Friday, April 18, 2014

GOOD FRIDAY HOMILY AT STM, TORONTO

Being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient – even to the point of death – death on a cross.  (Phil 2: 6 – 11) 

The days of the sacred Triduum present us anew with the self-sacrifice of Jesus.  Through Jesus’ self-giving love we are given the fullness of life in Christ.  We find life in our communion with him through his death and resurrection for us, a life conveyed through the sacraments of his Church which bring us in contact with the events of Christ's passion.

Jerusalem is the location for the profound events of Jesus' passion. It is here that the first temple stood as a sign of the covenant between God and the people of Israel – a temple destroyed but rebuilt in the temple of Christ, who has become the priest, the altar, and the lamb of sacrifice.

Yes, Jesus is the one perfect and sufficient sacrifice, the sacrifice which has brought to consciousness and so brought to an end the justification for ritualizing human death. Christ has exposed and so disempowered the deep human desire to project on a scapegoat our own sins, our fear and our anger.

The temple is re-built in the sense that Jesus as the priest, the altar and the victim allows us to share in that one perfect offering, which the sinless Son of God has made by himself and in so doing has undertaken all the anguish and horror of humanity’s inhumanity to all the victims of all time.

Rene Girard, the great French thinker, believes, as I mentioned on Palm Sunday, that early in human development, we learned to control internal conflict by projecting our jealousy and violence outside ourselves and outside our community by placing all the guilt on a scapegoat which is sent into the wilderness or killed.  This formulaic action was so effective that societies have in one way or another continued to use scapegoating to control violence ever since.




IMAGE:  The of the scapegoat by the Pre-Raphaelite painter, Wm Holman Hunt,  (displayed at the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) several years ago).  Painted in the landscape of the Dead Sea.

He was oppressed and he was afflicted yet he did not open his mouth. (Isaiah 52)

Girard has shown evidence that this formulaic action of ostracism and human sacrifice was so universal that societies have, in one way or another, continued to use scapegoating to control violence.

Today, Vladimir Putin places the blame for economic failure in Ukraine on the West and their use of power. Within Ukraine, groups blame other groups. Russians in Eastern Ukraine ally themselves with outside forces against those they consider the usurpers in Kiev and so they justify violence against the government. 

Some report that one of the reasons for the present conflict is that the Russian leadership is using the Western-backed government in Kiev as a scapegoat and as a diversion of the Russian peoples’ attention from the profound social and economic problems in Russia.

Without entering into a political argument we can see that the successful use of a scapegoat depends upon an individual’s or community’s belief that they have found the cause of their troubles in an outside “enemy”.  The cure is to isolate or dispose of the enemy. Once the enemy is destroyed or expelled, says Girard, a community does experience a temporary sense of relief and calm is restored for a time.

Such was the case immediately after the death of Jesus. Jerusalem and its Temple continued to function until about  40 years later; in AD 70 the temple was destroyed by the Romans.

A lesson for us about the costly sacrifice of Jesus is that he brings the futility of our refusal to accept our own sin to consciousness. In light of Jesus and his self-giving love we cannot individually or collectively appease our failure or sin by blaming another. We must confess our own sin and come to love our neighbor.

Girard shows us that the calm following an act of scapegoating is only temporary since the scapegoat is not really the cause nor is violence the cure of the conflict i.e. the sins of our humanity, that led to the expulsion and in many cases violence and death for the scapegoat.

When imitation and jealousy lead once again to internal conflict, which escalates into violence, humans will find another scapegoat and repeat the process all over again. Jesus has exposed and denied the power of this cycle. The Suffering Servant has paid the wages of sin and set us free.

In the light of this understanding it may be seen that Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, was offering the people a scapegoat both for himself and for the Jewish people in the choice of one their own. Either Jesus or Barabbas would be the victim of human sacrifice in the form of crucifixion.

In his reading of the Bible, Girard realized that the Judeo-Christian tradition reveals the innocence of the scapegoat, “the Suffering Servant”, and so renders the justification for ancient sacrificial religion ineffective.

Jesus is the innocent victim of humanity – the one perfect complete and final sacrificial victim who has revealed the truth: the truth, which will set us free – the truth that God will forgive us when we accept our own sinfulness and renounce the scapegoating of others.

Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness so that we may receive mercy and obtain grace. (Hebrews 4)

History is witness to humanity’s, often unsuccessful, attempts to find sacrificial ways, apart from the one complete self-sacrifice of Jesus, to control our sin, rivalry and conflict. Christian apocalyptic literature predicts the failure of any sacrificial appeasement beyond the Cross and its power conveyed in the Mass which is a participation and re-presentation of the perfect sacrifice of Christ.

The psalmist and prophets tell us that the Messiah will come to Jerusalem to begin his work of restoring God’s people. Jesus did so by putting an end to the sacrificial system, completing it with his own final and complete self-offering for the sins of world.

Being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient – even to the point of death – death on a cross.  (Phil 2: 6 – 11) 

Easter Mass and Blessing of Foods

Blessing of Easter Foods and Distribution of Antidoron

When Europeans came to this country, many brought with them the custom of preparing a family basket filled with Easter foods and covered with a crocheted cloth.  Often the cloth has an Easter emblem or the words 'Christ is Risen' crocheted on it. The basket is brought to Mass for blessing.

Each of the foods has a special significance.  It sounds much like the special foods which our Jewish brothers and sisters use in the celebration of their Seder Meal.

Remember, the basket does not contain all the food you will eat on Easter Sunday, just a symbolic portion. Each national tradition may add something unique to its own liking. For instance the Slovaks add Horseradish mixed with ground beets called 'chren'.

Below is a list of the traditional foods:
EASTER EGGS!  Of course!  Brightly colored, seasonal representations of the New Life that Jesus gave us in His Resurrection.
PASCHA: a sweet, rich, yeast bread. It is usually round and has a golden crust. Often it has a cross of dough on the top surrounded by braids which can represent the crown of thorns.  
OTHER BREADS: nut roll. 'kolac', poppyseed roll,
whatever Easter baked delights are of your own tradition.
KOLBASA and HAM or LAM a sign of abundance and that the 'Long Fast' is truly over.
CHEESE: "Syrek"    Especially a small round cheese. Italian sometimes put in some Romano.
HORSERADISH: Nothing is better with ham than beet horseradish. Some add to their baskets a bit of vinegar or sour cream which is all meant to represent the bitter drink given to the Lord when He called out from the cross, "I thirst"!
BUTTER: especially the butter formed in the design of a lamb.  You can actually find these at Eastern delis.    Christ is the Lamb of God!
SALT:  It gives zest to our foods and reminds us that Christ preserves us to life eternal.
And don't forget the chocolate eggs, the chocolate bunnies, and chicks, and a few jelly beans as well if you like.
Add your Easter dinner wine and decorate your basket with family heirloom napkins or linen.

Divine Mercy Sunday (Octave of Easter) April 27 – Pot Luck Easter Supper after Mass at STM

This will be our parish supper for Easter Season (50 days). 

ANTIDORON

When people do not commune at the Liturgy (baptized people not yet in full communion), they may receive antidoron (an-dee-tho-ron) at the end of Liturgy (that is, blessed bread which is not the Blessed Sacrament. Since it is blessed, the antidoron should be carefully handled. It may be received from the Priest at the end of Liturgy.

Antidoron may also be taken home for use during the week. It is a pious custom for Eastern Christians to begin the day, after their morning prayers and before eating, by consuming a particle of antidoron.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Easter Triduum Ordinariate Liturgies at St. Thomas More Church, POCSP, Toronto


Music Director on Good Friday and Easter Sunday:  
Mr. Peter Mahon

PARKING: Entrance to the parking lot is just off Sherbourne north of Carlton between the Rectory and the Apartment Building to the North.
 







Monday, April 14, 2014

Catholic Education in Canada at a Crossroads

The so-called "separation of Church and state" is really an idea from the Constitution of the USA (and one initially designed to protect the Church from state interference - contrary to current secular propaganda).  Separation of Church and state is not, however,  explicitly part of the Canadian constitution. 



Over time, Canadian federal and provincial structures have developed in a relationship with the Church including, in Ontario and other provinces, co-operation in the field of education to the extent that there is provincial government funding for Catholic schools and an entirely separate Catholic system of education in Ontario.



With an Ontario court judgement this month, however,  students are suddenly not required to attend Mass or religious instruction with their classmates in Catholic schools, the issue is coming to a head. This is a turning point in Catholic education and a further point of tension with the secular authorities and secularist pressure groups. 


Now that the court has ruled that children attending Catholic schools need not participate in the spirituality and practice that sets them apart and which forms the culture and atmosphere that is the reason why many parents choose Catholic schools -- better discipline, ethics and morality, etc. -- what is the point of funding a school system that is separate from the public system? 


Catholic education in Ontario and other provinces has been under massive secularizing pressure for decades. Many teachers are really only nominally Catholic and relatively few are comfortable teaching the Faith. The agendas of secular activists plays against the clear instruction of children in the Catholic faith despite the provision for this in Canadian constitutional documents.  


In recent decades both Newfoundland and Quebec governments have jettisoned public funding for faith-based schools. Some argue that this liberates the remaining independent schools to be free of governmental control, though all schools are still subject to governmental curriculum  and other guidelines and restrictions.


It may that we are moving to a time when Catholic schools will have to walk away from public funding, become smaller, freer and more focussed. If the example of the USA serves, many parents will still choose Catholic schools even if they have to pay a premium for tuition.  


Refusing funding would allow Catholic schools to insist that teachers and students subscribe to Catholic faith and practice. The alternative seems to be continuing the secularizing of all aspects of school life and the abdication of all but a nominal "Catholic culture".



PALM SUNDAY
 HOMILY -------------- St. Thomas More Catholic Church, POCSP, Toronto – April 13, 2014

“I gave my back to the smitters . . . I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.”  From Isaiah 50

With Palm Sunday and the story of the Passion of Jesus we reach the peak of the history of our salvation accomplished by the power of God.  From the triumphal arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem we immediately turn to the depth of human suffering and human savagery in the passion and crucifixion of Jesus.

What has been anticipated in the Old Testament and promised by God is our salvation from sin and death.  This is fulfilled in mystery of Holy Week and Easter, the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Messiah.

The Passion of our Lord is the story of Jesus' work of  redemption accomplished for us in the New Covenant which is written in his blood and his broken body on the cross at Golgotha, the place of the Skull.

“All this has come to pass that the writings of the prophets may be fulfilled,” Jesus says in today’s Gospel (Matt. 26:56).



Jesus is “counted among the wicked,” as Isaiah had foretold (Isaiah 53:12). He is revealed as the Suffering Servant, whom the prophet announced. Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah whose words of obedience and faith ring out in today’s reading from Isaiah.


Counted among the wicked, Jesus becomes the scapegoat for human sinfulness as have so many before him and so many since been used as a focus for collective sin. In fact, in every civilization at its very cultural root is this tragedy of fallen human nature and the collective desire to find a scapegoat, as Rene Girard has pointed out so powerfully. 


More of this on Good Friday as we think about the Passion of Jesus and the distinctive nature of his suffering, death and resurrection which exposes and puts to an end the legitimizing of guilt through human scapegoating and human sacrifice.

The taunts and torments we hear in these readings today punctuate the Gospel as Jesus is beaten and mocked (Matt 27:31). His hands and feet are pierced, as enemies gamble for his clothes (Matt. 27:35). His enemies dare him to prove his divinity by saving himself from suffering (Matt. 27:39-44). 



However, Jesus remains faithful to God’s will to the end and does not turn back. He gives himself freely to his torturers, confident that, as we hear today from the Prophet Isaiah: The Lord God is My help . . . I shall not be put to shame.”



Destined to sin and death as children of Adam’s disobedience, we have been set free for holiness and life by Christ’s perfect obedience even to innocently bearing the suffering of a scapegoat for the sins of humanity  (Romans 5:12-14,17-19; Eph. 2:1-2; 5:6).



This is why God greatly exalted Jesus. This is why we have salvation in the Name of Christ. Following the example of his humble obedience in the trials and crosses of our own lives, we can trust that we will never be forsaken. 

With the Suffering Servant we must at times say: “I gave my back to the smitters . . . I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.”  (Isaiah 50)

We can do so only because, as the centurion said,: “truly this is the Son of God” ( Matt. 27:54).




Isaiah 50:4-7; 

Psalm 22:8-9, 17-20, 23-24; 

Phil. 2:6-11;  

Matt. 26:14-27:66


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Ordinariate, the Baldwins and Québec . . . quite a combination . . . quite a week!

Following the momentous election in Québec this week I had an interesting exchange with a relative who drew my attention to the following article about a fanatically anti-Catholic 19th century Anglican bishop, Maurice Baldwin, a family relation on my wife's side. He once served a church in Montreal.

My relative pointed me to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography article with the following note and link:

Do you know this Baldwin?

Regards, M.


The article gave me a chance to explain to family and friends something about Canadian history as it connects with our decision to enter the Ordinariate and to open a wider discussion as Jane and I prepare for a pilgrimage this July to Québec City, D.V. 

As previously noted on this blog, we hope to visit the Holy Door of the Cathedral Notre-Dame de Québec for the 350th Jubilee of the Church in Quebec. Québec has been honoured with the first and only Holy Door outside of Europe.

I also want to encourage all our Canadian friends as well as Americans, Brits and others to make the pilgrimage to the Holy Door. 

Show your support for our Québecois brothers and sisters who have clearly voted that they want to maintain the Canadian federation.  

Show your support for the Catholic witness which is renewing the culture and life of  La Belle Province and give their economy a boost.



This is a great opportunity to re-connect bringing Canada together in the spirit of faith. 

With the kind permission of Cardinal Lacroix, I am hoping to celebrate the Ordinariate Use Mass on Saturday, July 5 in the cathedral - details later. 

Here is a contact link for those interested in exploring a pilgrimage or visit:

Notre-Dame de Québec - 350th Jubilee Pilgrimage


Finally . . . here is my response to the article sent by M., my relative. 


Dear M,

Thanks for your note which gives me an opportunity to "sound off".

I didn't know Maurice Baldwin personally, and though I am a great deal older than you, I was a little young in the 19th century. However, I certainly knew of him and his notorious anti-Oxford Movement sentiments. I think if we'd met he might have challenged me to a duel.

On this one, I would have to side with Bishop John Strachan (who refused to ordain him) and your ancestor, the Hon. Robert Baldwin, both of whom would have known Maurice B. well.

The Hon. Robert Baldwin, co-premier of Canada

The Rt. Rev. John Strachan, 1st Anglican bishop of Toronto 

Both Strachan and Robert Baldwin were sympathetic to the leaders of the Anglo-Catholic Oxford Movement, Maurice Baldwin's opponents. These leaders included: Blessed John Henry Newman (later received into the full communion of the Catholic Church), Edward Pusey (Oxford scholar, founder and supporter of Anglican religious communities for monks and nuns) and John Keble, the great Anglo-Catholic poet, famous for his "Assize Sermon" excoriating British parliamentarians for "national apostasy". In the words of John Lennon to a police officer in the movie "HELP":  "Great train robbery, eh . . . how's that 'goin then?" 

These were the "good guys" of the Oxford Movement. Newman and others were seeking to bring Anglicans into full communion with the Catholic Church . . . which has now finally been achieved with the Ordinariate over 100 years later, pace Maurice Baldwin and company.

You likely know that Robert Baldwin's daughter, Maria, entered into full communion with the Catholic Church in Québec City where she was educated by the Ursuline Sisters (their foundress St. Marie de L'Incarnation was just canonized by Pope Francis this past month). 

We plan to visit her Ursuline convent in Québec in July when we make the 350th Jubilee Pilgrimage to the Holy Door of Notre-Dame-de-Quebéc, D.V..  

Robert, of course, was the great friend and co-premier with Louis Hippolyte LaFontaine, a trusted friend of the Québecois and very  sympathetic to Catholicism. 

In fact, the Orange Order (boo, hiss) managed to defeat him once because of his Catholic sympathies in an election in which he was running in a York riding. Robert Baldwin promptly stood in a Québec riding and won handily with the support of French and Irish Catholic voters.

You probably know that there is a Robert-Baldwin Riding in Montreal, where he is still held in great regard. The riding, like so many, went to the federalists on Monday. Robert would have been smiling at the election result while chatting warmly with Blessed John Henry Newman et. al. in Jerusalem the Golden, with milk and honey blest!

Maurice B. may be somewhere a bit cooler . . . according to Dante anyway.

Thanks for the chance to share my moderate opinions. I shall pass this along to some interested parties and American friends whom I am 'tutoring' in Canadian history . . . "round up the usual suspects."

JH