Thursday, June 22, 2017

Happy Birthday Canada!

                                        Saint Marie Among the Hurons, Midland, Ontario
                                      Photo  By Pjposullivan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0    (], via Wikimedia Commons

This year Canada is celebrating 150 years since Confederation.  Here is a bit of history of the Catholic Church in Canada and some of the people who helped make Canada.
1535   Jacques Cartier arrives in Canada and erects a cross at Saint Servan on the northern coast of
            the St. Lawrence River
1611 - The first Jesuits arrive in New France (now Quebec)
            Samuel de Champlain founds the first Catholic colony in Quebec City.
1615    Fr. Joseph Le Caron, a Franciscan arrives in New France
1639   St. Marie L’incarnation (a nun of the French Ursuline Order who established the first girls’
           school in New France), and Madeline de la Peltrie (a patron of the Ursuline Order) arrive in
          Jesuits establish St. Marie -Among -the Hurons near Midland, Ontario.
1642  Jeanne Mance, the first lay nurse in New France, establishes Montreal’s first hospital, Hôtel-
          Dieu de Montréal.
1649  Jean de Brébeuf and Gabriel Lalemant are martyred in Saint Ignace near Midland, Ontario.
1659   St. Francois de Laval arrives in Quebec City as its new Bishop.
1659  St. Marguerite de Bourgeoys founds the Congregation of Notre-Dame
1737  St. Margeurite d’Youville founds the Sisters of Charity in Montreal (The Grey Nuns)
1841  Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate arrive in Montreal.
1843  Bl. Marie-Rose Durocher founds the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary in Longueil,
1861  Fr. Zépherin Gascon of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) arrives in the Yukon
1864 - Father Lacombe worked among the Cree and Blackfoot aboriginals in Western Canada.
1882  Fr. Lacombe negotiated an agreement with Crowfoot, the Blackfoot leader ,that allowed the
          railway to pass through Blackfoot land. Crowfoot was given a lifetime pass to travel on the
          railway by CPR president as was Lacombe. When the Northwest Rebellion erupted the Prime
         Minister enlisted Father Lacombe's assistance in assuring the neutrality of the Blackfoot
         Indians.  Fr. Lacombe translated the New Testament into Cree and wrote a grammar and a
        dictionary as well as a biography of Chief Crowfoot.
1867 -Canada’s Confederation
1873  Dominican priests arrive in St. Hyacinthe, Quebec
1873 - Convent of Discalced Carmelites is founded in Montreal
1885 - the transcontinental CPR railway was completed
1939  Benedictine Monks establish Westminster Abbey in Mission, BC
1967 - St. Joseph’s Oratory is completed in Montreal.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Available in paperback and e-book.

Go to book/author website or order from or for paperback.  Amazon in other countries have the e-book available.
After joining a Christian missionary organization, Lorraine is sent to work at a hospital in South Thailand.  Living in a small fishing village near the sea sounds like a peaceful existence but gunshots, a kidnapping and the arrival of Viet Namese refugees are challenges that she and her co-workers deal with.

Friday, October 14, 2016

King Bhumiphol - the Much-Loved King of Thailand

 The Queen Mother holding Prince Bhumiphol with older brother, Prince Anand and sister, Princess Galyani.

Early Life
     On December 5, 1927 a baby registered only as Baby Mahidol was born at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  His father was studying medicine at Harvard.  Few people were aware that his father was Prince Mahidol, the son of Chulalongkorn, the King of Thailand.
    In 1928 Prince Mahidol and his wife, the beautiful Sangwan, returned to Thailand with their family of three: Princess Galyani, Prince Ananda and little Prince Bhumiphol (pronounced Bumipon).  Prince Mahidol, now a graduate of Harvard Medical School, worked with leprosy sufferers in North Thailand at a Missionary Hospital for a while and then went on to improve public health and hospitals in Thailand. He taught preventative and social medicine to third-year medical students.   Prince Mahidol suffered from a chronic kidney disease and died at the young age of 37.  His wife took their three children to Switzerland where they attended school.

Ascension to the throne
    When King Chulalongkorn died in 1910, his eldest son, Vajiravudh became King.  Then in 1925 Prince Prajadhibok, next in line, became King.  He abdicated in 1935 due to ill health but first granted a system of constitutional monarchy to the country after ‘The Revolution of 1932’.  Because Prajadhibok had no children, his nephew, Prince  Ananda became the King at the age of 10.  After a short reign of 11 years, spent mostly studying in Switzerland, he was found dead in his room at the Royal Palace in Bangkok, apparently of a gunshot wound.  The circumstances of his death have never been discovered or, at least, have never been revealed to the public except that he probably accidently shot himself while cleaning his gun.  This left Prince Bhumiphol, his nineteen year old brother, directly in line to be King.  His mother asked permission for him to complete his education in Switzerland first and a Regent was appointed in his place.  Bhumiphol had been studying science but switched to law and political science in order to prepare for his new role as King. 
     In 1946 the young King returned to his homeland to take on his royal duties.  Siam’s name was changed to Thailand in 1949.  It remains a constitutional monarchy and the King was loved and revered by the Thai people.   

Marriage and family
    While in Switzerland, Bhumiphol had met the beautiful  Sirikit, the daughter of the Thai ambassador to France.  She was also a descendent of King Chulalongkorn.  They fell in love and were married on April 28, 1950.  Once when asked why he rarely smiled, the King is said to have answered that the Queen was his smile. 
    The King and Queen had four children: Princess Ubol Ratana, Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn (who is next in line to the throne), Princess Sirindhorn and Princess Chulabhon.  Princess Ubol was married to an American whom she met while studying in the US.  They have since divorced.  Their son, Bhumi Jensen died in the tsunami that struck Thailand on December 26, 2004 while on holiday in Phuket.

     For years King Bhumiphol was the longest living, reigning monarch in the world, surpassing even Queen Elizabeth II of England.  During his reign of 64 years, there were  27 Prime Ministers in Thailand and 15 coups.  Although he was officially a Constitutional Monarch he played a role in politics in Thailand by showing his approval or disapproval of the government in power in his speeches.  His scientific studies helped him in his work to improve agriculture and flood control in his country. 
     The King was also a talented musician; he played the saxophone and the piano and wrote many musical compositions. 
 In recent years, ill health limited his public duties as King but this void has been aptly filled by his children.
King Bhumiphol died on October 13, 2016 at the age of 88.  Thailand has declared a year of mourning.  He will be greatly missed as one of the great and much-loved monarchs of recent times.

 will never disappoint us

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Why Does the Catholic Church Have Saints?

On September 4 2016, thousands watched as Mother Theresa was 'made a saint' by the Catholic Church.  Was it just because she was a 'good person'?   What is the purpose of a saint anyway

Who are Saints?
St Paul sent one of his letters (now part of the New Testament) to 'to the saints who are also faithful in Christ Jesus' Ephesians 1:1.  They were still alive.  In that way, all believers in Christ Jesus who are faithful to Him, are 'saints'.  We are all called to be 'saints' even though most of us won't be formally and publically recognized as Saints.  Still, there are many Saints canonized every year; the general and non-Catholic public only hears about those who are already well-known (such as Mother Theresa and John Paul II).
The Church does not 'make' a Saint but recognizes the person as a Saint.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, 'But by canonizing some of the faithful, i.e. by solemnly proclaiming that they practiced heroic virtue and lived in fidelity to God's grace, the Church recognizes the power of the Spirit of holiness within him or her and sustains the hope of believers by proposing the Saints as models and intercessors." Catechism of the Catholic Church 828.

God's Friends and Servants
The Saints are considered God’s friends and servants and they are believed to reign with God in heaven.  Their supernatural gifts have been given to them only by God and therefore they are honoured and given reverence (Latin, dulia).  The Virgin Mary is given a higher form of reverence (Latin, hyperdulia) because she is the mother of Jesus.
The Catholic Church believes that worship (Latin, latria) should be given to God alone.  Of course, Jesus is believed to be God, in the Nicene Creed, “true God and true man”, and therefore he is also worshipped.  The saints, martyrs and even the Virgin Mary are not worshipped as they are not divine beings.
There is of course, “one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Timothy 2:5) but the Saints are intercessors (prayer partners) and advocates (Rev 5:8, Rev 8:3,4).  The Church does teach that you can pray directly to Jesus for healing. It does not teach that Mary and the Saints will convince Jesus to answer your prayer when He doesn't really want to! (Although some Catholics seem to think this, misreading the story of Jesus' first miracle at Cana.)
The Saints also serve as models for those of us who are still alive.  Some Saints won't mean much to us personally, but some of their stories will touch our hearts.
Every Sunday, Catholics say the Apostle's Creed or the Nicene Creed during the Mass.  They say, "I believe in the communion of saints'.  The Church teaches that the Mystical Church includes: 1. The Church Militant (Christians on earth) 2. The Church Suffering (Christians in purgatory)[1] and 3. The Church Triumphant (those in heaven).

Beatification and Canonization
A beatified person is known as ‘Blessed......” and a canonized person is known as “Saint......”. Usually, someone is beatified first and later if the further conditions are met (two miracles), that person is canonized..
The words used in the actual canonization are: “In honour of ... we decree and define that Blessed .... is a Saint, and we inscribe his/her name in the catalogue of saints, and order that his memory be devoutly and piously celebrated on the ... day ..., his feast.”  The feast day of a saint is commonly celebrated on the anniversary of his or her death.

Procedure for Beatification and Canonization
There are strict regulations about the investigation into the person's life for the cause of sainthood.  The person’s life is examined for reputation, for sanctity and for miracles that have occurred after his or her death.  If the person has written diaries or books, these are examined to see if there is anything contrary to faith and morals in the writings.
Mother Theresa's journey to canonization was very fast (some said she was 'fast-tracked' because so many asked for her to be made a Saint).  And yet, it was 19 years after she died that her canonization took place!   All her writings, including many private letters, were examined during that time.
 The miracles attributed to the intercession of Mother Theresa were the curing of cancer in a Christian Indian woman and the curing of brain abscesses in a Brazilian man.  The Brazilian man and his wife were present in Rome for Mother Theresa's canonization.  
Miracles must be substantiated, for example, healing of a disease must be shown to have no natural cause and are investigated by medical doctors and scientists, not necessarily Catholic.   If there are eyewitnesses to the miracles, they are examined.  In the case of martyrs, there must be proof of the martyrdom.
When the Church was investigating miracles attributed to the intercession of Margaret D'Youville they contacted Dr Jacalyn Duffin, a haematologist at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.  She told them she was an atheist, and those from the Vatican working with the investigation were fine with that.  She was asked to look at some bone marrow slides and without being told any background, was asked for a diagnosis.  It turned out that her reading of the slides verified that a miracle had occurred.  Margaret D'Youville, a French nun, who started the Grey Nuns of Montreal in 1737 became Canada's first Saint in 1990.  
Dr Duffin was intrigued with the material she found in the Vatican Archives that she investigated hundreds of other stories of miracles.  "To admit that as a nonbeliever, you don't have to claim that it was a supernatural entity that did it," Duffin said, "You have to admit some humility and accept that there are other things that science cannot explain."[2] (quoted in an article by Tom Gjelten,  
I pray that Dr Duffin will one day find that miracles are indeed from God who does exist and that everyone will get to know the Saints better.
Catechism of the Catholic Church. New York and Toronto: Doubleday Publishing Group Inc. 1995.
Duffin, Jacalyn Pondering Miracles - Medical and Religious. On NY Times website.
Website of the Catholic Encyclopedia/New Advent accessed January 15, 2011.
Gjelten, Tom. How the Catholic Church Documented Mother Teresa's Two Miracles.    accessed September 6, 2016.

[1]  Purgatory is another topic,  Suffice it to say that it is a place of cleansing (or purging) and everyone in purgatory will eventually be in heaven. It is not hell where those who do not believe in God or in Jesus have chosen to go.
[2] Gjelten, Tom. "How the Catholic Church Documented Mother Teresa's Two Miracles. August 31, 2016.