Beginning last September, Pope Francis designated September as the Season of Creation. This expands the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation that started in 2015. Joining a movement created by our Lutheran brothers and sisters in 2000, the Church now celebrates this month as a time to contemplate our care of creation and to celebrate its wonders.
With these thoughts, we consider Thanksgiving during this month of October. As we hear the increasingly alarming news of natural disasters around the world, and we try to respond however we can, the bigger questions are inevitably asked. How do we respond to the needs around us? Are the acts of nature this year worse than previous years? If so, why? And what can I, as one single person, do to make a difference amongst all the big, global, issues that follow?
Cardinal Peter Turkson, the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, gave us six points to ponder as we decide how to engage with our environment on a personal level:
- All human beings are affected, and everything in nature too, by the crises of climate change, misuse of natural resources, waste and pollution, and attendant poverty and dislocation.
- Everything is interconnected; we cannot understand the social or natural world or their parts in isolation.
- Everyone must act responsibly to save our world – from individuals who recycle and use energy sparingly, to enterprises reducing their ecological footprints, to world leaders setting and enforcing ambitious targets to reduce the use of carbon.
- We must be truthful; let no one hide or distort facts in order to gain selfish advantage.
- We must engage in constructive dialogue; genuine, trusting and trustworthy engagement of all parties is required to succeed where all is at risk.
- Beyond the industrial age’s short-sighted confidence in technology and finance, we must transcend ourselves in prayer, simplicity and solidarity.
And so, the adage of “reduce, reuse, recycle” comes to mind as a follow up to these points of conversation. But, as Cardinal Turkson mentions, nothing happens in isolation. The care of creation is not just about the earth, but also about its inhabitants. We especially, as human beings, have the biggest impact on our home. By caring for each other as individuals, we can create an upswell of attitude change that will impact the broader world and thus, decisions that impact the environment and our earth. Out of thankfulness for our blessings, we must look for ways to bless each other Here are some examples to consider:
- Do you like to comment on social media? Do you enjoy the anonymity of sharing your thoughts on the Internet without care for how they may impact who or what you are commenting on? In a world where social media rants and comments are the latest form of bullying, it is a virtue to show care and intention for what you say, how you say and where you say your opinions.
- Is there a family in your parish who comes to Mass looking a little worse for wear? Do you ponder why they can’t dress up and why their child is particularly disruptive? Maybe the clothes are their best, and maybe that child did not have enough to eat for breakfast and is acting out of hunger. Perhaps ask your pastor if they need help. Can you donate a grocery store gift card to them?
- Do you know a woman who recently suffered a miscarriage and you don’t know what to say? Just tell her you love her; and that you’re sorry it happened. Those words will be a healing balm to her soul.
In the hustle and bustle of juggling work, life, money, kids, marriage and our faith, we often lose sight of those that are most precious: the people around us. So let us make the time to think of ways to reduce our anger, judgement and condescension; reuse words of kindness, over and over, in as many situations as possible; and recycle our negativity into positivity and spread it around by offering a smile to the stranger on the street or by letting the car beside us ease in front of us, so the driver does not have to wait longer to merge into our lane.
Spreading joy and happiness gives the recipients room to contemplate other things. Those “other things” might simply include: considering how to make their home more environmentally friendly; seeing trash on the ground and having the patience to pick it up; or finding a reservoir of energy to ride their bike to the corner store instead of driving. If we can’t do the basics of caring for each other, how can we do the bigger job of caring for creation?
Let’s all try to see how big of a ripple we can create, and we might be surprised at the change it brings forth in each one of us too!
I have had a naturopathic family practice for 11 years supporting natural women’s health, including fertility and pre- and post-natal issues. Over time in my practice, I’ve seen an increasing number of patients with fertility concerns that are not well served by conventional medicine. I’ve also heard many stories about both the side effects and ethical dilemmas involved in Assisted Reproduction Technology (ART) that is practiced at local fertility clinics.
As a doctor who has pledged to “first, do no harm,” I worry about the impact of powerful artificial hormones used in fertility medicines on children born using ART. I also worry about the emotional and spiritual effects of people being told that they cannot conceive without extensive technological intervention; where implantation in a medical outpatient clinic replaces conception in the loving environment of the home.
Fortunately, I have many tools besides medications for promoting fertility. In my practice, I have used Natural Family Planning (NFP) with cycle charting for many years to promote fertility literacy, and have used charting successfully with botanical and nutrient medicines to achieve pregnancy for many couples. Recently, I have also noticed increasing interest from patients in natural fertility methods, and patients often come in with their own cycle charting done on paper or with digital apps.
As a diagnostic tool, cycle charting also gives me useful information about when to test hormone levels so that the information acquired is clinically relevant. In the past, patients were often told that their levels of estrogen, progesterone, or other hormones were “fine” for fertility when they were not. With cycle charting, I have a much better idea when to send patients into the lab for blood testing to establish if there are specific problems with ovarian or uterine functioning or we are dealing with healthy cycle variations. Knowing when to test also helps if pregnancy is successful to monitor progesterone and other hormones to help prevent miscarriage or pre-term birth.
Earlier this year, I was accepted to the Pope Paul VI Institute at Creighton University for their post-graduate medical consultant program. This certification involves two eight-day sessions of intensive classroom instruction and a year of supervised practicum training (with long-distance faculty support) to help implement the Creighton protocols in a variety of clinical situations. What convinced me to follow Creighton was the fact that I will have more experienced medical professionals supporting me while I’m learning to put their protocols into practice.
Choosing to use fertility awareness forms of family planning has become profoundly counter-cultural in our secular society. However, almost 50 years since Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, Humanae Vitae, warned about divorcing the “unitive” and “procreative” aspects of marital intimacy, we are discovering that medicalizing fertility has in fact profoundly disempowered many couples. Instead, what has resulted from the “ease” of contraceptive culture is many people are now struggling with sub- and infertility, as well as increasing levels of miscarriage and premature birth. Natural fertility methods, using cycle charting and supportive natural or prescriptive medicines, help to heal this cultural wound in so many of our families, and provide medicine in support of life.
If the Pope asked for your opinion or advice, would you give it? In fact, the Pope does just this as often as he convenes a Synod of Bishops. The word “synod” comes from the Greek word meaning assembly and since 1965, under the instruction of Blessed Pope Paul VI, synods of bishops have been called biennially for more than 50 years. It was a synod of bishops in the late 90s that actually prompted the establishment of this magazine, The Carillon, so that proceedings and information could begin being shared around the diocese.
As often as a synod is convoked, a representation of bishops from all around the world come together with the expectation of the Holy Father that they have consulted the faithful of their respective regions in order to bring their thoughts to the discussion. Next year, this will happen again under the chosen theme: Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment. It is the wish of Pope Francis to learn from the diverse perspectives of the universal Church what are the experiences, opportunities and obstacles for youth in our modern world to practice their faith and discover God’s plan for their lives. In the preparatory document which was distributed among all of the dioceses of the world, a set of questions was proposed at the end to guide the efforts of bishops to solicit the feedback of the young people among their flocks. In the Diocese of Calgary, under the direction of Bishop McGrattan, we are working on an exciting and innovative way to use these questions and engage in this discussion.
With the cooperation of the Office of Youth Ministry and the Office of Vocations, a team of young people along with those directly involved in working among them have come together to design a format of consultation which will be conducted throughout the diocese. We have undertaken to organize this process into ten distinct stages involving two phases of surveys. Using a digital platform of survey generation, we will be able to reach a diverse and vast population of the diocese. The idea behind the two phases is to use the first phase in order to collect demographic information about the respondents and thereby organize them into four broad contexts which will determine the style of survey they receive in the second phase. These customized surveys will produce more representative results of modern youth and young adults’ response to faith and vocation. The four broad categories have been identified as those: willingly practicing Faith; unwillingly practicing Faith (due to the influence of others); not practicing Faith due to lack of interest; & not practicing Faith due to disagreement with it.
On an experimental basis and with the invaluable collaboration of the Calgary Separate School District, we will launch our digital surveys among high school students before the widespread use of the surveys throughout the rest of the diocese later in the fall. We will compile the anonymous results into a report which can then be sent to the Vatican in advance of the Synod as well as for our own use in shaping the future of youth and young adult ministry in the Diocese of Calgary. When the Pope asks for your input, one is wise to give it!
Youth and Young Adults Ministry
It’s been said that Catholics have a saint for virtually every situation, event or possibility. Some of the more unusual include a saint for fireworks, unattractive people and dysentery (Saints Barbara, Drogo and Smyrna in that order)! Without being disrespectful, it is hard to imagine there being a saint of hangovers, oversleeping or caterpillars, but yes they do exist. There is even a Patron Saint of Beer (St. Arnulf of Metz). On the cool but strange side of the spectrum, St. Hubert of Liege is the Patron Saint of the Fear of Werewolves, while St. Columbanus is the Patron Saint of Motorcyclists. I will leave it to another time to muse on how St. Isidore of Seville, who died in 636 AD, is the Patron Saint of the Internet!
For all of the more unusual saints there are of course those most widely embraced and understood, from St. Valentine to St. George, St. Francis of Assisi to St. Joan of Arc. It’s also fair to say that many saints are invariably connected to a particular culture, from St. Mary MacKillop in Australia, to St. Kateri Tekakwitha for the First Nations in Canada, to St. Patrick in Ireland.
One of the most popular events at St. Mary’s University in Calgary is our annual hosting of our September Ghost Tour, an event that opens the campus to the community, that re-enacts scenes from our history, and that helps to mark our anniversary. As a Catholic university I often field questions from the media about why we are celebrating Hallowe’en, and I am always at pains to point out that we are, in fact, celebrating the stories of the institution’s founding, and not the feast so popular in October.
As a child, however, I was always confused that Hallowe’en preceded All Saints’ Day and wondered how they were connected. Needless to say I eventually learned of the rich thread that linked All Hallows’ Eve (31 October), to All Saints’ or Hallowmas (1 November) to All Souls’ Day (2 November), and I grew to look forward to the celebrations that acknowledged the saints that have transformed our faith life throughout the ages. Despite this long tradition, it remains a mystery to me how some saints have come to represent their particular attributes. Perhaps it’s enough to know that whatever befalls us, the saints have us covered! And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to say a prayer to St. Francis de Sales, Patron Saint of writers and journalists.
Below is the list of diocesan liturgical calendar of Bishop William T. McGrattan. The schedule is subject to change. If you have any questions, please contact the Office of Liturgy at 403-218-5511 or 403-218-5524, or e-mail email@example.com
- October 18 - White Mass at St. Anthony's Church, Calgary
- October 22 - Blue Mass at St. Cecilia's Church, Calgary
- October 29 - Inter Christian Prayer for Reconciliation at the Hope Lutheran Church, Calgary.
- November 1 - Calgary Catholic School District Faith Day
- November 9 - Knights of Columbus Memorial at St. Luke, Calgary
- November 15 - Red Mass, St. Mary's Cathedral, Calgary
- November 18 - CWL 75th Anniversary at St. James, Okotoks
- November 24 at 7 PM - Memorial Liturgy for those Mourning the Loss of a Child Through Miscarriage or Stillbirth, Sacred Heart Church, Calgary
- November 26 at 9 AM - Mass for Shane Lambert's Candidacy for Holy Orders, Holy Spirit Parish, Calgary
- November 26 at 11:30 AM - Mass for Troy Nguyen's Candidacy for Holy Orders, St. Peter, Calgary
- December 23 at 5 PM - Mass for Derek Remus' Ordination to the Transitional Diaconate, St. Bonaventure, Calgary
- December 24 - Nativity of the Birth of Jesus at St. Mary's Cathedral, Calgary
- Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Date to be determined.
- February 14 - Ash Wednesday at St. Mary's Cathedral, Calgary
- February 17 - Rite of Election at St. Mary's Cathedral, Calgary
- February 18 - Mass for Mark Drapal's Candidcay for Holy Orders, St. Cecilia, Calgary
- February 18 at 3 - Rite of Election at St. Mary's Cathedral, Calgary
- February 20 - Faith Day
- March 26 - Chrism Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral, Calgary
- March 29 - Holy Thursday at St. Mary's Cathedral, Calgary
- March 30 - Good Friday at St. Mary's Cathedral, Calgary
- March 30 - The Outdoor Way of the Cross at St. Mary's Cathedral, Calgary
- March 31 - Easter Vigil at St. Mary's Cathedral, Calgary
- April 1 - Easter Sunday at St. Mary's Cathedral, Calgary
- May 27 - Feed the Hungry Blessing
- June 1 - World Migrants Mass