I got a call from the Curateur publique today to follow up with from the meeting I had a few days ago. The government official in question wanted to meet the elderly priest in person, so I proposed picking her up from her office and going to see him this afternoon. She agreed, and we had a very nice visit.
I attended an all-day meeting at the Assemblée des évêques catholiques du Québec. The Comité des ministères, one of the standing committees of the Quebec bishops, was gathering with the executive members of some of its official partner groups, such as the “group partenaire des prêtres”. The topic was the life and experience of ministry of the lay pastoral agents who work as part of the various ministries in the Quebec church (most often in parishes).
I went to Saint-Luke hospital today to visit with a sick priest. The trip was not planned, but was one of those things that the Holy Spirit seemed to arrange himself. I got a call from a social worker, letting me know that there was a sick priest who had requested special assistance from the local health clinic. Coincidentally, I had already made arrangements to meet the curate of the parish where he lives (on another matter, mind you) so it would give us a chance to coordinate whatever help he might need.
I met a young couple this evening who want to get married, but the family is not too keen. Why? She’s Christian, and he’s Muslim. Whoops.
Now I have to say, I really like this couple. The young lady was actually a student of mine a couple of years ago, and I felt quite honoured that she contacted me after so much time to seek some advice. In particular, she wanted to know what the Church had to say about their desire for marriage.
This is not a joke: it actually happened, this very evening.
Well, not quite. Actually, it was two priests. I was one of them — the one who was mistaken for a gangster.
Well, again not quite. My friend Fr. Richard Depairon and I decided to go and shoot some pool at a billiards hall near a former parish of mine. I guess this place has gotten a bit tough since I was there, because we had to pass through a metal detector to get into the place. Fr. Richard got through fine. Me? I set off the alarm, meaning I then got searched for weapons.
…and after supper with the monks, I headed to Upstairs to have a drink with a fellow named Vincent, who had recently posted some comments on the Adventus website about a conference I had given. I hadn’t really quite understood the points he was trying to make, and I felt that we risked getting very frustrated in having an exchange merely over internet, so I proposed we meet in person and he accepted.
I had the honour this evening of presiding mass with the Fraternité monastique de Jerusalem, a new religious community that has a centre in Montreal. The evening of prayer actually began with Vespers (evening prayer), followed immediately by a mass which I also preached.
Part of the work of my branch of the diocesan curia (i.e. the Office for Pastoral Personnel) is to help look after priests who find themselves in particular difficulties. I have been recently helping an elderly brother who requires assistance, particularly with his financial affairs, and today I went to the Curateur Publique for an initial interview with an eye to being declared his official “tutor”.
This just might be a first: I offered spiritual direction to someone today over webcam. No, it did not involve the sacrament of confession — that can only be offered face to face — but for the discussion of other things it worked just great. In fact, in some ways it worked even better than a regular face-to-face meeting. This is because, in addition to the video link, it was possible to have the regular typed messages that you can do with an instant messaging service.
As I believe I’ve mentioned in the past, I am the Treasurer of the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism. My main goal in this post is to establish a more effective system of financial governance regarding the activities in the Centre. Things already work fairly well — we’ve never had any problems with our auditors, for example, — but I want to move us to a system of departmental accounting. This will allow us to craft budgets that are truly representative of the Centre’s activities, rather than just grouping of cost centres.
In his general email yesterday, Cardinal Turcotte announced that my boss was being given a promotion: Msgr. Jean Fortier is now the Vicar General of the Archdiocese, replacing Bishop Anthony Mancini who was recently named Archbishop of Halifax. Bishop Lionel Gendron is being named his replacement in the Office for Pastoral Personnel, which means I have a new boss!
Canada has recently undergone a wrenching national debate on the issue of same-sex marriage (the result of which was its legalization), and this debate is being found well beyond our shores in other nations of Western civilization. When the debate was at its peak a number of people asked me where this debate came from, and how it had suddenly become so prevalent. The causes are many, of course, but one of the key sources has been radical feminism.
I was visiting my brother’s home today, and at one point was just sitting on his couch when my youngest niece (Maya, 7 years old) came over and sat down next to me. She then promptly leaned over and put her head on my chest in what was (I am sure) the most heart-melting snuggle the world has ever seen.
Or at least, it seemed that way to me.
Very often, when we approach the Lord for a healing what we are really looking for is a cure. If that is our desire, we may find ourselves disappointed and even in despair. But there is no sacrament, for example, that can stave off death inevitably. The only way the disease of death will ever be cured will be by the glorious coming of Christ. Until then, though, we all called to live in Hope, not in despair. This is what a healing brings. A cure delays death, but still leaves us with the same fear.
I was invited to the rectory of Mary Queen of Peace parish last Sunday to offer a talk to a group of young adults (they have a group that meets about twice a month). It started with a delicious dinner and a warm mug of tea, and then we proceeded to the living room to chat about the topic "why be Christian?" When I had spoken with the pastor of the parish a bit earlier in the day he jokingly answered, "Why not?"
Today we had a large gathering of the various offices and departments of the Archdiocese, as well as different pastoral agents working in the parishes, to listen to a presentation by Jacques Racine of Laval University on the new program for religious education that will start to be offered in our elementary and high schools as of September 2008 (French only).