Fr. Raymond J. de Souza

Fr. Raymond J. de Souza

Fr. Raymond J. de Souza is the pastor of Sacred Heart of Mary parish on Wolfe Island, and chaplain at Newman House at Kingston, Ont.’s Queen’s University.

Next month, on March 24, the Church in San Salvador will mark the 35th anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero. Soon the whole Church will celebrate the beatification of Archbishop Romero, for on Feb. 3 Pope Francis approved the decree for his martyrdom. (Martyrs do not require a miracle for beatification, but do require one miracle after beatification for canonization.)

The ranks of the priest-columnists are not few, but we are one fewer with the death of Fr. Richard McBrien on Jan. 26. He had both great longevity — more than four decades of syndicated weekly columns, with his home at the National Catholic Reporter — and great influence. In the 1980s, he was the go-to source for Catholic stories. The chairman of the theology department at the University of Notre Dame, he appeared constantly in the leading American newspapers and on television, an influence that extended into Canada.

COLOMBO, SRI LANKA - Passing through Rome on the way to the Jan. 14 canonization of Fr. Joseph Vaz, Apostle of Sri Lanka, I heard something extraordinary from Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints.

COLOMBO, SRI LANKA - It happened here again, but this time rather unexpectedly. In 1970 and in 1995, when Blessed Paul VI and St. John Paul II visited Sri Lanka, the president who invited them was no longer in office when they arrived. So it was for Pope Francis’ arrival this week, but more dramatically so.

ROME - There is excitement here about the papal visit to Sri Lanka and the Philippines next week. For those with longer Roman memories, they know that it celebrates the 20th anniversary of an extraordinary pilgrimage by St. John Paul, one that marked the beginning of the heroic last decade of his pontificate.

Upon the death of Jean Beliveau I devoted my National Post column to eulogizing the gentleman who exemplified the best that Quebec once produced, a model of what Quebec aspires to be. The treatment was even more generous here in the pages of The Register, with a cover story and a laudatory editorial. It was well deserved.

Fifty years ago Blessed Paul VI went to Jerusalem — the first papal trip outside Italy in our time, inaugurating the practice of apostolic journeys — to meet Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople, primus inter pares of all the Orthodox patriarchs. It was a historic moment that, after nearly a millennia of separation, the Bishop of Rome, Successor of St. Peter and universal pastor of the Church, would meet with the Patriarch of Constantinople, the “New Rome,” successor of St. Andrew and ecumenical patriarch of all Orthodoxy.

The beginning of a new liturgical year is a suitable time to think about the liturgy in a broader and deeper way. Two recent books from Ignatius Press help us to do so in a devout and scholarly way. They are not for the casual reader, but parishioners looking to challenge their priests with some serious reading this Christmas would do well to consider them as gifts.

One of the highlights of the year just ending was the canonization of the greatest pope and dominant religious figure of our times, John Paul II. Over the years I had attended many such events as a reporter or broadcaster in the media section, but I thought that this time I would take it in as a pilgrim. That meant arriving in St. Peter’s Square some four hours or so before the Mass began. How to spend those hours in a suitably pious and productive way? After all, the breviary and rosary don’t take that long, even at a leisurely pace. 

The Feast of Christ the King was instituted in 1925, just as the age of kings was ending. The natural order of society — kingly rule — for millennia, was replaced by the modern state. Christians who may not have known kings were reminded that Christ was their king.