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

Monday, July 8, 2013

Joy in the Air

Lots of joy around these days. Real joy. Not just a superficial, transient happiness, but a joy springing from the heart. We are experiencing it in the Church, both locally and internationally.

On the weekend I met in St. Albert, a community north of Edmonton, with fellow pilgrims preparing for World Youth Days in Rio. These events are an experience of joy and its transformative power. The joy arises from the encounter with Christ in the midst of countless fellow believers. The millions of young people who have participated in World Youth Days over the years rejoice in the truth that they are not alone in their faith. They cannot help but share this with others, and this has invariably had an impact on the host city. Time and again, in the lead-up to World Youth Days, I have seen hostile, sometimes obscene, attacks launched against the Church, the Holy Father, even faith itself. By the end of World Youth Days, however, the same newspaper pages that had hosted vitriol were giving space for words of thanks and appreciation. Pilgrims were being thanked for their witness of joy, which transformed many a scowl into a smile, and gave rise to questions as to the source of the rejoicing and goodness. WYD pilgrims show us the model of effective evangelization, and the pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Edmonton are ready to embrace this mission. I am very proud of them and look forward to our sharing the experience together.

Joy was in full evidence last Friday evening at St. Joseph's Basilica, where the faithful gathered in huge numbers for the ordination of two new priests: Fathers Carlos Nunez and Luan Vu. God is always faithful to his Church, and that fidelity was manifest in the provision of two new shepherds for his people. God's faithfulness is the ground of our own confidence as we respond to the divine summons. Fathers Carlos and Luan, by the example of their generous response, led and enabled by grace, invite each of us to examine our own lives to hear the call of the Lord and follow.

News from Rome expands our joy even more. The announcement has been made that two popes of recent memory will be canonized: Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II. The date has not been announced, but it is expected to occur by the end of the year. What an extraordinary blessing to be living in an age which has benefited from the courageous witness and ministry of these two Successors of St. Peter! Pope John opened the way to the Second Vatican Council, and Pope John Paul II, one of its key architects, gave us a clear interpretation of it as he rooted it deeply in the life not only of the Church but of the world.
Also from the Holy See we have a new encyclical, Lumem Fidei, the Light of Faith. Truly beautiful and inspiring, it is an extraordinary synthesis of what is meant by Christian faith. Particularly striking is the fact that it is the gift of two popes! As Pope Francis has explained, it was begun by Pope Benedict XVI and completed by himself. Faith is the wellspring of joy. "Christian faith," the encyclical tells us, "is ... faith in a perfect love, in its decisive power, in its ability to transform the world and to unfold its history." There is no more sure ground for authentic joy than that!

I am taking a couple weeks for holiday. The next blog post will be from WYD in Rio.