Small Things: Reflections on Faith and Hope by Gerry Turcotte (Novalis, paperback, 128 pages, $14.95). Photo/courtesy of Novalis

Liturgical seasons as seen through a believer’s perspective

By  Fr. Timothy Scott, Catholic Register Special
  • September 17, 2016

In a short volume consisting not of formal theology but rather of informal musings on faith in our Canadian society, Gerry Turcotte offers us an eminently readable collection of brief essays.

Originally published in several Alberta newspapers, he draws inspiration from successive liturgical seasons to present a series of reflections — one for each week of the year. From New Year’s through Lent and Easter to Thanksgiving and Christmas, Turcotte offers his insights from a believer’s perspective for people who may share his own faith, or profess another, or none.

As president of St. Mary’s University in Calgary, Turcotte’s stories of leadership in this new academic centre of excellence figure prominently. We learn about St. Mary’s focus on educating the whole person and its commitment to social justice and the inclusion of those who were often excluded from university education.

From the community’s response to the Alberta floods of June 2013 to malapropisms and mariology, Turcotte has a style that at once invites and informs his readers. His anecdotes from an academic career in Australia and the cultural challenges faced by his family as they integrated into the Western Canadian mosaic make for entertaining reading.

Sometimes Turcotte is a little too casual. The well-known musical setting of the Ave Maria he attributes to J.S. Bach is usually attributed to Gounod. I was surprised to learn that when he blessed the infant Jesus, the elderly Simeon in the Gospel of Luke was 200 years old. Also I don’t think I would say, “Easter is a day of hope that reminds us that anything is possible.” The angel Gabriel said it far better at the Annunciation — “Nothing is impossible for God.”

Turcotte is an educator who has a wonderful respect for the power of a biblical metaphor. I was intrigued by his columns on the monumental St. John’s Bible, the first hand-written and illuminated codex produced since the Middle Ages.

Turcotte’s Small Things is a wonderful compendium of reflections designed to both entertain and inspire.

Small Things: Reflections on Faith and Hope by Gerry Turcotte (Novalis, paperback, 128 pages, $14.95). 

(Scott is the executive director of the Canadian Religious Conference in Canada.)

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