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The US Court of Appeals: Just the Place for a Snark! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 30 June 2008 22:06
Now here's a important cultural landmark:
A Federal Appeals Court has quoted Lewis Caroll in an important decision.
CNN puts it this way:

"A federal appeals court has slammed the reliability of U.S. government intelligence documents, saying just because officials keep repeating their assertions does not make them true.

A three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington likened the Bush administration's case to a line in an 1876 nonsense poem by Lewis Carroll: "I have said it thrice: What I tell you three times is true."
To follow the Court's reasoning, I think we need to understand the quotation in its context:  The Hunting of the Snark: An Agony in Eight Fits"

Fit the First

Just the place for a Snark!" the Bellman cried,
As he landed his crew with care;
Supporting each man on the top of the tide
By a finger entwined in his hair.

"Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
That alone should encourage the crew.
Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
What i tell you three times is true."

See?  Isn't everything clearer now?

Sherry's Radio Interview on the Pew Survey & "Personal Relationship with God" PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 30 June 2008 21:31
Amazing thing about technology.  Sacred Heart Radio Station e-mailed us the MP3 file for the interview on "personal relationship with God" that I did this morning and we've got it up  on our website here.
It runs about 20 minutes.  I felt like I was babbling at the time but critical listerners tell me its "lively".  Listening to it again, there are some theological nuances I would add (if this were in print and I had more time to work with) but hey, that's live radio.  Warts and all.'
Just click on the icon button to the right of "interview on relationship with God" and the radio interview will pop up. Click on that and it begins

Beatitudes and Baptism - part 1 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 30 June 2008 21:25
I performed a baptism this past weekend for a former parishioner from Tucson. She chose the Beatitudes from Matthew's Sermon on the Mount for the Gospel text to be proclaimed, and I sat down and wrote a brief reflection on each of the beatitudes - more for myself, really, as I thought about the connection between them and baptism. I thought I'd share them with you over the next week, since I've not blogged about anything for ages.

Realize, these are just random thoughts - nothing systematic.

Baptism begins a new relationship between Aspen and God. She cannot offer any obstacles to the grace, the new life in the Holy Spirit, that God, Father, Son and Spirit offer her today. When the blessed water is poured over her head, original sin is forgiven, she becomes a daughter of God, her soul is marked with a character making her eligible to participate in the sacramental life of the Church, and she becomes a member of Jesus' body living today.

You make promises today to not only raise her in the Catholic faith, but to introduce her to God who has created her. All of us in the Church are to model for her what it is to be a disciple, and help her live in such a way that she can experience the blessings Jesus describes in the beginning of his Sermon on the Mount.

But these are peculiar blessings, and they have to be modeled and taught. We don't come by them naturally. Jesus and His mother are the best models of actually living the beatitudes he preaches, and I can't help but believe that he was preaching from experience. If that's the case, then we might presume that the blessings Jesus promises begin in this life, and find their fulfillment in heaven in the next. Thus, one of the greatest gifts you can give your daughter is to model for her "beatitude living" and teach her to live this way, too.

Let's look briefly at each of them.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
As you may know, in Luke's Sermon on the plain, Jesus says simply, "Blessed are the poor," and I believe that helps us understand what Matthew may be getting at with "poor in spirit." When the rich young man who has followed the commandments from his youth asks Jesus, "What must I do to inherit everlasting life?" Jesus responds by saying, "follow the commandments," but he's already done that and senses something's missing. So Jesus tells him to sell all he has – becoming physically poor, reliant on others – and then to come, follow him...become a disciple if he wishes to enter the kingdom. To be a disciple is to follow, and that means allowing another to lead, to make the decisions of which way to go, to trust when you can only see a few steps ahead. To be poor in spirit is to choose dependence over independence, guidance over self-determination, and trust over self-reliance.

Often we refer to headstrong, willful children as "spirited." You must teach Aspen to become poor in spirit. Rather than pursuing her own will, her own designs, you must teach her - and show her - how to make Jesus' will her own – to give up living for herself, relying on herself and her own goodness, and trusting the grace and providence of God to be enough. Teach your daughter to accept the kingdom as a gift, rather than a reward earned. And, help her learn to trust that following Jesus is to begin entering the kingdom now.

St. Paul (and Ambrose) in China PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 30 June 2008 10:08
Here's a fascinating glimpse of Catholic life in China.  (HT to Gashwin)
A parish dedicated to St. Paul celebrates the year of St. Paul with confetti, prayer, and a real Chinese feast.

The blogger is an American woman blogging under the pseudonym of Ambrose who comes across as thoughtful and observant.  Check back regularly to get a window on Catholic life in her part of China.

WYD Latin Style? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 30 June 2008 08:52
On the home page of the World Youth Day site is a fun map.  Roll over the various continents and the registered number of pilgrims from that continent/area pops up.
What immediately struck me was how few representatives there will be from the two centers of the new global Church: Only 4,000 pilgrims each from South America and Africa.

27,000 from North America
54,000 from Europe
100,000 from Australia

Understandable with rising air fares.

But its time for WYD to be held in South America, I think.  The enormous cost involved is one huge factor, I'm sure.  And the political and economic stability and infrastructure necessary to make it work.  And the strong interest of the local bishops.

If they did it in the Philippines, surely they can do it in Rio.

WYD would be a powerful response to the rapid "de-Catholicizing" of Latin America and might well drawn many back to the faith.

The Church on the Flip Side of the World PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 30 June 2008 07:47
This weekend, the Pauline year was formally inaugurated by Pope Benedict.  Amy has all the news and a plethera of links.

World Youth Day is heating up as well.  I'm being inundated with World Youth Day news from down under - like the fact that 712 pilgrims will be coming from Tonga.  Tonga has never sent pilgrims to World Youth Day before but now it is happening in their backyard, so to speak.  It is easy for us northern hemisphere types to forget how far away Rome can feel in Oceania.  This World Youth Day will be one of the smallest - but what it could mean to the Church on the flip side of the planet is beyond price.

Meanwhile, our own Aussie team is preparing to do their Called & Gifted thing in Melbourne before the major festivities begin.  Dioceses around the country are hosting pilgrims as they arrive and offering local events called Day in the Diocese.  20,000 pilgrims are expected in Melbourne - which is a truly beautiful and very cosmopolitan city.  The CSI gang will be presenting on Thursday, July 10.

And then onto the really big show in Sydney and multiple presentations on Discernment and MIssion at the Youth Festival.  You can also meet members of the CSI team (OP and lay) at the big Dominican booth at the Vocations Expo, so be sure and stop by.

Clara has had some very cool bookmarks made up as give-aways for pilgrims featuring Pier Giorgia Frassati and Caroline Chishom.  The theme:  mission, vocation, and discernment as lay apostles.  Unfortunately, I'm not techie enough to post the PDF files here.  But here's a sample of the text:
Pier Giorgio Frassati

had a vocation

...he was not a priest,

...he was not a religious,

...he was not married.

When he was Baptised he

was called and gifted.

He responded to that call

and used those gifts to love

and serve God by loving and

serving those around him.

He died at age 24. The poor of

Turin flocked to his funeral.

He lived life to the full sharing

his material and spiritual wealth

with others.

The Siena Institute can help

you discern your Gifts and

your vocation.

Good stuff.  By the way, if you want to reach our Australian team, you can reach Clara by dropping her an e-line at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Personal Relationship With God and Making Disciples PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 30 June 2008 07:01
Radio interview done.  Liked Brian, the interviewer - he was very prepared and professional.
What was fascinating was to hear a bit of the station's promo - all about relationship with Christ!

This whole blog discussion of  "is personal relationship" with Christ Catholic?" has been revealing and fascinating and is going to go into our next Making Disciples seminar in Spokane which is coming up August 10 - 14.

If this topic has caught your attention and you would like to be trained to help others grow in their lived relationship with God, join us there.  There are significant discounts available for groups of 2 or more.

Clearing Head PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 30 June 2008 06:04
Radio interview this morning - Sacred Heart radio in Cincinnati  - 6:40 am my time!
Must make some tea and clear my head after the commotion last night.  Pippin the cat, strictly a house feline - 16 years old and still jumping - vanished last night.

I got up from a phone call with my sister to find out that the back door was mysteriously open and Pippin, apparently, out in the night with our local foxes and coyotes.  Much hue and cry for 45 minutes, looking everywhere.  And then she walked out from her hiding place as though nothing had happen.

Not enough sleep.  Must clear head.

interview topic:  the blog conversation last week on the Pew Religious Landscape survey and the whole idea of  "personal relationship" with God.

Pope Praises Work of Lay Evangelizers PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 27 June 2008 12:38

Written by Joe Waters

Zenit has an account of the Pope's comments when receiving the bishops of Honduras on their ad limina visit here.

The presence of lay evangelists and "delegates of the Word" is apparently very important in the life of the Church in many places in Latin America. However, with the influx of immigrants from Central and Latin America in this country we would do well to increasingly rely on their training and formation when they become members of our communities in the United States.

I have firsthand experience of the great value of the formation that many Latin Americans receive to proclaim the Word especially in catechetical settings from my time working at a small, rural parish in eastern North Carolina where we were very reliant upon their efforts within the Hispanic community. I worked with an 18 year old who had received some training and formation from his pastor in North Carolina and provided the Spanish language components of our multi-parish Confirmation retreat. He was by far one of the most effective preachers I have ever encountered. He held 90 other Confirmation candidates spellbound for over an hour as he preached on the power of Confirmation as a personal Pentecost. You could have heard a pin drop.

Prayer Request PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 27 June 2008 06:40
Last month, we asked you to pray for Bob and Linda Walker's son Robert who was in a terrible accident.  We just learned yesterday that he has died.  Your prayers for Robert and his family would again be greatly appreciated.
Catholicism: A "Relationship-Free" Faith? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 26 June 2008 17:34

It is always startling for me to listen to serious Catholics respond to the idea of "personal relationship with God" as has happened over at Mark's place today during a discussion of the Pew Forum study:

“I’d also note that having a “personal relationship with Jesus” is such a staple of evangelical rhetoric that many Catholics may be saying “no” as a way of saying that they don’t experience God in the same way that evangelicals say that they experience God. That is, Catholics meet the Lord in the Sacraments, in the liturgy of the community, etc., not just in private unstructured prayers.”

“Some Catholics might hear a reference to “personal God” and think it refers to an Evangelical understanding of Christian faith.   But overall it leaves me scratching my head. What the heck is meant by “personal,” anyway?”

“If I pray to God, isn’t that a sign of something personal? I am not praying to someone or something abstract. But I agree with sd that catholics are not taught culturally to think of that as a “personal relationship.” At least I know that I did not look on it that way. Much of the poll results could be attributed to linguistic tone deafness of a sort.”

To which I responded:


Re: “Personal” and “relationship”. As in relationships we have with others in our lives - family, friends, co-workers, etc.

What I found mystifying is how seemingly normal adult Catholics, all of whom have some experience of personal relationship or they would never have lived to grow up, suddenly freeze when the idea of relationship with God is proposed.

We all have some experience of relationship and we routinely talk about our relationships - with our parents, children, siblings, spouses, friends, etc.

Relationship is a extremely common topic here at CAEI. And I have yet to hear anyone here say:

“Just what do you mean by “personal relationship” with your spouse or your child or your friend?  Relationship is something that Protestants talk about. That’s not something Catholics do.”

As though a Protestant is another species or order of being and their relationships are so totally different from our own.

We are all human beings here with the same basic frailties and capacities for grace and response to God and there is only one God. It is absurd to talk as though Protestants and Catholics are from different planets in this matter or seeking to relate to a different God.

I’ve never read a saint who reacted that way when asked about their relationship with God. Most of them couldn’t shut up on the subject.

Marriage -one of the most intimate human relationships possible - is used as the great metaphor for every Christian’s relationship with God in the Scriptures and therefore, is part of the Catholic Tradition. And the foundation of the whole Theology of the Body.

Relationship is the crux of our whole understanding of heaven which is eternal life in the presence of and participating in the life of the Blessed Trinity. Even the Trinity as understood by historic Christianity is profoundly personal and relational. Relationship and self-giving are intrinsic to the very heart and nature of God.

God is profoundly personal and relational.  And so are human beings. When we were baptized, we were baptized into Jesus’ relationship with his Father. We became adopted sons and daughters of God and therefore, Jesus is now our brother as well as our Lord - an extremely intimate relationship.

Relationship - whether mediated and nourished by the liturgy and sacraments or not - is the heart of this whole drama we are all engaged in.

And I add here:

Pope Benedict began Deus Caritas Est with these words:

“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 Jn 4:16). These words from the First Letter of John express with remarkable clarity the heart of the Christian faith: the Christian image of God and the resulting image of mankind and its destiny. In the same verse, Saint John also offers a kind of summary of the Christian life: “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us”. We have come to believe in God’s love: in these words the Christian can express the fundamental decision of his life.

and further:

“A personal relationship with God and an abandonment to his will can prevent man from being demeaned and save him from falling prey to the teaching of fanaticism and terrorism...Even in their bewilderment and failure to understand the world around them, Christians continue to believe in the “goodness and loving kindness of God” (Tit 3:4). Immersed like everyone else in the dramatic complexity of historical events, they remain unshakably certain that God is our Father and loves us, even when his silence remains incomprehensible.”

As the Pope said to the young people of America:

“What matters most is that you develop your personal relationship with God. That relationship is expressed in prayer. God by his very nature speaks, hears, and replies. Indeed, Saint Paul reminds us: we can and should “pray constantly” (1 Thess 5:17). Far from turning in on ourselves or withdrawing from the ups and downs of life, by praying we turn towards God and through him to each other, including the marginalized and those following ways other than God’s path (cf. Spe Salvi, 33)….”

Catholicism is not a “relationship-free” faith.

If the idea of a “personal relationship with God” gives us pause or strikes us as foreign, we need to re-evaluate our own understanding of the faith, and more to the point, our own lived relationship with God.

Catholic Evangelization in the South PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 25 June 2008 16:53

Written by Joe Waters

On the whole, one of the great missed opportunties for Catholic evangelization, education, and charity in this country is the rural South. My parents just drew my attention to a recent article in USA Today that highlighted the continuing problems and shrinking populations in the 623 rural counties that make up the South's "Black Belt" ("named for the rich, dark topsoil that drew plantation owners to the region"). While there are some places in the South such as New Orleans, St Augustine, Mobile, and Charleston that have very historic Catholic populations dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries or earlier and others have heavy "immigrant" (read "Yankee") Catholic populations (i.e. the Triangle in North Carolina, most of Florida, and the exemplary "new South" cities such Atlanta, Charlotte, and Nashville), a great swath of the South has been recently left behind or ignored by the Catholic Church in the United States both in terms of evangelical initiatives and social apostolates.

Several months ago a good priest friend of mine in the diocese of Raleigh who is also an American church historian showed me a copy of the main Florida Catholic newspaper from 1943 or so that had an account of the annual meeting of the "Catholic Committee of the South" at which Mother Katharine Drexel spoke, no doubt about the need for evangelization and dynamic social apostolates in the states of the former Confederacy. It was very touching to read and a stark reminder of how much St Katharine and others were able to accomplish for the Catholic Church in the rural South and how little has been done since the 1960's.

The article in USA Today should remind us of the great economic and social needs that persist in the South, as well as the fact that most of the counties of the rural South still have dreadfully low Catholic populations and are not only underserved by the ordained, but have little in the way of lay apostolates, especially in the field of education. It is my conviction that the Catholic Church should be most actively present in those places where human need is greatest. Many look abroad to find those places, but few dedicate themselves to work in the home missions. The rural South has for the most part been left behind the rest of the country when it comes to education, however, even in light of this fact few Catholic schools can be found in those areas to provide a Catholic remedy the problem. When Catholics find human need they should not simply rely on the state to address the root problems of the needs, but should propose solutions themselves that are derived from the genius of Catholic pastoral wisdom and social doctrine. This article should remind us that we have plenty to do here in the rural parts of our own country, especially in the South, in Appalachia, and on the Great Plains, and it is the particular gift of the layman to make the sorts of contributions in secular fields that could turn those depressed regions of our country around for the better and bring to them the light of the Gospel and authentic human progress.

I would be very interested in hearing from anyone who has ideas or pastoral experience that may help those of us who are Southerners faithfully exercise our lay apostolate more effectively in our home region. In doing so, I hope we are able to give new, spiritual meaning to the phrase "the South will rise again!"

You may also wish to check out the book Saving the Heartland: Catholic Missionaries in Rural America, 1920-1960, by Jeffrey D. Marlett. (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2002.) which highlights the many evangelical and social efforts, including some funded or executed by St Katharine Drexel and her sisters, that Catholics undertook to bring Christ, his Gospel, and the genius of Catholic social doctrine to America's rural places.

Pew: Only 60% of Catholics Believe in a Personal God PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 25 June 2008 16:44
I spent yesterday and today crunching the numbers from Part II of the Pew Forum US Religious Landscape Survey and the results have been illuminating, especially in light of our work on our new seminar Making Disciples.

There is a lot that could be said but for right now, I'll begin by commenting on the most obvious and surprising results for Catholics.

I'll start with a real stunner.

Only 60% of self-described US adult Catholics can clearly affirm that they believe in a personal God with whom it is possible to have a relationship.

Nearly 30% of Catholics believe in an “impersonal force” rather than a personal God.

(The obvious follow-up question: "what percentage of this 40% who don't believe in a personal God are practicing Catholics?" doesn’t seem to have been asked.)

Sherry's response:

If a large minority of Catholics don’t believe in the possibility of a relationship with a personal God, I suspect that it is largely because they are not seeing this sort of relationship regularly modeled, talked about, and valued by their families, friends, and parishes.

This is one of the consequences of our “don’t ask, don’t tell” Catholic culture meshing with our “don’t’ ask, don’t tell” secular culture, creating a perfect “spiral of silence” not just about intentional discipleship but even about the mere possibility of relationship with a personal God.

No wonder talk of intentional discipleship seems so foreign and excessive to many Catholics across the spectrum.

In light of this it is fascinating to note that, according to the Pew study, 82% of Catholic believe in heaven. But obviously, many can not be thinking of heaven as a fruit of and the enjoyment of a relationship of union with God. Is it more like the Simpson's version of Catholic heaven complete with red wine and a cast of millions making like Riverdance? You know, Irish Catholic heaven as envisioned by Hollywood.

This begins to make sense of what we've noticed doing thousands of personal interviews: that nearly all Catholics believe everyone will go to heaven but many are extremely unclear as to what Jesus has to do with it. As Peter Kreeft has noted numerous times, he asked the students in every class he taught at Boston College (most were cradle Catholics) why they should go to heaven if they died tonight, and nearly every one over the years said "because I'm a good person." Hardly any student mentioned Jesus Christ.

But if your basic assumption is that you can't have a relationship with God, it makes perfect sense to envision enjoying heaven independent of relationship with God. - and equally perfect sense that the criteria for doing so becomes my essential goodness. If you don’t think of God as personal, what does relationship with God have to do with heaven or anything else? So much for the beatific vision.

Related to and flowing from this: only 22% of US Catholics turn to Church teaching to inform their moral decision-making, relying much more heavily (57%) upon “practical experience/common sense” which, of course, largely means relying upon what they see others do and say and value around them, i.e, our popular culture.

I'm sure that this isn't a surprise. But for a Church that rejoices in and identifies so strongly with a rich and sophisticated teaching Tradition, 22% seems really low. It is 30 points below the 52% of evangelicals who consult religious teaching when making their own moral decisions although they do not possess such a body of wisdom.

The result: culture trumps the Tradition for the vast majority of US Catholics. 

Not a surprise either, but related. 57% of Catholics never read the Scriptures outside the liturgy – and only 42% attend the liturgy every week. As opposed to the 60% of evangelicals who read Scripture every week).

The overall result: Catholics, as whole, are much less likely to have a solid basis for questioning and judging the norms of our popular culture and going against them when necessary. But the Apostolic Tradition will only becoming really compelling when one has a living relationship with the Source of the Tradition. And a large percentage of Catholics don’t even know that relationship is possible.

Of course, none of these numbers account for the huge number of baptized Catholics who now regard themselves as evangelical and would have answered the survey accordingly.

Here's something I didn't expect:

The biggest attendance generation gap for all US religious groups studied is among Catholics. 62% of those 65 and older attend Mass at least once a week while only 34% of Catholics under 30 do so, a 28 point difference. Only 36% of  Catholics in their 30’s and 40’s attend Mass each week, a 26 point difference.

The Pew study makes it clear:

This is a situation unique to Catholics and which we cannot project as a whole on the millennial/Gen X generations. (For instance, 54% of under 30 evangelicals and 57% of 30 and 40 something evangelicals attend church every week as opposed to 65% of those 65 and above. 11 and 8 point differences.)

And the final irony which makes perfect sense in light of all the above:
In the US, Catholics are actually less likely to talk about their faith or view of God with someone else than is an atheist. (62% of Catholics say they never share their faith or talk about God with others, while only 61% of atheists say that.)
You have heard it here before.
God has no grandchildren.  It's time to ask what men and women's journey with God has actually been like.  It's time to really listen.  And it's time to tell the Story.
Because huge numbers of Catholics have never, never heard it.
There are some really striking and hopeful stats regarding atheists, agnostics and those who claim no religious affiliation of any kind.  But that is for another post.

Pope's Homily at Eucharistic Congress PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 24 June 2008 10:36

Written by Joe Waters

The Pope's homily from the International Eucharistic Congress has been translated by Zenit and full-text is now available here. He touched on a number of interesting topics, several of which have been discussed on this blog in the past. I have also linked to information about the Canadian saints and beati that he mentioned in the homily.

It is, therefore, particularly important that pastors and faithful dedicate themselves permanently to furthering their knowledge of this great sacrament. Each one will thus be able to affirm his faith and fulfill ever better his mission in the Church and in the world, recalling that there is a fruitfulness of the Eucharist in his personal life, in the life of the Church and of the world. The Spirit of truth gives witness in your hearts; you also must give witness to Christ before men, as the antiphon states in the alleluia of this Mass. Participation in the Eucharist, then, does not distance us from our contemporaries; on the contrary, because it is the expression par excellence of the love of God, it calls us to be involved with all our brothers to address the present challenges and to make the planet a place where it is good to live.

To accomplish this, it is necessary to struggle ceaselessly so that every person will be respected from his conception until his natural death; that our rich societies welcome the poorest and allow them their dignity; that all persons be able to find nourishment and enable their families to live; that peace and justice may shine in all continents. These are some of the challenges that must mobilize all our contemporaries and for which Christians must draw their strength in the Eucharistic mystery.

Reception of the Eucharist, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament -- by this we mean deepening our communion, preparing for it and prolonging it -- is also about allowing ourselves to enter into communion with Christ, and through him with the whole of the Trinity, so as to become what we receive and to live in communion with the Church. It is by receiving the Body of Christ that we receive the strength "of unity with God and with one another" (Saint Cyril of Alexandria, In Ioannis Evangelium, 11:11; cf. Saint Augustine, Sermo 577).

We must never forget that the Church is built around Christ and that, as Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Albert the Great have all said, following Saint Paul (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:17), the Eucharist is the sacrament of the Church's unity, because we all form one single body of which the Lord is the head. We must go back again and again to the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, where we were given a pledge of the mystery of our redemption on the Cross. The Last Supper is the locus of the nascent Church, the womb containing the Church of every age. In the Eucharist, Christ's sacrifice is constantly renewed, Pentecost is constantly renewed. May all of you become ever more deeply aware of the importance of the Sunday Eucharist, because Sunday, the first day of the week, is the day when we honor Christ, the day when we receive the strength to live each day the gift of God.

I would also like to invite the pastors and faithful to a renewed care in their preparation for reception of the Eucharist. Despite our weakness and our sin, Christ wills to make his dwelling in us, asking him for healing. To bring this about, we must do everything that is in our power to receive him with a pure heart, ceaselessly rediscovering, through the sacrament of penance, the purity that sin has stained, "putting our soul and our voice in accord," according to the invitation of the Council (cf. "Sacrosanctum Concilium," No.11). In fact, sin, especially grave sin, is opposed to the action of Eucharistic grace in us. However, those who cannot go to communion because of their situation, will find nevertheless in a communion of desire and in participation in the Mass saving strength and efficacy.

The Eucharist had an altogether special place in the lives of saints. Let us thank God for the history of holiness of Quebec and Canada, which contributed to the missionary life of the Church. Your country honors especially its Canadian martyrs, Jean de Brebeuf, Isaac Jogues and their companions, who were able to give up their lives for Christ, thus uniting themselves to his sacrifice on the Cross. They belong to the generation of men and women who founded and developed the Church of Canada, with Marguerite Bourgeoys, Marguerite d'Youville, Marie of the Incarnation, Marie-Catherine of Saint Augustine, Mgr Francis of Laval, founder of the first diocese in North America, Dina Belanger and Kateri Tekakwitha. Put yourselves in their school; like them, be without fear; God accompanies you and protects you; make of each day an offering to the glory of God the Father and take your part in the building of the world, remembering with pride your religious heritage and its social and cultural brilliance, and taking care to spread around you the moral and spiritual values that come to us from the Lord.

The Eucharist is not a meal among friends. It is a mystery of covenant. "The prayers and the rites of the Eucharistic sacrifice make the whole history of salvation revive ceaselessly before the eyes of our soul, in the course of the liturgical cycle, and make us penetrate ever more its significance" (Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, [Edith Stein], Wege zur inneren Stille Aschaffenburg, 1987, p. 67). We are called to enter into this mystery of covenant by conforming our life increasingly every day to the gift received in the Eucharist. It has a sacred character, as Vatican Council II reminds: "Every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of His Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others; no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree " ("Sacrosanctum Concilium," No. 7). In a certain way, it is a "heavenly liturgy," anticipation of the banquet in the eternal Kingdom, proclaiming the death and resurrection of Christ, until he comes (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:26)...

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