February 18, 2022
Carl Block (1834-1890), Jesus teaches his disciples and the crowds, 1877
Hillerod Museum, Denmark
The Great Sermon of Jesus
Jesus’s first Sermon on the Mount (in Matthew) or Sermon on the Plain (in Luke) is central to the message of the Kingdom of God. The painter Bloch’s inclusion of an array of believers who have gathered to hear Jesus’ words allows us to view this religious event through a contemporary lens. The humble and poor look on in adoration; some clasp their hands in hope. Their daily tasks are forgotten as they lay aside their baskets, water jugs, and staffs. Some look interested but skeptical. The bearded man behind the figure of Christ who appears to consider and reflect on his words may well be a self-portrait of Bloch. The young girl in the gold robe and mantle carefully attempts to capture the butterfly that has landed on the woman’s white veil.
Having recovered from my brief bout with Covid, I am looking forward to my return to the North this weekend. Please pray for the situation in Ottawa which remains tense and challenging for all.
The Tabernacle in the Cathedral
When we gather for the Chrism Mass in April at the Cathedral in Hearst, you will notice that the tabernacle has been moved to the centre of the church where formerly the bishop’s cathedra was located. When the cathedral was built a Blessed Sacrament Chapel was constructed on the left hand side (looking toward the altar) and a Baptismal Chapel was on the corresponding right side.
Over time, our devotional practices evolved and the Blessed Sacrament Chapel lost the sense of reverence that should be evident: many people walk by in conversation; it is not a prayerful place. With the location of choir at the front of the church and the need for locating and storing musical instruments, the baptismal chapel also lost some of its dignity (in showing visitors around, we discovered bongo drums in the baptismal font).
I asked the pastor to consult with parishioners about transferring the tabernacle to the centre of the church and moving the baptismal chapel to the other side. With only minor objections having been heard and the majority responding favourably to the proposal, the tabernacle was moved and the cathedra’s location adjusted. We are considering obtaining a more suitable chair to represent the seat of the Bishop’s teaching, sanctifying and governing role.
Precision in Sacramental Formulas
You may have heard of the repercussions of the discovery that a priest who had served in Brazil, California and Arizona had during his 25 years of ministry utilized the formula “we baptize” instead of “I baptize” when conferring Baptism, thus, according to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith rendering these baptisms invalid. In 2020 two priests in the USA, had discovered that they had never been baptized and so had to receive all their sacraments of initiation and ordination again.
Our people have the right to receive the Sacraments of the Church as they were instituted by Christ and governed by the Church. One can never go wrong by “doing the red and saying the black”. This is especially true with regard to the formula of Baptism, absolution in confession and the Eucharistic Prayers. The new Roman Missal in French challenges us to learn the new formulas and not to say the previous formulations or combine the two.
Let us resolve to follow the mind of the Church in interpreting the will of Christ as he offers us the means of salvation.
The Novena of Grace
This year the Novena of Grace (made each year from March 4-12), seeking the intercession of St. Francis Xavier will culminate with a Mass commemorating the 400th anniversary of the great missionary’s canonization (March 12, 1622) celebrated by Pope Francis in the Church of the Gesu in Rome, where the saint’s relic is exposed (it travelled across Canada in January-February 2017). I invite our priests and parishes who wish to do so to make the Novena with me, with the intention that God send us a good, holy, energetic and zealous Bishop this year, if possible by Pentecost. You may locate the appropriate background and prayers at this site in English https://www.sacredspace.ie/novenas/francisxavier or at one of these two sites in French:
Saturday, February 19: Travel from Ottawa to Timmins via Toronto-Pearson, overnight guest of Bishop Poitras.
Sunday, February 20: Mass at St. Gertrude Church, Smooth Rock Falls, 10:30 AM.
February 22-28: Travel to Moosonee to dispose of the contents of the Bishop’s Residence and Office so as to prepare the building for sale.
Sunday, February 27: Mass at Christ the King Church, Moosonee, 11:00 AM.
Tuesday, March 1: Confirmations for youth of St. Patrick’s, Kapuskasing, 1:00 PM.
Wednesday, March 2: Ash Wednesday Mass with imposition of ashes, Notre Dame de l’Assomption cathedral, 7:15 PM.
Thursday, March 3: Meeting of the Diocesan Economic Affairs Council, Bishop’s Office, Hearst, 1:30 PM.
March 7-10: Virtual ACBO Spring Plenary and OPECO sessions, Toronto (I will be away until March 14)
We renew our commitment to pray for one another as we serve God’s people here in Hearst-Moosonee.
The following priest confreres celebrate birthdays in March
Gerald Chalifoux on March 12
Hervé Sauvé (his 60th) on March 13
Duolomane Okamba on March 26
Richard Fortin (his 65th) on March 28