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MIDLAND, ONT. — In 2003, Zofia Szaflarski was invited by a friend to join a weeklong walking pilgrimage to the Martyrs' Shrine in Midland. Hesitant but curious, Szaflarski agreed and since then she has been "addicted."
Several walks later, Szaflarski now helps organize and promote the annual pilgrimage.
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TORONTO — When Thomas Collins was in the seminary, he felt like the busiest, most rushed guy in town. Now, as archbishop of Toronto, he wants to give seminarians a chance to stop and reflect — something he wishes he could have done more often.
For the incoming class at St. Augustine's Seminary, that will mean a media fast — abstaining from electronic and traditional media of all types — for much of their first year. No phones or cellphones, no Internet or computer games, no TV or radio. No modern devices or even old friends like newspapers and magazines.
EDMONTON — As the school year comes to a close we take the opportunity to look back at significant events that marked the year in a special way.
A special marker at St. James School is a story that began over 50 years ago with the opening of the school and the arrival of the Cieselkski family.
Overcoming sin is the first step leading to what St. Francis de Sales calls "the devout life." It is also the most difficult step, one never fully completed in this lifetime.
No one expressed this better than St. Augustine. His Confessions describes an ongoing war on many fronts to overcome sin. Augustine simply would not be baptized so that he could become a lukewarm Catholic. If he was going to be a Christian, it would only be when he made a commitment to obliterate sin and its vestiges from his life.
The Reform Party idealism of the 1980s and early 1990s that proclaimed Canada should have an equal, elected and effective Senate is pretty much dead. But that doesn't mean that Senate reform should be forsaken. It will have to be an ongoing task rather than a one bill fixes all solution.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's encouragement for more Senate elections and fixed terms is a positive move that is far from radical. Nevertheless, the Ontario and Quebec governments reacted with predictable outrage. They see elected representation in the Senate as something that would increase the Senate's legitimacy as a voice of regional representation and thus be a threat to their own power.
Am I happy? Is my life a happy one? Am I happy inside my marriage? Am I happy with my family? Am I happy in my job? Am I happy with my church? Am I happy inside my own skin?
Are these good questions to ask ourselves? No. They're questions with which to torture ourselves.
The Church, which we love, is going through many trials. These trials remind us that we need Jesus to take charge of our lives in a new and profound way.
Pope Benedict, when he was a cardinal, said this: "The Church will be reduced in its dimensions; it will be necessary to start again. However, from this test, a Church would emerge that will have been strengthened by the process of the simplification it experienced, by its renewed capacity to look within itself. . . .
The Church has just celebrated one of the most important days on the liturgical calendar, the feast of Pentecost, the feast of the Holy Spirit. There are three great symbols classically associated with the third person of the Trinity, namely, water, fire, and wind. Each of these has a negative connotation, for the Holy Spirit is dangerous.
All of us who witnessed the destruction wreaked by Hurricane Katrina six years ago can testify to the devastating punch that water can pack. A major American city was brought to its knees by the inundation that came from the skies, from the sea, and from reservoirs that poured through broken levees.
On March 17, Archbishop Richard Smith joined with 22 other faith leaders to make a public "shared commitment to eliminate homelessness in our community" and "to support the challenging goals of Edmonton's 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness."
Local congregations and faith organizations were invited to get more involved with the issues of homelessness and affordable housing. A Congregational Housing Action Guide has been prepared to assist local parishes. Several hundred copies have now been distributed across the Edmonton region.
This week I heard about the death of a family friend: Dr. Hugh Maclure. His passing marked the end of an era for me: He and my father were good friends beginning in the 1950s when I was a small boy. They shared similar Christian world views and general outlook on life.
Although my father died more than 40 years ago, being in the company of Dr. Maclure reminded me of that world.