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

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Fuel Prices!

And I thought the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity was hard to understand. Grasping it seems less of a challenge by times than penetrating the enigma of the price at the pump! Yet, the fuel is necessary for the vehicle to move, so there is little choice but to pay what it costs.
Sunday’s Gospel (Matthew 25:1-13) made reference to another type of “fuel”. It is one whose price is far more stable than our wildly fluctuating gas prices, - the cost is always the same, in fact - but it is expensive nonetheless.
An oil lamp, similar to the type found in the early Christian catacombs.
Jesus tells a parable that uses the image of oil, not for transportation but for light. He tells the now familiar parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids awaiting the arrival of the bridegroom. So that they will see and recognize his presence, they have with them lamps whose flame is fuelled by oil. The wise have oil in sufficient supply, the foolish ones have only a limited quantity. Needing to run off and buy more oil, the foolish ones miss out on greeting the bridegroom upon his arrival. The point Jesus is teaching is that his return will happen, though we know not when. Therefore, we must be ready now and always to welcome him by having enough oil to fuel the light by which we shall see, recognize and welcome him.

The flame of the lamp stands for faith. By faith, we see. Such faith needs to be “fuelled” by the oil of prayer, study of the Word of God, celebration of the sacraments and works of charity. These we keep in “ready and sufficient supply” when we practice them daily. This leads us to the cost of such oil.
The cost is that of self-sacrifice; the price paid is the act by which we surrender all self-reliance and choose to rely solely upon the wisdom, love and providence of God. This price never changes. It remains always the indispensable condition for authentic prayer, obedience to the Word of God, reception of sacramental grace, and genuine acts of Christian love. And it is expensive, since it is the gift of one’s entire self to God and to others. Yet, we willingly and gladly pay the price, because it is only by means of such “oil” that the flame of faith burns brightly and enables us to see and welcome the presence of God in our midst.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Statement for Catholic Education Sunday

In case you missed it, the following is the special statement issued by the Bishops of Alberta and the Northwest Territories for Catholic Education 2017. 

I was presented yesterday, on Catholic Education Sunday, with a picture with the signatures
of all the students from Gerard Redmond Catholic Community School in Hinton. (Photo: Roni Iwanciwski)
Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,
Every year in November, we, the Bishops of Alberta and the Northwest Territories, write a letter to you on the occasion of Catholic Education Sunday. This year we have repeated the practice. Drawing from the teaching of St. Paul, our letter focuses on truth, goodness and beauty. These are hallmarks of Catholic education. In addition to this letter, we offer you these further thoughts.
In our schools, students are challenged to recognize the inherent beauty and worth of the human person, and to understand and honour the gift of human sexuality. We call on them to serve others, regardless of their situation in life, with compassion and justice. The teaching we hand on to them offers a beautiful and life-affirming alternative to the negative and self-serving messages they hear every day via the various forms of modern communications.
The nature and mission of our schools is rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His teaching is often countercultural in today’s world, just as it was when he taught. In fact, we saw this recently in the heated public discourse on the human sexuality part of the school curriculum. Much of the media frenzy we witnessed was based upon inaccurate reporting and a misrepresentation of our moral teaching. We are grateful to representatives of our school superintendents for clarifying the issues and allowing the facts to speak for themselves. Catholic schools teach the provincial curriculum through a Catholic lens. It is what we have always done; it is what we shall continue to do in all matters, including health and wellness.
Bishop Greg commissioning the Edmonton Catholic School Trustees.
Calls to dismantle our publicly funded Catholic school system are growing ever louder, and we must not ignore them. It is important that everyone be ready to stand up for our faith and for our schools. Please be prepared to speak out in support of our Catholic schools whenever you can. We are proud of who we are as Catholics. We do not and we shall not apologize to anyone for our faith or for our schools. Everyone knows that the existence of our schools, fully permeated with our faith, is a constitutional right. Everyone should also know that this is a right we shall vigorously defend.
Catholic education is a treasure, not only for our own Catholic children but also for our province. Our society as a whole benefits when parents have meaningful choice in how their children are educated.
Please pray for our teachers, administrators and trustees. They share our commitment to Catholic education and devote themselves with great zeal to its flourishing for the benefit of our beloved children. Pray also for our government leaders. May all work together to preserve and enhance the precious gift of publicly funded Catholic education in our province.
Catholic Bishops of Alberta and NWT