No homily this week! I offered Mass this morning in a small chapel in Ottawa, using the new translation of the Roman Missal for the first time--jumping the gun slightly on the November 27 introduction date, which I judged to be all right when celebrating with a congregation of two!
I liked the more solemn cadence, although I stumbled a bit, and I believe the changes will help us celebrate Mass with greater reverence and solemnity.
My host here, Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, SJ, was on the Vox Clara commission that worked on the new Missal, so we had some interesting discussions, and enjoyed watching the light-hearted DVD presentation that the American group Lifeteen has produced to introduce the changes to youth.
Yesterday I gave a talk on stewardship and youth at Annunciation Parish. It was basically the same as the one I gave at the International Catholic Stewardship Conference in San Diego last year, but I didn't think that would be a problem--until I discovered Father Maurice Dionne, director of the stewardship office for the Archdiocese of Ottawa, in the audience. He'd also been in San Diego, so I had to tell him he'd be hearing a rerun. At least he liked the talk in San Diego--a recording of it is posted on his website.
Later I married a young parishioner at St. Mary's Parish, coincidentally another parish under the pastoral care of the Companions of the Cross, the religious order founded by Father Bob Bedard, who after a long illness died the night I arrived in Ottawa. I met him only twice, but he made a very deep impression on me. He encouraged priests to pray over people in need, overcoming our shyness in this regard. He also spoke powerfully about "giving God permission" to work in our lives. May he rest in peace.
The parishioner met his bride at Catholic Christian Outreach's annual Christmas conference, Rise Up, a few years back; it's a wonderful match and it was a wonderful wedding. I didn't write my homily out as I usually do nowadays, but the highlights are very simple--some lines from John Paul II that I found while reflecting on the couple's choice of Gospel reading, the passage in Matthew where Jesus calls us the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
The first quotation came from Blessed John Paul's letter on the Christian family in the modern world, known by its Latin title Familiaris Consortio. Here's what he wrote, in n. 13: Spouses are "the permanent reminder to the Church of what happened on the Cross."
The second is not as dramatic, but still surprised me some. It's from his letter on the laity, Christifideles Laici, n. 40: "The lay faithful's duty to society primarily begins in marriage and in the family. This duty can only be fulfilled adequately with the conviction of the unique and irreplaceable value that the family has in the development of society and the Church herself."
The notion that the primary service the laity renders to society is through marriage and the family shouldn't really have surprised me, since I was familiar with the fact that "The family is the basic cell of society. It is the cradle of life and love..."
I used the words of "the Polish Pope" (both Ada and Thomas come from strong Polish-Canadian families) to stress that their marriage matters to society especially in these times "when human egoism, the anti-birth campaign, totalitarian politics, situations of poverty, material, cultural and moral misery, threaten to make these very springs of life dry up."
Ada's pastor, Father Roger Vandenakker, and I were very quick to agree: there's nothing quite so joyful as celebrating the marriages of young Catholics who practise their faith. We can't help feeling a bit flat when we officiate at the weddings of those who don't see their union as a deeply spiritual event. We enjoyed ourselves thoroughly--Father Roger even graced the reception with a splendid version of a Caribbean wedding toast sung by the great Harry Belafonte long before Thomas and Ada were born.
A good weekend all around! Happy Thanksgiving to all.