Montreal, Canada, Nov 11, 2012 (CNA) - Canadians from the country’s First Nations and those of European descent took an important step toward reconciliation when they gathered Nov. 4 at St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal to give thanks for the canonization of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha.
“I think the grace of the canonization for the natives, as well as for the other people in Canada, is a grace of reconciliation,” Bishop Lionel Gendron of the Diocese of Saint Jean-Longueuil told CNA on Nov. 7.
Bishop Gendron was the main celebrant and homilist for the Mass that drew 2,500 people to the Oratory, and he was “impressed by the presence of the native people from all over Canada.”
“I thought the participation would be mainly from the Mohawk nation,” he said, “but I've seen people coming from British Columbia, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia.”
Several more Canadian bishops concelebrated the Mass, among them were Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau; Archbishop Christian Lepine of Montreal; Bishop Jacques Berthelet, emeritus of Saint Jean-Longueuil; and Bishop Louis Dicaire, auxiliary of Saint Jean-Longueuil.
In addition, representatives from the First Nations of Canada, the Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council, and Kahnawake – the Canadian community where St. Kateri settled – participated in the Mass.
“As with Saint Kateri, let us be guided in all events by the Spirit … so that our lives may become a love story with Jesus,” Bishop Gendron said in his homily.
Bishop Gendron said the canonization was an important step in the process of reconciliation between the First Nations of Canada and Canadians of European descent.
“I would say that we've been on a path of curing the past, and trying to walk towards reconciliation. And often, I would say many Canadians, or Quebecers, or the people of the diocese here are not quite aware of that. And I would say the Natives are very sensitive to these questions.”
“My impression, in all I've seen in the last weeks, is that we are becoming more aware that we have something to do. We have to walk towards one another and to walk together towards reconciliation.”
St. Kateri was canonized Oct. 21 by Pope Benedict at St. Peter's Square, along with six other people. Some 1,500 Canadian pilgrims traveled to Rome for the Mass of canonization.
St. Kateri was born in upstate New York in 1656. Her father was a Mohawk chief, and her mother was an Algonquin who was raised Catholic. She was orphaned at age four by a smallpox epidemic that left her with poor eyesight and a badly scarred face.
After encountering several Jesuit priests, St. Kateri was baptized, despite objections from her family. Her conversion caused her tribe to disown her, so St. Kateri fled to Canada, where she devoted herself to prayer and the Blessed Sacrament.
She died in 1680 at Kahnawake, a Mohawk settlement south of Montreal. She died saying “Jesus, I love you.” After she passed away, her face was healed of its pockmarks. Her relics are located in a shrine at Kahnawake.
“Her face became radiant, and often it has been interpreted as her face would have found its original beauty. I think we Canadians and Quebecers, and also the First Nations, we all come with scars,” Bishop Gendron reflected.
“I think that in the love of Jesus, as St. Kateri was, and through the intercession of Kateri, these scars may be cured. So this is my hope in these days, and I'm trying as bishop of Saint Jean-Longueuil to share this hope with my people, with the Mohawks here in the diocese, as well as those who do not belong to the First Nations.”
Denver, Colo., Nov 11, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
On Nov. 16 the Catholic Church celebrates the memory of a distinguished medieval nun and writer in the Benedictine monastic tradition, Saint Gertrude of Helfta, better known as “St. Gertrude the Great.”
One of the most esteemed woman saints of the Christian West, she was a notable early devotee of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
“She was an exceptional woman, endowed with special natural talents and extraordinary gifts of grace, the most profound humility and ardent zeal for her neighbor's salvation,” Pope Benedict XVI said of St. Gertrude in an October 2010 general audience.
“She was in close communion with God both in contemplation and in her readiness to go to the help of those in need.”
Born in Germany on Jan. 6, 1256, Gertrude was sent at age 5 to a monastery in Helfta, to receive her education and religious formation. Under the leadership of the abbess Gertrude of Hackeborn, the monastery was highly regarded for its spiritual and intellectual vitality. The young Gertrude’s teacher, later canonized in her own right, was the abbess’ sister Saint Matilda of Hackeborn.
A gifted student with a great thirst for knowledge, Gertrude excelled in her study of the arts and sciences of her day, while living according to her community’s strict practice of the Rule of Saint Benedict. By her own account, however, something seems to have been lacking in Gertrude’s personal devotion, which suffered due to her overemphasis of intellectual and cultural pursuits.
A change in her priorities began near the end of the year 1280, in the season of Advent. Gertrude was 24 and had greatly distinguished herself in many fields of study. But her accomplishments began to seem meaningless, as she considered the true meaning and goal of her monastic vocation. Anxious and depressed, Gertrude felt she had built a “tower of vanity and curiosity” rather than seeking to love God above all things and live in union with him.
In January of the following year, she experienced a vision of Christ, hearing him declare: “I have come to comfort you and bring you salvation.” During 1281, her priorities shifted dramatically, away from secular knowledge and toward the study of Scripture and theology. Gertrude devoted herself strongly to personal prayer and meditation, and began writing spiritual treatises for the benefit of her monastic sisters.
Understanding the love of Christ as the supreme and fundamental reality, Gertrude communicated this truth in her writings and strove to live in accordance with it. Though acutely aware of her own persistent faults, she also came to understand the depths of God’s mercy. She accepted the illness and pain of her final years in a spirit of personal sacrifice, while recalling the goodness of God that had transformed her life.
St. Gertrude the Great died on Nov. 16, though it is not known whether this was in the year 1301 or 1302. While some of her written works were lost, others survive: “The Herald of Divine Love,” “The Life and Revelations,” and St. Gertrude’s “Spiritual Exercises.”
Vatican City, Nov 11, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - In his Nov. 11 Angelus address, Pope Benedict XVI reflected on Sunday’s Mass readings featuring two poor widows who provide timeless models of faith and charity.
“In today’s Gospel, the poor widow gives everything she possesses to the Temple,” the Pope said, as he addressed the crowd from the papal apartments overlooking a rainy St. Peter’s Square.
“May her unconditional offering inspire us to rely on God alone, while attributing to everything else its due place and proper worth,” he said.
In that Gospel reading from Mark 12:38-44, the poor widow’s generosity at the Temple collection is contrasted with the great offerings of the rich. Whereas the rich gave from their excess, the widow gave from her poverty.
“In truth I tell you, this poor widow has put more in than all who have contributed to the treasury,” Christ told his disciples.
As for the those scribes who took pride of place in the Temple and loved being shown respect and admiration, Christ’s condemnation of them is a condemnation of the piously proud of today, too.
“These are the men who devour the property of widows and for show offer long prayers,” Christ told his disciples. “The more severe will be the sentence they receive.”
The Gospel reading was complimented in theme and teaching with the First Reading from the Book of Kings, which recounted the Prophet Elijah’s visit to the home of a widow and son in a land stricken with drought and laden with despair.
Though they had only enough flour and oil to make one cake and then die, the widow provided food for Elijah and her jar of oil and supply of flour were forever replenished afterward.
These two readings, said the Holy Father, provide examples in faith and charity that the faithful ought to model themselves after. They are especially relevant during this Year of Faith, which the Holy Father proclaimed last month.
After the Angelus the Pope extended his greetings to different peoples. He drew the attention of English-speakers, especially the large group of Filipinos, to the Gospel reading, commonly known as the “parable of the talents.”
“Jesus invites us to reflect with gratitude on the gifts we have received and to use them wisely for the growth of God’s Kingdom,” the Pope told the cheering crowd, by now getting wet with rain.
“May his words summon us to an ever deeper conversion of mind and heart,” he said, “and a more effective solidarity in the service of all our brothers and sisters.”
Glad to be there, but not so comfortable with the rain, was a group of pilgrims from the United States.
Fr. Patrick Dolan, pastor of the Church of the Most Precious Blood in Denver, was leading 48 of his parishioners on pilgrimage to the Holy Land and Italy.
“Their chance to see the Pope as a sign of our unity of faith, and to be here in St. Peter’s Square and share that energizing spirit with Catholics from around the world, gives a vision of the Church that really lifts us out of our own culture,” said Fr. Dolan, who had spent six years in Rome as a seminarian.
“There’s a temptation toward provincialism in the Church back in America. This Angelus address shows us all that the Church is more than just the neighborhood parish.”
Parishoner-pilgrims Cathy and Tom Calhoun were happy to have received the papal blessing after the Angelus, bestowed upon them as well as the religious items they brought.
“We brought some rosaries to be blessed, including two for our grandsons,” Mrs. Calhoun said as gray skies poured clear rain. “We hope that they will give them guidance as they grow in faith.”