The Oratory of Saint Joseph at Mount Royal is a magnificent structure, its imposing dome dominating the highest point of the cosmopolitan city of Montreal. In the incomprehensible ways of God, this majestic basilica, the largest church in Canada, is named for and dedicated to one of His humblest creatures: the carpenter of Nazareth, whose feast day we celebrate on March 19th.
The connection between Saint Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) and the first recorded Nativity re-enactment has been well documented by sources close to him. The year was 1223, and Francis enlisted the help of a friend to stage a reverent live rendering of the scene which had taken place in the stable at Bethlehem. The setting was Greccio, a small Italian town located about 55 miles north of Rome.
During the final days approaching the great feast of Christmas – of God’s dwelling among us as one of us – our time and attention often become distracted and fragmented at best. The multiple aspects of holiday preparation can descend upon us as an intimidating army of chores to be accomplished, duties to be fulfilled. We can so easily lose focus on the true meaning behind all the gift-wrapping and cookie-baking.
As the liturgical season of Advent gets underway, it is good to consider various ways to make this time of anticipation worthwhile and spiritually fulfilling. Daily meditations in print or electronic form certainly can be helpful, but nothing can outdo the efficacy of daily Mass.
The seeds of the Little Flower, the beloved Saint Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897), were planted in unquestionably holy soil. The sanctity of her family is evidenced by the holiness of her parents, Louis and Zelie Martin, both canonized saints of the Catholic Church. All five of their daughters dedicated their lives to Christ by entering religious Orders; four, including Therese, as Carmelites.
I think it is safe to say that a mystique of sorts has evolved surrounding the beloved man popularly known as Padre Pio. The fact that since 2002, he has been numbered among the canonized saints of the Catholic Church, at times appears to be a mere afterthought.
Jesus’ words recorded in Sacred Scripture continue to speak to us just as clearly today as to the eager crowds who listened to Him on the hills of Galilee. The subject of prayer, which Jesus addressed often and practiced consistently throughout His time on earth, is one eminently worthy of revisiting. The Gospels make it clear that, by word and example, Jesus modeled for us the importance of a close personal relationship with the Father we share in common.
We find ourselves now well into that lengthy liturgical period termed Ordinary Time. For some of us, there is a tendency to take this season at its name, to treat these weeks as a ho-hum, colorless gap bridging the feasts of Corpus Christi and Christ the King. Give us Lent and Advent, when we can focus on the tough stuff!
This August marks the 140th anniversary of an event of the highest spiritual significance for the people of Ireland, and in fact, for the faithful of the world.