Comments and Homily delivered by Archbishop Gervais
at the Eucharistic Celebration held on St. Patricks Day at St. Patricks Basilica
March 17, 2007
It has been many years that I have been coming to this celebration. It is always wonderful, always joyful and always refreshing for me.
Here in Ottawa especially, with the long tradition of the Valley backing it, the feast of St. Patrick is truly extraordinary.
As your Archbishop, this is my last visit, as you all know. You will be blessed with a new archbishop before long. But I hope not to simply wither away after my retirement. I hope to be able to come back sometime, as long as the Rector is friendly with me. I am very happy to be welcomed by Msgr Martineau, Fr. Lindsay and Father Larry and the other priests who serve here ; Msgr Ladoslav Lojan, Fr. Stanley Anozie and Fr. Noel Rucastle.
I want to add another item: every time I come to St. Patricks I am welcomed by two very special very wonderful people: Peggy Gregoire and Penny Schillaci. I want to thank them from my heart for their generous hospitality.
Now let us prepare ourselves for this Eucharist by asking
for Gods mercy&
Once there was a man who walked around at a garden party dressed in his finest. He was unaware that on the back of his shoulder a pigeon had left his mark. Pigeon poop can spoil a mans day!
We are all like that man; we all have sins, bad habits of which we are unaware. We walk around ignoring the blotch that is on us. We sometime are like this Pharisee who thought of himself as being better than others. And most of the time we resent the person who points out one of these unknown sins, or one of these unrecognized bad habits.
The two men who went to the Temple to pray, both went with good intentions but the heart of one was humble and the heart of the other was proud; that is, the heart of one could see what was real and the others heart was blind.
The publican, who collected money from the Israelites for the Romans, could hardly consider himself just. The Pharisee, who did everything right was sure that he deserved more consideration than the publican.
What God expects of us is humility and this is a form of honesty. That is the foundation, the very ground, the humus, of all our virtues. This gives us a foundation on which to build love.
Now love is a wonderful thing, it can take many forms. I knew a woman, a good woman who worked hard to support her widowed father. But she was always too busy to sit and waste a few moments with her father.
She never spent time with him. Her father was unhappy. She burst out, I cook for you, I make your bed., I wash your clothes. I clean the house. What more do you expect? This good woman did not appreciate the fact that her father wanted to have some personal contact, not just activity; he wanted shared presence.
What he really wanted more than her work was, her attention, her affection. He wanted love not sacrifice.
We can sometimes be like this poor woman with God; we do our morning and evening prayers, we use our Sunday envelopes,(!) we help in Church and so forth.
We have to ask ourselves Where is my heart? What God wants more than all our works, is our affection, our love. He craves love who does not? - everybody does. God does not hesitate to ask us to love him:
"'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' (Matthew 22:37).
How do we revive love? When a husband or wife need to have their love revived what do they do? Its very simple, but hard to do. Nothing! Just waste time together! Put time aside just for your spouse, let things happen.
Once I drove my mother shopping. She was never in a hurry, so I waited in the car. This was in Quebec, in a village with narrow streets and the verandas right by the road. I was parked right in front of someones veranda.
An elderly couple sat, not talking, just rocking, back and forth, for the longest time in total silence. They looked to be completely at ease with each other wasting time together. Then, without saying a word, they both at the same time, got up from their chairs and went into the house. It was amazing! Wonderful!
That is the image of our relationship with God in prayer. Our way of being comfortable with each other in friendship and love. We waste time together and we love it. God wants love not sacrifice.
Here at St. Pats you have a great group of people who know this. They also know that the parish needs their activity, needs their envelopes (!).
But what it needs more than anything else is your presence. When you are here you are saying to God, to the Church, that this hour I give to God, out of love. I am happy to be here, I am happy to simply sit and be quiet for a time, I am happy, when Mass is celebrated, to enter into the Mass, to participate, even to sing (listen, you men especially). God wants our hearts; our love, more than our obedience.
For eighteen years of my coming to this celebration, you have never let me down. It is wonderful to see you come to this Mass, and to enter into the celebration. I hope and pray you continue for many years to come.