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Saturday 14 December 2019

Christmas - Epiphany Masses


Tuesday, December 24

Early Sung Mass

5:00 p.m.



Sung Mass

December 29




Wednesday, January 1

Sung Mass

12:30 noon



Sunday, January 5

Sung Mass at 12:30 noon

Wednesday 11 December 2019

New Year's Day, Sung Mass of Mary, Mother of God

Mary, Mother of God
Sung Mass

Wednesday, January 1
12:30 noon

Traditional English Language Liturgy
and Carols

Monday 9 December 2019

A Pilgrimage to the Canonization of St John Henry Newman


As we prepare for the Season of Joy, it is helpful to look back once again at the year past and to recall the moments of grace along the way, moments which our Lord brings to us in so many ways in addition to the assured graces of the sacraments and the wonderful grace of the Church – the Body of Christ.  Yes, the Bride of Christ, despite her struggles with the world the flesh and the Devil, continues to nurture her children with hope along with faith and love.

Looking at our calendar, Jane and I are highlighting some of those moments this year. Of course, the year began with the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God which we celebrated, as is our custom with the good folk of the Parish of St. Thomas More (STM) in Toronto. Though I am no longer the pastor or administrator of the mission parish, Jane and I are there most Sundays.  Jane oversees our hospitality hour after Mass each Sunday, a very important time for those who come from all over the GHTA and beyond to share in Divine Worship, The Missal, which is the distinctive liturgy of the Ordinariate, a mixture of traditional (BCP) prayers along with English Hymnal music.  ‘All in all, a unique offering for Catholics and others who join us.

Currently we have people attend who are from many Christian traditions, both eastern and western – a man from the Coptic Church of Egypt, a family of Croatian origin, our Italian/Scottish administrator, a young woman who is a PK from a Seventh Day Adventist family.  Over the years these folks have joined with Mennonite friends and even a few Anglicans who have found their way into the fullness of the Catholic Church.

In late January Annie and I explored some of the real estate possibilities in downtown Toronto.  The thinking is that the combined rents we pay with Kathryn and Efren would allow us to share a mortgage.  But because Toronto has some of the highest real estate values in North American, you can imagine the figures to buy even a modest triplex are quite astounding.  We continue to look, pray and discern.

The big event of January was Jane and Judy’s marking 140 combined years on the planet! People gathered from far and wide at the lovely reception room of 2 St. Thomas, a stone’s throw from the U. of T. and St. Basil’s Church.  This elegant and cheery space was provided by our good friend, Paola Leon, who has a condo there.  Annie, Kathryn, Efren, Julia, and Clare were the gracious hosts who managed the food and drink along with the decorations.  About 80 people attended during the afternoon event and the twins were duly launched into their eighth decade going strong! Jane still teaches most days.

I continue with chaplaincy work at the UHN (University Health Network) downtown hospitals, hearing confessions, bringing Holy Communion to patients and anointing large numbers, some of whom are recovering and others in prayer for their final journey to God. We chaplains truly see “all sorts and conditions” and it is a privilege to share these moments with many families.  

In February Jane and I took some time off to travel to the Seminary of St. Vincent de Paul in Boynton Beach, Florida for a week of retreat and rest.  The Archdiocese of Toronto maintains a couple of rooms there for priests needing a break from winter.  So, we took our initial flight as snow birds and very much enjoyed the seminary and the truly remarkable young men preparing for the priesthood who made us so welcome and with which we shared a lot in a few days.  Daily Mass, at which I concelebrated, and the Liturgy of the Hours marked the day for everyone in their bright and airy Chapel.  It was nice for both of us to not have to cook or do dishes. And we had the pool all to ourselves, as the seminarians said it was too cold to swim! Canucks.

In April a new head of the UHN mandated that we could celebrate monthly Masses in each of the six hospitals and so I, along with the three other priest chaplains, share in these celebrations which are for families and the staff as well as anyone who wanders in. This is a bit of a challenge logistically as only Sick Kids has a chapel, where I say Mass on Sundays at 9 am before heading west to STM and the 12:30 Sung Mass in the church in which we rent space on Roncesvalles Ave.

On April 27, Jane’s family gathered for the funeral of Aunt Judy (Echlin) Wilson in Huntsville.  Tony, Jane’s Mom, was there, now the last of that generation. At 92 she is going strong still swimming every day, sending off messages and browsing the web.  Quite remarkable.

On May 26, Jane and I marked our 40thanniversary with Annie and Kathryn acting as hostesses. Our landlords and good friends, Stephanie Martin and Andrew Sabiston, invited us to use their lovely back patio and newly renovated main floor for the day. The 26th was lovely. We were thankful that so many were able to attend and for many messages from those unable to join us. 

In June we celebrated the Patronal Festival of STM with the Sacrament of Confirmation and a full choir. The STM liturgies are streamed on YouTube, just go to stmtoront.ca  and push the red button. You can fast forward through the homily. 

August brought annual vacation time. It was initially a bit of a busman’s holiday as we went to Barry’s Bay for me to make a presentation on the Divine Worship liturgy at Our Lady Seat Wisdom’s Wojtyla Summer Institute’s “The Splendour of the Liturgy.” From there we went on to Shawville to visit with brother Steve and his family. Ayden just graduated from the University of Ottawa, Tynesha is a university student, and Dee Dee is in high school. 

From Shawville to L’Abbaye Sainte-Marie des Deux-Montagnes for a few days with our good friend and advisor Dom Charles Gilman, OSB (Fr. Chip).  He celebrated and I preached at the Sung Mass of the Assumption (August 15) for the nuns and others who attend the beautiful chapel on the hill in the bilingual town of Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac. Fr. Chip translated the short homily and read it in French for those who do not speak English. The Benedictine nuns of this cloistered community are, for the first time, welcoming English-speaking postulants with the goal of becoming a thoroughly bilingual community.  They have moved to celebrating the liturgy in Latin with French and English readings.

On the way home we had a 40thanniversary treat with a stay in the Laurentians for a few days in Sainte-Adèle and traveling the countryside.  Taking the long way home, thus avoiding the busy freeways near Montreal, we went north through Mont-Tremblant and Mont-Laurier which neither of us had ever visited even though I grew up in the Ottawa Valley. Travelling south we once again came into the lush forests and rich farmland of the Valley and then through Renfrew and down to Peterborough to stay overnight in a hotel overlooking the Otonabee River. Home again, we had time to settle back in, just in time for the beginning of school and to reconnect with Newman Centre at the U of T where I regularly celebrate Mass to assist the Chaplain there. 

John Henry Cardinal Newman was canonized in Rome in October as St. John Henry Newman.  Annie and I were very privileged to attend on October 13. Jane chose to stay home to avoid the trans-Atlantic flight, squashed in like a sardine, and the crowds in Rome! It was a great joy to sit in the centre of St. Peter’s Square with 400,000 others on a cloudless Sunday morning and to hear the words of one my spiritual mentors pronounced with approval by the Magisterium of the Church.  I had never dreamed of being there and it was so meaningful to share the day and the trip with Annie. While there, I attended two related symposia at the Gregorian University and at the fabled Angelicum, leaving Annie free to explore Rome and the excellent shopping there, including the purchase of a red leather purse for her mom.

So another year rolls to a close and after yet another conference in Toronto, this one for the Ordinariate’s 10thanniversary, we begin a new year this Advent, thankful for the many blessings and graces of the past year.  God is so good . . . and always a surprise.  

Thursday 28 November 2019


Celebrate the truth of the season in Toronto.


Christmas Eve Mass
Tuesday, December 24
5:00 p.m.

Traditional English Language 
and Carols

Tuesday 19 November 2019


Your Eminence, Excellency, Fathers, Brothers and Sisters in Christ. 
I have been asked by the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society to, on their behalf, welcome all of you who have travelled to this celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Apostolic Constitution which, thanks to our beloved Pope Emeritus Benedict and the ongoing support of the Holy Father, has become a part of the New Evangelization. 
In addition, we want to thank you, Cardinal Collins, for your initial and continuing support of the small communities of Anglicans and others who are finding their way into the full communion of the Catholic Church through the ministry of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. 
I have to smile as I think of the various paths that have brought us here in late 2019. I am, like many now living in Toronto, an immigrant, a Montreal-born Expos fan – a transplant. So, for our American visitors I feel compelled to mention that until the 1960s Montreal was the largest city in Canada. In recent years Toronto has come to be the largest city and to consider itself the centre of Canada (if not of the universe). 
It is now almost 14 years since I first contacted the newly appointed Archbishop Collins (transplanted from Edmonton to Toronto) to inquire about the possibility of ordination and ministry in the Archdiocese of Toronto. Little did I know, at that time, of the prayerful call to unity which was, even then, in its final planning stages in Rome. This planning would result in the ground-breaking invitation to Anglicans and others to cross the Tiber and, for me and other clergy, to serve as Catholic priests while retaining and building upon the Anglican patrimony within the embrace of the Holy See. 
This was a truly ecumenical break-through which continues to shape the future of dialogue with other Christian bodies. In the next 10 years we must pray and work for the extension of our mission and the new evangelization not only through beautiful language and music but, as George Weigel has put it so well in his latest book, commitment to truth and goodness as well – clear teaching with pastoral concern and outreach. 
On this special occasion I have been asked to offer a patrimonial toast of loyalty this evening in recognition of the work of your Eminence and so many others. Thinking about this, it came to me that no better toast could be offered than the one traditionally offered by Dr. Healey Willan, the great Church musician and another transplant to Toronto. 
Dr. Willan was famously noted for his self-description as: English by birth, Canadian by adoption, Irish by extraction, and Scotch by absorption. 
I invite you, then, to raise your glasses and to join with me in a toast to Our Lady, Queen of Heaven and our Lady, Queen of Canada.
Fr. John Hodgins

Saturday 19 October 2019

Canonization of Saint John Henry Newman

I am still processing the week in Rome to celebrate our great patron St. John Henry Newman whose life and work have fascinated me from my teen years.  I studied his work while at the Toronto School of Theology in the early 1980s with Fr. Dan Donovan of St. Michael's University.  I believe there were more Anglicans in the class than Catholics. A number of us crossed the Tiber at various points.

Newman was certainly a kindly light for me and I have often taken courage from his unwavering stand for truth in the face of the "liberalism" which he rightly perceived as an existential threat to the human society.  Fortunately the Church has our Lord's promise that these forces of darkness (gates of Hell) cannot prevail against the One, hHoly, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

For photos and a summary of some of the events you can go to:

Newman and Anglicanorum Coetibus symposia

Fr. Jack Barker and Toronto at AC Conference Nov. 15 - 17

Fr Jack Barker is a pioneer of Christian unity by leading Anglicans back to full communion with the Holy See.

Following is a posting by the AC Society about the symposium celebrating 10 years since the proclamation of the apostolic constitution ANGLICANORUM COETIBUS.

barker et al

Father Jack Barker (left), keynote speaker [the] ninth conference on the Anglican tradition in the Catholic Church, has been called by Bishop Steven Lopes of the Ordinariate a “pioneer of the Pastoral Provision”. Trained in classical piano, physics and engineering, and in Anglican seminary programs in both England and the US, Fr Barker has been involved in the Anglican movement into the Catholic Church over the decades.

Involved for years with the American Church Union under the leadership of Canon DuBois, he and others formed Anglicans United, a group of catholic Anglicans that entered into a relationship with the Holy See that ultimately helped to bring about the Pastoral Provision. Later on, Fr Barker wrote about how the Pastoral Provision came about in his fascinating “Early History of the Anglican Use”.

Fr Barker has done us a real service in recording this history of how we came to be given a “pastoral provision for former Anglicans thereby ensuring their identity and the preservation of elements of their worship” and how the Holy See would open the Catholic priesthood to “even those Anglican priests who were married.” One of the more poignant moments in that history is the passing of Canon DuBois, who died in June, 1980, “with the dream of corporate reunion yet to be realized”, but who was “individually received into the full communion of the Roman Catholic Church prior to his death. During his illness private assurances were received from Rome that the petition would be approved.”

It took a few years for the implementation of the provision to begin to be worked out, but Fr Barker led members of his congregation into the Catholic Church in 1986, after which he ran a Catholic charitable organization, studied in Catholic seminaries, and was ultimately made a Catholic priest.
Now helping with the ordinariate community of Our Lady of Grace, Fr Barker has worked closely with Mgr Steenson and Bishop Lopes since the early days of the North American ordinariate.

Further details on Father Barker’s life and many years of service to catholic-minded Anglicans, to Catholics of the Anglican tradition, and to the wider Church can be read in his biography below. Father Barker will be speaking on the Anglican tradition in the Catholic Church, its history and its potential, at our upcoming conference and we encourage everyone to register now. Spread the word!
Born in 1941 in South Dakota and raised in southern California. A graduate of Hawthorne High School with highest honors. Bachelor’s in Physics from the College of Letters and Science at U.C.L.A. in 1963. He is trained in classical piano.
Under the sponsorship of a South African Anglican bishop, he attended Anglican Seminary at the College of the Resurrection in Mirfield, Yorkshire, England beginning in 1963. He received the General Ordination Examination certificate of the Church of England in 1965.
Because of the political realities in South Africa at the time it was recommended that he return to Los Angeles rather than be ordained and work in the Anglican Church in the Diocese of Kimberley and Kuruman. He applied to the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and continued studies at Bloy Episcopal School of Theology. During this time he worked as an engineer in the Space Program at Hughes Aircraft on Project Surveyor, a precursor to Apollo Moon landings.
In 1970 he was ordained Deacon and then priest by Rt. Rev. Francis Eric Bloy at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Los Angeles. In the Fall of 1970 he was asked by Rev. James Jordan, jr. to come to St. Mary of the Angels as an associate and continue as a “worker-priest.” In early 1971 Father Jordan died suddenly of a massive heart.He was eventually installed as the Third Rector by Rt. Rev. Robert Claflin Rusack the Coadjutor bishop of the LA diocese.
From the beginning at St. Mary’s he became involved with the American Church Union (ACU) which was under the direction of its famous Executive Director Rev. Canon Albert Julius DuBois, affectionately known as “Mr. Catholic” in the Episcopal Church. Following the Minneapolis General Convention of 1976 he and Fathers Barker and Brown formed “Anglicans United” to lead the way in finding a new home for catholic minded Episcopalians.
The AU represented many former Episcopal parishes throughout the USA. Canon DuBois was invited to Rome for conversations about the possibility of former Episcopalians entering into full communion with the Catholic Church. He had a heart attack and Fathers Barker and Brown went in his stead.
Finally in 1986 many members of St. Mary of the Angels together with 100% of St Matthias formed a new combined parish and where all were received into the Catholic Church at a single Mass celebrated by a Roman Catholic priest who was part of what was known then as the Pastoral Provision. The remaining congregation at St. Mary’s became a part of the continuing Anglican movement.
Father Barker went on to run Catholic Charities in Nevada for two years and in 1989 was accepted into the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Bernardino where he attended the local seminary for one year of orientation and then two years of graduate level studies at St Patrick’s Pontifical Seminary in Menlo Park, California. He received the Masters in Divinity in 1992 and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of San Bernardino by Most Rev. Philip Straling the first bishop of that diocese.
He served two years as an assistant at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary and was pastor for nine years at St. Francis of Assisi in la Quinta; finally, he served twelve years at St Martha’s in Murrieta.
After a year and a half of candidacy he made his vows as an Oblate of the Order of Saint Benedict with the Abbey of St. John’s in St. Cloud, Minnesota. He is now retired in Murrieta and provides supply services to local Latin Rite parishes and helps at Our Lady of Grace Ordinariate Community. 

Note: Fr. Barker was unable to attend the Toronto Conference but the text of his address was read out to those gathered and is available through the AC website:


Tuesday 3 September 2019

The Disgrace of Australia

The following article by George Weigel is a further reflection upon the heretofore unimaginable perfidy of many in the legal system in Victoria, Australia. 

Was it mere coincidence, or perhaps Providence, that Catholics around the world read Psalm 94 at Midday Prayer on August 21, hours after an appellate panel of three judges announced a 2-1 decision rejecting Cardinal George Pell’s appeal of his conviction on charges of “historic sexual abuse”? For there, the Psalmist laments legal perversity in a query to God that certainly must have struck some as resembling what had just happened in Melbourne at the Supreme Court of the state of Victoria:

Can judges who do evil be your friends?
They do injustice under cover of law; They attack the life of the just and condemn innocent blood.

To note this striking parallelism of legal and liturgical timing is not to suggest that any of the judges on the appellate panel are evil people. But two of them, Chief Justice Anne Ferguson and Judge Chris Maxwell, manifestly did something unjust under cover of law, in denying Cardinal Pell’s appeal and failing to acquit him of charges that had been shown on numerous occasions to be beyond the realm of plausibility. And the most devastating criticism to that effect was leveled, not by friends of the cardinal or fellow-Catholics, but by Judge Mark Weinberg, whose dissent from the opinion of his two colleagues on the appellate panel shredded their claims and logic in such a decisive way as to set up what one must hope will be a successful appeal to the High Court of Australia, the final legal arbiter.

Judge Weinberg is recognized by knowledgeable students of the Australian justice system as the premier criminal-law jurist in the country. His brilliant, two-hundred page dissent should be read in full, but here are several crucial citations:

On the complete lack of corroboration of the complainant’s charges: In Pell’s criminal trials, the “prosecution relied entirely upon the evidence of the complainant to establish guilt, and nothing more. There was no supporting evidence of any kind at all. These convictions were based upon the jury’s assessment of the complainant as a witness, and nothing more.” That same tactic, Judge Weinberg noted, was adopted by the prosecution at the appeal hearing in June.

On the utter implausibility of the complainant’s description of the alleged abuse: “…the complainant’s account….seems to me to take brazenness to new heights, the like of which I have never seen…I would have thought that any prosecutor would be wary of bringing a charge of his gravity against anyone, based upon the implausible notion that a sexual assault of this kind would take place in public, and in the presence of numerous potential witnesses. Had the incident occurred in the way that the complainant alleged, it seems to me highly unlikely that none of those many persons present would have seen what was happening, or reported it in some way.”

Therefore: “To my mind, there is a ‘significant possibility’ that the applicant in this case [Cardinal Pell] may not have committed these offenses.” Which was, on my reading of it, Judge Weinberg’s way of saying that the convicting jury erred grievously in meeting the established legal standard of guilt being proved beyond a reasonable doubt, and therefore the guilty verdict should have been vacated by the appellate court and the cardinal acquitted.

A Question of Presumptions?
Let us stipulate, as the lawyers say, that Chief Justice Ferguson, Judge Maxwell, and Judge Weinberg are all intelligent people. How is it, then, that two of them can look at the same sequence of events as Judge Weinberg – then-Archbishop Pell bolts from a procession at the end of High Mass in the Melbourne cathedral, escapes the notice of the other clergy in the procession, culls out two choir boys, sexually abuses them in six or eight minutes while fully vested, and then returns to the front of the cathedral to greet worshippers, all of which escapes the notice of anyone else and about which nothing is said for two decades – and come to such a radically different conclusion than that reached by Australia’s pre-eminent authority in criminal jurisprudence?

Several possibilities suggest themselves.
The first is that the charge of sexual abuse, however prima facie implausible, now trumps the traditional legal standard in the Anglosphere that innocence is presumed until guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt. A close reading of the majority opinion supports the fear that this standard was effectively reversed in Cardinal Pell’s case, such that the onus was on him to prove his innocence. In the summary of the majority opinion she read from the bench, Chief Justice Ferguson insisted that the complainant who made the charges against the cardinal was a credible witness who seemed not to be lying.

But what, one wants to ask, about the many witnesses for the defense, who insisted that not only were the charges false but that such things simply could not have happened under the circumstances described? Chief Justice Ferguson nodded to their testimony, but the majority opinion makes clear that, in classic Orwellian fashion, some witnesses were more equal than others. This is perverse. Yet it fit neatly with attempts to get the cardinal’s liturgical master of ceremonies to state that it was theoretically possible that, on occasion, he mightnot have been right next to Pell before, during, and after Mass, decades ago. That theoretical possibility was conceded as purely theoretical, but the m.c. insisted that he had no positive recollection of its ever being the case and that his disappearance from the archbishop-celebrant’s side was very, very unlikely. Yet it now seems from the majority opinion that a theoretical possibility was turned into positive evidence of Cardinal Pell’s guilt, despite what Judge Weinberg noted were the “discrepancies….inconsistencies…and [lack of] probative value” in the complainant’s testimony.”

The second, and not necessarily unrelated, possibility is that Chief Justice Ferguson and Judge Maxwell were influenced in their reading of the evidence – or, in this case, lack thereof – by the assumption, widespread in the Australian media, that any Catholic cleric charged with sexual abuse, if not overtly presumed guilty, should at least be treated as such. That perversion of the common law tradition may be based on anti-Catholic bias (as it surely is among such horrors as Australian television talking-head Louise Milligan, author of a libelous book about George Pell). Or it may be based on a genuine revulsion at ecclesiastical cover-ups of sexual abuse and the fear that, if one prominent cleric “gets away with it,’ others may get away with it down the line. But whatever its roots, this presumption-of-guilt against a class of individuals has far more in common with Stalin’s persecution of the Kulaks and his other class and political enemies than it has with any recognizable notion of justice in the English-speaking world.
This second possibility is amplified by the utterly toxic public and media environment that has surrounded George Pell in Australia for decades. Americans and other Anglophones with no direct experience of this cannot really grasp how poisonous the atmosphere has been, for there is no analogue to it anywhere else in the Anglosphere. Moreover, this lethal toxicity is not a by-product of the free-for-all that is the Internet and the blogosphere, but antedates the Web and social media by decades. And it is prevalent, not just on the fringes, but at the very epicenters of Australian journalism and commentary. The suggestion implicit in the majority decision rejecting Cardinal Pell’s appeal – that this atmosphere had no discernible effect on the jury that found the cardinal guilty – beggars the imagination: not least because the trial in which Pell was convicted by a 12-0 jury ballot followed a first trial that ended with a hung jury that voted 10-2 for acquittal.

All of which suggests the strong possibility that Chief Justice Ferguson and Judge Maxwell read the situation far differently than their more distinguished colleague in criminal law, Judge Weinberg, because of distortions in the lenses by which they were reading. And those distortions produced a grave reversal of both the presumption of innocence that is the foundation of criminal law in the Anglosphere, even as they obviated the requirement that the burden of proof rests on the prosecution to persuade jurors beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Next Phase
This story is not over, by any manner of means. And as the story continues – with further investigation of the credibility of the complainant, further inquiry into the Victoria police fishing expedition against Pell that began two years before a complainant was found, and further consideration of Judge Weinberg’s devastating critique of his colleagues’ rejection of the cardinal’s appeal – it seems to me that, with a potential judgment on all this by the High Court of Australia looming on the horizon, friends of justice in Australia must now come forward with an unambiguous statement of what has long seemed obvious to many others around the world, but which has rarely been said by political, legal, and Catholic leaders Down Under: George Pell is an innocent man who was falsely accused and has been unjustly convicted of crimes he did not commit. It is not George Pell who is in the dock, now, but the administration of justice in Australia. And the only way to restore justice is for Cardinal Pell to be vindicated by the highest court in the land.

This simple but entirely defensible statement should be repeated, again and again, by responsible leaders in every professional field in Australia, and indeed by anyone and everyone Down Under who is willing to stand for the truth.

To repeat an image I have used before: this is Australia’s Dreyfus Case, and if Australia cannot find it within itself to vindicate justice by acquitting George Pell, then 21st-century Australia will find itself condemned by history to that ignominy in which the biased and mad persecutors of Alfred Dreyfus in the nineteenth century—bigots and hysterics who are global symbols of justice scorned and trampled upon – now find themselves.

Published in The Catholic World Report on August 22, 2019

Wednesday 28 August 2019


EVANGELIUM -- Adults or young people who are over the age of 11 and considering the Sacrament of Confirmation  should contact Fr. Hodgins this month about instruction.  We are planning for the visit of Bishop Lopes to receive people into full communion and administer Holy Confirmation. In preparation for his visit, the EVANGELIUM programme is being offered again this Fall for anyone exploring the Catholic faith with a view to reception and Confirmation.

Tuesday 20 August 2019

Real Inclusivity

The following excerpts from an article in Convivium magazine point to the role that the Ordinariates are playing in welcoming people from a variety of backgrounds into the full communion of the Catholic Church.

Daniel Bezalel Richardsen works for the federal government in Ottawa where he lives a life infused with his own Christian faith and deep interest in other religious traditions.

. . . . He is a driving force behind a magazine, Foment, produced for the Ottawa International Writers

. . . . Richardsen has also just launched a reading group on Dante, is organizing another reading group on the works of the great Jewish Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, and is currently organizing a book launch for Montreal historian and theologian Douglas Farrow’s latest book, Desiring a Better Country.

. . . . He was born in India but grew up in Brunei. Oh, and he just turned 30 in February.

Daniel (DBR) responded to the following questions:

A lot of people are engaged in multi-faith dialogue. You seem to have been born into it, and raised with it as a raison d’etre.

DBR: My grandmother came from a city in India with a long Jewish history, Cochin, but she was from a Hindu family. In fact, she was a devotee of Krishna before she became a Christian within the Anglican Church. This is perhaps why the Judeophilia in my family runs high.

I really enjoyed my formative years in Brunei—a majority Islamic country— a peaceful oasis in a rather turbulent world. The friendships, family life, and in particular the tiny but incredible Christian community in that country are a priceless possession and will never recede in their influence over me.

Tell us about navigating that faith background.

DBR: There is probably no more religiously diverse country than India. Being born, having roots and spending my first decade there allowed me to meet and form friendships with a variety of people. My family was firmly Christian for at least a few generations by the time I came into the picture, with the majority of them within the venerable Anglican Church of South India, itself a result of ecumenism. Deep familial piety and religious practice gave me an anchor from which I was able to relate to Hindus, Muslims, Jains, Buddhists, Parsees, Jews, and Sikhs whom I met in my neighbourhood and schools.

You came to Canada just over 10 years ago. How does the faith climate in Canada differ from the climate where you were raised? Is it easier to be a person of faith in Canada, or does the emphasis on secularism make it harder to be publicly faithful?

DBR: The relative lack of persecution certainly makes it easier to practice one’s own faith privately and within religious communities. In this Canada is a marvelous safe haven for many. Public expressions of faith still strike me as awkward: viewed as quixotic at best, and polarizing at worst. This too set against a residual post-Christian heritage that seems to emphasize the “post” without adequately grappling with the “Christian.”

Last year, you became part of the Anglican Ordinariate, which means you are now in communion with Rome though still within the Anglican tradition. What moved you that way, and has it affected personal relationships? 

DBR: Saint Edith Stein emphasized the role of the intellect as a means of preparation either before or after a deep, affective spiritual experience towards God. Friendships with faithful Catholics, serious reading of Church history, being part of an ecumenical public theology group all paved the way for a deep mystical experience I had in the beginning of 2015 that elicited my love and loyalty. Being able to preserve my Anglican patrimony made my shift inexorable. I certainly did lose a romantic relationship with someone I loved because of my decision. Apart from that trial, I have mostly experienced solid support and encouragement from friends and family.

You are deeply involved in the cultural scene in Ottawa, music and literature primarily. How is that an expression of your faith? How possible is it to live out your faith in a world that is frequently hostile to faith?

DBR: Having an incarnational faith like Christianity means that the sensual, the liturgical are an integral part of formation and worship. It is as (Comment magazine Editor) James K. A. Smith says aptly in his new book title—echoing St. Augustine—You Are What You Love. I’ve found far less hostility to faith as an individual: the majority of people have a tremendous amount of goodwill. I think more people of faith ought to think that all spheres of life are theirs to participate in and excel at: always in a spirit of charity and enthusiasm.

Sunday 18 August 2019

Rosa Mystica by (Saint) John Henry Newman

Mary, Mystical Rose ~ Cardinal Newman

RoseSt. John Henry Newman (as of Oct. 13, 2019) has called the Blessed Virgin Mary the Rosa Mystica or the Mystical Rose

Newman held that she “is the Queen of spiritual flowers; and therefore she is called the Rose, for the rose is fitly called of all flowers the most beautiful.” Newman writes of this “hidden rose.” whose tomb cannot be found on earth as are the shrines of of the saints and martyrs. 

“Is it conceivable that they [the early Christians] who had been so reverent and careful of the bodies of the Saints and Martyrs should neglect her—[she] who was the Queen of Martyrs and the Queen of Saints, who was the very Mother of our Lord? Why then is Blessed Mary thus the hidden Rose? Plainly because that sacred body is in heaven, not on earth.”

Holy Mary, Mystical Rose, you are the most beautiful flower created by God, in venerating you we praise God for his holiness and beauty.   May 26

Mary is the “Rosa Mystica,” the Mystical Rose.

MARY is the most beautiful flower that ever was seen in the spiritual world. It is by the power of God’s grace that from this barren and desolate earth there have ever sprung up at all flowers of holiness and glory. And Mary is the Queen of them. She is the Queen of spiritual flowers; and therefore she is called the Rose, for the rose is fitly called of all flowers the most beautiful.

But moreover, she is the Mystical, or hidden Rose; for mystical means hidden. How is she now “hidden” from us more than are other saints? What means this singular appellation, which we apply to her specially? The answer to this question introduces us to a third reason for believing in the reunion of her sacred body to her soul, and its assumption into heaven soon after her death, instead of its lingering in the grave until the General Resurrection at the last day.

It is this:—if her body was not taken into heaven, where is it? how comes it that it is hidden from us? why do we not hear of her tomb as being here or there? why are not pilgrimages made to it? why are not relics producible of her, as of the saints in general? Is it not even a natural instinct which makes us reverent towards the places where our dead are buried? 

We bury our great men honourably. St. Peter speaks of the sepulchre of David as known in his day, though he had died many hundred years before. When our Lord’s body was taken down from the Cross, He was placed in an honourable tomb. Such too had been the honour already paid to St. John Baptist, his tomb being spoken of by St. Mark as generally known. Christians from the earliest times went from other countries to Jerusalem to see the holy places. And, when the time of persecution was over, they paid still more attention to the bodies of the Saints, as of St. Stephen, St. Mark, St. Barnabas, St. Peter, St. Paul, and other Apostles and Martyrs. These were transported to great cities, and portions of them sent to this place or that. 

Thus, from the first to this day it has been a great feature and characteristic of the Church to be most tender and reverent towards the bodies of the Saints. Now, if there was anyone who more than all would be preciously taken care of, it would be our Lady. Why then do we hear nothing of the Blessed Virgin’s body and its separate relics? Why is she thus the hidden Rose? Is it conceivable that they who had been so reverent and careful of the bodies of the Saints and Martyrs should neglect her—her who was the Queen of Martyrs and the Queen of Saints, who was the very Mother of our Lord? It is impossible. Why then is she thus the hidden Rose? Plainly because that sacred body is in heaven, not on earth.

Thursday 15 August 2019

Sainte-Marie des Deux-Montagnes: Assumption Homily

The following homily was given at the Latin Missa Cantata for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Abbey Church on August 15, 2019. 

Initially given in English by Fr. John Hodgins, the text was translated into French  for the community which now includes both French and English speaking postulants.  

The homily was translated by Dom Charles Gilman O.S.B., the Abbey Chaplain, and was repeated in French at Mass for the bi-lingual congregation which includes local people who attend the Novus Ordo Latin Mass at Ste-Marie daily.

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary 

Abbaye Sainte-Marie des Deux-Montagnes, Quebec, August 15, 2019

“And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?”  Luke 1 

This is the quizzical but hopeful greeting of our Blessed Mother by Elizabeth, her kinswoman. Blessed Mary has come to visit members of her family, Elizabeth and Zechariah, an older couple, who are sharing the joy of expecting a first child.  

Down the ages, expectant Christian mothers are moved by these words about our Blessed Mother, Mary, the chosen vessel for our hope and salvation. Elizabeth’s words are in the form of a question: “Why has the Mother of the Lord come to visit us?”  

This is not simply a query, it is a proclamation, a declaration of underlying hope: words of expectancy in a world of contingency and apprehension, words of faith in the power of God’s love coming to us in the person of the mother of our Lord and in the loving, saving potential of the divine Child she is carrying.

It is in this context of the love of family that we, all of us, receive the gifts of faith and hope.  Throughout scripture we are pointed to the human family as the centre of sustaining faith in an often challenging and hostile world.  Never more than today we need these words of faith and of hope nurtured within the sheltering love of the family whether it be the nuclear family of nature or the spiritual family of those who have chosen to live together in worship and service as in the community of a monastery. 

In the face of the prevalent materialism of our day, we hear again the words of a simple woman of no social standing in the face of the culture of death.  In a culture vying for euthanasia and abortion we see the example of heroic women: images, reflections of Blessed Mary, women who nurture the child in the womb, women who nurture the hope of the world in prayer and in their care for others.

In my work as a hospital chaplain I am daily moved by the profound and bottomless love of mothers for their sick children. I am in awe of the long vigils by the bedside, the holding and caressing of the little heads of their children who suffer from cancer or any of the many diseases which flesh is heir to.
I think particularly of an older mother in her early 40’s whom I met recently at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. She is currently sleeping on a cot beside her little nine month old son who has Down’s Syndrome and heart complications. She is often accompanied by her only other child, a 17 year old confident young man who is off to university this Fall but who spends time with his tiny brother and supporting his mother.

The husband and father of the family is away from home for long periods with work.  The mother holds vigil as the little one improves and then has another in a series of setbacks.  The bottomless love of this mother and of other mothers I encounter is a shining example of the love which mirrors that of the blessed Mother who “comes to us” in our weakness and our need, of the blessed Mother who thinks only of our health and our hope, the holy Mother who, like Jesus, has never and will never leave us.

The great English mystic, Julian of Norwich, reflecting on the presence of our Lady wrote these words in her book Revelations of Divine Love, words that she understood to come from Jesus as she contemplated his holy Mother:

“I know well that you wish to see my blessed mother . . . she is what all my blessed creatures most desire to see.”  

Julian continues, speaking of the spiritual vision of our Lady as she is assumed into heaven: 

I was not taught [Julian says] to long to see [our Lady’s] bodily presence while I am here, but the virtues of her blessed soul, her truth, her wisdom, her love, through which I am taught to know myself and reverently to fear God. . . .  
And Jesus . . . showed me a spiritual vision of [Mary] high and noble and glorious and more pleasing to him than all the creatures . . . . now in delight, honour and joy.