Friday, December 2, 2016

A Homily for Advent

“Drop down ye heavens, from above.”  Isaiah 45:8

The new Church year begins with a plea for God to come amongst us: “Drop down ye heavens, drop down,” as we hear the voice of Isaiah in the Advent Prose, the anguished voice of Israel imploring God to look down from heaven to save and shepherd a lost people.

The language is simple. But these ancients express the penitential attitude – the people of Israel realizing, waking up to, their sinful ways, their failure to keep God’s covenant, and especially to their inability to save themselves.

In this Advent season, we see our own lives through the experience of Israel. We examine our consciences. We wake up to the fact that God is coming amongst us. We ask God to soften our hearts so that we may not refuse God’s reign, wander further from God’s ways, or withhold our love from the God who comes to us in unexpected ways and at an unexpected times.

God is faithful, St. Paul reminds us.  God has hearkened to the cry of his children, coming down from heaven for Israel’s sake . . . and for ours – to redeem us from our exile, to restore us to his love.

God wants to give us his presence and to bless us; but we need to ask. We need to wake up to the fact that God wants us to ask so that we may receive, being awake to his love.

In Jesus, we see the Father (John 14:8-9).  The Father has let his face shine upon us. Jesus is the good shepherd (John 10:11-15) who has already come to guide us to the Kingdom of God. No matter how far we have strayed, God will give us new life if we turn again, if we call upon the holy name of Jesus, and if we commit to follow Him.

As St. Paul says, God has given us every spiritual gift – especially the gift of Penance with Absolution and the Holy Eucharist to strengthen us as we await Christ’s final coming. He will keep us firm to the end – if we will remain awake to God’s love.

So, in this season of repentance, we should heed the warning – be watchful, for we know not the hour when the Lord will return or how God will bless us, if we ask.

The World will Regret Euthanasia based upon Secular Religion

The Catholic Register in Canada reports that Dr. Margaret Somerville, a world-renowned bio-ethicist warns that advanced Western nations have made a fatal mistake with the adoption of euthanasia.

Here are excerpts from the article by Glen Argan:

The onset of state-sanctioned euthanasia represents a “seismic shift” in values that the world will someday regret . . .

“I believe history will see the legalization of euthanasia as the most world-changing decision of the 21st century, and that they will view it with enormous regret,” said Margaret Somerville in a Nov. 26 lecture.

Among the moral values rejected by legalizing euthanasia are respect for authority, the common good and a sense of sanctity, she said.

“I believe we all need a sense of the sacred whether or not we are religious.”

. . . . In Edmonton, speaking at Providence Renewal Centre during an event sponsored by the centre and Newman Theological College, she said proponents of traditional values need to find ways to convince supporters of progressive values to reject practices such as euthanasia.

“We’re never going to coerce the progressive-values people to think differently, but we have a very good chance of persuading them,” she said.

One crucial step to that end is to be adamant about eliminating the pain and suffering of the dying without killing the person along with their pain, she said. Society has lost its ability to find meaning in suffering, something that used to happen in a religious context.

In their judgment in the Carter case which legalized euthanasia in Canada, the Supreme Court justices used the words “suffer” or “suffering” 212 times, she noted.

Somerville recalled that when she began speaking of “the secular sacred” about 10 years ago, “everybody got mad at me.” Religious people maintained she was denigrating the sacred, while secularists and atheists said she was trying to impose religion on them.

Yet perspectives such as atheism and environmentalism are secular religions, Somerville said. “It’s a lot better if people have secular religions than no religion at all.”
That sets the ground for dialogue in which those with traditional values can argue that secularists have much in common with them, she said. “That’s a very important move.”
For example, instead of speaking of the sanctity of life — a term secularists reject — one should emphasize “a deep respect for human life.”

. . . . Working with Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher, also an internationally known bioethicist, Somerville says, “We’re going to give them some high-powered bioethics . . . ”

Monday, November 21, 2016


Litany in Procession and Sung Mass, 
ADVENT I, Sunday, Nov. 27 
12:30 noon 

 St Thomas More, 263 Roncesvalles, Toronto

Thursday, November 10, 2016

RIP Leonard Cohen, one of our elder brothers in faith, as Pope St. John Paul II referred to the Jewish faithful.

Leonard Cohen had a profound respect for Jesus and for Christians.  Here is a thought he expressed about the Peace of Christ:

“As I understand it, into the heart of every Christian, Christ comes, and Christ goes. When, by his Grace, the landscape of the heart becomes vast and deep and limitless, then Christ makes His abode in that graceful heart, and His Will prevails. The experience is recognized as Peace. In the absence of this experience much activity arises, divisions of every sort. Outside of the organizational enterprise, which some applaud and some mistrust, stands the figure of Jesus, nailed to a human predicament, summoning the heart to comprehend its own suffering by dissolving itself in a radical confession of hospitality.”

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Trump and Clinton -- much of a muchness

Fr. Raymond de Souza, whom I had the pleasure to drive to the train after he addressed our Ordinariate Clergy and Clergy wives Assembly in Niagara last month, has some insights into the political situation south of the border.
The following is excerpted from an article of his published this week by the NATIONAL POST:

One hundred years ago this month, after nearly 68 years as emperor of Austria-Hungary, Franz Joseph died, leaving the throne to his grandnephew Charles. The last ruler of the Hapsburg monarchy had a short reign, the liquidation of his empire and the abolition of his royal house being among the terms of peace that ended the First World War. Driven into exile, he died in Madeira before his 35th birthday.
Marriage in 1911 to Zita
Charles was a holy man who understood that he had a duty to serve his people and to work assiduously for peace. In 2004, he was beatified by Pope John Paul II. 
This election day in the U.S., the witness of Blessed Charles is a reminder that holiness and high office are not incompatible, and that great power can be a means of humble service. That he reigned a century ago is also a reminder that history is not a matter of progress, for the descent of man, and woman, from Blessed Charles to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, is steep and stomach-churning.
. . .  the service that Trump has rendered was to expose just how nasty the establishment culture of entitlement is in America, of which the Clintons are both exemplars and experts.
The Economist has spent the entirety of 2016 expressing the exasperation of the transatlantic establishment, which believes that Americans have been insufficiently appreciative of Clinton. After all, the “establishment politics that Mrs Clinton encapsulates almost to the point of parody” is what voices like The Economist think, on balance, is a good thing.
. . . it is also true that, in Hillary Clinton’s 40 years in public life, she has mastered the art of prevarication. Her husband, possessing greater charm, preferred the brazen lie. Nevertheless, despite the cataract of untruths that cascaded from Trump, he did tell one truth over and over again: America’s political establishment could be bought and sold. He knew this because he had bought and sold it himself, while attending to his celebrity properties.
Trump ran for president having held no public office. A lacuna to be sure, but surely as troubling is the permanent political class, which does nothing but trade public offices. The Clinton family business of personal enrichment through public office is odious, but by no means unique. It has become something of a norm, but no one has done it better, or for as long. To hear Clinton and her ilk speak of public service is nauseating, unless it is to be understood as the public servicing her family.
Yet this is the way the permanent political class operates. They decide who is in and who is out, and whatever arrangements need to be made to protect each other. When Trump blasted the Clintons last summer for having a man as repellent at Anthony Weiner in their inner circle, it was one of many ways in which the privileges of the political class were finally being called into question.
. . .  It took a wealthy man entirely outside the normal partisan apparatus to say what no one in the imperial court is permitted to say — namely, that the system is corrupt, and that the Clintons, seeking the White House a quarter-century apart, are this generation’s most corrupt couple.
Hillary Clinton, with the connivance of the partisan and media establishment, the co-operation of a politicized justice system and resources accrued from rapacious influence-peddling, will have heaved herself over the finish line for the presidency as she always has: within the rule, but just so. Trump changed the rules in 2016 . . . 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Fr. Hunwicke on Relics with a Greek Lesson

Fr. Hunwicke offers an historical and contemporary reflection on holy relics as we continue this month to remember those who have gone before us in faith.

I rejoice in the facility of offering the Holy Sacrifice on an Altar sealed with Relics; it is a relief to be able to be ecumenical, to conform to the consensus of the Latin West and the Byzantine East, that one should sacrifice over, as it were, the tombs of the martyrs. If a custom was good enough for the shell-shocked Church which in the fourth century emerged, metaphorically, from the catacombs with an overwhelming sense of being surrounded and supported by a great crowd of witnesses, martyres, then that custom is good enough for me. Even if the post-conciliar Church has gone a bit soggy on relics. I commend to those whose breviaries contain the old Appendix pro aliquibus locis the fine collect and the superb reading from S John Damascene they will find on November 5.

Not that the veneration of relics is as late as the fourth century. The contemporary account of the martyrdom of St. Polycarp, the disciple of St. John, embodied in the Encyclical which his Church at Smyrna sent to the  Catholic world in the middle of the second century, links the desire of the faithful for his relics with the doctrine of the Communio Sanctorum, the Communion of Saints: "they hoped to koinonesai* with his holy flesh". So, although the hatred of the local Jewish community drove the Romans to burn his body, his people gathered up even the ashes and placed them where they could meet for Mass annually on the genethlion* of his martyrion*, for a mneme* of those who had proathlekoton* and the askesis* and preparation of those who were going to bear witness.

Most immediately pre-conciliar local calendars made today, November 5, the Feast of the Holy Relics; according to Sarum it was on the Sunday after the Translation of St. Thomas, i.e. in July; at Exeter on the Monday after Ascension Day.

Greek key: *share fellowship with; *birthday; *act of witness=martyrdom; *monument; *previously competed as athletes [a regular term for martyrdom]; *training. [I cannot restrain myself from two catty comments: that the current post-conciliar Roman regulations do not permit the use within altars of such relics as the tiny fragments gathered up by those who loved S Polycarp; and that, for sola Scriptura people, Acts 19:12 appears to encourage the use of Secondary Relics; and II Kings 13:21 the use of Primary Relics.]