August 2004

Reading Vatican II

I am a huge fan of Vatican II. I sometimes get asked if the coming challenges facing the Church ever get me down. In fact, there is only one thing that really gets me down: seeing Vatican II getting replaced by Vatican II Lite, Vatican 2.5, or worst of all, Vatican III.

Marriage reunion

This evening I held a very special event: a reunion of all the couples I’ve married (or, for those two from when I was a deacon, at whose weddings I preached). I haven’t been a priest that long, so there were only 10 couples to invite, and not all could make it. But I think I can speak for everyone when I say we had a really great time. There was a ton of food, and great conversation. Keep in mind that I was the only person everybody knew – people were meeting each other for the first time! And yet, everybody got along famously.

Boy the gift of tongues could have come in handy

I got a call to go anoint a couple at the hospital. The poor people are both sick, and trapped in their beds on separate floors. How could I refuse? And then the nurse drops a bombshell:

“By the way, do you speak Italian?”

“Um, well, no, not really.”

“Oh. Well, they don’t speak English or French. I hope you’ll be able to make do.”


Apologetics evening

I’ve written in the past the I felt the Lord wanted to bring a renewed ministry of apologetics to Quebec society. Through a set of simple coincidences I saw some of that dream start to be realised. My friend Richard got in touch with me a few days ago, offering to give a talk on the Dan Brown’s book “The DaVinci Code”. We brought a few people together for a “conversation” about Catholic apologetics, followed by the talk.

Fr. Martin is off to Rome

I was off to the nearby Pierre Elliot Trudeau Airport today to see a friend off to Europe. Fr. Martin Tremblay is headed to Rome to study spirituality at the Teresianum. A whole group of family and friends was there, as well as his brother priests from his Jesu Caritas group (the source of my connection with him). We prayed in the middle of the lobby, and saw him off to the gate. May the Lord open his mind and heart to receive the studies he will pursue!

What kind of person are YOU?

I had an interesting conversation today with Dan Kennedy, the CEO of Human Life of Washington state, as well as Interim President of Catholic Educator’s Resource Center (USA). He had written me a while back through my blog, and we finally had a chance to connect.

Most of our conversation dealt with brainstorming how to get the pro-life message out more effectively. It seems to clear to those of us IN the movement, so why does it seem so hard for others to “get it”?

There’s nothing like a little nuclear devastation among friends

Today I had some friends over: Fr. Stephen Otvos, whom I’ve mentioned several times in this blog, as well as a couple of seminarian buddies.

So what do two priests and two seminarians do when they get together? Nuke the world of course! I am referring to an old board game I own called Supremacy – The Game of the Superpowers. It isn’t in print anymore, and I hadn’t played it in 15 years, until I proposed it to the guys a couple of weeks ago. Now we are hooked!

A welcome donation

The parish recently received the donation of a home theatre system – a Vidikron VPF-40S projector and a set of 1980 Klipschorn speakers. While each piece is quite old, they are quality products (and given that they are a donation, the price is certainly right!)


I was on-call for the hospital ICU last night, and at 9:30 my pager went off – a woman had complications from surgury and was dying. So off I went. We prayed, I anointed, we chatted, I stuck around – I left around 11:00 pm.

As I was walking through the parking lot of the hospital, almost at my car, the pager went off again. This time it was Emergency calling. So, back into the hospital I go….at least I didn’t have far to travel!

On the fence?

Many people tell me how difficult the sacrament of Reconciliation is for them….they’d like to live it, but for some reason (fear, shame, the memory of a previous bad experience, etc.) they are being held back. Often the reason they hold back is even vague to them….and that’s part of what makes it so hard.

Recently I had a chance to live this sacrament with someone who shortly afterwards she sent me an email about it. I wrote her back to ask permission to post her message to my blog, as a form of encouragement to others. Here was her reply:

The power of the sacraments

People sometimes wonder if the sacraments actually *do* anything. Part of the problem, of course, is that the sacraments are not something that can be measured scientifically….it’s hard to imagine concocting some sort of double-blind control-group experiment to see what effects the sacraments might have. On an individual basis, we see that the sacraments don’t have just one targeted effect, but are meant to speak to the person in the whole of their being….their body, yes, their soul, certainly, but also their emotions and even their relationships.

Visiting with a friend

Today I had a chance to go out for a beer with someone I hadn’t seen in a long time, my friend Frederic Tremblay. He and I first met at the World Youth Day in Toronto 2002. He was a volunteer just as I was, and we both arrived on the Monday not knowing what our assigned task would be. I discovered mine was to coordinate a French-language catechesis site with a maximum capacity of 20,000 people – and I discovered this with less than 48 hours notice. I also learned that I had no staff – there weren’t enough French-language volunteers to go around!

Apocryphal texts on the Dormition and Assumption of Mary

I promised my parishioners that I would put a link to the ancient documents that speak of the Dormition and Assumption of Mary. Here they are, at the end of the document regarding the “falling asleep” and the “passing” of Mary. The translation is quite an old style, and the stories don’t totally agree with each other, but the key ideas are there.

I don’t like being made a fool of

On Tuesday I blogged about the event coming up today at St. Joseph’s Oratory, and basically showed how the controversy was a mountain being made out of a molehill.

On of the points I made was that the Communications Director of the Oratory said to me explicitely (and I have my notes from the conversation) that NO sacred space of the Oratory was being used for the controversial conference.

Life of Pi

A parishioner lent me Life of Pi by Yann Martel, and I recently had a chance to read it. I must say, I was thoroughly enchanted, especially by the opening chapters. The story of this young boy’s life, and his search for God, was truly remarkable (and remarkably well-written).

Strange goings-on at St. Joseph’s Oratory?

There is an email going around regarding an upcoming conference at St. Joseph’s Oratory, which is quite critical (and a bit hysterical). I found out about it from an email I received from a friend of mine:

Fr. Tom, below is an email I received about St. Joseph’s Oratory. Usually when I receive emails such as this, I check the validity before I respond. Can you be my validity check on this?



Visiting Brother André

Today was a huge day pastorally, with many different difficult pastoral issues confronting me, so I decided to stop in at St. Joseph’s Oratory and have a chat with Brother André, their resident saint. Never mind that he’s been dead since 1937 – the communion of saints is powerful enough to transcend even death. While there, I was struck by how trusted a priest is by the faithful.

"But" vs. "however"

In my pastoral experience I have had several experiences where people have come seeking advice about a decision they have to make, but whose solution is unclear to them. I have come to realise that before offering my $0.02 I need to figure out that kind of discernment is at stake: "But" discernment, or "However" discernment. Let me explain.