Luke Stocking

Luke Stocking

Stocking is Development and Peace Deputy Director of Public Awareness & Engagement, Ontario and Atlantic Regions.

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.

Each night when I was growing up, my mother would do “prayers & lullabies” with us. One prayer was to recite a simple passage from Scripture. I am quoting my “prayer-memory” here and not the actual Scripture:

The Christmas season is a time of rest for me. To clarify, I mean the Christmas season as we celebrate it in the Catholic Church, from Midnight Mass through to the baptism of the Lord.

Advent is the time of waiting and preparation for the coming of Jesus. This Avent I await the Prince of Peace. I roll the words over my tongue and in my mind daily — the Prince of Peace. How we long for you in these days! 

Misericordia! I feel this word as a deep cry from my soul in response to these troubled times of unspeakable horror.

Pope Francis in addressing the National Confederation of the ‘Misericordie’ of Italy said, “This word misericordia — mercy — is a Latin word whose etymological meaning is ‘miseris cor dare,’ to ‘give the heart to the wretched,’ those in need, those who are suffering.”

We are last to push off from the shore into Oxbow Lake. I am in a canoe with Steph and Ava, two high school students from the Toronto Catholic District School Board. Ahead of us are 30 other TCDSB students ranging from Grades 10-12. For many of them it is their first time paddling a canoe. We are bringing up the rear to ensure no one goes astray. Leading the pack at the front is Greg Rogers, founder of this week-long Catholic Leadership program at Camp Olympia near Huntsville, Ont. He is taking us all to see Jesus.

Something that my faith has instilled in me is a simple phrase, “it is never too late.” No matter how bad things are, no matter what has happened — there is nothing and no one beyond redemption through the infinite love and mercy of God. It is, I think, a radical aspect of our faith. All that is required, we are told again and again, is to say “Yes” to the invitation to experience that love and mercy.

It is not a long road that leads us to justice — it is a mighty river that flows to a faraway sea. It flows more quickly at some times than at others. There are also twists and turns and perilous rapids. Roads and rivers are both long. But unlike a road — which we may or may not take — a river is inevitable. Resistance against it is impossible. 

This is an Easter story for this Easter season. It is set in a cemetery, spans several decades past and many more into the future.

She walks into the room, and I see she is wearing a very familiar straw hat with a coloured band. I have seen the hat, and its owner, a thousand times: in our Share Lent poster, our mini-magazine, and countless other campaign images — even my e-mail signature. It is like she has walked right out of an image and into our lives — incarnate for us.

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