Canada ’08: Father Pandosy’s Story

This is a story about faith, courage and devotion. It’s a story about the man who is credited with forming the settlement through his mission in the Okanagan Valley which became the city of Kelowna in British Columbia, Canada

Father Charles Marie Pandosy was born in 1824 near Marseilles, France and was ordained into the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, an order of Catholic Priests founded in 1824 in France. Oblate translated means ‘total giving’ or sacrifice, and this is what those ordained set out to achieve by means of missionary work.

After a period working in Oregon in the US, Father Pandosy and Father Pierre Richard established a Mission in the Okanagan area in 1859. Their Mission in what is now known as Mission Creek was lovingly tended and nourished for thirty years. It became a local focus for religious, cultural and social happenings whilst they built up a large farm and cattle ranch. They also built the region’s first church and school.

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Keep The Faith

I’m just back after a few days back in Scotland’s capital and I came across these words to reflect upon from the Sunday Message bulletin from Mass last week before I left. They particularly resonate with me. We have a modern era in which Christianity is much mocked (perhaps it was always thus), one in which people seem to attempt to impress upon us constantly that our faith is ridiculous and that those that have such beliefs are merely deluded.

I regret this aggressive attitude towards others’ thoughts and opinions generally and particularly in the area of faith. I also applaud and feel encouraged by the words I repeat below:

“It is fashionable today to scoff at people of faith. There is a new, aggressive form of of aitheism on the rise in the West that wants to make non-believers of all people. One of the high priests of this militant atheism is Richard Dawkins. He considers anyone who doesn’t agree with him to be ‘deluded’. He wants to rid people of what he describes as their God delusion.

He and his fellow atheist cheerleaders dismiss believers as ‘childish’, as people who have not grown up. Their mission is to make believers see ‘reason’, to free themselves of their independence on a non-existent God.

This kind of attitude shouldn’t surprise us. Jesus encountered it in his day as well. The so-called ‘learned and the clever’ could not accept Jesus’ message. They rejected it and they rejected him also. They scoffed at those who followed him.

But Jesus says not to put heed in these ‘learned and clever’ ones. He says that the mind can easily become arrogant, self-important, bullying and dismissive. In order to be able to accept his message, one needs an open mind and an open heart.

But that does not mean there is anything anti-intellectual about being a person of faith. Some of the greatest minds in history, from Augustine to Thomas Acquinas to John Henry Newman, have been believers. What they had also is a child-like trust in the Lord, an awareness that before God all the knowledge and reason in the world don’t amount to very much. That is the attitude we are called to have also.”

Beggar Man

Well, another tale that emanates from a church night once more. It seems to be becoming something of a theme. I was rather taken by a message in the weekly Sunday Message bulletin in Mass last evening at Saint Barnabas Cathedral in Nottingham. It read as follows:

“We have got used to people begging around the Cathedral. How do we deal with them?

This is our advice. It is far too easy to give money. The Clergy never give money. We or the sisters, will direct people to Emmanuel House, (local shelter supported by the Cathedral) arrange transport, give food or drink, advise about shelter, light a candle or pray for them, or just listen to their problems. Giving money may subsidise a serious addiction and encourages them to return to the Church to pester others.

A look at the Gospels will confirm that Jesus gave time, energy, advice, food, healing and much more: but he never gave money!

I have to say this is another issue I’ve wrestled with for a long time, not just in the context of people begging outside the Cathedral but all over the city. Currently, to my eyes, Nottingham seems almost overrun by people begging with individuals stationed at practically every cashpoint, outside the major stores and just generally roaming the streets. Continue reading “Beggar Man”

Mass or Miss?

The nature of the way we spend our Sundays has changed dramatically from the days of shops, pubs and other businesses being shut tight for the Sabbath. Our habits have changed accordingly and it’s usual to see the cities as just another working day these days. I personally have mixed views about this. Having been a former shift worker for many years and required to work on a Sunday whether I wanted to or not it always felt ‘wrong’ to me, if not just for general religious beliefs but for the fact that was the way I was brought up as a youngster and equally as importantly for many early years in the workplace I worked Monday to Friday only. The weekend was for me. All mine.

These days I like my Sunday just as it is. It will contain a run at some point, maybe a bit of gardening if the weather is suitable, a country walk or just relaxing at home like millions of others do. Finally on a Sunday evening at 6pm my custom is to attend Mass at Saint Barnabas RC Cathedral in the city of Nottingham.

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Lenten Thoughts

Well I scoffed my pancakes for Shrove Tuesday last night – very nice they were too thanks. It’s been more than a year since the last ones so they were very welcome. (I have eaten other things in the meantime in case you were worried.) It’s Ash Wednesday today of course and I can tell you it’s taken me a little while to decide on what actions to take for the Lent period and I finally decided after much head-banging right up until midnight last night!

The common conception (and probably quite a reasonable one) is of ‘giving something up’ for Lent. I prefer to take a slightly more lateral view of the meaning and apply it suitably. Some say this can be by offering of your time and efforts towards others for instance and I find that example a very pleasant one. Abstaining from certain things can be a very faithful and apt way of observing Lent, but so can other behaviours and thoughts.

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Carols at Christmas

The BBC Radio Nottingham Carol Service, St. Barnabas’ Cathedral, Nottingham.

In these days of overly-commercialised Christmases, what a pleasure it still remains to hear good old-fashioned carols sung out with gusto and love. This visit to St. Barnabas’ Roman Catholic Cathedral was my second carol concert of the season, having previously attended the Nottingham Trent University concert in which my partner sang at St. Peter’s in Nottingham. Continue reading “Carols at Christmas”