By Most Rev. Richard W. Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton


This picture shows one of the panels on the holy door at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. I have always loved it, and it speaks beautifully of the Good Shepherd reaching out to save the lost. That's the reason for hope.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Looking Backward Sends us Forward

A number of events have come together in recent days in the Archdiocese of Edmonton. Our series Nothing More Beautiful has drawn to a close. We marked the fiftieth anniversary of the dedication of our cathedral of Saint Joseph. And we celebrated our patronal feast, that of St. Joseph the Worker, in the context of our local Centenary and the universal Year of Faith. What brings these distinctive strands together and unites them in a tapestry of hope and joy is the person of Jesus Christ. He is the centre, the fulcrum, of the life of the Church and its every activity. For five years we have announced with conviction that there is nothing more beautiful than to know Jesus Christ and to tell others of our friendship with him. For fifty years we have gathered in this beautiful Basilica to encounter Jesus Christ in Word and Sacrament. For 100 years we have grown as a people united by our faith in Jesus Christ. Yet the very act of retrospective instills in us the certainty that our focus must not remain in the past. Knowledge of what God has done for us impels us forward. This wondrous treasure of life in Jesus Christ is not to be hoarded but shared. We are a people sent to evangelize, called to make Jesus Christ known.

One crucial area where we need ceaselessly to be announcing the joy of our life in Christ is with respect to life itself. In upcoming days dioceses across Canada will be marking the Week for Life and Family. This is a national initiative of the Bishops of Canada, enacted to promote and celebrate the dignity of human life at every stage in its natural span, and to lift up the family as that community, fashioned by God's design, in which life is created and nurtured. This week is one of a number of diocesan activities that will unfold in the upcoming years in keeping with local resources and capacities.

This special week is bracketed by the prayer of the people of God. During the weekends that begin and end the week, celebrations of the Eucharist in our parishes will be dedicated to the issues of life and family. This emphasis on prayer is deliberate. Prayer must be the source and foundation of all that we do. Time and again, as the Church has sought to uphold the dignity of life and the God-given nature and purpose of marriage, we have been confronted with our limits while society has forged ahead in erroneous directions. We must acknowledge our weakness and limits, but not with despair. Rather, we do so with trust in God's power. He knows the solution to this and all of our problems. Our call is to turn our weakness over to him and ask him to work in and through it to bring about his saving purpose. This is precisely what we do when we gather in prayer. We thank God for the gift of life and family, and through prayer entrust to him their growth and protection. We do our most effective "work" on our knees.

If you have not already seen it, I invite you to read the pastoral letter offered by the Bishops of Alberta to mark this Week for Life and Family. God bless.