Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation (Sept.1):
September 9, 2018
Last Labor Day weekend I said that we not only celebrate the dignity of work and our participation in God’s creation but also the importance of how we care of Creation. Pope Francis wrote in this year’s Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation (Sept.1): “On this Day of Prayer, I wish first to thank the Lord for the gift of our common home and for all those men and women of good will committed to protecting it. I am likewise grateful for the many projects aimed at promoting the study and the safeguarding of ecosystems, for the efforts being made to develop more sustainable agriculture and more responsible nutrition, and for the various educational, spiritual and liturgical initiatives that involve Christians throughout the world in the care of creation....there is a growing sense of the need for a renewed and sound relationship between humanity and creation, and the conviction that only an authentic and integral vision of humanity will permit us to take better care of our planet for the benefit of present and future generations. For “there is no ecology without an adequate anthropology” (Laudato Si’, 118). I like to draw attention to the question of WATER: a very simple and precious element, yet access to it is, sadly, for many people difficult if not impossible. Nonetheless, “access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights. Our world owes a great social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water, because they are denied the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity” (ibid., 30). Water invites us to reflect on our origins. The human body is mostly composed of water, and many civilizations throughout history arose near great rivers that marked their identity. In an evocative image, the beginning of the book of Genesis states that, in the beginning, the spirit of the Creator “swept over the face of the waters (1:2)”. In considering the fundamental role of water in creation and in human development, I feel the need to give thanks to God for “Sister Water”, simple and useful for life like nothing else on our planet. Precisely for this reason care for water sources & water basins is an urgent imperative. More than ever we need to look beyond immediate concerns (Laudato Si’, 36) and beyond a purely utilitarian view of reality, “in which efficiency and productivity are entirely geared to our individual benefit” (ibid., 159). We urgently need shared projects, concrete gestures that recognize that every privatization of the natural good of water, at the expense of the human right to have access to this good, is unacceptable. For us Christians, water represents an essential element of purification and of life. We think immediately of baptism, sacrament of our rebirth. Water made holy by the Spirit is the matter by which God has given us life and renewed us; it is the blessed source of undying life. For Christians of different confessions, baptism also represents the real and irreplaceable point of departure for experiencing an ever more authentic fraternity on the way to full unity. Jesus promised a water capable of quenching human thirst for ever (Jn 4:14). He prophesied, “If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink (Jn 7:37). To drink from Jesus means to encounter him personally as the Lord, drawing from his words the meaning of life. May the words he spoke from the cross – “I thirst” (Jn 19:28) – echo constantly in our hearts. The Lord continues to ask that his thirst be quenched; he thirsts for love. He asks us to give him to drink in all those who thirst in our own day, and to say to them, “I was thirsty and you gave me to drink” (Mt 25:35). To give to drink, in the global village, does not only entail personal gestures of charity, but also concrete choices and a constant commitment to ensure to all the primary good of water. I would like also to mention the issue of the seas and oceans. It is our duty to thank the Creator for the impressive and marvellous gift of the great waters and all that they contain (Gen 1:20-21; Ps 146:6), and to praise him for covering the earth with the oceans (Ps 104:6). To ponder the immense open seas and their incessant movement can also represent an opportunity to turn our thoughts to God, who constantly accompanies his creation, guiding its course and sustaining its existence Constant care for this inestimable treasure represents today an ineluctable duty and a genuine challenge. There is need for an effective cooperation between men and women of good will in assisting the ongoing work of the Creator. Sadly, all too many efforts fail due to the lack of effective regulation and means of control, particularly with regard to the protection of marine areas beyond national confines (Laudato Si’, 174). We cannot allow our seas and oceans to be littered by endless fields of floating plastic. Here too, our active commitment is needed to confront this emergency. We need to pray as if everything depended on God’s providence, and work as if everything depended on us. Let us pray that waters may not be a sign of separation between peoples but of encounter for the human community. Let us pray that those who risk their lives at sea in search of a better future may be kept safe. Let us ask the Lord and all those engaged in the noble service of politics that the more sensitive questions of our day, such as those linked to movements of migration, climate change and the right of everyone to enjoy primary goods, may be faced with generous and farsighted responsibility and in a spirit of cooperation, especially among those countries most able to help. Let us pray too, for all those who devote themselves to the apostolate of the sea, for those who help reflect on the issues involving maritime ecosystems, for those who contribute to the development and application of international regulations on the seas in order to safeguard individuals, countries, goods, natural resources (e.g. marine fauna and flora, coral reefs, sea beds) and to guarantee an integral development in view of the common good of the entire human family and not particular interests. Let us remember, too, all those who work to protect maritime areas and to safeguard the oceans and their biodiversity, that they may carry out this task with responsibility and integrity…..” Francis.
Most Reverend Gary Gordon Bishop of Victoria
August 26, 2018
August 21, 2018
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Over the course of the past few weeks, many serious accounts of sexual abuse by clergy of the Catholic Church have been revealed. I am deeply saddened and angered by these accounts of profound evil. The suffering endured by the victims of sexual abuse and their families is most painful, and is further compounded by the betrayal experienced by victims and their families from bishops, priests, and leaders of faith communities.
The failure of Church authorities to address and prevent the abuse by covering up such crimes and by simply moving perpetrators is a grave wrong and a breach of trust, demonstrating a total disregard for the pain and suffering of the victims and the church communities. If you are aware of any situation of sexual abuse, please report it immediately to law enforcement authorities at 1-800-663-9122. The Diocese of Victoria is deeply committed to the protection of minors and vulnerable persons, and any concerns should be reported to the Diocesan Responsible Ministry and Safe Environment Coordinator, Greg Beattie, at 877-237-7233 or via email at email@example.com.
The Diocese of Victoria has for several years mandated Responsible Ministry and Safe Environment policies, protocols, screening, a reporting process, and training, details of which may be accessed via the Diocesan website at www.rcdvictoria.org. We continue to work to improve training and screening protocols for all clergy, employees, and volunteers in our Diocese to ensure that all may know they are safe and free from harm in our communities. Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, issued a pastoral letter to the People of God, wherein he stated: "It is impossible to think of a conversion of our activity as a Church that does not include the active participation of all the members of God's People” (August 20, 2018).
The pain and suffering of one victim is too much, as it affects the whole Body of Christ, and calls us to act ever more transparently and humbly before our God, and one another. I invite you to join me in prayer, penance, and fasting in solidarity, on Saturday, September 15, 2018, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, as we implore the grace of God for the healing of victims of sexual abuse and for all those who have suffered abuse by the leadership in the Church.
During this sad time, we are called to walk humbly and faithfully, trusting in the grace of Christ and the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit at work within the Church. I pray that the Good News of God 's infinite love and mercy may be proclaimed to all creation, unhindered by sin and evil, and that the Light of Christ may overcome the darkness and shadows of our lives.
Most Reverend Gary Gordon Bishop of Victoria
July 29, 2018
For the next few weeks we have Gospel readings form the Gospel of John. As always we need to keep in mind the context of these Gospel passages and what each inspired writer wished to communicate to his community. We begin on July 29 with John’s Gospel passage in chapter 6 on the multiplication of the bread and fish. John has Jesus very much in charge. Jesus is teaching. A large crowd is there. Jesus takes the initiative and asks his disciples what to do (“he himself knew what he was going to do” John 6:3). It is Jesus who distributes the loaves and the fish. Just think of the scene in John: Jesus takes the five loaves and fish and distributes them. John has Jesus personally going around to bring food to people (in John it was five thousand (!) sitting on the grass)! Jesus is personally coming to us to greet and feed us! At the end people wanted to make him king but Jesus slips away by himself. The crowd chases after him and they find him on the other side of the lake in Capernaum (John 6: 24-35, the Gospel of August 5). John does not call this a miracle but rather a “sign” and for John a sign has not just an external meaning but also an internal meaning. At the beginning of today’s Gospel he says that “a large crowd kept following Jesus because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick (John 6:1). People had seen the external sign of healing but did they really “see” the internal meaning, did they “see” what the sign revealed about Jesus? In John Jesus will try to get people to understand; he will draw them into a conversation (scribes, Pharisees, here the crowd). Why? Because it will allow Jesus to make us think and reflect on the deeper meaning of what is happening. Are we “seeing” what Jesus is doing and saying to us? WE are drawn into a conversation with Jesus: we are invited to listen and to speak to Jesus so that we may grow in our understanding of who Jesus really is and who we are called to become. We believe in Jesus Christ not because of the outward sign (no matter how spectacular), the observable facts of his miracles, but because Jesus has come to us and invited us to have a direct relationship with Jesus our Saviour. We “see signs” and believe what they reveal to us of Jesus and of God, and ultimately of ourselves, of what we are invited to become. There a million and one things in our daily life (persons, events, objects) which invite me, us to “see beyond”, to discover what they mean to me, what they are telling me and what they are calling me to. In the Gospel the people are fed physical food (again the how is not as important as what it pointed to) and no doubt it satisfied them physically. But notice, the people in chap. 6 continue to follow Jesus because they were hungry, searching for something else. Jesus dialogues with them bringing them to see how God is at work. When people in Jesus’ culture ate together, past enmities were put aside. Those who broke bread together were no longer enemies. In the Gospel 5000 people from very diverse backgrounds sat together and ate the same meal served by Jesus. WE are invited to “see” that God in Jesus was reconciling the world, the whole of creation, reconnecting us to God, overcoming the enmity, the violence which is sin and evil. That is the inner meaning of the “sign” of the multiplication of the loaves and fish. Isn’t that precisely what we are doing at each Eucharistic celebration? We are people of diverse backgrounds, of very different viewpoints, and yet we come together, we sit together and eat the same meal. Despite our diversity Christ in gathering us together creates a unity, “that they may be one.” I am sure that the people following Jesus were doing so for all kinds of motives, not always the most noble or spiritual. Jesus took them where they were at. Well, the same with us. Christ takes us where we are at, with all our warts and blemishes, even if our motives coming here are not the most noble or spiritual, and helps us to see that in him, God is offering us more than a physical bread. In conversation with us Jesus in John is signaling to us: “I have something important to say to you, be still and listen!” (In the Gospel: “Very truly I tell you—the old amen, amen!) Christ is inviting us to “see” that all the physical “food” that we nourish ourselves with, that we surround ourselves with, the objects and wealth, the power and the glory, will not fulfill us; they all perish. We need a “food” that fulfills and lasts for ever: Jesus identifies himself as that “food”: “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent (John 6: 29).” Our strongest huger is for intimacy with God and for the God in each other, for God’s life within us. The food we receive at the Eucharist invites us to trust in God for our “daily bread.” Jesus says: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, whoever believes in me will never be thirsty (John 6:35).”