Caption: Deborah Arnell touches a statue of St. Kateri Tekakwitha after a Mass in Auriesville, N.Y., Oct. 21. Jason Greene / Reuters / CNS
The Year of Faith offers a special blessing for Canadians after the canonization of the first North American aboriginal saint Oct. 21 at the Vatican. As Pope Benedict XVI recognized Blessed Kateri as St. Kateri Oct. 21, he called her the "protectress of Canada."
She will be our protectress, but she will be much more than that, as her life and story are very relevant to our modern times, despite the fact that she died in 1680.
Now that we have another saint for Canada and the Church, it's important to note the Holy Father offered the recognition of her sainthood for "the renewal of the faith in the First Nations and in all of North America."
But all Canadians should be thankful for St. Kateri. She was a young person who was persecuted for her faith, and this makes her story very pertinent.
The Holy Father noted this when he said she was "faithful to the traditions of her people," but that she was also faithful to her faith. "May her example help us to live where we are, loving Jesus without denying who we are," the Pope said.
She offers a stalwart example to young people today who may be bogged down in the crush of secular "values," that is the materialism, hyper-sexualized, and body-image culture of today. She chose chastity and obedience over the prevailing winds of her time. She is a shining example for anyone struggling with his or her faith.
"In her love of chastity," Archbishop Miller remarked earlier this year, "she was radically counter-cultural."
St. Kateri's life example is a beacon for young people in their battle against a culture that eschews religion and traditional morality. It's a blessing in this Year of Faith for the Canadian faithful, and the Church the world over, to witness the recognition of St. Kateri.
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It was interesting to see the mainstream media's coverage of the Northern Gateway pipeline protest at the Victoria Legislature last week. Most media outlets claimed "several thousand" people attended.
The outraged protesters demanded the government stop the project. And the condemnation ran the gamut of the usual suspects: industry giants, and provincial and government officials.
But as the protest was plastered on every news show on Canadian TV, the event revealed a deep bias in the MSM.
The same media outlets that called the sizable pipeline protest "significant" didn't make one peep about the March for Life protest earlier this year. The protestors represented a "significant" number as well.
About 3,000 people marched on the first Thursday in May. That type of news is just as relevant (I'd argue more relevant because of the human lives involved) as a pipeline protest. I wonder if 4,000 marching pro-lifers would make the news?
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After the Ontario government forced Catholic schools in Ontario to accept "gay-straight alliances" earlier this year in an attempt to "stop the bullying of gay youth," it was billed by many as an attack on religious freedom.
In the springtime, a similar strategy was being pushed on Albertans as a new Education Act was tabled. Except Albertan parents fought back.
The Alberta government had included a clause in its new Education Act that would have forced all schools, including homeschoolers, to "use teaching materials that honour and respect the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Alberta Human Rights Act."
But parents in Alberta rightly perceived this as a governmental bullying tactic to force parents to compromise their religious values. Homeschooling parents worried they could face human rights complaints if someone objected to what they were teaching, for example the sinfulness of homosexual behaviour. Paul Faris of the Home School Legal Defence Association of Canada said, "It really stretched the arm of government to an unreasonable length."
It was heartening to see parents mobilize and fight for their religious freedom. In doing so, they forced the Alberta government to back down from its position. Now they've written a new Education Act that recognizes parental rights.
In today's anti-religious climate, it's a surprising victory for religious freedom, but a welcome one, nonetheless.