A Doubly Blessed Day

Josh about to board a government jet

A Doubly Blessed Day


Happy solemnity of St. Joseph, foster-father of Our Lord Jesus and patron of Canada (not to mention the universal Church)!

My wife and I have a family tradition of celebrating this feast in Montreal at the largest church in the world dedicated to St. Joseph, the Oratory. If you have not been there, and have the means to do so, please go! Go ahead, I’ll wait…

Last year, however, I was on a different pilgrimage, and I thought it was good enough reason to miss. Let me tell you the story.

After doing some extensive media around the conclave that elected Pope Francis, I was looking forward to getting back to the normal in the office. However, right after attending daily Mass on March 14 I opened my email inbox to find an invitation from the Governor General’s office. I was notified that I had been selected to be part of a Canadian delegation going to Rome to celebrate the inaugural Mass of Pope Francis’ pontificate. 

Ummm… what?

To my amazement, it turned out to be authentic. I was on a government plane to Rome that Sunday.

There is a lot I could write about this trip. One of the many highlights was meeting Catholic representatives within our government, including MP Jason Kenney.  Another was meeting a number of our Canadian bishops in Rome, including Marc Cardinal Ouellet, Toronto’s own Thomas Cardinal Collins, and now-Cardinal Gerald Cyprien Lacroix of Quebec. Thirdly, meeting the amazing co-delegates, including my friend, co-blogger and the guy I was competing with for most frequent and embarrassing gaffes on the trip, Clayton Imoo.  

My ultimate highlight though was the inaugural Mass itself. It was truly amazing to be present there at such an historic moment, with hundreds of thousands of my Christian brethren, worshipping the Lord and praying for our new pope. It was also my first time at a Mass in St. Peter’s Square, and the statues of all the saints across the top of St. Peter’s Basilica drew me into complete awe. I felt a sense of the whole Church celebrating together.

The liturgy is the work of the whole Christ, head and body. Our high priest celebrates it unceasingly in the heavenly liturgy, with the holy Mother of God, the apostles, all the saints and the multitude of those who have already entered the kingdom. (CCC 1187)

On the plane ride home I had a chance to talk with our Governor General about the trip, and he (a Christian, though not Catholic) shared that this moment was his highlight as well.


I will end my grateful post on some memorable words from the homily Pope Francis preached that day:

"Today too, amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others. To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope; it is to let a shaft of light break through the heavy clouds; it is to bring the warmth of hope! For believers, for us Christians, like Abraham, like Saint Joseph, the hope that we bring is set against the horizon of God, which has opened up before us in Christ. It is a hope built on the rock which is God.

"To protect Jesus with Mary, to protect the whole of creation, to protect each person, especially the poorest, to protect ourselves: this is a service that the Bishop of Rome is called to carry out, yet one to which all of us are called, so that the star of hope will shine brightly. Let us protect with love all that God has given us!"

On this day, as we honour St. Joseph and ask his continued prayers for us, let us also remember to pray for our beloved Pope Francis. May God bless and keep him, give him his protection and help him protect the flock in his care.

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