Monday, April 20, 2015

Prime Minister Harper stands with Pope Francis re. the Armenian Genocide

One of many ruined Armenian churches
A Statement from Prime Minister Harper on Day of Commemoration of Armenian Genocide

. . .  the Armenian people experienced terrible suffering and loss of life. In recent years the Senate of Canada adopted a motion acknowledging this period as “the first genocide of the twentieth century,” while the House of Commons adopted a motion that “acknowledges the Armenian genocide of 1915 and condemns this act as a crime against humanity.” My party and I supported those resolutions and continue to recognize them today.

We must never forget the lessons of history, nor should we allow the enmities of history to divide us. The freedom, democracy, and human rights enjoyed by all Canadians are rooted in our mutual respect for one another.

I join with you today in remembering the past and I encourage you to continue honouring your forefathers by building a bright future for all Canadians.

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada

Visit from the Primate of the US Armenian Apostolic Church

Armenian Apostolic priests being ordained.

As Christians around the world face persecution and death for their faith in the Prince of Peace it is important to recall the genocide 100 years ago in the same region that is generating ISIS terrorism.

Official records tell us that 23 countries now accept the authenticity of the Armenian genocide, including Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay, Vatican City, and Venezuela.

Thirty-nine of 50 U.S. states also recognize the genocide but as yet there is no official federal recognition even though Obama spoke of the genocide before he was elected President.

Along with the USA and the U.K. other leading nations still have not spoken out strongly on this matter of history with implications for the present day.
In 2012 Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan arrived in Moscow to attend the consecration of the Cathedral of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the opening ceremony of the Cultural Cathedral Complex in Moscow.  The Cathedral of the complex is the biggest structure of the Armenian Apostolic Church outside Armenia.The Cultural Cathedral Complex of the Russian and New Nakhijevan Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church has been built with donations of Russia-based Armenian and Russian sponsors. The complex of a total area of 25,000 square meters includes the Cathedral for 1,000 worshippers, a chapel, and the residence of the diocesan primate, an educational center, a museum-treasury, and an underground parking lot for 200 cars.  The land plot for construction of the complex was allotted by the Moscow government in 1996.  The complex was designed by architect Artak Ghulyan. 

Third Sunday of Easter — “. . . everything written about [Jesus] in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Luke 24: 47

The road to Emmaus is our road, our journey. At every Eucharist, as at Emmaus, Christ is there to accompany us on our journey.

The Emmaus event gives us an insight into the faith of the early Christian community about the resurrection of Jesus. No one was physically present to witness the very moment of the resurrection. Astoundingly, the early Christians do not question this event.

What accounts for the early Christians and their unswerving faith in the resurrection of Jesus. This was not only just because the Apostles witnessed to their experience of the empty tomb, or the many appearances of Jesus that followed. It is also because of the power of signs, most especially the sacramental sign of the Eucharist, which communicates daily the reality of the resurrection.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches the disciples on the road, interpreting the Scriptures. He tells them that the Scriptures of the Old Testament refer to him. He shows them that all the promises found in the Old Testament have been fulfilled in the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

These Scriptures foretell the mission of the Church – to bring the message of redemption to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

In the First Reading and Epistle, we see the beginnings of that mission.  We see the apostles interpreting the Scriptures as Jesus taught them to. God has brought to fulfillment what He announced beforehand in all the prophets. Peter’s homily  is full of images and symbols from the Old Testament. He evokes Moses and the exodus of the Israelites. In this action God is revealed as the ancestral God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exodus 3:6,15).

Peter identifies Jesus as Isaiah’s suffering servant who has been glorified (Isaiah 52:13). St. John recounts how Israel’s priests offered blood sacrifices to atone for the people’s sins. He says that Jesus intercedes for us before God (Romans 8:34), and that the offering of his blood is the sacrificial atonement for the sins of the whole world (1 John 1:7).

In all three readings, the Scriptures are interpreted to advance the Church’s mission to all people. They reveal the truth about who Jesus is, and bring people to repentance, and into the sphere of God’s redeeming love.

This is how we should hear the Scriptures. Not to know more “about” Jesus, but to truly know Christ personally, and to know be drawn into relationship with him through our lives.

In the Scriptures, the light of His face shines upon us, as we sing in today’s Psalm. We know the wonders He has done throughout history. And we have the confidence to call to Him, and to know that He hears and answers.

It is at Emmaus that we see the Eucharist—the “breaking of the bread” as it was called in the early Church—become the sign, par excellence, communicating the resurrection of Jesus. For, even though Jesus walked the long road to Emmaus with the disciples, and even though their hearts burned within them as Jesus preached and taught them about the recent events that occurred in Jerusalem, it was only at the “breaking of the bread” (in the celebrating of the Eucharist) that their eyes were opened to faith, and they recognized Jesus’ presence.

As it was for these early disciples in the Christian community, it is for us today. The celebration of the Mass gives us the opportunity to walk alongside Jesus, and each other, to be instructed and go into the deeper meaning of our faith. Our hearts may burn within us, during the proclamation of the Word of God. This prepares us not to experience the Eucharistic Prayer and then Holy Communion with the risen Lord. In this process the grace of the Sacrament effects what it signifies — the real presence of the crucified and risen Christ. We sense the presence of the risen Lord, in a way seeing Jesus and, understanding that he instructs but also communicates with us in the Eucharist.

The Mass, then, is the sign of God’s actual presence with us, a sign that conveys the mysteries of our salvation, and God’s love for us. It is also the sign that mysteriously works within us, the faith that affects our senses, so that we see in the Eucharist a meaning and reality that goes beyond our first perceptions. Therefore, we are elevated to the realm of the beautiful and transcendent glory of the Resurrected One.

This encounter changes our lives and strengthens our resolve by giving power to the faith we heard proclaimed and preached — which burned in our hearts. Now we follow Christ with conviction as the Eucharist shows us his presence alongside of us for the journey.

Jesus fulfills “everything written about [him] in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

Readings:  Acts 3: 13-15, 17-19;  Ps. 4: 2, 4, 7-8, 9;  I John 2: 1-5a;  Luke 24: 35-48

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Video of Ordinariate Solemn Mass with Cardinal Collins

Here is the complete video of the Pontifical Mass celebrated for Divine Mercy Sunday, April 12 with Thomas Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto with St. Thomas More Quasi-Parish, Toronto, Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter

Video of Pontifical Mass with Cardinal Collins - April 12, 2015

Monday, April 13, 2015

Cardinal Collins celebrates Pontifical Solemn Mass at STM, Toronto

Vested in traditional chasuble over dalmatic, Cardinal Collins along with deacon, subdeacon and assisting priest presided and preached at STM on Divine Mercy Sunday, 2015.  

The parish choir and STM choristers (children's choir) sang the Mass of St. Thomas More, written for the parish by Matthew Larkin, the noted organist, choir director and composer from Ottawa.

Over 100 people gathered at S-C, 381 Sherbourne and a lovely Easter Reception followed.
Pictured l - r are: Fr. John Hodgins, STM administrator, H.E. Thomas Cardinal Collins, Sylvester Tan S.J. (to be ordained deacon later this year), Fr. Jason Catania, administrator of St. Edmund POCSP, Kitchener.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter Sunday April 5, 2015

“I shall not die but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord.”  Psalm 118

Christ is Risen indeed, Alleluia.  The tomb where Jesus had been laid was empty and in the early morning twilight of that first Easter there was confusion.  The disciples, including Mary Magdalene, came to the tomb in the early morning light which sat on the horizon.

What they saw, however, was not death but the dawning of a new horizon. Not at first comprehended in the magnitude of the event, they began to see in the light of the resurrection a new horizon for all humanity.

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead shed a new light on our human existence and continues to forge the dignity of each human. 

No longer are we bound by finite realities. Christ has brought human life within the divine life of God. Our life in Christ, then, has an endless and brilliant horizon, accomplished through the gift of eternal life given to us by Jesus Christ in our Baptism. 

So it is that we began the Easter liturgy today by affirming our profession of baptismal faith and the rite of sprinkling the holy people of God with holy water.

In Baptism, we are born into the resurrected life of Jesus Christ, a life that knows no finite boundaries. Death has no final hold on us.  The culture of death as we see it in the world today represented by the abortion lobby, assisted suicide activism or jihadist death cults wreaking havoc in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Kenya and across the planet cannot overcome the radiant hope and the love of Jesus’ resurrection, a hope that is offered to all equally without coercion, intimidation or terror. 

Yes, we all still die physically, but that is not the final word from the Creator. Our bodies and souls will be re-united when resurrected to the glory that we see already in Jesus, the firstborn of the dead. 

Our lives are now “hidden with Christ in God,” as today’s Epistle says. Like those first disciples, we gather in the morning on the first day of the week - to celebrate the Eucharist, the feast of the empty tomb and of our new horizon of hope.

With this faith, we come to find that the urgencies and anxieties that death can put upon our desire for life come to fade as we increasingly come to see that we have a horizon stretching forever.

Sin loses its appeal and power in light of this new horizon. Sins’ allure makes us believe that it can fulfill our needs here and now, and that there will be no greater opportunity to be fulfilled in the future. 

The resurrection of Jesus shows us the folly of  temptation. Sin’s false logic unravels in the face of eternity. The resurrection shows us the opportunity for an endless future of glory and fulfillment. The new horizon of life affirms that the present is much more than the only opportunity to satiate our desires. There is a majestic glory on the horizon for all who persevere in Christ Jesus. With faith we put our hope in a future filled with all the love one could ever desire.

St. John Chrysostom invites us in his Easter Homily:
“Come you all: enter into the joy of your Lord. You the first and you the last, receive alike your reward; you rich and you poor, dance together; you sober and you weaklings, celebrate the day; you who have kept the fast and you who have not, rejoice today. The table is richly loaded: enjoy its royal banquet. The calf is a fatted one: let no one go away hungry. All of you enjoy the banquet of faith; all of you receive the riches of his goodness. Let no one grieve over his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed; let no one weep over his sins, for pardon has shone from the grave; let no one fear death, for the death of our Saviour has set us free . . . “

The resurrection gives us our freedom to decide the direction of our life; to look to the new horizon of life unencumbered by the insidious snares of the devil. The death of Christ and his resurrection along with all those who have died in Christian hope — bestows an ineffable dignity on our liberty. 

What do we use our freedom for, a freedom that was purchased at such a great price?

The resurrection of Christ is the great light on the horizon to guide us in freedom. It gradually reveals to us the glory that awaits when we use our freedom to embrace his life, unintimidated by the culture of death or by the fading allure of the material world. His  resurrection is the light that leads to the endless glory of a resplendent beauty.

The glory of Easter is both a present and a future glory. It calls us to look for fulfillment, to use our freedom to choose the greatest good— a good that lies not in fear of any earthly power or temptation, but in a beauty that can only be attained through patience and hope. 

Easter is freedom for now and for an endless tomorrow. It is, therefore, as Easter people—by virtue of our Baptism, and nourished in the sacred food of the Eucharist—that we journey and live, not only to serve God today, but for the horizon of beauty that awaits us.

Today, we rejoice that the stones have been rolled away from our tombs, too. Each of us proclaims, as we hear in today’s Psalm:

“I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord.”

Acts 10: 34a, 37-43
Ps. 118: 1-2, 16-17, 22-23 
Colossians 3: 1-4
John 20: 1-9

Friday, April 3, 2015

GOOD FRIDAY 2015 - Homily: STM Toronto

“And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from top to bottom.”  Mark 15:38

The veil that separates the created world from the transcendent Creator has been rent, torn by the death of Jesus Christ. Though we cannot, in this world, comprehend the vast reality of the Creator who is apart from and above the created order, we have, in the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, a demonstration of the heart of God: God’s demonstrated love for humanity. The veil that has separated us is removed, but at a great and eternal cost. 

So long as we live here as creatures in this world, there is a separation between the Holy of Holies and the world as we experience it, between the transcendent Creator and the creature.  There is a profound distinction but also a merciful connection thanks to the grace and love of God.

A similar distinction and connection exists between the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross and our lives. We cannot achieve on our own what Jesus has in his self-offering but we can be connected to his sacrifice thanks to the grace and love which he provides through his one, perfect and sufficient Sacrifice, the sacrifice that he has made and in which we participate most particularly and profoundly by sharing in the Holy Communion of his body and blood as we do today in the Mass of the Pre-sanctified.

In order to cross the threshold of the veil, we must embrace the Sacrifice of Christ freely given for us on the Cross. In order to cross that threshold beyond which we may be given the vision of God, we must accept the awful reality of the suffering and death of our Saviour. Crossing that threshold is our purpose and the goal of our life as human beings created in the image of God, but separated by sin and death.

The existence of God is what has been called a “demonstrated unknowablity” in the words of Fr. P. Cleevely in the Chesterton debate in 2014.  Because we are mortal creatures there is a sense in which we see the reality of God, as St. Paul put it, “as through a glass, darkly”,  The glass or mirror is an analogy with the early mirrors used at the time of the Roman Empire which were polished brass giving very limited reflections of objects.

St. Paul goes on, “but then we shall see. . .  (that is once we cross through the veil, across the threshold,) we shall see face to face”, that is by virtue of the Sacrifice of Jesus for us; by virtue of the fact that he has torn the veil of separation for us to enter into the nearer presence and the vision of God.

The cost of the sacrifice that Jesus made is immeasurable by human standards; it has cosmic and eternal dimensions. The removal of the veil by the sacrifice of Christ is the very axis of time and eternity, of history and of meaning.

In his addresses about the Power of God: given on Good Friday in 1951, Dom Gregory Dix, a Monk of Nashdom Abbey in England, described the sacrifice of Jesus in the following words.  He describes the depth of the horror and awe of the sacrifice Jesus made for us to rend the veil. 

[See previous post for the Dix Quotation.]

And so today, on this Good Friday, at the axis of time and eternity, we give thanks for Jesus, the one who has gone before us, through the veil, and who offers us the way, the way to cross the threshold of hope into the vision of God.

“And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from top to bottom.”