I enjoy the serendipity of providence when the liturgical readings match up unwittingly with the day, as we celebrate Ste. Therese of Lisieux, more accurately, of the Holy Face and the Child Jesus, who entered Carmel in her sixteenth year, and died of tuberculosis at twenty four. As Christ proclaims in today’s Gospel, we must all become like ‘little children’ to enter the kingdom, which does not mean weakness and dependence, but rather a humility and trust in God.
For in other ways, as Saint Paul points out, we must act very much like men who have put away childish things, with greatness of soul. Child-like though she was, Therese could also, by her prayer, discipline and the grace of God, handle suffering and self-mortification far more worthily than most men. The paradox is one of many in Catholicism, gentle, yet strong; humble, but bold; meek, yet preaching the truth from the housetops, and on it goes, requiring a balancing act only possible with the grace of God.
Canada has a new NAFTA deal, with a different acronym and fewer socialist benefits. The dairy farmers apparently will be upset, but it may be too little too late, as the provincial premiers in their recent roundtable are admitting a rather grim economic future; we are shovelling out far more money, especially in wages, benefits and gold-plated retirement packages for ‘public service’ employees, than we are taking in through the beleaguered private sector. A deal with the U.S. may buy a bit extra time before we must face the music, but face it we must, one way or another.
At least this deal only has to do with the economy, for the other recent agreement, of the Vatican with China, involves not cows and cars, but souls and their eternal destiny. I still cannot get past the premise that, by their own inherent principles, would not the Chinese Communists only present episcopal candidates who are pro-Communist, which is why there is an underground Church in the first place? And are not Communism and Catholicism inherently antithetical? What of the regime’s atheism, its intolerance of religious freedom to worship, its draconian two-child policy, its support for abortion and contraception by means usually foul, its violation of labour laws?
Hence, any candidate the ‘Party’ recommends would seem to be, a priori, disqualified for the office of leading the Church, even of being a Catholic? Would he start preaching on Rerum Novarum, Centesimus Annus, Evangelium Vitae, Humanae Vitae? Does anyone think that the Communists would present a man for bishop who would in any way undermine their own atheistic regime?
One wonders, and wonders some more.