Monday, July 12, 2010

Canada Day and the Community of Faith

It's been a long time since I have been able to share with you some of the things that I have been involved with in the life of our diocesan Church. And it is time to get back to work on this blog. On July 1st. the Catholic Community gathered at Blessed Sacrament Church for the annual Canada Day Mass.

There was, once again, a wonderful turn out of people to pray for our country and to thank God for the blessings that come to us as its citizens. I spoke on the question of being citizens of Canada as people of faith. And I would like to share with you the things that I said on this special and important occasion which celebrates our country.


My dear sisters and brothers we come together today to give thanks to God for the blessings which come to all of us because we live in this rich and blessed country. We come here as people of faith, as Catholic Christians and citizens of Canada, to pray and celebrate this day.
We recognize that Canada is a country that is struggling to find a way to see itself in this ever and quickly changing world we live in. We are well aware that Canada has chosen to see itself as a secular country, and as a secular society. This is something new in our history. Many of us who are people of religious faith get upset with this vision of what our society is supposed to be: a society in which religion has been moved from the public places and institutions where it held a valued and honoured position for over four centuries in our country.

Neither can we forget that among the Plains Indians who have lived here for thousands of years, spirituality was and remains an important, indeed essential part of their way of life. The Indian people have lived this spirituality out in public ceremonies and rituals that taught the meaning of this spiritual culture and gave them an identity as a people. We as Catholics have done likewise, as we expressed our Catholic culture with its ceremonies and rituals. The public living of our faith in this country gave us a sense of our identity as Catholic Canadian citizens.

I have a vivid memory from my childhood, of going on the bus to Mass on Sunday in the early 1950’s. The bus was crowded with people standing and holding on to the hand bars or straps with one hand and in the other hand the Catholics had their prayer book and rosary and the Protestants had their black leather covered Bible, everyone staring suspiciously at the opposition; but everybody there, going to Church, publicly bringing the outward signs of their faith.

Then all of a sudden it seemed that the world changed. Canada continued to welcome more and more on new arrivals in our country. Only now, they were not from the Christian countries of Europe, but they are from all over the world. And seemingly, all of a sudden, there were not only many religions but there were now many faiths. Now, deep in the Canadian heart and conscience there is felt the need to respect all who are here and a strong dislike of offending others. And so our attitude changed. Religion was moved off of the public bus, as it were, and people are told now that religion is a private matter that belongs in the privacy of our homes.



Christians have reacted to this sometimes with anger, as in the case when Christmas traditions and practices are not allowed in schools or public places. And as a result secularism can be seen as an enemy or an oppression and is met with anger and frustration on the part of religious citizens of our country. But is this the best way for us to deal with this reality in our country? How are we as Catholic people, for example, best able to speak to this society that is not only around us, but also of which we are members? For speak to it we must.


As followers of Jesus, whom we know to be the Way, the Truth and the Life for every person on earth, we know that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has called us, not to put the light of our faith and the blessings of our relationship with him under a basket. Indeed we are called not to confine the way we live as Christian people to the limits of our bedroom walls. Rather we are taught by Jesus that we are to let that bright light of our faith shine before all people. Jesus teaches us that we are to be a light for our country and our society, a light that can dispel the darkness of injustice and oppression, of pain and despair and can give life and hope to everyone in our Country.

After Jesus had healed the man from Gerasene, who, as you remember, had been possessed by a legion of demons, he told the man to go home to his family and his friends and he said: You tell them “how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.” Here is the mission of the followers of Jesus. We are followers of Jesus today and we too are taught that we are to tell people how much the Lord has done for us and what mercy the Lord has shown us.


We are able speak to our culture with the words which tell of the blessings we personally have received because of God’s love for us. We are also able to speak to our culture with lives lived according to the Good News of Jesus Christ. In the Gospel for this Mass, Jesus speaks the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the poor is spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
The word “blessed” conveys the meaning of happiness and joy. Many people in our society see religion as a bad thing because of the actions of religious extremists. They see religion as a dangerous power urging people to acts of violence and terrorism. They see religion as bringing about extremism in political life. They see religion as endangering people’s freedom.

Is it not our duty, to God who loves and saves us, to show our society that our faith is not threatening but rather is “Good News”? As our society seeks a way to be just, fair and welcoming, do we not have something to say to those around us that will be helpful.

Jesus teaches us then that our friends and neighbours need to see in us people who are poor in spirit, people who in the sad and tragic times of life find comfort and peace from God, people who hunger and thirst for what is just and right. Our neighbours need to see in us who are Catholic people, people who are merciful in our dealings with them, people who make peace rather than cause division, prejudice and violence. And our neighbours need to see in us people who will not give in when the going gets tough, but remain faithful to the Good News entrusted to us. People need to see us as “blessed”, as joyful people whose lives have a special happiness, joy and peace because of our faith and our relationship with God.



In this way we can truly be Jesus’ witnesses. In this way we carry out Jesus direction to tell people “how much the Lord has done for us, and what mercy he has shown us.” And in this way we people of religious faith can be good news for our Country.

May God bless this land of Canada and all of its people. Amen.
-30-

2 comments:

Sandra said...

Thank you for your reflections, your Grace. Once again you have given voice to the concerns of your community brilliantly! Your blog is a tool of evangelisation and much appreciated.

Carroll Macdonald said...

I was just thinking about you and thought I'd leave a note. It's been a long time since we've seen each other and I wanted to let you know I figured out your Dad's recipe to his Roast Beef and Mozzarella Cheese with
Tomato's and Potato... it tastes just like I remembered! :o) Carroll Peter MacDonald. Just wanted to say Hello Dan and Hope life is treating you Great! Oh yes and say that I had finally figured out the recipe and if you're out by this way I'm still in the same spot now with 5 Grand Kids - Zackary, Zoey, Haley, Lia and Anna-Belle. Life is good :o)

Take Care Dan,

Carroll P MacDonald
cpmacdonald@gmail.com