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One need only compare the stories on the reports given by four Canadian bishops with the efforts of several cardinals to uphold Church teaching on the family and marriage (Pages 18 and 19) to see the huge disconnect between doctrine and pastoral reality in today's Catholic Church. If the chasm between teaching and the lives of today's Catholics widened following Pope Paul VI's reaffirmation in 1968 of the immoral nature of artificial contraception, it has expanded even more during the intervening decades.
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Prior to his ordination in 2002, Michael Mireau told the WCR that the priesthood is realized differently in different people. There will be differences in personal taste, appearance, many things. But the minute a priest drops his individual identity and becomes "the priest," Mireau said he stops being human. Because of that, he stops being an effective priest. One thing for sure was that Father Mireau never lost his unique identity, never bowed to whatever pressure there was to compromise the person God had created him to be in order to fit into some watered-down human standard of "the priest."
In a little book called Tears of Silence, published in 1970, Jean Vanier wrote, "He who is or has been deeply hurt has a right to be sure he is loved." A right to be loved? To be sure that you are loved? What a novel concept! Ours is an age of rights (even though those rights are routinely violated the world over). Rights can seal the individual in a cocoon of autonomy, in a protective separation from violence, hatred and other forms of abuse
My youth had both strengths and weaknesses. I grew up on a farm in the heart of the Canadian Prairies, a second-generation immigrant. Our family was large, and the small farm we lived on gave us enough to live on, though just enough. There were never any extras. We were never hungry or genuinely poor, but we lived in a conscriptive frugality. You were given what you needed, but rarely anything extra. You got just one portion of the main course at a meal and one dessert because these had to be measured out in a way that left enough for everyone.
Traditionally, October has been the month in which Catholics pray the rosary with added fervour and greater frequency. Oct. 7, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, is the high point of this month of devotion. The date of the feast of the rosary was not chosen arbitrarily; it is the date in which the forces of the Christian League defeated the advancing forces of the Ottoman Empire in 1571 at the Battle of Lepanto, perhaps the greatest and bloodiest naval battle ever fought.
It was a casual conversation, the kind of relaxed chat that usually happens once the tape recorder is turned off and the interview is over. The physician had just described a new protocol being introduced into the hospital and the impact it would have on wait times. He gave out a heavy sigh, and I asked if he was tired. He said no and explained he had his 65th birthday on the weekend.
He (the king) dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come." The guests should come to the feast. The ancient world was not as well fed as we are, at least those who live in the West today. Every five years or so, people starved, due to drought, excessive rain or war. Even at the best of times, daily meals were simple. Often months would pass with little or no meat on the table. That is why a feast became the universal symbol of heavenly delights. The wedding feast, of all feasts, was supreme. There was dancing and singing, but above all, the occasion was all about joy, love and hope for the future.
The prophet Isaiah writes these blunt words: "I am the Lord and there is no other, there is no God besides me." This is politically incorrect. Today many would prefer a God who is not so direct. A God who is open to the possibility of other gods according to each person's individual taste and liking. A God who conforms to the twisted logic of the world in which we live. Sadly, the God that many worship today is not God, but a figment of people's imaginations. A God created in our image. A God who bends and yields as they desire.
Almost two years ago I was invited to join Edmonton's Poverty Elimination Steering Committee as a faith community representative. City council established this committee to follow the example of other cities and provinces in establishing long-term, multi-sector poverty elimination initiatives that sought to address the root causes of poverty. This Edmonton poverty initiative sought to complement and build on the success of Edmonton's 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness which had already been underway for a couple of years.