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!
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.
Raising up those around us, just like Jesus does
Reegan Soosai, cmf.
1. WELCOME WITH GENEROSITY
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.
2. ACCOMPANY WITH JOY
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.
3. LOVE IN HOPE
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!