Yesterday I had the great honour of representing the CCCB at a special synod of Ukrainian Catholic Bishops gathered from all over the world in Winnipeg. The occasion was their closing banquet, where more than 800 clergy and faithful were gathered. The opportunity for a country to host a worldwide synod of Bishops outside of Ukraine is rare, and therefore an historic event. Indeed, the fact that this is the first time this has happened in Canada makes it very exciting for all of us. The occasion is doubly historic as it marks the centenary of the arrival of the first Ukrainian Bishop in Canada, Blessed Nykyta Budka. His is a fascinating story, which you can find summarized at www.archeparchy.ca/documents/history/Blessed%20Bishop%20Martyr%20Nykyta%20Budka.pdf.
This centenary, as well as this synod, is a blessing not only for the Ukrainian Catholic community but also for the entire Catholic Church in Canada. It is a blessing in virtue of the unity symbolized. The tireless work of the martyr-Bishop Budka established the basis for the unity and growth of the Ukrainian community dispersed throughout this vast land. The synod is a visible reminder of the unity of the Church in Canada with the rest of the world. The visit of the Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church worldwide to this year's plenary assembly of the Canadian Bishops will underscore the unity we all share in this wondrous and beautiful family of faith we call the Catholic Church. Unity in faith and joy gives hope to a world that suffers from fracture, and so we all draw hope from this gathering on this occasion.
It is precisely this message of hope through unity that the Holy Father, in his visit to Lebanon this past weekend, brought to the Middle East, that area of the world that has experienced fracture and its attendant effects of violence and grief for far too long. Around him were gathered Christians of a variety of traditions, Muslims, and other religious leaders. He called on all to work and live together in harmony and thus be protagonists of a future of peace.
Particularly moving was his address to the youth of the region. The full text is found at www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2012/september/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20120915_giovani_en.html. In a part of the world racked by revolution that has brought violence and suffering, the Pope called for a revolution of love, rooted in truth. What follows is a citation that is of pertinence for all of us. May we heed his words carefully.
"The frustrations of the present moment must not lead you to take refuge in parallel worlds like those, for example, of the various narcotics or the bleak world of pornography. As for social networks, they are interesting but they can quite easily lead to addiction and confusion between the real and the virtual. Look for relationships of genuine, uplifting friendship. Find ways to give meaning and depth to your lives; fight superficiality and mindless consumption! ... Seek out good teachers, spiritual masters, who will be able to guide you along the path to maturity, leaving behind all that is illusory, garish and deceptive.
"Meditate on God’s word! Discover how relevant and real the Gospel can be. Pray! Prayer and the Sacraments are the sure and effective means to be a Christian and to live rooted and built up in Christ. ... In Him, all men and women are our brothers and sisters. The universal brotherhood which He inaugurated on the cross lights up in a resplendent and challenging way the revolution of love. 'Love one another as I have loved you.' This is the legacy of Jesus and the sign of the Christian."