May 16, 2011


Archbishop Richard Smith aided by Fr. Paul Kavanagh, blessed the new icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe at a side altar of St. Joseph Basilica during the May 5 Nothing More Beautiful. The discoloration in the photo is caused by the TV Lights.


Too many Christians are willing “to point the accusing finger” at the Church without realizing that they cannot have Christ without the Church, said the preacher of the papal household.

“The children criticize their mother for being full of wrinkles, not realizing that they themselves are the cause of those wrinkles,” Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa said May 5.

Too many say, “The Church is wrong about this, the Church is wrong about that; the Church should say . . .; the Church should do . . . ,” Cantalamessa said at a session of Nothing More Beautiful at St. Joseph’s Basilica.

But the Franciscan friar rephrased God’s words to Isaiah, saying, “Where is it written that I have divorced your mother the Church, that she is no longer my spouse?”

Having the Church as your mother means more than being baptized and then doing what you will, he said. It means “to consider, respect and love her as a mother and to show solidarity with her in good and bad.”

Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa

Cantalamessa has been the preacher to the papal household for more than 30 years, preaching weekly homilies during Advent and Lent to the pope and his closest associates.

Nothing More Beautiful has now completed the third year in its five-year process of renewal intended to spark the new evangelization in the Edmonton Archdiocese.


Joining Cantalamessa were Cam and Nadine MacDonnell of Edmonton who gave a talk witnessing their personal faith.

As well as the talks, the session included Evening Prayer. At the May 5 event, Archbishop Richard Smith also blessed a new icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the basilica.

Cantalamessa said Christ’s love for the Church persists in the face of her weaknesses, including “terrible sins of pedophilia.”

God, he said, decided to manifest his glory through human imperfections, including those of the people of the Church.

We should not think that we know the sins of the Church better than Jesus did, he said. “Did he not know for whom he was dying?

“He loved the real Church, not an imaginary, ideal one.”

Cam MacDonnell

Cam MacDonnell

“Christ loved the Church in hope, not only for what she is, but for what she will become – the New Jerusalem prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

Cantalamessa asked whether this means that Christians should keep silent and not criticize the Church.


“No! Once you have returned home, once you have wept for the Church, once you have humbled yourself beneath her feet, God may command you –as he did with others in the past (like Catherine of Siena) – to raise the prophetic voice against the scars of the Church.

“But not before that and not without the risky mission causing you some form of death.”

The MacDonnells, a young couple with their third child due next month, spoke of how they grew from being raised as Catholics, he in Winnipeg and she in Edmonton, to develop a friendship with Christ.

Both spoke of their experiences at Edmonton’s inner-city Marian Centre and St. Joseph’s College at the University of Alberta.

“Through the people I met and my experiences here in Edmonton, I transitioned from sharing in my parents’ faith to living my own,” Cam said.

Nadine MacDonnell

He told of their faith being shaken by “financial challenges” that came with buying a home while he is still a student and Nadine is at home raising their children.


Nadine spoke of attending World Youth Day in Denver as a 13-year-old and how Pope John Paul II led her to a greater love of Jesus.

Her work at an orphanage in Peru, her having to curtail her studies in theology in Australia and her efforts to help at the Marian Centre with her first baby in tow all led her to see that God’s will is often found in carrying out tiny tasks more than in implementing big plans.

Each experience brought “a narrowing of life,” she said. “I am no longer able to pick up and leave home and country in pursuit of God’s will, perhaps this was never what he intended in the first place.”

Nadine’s efforts to help in the Marian Centre kitchen became futile as their daughter Livia became more mobile. The lesson she learned: “What I do doesn’t matter so much as my surrender to who God is calling me to be.”

The transcript of the MacDonnells’ witness.

Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa’s Nothing More Beautiful talk will be published next week.

The 2010-11 series of Nothing More Beautiful focused on The Mystery of the Church. The theme for next year’s series will be The Life of Grace. Speakers and dates will be announced later.