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Who is this God who wants us to rise up?

We constantly hear about God’s greatness in the Bible. Yet He desires to unite us to Him, to help us up when we fall, to be our strength when we are weak, to be with us in the midst of our troubles. Who is this God who desires to heal us and raise us up? Who is this God who wants to share His being with us and make us His children? This can only be a God of Love…

Let God raise you up!

How can God transfigure and heal us if we don’t open our hearts to Him? We must admit that we need Him, we must allow Him to cast his loving gaze upon us, just as we are. This is a chance to rediscover our dignity as children of God!

Stand strong in your faith and in your life

This is the ultimate challenge. It may come with suffering, but it brings true happiness. One thing is certain: we have a Rock upon which to stand, and He is the one who will give us the strength to remain standing!

Raising up those around us, just like Jesus does

“As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” We might add: “As I have raised you up, so you must raise up one another”. We can raise up our brothers and sisters by showing them their dignity, value and beauty and by supporting them in the midst of their difficulties. God sends us to be His presence in the world, so let’s dare to be the arms, eyes and heart of God for those we meet!

Deepening of the Theme
Let Yourself Be Lifted Up By God

Steve Lemay

When someone we are with slips and falls, we are advised to not help them get up too quickly. It is better to be cautious so the person does not unknowingly aggravate any injuries suffered. Quite fortunately, these common accidents do not always entail serious consequences; pride often ignites a prompt recovery and we end up being able to laugh at it all. However, we also know that certain falls with more serious wounds can happen, whether they be physical or of another nature. The feeling of powerlessness then born belongs just as much to those who witness someone else’s fall as it exists in the person who has fallen. In these cases, it is not easy to stand right up or let someone help you up. Falling down can be excruciating. It can seem like there is no end in sight. 

However, in the light of Christian faith and our hope, nothing can prevent God from lifting us up! The Gospels are filled with people who have been lifted up by Christ: the Samaritan whom everyone judged (Jn 4); the paralytic (Mk 2); the tax collectors Matthew (Mt 9) and Zaccheus (Lk 19); the man born blind (Jn 9); Peter and his terrible denial (Lk 22). Even death could not frustrate the raising of Lazarus (Jn 11)! In the end Christ will go right to the point of taking upon Himself all our falls, including the most terrible ones. In rising from death, He opens to our humanity the way to life, and life in its fullness! Participating in this victory—His victory—is the gift given to me by the grace of my baptism. Already, as prelude to the great resurrection He promises me, Jesus Christ lifts me up every day by the grace of the sacraments, which draw me and bring me towards the full realization of my humanity; towards the glory of the Resurrection. He assists me in making, as He did, an offering of my self in order to live with Him and in Him, in the intimacy of His Father. And me? Am I letting Him lift me up?

How easy it is to forget that the love of God lifts us up at every moment! But Christ has taken up—in advance—our falling-downs; this ought to make us rejoice at each instant! My priestly ministry had often led me to speak on this getting up again as it occurs in the diverse circumstances of life. I have experienced this getting up again personally and particularly when I was forced to admit my own powerlessness, faced with difficult trials I had to overcome. When death struck my community, in a way as violent as it was unexpected, I had nothing but my silence with which to welcome these suffering people. I, a priest who had given his life for the Word, was at a loss for words. This personal fall was a brutal one, and I bit the dust. And in falling down from my pride, from this confidence I had in myself, I received the grace to plunge into an even greater confidence in God. Thus, my suffering in silence was turned into an echo of the mightiness of His love. Beyond what I thought humanly possible, I was enabled in the exercise of my ministry, in a difficult time, to bear the Word of life with a strength in me I had not suspected. God got me up! Death had first left me voiceless, but Christ speaks louder than the power of death! Despite the weakness of what we had to offer, our Christian community was able to contribute to recovery of many. God continues to get me up without any tiring! Our human journey is sown through with opportunities to let ourselves be lifted up. And you, you who are standing, you who are on your knees, or you who are dismayed, are you going to let yourself be lifted up by God?


Born in 1977, native to Danville, part of the Archdiocese of Sherbrooke, Father Steve Lemay remained there until  moving to study Cooperative Administration at the Séminaire de Sherbrooke. After some years of work in the field of business administration, he began studies in philosophy and theology at the l’Institut de formation théologique at the Grand Séminaire de Montréal. He was ordained to the priesthood in May 2008 in Sherbrooke. Soon after his ordination, the Archbishop of Sherbrooke asked him to serve in the region of Lac-Mégantic. In 2010 he became pastor of Sainte-Agnès in Lac-Mégantic as well as four other regional parishes, a charge he assumed until February 2015. His ministry in Lac-Mégantic would be marked by the train tragedy of July 2013. Monseigneur Luc Cyr granted him a sabbatical leave, spent at the Canadian College in Rome. He called him to studies in moral theology at the Alphonsianum, also in Rome, in fall 2015 where he will stay for another year. 


Nicola was born in Montreal in 1980, and grew up in the city. He then left for Rome where he would spend ten years of his life as a monk in a new religious community. Returning to Canada after, he settled in the diocese of Valleyfield where he was ordained a priest in November 2011. He still works today in this diocese, with a ministry focusing on the socially excluded, on those who have been knocked around by life, and all who find themselves on ‘the periphery’. His path in life has been coloured strongly by his presence among young people, who appreciate him very much.


Standing up in our faith and in our lives.

Nicola Di Narzo

Believing in God in today’s society seems almost like believing in fairy tales. Science seems to take over our systems of belief and eliminate even the shadow of God. In this context, believing in Jesus Christ or saying we are Catholic is almost outlandish. We all have heard criticism of the Catholic Church, in reference to the scandals or other types of gossip, and it often seems as if the Church has lost its credibility. But between you and me, is it possible that the Church is only that? Scandals, bad priests, bad brothers and nuns, hypocrite laity and all sorts of foolish people? It’s this same question that motivated emeritus Pope Benedict the XVI to become a priest in a time when in Germany, civil authorities were trying to destroy the Catholic Church. He asked himself why they were so desperately trying to annihilate this Church. And this led him to believe that there had to be something behind all of this!

This something is actually someone, a person: Jesus Christ. Believing in the Church is not enough! Believing in God is not enough! We need an encounter, we need a relation, we need intimacy! By seeking this intimacy with God, we will discover a fundamental feature at the core of Christianity: the Incarnation. God, in his immense love for humanity, willed to send his only Son, so that by Him, we may have life and be saved! He could have chosen many ways to manifest himself, but he chose the way of the flesh, the way of the earth, the way of our humanity. He became small among the small, poor among the poor, so that by doing so he could show us the way to God, making us capable of God.

He chose to establish between us and Him a love relationship and put an end to the relation of fear which had been mobilizing the people of Israel. Saint John tells us: “There is no fear in love; perfect love casts out fear.” (1 Jn 4, 18).

Living in the fear of God is living a superficial and unhealthy relationship. Living in love means being able to stand and know how to trust in God and overcome the daily difficulties and numerous struggles of our lives. Being in a loving relation with God means following the way of Christ; it means living a Christ-centred life … and finally, living in love, putting God at the centre of all, so that our lives become prayer. A life which has become prayer is capable of everything, even of overcoming the greatest torments. That is what Saint Luke tells us in his Gospel: “But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Lk 21, 36)

In other words, being a Christian means that we are able to establish a relationship of love with God, a relationship which enables us to keep firm and stand before Him … a relationship of love with our brothers and sisters, and the ability to discover the image of God in others, even in an atheist, a drug addict, a pervert and a prostitute… God created us all in his image (cf. Gn 1, 26) and Saint John says it well: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 Jn 4, 7-8). So then we can even conclude upside down … yup … upside down! Love God and your neighbour and you well then be able to stand up as a Christian in your faith and in your life.

Raising up those around us, just like Jesus does

Reegan Soosai, cmf.


I’d like to focus my reflection on the parable of the Good Samaritan. This parable of Jesus is one of the better known, even inspiring popular expressions like ‘’being a good Samaritan’’. A good Samaritan describes those who live out their charity and generous spirit. For us Christians, Jesus Christ is the perfect example of the good Samaritan. He gave His life totally in order to lift up all humanity out of its misery, physically, morally and spiritually. How can we lift up those around us, just as our Master and Lord Jesus did? I suggest here three ways of reaching out in the way of Christ.


I recall three WYD (World Youth Days) in which I  participated. During their Days in the Diocese (the week in advance of the main activities) host families would welcome us into their homes with particular hospitality and generosity. This was done despite certain sacrifices that undoubtedly were made. Secondly I remember the extraordinary welcome I received from the people of the Santal tribe in India, during my year-long missionary experience there. These people, even in their own poverty were capable of sharing generously what they had. I am also reminded of the welcome I enjoyed from the parishioners of Notre-Dame-de-Protection here in Sherbrooke the very day I arrived in this parish community three years ago. I think too of my mother who welcomed beggars every day into her small general store: I witnessed the way in which she was with them. Today I continue her example by valuing and respecting those less fortunate around me as children of God and as human beings with dignity. So I ask myself the question: if we human beings are capable of so much openness towards our peers, how much more shall our God be that for us?


Opening ourselves up to others is always an invitation to look beyond ourselves, to have the dispositions of the Good Samaritan, to be like our merciful Father. Are we able to welcome others in a generous spirit even when they think differently, look different, believe differently, belong to another religion; come from another cultural, economic and political situation than ours? The Good Samaritan opened himself up to the man in the ditch with all that he had—but most of all with his generous heart. Listen to what Pope Francis has to say in Evangelii Gaudium 87: ‘’we sense the challenge of finding and sharing a “mystique” of living together, of mingling and encounter, of embracing and supporting one another, of stepping into this flood tide which, while chaotic, can become a genuine experience of fraternity, a caravan of solidarity, a sacred pilgrimage.’’


Native to southern India, specifically Tamil Nadu, it was here that Reegan felt the call to become a priest. At the end of high school, he entered the Claretian Missionary Sons, among whom he pronounced his first vows in 2003. On mission to Canada since November 2011, he was ordained to the priesthood on December 27, 2012 in his native land. First a missionary in the Archdiocese of Sherbrooke, Reegan works now in Montreal as pastor to the Latin American Mission of Notre-Dame-de-Guadalupe, as well as director of the Pastoral Ministry for Youth and Vocations for the Claretian Missionary Sons in Canada. 


It is really interesting to see how Jesus welcomed people. He did it with generosity, without prejudice, without pessimism, or ulterior motive. He did not see people as objects to use for economic profit or political advantage, but always He saw them in an attitude of generous acceptance. Also, we have in the letter of St. Paul to Philemon the example of Paul encouraging Philemon to welcome Onesimus—a slave—as his brother in the faith, as a brother in Jesus Christ. God welcomes us in his great generosity even if we have sinned. Let us take up the challenge of His loving welcome in our own families, parishes, high schools, universities, workplaces, neighbourhoods, and everywhere else we are. In Matthew 25 Jesus tells us: ‘’If you receive one of these little children in my name, it is I Whom you receive.’’ So let us receive others in generosity.


It is well and good to welcome someone in generosity, but after a while one must take a second step. This next step lets that person, welcomed into our lives, stand up straight. This step is one of accompanying him or her with joy. This the tale of the Good Samaritan expresses clearly: when he has befriended the injured man, he gives the man first aid, he lifts him up onto his own horse and takes him all the way to an inn where he can care for him. It is necessary to work in the lives and contribute to the aspirations of others. Pope Francis, during a 2015 audience with those participating in the General Chapter Meeting of the Claretian Missionary Sons, said: ‘’You, pastors and missionaries, must accompany the people of God as Jesus accompanied the disciples of Emmaus: with patience and joy, in this encounter with the Resurrected Christ.” In the moment of accompanying someone, we may experience the temptation to remain pessimistic, or sad, or desperate. Because we do not see immediate results. Secondly, what Pope Francis said to the bishops of the Church on another occasion may help us to walk with others in a more loving and effective way: ‘’Sometimes to walk alongside someone means going ahead to show the way, and to uphold the Hope that a people have; other times it means simply being right in the middle, with everyone, close to them in simplicity and mercy. And in certain circumstances, it will mean walking behind everyone, in order to assist those who have stayed behind.’’ Will we be able to accompany others and help them up with the help of God? One experience I had here in Sherbrooke, as a young priest, was to set up a Spanish mission; and together we were able to help and walk with new immigrants adjusting to this city. What’s more, with the aid of many people from around the diocese, we were able to prevent a family from being deported. This is walking with others in joy and with prayers in your heart. It is saying that I am an instrument of God and a servant who has simply done what the Lord has asked me to do.


Love is the beginning and the end of the missionary disciple’s life. Jesus says in John 15:12-13: ‘’Love one another as I have loved you. There is no greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends.’’ This is a love that acts and a love full of hope. This is a love that is active right to the end. It loves to lift men and women up so they can stand up strong. It is so clear in the tale of the Good Samaritan that he acts with love and in hope; how he goes all the way in nursing the sick man back to health. He employs all his talents to do this; spends his money and also his time just to be with him. In this way he created a culture of life. Jesus, by His raising us up, gave us a new life. Let us not be afraid of loving—that is to say, let us not fear to go the whole way our Master did: for He went to the very end, by giving His life for the salvation of the world. He needs you and me to lift men and women up today onto their feet. What is more, it is Him Who lifts us up without ceasing. Let us go into the heart of our world, into the heart of our Christian communities with confidence, to be and to make a difference in the name of Jesus. We want to build the Kingdom of God. We shall do this by standing up on our own two feet!