Monday, January 21, 2013

ma mère chantait toujours

"ma mère chantait toujours la la la
une vielle chanson d'amour que je te chante a mon tour
ma fille tu grandiras et puis tu t'en iras
mais un beau jour tu te souviendras à ton tour de cette chanson là" (Ginette Reno - Ma Mère Chantait Toujours, 1969?)

last week i mentioned about the ups and downs of this time of year - preparing our children for the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist.  the question here of every parish, priest, team, family, Church, is how to share the Good News, how to share the joy of God in Our Lord Jesus Christ to the next generation.  obviously something has to change.  "if we keep doing what was done, we will get the same results." (see CatholicTechTalk)  for parents of our children in the parish, the good news is that we will be offering a second registration date.  please stay tuned for more information.

what is being lost, somewhere, somehow, is song here by Ginette Reno.  i love this song!  [tangent:  she will be in Ottawa in March at the NAC] it speaks of a mother sharing a love song with her daughter.  of course, years later that same daughter would naturally remember this song and share it with her children.  if Faith is the love song in question, then we are no longer one generation behind, but two.  we do not know our Faith anymore.  i know this because first and foremost, i am part of that very generation.  as a young pup i grudgingly went to Church with my family, and have even worst memories of preparing for my Sacraments.  nonetheless, i do have memories of this love song.  and today, i try hard with many to share the joy, the peace, the love that is God in Our Lord Jesus Christ.  everyday i continue to learn.

what happens, though, when one does not pass on the faith?  the love song is forgotten, and we no longer have the words or language to share the joy of God in Our Lord Jesus Christ.  at times, we struggle to remember that song that once was taught, or worst, we forget it all together.  then, of course, the steps have begun to spread the wrong message about God, Holy Mother Church, and, etc ...

today, we are not one generation, but two generation behind in preaching the Good News, and in understanding our Faith.  parents today - who have not been properly formed (not their fault) in the Faith, struggle for reasons in order to go forward with baptizing their children, preparing them for the Sacraments of Reconciliation and First Communion, and finally, Confirmation is often forgotten.  of course, we are all aware of the decline in the Sacrament of Marriage too.  (more on this decline via Salt & Light Television)  this same generation now has a new obstacle.  not only do our brothers and sisters have difficulty with sharing their Christian identity, but the lack of formation now makes it difficult for them to deal with death - they often struggle with what to do when someone dies.  how to prepare for a loved one's funeral, for example.  in their preparations and journey through grief, the Church community is often forgotten, and, or, ignored altogether.  for example, the increase in a simple celebration at the funeral home is rising significantly   people prefer a Liturgy of the Word, rather than the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  of course, i'm only taking about Catholics at this point.

Judo, London Olympics 2012
last week i was in the middle of this complex discussion - with brother priests, parents, + schools.  trying to rest, i ended up watching the original (and better) The Karate Kid (1984).  i grow up with this, in fact i was 9 years old!  it made me want to take classes of course.  so, my parents registered me for the program - but since no karate was around, i ended up starting Judo lessons.  [tangent:  Sept-Iles, QC was a hotbed for up and coming Judo stars].  but for me, after one class, i had enough.  i retired from martial arts in 1984.  yet i still have a white belt - the white collar around my neck.

anwyho, the young Danielsan wants to learn Karate and so Mr. Miyagi begins by  teaching him the basics.  what must he do first, but "wax on, wax off."  maybe we have forgotten the basics on faith formation?  we have to register now for the Sacraments, and we should be teaching with joy and passion.

today, what is failing is that we are only teaching the children.  again, if we continue as before, we get the same results.  our programs must address both generations.  sharing this love song in the past was easier because it was part of the culture - we lived in a Christian culture.  even if all involved struggled, together the faith was being shared joyfully!

we do not live in a Christian culture anymore.  but we continue with our programs as if we did.  again, everyone involved - family, parish, school - struggle to share the faith, but no one takes responsibility.  this year we have started a new program for our families.  we must work together.  indeed, it takes a whole community to raise a child - family, parish + school.

during this Year of Faith, i am hopeful, that we are beginning once again with the new evangelization.  we are finding the lost words of our love song, and learning once again the language that God put into our hearts.  let us pray for our children who are preparing to celebrate their First Confession in February, and First Communion after Easter.  pray for our families, parishes, and schools.

peace.

ps.  da video:


Sunday, January 13, 2013

diamonds

Album cover for Pink Floyd's
Dark Side of the Moon, 1973
"shine bright like a diamond
shine bright like a diamond" (Rihanna - Diamonds, 2012)
the dealio with prisms:  a transparent optical element with flat, polished surfaces that refract light.  at least two of the flat surfaces must have an angle between them.

the dealio with diamonds:  they reflect, refract, and absorb light.  diamonds are highly refractive with a refractive index of 2.417.  that number tells us that light travels approximately 2.5 times faster in air than it does in diamond.  it is the high refractive index and resultant colour dispersion that give diamonds their fire and brilliance.  the different wavelengths of light undergo more or less refraction; violet light is refracted most and red light is refracted least and thus when refraction of white light occurs the light is split or dispersed into a colour light spectrum.  light tends to travel in a straight line unless it encounters an obstacle such as a faceted diamond.  in that case the angle of light will change direction.  reflection occurs when the light bounces off of a surface and travels in a different direction.  refraction on the other hand results from the light changing direction, but without reflecting from a surface.  indeed, the light bounces around, for a while sometimes, until it finds a way out!  diamonds reflect, refract, and absorb light.  but nothing is a perfect reflector, absorber or refracter of light.
"He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." (Lc 3:15-22)
today, we celebrate the Feast of Our Lord's Baptism.  it should remind us of our own, of course, and of the voice that spoke up:  "you are My son.  you are My daughter.  I love you."  in baptism, we are made new creatures, we become children of God, sons and daughters of the Father, disciples of Christ, and temples of the Holy Spirit.  however, just as the light sometimes gets lost in the diamonds, the human heart is not a perfect reflector, absorber or refracter of the light of Christ.  with all the noise from our culture, and from our own personal sins, we have a hard time hearing the voice of the Father speaking:  "you are My son.  you are My daughter.  I love you."  we forget our true identity, and the light continues searching for a way out.

during this Year of Faith, let us idle no more, let us remember the grace of our baptism - the source of our holiness.  the light of Christ bounces around, for a while sometimes, but it finds a way out!  let us shine like a diamond, becoming once again light to the world, and salt for the earth (Mt 5:13-14).
"let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven."  (Mt 5:16)
peace.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

all of me

Same-Sex Attraction:  A Parents' Guide
by Fr. John F. Harvey, OSFS, 2003

"so pardon me for asking, pardon me for thinking
pardon me for asking, pardon me for thinking
all of me is asking, all of me is thinking
all of me is asking, all of me is thinking" (Tanlines - All of Me, 2012)

my advice to parents, family and friends.  what do you do when your child comes out of the closet?  depending on their age will determine what you do.  however, as the revised document, though not perfect, suggests correctly, they are always our children.  and we always love them!!!  we face a difficult decision when our loved ones lives with or struggles with same-sex attraction (SSA).  "i love you, but i cannot approve your behaviour.  please do not ask me to do so."  this is a thought we all have - one that i have gone through in my own family as well.  however, the come back usually goes something like, "if you love me, you will accept our loving relationship, which for us is like your marriage.  but if you do not accept us in our union, then you do not love me."  oftentimes, the grown child will refuse to communicate with his parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, etc.  that is the situation i found myself in, in 2003, that has led me to the EnCourage Ministry - a support group for those families of loved ones living or struggling with same-sex attraction.  someone in my family came out of the closet.  now what?  how do i reconcile my love of God, and my love of Holy Mother Church?  this is not a new problem, however, we continue to struggle to find the words and language to show our love both of God, and neighbour.

why is it easier for someone today to come out as homosexual than as a virgin?  our culture puts too much emphasis on sexual orientation.  indeed, our true orientation is God in Our Lord Jesus Christ.  nonetheless, we do need to find loving and respectful words for a dialogue, because those struggling continue to be children of God, sons and daughters of the Father, and help us see the face of Christ.

our Holy Father's recent address to the Curia before Christmas mentioned briefly same-sex attractions and same-sex marriage, though not directly.  being part of the Archdiocese of the Internet, there are many people who agree, don't agree, and couldn't care less on this issue.  i recently had a good dialogue online with a few of these people (@josephamodeo, @frjohncyr, @srhelenaburns, @me) both for + against same-sex marriage.  however, it was when i read @josephamodeo -- a Catholic, writer, + more --'s article on his difficulty with the Pope's message that got things going.  indeed, we agreed that there needs to be a dialogue - and both sides need to be ready to listen.  both/and + either/or sides have not always listened in the past.  but this is now 2013, the Year of Faith.

i mentioned SSA once before.  i haven't really written about this, however, this post has been percolating for ten years.  "preaching the truth is hard.  hearing the truth is harder, [sometimes]" à la Cardinal Ouellet.  indeed, standing up for the holy family of father, mother and children is a living martyrdom.  but our journey as Christians is one of holiness.  the journey is hard sometimes, ... thank goodness we do not walk alone.

for a long time now, i have been helping people who are struggling with SSA, and helping family members of those living with SSA.  especially since my own conversion in 2003, every parish i have been in since then has had people seeking answers to the truth - those struggling with SSA, and the families of those living with SSA.  the Church does not use the word gay, since that implies identity.  (we can talk about how labels erode our true identity as children of God, sons and daughters of the Father, at another time)  that might be part of their reality, but it is not everything!  i have often reflected on this notion of coming out.  what our brothers and sisters struggling with SSA force us to realize is that, "have we ever come out as Christians"?  since, there are many parallels in both journeys - again, the words and language are quite similar.

for example, a few months ago, on my day off, i was downtown coming home ready to watch a late episode of Seinfeld.  i flipped through stations and i came across this:
"Le mercredi 24 octobre:  En mars 2011, à l’âge de 33 ans, Jean-François déclare à ses proches qu’il est gai. Se sentant libéré, il peut désormais être lui-même et vivre pleinement. Le «coming-out» n’est pas une étape facile à franchir pour les femmes et les hommes homosexuels. Elle nécessite beaucoup de courage et de détermination, surtout quand il s’agit de le dire à ses proches. Jean-François confie à Ginette les hauts et les bas de la démarche qui l’a amené à ce moment marquant et libérateur de sa vie."
i consider J.F. a friend, though we have talked in a while.  he was on Rogers local TV, being interview by, Ginette Gratton Reçoit.  the show discussed how to be yourself, the key to happiness, liberation, who am I?  his coming out as gay on the specific date of March 18, 2001, his being afraid of telling family, telling friends first to gain confidence, then struggling to fit in.  in fact, almost all questions we ask ourselves.

J.F. is a good guy.  in most of my experiences, those living with SSA (vs. struggling with SSA) have always attacked Holy Mother Church.  there was no listening, as @josephamodeo mentioned earlier.  however, i continued watching because of his humility.  for the first time i was hearing a different type of voice - one that struggled with (maybe happily lives with, --i am not sure--) SSA, but one that was also open to being Catholic, to living his faith, in searching what God had in mind for him.  indeed, he felt at home in the Church.

this post has gone on long enough.  i do have more to say, but i have come to realize one thing not only with our brothers and sisters struggling with (or living with) SSA, but with anyone:  you can't change them, all you can do is change yourself.  we pray for this and for that, we pray to change the world.  when we should pray to change our hearts, first.  the time will come for dialogue, but in this Year of Faith, this is the invitation for us to come out of the closet as Christians!  to come to know God in Our Lord Jesus Christ better.  to love Him more.  to follow Him more closely as disciples.

to paraphrase some of the words from J.F.'s show through the eyes of Faith:
in 2003, at 27 years old, i - me, Fr. Jonathan Blake, - came out of the closet as a Christian, as a Catholic, as a man overwhelmed with joy in Our Lord Jesus Christ.  indeed, i felt alive for the first time, and i started seeking the man Christ meant for me to be!  of course, coming out as Christian is difficult for men and women today.  one needs courage, boldness, + determination, especially when it comes time to share the good news with family and friends.  i shared this good news with the youth group at the Cathedral, then to my family.  there were ups and downs, but today i continue to find my peace in God in Our Lord Jesus Christ.
J.F.'s friends accepted and welcomed him.  indeed, they even suspected something.  my brothers and sisters in the Faith accepted and welcomed me.  in fact, they too suspected that i was Christian, that i was Catholic.  but we were both tired of being afraid.  today, the same message applies for J.F. + for me, and for all:  it gets better.

however, now that you have come out of the closet as a Christian, as Catholic, you need the Church, you need brothers and sisters to support you.  we can't walk alone.  indeed, no man is an island.  seek out people of Faith to encourage you in your walk with Our Lord!  go to Church.  get involved with your parish.  union de prière.

peace.

ps.  Tanlines' All of Me was #10 on SiriusXMU's Top 41 Countdown of 2012.

Monday, January 07, 2013

mon Pays

St. Brother André
mon Pays ce n'est pas un pays c'est l'hiver ... (Gilles Vigneault - Mon Pays, 1964)
i was singing this classic French song last week while i was visiting Montréal!  i took a couple days to rest at Fratérnité Sacerdotale, a retreat spa house for priests and religous.  although when i arrived i had much difficulty driving the streets of my country - they had a major snow storm a few days prior!  ouch! - is an understatement.  there was so much snow - how much snow was there Fr. jon? - indeed, so much snow that  what are normally two-way streets became one-way streets!  insane in the membrane!  the city needed time to do what it had to do - in other words, "deal with it", is what i was thinking while driving here and there.  anywho, it didn't stop me from visiting friends, and visiting the lonely mountain.

no - not the Lonely Mountain from The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey, but l'Oratoire St-Joseph du Mont Royal (EN, FR).  today we celebrate St. Brother André (EN, FR).  i always enjoy visiting The Oratory, praying St-Jospeh for families, and for husbands and fathers in particular.  Brother André had a great devotion to St. Joseph, and encourages us still to go to him.  the chaste spouse of Mary, Mother of God, will always intercede for us!

so, St. Brother André of Montreal, pray for us!  St. Joseph, pray for us!  peace.

video reflection via Salt & Light TV:


Sunday, January 06, 2013

the climb

"there's always gonna be another mountain
i'm always gonna wanna make it move
always gonna be a uphill battle
sometimes I'm gonna have to lose

ain't about how fast I get there
ain't about what's waiting on the other side
it's the climb" (Miley Cyrus - The Climb, 2009)

who knew Mily Cyrus was also a theologian.  cool!  i am picturing the three wise guys singing this tune on their unexpected journey searching for Christ, à la Bilbo Baggins.

wise men people seek Christ.  does that mean those who do not seek God in Our Lord Jesus Christ are not wise?  (pause for knee-jerk reactions ...).  time will tell.

often times on my day off i usually end up in Ottawa somewhere, staying at the Cathedral (not in a pew - that would be awkward - , but at the Residence).  the boys, my brother priests, usually make some remark, "the wise man from the east (Hawkesbury)" has come for a visit.  indeed, i am a wise guy - most of the time.  i love it!

today the Church celebrates the Magi being overwhelmed with joy in finding Jesus.  i was a type of wise man this weekend as i went east-bound to St. Jude's parish (3 minutes down the street).  we have a beautiful family in the Catholic Church, and i am joyful to have her as Mother.

i preached about Bilbo Baggins of course, on his unexpected journey.  i saw the The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey a week ago or so with a few of the wise guys - brother priests - after our annual Christmas luncheon hosted by His Grace.  i enjoyed the movie, but was not prepared for it being another trilogy.  just when things got going - BOOM - the credits.

Bilbo's unexpected journey helps us understand the Wise Men's journey, and our own.  as i read somewhere,
"preparation is no guarantee that you will be ready; it may actually blind you, because you prepare according to your own idea. There is no substitute for an open heart; learning sometimes has the effect of closing the heart, and in some cases even the mind. Religious authority is the most perilous of all: the claims are absolute, the deepest things are at stake, and with the years comes the habit of listening to no one. Indeed, the most chilling feature of this Gospel [reflection on Mt 2:1-12] is the encounter of the religious leaders with Herod."
today we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord, a Christian feast day which celebrates the revelation of God in human form in the person of Jesus Christ.  this unexpected journey is an invitation for all.  the theme today, as it is for Bilbo's coming-of-age adventure, is the same for each and everyone of us:  the overcoming of greed and selfishness, ... central moral of the story (à la wikipedia.org).

"falling to their knees, they worshiped Him." (Mt 2:1-12)  more and more people refuse to kneel these days.  but isn't kneeling is a sign of humility?  this unexpected journey begins when we have encountered God in Our Lord Jesus Christ.  the Magi were overwhelmed with joy.  and they left for their country on a different road.  this rings another bell in my head, à la Robert Frost's poem, "The Road Not Taken":
"I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
in this Year of Faith, let us - together - embark on this unexpected journey!  everything changes once we meet God in Our Lord Jesus Christ.  like the Bilbo Baggins, and the Magi, we too can be overwhelmed with joy, even with the ups + downs of life!  peace.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

the mother we share

"in the dead of night, i'm the only one here
and i will cover you, until you go-o-oh
cause if i told the truth, i will always be free
and keep a prize with me, until you go-o-oh 
i'm in misery where you can seem as old as your omens
and the mother we share will never keep your proud head from falling
the way is long but you can make it easy on me
and the mother we share will never keep our cold hearts from calling" (CHVRCHES - The Mother We Share, 2012)
one of my favourite icon is Our Lady of Perpetual Help.  the two angels above her shoulders are holding the tools for her only Son's upcoming Passion.  He is scared, to the point that one of His sandals falls off.  He is not ready for the Cross quite yet.  and so, the mother we share, protects Him too, until the time comes.

as i mentioned last year, "behind every good man there is a woman, then behind every good priest there is Mary, there is the Church."  today (a holy day of obligation), we celebrate the Holy Mother of God, the mother we share!  she will always be by your side.

let us start 2013, with praying the Memorare, another favourite prayer of mine:
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession, was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To you I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your mercy, hear and answer me. Amen.  (wikipedia.org)
Souvenez-vous, ô très miséricordieuse Vierge Marie, qu'on n'a jamais entendu dire qu'aucun de ceux qui ont eu recours à votre protection, imploré votre assistance ou réclamé votre secours, ait été abandonné. Animé d'une pareille confiance, ô Vierge des vierges, ô ma Mère, je cours vers vous, je viens à vous et, gémissant sous le poids de mes péchés, je me prosterne à vos pieds. Ô Mère du Verbe ne rejetez pas mes prières, mais écoutez-les favorablement et daignez les exaucer. Amen.  (fr.wikipedia.org)
happy holy New Year!  peace.

ps.  this new song is insane in the brain.  i love it.  it was #27 of SiriusXMU's Top 41 Countdown for 2012. check it: