Living right on the left coast of North America!

So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.—2 Thessalonians 2:15

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Saint Joseph's Day at the University of Victoria

Servers in cassocks and surplices, incense, bells, the Pater Noster (in Latin!), vernacular chant, icons of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Saint Joseph, a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes, young women wearing chapel veils... it's starting to look a lot like a Catholic chapel.

Shared at different times by various groups ranging from buddhists to muslims to new age meditators to Lutherans and Anglicans, the UVic Interfaith Chapel is a many windowed facility reminiscent of the "pyramid-power" structures of yesteryear. Today, it was filled with incense and the sound of robust Catholic worship honouring the co-patron of Canada and the patron of the Universal Church, Saint Joseph.

Designed by a Catholic architect and erected on Canada's most secularized campus in the mid-1980s, the Chapel has probably never hosted a solemn Catholic liturgy.

The daily Mass is offered four times during the week on campus, and the Sunday liturgy is at a nearby Catholic parish. The daily Mass is attended by students, faculty and staff numbering some 15 to 20 souls on average. Adoration is held on Mondays for three hours, concluding with Benediction at 3pm. The fruits of Adoration and daily Mass are becoming more and more apparent. We are blessed with several young men seriously considering the priesthood (... one having recently submitted his application to enter seminary!), and there are a few young women who have made retreats with a contemplative community of Dominican Sisters residing near Pemberton, BC.

The daily Mass is an oasis of silence, prayer, solemnity and edifying homilies. Every effort is made to celebrate the Liturgy with dignity and a profound gratitude for the magnificent gift of Mass on campus.

As the incense lingered after Mass, the space took on a very different feel from its usual nondescript, four beige walls sloping up to an pyramidal oculus. One communicant commented that the incense made the space much more like a Catholic chapel.

Laudetur Jesus Christus!

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We are not just material beings, but spiritual persons with a need for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment that transcends the visible confines of this world. This longing for transcendence is a longing for truth, goodness, and beauty. Truth, goodness, and beauty are called the transcendentals of being, because they are aspects of being. Everything in existence has these transcendentals to some extent. God, of course, as the source of all truth, goodness, and beauty, has these transcendentals to an infinite degree. Oftentimes, He draws us to Himself primarily through one of these transcendentals. St. Augustine, who was drawn to beauty in all its creaturely forms, found the ultimate beauty he was seeking in God, his creator, the beauty “ever ancient, ever new.”―Sister Gabriella Yi, O.P.