The Church has always recognized an affinity for the Blessed Virgin Mary. From its very origins this affinity is recognized in Luke by great meaning of the word “blessed.” The Greek word for “blessed” is “Echaritomene,” which literally means a person “having been graced” or a person “having been loved.” The Church responds to the injunction of scripture and responds with the same love for the Blessed Virgin: “‘All generations will call me blessed’: ‘The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship.’ The Church rightly honours ‘the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honoured with the title of ‘Mother of God,’ to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs…. This very special devotion… differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration.’” [Catechism of the Catholic Church, 971].
The greatness of St. Mary is often perplexing to people and even to Christians from other denominations. Blessed John Henry Newman acknowledged that scripture does not talk too often about The Blessed Virgin Mary. However, he notes that this in itself is something to be acknowledged to her praise. That despite being the Mother of God, who played a large role among the apostles, she never made this point to be important. Even the biblical authors mention the Virgin about the same number of times as the lesser known disciples. This is however, to Mary’s glory, since it is by being humble that “the meek shall inherit the earth” [Matt. 5:5]. The 19th century book, Fear and Trembling, describes the Blessed Virgin in this way: “To be sure, Mary bore the child wondrously, but she nevertheless did it ‘after the manner of women,’ and such a time is one of anxiety, distress, and paradox. The angel was indeed a ministering spirit, but he was not a meddlesome spirit who went to the other young maidens in Israel and said: ‘Do not scorn Mary, the extraordinary is happening to her!’ The angel went only to Mary, and no one could understand her” [Johannes de Silentio, Hong p. 65]. As we declare the Gospel to the world, to our families, to our husbands, wives and children, we look to St. Mary whose only goal was to serve Christ and God alone!
A blessed tradition dating back to some of the earliest times of the Church is the consecration or entrustment to the Blessed Virgin Mary. On Saturday, July 1, everyone in the Diocese of Calgary is invited to meet at St. Mary’s Cathedral with Bishop McGrattan at 10:00 a.m. See Diocesan Dates on page 20 for details. The other dioceses and archdioceses in Canada will also meet on this day to consecrate Canada to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This consecration is an act of prayer where we will ask St. Mary, the Mother of God, and of all Christians, to pray to Christ from her Immaculate Heart for us.
Our fellowship with the saints and other Christians does not end in this life, but carries onto the next [LG 49]. This is the same living heart that said “yes” to God, and it is the same heart that prays for the world to recognize Jesus as the Savior and Lord of Canada and the Savior and Lord of the universe.
This year, Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary of confederation. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) invites every bishop of every diocese or eparchy to consecrate the country to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary on July 1. Families are also invited to commemorate this important event. We can do this by engaging the family in an active and communicative way!
To begin this journey with your family you need a Bible (and, if possible, a Children’s Bible) and the colouring page on page 6, and some colouring pencils. Prepare for the activity by reflecting on your relationship with your parents or with your children, so that you can share an example of your special relationship with your loved ones. Read the scripture passage, John 19:25-27.
- Have copies of the colouring page ready (1 per child). Click Here.
- Ask the children to describe something that they really like to do as a family, something that makes them feel special. For example, “each night before bed, Daddy reads to me and then we say our prayers together,” or “when Mommy makes my lunch she puts a special treat in the bag – something that she knows I will really like,” or “Mommy always knows what to say when I am feeling sad,” or “Daddy and I play outdoor hockey together on the weekends.”
- What makes these moments special? Is it because it is one-on-one time just between the parent and child?
- After everybody has had a chance to talk about their special times with mom or dad, read the scripture passage – John 19:25-27. If you don’t have a children’s Bible, you can paraphrase the passage in words that the children understand. It is important to mention that when children get older, they want to care for their parents, just as their parents cared for them when they were younger. Jesus wanted to make sure that his mother would be looked after. He wanted to make sure that his mother and John would take care of each other.
- Jesus also has a special relationship with his mother, and he wants us to care for her, and for her to care for us. That is why we pray through Mary that she will ask God to help us when we need it. We are comforted in the knowledge that Mary loves us and cares for us just as our parents do.
- This year Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary. As Jesus entrusted the disciple John to his mother Mary, and his mother Mary to John, we, as Catholics, are marking this special occasion by entrusting our country to the care of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. By doing so, the Blessed Virgin, Mary, the mother of Jesus, will ask God to help us live together in peace and harmony.
Ask the children to colour the image of Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
Pray the Hail Mary together:
Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
The Church has been celebrating World Day of Migrants and Refugees each year since 1914. World Refugee Day has been marked by the UN on June 20 since 2000.
This year, join us on June 29, the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, for a special mass to celebrate World Day of Migrants. This is an opportunity for the faith community to reflect upon the role migration has played in our history and tradition, pray for migrants and refugees around the world, and raise awareness about the causes, challenges, and opportunities involved with migration.
Join Bishop William McGrattan on June 29, 7:00 p.m. at St. Mary’s Cathedral to celebrate World Day of Migrants and live the words of Pope Benedict: “The Church is God’s family on earth” [Deus Caritas Est].
Let me confess that I am someone who tends to wear his clothes until they virtually fall apart. My favourite pair of shoes is over ten years old, and my sweaters weren’t much younger, with most pitted with an assortment of tears, holes and other character-defining features. In fact, it wasn’t until I had a business meeting and noticed one of the attendees fixated on my shredded sleeve that I decided, finally, to replace them.
My first thought for the fate of my trusty companions was a quick burial in the garbage. But as the mercury fell dramatically it occurred to me that perhaps a faded or well-worn sweater, for someone less fortunate, was better than none, and so I dropped them in the local charity bin. I won’t lie. My heart skipped a little at seeing my trusty steeds put out to pasture, but at least, I reasoned, it was a noble retirement.
As is often the way, I thought of those clothes going out into the community and wondered whose home they would join. Would they find their way to a cool retro-hunter keen to show off his thrift-shop chic? Would they be part of a workman’s casual wear, perfect for odd jobs around the house? Or would the charity determine that they weren’t fit for duty after all?
Recently, while volunteering at a soup kitchen, a remarkable situation occurred. As I was moving through the crowded hall I noticed an older gentleman shuffling forward. He set himself up at a crowded table and wriggled out of his threadbare jacket. To my surprise I saw that he was wearing one of my recently discarded sweaters. I recognized the torn sleeve, the holes peeking out beneath the armpits, and the frayed edges all around. I couldn’t help but move towards him, and when he saw me he smiled. “Check out my new threads,” he said, rubbing his sleeves happily. “Looking good,” I answered, humbled and abashed. “Yes,” he laughed emphatically, “yes I do.”
If there are such things as life-defining moments, then that was surely one of them. I will never again take my good fortune for granted, and I will always remember that all gifts matter, be they large or small. More importantly, I know that I must go out into the world to offer service. Not just to render good to others, but because my soul needs feeding, and there is no greater meal.
… because you have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, says the Lord. -2 Kings 22.19
Please join us congratulating our women religious jubilarians of 2017 for their years of devoted service. They have been a joyful witness to all!
Sr. Helen Hengel, SCSL (75th Anniversary)
Sr. Mary Spence, SCSL (75th Anniversary)
Sr. Clemence Liboiron, SCSL (70th Anniversary)
Sr. Marjorie Perkins, FCJ (65th Anniversary)
Sr. Theresa Parker, SSM (60th Anniversary)
and Sr. Patricia Derbyshire, SCSL (50th Anniversary)
The women religious of the Diocese of Calgary are looking forward to participating at One Rock 2017. Please stop by and say hello!