MONTREAL - Canada’s first Syriac Catholic bishop says his immediate challenge is to minister to refugees from the Middle East and at the same time move forward with plans for evangelization in his vast new Canadian diocese as he prepares for the demands of the Easter season.

Published in Canada

It was a good idea that didn’t work. Before the reform of the Roman calendar in the 1960s, the octave day of Christmas — Jan. 1 — was celebrated as the feast of the circumcision and holy name, as Jewish boys were named on the eighth day after birth. There was a minor feast of the divine maternity of Mary in the calendar on Oct. 11, which St. John XXIII chose for the opening of Vatican II, and now serves as his feast day.

Published in Fr. Raymond de Souza

Blessed Junipero Serra’s motto was “always forward, never back.” But as the date nears for his canonization by Pope Francis, Serra’s life of faithful evangelization is being fiercely — and many say unfairly — questioned by detractors who insist on looking back into the life and times of the 18th-century missionary priest.

Published in International

ROME - The canonization of Blessed Junipero Serra honours a famous missionary who was motivated by love of God, but it also is a call to recognize how the process of evangelization must respect peoples and their cultures, said the head of the Franciscan order.

Published in International

LONDON - Catholic bishops in England and Wales hope to establish evangelization teams to transform about 5,000 churches into "missionary parishes."

Published in International

QUITO, Ecuador - Catholics will never be effective evangelizers if they are squabbling among themselves, and they cannot show the world how faith in Christ responds to the human yearning for freedom and peace if they are divided, Pope Francis said.

Published in International

VATICAN CITY - The Institute for the Works of Religion, commonly known as the Vatican bank, showed a large jump in profits in 2014 as it continued to winnow its accounts.

Published in Vatican

WINDSOR, ONT. - Between the feast days of Canada’s newest saints, the archbishop of Quebec City argued for an authentically Canadian approach to the evangelization of native peoples that offers a model for the evangelization of culture today.

Published in Fr. Raymond de Souza
April 24, 2015

NET Canada turns 20!

Twenty years of youth ministry is a big deal, which is why NET Ministries of Canada decided to celebrate the milestone with a year-long celebration.

Published in Youth Speak News

In Sr. Anna Chan’s earlier career in retail management, she sought happiness through a love of fine clothes, shoes and bags.

“I was looking for happiness,” said Chan, “but I was looking in the wrong place.”

Published in Call to Service

One of the hardest things about moving to a small town is integrating into the community. After my last column was published, I was offered a job in northeastern Alberta and found myself moving to the town of St. Paul. It’s the centre of the diocese and at approximately 6,000 people it’s the smallest municipality I’ve ever called home.

Published in YSN: Speaking Out

TORONTO - Giving advice to the Pope is not a one-way street. It begins with Pope Francis giving advice to his advisors — including Canadian theologian Moira McQueen.

Published in Canada
December 4, 2014

Cultural war is coming

In mid-November, Pope Francis gave an address to new communities and ecclesial movements in the Church that was, even by his high standards, utterly inspiring.

Published in Peter Stockland

Growing up in Nigeria, Fr. Maurice Emelu never imagined his calling would take him around the world and eventually put him in front of TV cameras that reach up to 230 million homes in 144 nations.

Published in Call to Service

Late last year the National Post commissioned a survey on religious attitudes of Canadians. It will surprise no one that church attendance, both Protestant and Catholic, is dropping. What was surprising was how Canadians self-reported their attitude to religion.

Of those answering the survey, 65 per cent consider themselves “spiritual,” 50 per cent consider themselves “religious” yet 66 per cent said they believe in God. What to make of this?

First, contemporary mis-education has prevented many people from thinking clearly. If you believe in God, you are by definition “religious.” The Oxford English Reference Dictionary defines religion as belief in a personal God “…entitled to obedience and worship.” So to say that someone believes in God but is not religious is to utter an oxymoron.

As for the 15 per cent who consider themselves spiritual (“concerned with sacred or religious things”) but not religious, well, they truly are remarkable human beings. They are like a self-described gourmand who never eats, or someone who professes to love travel but does not leave home, or a lover of theatre who has never seen a play that he enjoyed.
Of course, one might be spiritual and not go to church; that is possible. I suppose one might even be a Protestant Christian and never go to church. But one cannot be a Roman Catholic and refrain from attending church.

That’s because the catechism teaches that there is no salvation outside the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (published in 1994) expresses the point this way: “All salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is His body.” Again, none can be saved “who knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse to enter it or to remain in it.”

Catholics have an obligation to attend Mass. One may attend Mass outside the physical structure of a church, but only a priest may consecrate the elements of bread and wine. For a Catholic to say that he is spiritual but not religious is what Dr. Johnson once called “nonsense on stilts.”

The priest who brought me into the Catholic Church never referred to the “obligation” to attend Mass. It was always, he insisted a privilege. And with him presiding, it always was. He prepared carefully for each service. His homilies were strengthening and he threw himself into every activity in the church with gusto. To my chagrin, I have discovered that this is not always the case.

Of course, I understand that one does not attend Mass because of the priest but rather for the opportunity to receive the sacraments. Still, it is difficult to be in a suitably receptive frame of mind to receive the sacraments when one is fuming inwardly at all that has gone on up to that point. Perhaps I am only now discovering the reality of what Flannery O’Connor meant when she wrote that one may suffer more from the Church than for the Church.

If the new statistics accurately portray Canadians’ religious attitude, what hope is there for the Church? Well, Pope Benedict XVI recognizes the problem; indeed he wrote extensively about this even before the year 2005 when he became Pope. He has called repeatedly for a “New Evangelization” with three components: (1) deepened personal faith; (2) renewed Bible study; (3) proclamation of the Gospel.

The Pope has said that it is the duty of every Catholic to proclaim the good news “with the same enthusiasm as the early Church” and he has taught that “the Gospel is not the exclusive property of those who received it, but it is a gift to share, good news to report to all.”

In this respect, buried in the statistics, is one nugget which allows for hope: 15 per cent of Canadian youth report that they are more committed to the faith than were their parents. Here is the potential spearhead of a new evangelization that can rescue the Church from the doldrums.

The new evangelization will not happen in parishes where the message is distorted, or where the priest is only going through the motions, or where the congregation trudge off content at having satisfied their obligation. But the message of hope from Pope Benedict XVI is that it can — and will — happen nevertheless.

 

Published in Guest Columns
Page 3 of 4