Blogs

The feast we celebrate today is the central part of our Christian faith. It distinguishes us from other religions, faiths and beliefs because it is a celebration of our God’s self-gift to us as food for our lives. It is the climax of our Mass, which is also called the Eucharistic celebration.

To better understand the celebration of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, the church offers us those three readings that we heard today. The first reading spoke about a reminder for the people of Israel on how God had saved them from slavery and how God had been sustaining them throughout their long journey across the desert. The second reading talks about the communion, the oneness of those who participate in this meal that Christ has offered to them; and the third reading, the Gospel, tells about Jesus offering himself as food and drink for those who believe in him. 

Sitting together for a meal usually generates a spirit of togetherness. Also, sharing a meal is sharing life. It is not by coincidence that Jesus chose this moment to give to his followers a precious gift: his body and his blood. It is an everlasting gift that will remain with them forever to sustain them. It was supposed to be the last supper with them, and it became the first Eucharistic celebration, the beginning of the new relationship between Jesus and them, a new form of Jesus’s presence in their midst. At that time, Jesus knew that once he entered his Passion, they would feel totally abandoned and they would be scattered. Jesus offered this meal as a sign of his continuous presence with them, especially in time of persecution and trials; Jesus introduced this new rite to remind them his communion with them and to keep them in unity. 

Sometimes, we forgot the importance of things/people when they are continuously present in our midst. Only we remember that they were there when they suddenly taken away from us. it is so common, for instance, to open the tap and get the water, without even thinking how it comes to us in our house, where it comes from, and it is taken for granted. Only we consciously realize how important it is when it is no more running in our kitchen. This time of pandemic is an unfortunate moment where many people are deprived from receiving the Eucharist in the form of bread and wine. It is a time where our souls are longing for that Food who gives us life from within. Nonetheless, it is a time to remember that the Lord is there, present in our midst and we receive him in spiritual communion.

The celebration of the feast of today reminds us the presence of this ultimate gift in our church and in our lives. It invites us to remember the salvation God has offered to us by sending his Son for our sake. It is an invitation to remember that Jesus, through the receiving of his Body and Blood, we become one body and one spirit in him. It reminds us that He is present in our midst to sustain us in our daily lives and in our journey towards our destination.

June 14, 2020

Many years ago, when I was teaching religious instruction or catechism in one of our schools n Madagascar, I always struggled when it comes to explaining the Trinity, the Feast we are celebrating today. I had hard time to make the students understand the mystery of the Trinity, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It was difficult then, it is still difficult today and it will be always difficult to describe the Trinity in human language, because our capacity of expression is limited as human being and we are trying to describe the one who is beyond our understanding. 

I love the story about St Augustin and the little child playing along beach. One day, St Augustin was walking, praying and reflecting on the mystery of the Trinity, and as a great theologian and philosopher, he tried to grasp an understanding of that One God in Three Persons.  While he was so deep in his reflection, he saw this child playing on the sand, and he was stunned to see what this child was doing: he made a little hole on the sand and going back and forth carrying the water from the ocean to fill the hole. “What are you doing?” St Augustin asked the child, and he replied: “I’m going to bring this water of the ocean into this hole,” and he continued bringing the water. And St Augustin told him, how can you bring that ocean into that little hole you made? It will never fit there! It is so immense. And the child replied: And so is the immensity of the mystery of the Trinity, your human understanding is too small and limited to contain and grasp it all. And the child was gone. 

Later in my life, St Ignatius of Loyola helped me to live and understand better the mystery of the Trinity. In the contemplation of the Incarnation in the Spiritual Exercises, St Ignatius invites us to imagine the Three Divine Persons, looking down the surface of the earth from heaven with love and care, and saw all kinds of people with different races, faiths, colours, ages, doing all kind of things. God knew that human kinds and all the creation needed help. The right time for that help has come and with overflowing love, The Second Person of the Trinity became human being and came and save us. 

It is in that overflowing love from God that we could grasp an understanding of this mystery, not much in our head but mostly in our heart. It is in the unending love of God the Father at the time of creation,  when we were created as who we are; it is in the unconditional love of God the Son, at the time of the incarnation and resurrection when we were saved from eternal death and sin; and it is in the continuous love of God the Holy Spirit who fills our lives, enlightens us and guides us, comforts us and strengthens us today. 

We live in the life of the Trinity when we continue to spread that love we have received from God. It is in our daily love, care, understanding and forgiveness to one another that we enter this great mystery. On this day of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, we are all invited to look around us, especially at this time of unrest because of the colour of our skins. Wabshka (White), Ozaawa (Yellow), Mishkwa (Red) Mukadewa (Black), we all belong to one circle. In loving us, God sees no difference. We are all unique and special in God’s eyes. We are all God’s children and we receive God’s love in its fullness. We are invited to do the same: to share love, care, understanding and forgiveness in its fullness. 

June 7, 2020

Before Pentecost

The disciples of Jesus were afraid of the Jews, because they were accused of spreading false news. Therefore, they were hiding in the upper room, away from the suspicions of people.

There were times that they were even scattered, discouraged and some of them went away from the group because their hope had vanished, they did not see any longer the importance of staying with the other disciples. However, after the Ascension, they remained together in the upper room waiting for what Jesus has promised them. 

The Victory over Fear

On the day of the Pentecost, The Spirit of God came to them, filled their minds and their hearts and their entire being. They got the courage and strength they needed and they came out of their hiding place, starting to proclaim Jesus’s death and resurrection. The Holy Spirit, with the gift of fortitude (or courage), has empowered them to be witness to the Truth, the Risen Christ and the life that he has brought to us. 

Did their persecutors run away? Was the danger over? Did their lives, all of a sudden, become safe? I do not think their situation of being persecuted had changed on the day of Pentecost. Nonetheless, with the Spirit of God with them, they conquered all their fear and went out in the open to proclaim the Good News, God’s love to all people through the Risen Lord. 

How many times in our daily lives fear and anxiety fill our hearts? Sometimes we do not even want to be identified as followers of Christ. On this day of Pentecost, we are all invited to open our hearts so that the Spirit of God will enter and dwell in us. With that Spirit of courage, we will conquer all fear; with that Spirit of Peace, we will remove all anxieties. 

The renewed Unity

One of the miracles of Pentecost is unity. Not only the disciples became one in mind, heart and spirit while proclaiming the Risen Lord, the entire people who listened to them also saw them as one people as they heard them in their own respective languages. The day of Pentecost demonstrates that the barriers created by languages, origins and races could be conquered, once we have the Spirit of God with us. 

On this Sunday of Pentecost, we are all invited to look beyond our differences and to see all human kind as one people from the same Creator, the Source of our existence. We are invited to see that the diversity we carry in our daily lives (by our countries and origins, faith and beliefs, cultures and traditions…) is the beauty of our uniqueness as children of the same Father.

As indigenous peoples, Courage and Truth are among the teachings we have received from our grandfathers. With our faith on the Risen Lord and his Spirit, and following the teachings we have received from our grandfathers, we will confidently be able to continue proclaiming the message of Love, Peace and Unity, which will bring us to true Healing and Reconciliation. 

May 31, 2020

We can understand the feast of the Ascension of our Lord in two aspects: the completion of a full circle and a hand-over opportunity. 

The Feast of Ascension can be considered as the celebration of the full circle of Jesus’ mission. He came from the Father, and now he returns to the Father. He successfully accomplished his mission and now going back to where he came from. He came full circle. Being with Jesus in his full circle of mission life, the disciples have witnessed miracles and wonders, have heard great teachings and examples and have been in deep prayers and spiritual connections. At the day of Ascension, when Jesus was lifted up in front of their eyes, instead of feeling abandoned, they felt empowered and strengthened. For indigenous people, the circle is sacred. When we sit in the circle, we are in a safe and sacred place. We may hear so many things in that circle; we keep them for ourselves and apply the teachings we received in our daily lives. At the end of a sharing circle, we feel energized, empowered and ready to face any obstacle and harshness we may face out there. 

The Feast of the Ascension of Jesus is also a hand-over opportunity. Have you ever seen those runners in relay race? They are doing a team work. When one runner finishes his/her run, he/she hands over the baton to the other runner who continues the race, and so on until everyone has done their part and the race is finished. The first condition to finish and win the race is to not drop the baton. At the day of Ascension, Jesus finished his run and handed over the baton to the disciples for them to continue and finish the race. It is now their turn to carry on the mission of Jesus and to deliver his message to the whole world. Today, we are reminded that we have received the baton in our hands, and so we are to carry on Jesus’ mission of love and care for ourselves, for others and for the creation. When we do that, we manifest our love to our Lord and to the Creator. 

To continue his mission and the race he has started, Jesus did not leave his disciples on their own, as if he is not in charge anymore, or his task is done. Instead, he told them he would be with them to the end of the ages. Also, he promised that he would give them the strength they may need, the power of the Holy Spirit, so that not only they would finish the race, but also would they come out winners. In our daily lives, sometimes, we may feel this absence of the Lord, like he is not there. Sometimes, we feel powerless and unable to carry on because the obstacles in front of us appear bigger than our strength. Today, we are reminded that He is always there with us, and his Spirit will strengthen us to carry on our race and our mission of love and care. 

May our faith in the Lord and the strength of his Spirit, grounded in our culture and in the sacredness of the circle, will empower us and will make us all winners. 

May 24, 2020

“What a care we receive from our Lord!” 

In the last few Sundays and will continue until Pentecost, the church offers to us the last discourse of Jesus to his disciples before his crucifixion, suffering and death and resurrection. 

As Jesus journeyed towards that crucial moment of ultimate love to human kind, the stress and fear, doubt and uncertainty in the disciples grew. They knew they would be separated from Him, and they could be left alone, yet he was their only hope. They have given their lives to him, they left everything for him. They put their entire trust in him. They believed in him and they loved him.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus continues to reassure his disciples that he will not leave them orphaned, he will not abandon them but he will always be with them through his Spirit because he loves them back, more than they could imagine, and He will show them that ultimate love in the following days. His Spirit is going to come to them, the spirit who is going to lead them, to comfort them, to enlighten them, to give them wisdom. 

Jesus gave to them everything that he has: his life and his Spirit. Jesus shows his care for them in time of difficulties and uncertainties. Jesus stood strong with them when they felt lost and abandoned despite what he, himself, was going through in his own journey. 

Today, the Lord shows to us by the example of himself what love is all about: to be there for the ones he loves especially in time of uncertainty, doubt and crisis. He is there for them, to assure them and to care for them. He showed the example so that they may do it towards one another. “Love one another as I love you.” That is his commandment. If they keep that, they will remain in his love and the love of the father. 

God loves us. The Creator loves his creatures and all creation. God created all things and put all his might and love in each one of them. God continues to care for us. Who among us would not  care of the things that we made? We will make sure that it won’t be destroyed. More than we care for our little things, the Creator takes care for us by giving us his Son, and now the Holy Spirit to come so that we won’t miss anything to face all obstacles on our journey.

Sometimes, unfortunately, there are people [ including ourselves] who do not feel anymore that love that creator has for them [and for us] especially in difficult times. As Christ’s name bearers, our care for those people, our presence with them, for them, the fact that we are there with them will help them to feel that the God our Father always finds a way to reach out to all of his creatures.

May the Spirit of God come to us, and strengthen us, comfort us and guide us in this difficult moment we are going through so that we may feel God’s love for us, and so that we will be able to love and care for one another, as the Lord had commanded us.

Sunday, May 17, 2020 

Reflecting on the challenge and opportunity of the COVID-19 pandemic

Easter greetings!

As co-chairs of Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle we would like to offer a few reflections on how, in this period marked by COVID-19, we may be faithful and vigilant in our efforts of renewing and fostering relationships between the Catholic Church and Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Above all let us encourage one another and pray for an outpouring of compassion and kindness so that this period of physical isolation brought on by the pandemic may be also a time of social cohesion and solidarity. May we stay open to the many ways that the Risen One is walking with us, making all things new and turning all things to the good.

We would like to add our voices to those who have expressed gratitude for the many loving actions that are manifestations of care and compassion. We raise our hands and hearts in thanks for Indigenous leaders, health care professionals and community care workers who continue to tend to the sick and to care for the elders and vulnerable community members. As faith leaders we want to express a special thanks for the spiritual leaders, knowledge-keepers, ministers and healers from the many different traditions who have worked together to help individuals and communities stay healthy in mind, body and spirit. May Our Creator bring their courageous work to fulfillment.

This time of isolation is ironically a time that has sensitized many of us to our common humanity and called us to a deeper unity and solidarity. However, the COVID-19 crisis has also shone light into the darkness of what has been tolerated and accepted for too long. It has highlighted the oppressive vulnerability of many Indigenous communities: Communities that suffer from inadequate and over-crowded housing; those that lack clean water; under-funded and inadequate health and community services as well as unreliable infrastructure that are at greater risk and result in communities living with heightened fears. While some places in Canada may be sensing the threat is receding, that is not so among those who have been often abandoned. As Paul Coehlo writes in Warrior of Light: “Those people who look on other’s misery with indifference are the most miserable of all.” These are days that call for a deeper commitment and firmer resolve.

As co-chairs of Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle we encourage people during this crisis to be particularly mindful of the vulnerability of Indigenous women and children. We must not forget the truth revealed by the National Inquiry on murdered and missing Indigenous women and children. Those who have lived under threat of violence are experiencing increased vulnerability during this time of isolation.page2image1464312000

We encourage an increased vigilance on behalf of those who are incarcerated. The Indigenization of Canada’s prison population has been identified rightly as a national travesty. It is imperative for federal, provincial, municipal and Indigenous governments to develop a decarceration plan that will relieve the dangerous conditions in prisons and provide care for the health and safety of inmates.

Now, at the beginning of spring, Mother Earth is bursting forth with sure signs of her own resilience. Each new morning, we are reminded that as night gives way to day, death will give way to new life. This pandemic will pass. As we look forward to recovery let us take as our guide this Easter message of the Holy Father:

I hope that this time of danger will free us from operating on automatic pilot, shake our sleepy consciences and allow a humanist and ecological conversion that puts an end to the idolatry of money and places human life and dignity at the centre. (Pope Francis, Letter to the Popular Movements, 12 April 2020)

While there are already competing visions of recovery surfacing, Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle, in the words of Pope Francis, is called to be watchful and ready to stand alongside those Indigenous and non-Indigenous “builders of this change that can no longer be put off”, so that our recovery will not be a return to the normal, which was already in crisis, but the creation of a renewed and reconciled unity.

May the Lord lift up your hearts during this Easter Season and always.

page2image1464497056

Yours in the Risen Christ,

Rosella M Kinoshameg

page2image1464504000

Co- Chair
Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle

(Most Rev.) Murray Chatlain Archbishop of Keewatin-Le Pas

page2image1464504336

Co- Chair
Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle

“Do not let your hearts be troubled!”

What a comforting word from our Lord when uncertainty reigns in our world. 

When Jesus talked to his disciples, it was the night before his self-sacrifice on the cross. He knew he was heading to a tough journey that would scatter his followers. In his last discourse for them, he taught them to understand the purpose of his mission: to make them feel God’s love in their own journey. He felt their anxiousness and concerns about the future but he invited them to take the journey with him.  And that’s why he came out with these comforting words: Do not let your hearts be troubled.” He promised them that where he is going, there are places for them. 

Thomas, like many of us, wanted to know the destination before getting into the journey. Jesus, instead, has invited him to make an act of faith and trust, trust in him who is the Way. Philip, like many of as well, wanted to see signs from God, or God the Father himself to get assurance in his life. Instead of searching signs, Jesus invited Philip to come to him so that he also may get that Life. 

Sometimes in our lives, like the disciples, we carry in our heart anxiousness and concerns about the future. Uncertainty may occupy our mind. Jesus invites all of us today to turn to him, who is  the Way, the Truth and the Life, while we are on our own journey. Jesus teaches us that by walking with him, we will not be lost and we will live. He demonstrates that there is always hope even when everything seems hopeless, there is light after darkness, day after the night, sunshine after the rain and Resurrection after the death on the cross. He shows us that what we face in our journey will lead us to the abundance of Life if we journey with him. 

Do we put our trust in the Lord? 

Jesus, increase our faith and trust in you, and help us to turn our eyes to you to be able to see clearer instead of focusing on our daily struggles. Amen.

Message to Kateri Native Ministry and All Indigenous Catholics

Dear Donna, Father Hasina, dear brothers and sisters in Christ;

Under ordinary circumstances this would have been the annual Long Weekend in May at which you gather for healing, reconciliation and building a hope-filled future.

I was looking forward to being with you for Mass, conversations and exchanges. However, the Covid-19 pandemic requires that we be apart to protect the health of all, especially our elderly and vulnerable persons. So I can be with you only through this message. In it I wish to assure you of your presence in my thoughts and prayers, especially as you gather this Sunday for Mass and a spiritual communion through social media.

Next year, my presence will be as the emeritus or retired archbishop of Ottawa and Cornwall. My successor has been named, even if it will be some time before he assumes office. He is Coadjutor Archbishop Marcel Damphousse, of the Sault Sainte Marie diocese, which has a sector devoted to Catholic indigenous peoples. He was also for three years Bishop of Alexandria-Cornwall, which is close to Akwesasne. You may count on his support for Kateri Native Ministry and all whom you represent.

Today’s Mass takes us back to Jesus’ farewell address to his disciples at the Last Supper. He tells us that after his death, resurrection and ascension, he will send us another “paraclete”, another one who will bring us comfort, consolation and peace.  He speaks of the Holy Spirit—and don’t we need that gift of someone defending us, standing by us—in this time of the Corona virus—but also to help bring us the healing we and Canadian society need!

Jesus says he will send another “paraclete” another defender to stand by us, because he is our first defender and stands by our side.  May this message bring you the inner joy and peace you desire for yourselves, for all in your family and your community and in our country Canada.

Jesus says, “Love one another as I have loved you”. Jesus does not say, “Love me as I have loved you”. Instead, Jesus says, “receive the love I freely give you, right up to my dying on the cross for you and rising again to give you my risen life and my Holy Spirit and, having received my love, pass it on to others near and far.”  Wow! What a big challenge! But with God, all things are possible.

God bless you one and all!

Terrence Prendergast, S.J.

Archbishop of Ottawa-Cornwall 

May 17, 2020