of the effect his illness had on members of the local CL community. In an almost detached way, he observed how his growing dependence provoked others to engage in charitable activity towards him. His illness allowed him to have conversations about matters of faith of a depth that he never imagined previously. Throughout these last years he remained profoundly at peace with this new vocation. 

To say André offered his suffering is misleading. It suggests a personal project or a moral strength as a basis for a spiritual activity. His illness and his suffering were indeed an offering, but out of dependence, out of an acceptance of what was given as an answer to his prayer. This peaceful acceptance of illness as gift gave his suffering vicarious value. Following the Letter on Suffering of Saint John Paul II, someone André greatly admired, such suffering bears fruit. We can only suppose that some of this fruit will become a blessing on the lives of his children and friends. 

Now, a word about André’s humour.  Soon after his diagnosis, André joined the Myeloma Support Group in Ottawa where he made many friends. He soon became co-chair of the group and assigned everyone some homework for the next meeting: everyone had to come back with at least one joke. His medical file at Ottawa General Hospital notes that every meeting with a specialist or a technician would inevitably end with the telling of a joke or the sharing of a New Yorker cartoon on his iPad. As Peter Stockland wrote in one his columns, André’s humour, whether corny or risqué, was a conscious strategy to reject a common reading of illness and suffering and to provoke a higher reading based on his newly discovered vocation. 

Dear friends, through this year we have been hearing at Sunday Mass selections from the Gospel of Mark, most recently with the teachings of Jesus on marriage, divorce, family life, children, the use of riches. On Sunday we will hear Jesus teach about true servant-leadership wherein those who wish to be great make themselves last of all and servants of all. We have heard Jesus’ radical teaching and a summons to embody it in our lives. 

As André did throughout his life, we struggle to learn it, to accept it and to live it. We know that we cannot go it alone if we are to become what Pope Francis challenges us to be: missionary-disciples of Jesus. That is why we need each other, why we need community, why André loved this parish community of Notre Dame Basilica and other churches he frequented. He relished being with fellow Christians who aspired to allow Christ to encounter and touch them with grace so as to be able to invite still others into fellowship with Christ and his followers. 

Dear brothers and sisters, the gift we offer André today is also a gift to ourselves because we are reminded that one day each of us will stand before God and be held accountable for what we have done and not done. Did we give good example? Did we reach out to the lost, lonely and needy; did we speak up for those who had no voice? Have we prayed, worshipped God, attended to our life of faith? Our words and actions have consequences. 

At a Catholic Christian funeral we remember that every one of our days and our deeds has eternal consequences. Someday we too will enter the great mystery of death. Someday our body will be carried into church so friends and family will offer us this great gift. This isn’t meant to frighten us but to challenge us to be the best version of ourselves we can be. André wasn’t perfect, but he struggled to be faithful to his encounter with Christ in baptism. 

The life of a baptized Christian is not meant to be like a shooting star that lights up the world for a few minutes. We are to let our light shine every day, caring for our children, getting up and going to work, caring for the needy that God sets on our path, by sharing our means, our meals, our lives and our love. 

We will now offer the Eucharist for André’s soul. We join with his children, brothers, friends and acquaintances, and with the angels and saints in heaven, as we pray for André: Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. 

May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.