Columns

Papal reflections challenge Canada's political culture

Dr. Terrence Downey

December 1, 2014
TERRENCE DOWNEY
SPECIAL TO THE WCR

While sections of Evangelii Gaudium have received considerable attention in the media ("I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out in the streets"), acute observations on politics and politicians have been overlooked. Many of these are instructive for Canadians as we enter a federal election year. While recognizing that politics "remains a lofty vocation . . . inasmuch as it seeks the common good," Pope Francis notes that human dignity and the pursuit of the common good sometimes "seem to be a mere addendum imported from without in order to fill out a political discourse lacking in perspectives or plans for true or integral development."

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Mistrust of converts provides context for Guadalupe visions

Visits with Mary Logo – Small

December 1, 2014
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

In his 1999 apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in America, St. John Paul II referred to Our Lady of Guadalupe as the hope for the new evangelization in the Americas. Mary's appearance to St. Juan Diego at the Aztec holy site of Tepeyac in 1531 had a decisive effect in bringing the Gospel to the indigenous peoples of present-day Mexico. In the document, the pope prayed that Mary's intercession would lead to an outpouring of the Holy Spirit "so that the new evangelization may yield a splendid flowering of Christian life." Indeed, the image of Mary miraculously emblazoned on Juan Diego's cloak was replete with symbols from the Aztec culture. The Church did not even have to deliberately accommodate its presentation of the Holy Virgin to the Aztec people; Mary had done the job.

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Efforts to end homelessness call for true solidarity

Bob McKeon

December 1, 2014

Earlier this month, faith leaders from 25 churches and faith communities, including Archbishop Richard Smith, joined together at City Hall to renew their commitment to support the goal of Edmonton's 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness in our city. They reaffirmed the words of the Interfaith Statement they originally signed in 2011. Significantly, this statement ends with a list of values shared by the different faith communities: "respect for human dignity, solidarity with those who are poor and vulnerable, and an affirmation of the importance of inclusive and welcoming communities where individuals and families can thrive." This is an important message for us today. Solidarity is a strong word. Pope Francis, in a recent statement, insists that solidarity "means much more than some acts of sporadic generosity."

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Religious persecution calls for faith, reason to embrace each other

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November 17, 2014

The 20th-century historian Arnold Toynbee once wrote, "The things that make good headlines are on the surface of the stream of life, and they distract us from the slower, impalpable, imponderable movements that work below the surface and penetrate to the depths." Yet, these slower movements are what affect society most deeply. That is why the 2014 report of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) on the state of religious freedom in the world ought to be of great concern. (See story on Page 11.) While religious persecution does make headlines, this does not happen enough to make it apparent that this is a great issue of our time.

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Carrying your cross can lead you to live a deeper life

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

November 17, 2014

Among Jesus' many teachings we find this, rather harsh-sounding, invitation: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. I suspect that each of us has a gut sense of what this means and what it will cost us. But I suspect too that many of us misunderstand what Jesus is asking here and struggle unhealthily with this invitation. What concretely does Jesus mean by this? To answer that, I would like to lean on some insights offered by James Martin in his book, Jesus, A Pilgrimage. He suggests that taking up our cross daily and giving up life in order to find deeper life means six interpenetrating things:

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Clear criteria divide sheep from goats

Kathleen Giffin

November 17, 2014
Christ the King
November 23, 2014

With the feast of Christ the King, we come to the end of the liturgical year and our last consideration of end things before returning to the expectation of Advent. The separation of the sheep from the goats, the Gospel passage chosen for this year, is the most sobering and challenging of Scriptures. It is Matthew's account of the final judgment and the criteria that will divide all people between those who will enter God's kingdom and those who will go to endless suffering. It is a simple criterion; either we respond to those in need, to those who suffer, or we don't. We either have compassion that is put into action to the extent we are able or we don't.

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Woman clothed with the sun battles against cosmic evil

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November 17, 2014
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

As the Church year draws to a close, the Scripture readings that confront us are filled with apocalyptic images that herald a monumental struggle against the forces of darkness. On one hand, it is easy to see that battle being waged in world events with wars and savage killings, not only in the Middle East and Ukraine, but also in many parts of Africa. The two recent attacks on Canadian military personnel might also be viewed as indicators that this cosmic battle has even touched our peaceful land. The cosmic battle may seem remote from our daily routines until that routine is thrown into turmoil by some crime, the death of a loved one or another disturbing occurrence. Mostly, our lives seem to continue outside any overt waging of the ultimate battle between good and evil.

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Redeem memory of loved ones who died from suicide

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi

November 17, 2014

Each year I write a column on suicide. Mostly I say the same thing again, simply because it needs to be said. I don't claim any originality or special insight, I only write about suicide because there is such a desperate need to address the question. Moreover, in my case, as a Catholic priest and spiritual writer, I feel it important to offer something to try to help dispel the false perception which so many people, not least many inside the Church itself, have of the church's understanding of suicide. Simply put, I'm no expert, not anyone's saviour; there's just so little out there. Each year, that column on suicide finds its audience. I am surprised and occasionally overwhelmed by the feedback. For the last 10 years, I don't think a single week has gone by when I did not receive an email, a letter or phone call from someone who has lost a loved one to suicide.

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God 'comes down to reveal his weakness

Brett Fawcett

November 17, 2014
First Sunday of Advent
November 30, 2014

p>Today is New Year's Day, liturgically speaking. November is when the Church looks forward the Second Coming, and now we leave this time of preparation to enter another one, Advent, where our eager anticipation of Christ's second Advent becomes a meditation on those who longingly waited for his first one. This expectation is expressed in the First Reading. Isaiah cries out, "O, that you would tear the heavens and come down," and reveal "your presence" to the whole earth. There are two ways that someone can beg God to "come down" and reveal himself. One is a demand that God vindicate himself, that he come out of hiding and prove to his enemies that he is who he says he is.

 

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Parliament Hill shootings change perception of Canada

Joe Gunn

November 17, 2014

The events of Wednesday, Oct. 22 shocked the nation. Gunshots on Parliament Hill? Soldiers killed? Could that happen in Canada? The events in Ottawa that day unsettled me. Two of my female staff colleagues at Citizens for Public Justice had been invited to the Hill that morning, and were stuck in the security lockdown with members of Parliament until 9 p.m. As the hours wore on, we couldn't understand why they were not allowed to go safely home, if indeed the situation was under control. Canadians grappled with confusion and grief, hoping for events to be somehow explained, throughout the endless rounds of repeated "news."

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