39. Dominica Resurrectionis

At that time, Mary Magdalen, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought sweet spices, that coming they might anoint Jesus. And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, they came to the sepulchre, the sun being now risen. And they said one to another: Who shall roll us back the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And looking, they saw the stone rolled back. For it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed with a white robe, and they were astonished. Who saith to them, Be not affrighted; ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: He is risen, He is not here; behold the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples, and Peter, that He goeth before you into Galilee; there you shall see Him, as He told you. 

Mark 16:1-7

This was an article I submitted for the Vine and Fig blog. Just a heads up: I talk about my struggles with mental health and eating disorders.

When I was a little boy, maybe three years old, my mom taught me the song, “Jesus Loves Me”; looking back into that memory it feels less like it was something I was taught and something she helped me to remember–I can clearly remember knowing everything about that song being true, that Jesus did love me, that subsequent to that love, Jesus died on the cross and on the third day lived again.  It was true because I knew it to be, as much as I knew that one plus one made two.


At ten, I didn’t really believe the Easter bunny was something but there were chocolate eggs in the house in the morning and that was all that mattered.  It wasn’t as big of a day as Christmas because there weren’t as many presents, there weren’t as many decorations, but it was a holiday with chocolate.  And of course, church.  My father was usually hung over from the night before, my mom was frazzled from being up all night hiding chocolate.  Just not as frazzled as Christmas morning.  The protestant church we went to on Sunday had a huge stained glass window of the Annunciation.  But I didn’t know that.  I’m not sure any of us knew it.  It was just an angel standing in a room with a woman.  When the minister would start the sermon, I’d usually fade out.  Not go to sleep really, but I’d just get fuzzy and imagine things.  I pictured a resurrected Jesus coming into the church from the side door, shaking hands with the minister, and taking the pulpit.  Jesus was going to go to all the churches like that, I rationalized.  He was going to go on tour like Billy Joel.  


At thirteen, we’d moved back into the city and I’d become reclusive and shy.  I was a fat, quiet, queer kid in a school with a lot of other kids and I knew the best way to protect myself was to hide, to disappear.  Don’t get noticed.  My first day, one of the kids from the popular group of kids actually came over to me, said hi, and asked if I’d like to hang out with them!  I was stunned!  I said no!  I mean, why would I want that kind of attention right?  By that time, Jesus was gone.  Jesus didn’t stop my dad from drinking.  He wasn’t there when I needed him, when I got beat up at my old school, or when people called me a fag, what ever that meant.  Jesus was an Idea on Sunday.  He was my dad’s Idea.  Jesus didn’t make my dad and I closer.  It felt like we grew further apart.  Jesus didn’t stop my parents from divorcing.  Jesus didn’t stop me from being attacked in high school.  He didn’t stop me from falling in love with my best friend, and then experiencing the heart break when that friend fell in love with a girl.  Jesus didn’t stop me from the pain I experience, the depression, the desire to end my life; I could’ve sworn at 17 that Jesus wasn’t there when I opened a bottle of pills, then wept harder because I didn’t have the courage to take my life.  Jesus wasn’t there when I purged into a toilet bowl after a binge the first time.  


Jesus wasn’t there.  I mean, He was there.  I knew at 17 that He was there.  He was just down deep inside of me, in a dark corner.  When I decided to go looking for a new faith path, one that would affirm my queerness, He was there.  He told me:  “I’ll be here when you get back.”  I passed it off as just my imagination, an inner voice.  I told myself, Christianity and being queer don’t conform.  They’re like oil and water.  There’s got to be a faith tradition that will affirm me.


Was Jesus in the statues of the Buddha I meditated in front of?  Was Jesus in the tobacco ties and the sweat lodges?  Was Jesus in the Pride movement?  I wandered for what feels now like an eternity.
Was Jesus with me in my most painful moments of acute loneliness and depression?  Was Jesus there when I began listening to an online course on philosophy and the Christian faith?  Was Jesus there when I began to experience, what I can only describe as a recurring three year demonic oppression?
Jesus was there when He rolled back the stone from the tomb.  He was there to take the shroud of pain, of suffering, from my face and rolled it up.  He was there when I was lifted from my bed of anguish.  He was there and welcomed me home.


Jesus was there through the pains of realizing I’d put myself in a job where I was emotionally abused and I had been taken advantage of for 20 years.  He was there the day I met my fiancé.  He was there when I told my father, “No more.  You have to leave my life.”  He was there when I dug the hole in my garden for my first day lily.  He was there when I discovered how beauty of wild plants.  He was there when I was lead to support work.  He was in the faces of the people that I supported.  He was there in the face of meth addiction, multiple personality disorder, frontal lobe brain injury.  He was there in their poverty, and I loved Him, and He loved me in return.


He was there the day I sat at my computer, and finally acknowledge my vocation.  Through all of this, through everything that I have lived, Jesus was there.  Jesus was calling me to the priesthood.  I couldn’t follow it.  I ran from it.  How could I be a priest in a faith that openly says they will not ordain those who are queer?  How could I be a priest in a faith that teaches that those with same sex attraction should carry their cross and have ‘disinterested friendships’?


Jesus was there when I asked for help.  Jesus led me to Father Bob.  Jesus led me to Father Tomas.  He was there when I received tonsure and professed my vows as a Franciscan.  He was there four years later when I professed my perpetual vows in latin.  He was there, like a lover from a long distance, waiting for me and my ordination during the early days of the pandemic.  He was there when the archbishop anointed my hands.  He was there at my first Mass when I leaned forward and said:
Hoc est enim corpus meum.I know He is there now, but not in the same way as I did when I was a child learning “Jesus loves me.”  I know He is there, but there is doubt.  Doubt is normal.  The apostles felt doubt!  They doubted right up until the moment they were able to recognize Him from what He did.  
Of course we doubt!  Given the tremendous pain some of us have, and continue, to experience–how could we not doubt?  We have to come to place where we believe in our own hearts, sometimes on a thin thread of faith, that He is there, that He has always been there.


The Good News is not announced from a pulpit, it’s not in the pages of a book, it’s not behind a URL.   It is in our actions, in how we love.  It is in the moments when we come home exhausted, lay head in our hands, and know that He was with us in our most difficult times–especially if we need to remind ourselves afterwards.  The Good News is in our hearts from the moment our hearts being to beat, and it is this:  God has touched us from our birth to know innately, like one plus one equals two, that He is there.  And from that knowledge?  Anything is possible.Jesus Christ is here.  Now.  Christ is in the eyes of the person reading this, right now.  Christ is in your tears.  Christ is in your laughter.  Christ is in the Eucharist.  Christ is in the hearts of the people who suffer from the disease of hate.  Christ is in the heart of those who are hated.  Christ is in the presence of every opportunity to express love.  Every.  Single.  Opportunity.


Even when we are disinterested, Christ is not now, not ever, a disinterested friend.
Pax et Bonum.  God love you.

39. Dominica Resurrectionis

36. 37. & 38

At that time, one of the Pharisees asked Jesus to dine with him; so He went into the house of the Pharisee and reclined at table. And behold, a woman in the town who was a sinner, upon learning that He was at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment; and standing behind Him at His feet, she began to bathe His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed His feet, and anointed them with ointment. Now when the Pharisee, who had invited Him, saw it, he said to himself, This man, were He a prophet, would surely know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner. And Jesus answered and said to him, Simon, I have something to say to you. And he said, Master, speak. A certain money-lender had two debtors; the one owed five hundred denarii, the other fifty. As they had no means of paying, he forgave them both. Which of them, therefore, will love him more? Simon answered and said, He, I suppose, to whom he forgave more. And He said to him, You have judged rightly. And turning to the woman, He said to Simon, Do you see this woman? I came into your house; you gave Me no water for My feet; but she has bathed My feet with tears, and has wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, from the moment she entered, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint my head with oil; but she has anointed My feet with ointment. Wherefore I say to you, her sins, many as they are, shall be forgiven her, because she has loved much. But he to whom little is forgiven, loves little. And He said to her, Your sins are forgiven. And they who were at table with Him began to say within themselves, Who is this man, who even forgives sins? But He said to the woman, Your faith has saved you; go in peace.

Luke 36:7-50

36. 37. & 38

34. & 35.

Dearly beloved: I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead, by his coming, and his kingdom: Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine. For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables. But be thou vigilant, labor in all things, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil thy ministry. Be sober. For I am even now ready to be sacrificed: and the time of my dissolution is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. As to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord the just judge will render to me in that day: and not only to me, but to them also that love his coming.

2 Tim 4:1-8

Two points: dying for one’s faith, and sound doctrine.

First, dying for one’s faith.

Today is the second day of what’s called Passiontide–the two week period that bridges Palm Sunday. This is the nitty gritty of the Lenten fast, the home stretch for some people. I remember giving up meat for Lent for several years, and being somewhat excited that I could taste it again come Easter Sunday.

Would we choose to die for this fast, for what it represents, for Who’s name it is done it? Or would we bend, concede–its only a little white lie. Before you answer so quickly, consider this:

Right now in Ukraine, people are dying. There’s been economic sanctions put in place that are maybe doing something in Russia. But the world continues to drink Russian oil.

While we may condemn what is going on in Russia, keep in mind that many countries in that list continue to support a war paid for with oil.

So, choose.

Oil companies are drug dealers. We are addicted. Our comfort fuels that addiction. Our “comfort” keeps us locked in the idea that we need to continue to use.

Our addiction is fueling a war of genocide.

So, choose.

Second, sound doctrine.

Based on what our faith teaches us, we have a duty to evangelize. Now I don’t believe that words are always the best way, but sometimes they’re necessary. Actions, however, tend to speak louder–except when they do not match with the words, the meaning. This is the argument of many non-Christians who point out the hypocrisy of many faithful; that the actions don’t meet the words, that the riches don’t meet the value placed on poverty.

Do we endure sound doctrine? Have our ears become itchy? Have we heaped leaders around us to help us reconcile our truth, our dependencies, our lies?

What would our faith demand, especially in the face of what is going on in Ukraine, or in the face of what is going on with our own poor?

Jesus wakes up. He looks around at the world, knowing that in less than two weeks, He will undergo the suffering and death that has been a pinpoint in His consciousness since He was a child. He knows that, in the midst of that pain, He will take on all of the sin of humanity. Billions and billions and billions of people’s worth. He knew all that and still endured, and died, and passed through the eye of the needle to return.

Would we have that kind of courage in the face of those who would deny our faith? Do we?

Do we have that kind of courage to do what must be done, even in the face of overwhelming discomfort?

34. & 35.

33.

At that time, Jesus spoke to the multitudes of the Jews, saying, I am the light of the world. He who follows Me does not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life. The Pharisees therefore said to Him, You bear witness to Yourself. Your witness is not true. Jesus answered and said to them, Even if I bear witness to Myself, My witness is true, because I know where I came from and where I go. But you do not know where I came from or where I go. You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. And even if I do judge, My judgment is true, because I am not alone, but with Me is He Who sent Me, the Father. And in your Law it is written that the witness of two persons is true. It is I Who bear witness to Myself, and He Who sent Me, the Father, bears witness to Me. They therefore said to Him, Where is your Father? Jesus answered, You know neither Me nor My Father. If you knew Me, you would then know My Father also. Jesus spoke these words in the treasury, while teaching in the temple. And no one seized Him, because His hour had not yet come.

John 8:12-20

When I was young, I lived in a very old Edwardian house in a small town that had a staircase that went down to the kitchen off a maid’s bedroom, a split staircase, a stained glass window, a bathroom off my and my brother’s bedroom that had white shag carpet. It was a nice house, but for someone younger like myself it was filled with ghosts and creaks and terrors at night.

When I would wake up in the middle of the night in fear, I would sing a hymn based on this passage:

I am the light of the world!

You people come and follow me!

If you follow and love, you’ll learn the mystery

of what you were meant to do and be!

After singing those lines in my head, never out loud, the terrors would pass away.

When we know who we are, when we have the confidence of the knowledge of our place in the world with our feet on the ground, there is a strength that fortifies our limbs and our heart. We judge from a foundation of innate truth. We have confidence that is not cocky–it’s assured and humble at the same time.

Questioned, Jesus responds “You don’t know me or the Father.” They are accusing out of a lack of assurance in themselves. They are a mob mentality, an individual consciousness with training wheels. It’s like me in that house, knowing that the walls supported the roof, it was warm in the winter, but not being 100% sure when the next ghost was going to terrorize me.

As the fourth psalm says: In peace and in self same, I will sleep and I will rest. For Thou hast settled me in hope.

33.

32.

In that time Jesus said to His disciples: You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing any more but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men. You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house. So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For amen I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one tittle shall not pass of the law, till all be fulfilled. He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But he that shall do and teach, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Matt 5:13-19

LEGACY

Child welfare

1. We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to commit to reducing the number of Aboriginal children in care by …

2. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, to prepare and publish annual reports on the number of Aboriginal children who are in care, compared with non-Aboriginal children, as well as the reasons for apprehension, the total spending on preventive and care services by child-welfare agencies, and the effectiveness of various interventions.

3. We call upon all levels of government to fully implement Jordan’s Principle.

4. We call upon the federal government to enact Aboriginal child-welfare legislation that establishes national standards for Aboriginal child apprehension and custody cases and includes principles that …

5. We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to develop culturally appropriate parenting programs for Aboriginal families.

Education

6. We call upon the Government of Canada to repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

7. We call upon the federal government to develop with Aboriginal groups a joint strategy to eliminate educational and employment gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.

8. We call upon the federal government to eliminate the discrepancy in federal education funding for First Nations children being educated on reserves and those First Nations children being educated off reserves.

9. We call upon the federal government to prepare and publish annual reports comparing funding for the education of First Nations children on and off reserves, as well as educational and income attainments of Aboriginal peoples in Canada compared with non-Aboriginal people.

10. We call on the federal government to draft new Aboriginal education legislation with the full participation and informed consent of Aboriginal peoples. The new legislation would include a commitment to sufficient funding and would incorporate the following principles …

11. We call upon the federal government to provide adequate funding to end the backlog of First Nations students seeking a post-secondary education.

12. We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to develop culturally appropriate early childhood education programs for Aboriginal families.

Language and culture

13. We call upon the federal government to acknowledge that Aboriginal rights include Aboriginal language rights.

14. We call upon the federal government to enact an Aboriginal Languages Act that incorporates the following principles …

15. We call upon the federal government to appoint, in consultation with Aboriginal groups, an Aboriginal Languages Commissioner.

16. We call upon post-secondary institutions to create university and college degree and diploma programs in Aboriginal languages.

17. We call upon all levels of government to enable residential school survivors and their families to reclaim names changed by the residential school system by waiving administrative costs for a period of five years for the name-change process and the revision of official identity documents, such as birth certificates, passports, driver’s licenses, health cards, status cards, and social insurance numbers.

Health

18. We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to acknowledge that the current state of Aboriginal health in Canada is a direct result of previous Canadian government policies, including residential schools, and to recognize and implement the health-care rights of Aboriginal people as identified in international law, constitutional law, and under the Treaties.

19. We call upon the federal government, in consultation with Aboriginal peoples, to establish measurable goals to identify and close the gaps in health outcomes between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities, and to publish annual progress reports and assess long-term trends.

20. In order to address the jurisdictional disputes concerning Aboriginal people who do not reside on reserves, we call upon the federal government to recognize, respect, and address the distinct health needs of the Métis, Inuit, and off-reserve Aboriginal peoples.

21. We call upon the federal government to provide sustainable funding for existing and new Aboriginal healing centres to address the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual harms caused by residential schools, and to ensure that the funding of healing centres in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories is a priority.

22. We call upon those who can effect change within the Canadian health-care system to recognize the value of Aboriginal healing practices and use them in the treatment of Aboriginal patients in collaboration with Aboriginal healers and Elders where requested by Aboriginal patients.

23. We call upon all levels of government to: increase the number of Aboriginal professionals working in the health-care field, ensure the retention of Aboriginal health-care providers in Aboriginal communities and provide cultural competency training for all health-care professionals …

24. We call upon medical and nursing schools in Canada to require all students to take a course dealing with Aboriginal health issues, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, and Indigenous teachings and practices.

Justice

25. We call upon the federal government to establish a written policy that reaffirms the independence of the RCMP to investigate crimes in which the government has its own interest as a potential or real party in civil litigation.

26. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to review and amend their respective statutes of limitations to ensure that they conform with the principle that governments and other entities cannot rely on limitation defences to defend legal actions of historical abuse brought by Aboriginal people.

27. We call upon the Federation of Law Societies of Canada to ensure that lawyers receive appropriate cultural competency training, which includes the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations.

28) We call upon law schools in Canada to require all law students to take a course in Aboriginal people and the law, which includes the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations.

29. We call upon the parties and, in particular, the federal government, to work collaboratively with plaintiffs not included in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement to have disputed legal issues determined expeditiously on an agreed set of facts.

30. We call upon federal, provincial, and territorial governments to commit to eliminating the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in custody over the next decade, and to issue detailed annual reports that monitor and evaluate progress in doing so.

31. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to provide sufficient and stable funding to implement and evaluate community sanctions that will provide realistic alternatives to imprisonment for Aboriginal offenders and respond to the underlying causes of offending.

32. We call upon the federal government to amend the Criminal Code to allow trial judges, upon giving reasons, to depart from mandatory minimum sentences and restrictions on the use of conditional sentences.

33. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to recognize as a high priority the need to address and prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and to develop, in collaboration with Aboriginal people, FASD preventive programs that can be delivered in a culturally appropriate manner.

34. We call upon the governments of Canada, the provinces, and territories to undertake reforms to the criminal justice system to better address the needs of offenders with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, including …

35. We call upon the federal government to eliminate barriers to the creation of additional Aboriginal healing lodges within the federal correctional system.

36. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to work with Aboriginal communities to provide culturally relevant services to inmates on issues such as substance abuse, family and domestic violence, and overcoming the experience of having been sexually abused.

37. We call upon the federal government to provide more supports for Aboriginal programming in halfway houses and parole services.

38. We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to commit to eliminating the overrepresentation of Aboriginal youth in custody over the next decade.

39. We call upon the federal government to develop a national plan to collect and publish data on the criminal victimization of Aboriginal people, including data related to homicide and family violence victimization.

40. We call on all levels of government, in collaboration with Aboriginal people, to create adequately funded and accessible Aboriginal-specific victim programs and services with appropriate evaluation mechanisms.

41. We call upon the federal government, in consultation with Aboriginal organizations, to appoint a public inquiry into the causes of, and remedies for, the disproportionate victimization of Aboriginal women and girls. The inquiry’s mandate would include an investigation into missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls and links to the intergenerational legacy of residential schools.

42. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to commit to the recognition and implementation of Aboriginal justice systems in a manner consistent with the Treaty and Aboriginal rights of Aboriginal peoples, the Constitution Act, 1982, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, endorsed by Canada in November 2012.

RECONCILIATION

Canadian governments, UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

43. We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation.

44. We call upon the Government of Canada to develop a national action plan, strategies, and other concrete measures to achieve the goals of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Royal Proclamation and Covenant of Reconciliation

45. We call upon the Government of Canada, on behalf of all Canadians, to jointly develop with Aboriginal peoples a Royal Proclamation of Reconciliation to be issued by the Crown. The proclamation would build on the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and the Treaty of Niagara of 1764, and reaffirm the nation-to-nation relationship between Aboriginal peoples and the Crown. The proclamation would include, but not be limited to, the following commitments …

46. We call upon the parties to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement to develop and sign a Covenant of Reconciliation that would identify principles for working collaboratively to advance reconciliation in Canadian society, , and that would include, but not be limited to …

47. We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to repudiate concepts used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous peoples and lands, such as the Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius, and to reform those laws, government policies, and litigation strategies that continue to rely on such concepts.

Settlement Agreement Parties and the United Nations

Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

48. We call upon the church parties to the Settlement Agreement, and all other faith groups and interfaith social justice groups in Canada who have not already done so, to formally adopt and comply with the principles, norms, and standards of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a framework for reconciliation. This would include, but not be limited to, the following commitments …

49. We call upon all religious denominations and faith groups who have not already done so to repudiate concepts used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous lands and peoples, such as the Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius.

Equity for Aboriginal People in the Legal System

50. In keeping with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal organizations, to fund the establishment of Indigenous law institutes for the development, use, and understanding of Indigenous laws and access to justice in accordance with the unique cultures of Aboriginal peoples in Canada.

51. We call upon the Government of Canada, as an obligation of its fiduciary responsibility, to develop a policy of transparency by publishing legal opinions it develops and upon which it acts or intends to act, in regard to the scope and extent of Aboriginal and Treaty rights.

52. We call upon the Government of Canada, provincial and territorial governments, and the courts to adopt the following legal principles …

National Council for Reconciliation

53. We call upon the Parliament of Canada, in consultation and collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to enact legislation to establish a National Council for Reconciliation. The legislation would establish the council as an independent, national, oversight body with membership jointly appointed by the Government of Canada and national Aboriginal organizations, and consisting of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal members. Its mandate would include, but not be limited to, the following …

54. We call upon the Government of Canada to provide multi-year funding for the National Council for Reconciliation to ensure that it has the financial, human, and technical resources required to conduct its work, including the endowment of a National Reconciliation Trust to advance the cause of reconciliation.

55. We call upon all levels of government to provide annual reports or any current data requested by the National Council for Reconciliation so that it can report on the progress towards reconciliation. The reports or data would include, but not be limited to …

56. We call upon the prime minister of Canada to formally respond to the report of the National Council for Reconciliation by issuing an annual “State of Aboriginal Peoples” report, which would outline the government’s plans for advancing the cause of reconciliation.

Professional Development and Training for Public Servants

57. We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to provide education to public servants on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.

Church Apologies and Reconciliation

58. We call upon the Pope to issue an apology to survivors, their families, and communities for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children in Catholic-run residential schools.

59. We call upon church parties to the settlement agreement to develop ongoing education strategies to ensure that their respective congregations learn about their church’s role in colonization, the history and legacy of residential schools, and why apologies to former residential school students, their families, and communities were necessary.

60. We call upon leaders of the church parties to the settlement agreement and all other faiths, in collaboration with Indigenous spiritual leaders, survivors, schools of theology, seminaries, and other religious training centres, to develop and teach curriculum for all student clergy, and all clergy and staff who work in Aboriginal communities, on the need to respect Indigenous spirituality in its own right, the history and legacy of residential schools and the roles of the church parties in that system, the history and legacy of religious conflict in Aboriginal families and communities, and the responsibility that churches have to mitigate such conflicts and prevent spiritual violence.

61. We call upon church parties to the settlement agreement, in collaboration with survivors and representatives of Aboriginal organizations, to establish permanent funding to Aboriginal people for …

Education for reconciliation

62. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments, in consultation and collaboration with survivors, Aboriginal peoples, and educators, to …

63. We call upon the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada to maintain an annual commitment to Aboriginal education issues, including …

64. We call upon all levels of government that provide public funds to denominational schools to require such schools to provide an education on comparative religious studies, which must include a segment on Aboriginal spiritual beliefs and practices developed in collaboration with Aboriginal elders.

65. We call upon the federal government, through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, post-secondary institutions and educators, and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and its partner institutions, to establish a national research program with multi-year funding to advance understanding of reconciliation.

Youth Programs

66. We call upon the federal government to establish multi-year funding for community-based youth organizations to deliver programs on reconciliation, and establish a national network to share information and best practices.

Museums and Archives

67. We call upon the federal government to provide funding to the Canadian Museums Association to undertake, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, a national review of museum policies and best practices to determine the level of compliance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to make recommendations.

68. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, and the Canadian Museums Association to mark the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation in 2017 by establishing a dedicated national funding program for commemoration projects on the theme of reconciliation.

69. We call upon Library and Archives Canada to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the United Nations Joinet-Orentlicher principles, as related to Aboriginal peoples’ inalienable right to know the truth about what happened and why, with regard to human rights violations committed against them in the residential schools, and …

70) We call upon the federal government to provide funding to the Canadian Association of Archivists to undertake, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, a national review of archival policies and best practices to …

Missing Children and Burial Information

71. We call upon all chief coroners and provincial vital statistics agencies that have not provided to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada their records on the deaths of Aboriginal children in the care of residential school authorities to make these documents available to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

72. We call upon the federal government to allocate sufficient resources to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to allow it to develop and maintain the National Residential School Student Death Register established by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

73. We call upon the federal government to work with churches, Aboriginal communities, and former residential school students to establish and maintain an online registry of residential school cemeteries, including, where possible, plot maps showing the location of deceased residential school children.

74. We call upon the federal government to work with the churches and Aboriginal community leaders to inform the families of children who died at residential schools of the child’s burial location, and to respond to families’ wishes for appropriate commemoration ceremonies and markers, and reburial in home communities where requested.

75. We call upon the federal government to work with provincial, territorial, and municipal governments, churches, Aboriginal communities, former residential school students, and current landowners to develop and implement strategies and procedures for the ongoing identification, documentation, maintenance, commemoration, and protection of residential school cemeteries or other sites at which residential school children were buried.

76) We call upon the parties engaged in the work of documenting, maintaining, commemorating, and protecting residential school cemeteries to adopt strategies in accordance with the following principles …

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation

77. We call upon provincial, territorial, municipal, and community archives to work collaboratively with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to identify and collect copies of all records relevant to the history and legacy of the residential school system, and to provide these to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

78. We call upon the Government of Canada to commit to making a funding contribution of $10 million over seven years to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, plus an additional amount to assist communities to research and produce histories of their own residential school experience and their involvement in truth, healing, and reconciliation.

Commemoration

79. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with survivors, Aboriginal organizations, and the arts community, to develop a reconciliation framework for Canadian heritage and commemoration.

80. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.

81. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with survivors and their organizations, and other parties to the Settlement Agreement, to commission and install a publicly accessible, highly visible, Residential Schools National Monument in the city of Ottawa to honour Survivors and all the children who were lost to their families and communities.

82. We call upon provincial and territorial governments, in collaboration with Survivors and their organizations, and other parties to the Settlement Agreement, to commission and install a publicly accessible, highly visible, Residential Schools Monument in each capital city to honour Survivors and all the children who were lost to their families and communities.

83. We call upon the Canada Council for the Arts to establish, as a funding priority, a strategy for Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists to undertake collaborative projects and produce works that contribute to the reconciliation process.

Media and Reconciliation

84. We call upon the federal government to restore and increase funding to the CBC/ Radio-Canada, to enable Canada’s national public broadcaster to support reconciliation, and be properly reflective of the diverse cultures, languages, and perspectives of Aboriginal peoples, including, but not limited to …

85. We call upon the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, as an independent non-profit broadcaster with programming by, for, and about Aboriginal peoples, to support reconciliation, including but not limited to …

86. We call upon Canadian journalism programs and media schools to require education for all students on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations.

Sports and Reconciliation

87. We call upon all levels of government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, sports halls of fame, and other relevant organizations, to provide public education that tells the national story of Aboriginal athletes in history.

88. We call upon all levels of government to take action to ensure long-term Aboriginal athlete development and growth, and continued support for the North American Indigenous Games, including funding to host the games and for provincial and territorial team preparation and travel.

89. We call upon the federal government to amend the Physical Activity and Sport Act to support reconciliation by ensuring that policies to promote physical activity as a fundamental element of health and well-being, reduce barriers to sports participation, increase the pursuit of excellence in sport, and build capacity in the Canadian sport system, are inclusive of Aboriginal peoples.

90. We call upon the federal government to ensure that national sports policies, programs, and initiatives are inclusive of Aboriginal peoples, including, but not limited to …

91. We call upon the officials and host countries of international sporting events such as the Olympics, Pan Am, and Commonwealth games to ensure that Indigenous peoples’ territorial protocols are respected, and local Indigenous communities are engaged in all aspects of planning and participating in such events.

Business and Reconciliation

92. We call upon the corporate sector in Canada to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a reconciliation framework and to apply its principles, norms, and standards to corporate policy and core operational activities involving Indigenous peoples and their lands and resources.

Newcomers to Canada

93. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with the national Aboriginal organizations, to revise the information kit for newcomers to Canada and its citizenship test to reflect a more inclusive history of the diverse Aboriginal peoples of Canada, including information about the Treaties and the history of residential schools.

94. We call upon the government of Canada to replace the oath of citizenship with the following: “I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, her heirs and successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada including Treaties with Indigenous Peoples, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.”

32.

30. & 31.

At that time, a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Now it was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet dry with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. The sisters therefore sent to Him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick. But when Jesus heard this, He said to them, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that through it the Son of God may be glorified. Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister Mary, and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was sick, He remained two more days in the same place. Then afterwards He said to His disciples, Let us go again into Judea. The disciples said to Him, Rabbi, just now the Jews were seeking to stone You; and do You go there again? Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If a man walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if he walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him. These things He spoke, and after this He said to them, Lazarus, our friend, sleeps. But I go that I may wake him from sleep. His disciples therefore said, Lord, if he sleeps, he will be safe. Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought He was speaking of the repose of sleep. So then Jesus said to them plainly, Lazarus is dead; and I rejoice on your account that I was not there, that you may believe. But let us go to him. Thomas, who is called the Twin, said therefore to his fellow-disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with Him. Jesus therefore came and found him already four days in the tomb. Now Bethany was close to Jerusalem, some fifteen stadia distant. And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to comfort them on account of their brother. When, therefore, Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet Him. But Mary remained at home. Martha therefore said to Jesus, Lord, if You had been here my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You shall ask of God, God will give it to You. Jesus said to her, Your brother shall rise. Martha said to Him, I know that he will rise at the resurrection, on the last day. Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me, even if he die, shall live; and whoever lives and believes in Me, shall never die. Do you believe this? She said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, Who have come into the world. And when she had said this, she went away and quietly called Mary her sister, saying, The Master is here and calls you. As soon as she heard this, she rose quickly and came to Him, for Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met Him. When, therefore, the Jews who were with her in the house and were comforting her, saw Mary rise up quickly and go out, they followed her, saying, She is going to the tomb to weep there. When, therefore, Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell at His feet, and said to him, Lord, if You had been her, my brother would not have died. When, therefore, Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her weeping, He groaned in spirit and was troubled, and said, Where have you laid him? They said to Him, Lord, come and see. And Jesus wept. The Jews therefore said, See how He loved him. But some of them said, Could not He Who opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that this man should not die? Jesus therefore, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave and a stone was laid against it. Jesus said, Take away the stone. Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, Lord, by this time he is already decayed, for he is dead four days. Jesus said to her, Have I not told you that if you believe you shall behold the glory of God? They therefore removed the stone. And Jesus, raising His eyes, said, Father, I give You thanks that You have heard Me. Yet I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people who stand round, I spoke, that they may believe that You have sent Me. When He had said this, He cried out with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth! And at once he who had been dead came forth, bound feet and hands with bandages, and his face was tied up with a cloth. Jesus said to them, Unbind him, and let him go. Many therefore of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen what He did, believed in Him.

John 11:1-45

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning and welcome.

I thank Bishop [Raymond] Poisson for his kind words, and each of you for your presence here and for the prayers that you have offered to heaven. I am grateful that you have come to Rome despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic.

Over the past days I’ve listened attentively to your testimonies. I have brought them to my thoughts and prayers, reflecting on the stories you told and the situations you described. I thank you, for having opened your hearts to me and for expressing, by means of this visit, your desire for us to journey together.

I would like to take up a few of the many things that have struck me. Let me start from a saying that is part of your traditional wisdom. It is not only a turn of phrase but also a way of viewing life: In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation.

These are wise words, farsighted, and the exact opposite of what often happens in our day, when we run after practical and immediate goals without thinking of the future and generations yet to come.

Instead, the ties that connect the elderly and the young are essential. They must be cherished and protected lest we lose our historical memory and very identity. They must be cherished and protected, for whenever memory and identity are cherished and protected, we become more human.

In these days, a beautiful image kept coming up. You compared yourselves to the branches of a tree. Like those branches, you have spread in different directions. You have experienced various times and seasons and you have been buffeted by powerful winds, yet you have remained solidly anchored to your roots, which you kept strong. In this way, you’ve continued to bear fruit, for the branches of a tree grow high only if its roots are deep.

I would like to speak of some of those fruits, which deserve to be better known and appreciated.

First, your care for the land, which you see not as a resource to be exploited, but as a gift from heaven. For you, the land preserves the memory of your ancestors, who rest there. It is a vital setting, making it possible to see each individual’s life as part of a greater web of relationships — with the Creator, with the human community, with all living species and with the Earth, our common home.

All this leads you to seek interior and exterior harmony, to show great love for the family and to possess a lively sense of community. Then, too, there are the particular riches of your languages, your cultures, your traditions and your forms of art. These represent a patrimony that belongs not only to you, but to all humanity, for they are expressions of our common humanity.

And yet, that tree, rich in fruit, has experienced a tragedy that you described to me in these past days — the tragedy of being uprooted. The chain that passed on knowledge and ways of life and union with the land was broken by a colonization that lacked respect for you, tore many of you from your vital milieu and tried to conform you to another mentality.

In this way, great harm was done to your identity and your culture. Many families were separated and great numbers of children fell victim to these attempts to impose a uniformity based on the notion that progress occurs through ideological colonization, following programs devised in offices, rather than the desire to respect the life of peoples.

This is something that unfortunately, and at various levels, still happens today — that is, ideological colonization. How many forms of political, ideological and economic colonization still exists in the world today, driven by greed and thirst for profit with little concern for peoples, their histories and traditions and the common home of creation. Sadly, this colonial mentality remains widespread. Let us help each other together to overcome it.

Listening to your voices I was able to enter into, and be deeply grieved, by the stories of the suffering, hardship, discrimination and various forms of abuse that some of you have experienced, particularly in the residential schools. It’s chilling to think of determined efforts to instill a sense of inferiority, to rob people of their cultural identity, to sever their roots and to consider all the pertinent personal and social efforts that this continues to entail — unresolved traumas that have become intergenerational traumas.

All this has made me feel two things very strongly — indignation and shame.

Indignation because it is not right to accept evil and, even worse, to grow accustomed to evil, as if it were an inevitable part of the historical process. No!

Without real indignation, without historical memory and without a commitment to learning from past mistakes, problems remain unresolved and keep coming back. We can see this these days in the case of war. The memory of the past must never be sacrificed at the altar of alleged progress.

I also feel shame. I have said this to you and now I’m repeating it, sorrow and shame, for the role that a number of Catholics, particularly those with educational responsibilities, have had in all these things that wounded you, in the abuses you suffered and in the lack of respect shown for your identify, your culture and even your spiritual values. All these things are contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

For the deplorable conduct of these members of the Catholic Church, I ask for God’s forgiveness and I want to say to you with all my heart: I am very sorry. And I join my brothers, the Canadian bishops, in asking your pardon. Clearly, the content of the faith cannot be transmitted in a way contrary to the faith itself. Jesus taught us to welcome, love, serve and not judge. It is a frightening thing then when, precisely in the name of the faith, counter-witness is rendered to the Gospel.

Your experiences have made me ponder anew these ever-timely questions the Creator addresses to mankind in the first pages of the Bible. After the first sin, he asks: “Where are you?” Then a few pages later he asks another question inseparable from the first: “Where is your brother? Where are you? Where is your brother?”

These are questions we should never stop asking. They are the essential questions raised by our conscience lest we ever forget that we are here on this Earth as guardians of the sacredness of life, and as guardians of our brothers and sisters, and of all brother peoples.

At the same time, I think with gratitude of all those good and decent believers, who in the name of the faith, and with respect, love and kindness, have enriched your history with the Gospel. I think with joy, for example, of the great veneration that many of you have for Saint Anne, the grandmother of Jesus. This year I would like to be with you on those days.

Nowadays, we need to re-establish the covenant between grandparents and grandchildren, between the elderly and the young. For this is a fundamental prerequisite for the growth of unity in our human family.

Dear brothers and sisters, it is my hope that our meetings in these days will point out new paths to be pursued together, instil courage and strength and lead to greater commitment on the local level. Any truly effective process of healing requires concrete actions.

In a fraternal spirit, I encourage the bishops and the Catholic community to continue taking steps toward the transparent search for truth, and to foster healing and reconciliation. These steps are part of a journey that can favour the rediscovery and revitalization of your culture, while helping the church to grow in love, respect and specific attention to your authentic traditions.

I wish to tell you that the church stands beside you and wants to continue journeying with you. Dialogue is the key to knowledge and sharing, and the bishops of Canada have clearly stated their commitment to continue advancing together with you on a renewed, constructive and fruitful path where encounters and shared projects will be of great help.

Dear friends, I have been enriched by your words, and even more by your testimonies. You have brought here to Rome a living sense of your communities. I will be happy to benefit again from meeting you when I visit your native lands, where your families live. I’m not going to go in winter, eh?

So I will close by saying — until we meet again in Canada, where I will be able better to express to you my closeness. In the meantime, I assure you of my prayers and upon you, your families and your communities, I invoke the blessing of the Creator. Thank you.

I don’t want to end without saying a word to you, my brother bishops: Thank you! Thank you for your courage. The spirit of the Lord is revealed in humility. Before stories like the one we heard, the humiliation of the church is fruitfulness. Thank you for your courage.

Pope Francis, Rome, April 1, 2022

30. & 31.

29.

Thus says the Lord God: Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before My eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good. Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, heart the orphan’s plea, defend the widow. Come now, let us set things right, says the Lord: though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; though they be crimson red, they may become white as wool. If you are willing, and obey, you shall eat the good things of the land, says the Lord almighty.

Isa 1:16-19

The right thing is not always easy. Sometimes it requires us to bend from what is easy, and sacrifice.

God is always present, and because of that, we forget about God.

It’s the same principle as a security camera. At first, if it shows up in our environment, we notice it. But after a while, it becomes part of the scenery and we just continue on.

But unlike a security camera, God knows all. Everything about us.

And that’s intimidating for many! Dare I say, most!

Make justice our aim. What does that mean? In the context of this passage of scripture, we’re looking at making sure that what is right transpires. That means facing truths that may require us to give up our comfort for our survival as a species. It may mean creating more in terms of harm reduction programs, more in terms of affordable housing and a guaranteed basic income. It may mean accepting that wars generate profit.

Or it might just mean being kind to a neighbor we’ve been avoiding, or buying something to eat for someone who needs an ear, a kind word, a hug.

Love is present in all of us–and how that love expresses itself is as diverse as every person on the planet. It matters now how we express our love, but it is crucial as Christians, as Catholics, that we do.

29.

26, 27, & 28.

At that time, when the feast was already half over, Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach. And the Jews marveled, saying, How does this man come by learning, since He has not studied? Jesus answered them and said, My teaching is not My own, but His Who sent Me. If anyone desires to do His will, he will know of the teaching whether it is from God, or whether I speak on My own authority. He who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory. But he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is truthful, and there is no injustice in him. Did not Moses give you the Law, and none of you observes the Law? Why do you seek to put Me to death? The crowd answered and said, You have a devil. Who seeks to put You to death? Jesus answered and said to them, One work I did and you all wonder. For this reason Moses gave you the circumcision — not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers — and on a Sabbath you circumcise a man. If a man receives circumcision on a Sabbath, that the Law of Moses may not be broken, are you indignant with me because I made a whole man well on a Sabbath? Judge not by appearances but give just judgment. Some therefore of the people of Jerusalem were saying, Is not this the man they seek to kill? And behold, He speaks openly and they say nothing to Him. Can it be that the rulers have really come to know that this is the Christ? Yet we know where this man is from; but when the Christ comes, no one will know where He is from. Jesus therefore, while teaching in the temple, cried out and said, You both know Me, and know where I am from. Yet I have not come of Myself, but He is true Who has sent Me, whom you do not know. I know Him because I am from Him, and He sent Me. They wanted therefore to seize Him, but no one laid hands on Him because His hour had not yet come. Many of the people, however, believed in Him.

John 7:14-31

You both know Me, and know where I am from.

The last few days have once again pushed me from writing like I have in the past. It’s stopped me from saying Mass as often, from saying the Office. It’s stopped me from making and keeping calls because I’m just too tired.

The other day, I came into the oratory, put my hand on the altar, said “Dominus”, and walked out. That’s all it felt like there was time for.

Tonight after writing, I’m taking up my rosary and taking time because I know I need to do it.

I know the truth that when I don’t have time in the oratory before the Blessed Sacrament, I feel different. I know in His presence, life gets easier.

I had a conversation with my bishop about it, and he empathized and told me that as long as I’m feeling that I’m missing it (and I sure am!), it’s ok. The moment I stop missing it, there’s trouble.

My eyes are heavy.

26, 27, & 28.

24. & 25.

At that time, Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. And at daybreak He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and sitting down He began to teach them. Now the Scribes and Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and setting her in the midst, said to Him, Master, this woman has just now been caught in adultery. And in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such persons. What, therefore, do You say? Now they were saying this to test Him, in order that they might be able to accuse Him. But Jesus, stooping down, began to write with His finger on the ground. But when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself and said to them, Let him who is without sin among you be the first to cast a stone at her. And again stooping down, He began to write on the ground. But hearing this, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest. And Jesus remained alone, with the woman standing in the midst. And Jesus, raising Himself, said to her, Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you? She said, No one, Lord. Then Jesus said, Neither will I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on sin no more.

John 8:1-11

24. & 25.

23.

At that time, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And when the angel had come to her, he said, Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women. When she had heard him she was troubled at his word, and kept pondering what manner of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found grace with God. Behold, you shall conceive in your womb and shall bring forth a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of David His father, and He shall be king over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end. But Mary said to the angel, How shall this happen, since I do not know man? And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you; and therefore the Holy One to be born shall be called the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth your kinswoman also has conceived a son in her old age, and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month; for nothing shall be impossible with God. But Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word.

Luke 1:26-38

Tomorrow, the Feast of Our Lady of the Annunciation, is the anniversary of the founding of the Order of Franciscans of the Annunciation of the Infinite Love of God (OFA). From our church history:

On the Feast of the Annunciation 2006, Archbishop Roger LaRade founded a religious community within l’Église Catholique Eucharistique – The Eucharistic Catholic Church. He named this new community the Order of Franciscans of the Annunciation of the Infinite Love of God, also known as the Franciscans of the Annunciation. The initials which members of the Order place after their names are O.F.A.

Following the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience we experience and live our vows as partnered/married or single persons, male and female, all under the same rule of life. We desire to have Saint Francis as a guide to our following of Jesus. We identify strongly with Jesus’ call to Saint Francis to “go, rebuild my Church”. We understand this in the contemporary world as a call to proclaim (announce – Annunciation) the Infinite Love of God for all people. God’s Infinite Love is shown us in the person of Jesus. As Mary, at the Annunciation, said “Yes” to God’s call to her to incarnate Jesus, so Franciscans of the Annunciation dedicate ourselves to live out our “Yes” to God’s call to each one of us to continue to incarnate Jesus through action and word.

In living this call, we have looked for a Franciscan community rooted in Tradition in its response to the modern world. We see this community as necessary in encouraging our ministry while shaping our mission. Membership in the Franciscans of the Annunciation provides this through the making of a commitment to live one’s vocation according to the rule of life of the Order under the guidance of the Guardian-General, and includes regular contact among members, ongoing study and discussion of Franciscan spirituality, and daily prayer and Mass, and ministry. 

Infinite Love does not include the idea of war, of greed, of anger, hate, or rage.

Infinite Love is an ideal we strive towards every day; especially during Lent when we are encouraged to acts of charity.

Charity can be something as simple as having the grace to see another point of view, to look through the windows of another person’s life to see the world from the eyes of their soul.

It is as simple as patiently and lovingly reminding someone of the damage that gossip can cause.

Or it can be a gentle touch on the shoulder in the moment of despair someone may be experiencing.

Or a prayer.

Infinite Love cannot pass through the walls of indifference, prejudice, or bias based on a philosophy of selfishness. One cannot be hid in the Wounds of Christ when one subscribes to a philosophy which says that only people who meet certain requirements are welcomed at table. Which means that there will be those who come to overturn the table.

Infinite Love requires us to gently, firmly, lovingly put the table back, re-set it, and again offer the meal.

Repeatedly if necessary.

Seventy times seven times if necessary.

It is a hard teaching.

But this is why the way is narrow, and few will find it.

I ask you to pray for me that I might have patience enough to walk this road.

23.