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The Supreme Court decision legalizing assisted suicide in Canada is a repeat of the original sin in which men and women believed they can be like gods, says Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve "surrendered to the lie" that they could be "something other than what they were created to be," Smith said in a Feb. 12 interview. "God is eclipsed and his supremacy and sovereignty is replaced with that of the individual," the archbishop said. That human decision in Eden has been the root of all sin and disharmony in the world ever since, he said.
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Jo-Anne Paquette's three-month journey with Martha Shephard as she died from a brain tumour was both physically draining and a spiritual gift for Paquette. "Martha lived in a house in Ottawa, and I really grew to respect her, thought of her as a mentor," said Paquette. "When I was dropped into the pool of caring for her and journeying with her, it was a sudden thing. It felt like a whole lifetime to me."
The love of a man and a woman committed to an exclusive and permanent relationship is a powerful witness to the love and presence of God. That's what Kevin and Mona Lee Feehan demonstrated during the celebration of World Marriage Day 2015 at St. Albert Church Feb. 8. The couple shared parts of their lives together to bring alive the theme of the celebration: Wherever You Go, I Will Go.
The way a married man becomes holy is by making his wife and his children holy, says American evangelist Dan DeMatte. "We have this mission to help our wives and children be saved and enter the promised land of heaven," DeMatte told about 400 Catholic men Feb. 7. "In the process of doing that, we are raising saints." DeMatte, 30, is a youth minister, speaker, evangelist, television personality and father of three from Columbus, Ohio.
Reforming the Catholic Church has always involved an effort to help the Church overcome "a worldly mentality" and engage in spiritual renewal, said the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. That is true today and has been true throughout the Church's history, said the prefect, Cardinal Gerhard Muller. "The Church cannot understand itself or justify itself in the world's eyes according to standards of power, wealth or prestige," he wrote in an article published in L'Osservatore Romano.
The current refugee crisis in Iraq and especially Syria is the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War, says the national director of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA). Carl Hétu says that is the assessment of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees which is tracking the massive refugee crisis stemming from the wars in Iraq and Syria. More than three million refugees fleeing Syria and Iraq have registered with the UNHCR, and likely another million have not registered because of fear, Hétu said in a Feb. 5 talk at Edmonton's Assumption Parish Hall.
Prayer. Deep meditative prayer. Most of us long for it. Many have achieved it. "But there is a certain degree of fear and anxiety in going after some of those very big feelings," says Dr. Andrew Newberg, "because they are a bit overwhelming and scary in some ways. They are wonderful but they can be very scary at times as well." Newberg, director of research at the Jefferson Myrna Brind Centre of Integrative Medicine in Philadelphia, has delved into the neurological impact of prayer and meditation since the early 1990s.
Janet Bourdet, co-director of Edmonton's Marian Centre, was so taken as a child by the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well, she found herself asking God, "Why love me?" But amidst her soul searching, she faced a major upset when, come Grade 5, her family had to leave forested Montana and move to San Diego. "I was heart-broken until I saw the pool." Changes happened again when Bourdet left the Church at 18.
A snowy winter night and Our Lady of Assumption Parish basement is filled with an intriguing ecumenical gathering of 25 Roman Catholics and Mennonites. This is their annual meeting where they discussed the book Compassion, a reflection on the Christian life by Henri Nouwen, Donald McNeill and Douglas Morrison. "We are in our fifth year of dialogue," said Julien Hammond, director of the ecumenical and interfaith relations for the Edmonton Archdiocese.
Bishops who do not comply with the child protection norms must face real consequences, said Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. The commission, he said, "is very, very concerned about this whole area of (bishops') accountability" and has a working group drawing up recommendations for Pope Francis.
On Friday, February 6th, the Supreme Court of Canada rendered a landmark decision granting legal permission for physician-assisted death in our country. In so doing it agreed with claims that a human person faced with suffering has the right to determine when and how to end one's life, and that the legal prohibition against assisted suicide impeded the exercise of this right and infringed upon their liberty. In its ruling, the Supreme Court outlines the conditions within which the provision or administration of lethal medication to a patient who has requested it would be permissible.
God wants those working in Catholic schools to experience shalom so they can be ministers of shalom to Catholic students, an Oregon theologian told staff of Edmonton Catholic Schools. "It's God's will that we are in shalom relationships with one another," Father Raymond Carey told about 3,200 employees of the Edmonton Catholic School District. "Let's be ministers of shalom one to another." The priest said shalom refers not only to peace but to wholeness, perfection in Christ and balance with God in one's personal life and in the many roles one may have in Catholic education.
ST. ALBERT – Divorce statistics aside, Christians still see marriage as a tremendous gift in their lives. Ed and Mary Kieftenbeld from Riviere Qui Barre, one of several couples marking World Marriage Day Feb. 8, said they are delighted with their marriage. They have been married for 25 years and have four children. According to Mary, marriage is two imperfect people making a choice to never give up.
Saying the history of the subjugation of women continues to have a negative impact on how women are treated, Pope Francis called for greater roles for women in the Church. Women also need greater workplace flexibility to ensure they can make the best choices for themselves and their families, Pope Francis told the Pontifical Council for Culture Feb. 7. The pope said the council's study of women's cultures was a topic "close to my heart."
Cardinals meeting at the Vatican discussed better ways to balance the responsibilities of local bishops and of the Roman Curia, said the Vatican spokesman. A recurring theme in the cardinals' Feb. 12-13 meeting was "what is it that is done best where," Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi told journalists Feb. 13 during a pause in College of Cardinals' discussions. About 40 of the 164 cardinals present in the Vatican's synod hall spoke Feb. 12 about the proposal to reform the Roman Curia, he said.
Murdered Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero is held up as a beacon for the poor and oppressed, but scholars who have studied Romero's life say his conversion to the poor was a slow process. It's a common narrative that Romero had a sudden conversion from a quiet, cerebral archbishop to one whose outreach to the poor and disenfranchised led to his death. However, Damian Zynda, a Romero researcher at Jesuit-run Creighton University, argues that transformation happened over many years.
Natalie Rose's husband Todd had been feeling poorly for such a long time, her first prayer was "to finally figure out what was wrong. We knew he was gravelly ill." So when the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer came, "It was not the diagnosis I was looking for but I remember feeling it was answered prayer." The statistical outcome was not good: "Less than 10 per cent survive. And there was no guaranteed complete recovery."
Prayer is a constant companion with Dr. Randall Abele. A deacon and Edmonton urologist, Abele says, "Prayer is essential. You're walking with God and you always want to be walking where he wants you to be walking. "You pray to have contentment in your heart, peace in your heart about your life." Prayer, he said, is something that comes out of faith.
Consecrated men and women played a significant role in shaping Canada, says the president of the country's bishops' conference. "Our first teachers, health care givers and social workers were men and women who dedicated their lives through poverty, chastity and obedience, in order to serve the community of faith and all men and women, no matter their faith or ethnicity," Archbishop Paul-André Durocher said in a Jan. 29 letter.
In December, Pope Francis made headlines around the world when he used his Christmas speech to members of the Roman Curia to describe 15 spiritual diseases which he hoped would spur an examination of conscience in order to prepare their hearts for the holy feast of Christmas. However, as the pope said, the Curia is "a small-scale model of the Church." If spiritual diseases are present in the Curia, they are most likely present throughout the people of God.
Disappointment, sadness and calls to invoke the notwithstanding clause greeted the Supreme Court of Canada's Feb. 6 decision striking down laws against physician-assisted suicide. "Catholics are called by their faith to assist all those in need, particularly the poor, the suffering and the dying," said Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. "Comforting the dying and accompanying them in love and solidarity has been considered by the Church since its beginning a principal expression of Christian mercy," Durocher said.
OTTAWA – Speculation is mounting on the approach the federal government will take in response to the Supreme Court decision striking down the law against assisted suicide. Some, including members of the Tory caucus, are calling for the government to invoke the notwithstanding clause of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in order to suspend the court's decision for five years.
OTTAWA –Poverty is the most important issue facing Canada and should be an election issue, say two groups who released their anti-poverty plan Feb. 3. Canada has to "share a vision that includes everybody," Joe Gunn, executive director of Citizens for Public Justice, told a breakfast on Parliament Hill. CPJ and Canada Without Poverty say poverty violates the human rights of Canada's 4.8 million poor.
Redemptorist Father John Alan MacGregor will be remembered as an excellent teacher and a dedicated pastor. The Edmonton native did pastoral work throughout much of Canada before he returned to Edmonton in 2012 to live among his Redemptorist confreres at Villa Marguerite. He died of pneumonia Jan. 27 at age 90. "I knew him very well. He was my teacher in high school at (Edmonton's) Holy Redeemer College," recalled Father Mark Miller, provincial superior of the Redemptorists in Canada.
VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis called for prayers for the Egyptian Christians beheaded by Islamic State militants in Libya and asked that God recognize these men killed for their faith. He offered morning Mass Feb. 17 in the chapel of his residence for the slain Christians he termed "our 21 brother Copts" whose throats had been slit "for the sole reason of being Christians." The pope requested that people pray for the victims so "that the Lord welcome them as martyrs."
Everton Lewis is trying to raise awareness that black history is as much a part of Canada's past as the stories of European explorers like Samuel Champlain. "Being black and being Canadian at the same time I always asked 'Where is my story?'" during history class, said the Toronto Catholic school board's community relations staff member. "When I was in school I didn't hear anything, it was almost like there was no beginning and that somebody just snapped their fingers and here we were."
VANCOUVER – B.C. biker Fred Sawatzky said he rides to Mexico to convert other bikers to Christ every year. "I go to their drug cartels, take Bibles in my suitcase, and hand them out," Sawatzky said at Missions Fest, an annual conference. Sawatzky is one of 32 members of the Christian Motorcycle Association in the Fraser Valley.
VATICAN CITY – Total obedience to God's will brings wisdom, joy and hope, Pope Francis told religious men and women. Jesus came not to follow his own will, but to obey the Father's will, the pope said Feb. 2 during a Mass for the feast of the Presentation of the Lord. The Church marks the feast as the World Day for Consecrated Life. "Whoever follows Jesus takes the path of obedience," which means lowering, emptying and humbling oneself like Jesus, the pope said.
VANCOUVER – Two months into the Year of Consecrated Life, the Archdiocese of Vancouver has opened a new seminary. All seven seminarians at Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary Redemptoris Mater (Mother of the Redeemer) are members of the Neocatechumenal Way, a global Church movement founded in Spain in 1964 that embraces families and vocations. Archbishop Michael Miller said he made the decision to open the seminary after prayer, reflection, and "the encouragement of Pope Francis."