Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
December 21, 2009
Encounter with Jesus should show in our lives, says Collins
Former Edmonton archbishop returns for Nothing More Beautiful
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON - Christians not only know about Jesus, they have encountered him and that encounter makes a visible difference in their lives, says a former archbishop of Edmonton.
"It is not knowledge of Christian doctrine, but total allegiance to the Lord Jesus that marks each of us as a Christian," Archbishop Thomas Collins said Dec. 10 at the second Nothing More Beautiful session of 2009-10.
"The basic thing about being a Christian is that a person has encountered Jesus and it shows," he said.
Collins gave his first talk in Edmonton since leaving the archdiocese to become archbishop of Toronto almost three years ago. It was also his first return visit to the archdiocese since the installation of his successor, Archbishop Richard Smith, in May 2007.
"It is indeed a great joy to be back here in Edmonton which for many years was my home and which will always be in my heart," he said prior to his talk.
Collins shared the spotlight at Nothing More Beautiful with Sister Agnes Mary Donovan, superior general of the Sisters of Life, a New York-based community of consecrated women dedicated to protecting the sacredness of human life.
The theme of the evening at St. Joseph's Basilica was Jesus Christ: The Way, Truth and Life. Nothing More Beautiful is a five-year program of catechesis and evangelization for the faithful. Each event is centred around a celebration of Evening Prayer.
Collins said our answer to Jesus' question, "Who do you say that I am?" defines the life of the Christian.
DISTRACTIONS OF LIFE
St. Peter gave the right answer to that question, but later denied Jesus when his fears overcame him. "So often we do the same. So many things get in the way. So many things clutter our lives and distract us."
That's why Jesus gave the sacrament of Reconciliation as "his first Easter gift," the archbishop said. "He always invites us to come back and showers us with his mercy."
Collins cited the late Msgr. Bill Irwin, founder of Catholic Social Services, as one who saw Christ in "the least of our brothers and sisters" and took action.
Irwin knew that "in helping them in practical ways we are offering our love to Christ," he said.
Donovan spoke to the congregation about her religious order that was founded by the late Cardinal John O'Connor of New York.
O'Connor made a retreat at the Dachau concentration camp in the 1980s where thousands of Jews and others were murdered during the Second World War.
Pierced to his heart, he cried out to God, asking how people could do this to one another, Donovan said.
"In an instant the reality that each human person is a unique, unrepeatable divine creation made in the image and likeness of God was profoundly and newly impressed upon his soul. It was an instant that gave birth to the charism of life."
He vowed to do all he could to protect and enhance the sacredness of vulnerable human life, preaching from the pulpit and becoming the visible Church leader defending human life, she related.
As well, in 1991, he founded the Sisters of Life, an order which now has 70 members and has expanded to Toronto and Connecticut.
(The full text of Archbishop Collins' talk is on Pages 14-17 of this issue and Mother Agnes Mary's talk will be published in next week's WCR.)
(The Dec. 10 Nothing More Beautiful will be televised on Salt + Light TV on Dec. 19 [7 and 10:30 p.m.], Dec. 20 [11:30 a.m.] and Dec. 21 [6 p.m.].)
The next in the series of Nothing More Beautiful evenings will be held Feb. 4 at 7 p.m., at St. Joseph's Basilica. Speakers Bishop Gary Gordon of Whitehorse and Sister Annata Brockman of Edmonton will address the theme Jesus Christ: Lamb of God and Bread of Life.
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