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Light in the darkness

September 19, 2013
Archbishop Chatlain
Opening remarks delivered by Archbishop Murray Chatlain at the Tastes of Heaven Gala 2013. He is the new shepherd of the Archdiocese of Keewatin-Le Pas, which covers Northern Ontario, Northern Saskatchewan and Northern Manitoba, as well as Apostolic Administrator of the Mackenzie-Fort Smith diocese in the Northwest Territories.
People often ask me, “Bishop Murray, what is the toughest part about being in the North?” Most often they think I will answer about how cold it is. Certainly, one of the tough parts is being away from my family. But the real answer for me is the darkness.
Some of our very Northern communities such as Tuktoyaktuk and Cambridge Bay say goodbye to the sun about November 30 and welcome it back January 15. Imagine going six weeks without a sunrise or sunset. It is difficult for all of us, but it is not as bad as one might think. One saying is, “The darker the night, the brighter the stars.” This is certainly true for our North. The stars are amazing, the Northern Lights visible, and the moon so bright it casts strong shadows.
I do not want to be too Pollyannaish, but God does provide. I think this is a good image for our lives and faith journey. Like our grandchildren, most of us are of afraid of the dark. We look to avoid it by the brightness of new things and many activities. But the dark itself is not always an enemy. Like fasting, it can renew our appreciation of the simple things of life. It also renews our faith in the constant presence of God’s light.
There is a lot of darkness in many of our communities. We struggle with addictions, unemployment, and low self-confidence. But there is light to be seen when our eyes and hearts are open. I was in Lac Brochet, Manitoba, for Easter. I was bringing Communion to Chelakwaze; his nickname means “young teenager.” I was surprised to find a 95-year-old! He was being cared for in his home by one of his daughters. As I was praying with him, I watched his daughter as she placed her hand on his shoulder and prayed, and then gave him a glass of water after Communion. It was just so obvious how much she loved her dad. That love let her care for her dad day in and day out. Her light inspired me to reflect on how much love I have for God and His people. Does it let me care for His people - day in and day out?
Part of our celebration tonight is to thank God for your light as well. Your support and prayers through Catholic Missions In Canada do make a difference for us.
Reprinted with permission from Catholic Missions In Canada Magazine. Photo credit: CMIC file photo.
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