Listen closely to the heart of Lent

Fr. Michel Cote is a voice for those seeking to be understood — literally. He is a Dominican Friar who has worked for decades as an interpreter. His small business has served virtually every multi-lingual Catholic entity in our country, from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops to my own beloved Development & Peace - Caritas Canada. In his great service, it is likely that no other single person in this country has done more to help Catholics understand one another. Global Solidarity is near and dear to his heart. To us he is more than an interpreter, he is our beloved friend and spiritual elder. A humble man, he would balk at the idea of me writing a column about him. So instead of enumerating his many accomplishments, I would like to share the spiritual invitation that I have received from him in the form of a short Lenten reflection.

The celestial music of God’s created order

One of the most deleterious effects of our present culture has been our failure to engage in regular contemplation of what is real, that is to wonder at things. The end of wondering is not to gain complete knowledge, though this is the not-so-implicit goal inquiry in our post-modern world. We contemplate the mystery of God, but we cannot fully understand Him since He is God and we are His creatures. If we claim a full comprehension of who God is, what we comprehend is not God at all, or as St. Augustine wrote in Sermon 117, “Si comprehendis, non est Deus,” if you understand, it isn’t God. To contemplate does not aim at full comprehension. It desires to participate in what is a mystery to us, something hidden or not yet fully revealed.

There’s no painting over Jesus’ word

So it is with every artisan and master artisan …

they set their heart on painting a lifelike image,

and they lose sleep in order to finish their work

Sirach: 38: 27

As a writer I have always had an interest in the complexity of language: the way words could be constructed to say one thing when an entirely different message was intended. This perhaps is most obvious in coded messages — words spoken into dangerous situations that must be disguised to protect the speaker.

Healing a matter of taking the steps

There is a saying that the law of relationships that are unhealthy is, “Don’t trust, Don’t talk, and Don’t feel.” The ministry of the Church on the street, and all ministry in fact, is to reach out with the law of healing relationships, “Show up, Listen, Don’t judge, and Don’t fix.”

Emmaus a path to housing the homeless

In 1949, Abbé Pierre, a young French priest, welcomed Georges Legay, a homeless man who had tried to commit suicide, into his rundown home in Paris. Instead of giving Legay housing, work and money, Abbé Pierre said, “You are totally miserable, and I have nothing to give you. So why not help me help others?”

The downside of the mountain top

By now, my corduroy Levis were covered with snow from wiping out, and the snow was turning to ice against my skin. My brother looked truly sorry for my misery.

Stop MAiD expansion, then abolish MAiD

On Jan. 29, federal Minister of Health Mark Holland introduced legislation seeking a three-year delay in the extension of medical assistance in dying (MAiD) to those suffering from mental illness.

Toddling off the population cliff

Saying the family is the basic building block of society was once a “motherhood and apple pie” sentiment. Motherhood and apple pie, being, of course, a cliché alluding to all that is both normal and good. We need a new cliché. Today motherhood itself is no longer “motherhood and apple pie.” 

Half a quote is worse than none

I have always been frustrated by moments, especially in political speeches, where half a well-known adage is presented as proof of concept, completely ignoring the original context and the fuller saying. We see this often when someone cherry-picks part of a saying to prove their point but leaves out significant context that might disprove their argument as a whole.

True(r) stories lead us to divine truth

People are curious and beautiful and mysterious. One of the things I love most about humans is our capacity to make meaning. It is endlessly fascinating to me that many people can be in the same room, experiencing the same objective reality and come away with such beautifully different perspectives and subjective understandings of what has happened. We are all living in the stories of our lives, whether we acknowledge them or not. 

Give God our hearts not Valentines

Ash Wednesday is on the horizon. While Catholics are getting ashes on our foreheads, much of the rest of the Western world will be buying chocolates and flowers. I don’t remember Ash Wednesday falling on Valentine’s Day previously. Google says the last time was in 1945, a little before my time.