Today is Shrove Tuesday, when we put out the call to be “shriven” of our sins during Lent. Of course, it also goes by other names: Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, and Pancake Tuesday. The latter name had particular significance here at St. Luke’s, as during the evening we had two sittings of a community pancake supper.
A number of people have contact me regarding the “manifesto” published by 19 Quebec priests in the Montreal newspaper La Presse, condemning the Catholic Church for its teaching on same-sex marriage and its policy regarding the admission (or not) of homosexual persons to seminary. “What do think, Fr. Tom?”
Last July I had a most interesting exchange with “valiantmauz”, a self-described woman Canadian supporter of same-sex marriage who is gay (terms in order of importance). In reply to a comment she left in a comment box I wrote a post to suggest 5 ways that the supporters of same-sex marriage might nevertheless help create an atmosphere in which “religious rights and gay rights” (her terms) might be able to co-exist.
It seems to me that there are 4 basic questions that any religion needs to be able to address:
(1) Who is God?
(2) If God is all-good and all-powerful, why is there evil in the world?
(3) If God *is* all-good and all-powerful *and* there is evil in the world, what is God doing about it?
(4) If God *is* all-good and all-powerful *and* there is evil in the world *and* God is doing something about it, how do we get with the program?
Last July I was contacted by Company Publications to do a review of their recently-published novel This Side of Jordan, by Bill Kassel. The book arrived a few days later, and I dove into it. To make this brief, I didn’t like it. It turned me off. And I rather dreaded having to do the review, and I would rather praise something than do the opposite.
This analogy is meant to help explain the different categories of Christian liturgy. So I want you, the reader, to imagine an island in the middle of the ocean, and then keep reading.
Today I attended a very special meeting between the Cardinal Archbishop and his younger priests. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the gathering, but I was pleasantly surprised. My brother priests expressed themselves quite openly regarding the challenges they face in their ministry, and the Cardinal himself spoke quite candidly regarding the current state of health of our presbyterium. Our topics were (1) our living out of the mission of the Church, and (2) the question of solidarity within the presbyterium, especially between generations of priests.
I was chatting recently with a friend who was very frustrated with the inertia that he perceives in some quarters of the Church leadership concerning what he sees are key issues. I could see his point for each issue, but I think I took him aback when I replied that these things really don't bother me that much. "Why not?" he asked. "You do care, don't you?"
My phone rang at 7:45 am. “Fr. Tom, there is a man in Emergency who is dying, and the family has called for a priest.”
So I call the Emergency department at the hospital (I’m still in my pyjamas at this point) and they confirm this info. I ask, “How urgent is his case? For example, does he have a few days, or only a few hours?”
Response: “He could be gone within the next 5 minutes. Get over here.”
A message came in over the fax machine today: Montreal will soon have two new auxiliary bishops! Congrats to Frs. Lionel Gendron and André Gazaille.
I know both men. Fr. Gendron was one of my teachers in the seminary, and we kept in contact quite a bit afterwards. Fr. Gazaille I know a bit less, but as he is the pastor of my good friend Fr. Benoit Morrier we would run into each other from time to time.
When I was studying to be a priest I remember experiencing a call within my call: I was not only called to be a priest, but to be a priest for the Church of Montreal. This was actually quite significant, since my family does not live in this city. A few times I recall asking the Lord, “Are you sure you want me to be in Montreal?” and the answer I always received in prayer was “Your place is in Montreal.”
Got back Monday, in the wee hours of the morning. I’ve been spending the last couple of days ploughing through correspondence, phone messages, and email. But it looks like I’ve caught up. Time to get back to some serious blogging!