September 2005

How do you handle it? part III

(part of what is turning out to be an ongoing series)

Another thing that helps me “deal with” seeing so many people suffering is realising that they, in fact, are offering a great service to our society, and in particular to me. They may not realise they are doing so, of course, and they certainly didn’t elect to be offering this service, but they are.

La Neuvaine

I got together with my Jesu Caritas group today and after our meeting we went to see a movie together: La Neuvaine, by Bernard Émond, which won a number of prizes at the Locarno film festival (including the Ecumenical Prize, given for excellence in film with religious themes).


A number of pastoral encounters recently have prompted me to write something regarding the whole issue of anger, as many people (I have learned) really struggle with feelings of anger and wonder about it.

Takin’ the bus

My car was in the shop today, as for some time there was an odd popping sound coming from the front. For reasons too complex to explain here I had to bring it in today, but I also had to be downtown by 10 am for a meeting. Which meant that I did something I haven’t done in a long time: I took the bus.

Actually, it was the bus and subway (Montrealers call the latter the “metro”), and it took about 2 hours each way. A friend offered to lend me his truck, but given it had been a while since I used public transport, I thought I’d give it a go.

Book Review: the Doors of the Sea

TITLE: The Doors of the Sea: Where was God in the Tsumani?

AUTHOR: David Bentley Hart

ISBN: 0-8028-2976-7

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: A small book: 104 pages of core content, 5 x 7 pages, 1.5 spacing, medium type, no illustrations. Hardcover.

RAISON D’ETRE: After the Asian tsunami of Christmas 2004, a great many atheists saw it as proof that there was no God. The author challenges this view by reviewing what Christian history has actually said on the subject of human suffering.

How do you handle it? part II

In a previous post I started to tackle the question of how I “handle” being a hospital chaplain. In this post I’d like to mention another thing that really helps: the miracles!

Last Saturday I was called in to anoint an elderly woman who was dying. I prayed with the family, and I explained to them that the anointing fundamentally meant for healing. It is Christ himself who is anointing, and he desires to share his healing grace. So I encouraged them to look for the healing, in whatever form it might come.

Explaining the Trinity

I was recently in conversation with a reader of my blog who asked me how he might go about explaining the Trinity to someone with little background in the subject. I thought I might share some of my own catechetical approach.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

I am a real chicken in the movie theatre — not a screamer, more of a jumper, but no matter what I don’t like scary films. Never have. So I really had to get myself in the right frame of mind to go see The Exorcism of Emily Rose, but given the subject matter (Catholic priest performing an exorcism) I felt I should see it — especially it proposed to offer a “serious” look at the topic.

My going away party

This evening was my much-anticipated going-away party from St. Thomas a Becket parish. As my readers know, I have been reassigned (since September 1) to neighbouring St. Luke parish. But the old parish wanted to give me a send-off, and as expected it was a blast. My parents even came down from Ottawa for the event.

Visiting Palliative Care

Today I had a chance to have lunch over at the West Island Palliative Care residence. My appointment from the bishop includes the responsibility of Catholic chaplaincy at the palliative care residence, so I hope to be able to visit often. I had already gone over the week before, and I was told that the lunches were famous (and that I was always welcome), so I thought I’d check it out.

Library project update

A few months ago I mentioned a project that I came across when I was visiting the Philippines — the building of a school library. I am happy to report that this idea is very much alive, and slowly become more and more concrete. We have a small committee here in Montreal working on collecting books (as well as figuring out how to ship them), and your truly will be setting up a special web site with more information and instructions for people who wish to contribute in some way.

Clergy meetings

I had a 24-hour window in my agenda, which allowed me to head up to Cap-de-la-Madeleine and spend time with the English-speaking diocesan priests of Montreal where were there on retreat. It was good to have some fellowship with them — every other year I spent the whole week, but with the hospital schedule I could only muster a day this time.

The Realm of the Divine

No, not a deep theological work — a role-playing game! I just got a copy of Realms of Power: The Divine in the mail. The company, Atlas Games, sent it to me for free for my help in reviewing the product while it was still under development (I’m sort of their in-house censor for an unofficial nihil obstat). If you ever see a copy, look inside and you’ll see me credited under “playtesters” — complete with the “Fr.” before my name!

“How do you handle it?”

When people discover that I’m in hospital ministry, I sometimes get the question, “How do you handle it?” Such persons often share that they would find themselves getting very emotionally involved in the pain of others, so they see this ministry as extraordinarily difficult. “How do you manage to stay detached?” they ask.

Consecrated virginity

I had a chance today to chat with one of the consecrated virgins here in the diocese of Montreal. Let me begin by saying how much I admire her personally for the love she radiates for Christ her husband. Her vocation is an ancient one, so ancient that it is mentioned in the New Testament itself, but it is poorly understood by people in the world today — or even, I'd venture to say, by Catholics.

What is life?

During my time in hospital ministry I came to realise that I needed to develop a "Theology of Life" to help people, including myself, come to grips with the many hard questions that we face in this kind of institution.

Healing mass

This evening was another one of the special services organized by the healing ministry team of which I am a part. It was quite a success. We began the evening with a rosary and time of praise, during which I heard confessions. The mass began at 7:30 pm, with the readings, mass prayers and homily oriented towards the question of sickness and healing. Afterwards, we had people come forward (if they wished) to be prayed over, while the sacraments of Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick were offered by Fr. Mike McKenna and myself.

Happy Birthday Mary!

You may not know it, but today is the feast of the Nativity of Mary. Yep, it’s her birthday! Happy birthday to our Mother in Heaven. Assuming Christ was born in 4 BC, and Mary was 14 years old at the time, that makes her…..2023 years old. That’s a lot of candles on the cake!

Lament for New Orleans

Pastor David Knight of the nearby Westview Bible Church composed the following text and sent it to some of the local pastors. I was quite touched by it, and with his permission I now share it with you.

Lament for New Orleans


Adapted from Jeremiah’s “Lamentation over Jerusalem” (NIV). See suggestions at the end for praying this lament today.

End-of-life issues

One type of question I’ve already been required to address has been the difficult issue of pain management at the end of life, when the administration of pain medication will result in the side-effect of shortening a person’s life. To help a particular family deal with the question, I wrote the following letter, both for them and to share with any medical staff they might encounter. I thought it might be worth sharing here, as it might provoke some worthwhile discussion.

First day at the hospital

Today was my first real day at the Lakeshore General Hospital. I’m still trying to get a grip on what this ministry involves, and I’ve learned that the first thing I need to figure out is some of the bureaucracy. I spent quite a bit of time today just filling out forms, trying to get a parking pass and a badge to open the doors, and taking care of other Human Resources issues. But it is slowly coming together.


What a way to spend your day off: unpacking. I’m still living out of boxes, but things are improving. I can actually see my floor again, I’ve thrown out a ton of stuff, and order is gradually emerging from the chaos. I’ll be glad once I can sit on my sofa once more, but that will require I sort through my papers and actually file them properly. One thing at a time — at least the single malt scotch is safely tucked away!

The new parish

Well, today was my first Sunday at the new parish. I concelebrated the early mass (English), and then presided the midmorning (French) and middday (English) masses. It was a bit overwhelming, seeing all the new faces and learning all the new (and always slightly different) ways of doing things. But I am always happy to be able to refocus on the Eucharist — I always feel at home there. It’s a good way to start off a new ministry. Special thanks to Fr.

Congrats to the Tanguay’s

I had the lovely opportunity today to baptise 3 children: Brett, Brooke, and Savanna Tanguay (hope I got the right spellings there). Savanna is the infant daughter of Stephane and Natalee, whose wedding I celebrated last year. Brett and Brooke are her cousins: their family was up from the States, so it became an extended family affair. I felt honoured to be a part of it all.

Back to blogging soon

As my readers are probably aware, I’ve been reassigned to ministry in a new parish, as well as chaplain in a local hospital. So I’ve been a little busy the last week with packing and moving. In fact, as I write this I am surrounded by boxes waiting to be unpacked, and I have to head off to the hospital to see what awaits me there. So stay tuned, I’ll be back to blogging once things settle down a bit. Pray for me!