Monday, January 31, 2011

Prayers for Egypt

As the conflict in Egypt intensifies, Vancouver Archbishop J. Michael Miller released a statement Jan. 31 asking the faithful to remember the people of the Middle East in their prayers.

“During this time of turmoil in Egypt and other countries, I ask you to keep all the people of the Middle East in your prayers.

“In a special way, please remember the Christian communities in those lands where religious freedom is under constant threat. For many of them, the persecution they face is being compounded with the instability and violence of recent days.

“Especially now, it is important that all Christians join in solidarity with our persecuted brothers and sisters, and pray that true justice and peace will soon flourish in Egypt and all the countries of the world.”

Story: Church leaders follow Egypt unrest.

Huskies versus babies

The RCMP and the B.C. SPCA are investigating the slaughter of about 100 sled dogs in Whistler.  Public reaction is pretty much what you'd expect. It's being called “an absolute massacre,” a "tragedy," and "an execution."

The 100 dogs were put down over two days, which means about 50 dogs a day.

By strange coincidence, that's also almost exactly the number of unborn children killed by abortion each day in B.C: 50 babies a day, six days a week, 52 weeks a year equals just over 15,000 babies a year, which was B.C.'s death tally in 2007.

At least the canine slaughter ended after two days.

A debate on religion

Father Tim Moyle, a priest of the Diocese of Pembroke, Ont., is a frequent contributor to the Holy Post, the religious blog of the National Post. On the weekend he wrote, "It's time for a mannered debate on religion."

Judging from some of the comments to the article, no it isn't.

Gung hay fat choy!

Vancouver Archbishop J. Michael Miller sends his greetings to members of Vancouver's Chinese Catholic community, which celebrates its new year Thursday, Feb. 3. For the record, it will be the Year of the Rabbit.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Rite gets it wrong

In light of Hollywood's new take on exorcism in the Anthony Hopkins film The Rite, Father John Horgan, a scholar on exorcisms and pastor at Vancouver’s Sts. Peter and Paul parish, offers the following: Scenes of “being chained and tied up has nothing to do with the Catholic rite of exorcism,” he said.

Father Horgan was a consultant to the 2005 movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose, a movie loosely based on an actual case in Germany.

He cautions that Hollywood versions of exorcism usually provide a “liberal” interpretation of the actual rite.

“Ours is very sober, reverent. Heads do not turn around” as was made famous in a scene from the 1973 film The Exorcist, the most profitable horror film of all time.

Christian communicators call for free speech in Egypt

As political protests continue to escalate in Egypt, the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) is calling on Egyptian authorities to respect freedom of expression and allow its citizens full access to all means of communication, particularly internet and social media.  WACC is also condemning violence against journalists covering the demonstrations.

According to media reports, Internet and phone services in the country have been disrupted to stop protesters from expressing their political opinions.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Teens challenged to embrace abstinence

After nine years counseling young women at a crisis pregnancy center, Pam Stenzel got tired of hearing “Nobody told me.” Once she realized how many girls were “clueless” about the risks involved with sexual activity, she launched her new career: telling as many teens and parents as possible about the risks.

Stenzel will be in Vancouver to tackle today's tough issues in educating our kids about sexuality, with candour, insight and humour while challenging them to embrace the benefits of abstinence. She is speaking at Catholic high schools and will also present two talks to parents Feb. 7 and 9.

Archdiocese of Vancouver launches earthquake plan

The Archdiocese of Vancouver is starting a co-ordinated assessment of its school and church properties to see how prepared staff, students and buildings are for an earthquake.

"We can't take chances and hope the buildings are sound," Vancouver Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, said. "Lives could depend on whether we approach this assessment in a coordinated way."

Canadian bishops call young people to chastity

'Chastity calls for purity
of mind as well as body'
Canada's Catholic bishops have written a pastoral letter to young people on chastity. It can be found here, along with a YouTube video produced by Salt + Light TV to accompany the release.

Vancouver Archbishop J. Michael Miller is chairman of the commission that wrote the letter and hopes the document will have a positive impact on young people wide and far. It's already received coverage in The National Post.

Opus Dei priest blessed dying policeman

Father Fausto Bailo
The policeman recently killed by a stolen snowplow in Toronto received a conditional absolution by a passing Opus Dei priest who didn't realize the man he was blessing was a fallen police officer.

Only later did Father Fausto Bailo learn the man was Sergeant Ryan Russell and that he had died.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sublime performance at Holy Rosary

Cathedral organist Denis Bédard performs Jan. 28 at 8 p.m.

Denis Bédard, the organist and musical director of Holy Rosary Cathedral, will perform works by Bach, Saint-Saens, Berdard and others Friday Jan. 28 at the cathedral.

Bédard attended the Quebec Conservatory of Music and graduated with first class honours in organ, harpsichord, chamber music, counterpoint and fugue.

He is considered a gifted composer as well as performer, and has studied in Paris, Montreal and Amsterdam. 

Bédard served as a professor at the Quebec conservatory from 1981 to 1989 and has been at Holy Rosary since 2001.

Tickets are $20 and $15 for students and seniors.

For more information, phone 604-682-6774.

Click here for a clip of organist Diane Bish playing Bédard's Toccata for the organ.

Ontario crash claims 2 Madonna House members

The Madonna House community is in shock following the death of two of its members in a highway accident last weekend. Joan Bryant and Marg Stobie died when their car struck a tree Sunday, Jan. 23, near Peterborough, Ont.

Marian Moody, the archivist at Madonna House Apostolate where both women lived, said "There's a reason for everything and that is a consolation, actually. It doesn't take away the shock or the pain or the loss. But in faith we know they're with God and it was their time, I guess."

Dignity of women program coming to Vancouver

ENDOW (Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women) is a Catholic educational program that brings women together to discover their God-given dignity and to understand their role in humanizing and transforming society.  ENDOW promotes the New Feminism, which is defined by Pope John Paul II, as affirming the "true genius of women," responding to our culture's desperate need for an authentic feminine presence in every aspect of life and society.

Now ENDOW is coming to Vancouver. If you are a woman interested in understanding the mission of women in today’s Church, you are invited to an information evening to learn more about ENDOW. Join Archbishop Michael Miller, CSB, Feb. 18 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Italian Cultural Centre Room #5 in Vancouver for an information evening to learn more about this new initiative. There is no charge but pre-registration is required.  Call 604-443-3220.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Great British Columbia ShakeOut

At 10:00 a.m. today, thousands of British Columbians will "Drop, Cover, and Hold On” in The Great British Columbia ShakeOut, the largest earthquake drill in Canadian history. A number of Catholic schools are registered to participate.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

BC Christian News folding

In the past year, two Catholic newspapers in Canada announced they would cease publishing regularly. Now another Christian publication is folding.

The BC Christian News will be officially suspended as of Jan. 31 and will publish its final issue in March. Its parent Christian Info Society will remain intact, along with Converge Magazine and the national website

In addition, a new publication -- a lifestyles magazine -- will come into existence effective Feb. 1. It will be run by an ex-publisher of Christian Info Society, Steve Almond.

I'm personally saddened by the death of this publication. Through the years, The B.C. Catholic and the BC Christian News had an excellent relationship with each other, often sharing stories. In fact, the two papers in recent months were discussing ways they could work together to spread awareness of the Church in the Lower Mainland.

May God direct them in the next stage of their journey of evangelization.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Father James Hughes, pastor of St. Ann's Parish in Abbotsford, writes: "As a Roman Catholic priest, the witness of my Christian faith in this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity with others from various Christian denominations has helped me appreciate the faith I have been given and also taught."

Click here to read Father's article and for a list of services this week.

Terra Sancta - Urbis Sancta

The Holy Land and the Holy City
A view south overlooking the old city of Jerusalem from
the Mount of Olives.
Jerusalem. The Holy City. It fills me with emotion when I come to this place. Wonderful. Spiritual. Eternal.

My first thoughts were to go straight to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre when I arrived.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre as seen from the Tower
of David.

I rushed through the narrow lanes of the old city toward the Sepulchre over Roman-era paving stones. Worn and polished from 2000 years of use, the stones still bear carved grooves from the Roman times (a design to allow a horse’s hooves better traction.)

I’ve been here before. I’ve been through these ancient streets before. I’ve prayed here before. But I still had to choke back emotion.

In the Holy Sepulchre, I knelt at the Stone of Unction. This is the place, according to tradition, where Christ’s body was prepared for burial. Whether or not it is the exact place is immaterial to me. The thought and wonderment of this symbolic moment after Christ died is what matters.
Kneeling at the Stone of Unction.
A mosaic above the Stone of Unction depicting the event
2000 years ago.

I went to Mass the next morning in front of The Edicule (The Tomb of Christ) as Franciscans sang hymns in Latin and Bishop John LeVoir, the bishop of the Diocese of New Ulm, celebrated Mass – O Jerusalem!

“If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
Let my right hand forget its skill!
If I do not remember you,
Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth—
If I do not exalt Jerusalem
Above my chief joy.”
- Psalm 137
The Stone of Unction.
Painting of Christ Pantokrator above the Catholicon in one
of the domes in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
The Edicule, or Tomb of Christ, in the
Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Holy places

The Sea of Galilee
This first century boat was typical of the fishing boats
used in the time of Christ.

On this trip to Israel, I’ve seen a lot of history, but nothing has more meaning, for me, than seeing the history of my faith come alive.

The Sea of Galilee is a special place for Catholics and the banks of the small body of water have witnessed some profound moments – namely the timeless teachings and fantastic miracles of Christ.

First up, I went to Bet Yigal Alon Museum at Kibbutz Ginnosar to view remains of a first century wooden sailing vessel found in Sea of Galilee. For some reason, the wooden craft was quickly covered in mud - probably from heavy rains - 2000 years ago, thus preserving it. Otherwise, a normal wooden boat would decay rapidly at the bottom of a lake.

Next up was Tabgha. The small area holds three significant places for Christians.
The Mount of the Beatitudes overlooking the Sea of
Galilee. This is the traditional spot believed to be the
place where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount.

The First is the Mount of the Beatitudes – the traditional site of the Sermon on the Mount. It has a Great view of the Sea of Galilee.

Next I went to the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes. The church dates from around the fifth century when the Byzantines built there.

Then I went to the Church of the Primacy of St. Peter. This is where Jesus told Peter he was the rock on which Christ would build his Church. There is also a rock inside the church that is known as Mensa Christi (Christ's Table) where the Byzantines believed Christ ate with his disciples.
A Byzantine mosaic lines the floor inthe apse of the Church
of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes.

A close up of the mosaic.
Afterward, I went to Kursi, reputed to be the place where Jesus cast demons out of a man and into a pig (Mark 5:1-13). There are ruins there of a beautiful fifth century Byzantine monastery and church. There is a small chapel up the hill where the casting out is said to have happened.

Jenna Murphy of Salt and Light Television prays
at the Mensa Christi.
The fifth century Byzantine monastery.
The Byzantine chapel where tradition
holds Christ cast out the demons.

St. Augustine's Centennial

Archbishop Miller to celebrate milestone at parish

This Sunday Jan. 23 Archbishop Miller with celebrate Mass at St. Augustine's Parish in Kitsilano to mark its 100th anniversary.

The Mass is set to take place from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at 2028 West 7th Ave.

The following weekend on Jan. 29, St. Augustine's will be celebrating the Parish Centennial Birthday Mass at 5 p.m followed by a family-style dinner at the parish school.

St. Augustine School is located at 2145 West 8th Ave.

The General seating tickets to the dinner are $25 and available after Masses and at the parish office. Tickets are not available at the door.

Watch for stories about the centennial events coming up in The B.C. Catholic.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

From Sea to Sea

Crossing from the Mediterranean Sea to the Sea of Galilee
A replica of the limestone block found at
Caesarea. The inscription bears the name of
Pontius Pilate, confirming his existence.

Most know Israel is a small country. It doesn’t take long to cross from west to east and our trip quickly moved from the ancient Roman coastal town of Caesarea into the Galilee.

Caesarea was an import seaport in the time of Jesus and our stop there included the usual tour of ruined palaces and homes as well as a Roman hippodrome. The hippodrome was later converted into an amphitheatre and became an arena of death for many Christian martyrs, killed for sport in the “then” famous Caesarean games.

Afterwards, we made our way to a Carmelite monastery and on to the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. A beautiful church, it’s built over the traditional location of Mary’s home and it’s the biggest church in the Middle East. The jewel here though is the actual cave where Mary lived. The Byzantines built a small church on the spot in the fifth century.

The lower church of the Basilica of the Annunciation. The
apse of this fifth century Byzantine church is said to be
built in the Grotto of the Annunciation.
From there we went to Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee.

There I feel the Gospel will begin to leap to life as I visit places where Jesus and the Apostles walked.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Fertility meets Frankenstein

The Vancouver Sun just concluded a series on the business of fertility, which it accurately calls the "Wild West of medicine."
The most remarkable part of the series was that despite its hand-wringing tone, it adamantly refused to admit the obvious: the Wild West badly needs a sheriff.
Here are just a few of the horrors taking place in the largely unregulated field of fertility.
  • Fertility is first and foremost a business. So fertility doctors offer women the chance to bank their frozen eggs, despite the procedure being regarded as experimental and unproven.
  • It’s not uncommon for fertility doctors to implant three or more embryos into women in the hope that one of them will survive.
  • When numerous embryos develop, some women choose the innocuously named "fetal reduction,” a “relatively simple procedure" in which unwanted fetuses are “terminated using a solution of potassium chloride injected via an ultrasound-guided needle into the fetal heart."
  • The RCMP is investigating cases of alleged buying and selling of human reproductive material – sperm, egg cells or surrogate wombs.
  • Women in India are bearing babies for infertile Canadian couples who travel there to circumvent the ban on hiring of surrogates in Canada.
  • An Ottawa doctor (and Order of Canada recipient) faces two civil lawsuits alleging he inseminated two women with the wrong sperm (suspected to be his own).
  • A sperm-injection technique that allows infertile men to father a child is increasingly being used despite concerns over its safety.
For years it's been possible for a child to be conceived using donor eggs, donor sperm and surrogate mothers. Now it looks like assisted reproduction is about to move from a niche to a mass market in Canada. Just before Christmas, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down what little fertility legislation there was. The Wild West patchwork of the past has been transformed into complete anarchy.
Leave it to ethicist Margaret Somerville to provide a breath of fresh air. She says assisted procreation is “aimed at a take-home baby. That's what everyone is in this for.

“But ultimately, this is a new human being. And what we have not done in any of this is put that new human being at the centre of our decision making."

That’s the only real voice of sanity in the series. There isn’t a single word about the morality of “selective reduction.” There is no discussion of how women and babies are being packaged and sold in a world that considers the commodification of water obscene.
And as if things couldn’t possibly get worse, they’re going to get worse. One bioethicist predicts the technology is “only going to get more complicated, the options are only going to get greater and once you open the door, you can't ever pull back.”

The encyclical Humanae Vitae nailed it in 1968 when Pope Paul VI urged man “not to betray his personal responsibilities by putting all his faith in technical expedients.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church condemns this artificial manipulation of life, saying it "entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person.”
The old Wild West may have been rough, but at least there was a sheriff to represent law and order. In the new Wild West the sheriff’s been run out of town and the populace are at the hands of the outlaws.

Stamp out mental illness

Several years ago when Vancouver Archbishop Raymond Roussin made public the fact that he was dealing with depression, it awakened a lot of people to the insidiousness of this disease. Now Canada Post is developing a new mental health stamp, and the public is getting involved big time.

Yesterday was the deadline for public submissions. Canada Post will whittle the hundreds of entries down to 20 semi-finalists, from which five designs will be chosen by the public. Voting will take place from Feb. 14 to March 14. The winning design will be announced in April.

You can look at the gallery of submissions here.

Terra Sancta

In the Holy Land
I've arrived in the Holy Land - Terra Sancta! I'm on a short press tour and plan to write in this space about my trip.

On day one, our plane was delayed by two hours but we still managed to see Old Jaffa in Tel Aviv.

Jaffa was a major sea port in biblical times and the port (then called Joppa) where Jonah disembarked before he was swallowed by the great fish. (Jonah 1-2).

Jaffa was also the town where Simon the Tanner lived. His house is on a small lane and it is where Saint Peter stayed (Acts 9:43).

I'm going to be blogging a lot more during my time on Terra Sancta and adding photos so keep checking back here. I've been having serious computer problems, but I think I have everything fixed now.

In the next post, I'll talk about Caesarea and Mt. Carmel.
St. Peter's Monastery in Jaffa.
A surfer rides a small wave in front of the Franciscan
Monastery of St. Peter in Jaffa, south of Tel Aviv.

Toronto hosting conference on Anglican ordinariates

From the Archdiocese of Toronto's blogsite: To help explore the issues surrounding Anglicanorum Coetibus -- the apostolic constitution issued by Pope Benedict XVI for Anglicans looking to join in full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of their distinctive Anglican patrimony -- Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins has announced that a conference discussing Anglicanorum Coetibus will be held in Mississauga at Queen of Apostles Retreat Centre from March 24-26, 2011. 

The conference is open to Canadians of the Anglican tradition who are interested in learning more about the implementation of Anglicanorum Coetibus.

Archbishop Thomas Collins has been asked by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to serve as the "delegate," namely the point person for the Catholic Church here in Canada to work with those wishing to form an "ordinariate."

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pope John Paul II a 'sign and instrument' of God's providence

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops says the upcoming beatification of Pope John Paul II is "a contemporary example of how Our Lord raises up shepherds and leaders for his flock. Pope John Paul, say the bishops, remains a sign and instrument of God’s Providence.

Pope Benedict focuses on child immigrants

Pope Benedict XVI urged governments and international organizations to give special attention to the rights of child immigrants, who often are victims of exploitation and abandonment. He was speaking on the occasion of the 97th World Day for Migrants and Refugees Jan. 16; the theme: “One Human Family.”

You can read the complete text of his message here.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Archbishop Miller asks for prayers for Christians

Priests killed in attack on Baghdad Catholic church
In recognition of the dire circumstances in which many Christians live worldwide, Vancouver Archbishop J. Michael Miller is asking the faithful to pray for Christians who are suffering persecution for their faith throughout the world.

The same concern has been running through Pope Benedict XVI's addresses of late: Christians are under attack, and the world is in dire need of religious freedom.

All the following took place in recent weeks:
  • The Pope condemned the al-Qaeda attack on a Baghdad Catholic church in which scores of worshippers were killed.
  • In the Pope's World Day of Prayer address, he focused on the persecution of Christians worldwide.
  • He condemned the killing of 21 people in a Coptic church in Alexandria, Egypt.
  • He announced that he would hold an interreligious meeting in October in Assisi, Italy.
  • In a meeting with diplomats he said religious freedom and religious diversity are not threats to society and should not be a source of conflict.
Intolerance and violence against adherents of religious faiths, particularly against Christians, remains one of the least known and most widely practised forms of persecution in the world. A new report by the U.S.-based First Freedom Center documents the situation worldwide in its report Minority Religious Communities at Risk.

Vatican approves Pope John Paul II miracle

Pope John Paul II will be declared “Blessed” on May 1. Someone in the Vatican has a nice sense of timing. Not only is May 1 the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker in the Catholic Church and Divine Mercy Sunday, but also “May Day” for communists and socialists around the world. John Paul II of course was a unique instrument and messenger in bringing down the Iron Curtain and the deadly reign of Communism and godlessness. Here's Salt + Light's Father Thomas Rosica's take on the news.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Health-care workers to be honoured

Archbishop to celebrate White Mass for health-care providers

Friday Jan. 14 is the White Mass for healthcare providers hosted by the Catholic Physicians' Guild of Vancouver.

Archbishop J. Michael Miller will be leading the Mass which starts at 7 p.m. at St. Augustine's Parish in Vancouver.

Everyone is welcome, especially health-care workers and their families.

The Kitsilano St. Augustine's Parish is located at 2028 W. 7th Ave.

The Mass will be followed by a reception in the parish hall.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Haiti, one year later

It's been a year since Haiti experienced the devastating earthquake that killed 300,000 people, left 1.3 million homeless, destroyed much of the capital Port-au-Prince and left an already poor country in an even greater state of vulnerability.

The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace reports on the outpouring of generosity from the Canadian public who donated $20 million towards its emergency appeal for Haiti.

Redefining faith, along with marriage

In Saskatchewan they're scratching their heads over the provincial Court of Appeal's decision that marriage commissioners have to perform "same-sex marriages" despite their personal or religious beliefs. How is that not a violation of the commissioners' religious beliefs? Simple, says the court: they're still free to believe what they want. They just can't act on their convictions.

Dr. Maurice Vellacott, a Christian MP in Saskatoon, has written a letter to the provincial justice minister, suggesting a way the province can work around the conflict. Here's hoping the minister understands the significance of personal beliefs better than the judges did.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Doctor says bishop's attacker not criminally responsible

A court hearing will be held to affirm what a psychiatrist has already found –  the man who attacked Kamloops Bishop David Monroe should not be held criminally responsible for his actions.

Grinch alert in North Van

Someone stole the infant Jesus from St. Paul's nativity scene in North Vancouver.

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