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What a refreshing synod of bishops! Say what you want about the final report adopted – at least in large part – by the bishops in Rome, this synod has ushered in a huge culture change at the highest levels of the Church. When Pope Francis decided to make the synod's final report public, along with the vote totals for each paragraph in the document, it brought a level of transparency never before seen. For too long and in too many ways, the Church has been tight with information because of the supposed fear of scandalizing the faithful. Oh, how ever would people react if they saw that bishops and other Church leaders sometimes disagreed over substantive issues! Indeed, the real scandal was that episcopal deliberations had to be held under lock and key with only sanitized communiques issued at the conclusion.
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During the Oct. 22 lockdown in Ottawa following the murder of armed forces reservist Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and the subsequent killing of Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a reporter for a national media outlet wrote that Canada will never again be the same. One can appreciate the fear and anxiety a person would experience in such a situation without granting that our nation is forever altered. There will, no doubt, be greater security on Parliament Hill, a result of the increasingly dangerous times in which we live. Yet, the strength of a nation will be found not in kneejerk responses to lunatics who – even if they are politically or religiously motivated – cause death and mayhem. Our strength is found in re-emphasizing our commitment to peace and freedom, building more intercultural dialogue and understanding, and renewing Canada's spiritual fabric.
One unfortunate fallout of the extensive media coverage of the bishops' synod on the family is that it plays into the widespread perception that the only societal issues with which the Catholic Church is concerned are those dealing with human life, the family and sex. Of course, the Church is and ought to be vitally concerned with those issues, but there are many others as well. Coincidentally, the end of the synod fell next to a Sunday when the Gospel reading included Jesus' much-abused statement, "Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's" (Matthew 22.21). The statement is misunderstood when it is used to assert that the Church should not concern itself with political matters.
It's not only love that makes the world go round. Resentment too is prominent in stirring the drink. In so many ways, our world is drowning in resentment. Everywhere you look, it seems, someone is bitter about something and breathing out resentment. What is resentment? Why is this feeling so prevalent in our lives? How do we move beyond it? Soren Kierkegaard once defined resentment this way. Resentment, he suggested, happens when we move from the happy feeling of admiration to the unhappy feeling of jealousy. This, sadly, happens all too frequently in our lives and we are dangerously blind to its occurrence. Me resentful? How dare you make that accusation!
The flight map showed our plane flying directly over Westport, a town in County Mayo on the west coast of Ireland. In 1842, my great-grandfather Michael Roche sailed with his bride Ann Keenan from Westport to the "new world" in a wretched trip that took six weeks to reach Quebec City. Now, here I was in the comfort of a jetliner streaking through the skies at 800 kilometres an hour with the comfort of home only a few hours away. I have always been grateful to my great-grandfather for his courage. The early stages of the potato famine had struck Ireland and life was undoubtedly hard, but it must have taken enormous determination to set out across the Atlantic Ocean to build a new life.
Night comes sooner. Mornings later. Halloween is just past. That's usually when it's the first time we light a candle in the fall. Fat, juicy pumpkins are hollowed out, the seeds spread under the trees for the birds and then a jolly face carved in the front. A thick white candle is lit, a few drops dripped down to the inside base to give needed support. The flame is blown out, and the candle is placed inside the grinning lantern. At dusk, the candle is lit. (Wooden matches are safest.)
The huge Lateran Basilica whose anniversary of dedication we celebrate this Sunday has a long, interesting history. bA nice villa once stood there. Then, beginning in the second century, the land housed the barracks of the imper-ial cavalry bodyguard. The end of the third century and start of the fourth saw the most cruel and massive persecutions of Christians ever. Hundreds of thousands died in horrible ways because they refused to renounce Jesus. The Church seemed to be dying.
Talents. We all have them. Some are used, some undeveloped, some buried completely. The parable of the talents reminds us we are here for a purpose. Are we living the mission we are created to live? Are we using our talents to shine the light of Christ in our world today? All of us have probably wondered if the life we are living is the one we are destined to live. We question God and question ourselves.
Environmental concerns have been very much in the news over the past weeks. Last month, on the occasion of the UN Summit Climate, more than 300,000 people marched together in New York to support a call for effective and timely action on climate change. There is a strong sense of urgency. Unless major changes are made in current governmental policies, practices and commitments, it is almost certain that global warming will exceed two degrees C by 2100, the generally accepted limit by scientific and government authorities around the world. National leaders came from around the world to speak, with our prime minister being a notable exception.