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There have been few, if any, papal documents like Pope Francis' Laudato Si', On Care for our Common Home. Nor, for that matter, has there ever been a Church document like Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel). In these two treatises Pope Francis profoundly alters what it means to be Catholic today. Catholics for centuries have been raised on adhering to a prescribed set of beliefs and following the precepts of the Church – go to Mass on Sundays and holy days, make an annual Confession, provide for the material needs of the Church, etc.
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As Canada celebrates its 148th birthday as a nation, we rejoice in the respect and harmony that mark our multicultural country. This attitude of respect for those of diverse backgrounds and commitments is the quality which provides the foundation for a country marked by peace, freedom and prosperity. Without a respectful multiculturalism, we would have none of those things. During his 1984 visit to Winnipeg, St. John Paul II lauded Canada's "atmosphere of respect for cultural diversity".
Fifty years after his murder on June 22, 1965 in the Dominican Republic, efforts are being made to remember Scarboro Father Art MacKinnon. According to a report in The Catholic Register, Bishop Brian Dunn of Antigonish was to celebrate a memorial Mass for MacKinnon in his childhood home of New Waterford, N.S. MacKinnon, the son of a Cape Breton coal miner, was 27 in 1959 when he was ordained a priest and soon after was sent to the Dominican Republic where the Scarboro Fathers were active.
Christian de Cherge, the Trappist abbot who was martyred in Algeria in 1996, tells this story of his First Communion. He grew up in a Roman Catholic family in France and on the day of his First Communion he said to his mother: "I don't understand what I'm doing." She answered simply: "It's okay, you don't have to understand it now, later you will understand."
Thunderous banging on my front door. It's going on 2 a.m. Tuesday. My dog Poppy flies off the bed, barking and growling. Me? I'm more angry than afraid. I call through the door, demanding in a not very nice voice, "Who is it?" "City Police," came back the ready answer.
Gird your loins! Pope Francis will soon make the headlines again. Not long after the huge global stir caused by the pontiff's encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si, the pope will again be making news this autumn. On Sept. 24 he'll be the first pope ever to address the U.S. Congress (where both speaker of the House John Boehner and Democratic House minority leader Nancy Pelosi are Catholics).
In this week's Gospel the Scripture says of Jesus, "He was amazed at their lack of faith" (Mark 6.6). The very people who should have received Jesus and listened to him did not. They were blind to the reality before them. God stood among them but they could not see. Even Jesus, the Son of God, was amazed by this phenomenon.
Today's First Reading is an example of God sending a prophet to communicate his will to his people. This prophet is an unlikely candidate and is rejected. Jesus told us no prophet is accepted in his hometown. Who are the prophets of our own age? Who are the people speaking God's truth? On a global scale, it is safe to say today's prophets include people who speak out for the voiceless, the poor, the rejected, the different, the displaced, the disenfranchised, the de-humanized.
To what sect or group did Jesus belong? Was he a Pharisee or a Sadducee or what?
There is an old proverb that says "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." Indeed, the best form of charity is to show people how to be self-reliant. It's not the only form of charity; often immediate measures are crucial to save people affected by disaster. But the best long-term results come from helping people to be self-reliant.