Fr. Raymond J. de Souza

Fr. Raymond J. de Souza

Fr. Raymond J. de Souza is the pastor of Sacred Heart of Mary parish on Wolfe Island, and chaplain at Newman House at Kingston, Ont.’s Queen’s University.

The beginning of a new liturgical year is a suitable time to think about the liturgy in a broader and deeper way. Two recent books from Ignatius Press help us to do so in a devout and scholarly way. They are not for the casual reader, but parishioners looking to challenge their priests with some serious reading this Christmas would do well to consider them as gifts.

One of the highlights of the year just ending was the canonization of the greatest pope and dominant religious figure of our times, John Paul II. Over the years I had attended many such events as a reporter or broadcaster in the media section, but I thought that this time I would take it in as a pilgrim. That meant arriving in St. Peter’s Square some four hours or so before the Mass began. How to spend those hours in a suitably pious and productive way? After all, the breviary and rosary don’t take that long, even at a leisurely pace. 

The Feast of Christ the King was instituted in 1925, just as the age of kings was ending. The natural order of society — kingly rule — for millennia, was replaced by the modern state. Christians who may not have known kings were reminded that Christ was their king. 

The 25th anniversary of the defeat of European communism, dramatically punctuated by the smashing of the Berlin Wall on Nov. 9, 1989, was a historical moment of biblical proportions. The peaceful dismantling of the Soviet empire — so much so that the Soviet Union ceased to exist altogether in 1991 — was never thought to be possible, let alone to be accomplished by the very workers and ordinary people in whose name communism ostensibly ruled. Rarely is it possible to see in history the finger of God so clearly at work.

“In the sight of the world, he is now dead.” 

One of the world’s wisest voices was not heard during the synod fortnight in Rome. His time to speak publicly is definitively past, but it behooves the Church to listen now to what he said then. 

The world has waited almost 50 years for the day, but is it on the horizon? 

This Sunday in Rome there will be a papal Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica to give thanks for the “equivalent canonization” last April of two new Canadian saints: St. François de Laval and St. Marie de l’Incarnation. The process of “equivalent canonization” permits the Holy Father to declare a beatified person to be a saint, waiving any requirement for a miracle to be certified after the beatification, and to dispense with the canonization ceremony itself. 

I was not about to miss seeing the pope on our Queen’s University campus. Perhaps not “the” pope — but a pope nonetheless, and surely the first ever papal visit to Kingston. 

Pope Francis has asked that Sept. 28 be a day of prayer for next month’s meeting of bishops on the family. Given the crisis in family life, the Holy Father called this extraordinary Synod to address the pastoral care of the family in the context of evangelization. However, the preparation for the Synod has been entirely dominated by one topic: Will Catholics who are divorced and have entered a second civil marriage be permitted to receive Holy Communion? At the moment they should not receive Holy Communion, as any Catholic who is in a state of mortal sin is not to receive Holy Communion.