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

Monday, March 20, 2017


I’ve arrived in Rome for the ad limina visit. Getting here necessitates a lot of time in a plane. It is very easy during the flights to get dehydrated, so the intake of lots of water is highly recommended. In fact, I find that for a period of time after the flight dehydration can still be something to contend with, so I try to keep lots of water close by.

It seems to me that the need for a different kind of hydration characterizes our times. In so many contexts do I see what might be described as an existential dehydration, by which I mean people parched for meaning, direction, hope and so on. There is a deep and widespread thirst of the spirit, and the “drink” on offer (worldly goods, various forms of escapism, the exaltation of the self and its desires, etc.) leaves one deeply unsatisfied and perennially thirsting, in spite of the consumption of “gallons” of the stuff.

Enter the Gospel passage proclaimed at mass on Sunday for the Third Sunday of Lent. I love the story. It occurs at a well, where Jesus pauses for a rest and where he encounters a Samaritan woman who has approached the well for water. The Lord initiates a dialogue, by means of which he leads the woman, thirsty for well water, to an awareness of a deeper thirst that can be quenched only by the “living water” that he alone can give. This deeper thirst is that of a yearning for peace with God and, ultimately, the gift of eternal life. This living water is the gift of the Holy Spirit, which, when poured into our hearts, never disappoints (Romans 5:5), that is, never leaves us thirsting. With the Samaritan woman, let us not hesitate to be bold in asking the Lord constantly for this gift.

As I was writing this post, I paused to listen on my computer to the livestream of the Angelus address of Pope Francis. Commenting upon this passage, he warned against the various “wells” at which we gather seeking to slake our thirst. Be careful, he says, because many of today’s “wells” contain a “water” which is not potable. A striking image. Anyone who travels outside of the developed world asks before all else if the local water is drinkable. It is question we should pose wherever we are when it comes to quenching the thirst of the spirit. So much on offer is “dirty water” and, therefore, not to be touched. Only that which Jesus gives can be trusted to satisfy and lead to the fullness of life.

Here is the latest story 'Euthanasia on agenda for Bishops' meeting with Francis' during the ad limina visit.