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Out On the Road Again – Francis to Bosnia

Sarajevo

During his Angelus Address on Sunday, Pope Francis announced that he would be making a one day trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina this coming June. It appears the Holy Father has an appetite for difficult cases, as the former Yugoslav republic is no walk in the park.

Most will recall the Bosnian War that broke out following the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. The collapse of that country resulted in the establishment of six independent nations, the most complicated of which was Bosnia and Herzegovina. The governance and structure of that particular country is founded in the 1995 Dayton Agreement. Signed to end the bloody, brutal war that tore that part of the Balkans apart, its legacy lives until today. It detailed a delicate and complicated power sharing arrangement between the three ethnic groups living in the country: Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks.

Despite the peace, there are still deep underlying tensions that exist between the groups, who are not only divided ethnically, but along religious lines as well. Serb Orthodox, Croat Catholics and Bosniak Muslims have lived side-by-side for centuries, however it is a difficult history. There is perhaps no nation in Europe where the indigenous population is so heavily divided along cultural and religious lines as Bosnia.

It appears the challenges that permeate this region have caught the attention of the pope, as his first European trip outside of Italy was to another Balkan nation in Albania. That nation faces its own set of challenges, however what they unmistakably have in common with Bosnia, is finding themselves among the very poorest nations on the continent.

Francis’ desire for closeness with the poor will by no means be the only reason for his trip. Relative to the most impoverished nations in the world, Bosnia is reasonably well to do. What is key in Bosnia is mending the divisions that exist between its three predominant ethnic groups. We should expect the pope to stress the importance of not letting religion be a dividing factor in society. Two of the three concerned groups are Christian, and all three are linked by a common and closely connected Slavic culture and language.

This will be Francis’ first venture into the Slavic world, a world whose politics are deeply complicated and often have their foundations in centuries of history. With perhaps the exception of the very active conflict in Eastern Ukraine, the Balkans is the region of Europe most in need of healing. The Pontiff’s recent diplomatic efforts in Cuba, his trip to Sri Lanka and last year’s visit to the Holy Land show his willingness to unite. It would come as no surprise if the pope includes St. Jude, the patron of hopeless causes amongst the saints he prays to for intercession.

Bosnia has lay silent for many years, but by no means has the powder keg of Europe been disarmed. The potential impact of the Holy Father’s visit given his desire for reconciliation could be game changing for the region. However only time will tell whether or not the peaceful revolution of the Roman Pontiff will find it’s way into the streets of Bosnia and the hearts of the people who live there.

Coast to Coast: October 12 – 17

Here’s what’s been going on in the church in Canada this week:

National events have been obscured by the Synod of Bishops in Rome. Archbishop Paul Andre Durocher of Gatineau is there representing the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. He has been posting to his blog “Sing and Walk” on a daily basis. Check it out for an insider’s explanation of the Synod.

In Edmonton, parishes are finding new and creative ways to reach out to kids.

In Ottawa, where the supreme court is debating over Canada’s  “assisted suicide” or euthanasia laws, one expert says the opposition to euthanasia needs to be framed in non-religious terms if it is to win in court.

 

Perspectives Daily – The Canadian Bishops Visit Ste. Anne de Beaupre

Today on Perspectives, the bishops of Canada visit the Shrine of Ste. Anne de Beaupre and we talk to Archbishop Murray Chatlain.

Perspectives Daily – Thurs. March 20, 2014

Today on Perspectives, the Episcopal Ordination of His Excellency Bishop Christian Riesbeck.

Perspectives Daily – Wednesday, May 29

Today on Perspectives: Pope Francis holds his weekly General Audience in the rain, the Holy See makes interventions at the United Nations, and Salt + Light presents “A New Leaf” streaming on demand.

Perspectives Daily – Tuesday, May 14

Today on Perspectives, Pope Francis’ daily homily, implementing the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Pastoral Plan and Pope Francis attends Italy’s March for Life.

Perspectives Daily – Pope Francis’ Weekly General Audience

Today on Perspectives, Pope Francis’ weekly general audience from St. Peter’s Square, a new Nuncio is announced and we look at events coming up this weekend.

Perspectives Daily – Thursday, Apr. 4

Today on Perspectives the Holy Father sends his prayers back home, combatting euthanasia in Quebec and a look at the Episcopal Ordination of Canada’s newest bishop.

Details and air times of Wednesday evening Prayer Service at St. Peter’s Basilica

stpeter
On the evening of Wednesday March 6 at 5:00pm Rome time (11:00am ET/8:00am PT), the Prayer for the Church on the Occasion of the General Congregations of the College of Cardinals will take place at the Altar of the Cathedra in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The order of the service is as follows:

  • The prayer will begin with the recitation of the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary in Italian and Latin.
  • Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament will be followed by a brief Adoration.
  • The recitation of Vespers, the Evening prayer of the Church (there will be no presider for the Vespers).
  • Benediction will be offered by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica.
  • The regularly scheduled mass at the Altar of the Cathedra will be moved to another altar in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The prayer service is expected to last for approximately one hour.

We will air the full prayer service live starting at 11:00am ET/8:00am PT as well as stream it live on our website at saltandlighttv.org/live.

Orthodox-Catholic Statement on Sundays

The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation has issued an agreed statement on the importance of Sunday in the lives of Christians.  The October 25th-27th meeting took place at St. Paul’s College in Washington DC, and was co-chaired by Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans and Metropolitan Methodios of Boston.  The statement, which calls for clergy and laity to work together to make Sundays about worship and family, can be read in full here:

THE IMPORTANCE OF SUNDAY

The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation

Saint Paul’s College, Washington, DC
October 27, 2012

Recovering the theological significance of Sunday is fundamental to rebalancing our lives. As Orthodox and Catholics, we share a theological view of Sunday and so our purpose in this statement is four-fold: to offer a caring response to what is not just a human, but also a theological question; to add a little more volume to the growing chorus of Christian voices trying to be heard in the din of our non-stop worklife; to offer brief reflections in hopes of drawing attention to the fuller expositions elsewhere; and to reinforce the ecumenical consensus by speaking as Orthodox and Catholics with one voice.

For Christians, Sunday, the Lord’s Day, is a special day consecrated to the service and worship of God.  It is a unique Christian festival.  It is “the day the Lord has made” (Ps. 117 (118):24). Its nature is holy and joyful. Sunday is the day on which we believe God acted decisively to liberate the world from the tyranny of sin, death, and corruption through the Holy Resurrection of Jesus.

The primacy of Sunday is affirmed by the liturgical practice of the early church. St. Justin the Martyr writing around 150 AD notes that “it is on Sunday that we assemble because Sunday is the first day, the day on which God transformed darkness and matter and created the world and the day that Jesus Christ rose from the dead (First Apology, 67).” Sunday has always had a privileged position in the life of the church as a day of worship and celebration. On Sunday the Church assembles to realize her eschatological fullness in the Eucharist by which the Kingdom and the endless Day of the Lord are revealed in time.  It is the perpetual first day of the new creation, a day of rejoicing.  It is a day for community, feasting and family gatherings.

As we look at our fellow Christians and our society, we observe that everyone is short of time and stressed. One reason is that many of us have forgotten the meaning of Sunday, and with it the practices that regularly renewed our relationships and lives.  More and more Christian leaders see the effects of a 24/7 worklife and ask “Where is the time of rest?”  As members of the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation, gathered October 25-27, 2012, we add our combined voice to their call.

Our purpose here is not to replace or replicate their message; it is to underscore and point to it.  Anyone who looks at the 1998 Apostolic Letter Dies Domini (The Lord’s Day) of Pope John Paul II and its cascade of patristic quotations will see there is already a feast of food for thought on the meaning of Sunday.  Anyone who reads the recent book Sunday, Sabbath, and the Weekend (2010, Edward O’Flaherty, ed.) will see there is also strong ecumenical consensus on the need to recover the meaning of Sunday– not just for our souls, but for our bodies, our hearts, and our minds as well.

Sadly Sunday has become less of a day of worship and family and more like an ordinary work day. Shopping, sports, and work squeeze out the chance for a day of worship or rest in the Christian sense.  By abandoning Sunday worship we lose out on the regenerative powers that flow out of the liturgical assembly.  And when Sunday becomes detached from its theological significance, it becomes just part of a weekend and people can lose the chance to see transcendent meaning for themselves and their lives (The Lord’s Day, 4).

Sunday is more than just the first day of the week.  In our faith we see how it is the ultimate day of new beginnings: “It is Easter which returns week by week, celebrating Christ’s victory over sin and death, the fulfillment in him of the first creation and the dawn of “the new creation” (cf. 2 Cor 5:17). It is the day which recalls in grateful adoration the world’s first day and looks forward in active hope to “the last day”, when Christ will come in glory (cf. Acts 1:11; 1 Th 4:13-17) and all things will be made new (cf. Rev 21:5. The Lord’s Day, 1).”

Sunday even unlocks the mystery of time itself, for “…in commemorating the day of Christ’s Resurrection not just once a year but every Sunday, the Church seeks to indicate to every generation the true fulcrum of history, to which the mystery of the world’s origin and its final destiny leads (The Lord’s Day, 2).”  The Lord’s Day is the day after the last day of the week and so it symbolizes eternity as well: what St. Augustine calls “a peace with no evening (Confessions 13:50).”  St. Basil the Great in his Treatise on the Holy Spirit writes, “Sunday seems to be an image of the age to come… This day foreshadows the state which is to follow the present age: a day without sunset, nightfall or successor, an age which does not grow old or come to an end (On the Holy Spirit 26:77).”

The apostolic letter of Pope John Paul II calls it a day of joy, rest, and solidarity.  Joy there is, because the disciples are always glad to see the Master. God scripturally established a day of rest as a gift to us, and rest there must be for every human person. Rest is built into our nature and also withdraws us “…from the sometimes excessively demanding cycle of earthly tasks in order to renew [our] awareness that everything is the work of God. There is a risk that the prodigious power over creation which God gives to man can lead him to forget that God is the Creator upon whom everything depends. It is all the more urgent to recognize this dependence in our own time, when science and technology have so incredibly increased the power which man exercises through his work. Finally, it should not be forgotten that even in our own day work is very oppressive for many people, either because of miserable working conditions and long hours — especially in the poorer regions of the world — or because of the persistence in economically more developed societies of too many cases of injustice and exploitation of man by man (The Lord’s Day, 65,66).”

As members of the Consultation, we strongly urge both clergy and laity to work cooperatively within their communities to stress the importance of Sunday for worship and family.  Foremost we call for all to render thanks to God and render love towards one another – and be willing to reserve time to do both — and avail ourselves of the riches of the Lord’s Day.  Appropriate authorities can be approached to schedule sports activities after 12 noon in order to give young athletes and their families the opportunity to worship on Sunday morning.  We call for our children to live in a timescape that respects the God-given rhythm of the week.

“Yes, let us open our time to Christ, that he may cast light upon it and give it direction. He is the One who knows the secret of time and the secret of eternity, and he gives us “his day” as an ever new gift of his love. The rediscovery of this day is a grace which we must implore, not only so that we may live the demands of faith to the full, but also so that we may respond concretely to the deepest human yearnings. Time given to Christ is never time lost, but is rather time gained, so that our relationships and indeed our whole life may become more profoundly human (The Lord’s Day, 7).”