A delegation of 32 Indigenous Elders, knowledge keepers, residential school survivors, and youth are meeting with Pope Francis this week (March 28 to April 1). Watch the media briefing and videos below. We will share more on social media as they unfold.
Read / Watch
Photos: ©Vatican Media
Any of our daily concerns can become a source of great anxiety if we do not manage them. In general, the antidote to anxiety is trust in the Lord. Sometimes, however, it feels like we can't just pray away our anxiety, which makes us feel that we must not have enough faith and trust in God for not being able to shake it off.
This short video explains how anxiety feels and provides simple tools which can be used in daily our conversation with God. The anxiety journal, for example, can unpack and slowly dispel a looming concern as we write down what we are anxious about, what their root causes are, and how are we going to confront or tackle the real issues. All done prayerfully before God.
Consider this... Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see the causes of your worries or anxieties and work out a plan to resolve the root causes "for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7
Remember that we have been created for freedom in Christ. Take responsibility and take care of the gift of freedom which we have received in Christ.
This Lent Bishop McGrattan has re-introduced Solidarity Sunday in our Diocese.
So what is it? It has been an integral part of Development and Peace-Caritas Canada since 1968. Parishes throughout Canada hold a special Mass and a collection that gives us the opportunity to stand together in solidarity with the poorest of the poor in the Global South – in prayer and almsgiving.
This Lent we are invited to pray for all those who are the poorest and most forgotten and to give generously at our Solidarity Sunday Second Collection at your parish, which will be taken up on the Fifth Sunday(April 3) of Lent. Throughout our country our bishops are asking us to support Development and Peace-Caritas Canada in the life-giving work in places such as Honduras, Cambodia, Madagascar – and Ukraine.
During Ash Wednesday Mass at St. Mary’s University several years ago, professor of psychology, Fr. Peter Doherty, offered an inspiring homily. He spoke of the importance of the Lenten journey and the need for us to reach out and to support others, as well as the need to reflect on the importance of the ‘journey’ of Lent — emphasizing that Lent isn’t a time period, but a process leading to discovery. He reminded us that Lent offers us an opportunity to replenish our spirit, especially when the weight of the world has descended on us. The sacrifice that is made during Lent of giving up coffee, wine, television or whatever else is valued, should be genuinely challenging, but also an opportunity to reflect — perhaps to find relief from ‘things.’
Most important, he suggested, was the need to restart our life’s journey and to change our point of view. He then asked us what event in the Stations of the Cross was repeated three times. ‘Jesus falling,’ someone called out. You could tell that this was exactly what he wanted to hear. In a playful voice he responded: ‘Far be it from me to question the authority of the Church, but I have always thought we needed to re-label those stations. It shouldn’t be Jesus fell. It should be, Jesus got back up.’ Because the triumph of the story is not Christ’s downfall, but rather that He spent His last day on Earth rising, just as later He would rise again from the dead.
To me it’s a powerful, clear message of the importance of point of view, and one that has resonance in our time. Too often we perceive and walk in darkness, even when the light is ahead of us. It is the difficult lesson parents often try to teach their children, to take comfort from adversity and to find the positive; a lesson that we sometimes forget as we ourselves get older and the pressures of our time get heavier. But they are never heavier than the Cross.
This for me is what the Lenten journey has always reaffirmed. Ours is a faith that asks not for vengeance but forgiveness, not rules but understanding, not despair but hope. And the narrative of the Stations of the Cross and the paschal journey provides one of the most remarkable reversals imaginable. Here is a story that demonstrates the utter darkness of human violence, of intolerance, or rejection and betrayal. And yet it provides the most glorious truth we could ever hope to receive. Here is a moment of death that proves the possibility of eternal life — of grace from the utter wasteland of despair. It is truly, to paraphrase Hollywood, the great story ever told.
What I appreciated from the homily was how it found a way to connect us to that transcendent moment through the ordinariness of our every day. And by this I don’t mean that our lives are not sincerely challenged, some, of course, more than others. And here I think especially of our beleaguered brothers and sisters in Ukraine at this tragic time. But rather that even from the depths of the darkest despair, the Lenten journey leads us towards hope — renewal — rescue. Certainly, it is a reminder to take the time to rethink and reassess, to change our point of view.
Pope Benedict XVI, during an Angelus address in 2013, spoke of Lent as a time that ‘always involves a battle, a spiritual battle,’ and as an invitation for us to reject false temptations that ‘undermine the conscience, disguised and proposed as affordable, effective and even good.’ The Church, Pope Benedict explained, uses Lent to call all of us ‘to be renewed in the spirit, to reorient closely to God.’
Pope Francis, for his part, in one of his Ash Wednesday homilies, invites us to slow down. ‘Lent is the time to rediscover the direction of life. Because in life’s journey, as in every journey, what really matters is not to lose sight of the goal.’ It is a cliché widely shared that we should focus on the journey, not the destination — and surely here we are invited to rethink that adage. The destination is pivotal. But there is no way to achieve it without falling … and more importantly, getting back up.
It may be true to say that part of the Lenten process is a metaphor. To surrender our consumption of coffee or wine is really not a hardship, and certainly not of the magnitude that this abstinence is meant to celebrate. Rather, we understand that it is a symbolic deprivation, one that is challenging perhaps but hardly fatal. Yet it reminds us, in the doing, of what is at stake and of how we got here. It reminds us of the very real and deep suffering our brothers and sisters around the globe encounter daily, including in our beleaguered Ukraine today. And it reminds us never to take the gifts — the freedoms — we have for granted.
Bishop Emeritus Henry examined how the identity and mission of the Church as Communion, Participation and Mission is grounded in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation and reaches its actualization in our fruitful and conscious participation in the Eucharist. His sessions were wonderful, witty, and inspiring. You certainly don't want to miss his stories!
Session 1: Beginning the Journey
Session 2: My Name. Sent in His Name.
Session 3: Food for the Journey
Little things we can offer for peace in the world...
St. Paul says, "I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church." ~ Colossians 1:24
We all share in the sufferings of Christ and have a part in His crucifixion. As we consciously unite ourselves to His suffering and the suffering of others, we also unite ourselves to the gift of the resurrection and new life.
A Day of Prayer for Peace in Ukraine will be observed on Friday, March 18, 2022 in all parishes in the Diocese of Calgary.
This is in coordination with all the parishes/churches of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton, the Anglican Diocese of Calgary, the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton, the Anglican Diocese of Edmonton, Anglican Diocese of Athabasca, the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Paul, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada.
To support Ukraine beyond prayers
Day of Prayer and Fasting for Ukraine
Two Ukrainian Catholic Churches in Calgary have joined a worldwide movement to support the devastated people of Ukraine who have suffered from the vicious Russian military invasion of their country.
Since the Russian forces started a war in Ukraine, parishioners at St. Stephen Protomartyr Ukrainian Catholic Church and The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church have launched several initiatives to help the Ukrainian people through this terrible crisis.
Thousands of items have been donated through various efforts and hundreds of thousands of dollars have been given.
Father Michael Bombak, of St. Stephen, says the response is incredible and he’s been “blown away” by the support.
“The first and most important thing we’re doing as a parish community, and Assumption is doing as well, is prayer. That’s number one. This whole thing has coincided at this particular acute area of time with our beginning of the Great and Holy Fast. And so we’re increasing our prayer and fasting usually at this time but we’re also doing it now with a special intention of supporting our brothers and sisters in Ukraine,” says Bombak.
“That’s number one what a parish can do and should do. That’s the first and foremost. Prayer and fasting. St. James says you can’t tell your brother that you love him and then not feed him and clothe him and take care of his needs. So we’ve had the parish mobilize in supporting the Eparchial fund - that’s our word for Diocese. All the churches in Alberta are collecting funds through Catholic Near East Welfare Association. That’s a Papal charity and that ensures that all of that humanitarian aid that we’re collecting is going to go to Ukraine and be protected that way.
“We’re very grateful for that. We’ve had a generous donor who is matching the funds to $500,000. So we are collecting money for that continually. As well, we are collecting non-perishables, we are collecting various goods, clothing for humanitarian relief. Assumption is joining us as well.”
Father Bombak says the church will continue with its Lenten services with special intentions for Ukraine and its people,
Mary Chudyk, Charity Director at St. Stephen, says all the donated items are being shipped by land or air to Toronto then by air to Warsaw in Poland. Meest, a transportation and delivery company, will drive the items to Ukraine where they will be distributed to people through various accredited institutions.
“I’m overwhelmed with the generosity of people and I’m grateful that people want to do something,” she says. “It’s just been fantastic. People have been wonderful offering support, offering encouragement, offering prayers, showing up and just helping us out.”
Dave Wandzura, a parishioner at St. Stephen, says he’s very, very sad about what’s happening in Ukraine and the people there don’t deserve this.
“They’ve actually gone through so much stress and strife in their life in the last hundred years . . . Right now, we have to send funds to the people who need it most . . . Support in any way. Prayer is one of the big ones and financial support and goods as well.”
Maria Dwulit, another parishioner at St. Stephen, who has relatives in Ukraine, says what everyone can do for the people of Ukraine is pray.
“They just need the power to fight this evil,” she says.
Father Bombak says the situation is a complete injustice - absolutely terrible to see the suffering of innocent people.
“Your immediate gut reaction is to hate. That doesn’t serve anyone in the long run. It needs to be stopped. Innocent people are dying. Innocent people are suffering greatly. People are being displaced. This is a problem that is going to affect generation after generation,” says Father Bombak.
“I was born in this country because of a previous persecution. My grandparents were displaced people themselves. You see that it’s going to have a huge impact inter-generationally. So your immediate gut reaction is anger - this sort of righteous decision that this has to stop. But that can easily turn into something that is a spiritual pitfall and that’s hatred. You have to avoid that at all costs. And yet still work as best as we can to make sure that this ends because it’s wrong.”
When talking to children about this horrendous time in human history, Father Bombak says people have to speak the truth in love. Bombak and his wife Kimberly have five children ranging in age from 13 years old to three years old.
“You can’t spare them from this. It doesn’t work. They know more stuff than we know in many ways. So you have to be truthful. But you do have to say the whole truth in a way that they’re going to understand and in a loving way,” he says. “There’s feelings of depression, helplessness.
“Our kids have voiced the concern of what can we do. That question is echoed not just with kids. We are receiving information through social media and the internet at such a rate that it feels as though we can’t do anything because we’re bombarded by that information so quickly. So my advice and the way I talk to my kids is we have to do what we can do. We’re going to pray for Ukraine right now. We’re going to pray as a family. We’re going to go out and support places that are supporting Ukraine. We can work here in the parish to support. Those are all viable options.”
Those wanting to make a financial contribution to the humanitarian efforts by the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton can visit here: https://eeparchy.com/donate/
Lent is a 40-day season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends at sundown on Holy Thursday. It is a period of preparation to celebrate the Lord's Resurrection at Easter. During Lent, we seek the Lord in prayer by reading Sacred Scripture; we serve by giving alms; and we practice self-control through fasting. Called to not only abstain from luxuries, but to a true inner conversion of heart, Edmonton Catholic Schools invite our families to journey with Christ; to follow his will more faithfully.
Over the next 40 days, Faith Alive website will provide you with opportunities to participate in prayer, little-liturgies, and reflections on weekly Scripture passages, as well as activities that will highlight the lives of saints and our call to fast and to give alms.
Join us this Lenten season as we follow the 40 steps with Jesus. Click on the footsteps each day to find a short action that will help you and your family journey through Lent towards Easter.
Written by Kathleen Nguyen, Religious Education Services, ECSD. Kathleen Nguyen is currently the Elementary Religious Education Consultant for the Edmonton Catholic School Division. She is the Alberta Representative on the Editorial Board for the new Religious Education Program: Growing in Faith, Growing in Christ. Kathleen lives in Beaumont and is an active member of St. Vital parish.
Interested in growing spiritually this Lent both in knowledge and in practise? Watch this short video about DOCAT!
"‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’"
Love God and love others. Learn and live.
Watch this short video on the four facts about fasting by Chris Stefanick.
Aside from fasting from food and abstinence from meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, the spirit of fasting goes beyond merely depriving ourselves of food. The act of fasting is an act of emptying ourselves in order to make more room for God in our lives. It is an act that tells us that we're okay even when we don't eat as much or when we do not snack at all as we focus our minds and hearts to the Lord.
Eating can often become a mindless activity that fills our boredom. Fasting reminds us that our core belongs to God and that we ought to be detached from whatever distracts us in order to be fully attached to God, to be grounded in Him.
As we fast and abstain from meat, we detach ourselves from our usual comforts and open our minds and hearts to the needs of others, especially to those who are suffering from the ravages of war. We unite our prayers in solidarity with our suffering brothers and sisters as we turn our backs on our petty concerns.
This is the spiritual workout which will help us to become saints... no longer focused on ourselves but on God and with the needs of those who are suffering.
Consider this... This sounds noble... "I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.”" (Luke 18:12) but this was the line of the Pharisee who did the right thing but did not have the right heart.
Let our fasting be one that will change the heart and the mind... may our fasting help to free us as we have been made to be free to honour and worship God.
In March of 2020, our world changed irrevocably with the immediate implementation of lockdowns, churches shuttering their doors and frequent moves to online learning for many students. We knew the pandemic and ensuring restrictions would impact upon our students but to what degree remained to be seen. During the nearly two years of living through a pandemic, students have repeatedly shown us a myriad of reactions and emotions to the ongoing issues and restrictions that have become a daily reality. As a Catholic school community, we have consistently sought to remind students of God’s continuous love for them, and that they play a very real and necessary part in God’s plan of Salvation. Faith and hope in the future are front and centre of our Christian message. Thankfully, this important and timely message was integral to an important day that we planned especially for our middle-year students at Bishop David Motiuk School and delivered virtually on January 27th, as part of our annual Faith Day.
This was a day created specifically for our students to connect with God and to find inspiration for building community within our school. We began the day with a simple but profound Liturgy led by Father Paul Kavanagh and Deacon Ryan Sales. This led us into sessions with three guest speakers. Father Leo Patalinghug, a priest and professional chef from Boston, led us on an entertaining but meaningful journey to develop our understanding of Jesus as food for our mind, body, and soul. Deacon Ryan Sales of Edmonton, shared his heartfelt journey to becoming a Deacon and how the journey is just as important as the destination. He reminded students that they are already living God’s plan for them. Finally, we finished the morning off with a video presentation created by Father Rob Galea, an Australian priest and international speaker at youth conferences, who was also a contestant on Australia’s Got Talent. Fr. Rob touched on the pandemic and how technology has been a wonderful way for us to keep in contact with each other but that it cannot replace personal connection and community. All the videos shared were specifically recorded for Bishop David Motiuk's MYP Faith Day, which was such a blessing to our school community. The sessions were directly relevant to and meant for our students during this time of great upheaval.
The execution of the day was a collaboration between several of our staff members who have become experts in navigating the challenges presented by the current pandemic restrictions. Many students shared wonderful reflections on what they heard, saw, and experienced as inspiration as they continued to live by the restrictions of a difficult school year. Many remarked that it was like the presenters were speaking directly to them and what they are going through.
As Catholic educators, we continue to teach through the lens of our faith tradition and our scriptures. We commit ourselves to “bringing Christ into our classrooms” so that students recognize that all of the facets of life and action are imbued by the presence and compassion of our loving Lord. Taking a special day each year to remind our students through the wisdom of great speakers, that we are meant for God, is a privileged opportunity to engage in the ongoing mission of evangelization. Our students are aware that the Lord accompanies them through difficult times, as members of a family, of a larger society, and at school. They know they are loved by God because they see it in action around them, and they hear about it through events such as our MYP Faith Day. What a grace it is to be able to cooperate with the Lord in sharing the beautiful message that reminds students that, “I am here with you always.” Our speakers tell us the truth of this message, and demonstrate through their inspirational talks, just where and how the Lord works in the ordinary, and in the extraordinary events such as a pandemic to draw us closer to the life of faith and hope
Written by Sunata Halliday from Edmonton Catholic School District.
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers