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The Alphabet of Lent – Letter F

F for Faith

To have faith, it is… to believe, you will say.
Of course… but still?
It is to accept a set of propositions on a given topic.
You are right but… only this?

A short text of the gospel reveals more:
 “As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out,
‘Have mercy on us, Son of David!’
When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, 
‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’
‘Yes, Lord,’ they replied.
Then he touched their eyes and said, ‘According to your faith let it be done to you’; 
and their sight was restored” (Matthew 9:27-30).

Jesus’ question was clear: ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’
The two blindmen did not proclaim their faith in some formulas.
They did not accept a list of beliefs which they should give their assent to.
They simply replied “Yes” to someone.

They relied on someone – this is faith – to trust someone reliable!
To dare to rely on someone, to dare to surrender to… God.

He who, since long ago, has told us through the prophet Isaiah:
“You are precious in my sight… I love you” (Isaiah 43:4).

A conviction which opens up to a relationship absolutely unique… with God himself.
Daring… to believe it…
 

Source: Image: https://goodnewsshared.wordpress.com/     

 

 

 

 

World Day for Consecrated Life – 2 February

Consecrated women and men — together with Catholics in general — are invited to celebrate the World Day for Consecrated Life. Established by St. John Paul II, the day recognizes the beauty and impact of a life dedicated to poverty, chastity, and obedience.

When is it celebrated?

The Catholic Church celebrates the World Day for Consecrated Life Feb. 2, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, also known as Candlemas or the feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Consecrated women and men — together with Catholics in general — are invited to celebrate the World Day for Consecrated Life.

In his message for the first World Day of Consecrated Life, the late pontiff stressed the importance of the day.

“The mission of the consecrated life in the present and in the future of the Church,” he said, “concerns not merely those who have received this special charism, but the entire Christian community.

The consecrated life, he added, “is at the very heart of the Church as a decisive element for her mission, since it ‘manifests the inner nature of the Christian calling’ and the striving of the whole Church as Bride towards union with her one Spouse,” citing his apostolic exhortation Vita Consecrata.

In his 1997 address, Pope Saint John Paul II listed three reasons, beginning with thanking God for this “stupendous gift!”

The day “answers the intimate need to praise the Lord more solemnly and to thank him for the great gift of consecrated life,” he said. Next, “this day is intended to promote a knowledge of and esteem for the consecrated life by the entire People of God.”

The last reason, he said, concerned consecrated persons.

“They are invited to celebrate together solemnly the marvels which the Lord has accomplished in them,” he said, “to discover by a more illumined faith the rays of divine beauty spread by the Spirit in their way of life, and to acquire a more vivid consciousness of their irreplaceable mission in the Church and in the world.”

 

Source: Text: https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/    Images: pexels.com (Mikhail Nilov, Mart Production)

When there is nothing left…

On this 5th Tuesday of Year B, the gospel reading offers us a long text.

We are presented with a scene that allows us to meet a man who is desperate, and with a woman who has also lost hope.

But for both of them, life recovers all its meaning!

It is about the leader of the synagogue, Jairus, and a woman whose name remains unknown but who has also had a very special experience.

Both tell us what happened when they met the Man of Nazareth…

 

 

 

World Youth Day – 26 July 2023

“This is an opportunity for young people to celebrate their faith, meet other youth from around the world and to have a special encounter with Pope Francis,” said Isabel Correa, National Coordinator of the Canadian delegation to the World Youth Day 2023. “Over time, we have heard and seen the powerful experience that World Youth Day has been in the lives of so many Canadian youth and we expect that this year’s pilgrimage will be no different. It is a transformative and inspiring moment that they will cherish for years to come.”

Michelle Pacheco, a 26-year-old Canadian delegate from Toronto, currently works as a missionary with the Archdiocese of Toronto’s Youth Office and says that she has devoted all her preparation time to prayer. “Above all else, I have been asking people to pray for me and have also asked them how I can pray for them during my pilgrimage to World Youth Day,” she said.

“Since this is my first World Youth Day, it is difficult to say exactly what I will be able to take away from it,” said Justin Nguyen, a 28-year-old Canadian from Vancouver. “But what I do know is that it is a journey of faith – it is my first time attending WYD, my first time in Portugal and in Spain. I just hope and pray that it will be a time that allows me to focus on my relationship with God, then return home, and continue the mission that God has entrusted to me in service to my local community.”

World Youth Day is an opportunity to hear talks from leading Catholic speakers, and notably, including Bishops from every continent. In addition to catechetical sessions, there are opportunities for prayer and divine worship. A special element of World Youth Day also includes a cultural festival with music, dance, and creative expression, drawing on talented young people from around the world.

Pope Francis will spend five days in Portugal, most of them in Lisbon, where he will meet university students, enjoy lunch with young people, pray with them and preside at Mass, while also making a stop in Fatima, one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in the world.

Source: Text: https://www.cccb.ca/media-release/5000-canadian-youth-join-pope-francis-in-portugal-for-world-youth-day/
Image: Archeparchy of Winnipeg

 

2nd Sunday of Easter, Year A – 2023

In this day and age, surveys are commonplace.
People want to know what others think about different subjects.
They want to be aware of how their fellowmen and women feel about many topics.
So, journalists, reporters, and others involved in the media, submit questionnaires –
questionnaires asking about the opinions and reactions to the headlines that make up the news.

What if someone came to you and asked: “What is FAITH for YOU?”

Some people may refuse categorically to answer what they see as a personal question.
Others may say that they do not believe, so they consider this question irrelevant.
There are some who will reply that they believe, that’s all – they do not feel the need to articulate what believing means.
A few may admit that… they do not know the words to explain what faith is really about.

The gospel texts of the Easter season can be a challenge to our faith.
At times, the narratives differ from one another as they present events and people in ways that vary.

This presents us with the option of becoming aware of what our faith is about.
Is it about a series of facts that we consider reliable?
Is it about a list of principles that we hold as true?
Is it about some teachings received long ago and accepted without question?
Is it about a set of values and attitudes that we see worthy of adoption as a way of life?

Or… is it the acceptance of someone we trust and rely upon, sure that he will never deceive us?
Someone we are convinced is truthful, reliable, and concerned about us personally?
Someone who, we dare believe, can never fail us, whatever the situation we find ourselves in?

Someone we are ready to commit ourselves to… for better or for worse?

To this someone, we are ready to say the words of the father of the epileptic boy:
“I do have faith, help the little faith I have.”  (Mark 9:24)

 

Note: In the following video, Arnold Rodriguez personifies Thomas, the apostle, who tells us what happened to him: https://youtu.be/kp1eb-oBH6w

Another text is available on a different theme, in French, at: https://image-i-nations.com/2e-dimanche-de-paques-annee…/ 

Source: Image: Crosscards.com

 

World Day of Prayer – 3 March 2023

Introduction

World Day of Prayer logoThe World Day of Prayer is a global ecumenical movement which brings Christians of many traditions together to observe a common day of prayer each year. Through preparation and participation in the worship service, we can learn how our sisters of other countries, languages and cultures understand the Biblical passages in their context.

We can hear their concerns and needs and can join in solidarity with them as we pray with and for them. In this way, it is possible to enrich our Christian faith as it grows deeper and broader in an international, ecumenical expression.

The motto of the World Day of Prayer movement is Informed Prayer and Prayerful Action. Through our participation in the World Day of Prayer, we affirm that prayer and action are inseparable and that both have immeasurable influence on the world.

World Day of Prayer in Canada

The World Day of Prayer traces its roots to the 19th century when Christian women of Canada and the United States became involved in missions at home and worldwide. Since 1812, women have encouraged one another to engage in personal prayer and lead communal prayer within their mission groups. Presbyterian women in the United States then called for a national day of prayer in 1887, and Anglican women in Canada established a national day of corporate intercessions for mission in 1895.

On October 19, 1918, Presbyterian women in Canada called together representatives of five Women’s Missionary Boards – Anglican, Baptist, Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterian – “to promote the spreading of Christ’s kingdom through united prayer and action.” That first inter-church meeting gave birth to the Interim Committee on the Federation of the Women’s Missionary Society Boards of Canada, which organized a national and inter denominational day of prayer on January 9, 1920.

In 1922, the Canadian and U.S. committees agreed to use the same theme and day for the Day of Prayer as U.S. women. This annual event became the Women’s World Day of Prayer in 1927. The Canadian committee changed its name to become the Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada and now includes representatives from 11 church partners. This council continues to coordinate the World Day of Prayer in Canada and to speak to issues that concern women of faith across the country.

 

Source: Text: https://wicc.org/world-day-of-prayer/what-is-wdp/    Image: YouTube

Feast of Diwali – 24-28 October 2022

Diwali, the festival of lights, is a religious observance commemorated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and some Buddhists around the world.

(A five day celebration), every autumn, the observance sees millions of people attend firework displays, prayer services and festive events in celebration of the occasion.

However, festivities were cancelled last year for many due to the coronavirus pandemic. With restrictions eased this year, some people are planning to hold big gatherings, while others plan to have another quiet celebration.

While Diwali holds significance for a variety of reasons, one of the core themes of the festival, as symbolised by the prevalence lights, is the triumph of good over evil.

Here is everything you need to know about Diwali:

What is Diwali?

Diwali, also known as Deepavali or Dipavali, comes from the Sanksrit word dipavali meaning “row or series of lights”.

Rajnish Kashyap, general secretary and director of Hindu Council UK, explains that the festival, which is one of the most significant for those of the Hindu faith, can trace its origins back to ancient times “when the end of the summer harvest season was celebrated with much pomp and splendour”.

“It signifies the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil and sees millions of lamps lit at homes, temples, shops and public buildings across the world,” Mr Kashyap tells The Independent.

Another main theme of Diwali is the recollection of a story called Ramayan, which details how the Hindu god Rama returned to his kingdom with his wife, Sita, and his brother, Lakchman, after several years of exile.

“To illuminate the path through which they return and in order to guide them home, diyas (clay lamps) are lit everywhere and the world is bathed in golden hues of light,” Mr Kashyap explains.

Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity, is also celebrated in Hindu households during the festival.

 

Source: Text: https://ca.news.yahoo.com/diwali-2022-festival-lights   

29th Sunday of Year C – 2022

The texts of the gospel come to us in different ways.
They reach us under different expressions and translations.
And they can provoke in us different reactions…

The last verse of today’s gospel text (Luke 18:1-8) does precisely this:
it awakens in us thoughts and questions.

Jesus has been teaching about prayer and about the need to persevere in prayer. 
Obviously, this requires faith.
The text goes on to quote Jesus’ last words on the matter:

“When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

An astonishing statement!
Is it not amazing that Jesus himself would ask this?
It is a question that is not addressed to anyone but is possibly a reflection on Jesus’ part.

I should perhaps correct this statement…
The question of Jesus not addressed to anyone IS ADDRESSED to EVERYONE, everyone of us.
It is from each one that he expects FAITH.
It is with each one that he hopes to enter a special relationship…

A relationship

  • not based only on the acceptation of some truths,
  • not concerned solely on the following of some principles,
  • not attentive purely to follow traditions, no matter how sacred.

A relationship where one is

  • relying on him in all situations,
  • trusting his love and care, no matter what,
  • never doubting his presence,
  • sure that he is concerned about all that touches us,
  • daring to confide to him our life… and death!

It may be was Jesus’ surprising question, his seemingly strange reflection is all about…

 

Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/29e-dimanche-de-lannee-c-2022/

 

Source: Image: followingmessiah.org

19th Sunday of Year C – 2022

The 2nd reading of this Sunday speaks of people and events long gone (Hebrew 11:1-2,8-19).
The people involved and their experiences may seem distant and strange to us and yet…
Yet, what is described in this text has a message that is very relevant to us in our own time.

Those people are often referred to as ‘our ancestors in the faith’.
They saw themselves as “strangers and nomads on earth.”

What does this really mean?
The text goes on to explain what the words express:

“People who use such terms about  themselves make it quite plain  that they are in search of their real homeland.”

If we think about it, is this not what we, ourselves, are meant to be: strangers and nomads?
Is our life on this planet not meant to be a search for another place –
“the place founded for us by God », as the text says.

Not being satisfied, not being engrossed in what is available, but longing for something else…
Looking, searching, trying to find…
Not being totally absorbed in the present, but being aware that there is more awaiting us…

Satisfying experiences, fulfilling achievements, rewarding adventures –
all this can be gratifying but… this is not the full purpose of our existence on this earth.

There is MORE – deeper knowledge, greater fulfilment, more intense happiness.
MORE – a more authentic life, a closer relationship with the God who made us.

We do not see this, but we believe that this is what is waiting for us.
And, the first lines of the reading tell us:

“Faith is confidence in what we hope for 
and assurance about what we do not see.”

 

Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/19e-dimanche-de-lannee-c-2022/

 

Source: Images: Scripture Images   Unsplash

Feast of the Holy Trinity, Year C – 2022

One day, I heard someone say with much conviction: “We must let God be God!”
Perhaps this is what today’s celebration is meant to remind us of: Let God be God…

Accept that God is…
so much greater than we can picture,
so much wiser than we can understand,
so much more powerful than we can realize,
so much more surprising, than we can imagine,
so much beyond all that our human mind can perceive…

Today’s feast of the Holy Trinity is the celebration that:

God is a Father relating in a unique way to his Son, a relationship lived within their common Spirit.
 
We cannot imagine, understand or realize this – no human being can.
But this statement must be corrected –
one human being has understood: Jesus, he who was truly one of us,
God-made-man, God-become-human.

While we do not understand God,
because of Jesus, through him, we share in God’s life.

As we are told in the 2nd reading, in the letter that Paul wrote to the Christians of Rome (Romans 5:1-5):

“God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, 
who has been given to us.”
 
This reveals the real meaning of what we believe,
of who God is,
and of what he has made us to be!

 

Note: Another reflection, on a different theme, is available in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/fete-de-la-sainte-trinite-annee-c-2022/

 

Source: Image: YouTube