Monday, April 28, 2014

Sermon - Father Jim Easter Sunday (April 20, 2014)

video

In this sermon, Father Jim discusses Lent and Easter Sunday. He contrasts the suffering and hardship of Good Friday with the celebration of Easter Sunday. The cross means Gods solidarity with us in suffering. Our comfortable existences sometimes cause us to ignore the meaning of the cross. As Paul says, "set your minds on things above and not things of Earth." Easter is now a commercial holiday, at this time we commonly focus on material things. However, we are called to focus on life itself, on peace, justice and on love. Living our lives each day as an Easter people.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day message from Anglican, Lutheran leaders

A statement on Earth Day, April 22, 2014 from Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada and Bishop Susan Johnson, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.

“This fragile Earth, our island home”

At your command all things came to be:
The vast expanse of interstellar space,
Galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth, our island home; By your will they were created and have their being.
Glory to you forever and ever.

This year’s observance of Earth Day follows immediately on the events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. In them we see movements from enmity to reconciliation, suffering to hope, and death to new life. They speak not only to humanity but also to the interconnectedness of all of creation.

The Scriptures tell us that our first vocation as human beings is to tend God’s creation. An honest assessment of our diligence in that call inevitably leads us to confess “our waste and pollution of creation and our lack of concern for those who come after us.” (Ash Wednesday Liturgy)

Reports on the state of the environment as documented by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are increasingly alarming. Of particular concern is the global collapse of oceans and the serious consequences already borne by the poorest nations. At a climate conference in Warsaw last November, there was an emotional outpouring from countries that face existential threats, among them Bangladesh, which produces just 0.3 per cent of the emissions driving climate change.

In the face of increasing concern and vulnerability in the world voiced especially by the poor and the young, what word does the church speak? What action do we take?

We learn from global partners. A call from the Anglican Communion Environmental Network to a deeper commitment to the fifth Mark of Mission shared by Anglicans worldwide influenced the Anglican church’s recent decision to have candidates for baptism make an additional vow “to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and respect, sustain, and renew the life of the earth.” (An Act of General Synod, 2013). A call from the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) delegation to COP 19 in Warsaw, Poland (November 11-22, 2013), which included seven young adults, led the Lutheran church to join a global monthly fast in prayerful solidarity with people affected by climate change (#fastfortheclimate).

We raise awareness. Anglican and Lutheran Youth have taken up the challenge of raising awareness of the “Right to Water” through a joint National Youth Project. Our churches commend the UN effort to reach a global treaty in 2015 to secure a global agreement on a net zero emissions goal. Canada, with the second highest greenhouse gas emissions intensity per capita of the G8 countries[i], is expected to announce an emission-reduction target for 2030 that would be significantly lower than 2020 levels. While progress is being made, without new measures, absolute emissions in 2030 would be projected to reach 815 megatonnes — 81 megatonnes more than projected for 2020.

We act. As Full Communion partners, our churches are committed to learn about issues of resource extraction and the effects on environment, health, Indigenous peoples, communities and economies and to raise awareness within our communities and with policy shapers and decision makers. We support our partners in defining their own development goals, including supporting Indigenous communities in Canada and elsewhere in exercising their right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent; and act to embed enforceable legal obligations based on FPIC in Canadian policies and practices with respect to resource extraction. We advocate for responsible and ethical investment and actions by individuals, faith communities, corporations, and governments both in Canada and around the world. And, we pray for the humility and discipline to use Earth’s resources wisely and responsibly. These are commitments we are working to put into action.

With our ecumenical and interfaith partners – KAIROS; the Commission on Justice and Peace of the Canadian Council of Churches; the Canadian Interfaith Conversation — we are committed to act from “our faith traditions and sacred texts … to consider the spiritual dimensions of the crisis of ocean and climate change; to take stock of our collective behaviour; to transform cultures of consumerism and waste into cultures of sustainability; and to respect the balance between economic activity and environmental stewardship.” (Canadian Interfaith Call for Leadership and Action on Climate Change, 2011)

We encourage each other to act. We invite individuals, parishes, congregations, dioceses and synods to increase their “stewardship of creation” through green audits, greening strategies and practices that show how much “creation matters.”

We pray. Good Friday reminds us that we have a Saviour who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses and the suffering of creation. Easter Sunday reminds us that we are witnesses of all God does for us, and that we begin each day forgiven and free.

On this Earth Day, our hope is that we will rise up more conscious than ever of our first vocation as human beings caring for the Earth with the utmost respect for the Creator and the utmost regard for the generations of all those who come after us.

From the primal elements
You brought forth the human race,
And blessed us with memory, reason, and skill;
You made us the stewards of creation.
Glory to you for ever and ever.

Source: Anglican Church of Canada

Easter and Ecology

This article was written by the Rev. Dr K.M. George. He is a priest and theologian of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church of India, and was a member of staff of the WCC Ecumenical Institute in Bossey, Switzerland. 
________________________________

If Christ is not risen from the dead, then it is indeed "biodegradability" which has the last word about our life. Consumer products today are often sold in wrappers or containers marked "recyclable" or "biodegradable".

Obviously, this points to a modest way out of the environmental crisis, reminding us that unless we exercise some discipline in consumption Planet Earth may become a rubbish heap with no resources for human life.

But these words inadvertently suggest some deeper truths about the nature of time and matter as well. While inviting us to harmonize with the rhythm of nature, which dies and renews itself, they provide a critique from within our civilization.

"Recycling" brings to mind the cyclical perception of time, which prevailed in many ancient cultures. This was largely rejected by the West - in the name of Judaeo-Christian tradition - in favor of a linear scheme of time and history.

"Biodegradable" evokes the corruptible nature of things. It can simply be a euphemism for death. Ironically, it hints at the degradation of the quality of life.

Beyond the shiny wrapper, these words quietly unmask the abyss of the cyclical hopelessness of history and ultimate dissolution of matter.

Beneath the Veneer

Recycling suggests that the things we produce go back to their original raw state of formlessness and re-enter a new cycle of existence with a new form. The cycle may, in principle, be repeated endlessly.

In a broader sense, nature has always been engaged in recycling matter. The cyclical character ancient philosophers attributed to time arose out of their observation or the cyclical return of the seasons and the cycles of planetary motion. Within these cycles nature endlessly composed, decomposed and then recomposed forms of matter, both organic and inorganic.

If we assume that there is no fresh input of matter from outside into our planet, every new plant, animal and human being coming into being may be labeled "recycled" in its material constitution. Every human being who is born draws on the "dead" matter of thousands and millions of human beings, plants and animals previously living on earth. Plants and animals do the same.

This shows the interconnections not only within organic life, but between "living" and "dead" matter. Yet the stunning mystery is that each of us is endowed with a distinct identity, down to the prints on the tips of our fingers. Every creature, small or great, is stamped with its own unique personality. Life eludes the rots of recycling.

The Eighth Day

With scientific speculation on time becoming more and more complex in a universe "with no edge of space-time", as Stephen Hawking says in A Brief History of Time, the old image of the cycle re-emerges in the human consciousness in different ways.

Many ancient cultures represented time as turning on itself, as is shown by the cycles of the day, the week and the year.

To the early Christian theologians, the cycles of the week seemed to symbolize the meaninglessness of earthly existence taken into itself. Like the legendary Greek image of the snake swallowing its own tail, the seven day week returns to itself, repeating its cycle.

So the patristic tradition proposed "the eighth day", which broke open the cyclical chain of seven days. The seven day week represented the history of the created world; the eighth day symbolized eternity. Sunday, the day of the resurrection of Christ, was the first and the eighth day at the same time.

Sunday is the day of the sun, the source of life, the first day of the week, and symbolically the first day of creation. It is also the eighth day, the day of the new creation, the day of resurrection, which initiated all creation to eternal life.

The eighth day breaks the monotonous cycle of time and liberates time from bondage to boredom and death. There is no longer evening or morning to mark the bounds of the day, no sun or moon to determine the course of day or night.

The eighth day, outside the weekly cycle, signals the end of the fatalistic resignation to despair built into the ever-repeating cycles of history. It implies rest from the cyclical chain of work.

Industrial civilization has been marked by the assembly line, the infernal cycle of production to which human laborers are chained. The "weekend", which it invented to break the cycle and provide time to rest, is only the beginning of another week's cycle.

The eighth day of resurrection breaks the chain of birth and death. (We may note here the irony that many supermarkets are chain stores - a fitting image of the new slavery which is inescapable in industrialized societies and whose tentacles are spreading quickly to. the rest of the world.)

In the risen Christ, material creation enters the infinity of new life. There is no more recycling or bondage to the laws of time and space. Yet created matter is not annihilated but reconstituted according to a higher law. It is the untold possibilities for our life that are unfolded in this recomposition of matter, as shown by the resurrected Christ.

Matter does not now return to be recycled. It opens itself to the life of God, to the splendor of uncreated light. Time is permeated by Sunday, the day of light, life and joyful rest.

Time, the attribute of the cycle of birth, death and decay, now acquires a new quality and meaning in its open-ended hope in participation in God's own life.

Degrading or Upgrading?

Behind the evocative term "biodegradable" one encounters the old, "corruptible" nature of all living things.

That life is subject to death and corruption may seem too obvious even to be worth mentioning. Yet consumer products camouflage that stark truth with the neologism "biodegradable" and portray it as the fruit of a new ecological awareness. But the stamp of dissolution is on all matter. We too carry the label in our bodies unawares.

In the Christian vision of reality illuminated by the radiance of the risen Christ, however, life (bios) is ultimately not degradable, and Christian faith has to muster all its strength to rise against the death-dealing suggestion that it is.

Degrading is a lowering in rank, disgracing, depriving the dignity of what God created out of love. In the end it is a demonic rejection and negation of the very being of God and of us.

The degrading of life is rampant today; we see it in every assault on the dignity of nature, of women, of children, of the poor and powerless.

It is a crowning irony of our age that we produce things only to call them degradable - and then feel ecologically smug about it.

Indian Railways recently introduced throwaway plastic cups for catering in passenger compartments. On every cup is the legend "Deform after use" - obviously meant to safeguard hygienic standards by preventing poor people from collecting cups and selling them to soft drink vendors.

These words, signaling the triumphal entry of consumerist culture into the struggling Indian economy, are deeply disturbing. We give form only to deform.

The logical corollary of this applies to human beings, their dignity and mutual relations and to all the rest of creation. Can we deform God's creation after our own use?

A faith rooted in the resurrection of Christ can only speak of upgrading our biological life into abundant life of the Triune God. The Christian tradition speaks of transfiguring matter, not disfiguring or deforming it. That is our only real basis to combat all forms of degradation of life.

The mystery of Christ's incarnation celebrates the union of matter and spirit, body and mind, organic and inorganic spheres, the upgrading of all created nature to be a partaker in God's nature.

Christian tradition has understood the resurrection of Christ as the guarantee and the first fruits of that union. If Christ is not risen then it is degradation that reigns.

"You set the earth on its foundations, so that it shall never be shaken. You cover it with the deep as with a garment, the waters stood above the mountains. At your rebuke they flee; at the sound of your thunder they take to flight. They rose up to the mountains, ran down to the valleys to the place that you appointed for them. You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth. You make springs gush forth in the valleys, they flow between the hills, giving drink to every wild animal; the wild asses quench their thirst. By the streams the birds of the air have their habitation, they sing among the branches. From your lofty abode you water the mountains, the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work."

Psalm 103

Living Icons

The great challenge for the Christian faith is not to ignore the pain and suffering of "sentient beings" in the present frame of time we call history.

We cannot call Christian any spiritual or philosophical theory that tries to circumvent the reality of the human existence which God assumed in Christ, or any perception, however humane and committed, that limits the meaning of our faith to this historical frame.

So we make bold the affirmation "Christ it risen " in the midst of our miserable reality, waiting eagerly, together with the created universe, for liberation from the shackles of mortality and the glorious liberty of the children of God (Romans 8:21).

In a beautiful Orthodox resurrection icon, the rising Christ holds the hands of Adam and Eve, lifting them up along with him with a joyful but firm movement from the clutches of death. The creation around exults in eagerness.

The hands of Christ and of the human couple in the icon are alike - slender and fragile, quite unlike the muscular hands of God and Adam in Michelangelo's Creation of Adam.

These are the hands of the one who tasted death and descended into Hades, into the abyss of the human condition, who has fully partaken of the biodegradability of created nature.

The church has never interpreted Christ's resurrection as an individual experience. It is the first fruits and foretaste of all creation. So the ascending movement of the Risen One gathers all-that-is to Him and sets the orientation - from degradation to the triune community.

Patristic theology affirms that Christ's incarnation, death and resurrection are to restore the image of God in humanity to its original dignity, from the distorted and degraded state of the present human condition to wholeness and beauty.

Icons try to portray the radiance of that eschatological beauty of colors available on our limited palette. They remind us that we are to be icon-painters for the whole of creation in freedom, creativity and love.

On to the living model of the living Christ, the true icon of God (Colossians 1:15), the Holy Spirit, the supreme artist, paints the image of the new creation. Human beings are called to be co-workers in this art of re-creation. Its possibilities are infinite.

As genuine art transforms our reality, it breaks into the cycle of time and lifts up humanity from all degradation of life. So sings the ancient hymn:

"Christ is risen from the dead, Trampling down death by death, Upon those in the tombs bestowing life."

Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Father Jim's Easter Letter

"Tis the spring of souls today, Christ hath burst his prison, and from three days sleep in death, as a sun hath risen. All the winter of our sins, long and dark, is flying from that Light, to whom we give, laud and praise undying."

John of Damascus (8th c.), tr. John Mason Neale 

Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

It has been a long, cold winter. Into April, we still have much snow on the ground, and are just seeing the first tentative signs of spring. Though we know that spring is coming, and we are deeply longing for it, it is often hard to keep up our hope.

But we can't rush Mother Nature. We have to keep slogging through, and do what we can when we get yet another d,Irp of snow. And as much as we might want to hibernate until all the snow is gone, we have to keep active, going about our daily routine and preparing bulbs and seeds for planting.

We have had our own rough winter at St. Philip's. A rusted heating pipe sprang a leak, the furnace burner motor gave out, new leaks appeared in the hall roof, an electrical surge fried the phone system. The cold weather, combined with rising energy costs, caused our heating bills to soar, and income has not kept pace with expenses. But we have hope of spring, of rebirth.

The redevelopment task group is working hard to put together a plan for a redevelopment of our campus that will reduce the financial burden of our buildings and provide for an expansion of our mission. But it will take time, probably several years, for a plan to come together, and to line up the necessary financing and municipal approvals.

In the meantime, we must be patient in waiting for spring, and we must continue to live in the moment, keeping faith and hope and continuing the mission God has given us.

Yours in Christ,
The Rev. James B. Pratt

Easter Pastoral Letter from Anglican, Lutheran Leaders

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has issued this joint Easter pastoral letter with Bishop Susan C. Johnson, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. The two churches share a full communion agreement that includes joint mission work and a joint national meeting in July 2013.

Dear friends in Christ,

Grace and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

We write to share greetings with you in these days when our shared thoughts and reflections are so focused upon the dramatic and sacred events surrounding the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We do so recognizing that these events took place in a real place, in the city of Jerusalem, and to express our appreciation for the long and always deepening relationship that we share with the living stones who are our Lutheran and Anglican partners in the Holy Land.

We are grateful for new opportunities for partnership that have been realized in recent years, in particular, an invitation for our two churches to serve as companions to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem as they work toward the goal of establishing a Full Communion relationship with one another.

As members of a small delegation from Canada that was invited to do this work on behalf of the Lutheran World Federation and the Anglican Communion last April, our prayers for the peace of Jerusalem are particularly fervent and heartfelt during this Holy Week. We are, therefore, inviting you to join us in this work of prayerful companionship in your own Holy Week observances and worship. We invite you to pray for the leaders and members of our partner churches, for government leaders and partners in civil society, for all who work for peace and reconciliation, and for all people of faith in this place that is sacred to so many of the world's population.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:

'May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls,
and security within your towers.'

For the sake of my relatives and friends
I will say, ‘Peace be within you.'
For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,
I will seek your good. (Psalm 122:6-9)

May God grant you and those dear to you, a full and rich experience of the story of Easter-not a story that we Christians explain, so much as a story that explains we Christians!

Christ has died! Christ is risen! Christ will come again!

Source: Anglican Church of Canada

A Holy Week message from the Primate

“May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ”

(Galatians 6:14)

On Good Friday, after the Passion of the Lord has been read and prayed, a large rough wooden cross is carried into the midst of the gathered community. A hymn extolling its glory is sung and then the people are invited to come forward for a moment of quiet reflection before the cross.

Some come and leave quickly. Others are a longer time coming but once there they linger.

Some lift up their heads and gaze upon the cross. As the hymn writer says, they “survey” it, striving with St. Paul to “comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth of Christ’s love”. (Ephesians 3:18) Others simply bow their heads in prayer.

Some reach out to touch the cross. Others lean forward to kiss it. And a few actually cling to it, yearning perhaps for personal pardon and for reconciliation with others.

Some rise from this moment with tears in their eyes – a mix of sorrow for sins committed and gratitude for sins forgiven. Others rise it seems with awe and wonder, their souls won yet again by the love of our Saviour, “so amazing, so divine”.

However we rise from this moment we make our way from this solemn liturgy into the world. Having looked at the cross we’re now called to “look through the cross”. That’s actually the title of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s recommended book for Lent this year. In it we are reminded that the church “stands under a calling to work as far as it can for the unity and harmony of the human race. Its place in the conflicts of the world is not on the sidelines, scolding or weeping, but instead at the heart of those conflicts working to see reconciliation overcome enmity… Perhaps the Church is never more truly itself than when it is busy reconciling enemies, healing rifts, enabling harmony, taking a cross-shaped posture in the world.” A significant measure of our integrity for such work is the extent to which we ourselves truly regard one another, all else aside, as “brothers and sisters for whom Christ died”. (1 Corinthians 8:11)

This is how we enter into that deep silence commemorating Christ’s burial and descent among the dead.

In that silence I invite you to be prayerful – for the Church, its faith, unity, and ministry in every place; and for the world, its healing and reconciliation. Pray for all who govern, all who work to avert escalation of armed conflict within and among the nations, all who labour long and hard for just and lasting peace.

When that deep silence is broken by the message of the angel, “He is Risen”, we find ourselves gathered again around that old rugged cross. Now a white cloth is draped over its arms. It is in fact, in some places, one of the fair linen cloths that cover the altar. Those cloths often bear five crosses – one at each corner, and one in the center, representing the wounds of Christ for us and for our salvation.

As we come to the cross this Holy Week and Easter looking “at it” and “through it” may we know in our hearts and reflect in our lives the great love of our Crucified and Risen Lord.

Source: Anglican Church of Canada

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Holy Week but were Afraid to Ask

Holy Week is derived from the latin Hebdomas Sancta or Hebdomas Maior, "Greater Week"; Greek: Ἁγία καὶ Μεγάλη Ἑβδομάς, Hagia kai Megale Hebdomas. In Christianity Holy Week is the last week of Lent and the week before Easter. The week includes Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday), Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. It does not include Easter Sunday, which is the beginning of another liturgical week. The contemporary Western Christian Church, including Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians and Roman Catholics, use Holy Week liturgies which are nearly identical.

Palm Sunday

Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord. In the Roman Rite, before 1955 it was known simply as Palm Sunday, and the preceding Sunday as Passion Sunday. From 1955 to 1971 it was called Second Sunday in Passiontide or Palm Sunday. Among Anglicans and Lutherans, the day is known as The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday.

Palm Sunday commemorates the entrance of the Messiah into Jerusalem, to accomplish his paschal mystery, it is customary to have before Mass a blessing of palm leaves (or other branches, for example olive branches). The blessing ceremony, preferably held outside the church includes the reading of a Gospel account of how Jesus rode into Jerusalem humbly on a donkey, reminiscent of a Davidic victory procession, and how people placed palms on the ground in front of him. Immediately following this great time of celebration in the entering of Jesus into Jerusalem, he begins his journey to the cross. This is followed by a procession or solemn entrance into the church, with the participants holding the blessed branches in their hands. The Mass or service of worship itself includes a reading of the Passion, the narrative of Jesus' capture, sufferings and death, as recounted in one of the Synoptic Gospels.

Before the reform of the rite by Pope Pius XI, the blessing of the palms occurred inside the church within a service that followed the general outline of a Mass, with Collect, Epistle and Gospel, as far as the Sanctus. The palms were then blessed with five prayers, and a procession went out of the church and on its return included a ceremony for the reopening of the doors, which had meantime been shut. After this the normal Mass was celebrated.

Tenebrae

Tenebrae (Latin for 'shadows' or 'darkness') is celebrated within Western Christianity on the evening before Holy Thursday. This church service commemorates the sufferings and death of Christ. The distinctive ceremony of Tenebrae is the gradual extinguishing of candles while a series of readings and psalms is chanted or recited.

Tenebrae services are celebrated by some parishes of the Catholic Church, Anglican and other Protestant churches such as Lutheranism. Some Churches of the Anglican communion celebrate Tenebrae with the same rite as Roman Catholics. Anglicans, including the Episcopal Church, usually observe the service on Wednesday in Holy Week, thereby preserving the importance of the Maundy Thursday and Good Friday observances.

Maundy Thursday

Also referred to as Holy Thursday or Great Thursday in some Christian denominations, Maundy Thursday is observed on the Thursday before Easter. It commemorates the Last Supper when Jesus shared the Passover meal with his disciples on the night before he was crucified. Maundy Thursday services are typically more solemn occasions, marked by the shadow of Jesus' betrayal.

The word "Maundy" is derived from the Latin word mandatum, meaning "commandment," Maundy refers to the commands Jesus gave his disciples at the Last Supper: to love with humility by serving one another and to remember his sacrifice. 

Two important biblical events are the primary focus of Maundy Thursday solemnizations: Before the Passover meal, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. By performing this lowly act of service, the Bible says in John 13:1 that Jesus "showed them the full extent of his love." By his example, Jesus demonstrated how Christians are to love one another through humble service. For this reason, many churches practice foot-washing ceremonies as a part of their Maundy Thursday services.

During the Passover meal, Jesus took bread and wine and asked his Father to bless it. He broke the bread into pieces, giving it to his disciples and said, "This is my body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." Then he took the cup of wine, shared it with his disciples and said, "This wine is the token of God's new covenant to save you--an agreement sealed with the blood I will pour out for you." These events recorded in Luke 22:19-20 describe the Last Supper and form the biblical basis for the practice of Communion.

For this reason, many churches hold special Communion services as a part of their Maundy Thursday celebrations. Likewise, many congregations observe a traditional Passover Seder meal.

In the Roman Catholic Church and (optionally) in the Anglican Church, a sufficient number of hosts are consecrated for use also in the Good Friday service, and at the conclusion the Blessed Sacrament is carried in procession to a place of reposition away from the main body of the church, which, if it involves an altar, is often called an "altar of repose".

In some Churches, the altars of the church (except the one used for altar of repose) are later stripped quite bare and, to the extent possible, crosses are removed from the church or veiled. (In the pre-Vatican II rite, crucifixes and statues are covered with violet covers during Passion time, but the crucifix covers can be white instead of violet on Holy Thursday.) In Methodist and Lutheran churches, the altar is covered with black, if the altar cloths have not been removed.

Good Friday

Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary.  The holiday is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday, and may coincide with the Jewish observance of Passover. It is also known as Holy Friday, Great Friday, Black Friday, or Easter Friday, though the latter properly refers to the Friday in Easter week.

Based on the details of the Canonical gospels, the Crucifixion of Jesus was most likely to have been on a Friday (the day before the Sabbath) (John 19:42). The estimated year of the Crucifixion is AD 33, by two different groups, and originally as AD 34 by Isaac Newton via the differences between the Biblical and Julian calendars and the crescent of the moon. A third method, using a completely different astronomical approach based on a lunar Crucifixion darkness and eclipse model (consistent with Apostle Peter's reference to a "moon of blood" in Acts 2:20), points to Friday, 3 April AD 33.

Roman Catholic and Anglican Christians treat Good Friday as a fast day. The Roman Catholic Church defines as only having one full meal with, if needed, two small snacks that together do not make a full meal; the Anglican Communion defines fasting as "the amount of food eaten is reduced".

In some countries, such as Malta, Philippines, Italy and Spain, processions with statues representing the Passion of Christ are held.

The Church mourns for Christ's death, reveres the Cross, and marvels at his life for his obedience until death.

The only sacraments celebrated are Penance and Anointing of the Sick. While there is no celebration of the Eucharist, Holy Communion is distributed to the faithful only in the Service of the Passion of the Lord, but can be taken at any hour to the sick who are unable to attend this service.

The altar, in the Roman Catholic Church, remains completely bare, without texts, candlesticks, or altar cloths. In the Lutheran Church and Methodist Church, the altar is usually draped in black.

It is customary to empty the holy water fonts in preparation of the blessing of the water at the Easter Vigil.

The Stations of the Cross are often prayed either in the church or outside. The Celebration of the Passion of the Lord takes place in the afternoon, ideally at three o'clock, but for pastoral reasons a later hour may be chosen. Since 1970, in the Catholic Church the colour of the vestments is red. The Lutheran Church, Methodist Church, and Presbyterian Church continue to use black, as was the practice in the Catholic Church before 1970. If a bishop celebrates, he wears a plain mitre.

The solemnity and somberness of the occasion has encouraged the persistence over the centuries of liturgical forms without substantial modification. Some churches hold a three-hour meditation from midday, the Three Hours' Agony.

It was once customary in some countries, especially England, to place a veiled monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament or a cross in a Holy Sepulchre". If crucifixes were covered starting with the next to last Sunday in Lent, they are unveiled without ceremony after the Good Friday service.

In some parishes of the Anglican Church, Catholic Church, and Lutheran Church, the "Three Hours Devotion" is observed. This traditionally consists of a series of sermons, interspersed with singing, one on each of the Seven Last Words from the Cross, together with an introduction and a conclusion.

Another pious exercise carried out on Good Friday is that of the Stations of the Cross. The celebration at the Colosseum with participation by the Pope has become a traditional fixture widely covered by television.

Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday is commemorated on the Saturday of Holy Week after Good Friday.  It is the day before Easter and the last day of Holy Week in which Christians prepare for Easter. It commemorates the day that Jesus Christ's body lay in the tomb. On this occasion the Church waits at the Lord's tomb in prayer and fasting, meditating on his Passion and Death and while awaiting his Resurrection. Holy Saturday is derived from the latin Sabbatum Magnum ("Great Sabbath"). It is also called Holy Saturday, Easter Eve, Black Saturday and Easter Saturday though on the religious calendar this phrase is more correctly applied to the Saturday in Easter Week. Holy Saturday is a vigil, in which the early church expected that the second advent would occur on an Easter Sunday.

On this day, the Blessed Virgin Mary as Our Lady of Sorrows is assigned the title Our Lady of Solitude, referring to her solace and lonely emotional state associated with grievance and mourning. Mass is not celebrated on what is liturgically Holy Saturday. The celebration of Easter begins after sundown on what, though still Saturday in the civil calendar, is liturgically Easter Sunday.

The Church abstains from the Sacrifice of the Mass, with the sacred table left bare, until after the solemn Vigil, that is, the anticipation by night of the Resurrection, when the time comes for paschal joys, the abundance of which overflows to occupy fifty days.

In some Anglican churches, including the Episcopal Church in the United States, there is provision for a simple liturgy of the word with readings commemorating the burial of Christ.

The tabernacle is left empty and open. The lamp or candle usually situated next to the tabernacle denoting the Presence of Christ is put out, and the remaining Eucharistic Hosts consecrated on Holy Thursday are kept elsewhere, usually the sacristy, with a lamp or candle burning before it, so that, in cases of the danger of death, they may be given as viaticum (provisions for the journey).

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Welby Says that Ecumenism must Involve Dialogue & Social Action

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has underscored the value of continuing ecumenical dialogue at a “passionate theological level” while at the same time having “a closer relationship of action” that addresses the needs of the world in such areas as poverty and social justice.

Ecumenism must be “something that is our burning desire,” Welby told a gathering of ecumenical guests at a reception at Toronto’s St. James’ Cathedral Centre, during his “personal, pastoral visit” to the Anglican Church of Canada April 8 to 9.  “In the last seven verses of John: 17, Jesus prays with extraordinary passion and extraordinary directness about the absolute necessity of the visible unity of the church…Love one another…”

In a divided and diverse world, Welby said the church could demonstrate “how humanity can overcome its cultural divisions and truly be…a holy nation of God’s people.”

In different parts of the world, there has been “a new movement of the spirit,” said Welby. He cited a decision by Chemin Neuf, a Jesuit-founded French Catholic community with an ecumenical vocation, to accept his invitation to take up residence in Lambeth Palace.

Last January, four members set up “a fraternity” in Lambeth Palace. “We hope that is something that will grow and develop,” said Welby, adding that he and his wife, Caroline, got to know the community over the last seven years. (The archbishop’s spiritual director is a Swiss Roman Catholic priest, Fr. Nicholas Buttet.)
The Guardian newspaper has noted that the move breaks five centuries of Anglican tradition and ushers “a further rapprochement between the churches of England and  Rome.”

Welby also noted that his relationship with Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols has been “very, very warm,” and that they meet regularly on Sunday afternoons. They recently launched Listen to God: Hear the Poor, a special week of prayer for Christian social action.

“Everything we do in church has to be rooted in theology, theological anthropology and ecclesiology. Those are things we cannot and must not avoid,” said Welby. But at the same time, he said, Christians must draw on “the riches that God has given us.” He noted how Catholic social teachings have been “formative influences of my own thinking in terms of the ministry of the church, and the most powerful one from which I’ve learned and continue to learn.”

In his remarks, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, noted that Welby has made a commitment to ecumenical dialogue “and furthering the realization of our Lord’s prayer that we may all be one.”
In his first year of ministry, the Archbishop of Canterbury has named as priorities “evangelism, resurgence of prayer and religious life in the church, and reconciliation,” said Hiltz. “At the heart of reconciliation [is] reconciliation within his own church…with the Anglican Communion…with the whole church.”
Archdeacon Bruce Myers, co-ordinator for ecumenical and interfaith relations at the Anglican Church of Canada’s General Synod, said he welcomed Welby’s reminder that “we, as divided churches, must continue to painstakingly work out the knots of our theological differences while at the same time giving practical expression to the unity we already share by engaging together in mission.”

Myers said the fact that Welby set aside time in his tight schedule to meet with the Anglican Church of Canada’s ecumenical partners is “a measure of the value he, our churchand our communion place on being attentive to our relationships with other Christians.”

The gathering also gave the Anglican church’s partners “a glimpse of what it means for Canadian Anglicans to be a part of a worldwide family of churches like the Anglican Communion, and why that’s an important aspect of our identity.”

Before the reception, Welby and the ecumenical guests gathered for vespers at  the historic Cathedral Church of St. James.

The ecumenical guests included the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Toronto, Cardinal Thomas Collins; Nora Sanders, general secretary of the United Church of Canada; the Rev. Stephen Kendall, principal clerk of the Presbyterian Church in Canada; Lt. Col. Jim Champ, of the Salvation Army, who is also president of the Canadian Council of Churches; and the Rev. Karen Hamilton, general secretary of the Canadian Council of Churches.

Also present were Archbishop Colin Johnson, of the Anglican diocese of Toronto and metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Ontario; and the Very Rev. Douglas Stoute, dean of Toronto.

Source: Anglican Journal

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby Visits Canada

The national office of the Anglican Church of Canada in Toronto was abuzz with excitement as staff welcomed Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and his wife, Caroline, for a brief stop in a tightly scheduled visit to Canada from April 7 to 9.

Following a morning worship service and a meeting with Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, then a private luncheon in support of Canterbury Cathedral, the Welbys came to “Church House” in downtown Toronto, where there was a brief meeting with General Synod directors and management and reception with the staff.

Sharing her impressions from the meeting with management, Monica Patten, interim director of the Resources for Mission department, said, “There’s a sense of humility about him and clarity about what he sees and what his vision is and the areas of priority that I think he intends to work on.” She added that she was struck by the impression that “in a relatively short time he so deeply understands the Anglican Communion—both the opportunity and the potential as well as the challenges and he doesn’t actually seem to shy away from either of those.”

Henriette Thompson, director of public witness for social and ecological justice, who was also in the meeting, said, “One of the things that I am taking away from this Archbishop’s visit is the wonderful degree of commitment he has to the Anglican church as a church of reconciliation and bridge-building. From his visits around the Communion, he described how the church is building bridges in so many different contexts.”

National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald, who had met Archbishop Welby previously in South Korea during the World Council of Churches meeting, said he appreciates Archbishop Welby’s focus on reconciliation, particularly looking at the effects of colonization. “It was really gratifying to see his enthusiasm and excitement about what’s happening in the Anglican Church of Canada. I think he’s really aiming in the right direction. I think he’s going to have a big impact.”

Following the meeting, the primate introduced the Welbys to staff at a small reception in the lobby of the national office, and they gamely dove into the crowd to meet as many of the staff as possible in the brief time before they were due at an ecumenical vespers service at the Cathedral Church of St. James.

“I think it’s really admirable of him to spend a year travelling around the Communion meeting all the primates,” said Simon Chambers, communications co-ordinator for the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF). “The travel must be exhausting and gruelling, but he’s been very gracious.”

Many staff commented on the Archbishop’s friendly and humble manner.

PWRDF public engagement co-ordinator Suzanne Rumsey said she and her late father, who was an Anglican priest, used to discuss brushes with fame. “He’d be very pleased about this one,” she said after meeting both the Archbishop and his wife.

“We’re really grateful that he chose to come,” said Evelyn Hinchcliffe, after she and her pension office colleagues Kathy Edgar and Sonia Bernard chatted with the Archbishop.

Source: Anglican Journal

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Churches Use the Season of Lent to Raise Awareness about Climate Change

Lent, a season for prayers and reflections by Christians around the world, has become an opportunity for the churches to respond to climate change, an issue which deeply impacts the communities they serve. 

It is therefore significant that a recent report from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) came out on 31 March, in the middle of the Lenten season. This report brings into focus the impact of climate change, options of adaptation and an assessment of the vulnerability of socio-economic and natural systems and communities.

This report with its detailed analysis describes the impact of climate change, warning that the situation will grow worst in the 21st century. The poor in countries of the South will suffer more from climate change while being faced with food insecurity, lack of access to water, displacements and increased conflicts.
The IPCC report is important for the churches, who are witnessing effects of climate change on communities, making climate justice a priority in their pastoral plans.

This priority was reflected at the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in South Korea last year, which adopted a Minute on Climate Justice calling “churches and ecumenical organizations to insist that the respective governments look beyond national interests in order to be responsible towards God’s creation and our common future, and urge them to safeguard and promote the basic human rights of those who are threatened by the effects of climate change”.

One initiative from a Christian organization this Lent is the Fast for Life, a call from the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance for an observance that began on Ash Wednesday. The campaign raises awareness of how many CO2 emissions are generated from food that is wasted. It is an invitation to “Join the Zero Waste Daily Challenge”, establishing “waste-trackers” at home and providing resources for organizing related actions, worship services and other events.

The Anglican Communion Environmental Network has proposed a Carbon Fast during Lent, suggesting concrete actions to ensure climate justice. Rowan Williams, a former Archbishop of Canterbury, has argued recently that Western lifestyles bear responsibility for causing climate change in the world’s poorest regions.
In Switzerland, church-related development agencies have focused on intergenerational justice for their Lent campaign, stressing the need to addressing climate change effectively for the sake of future generations.

Promoting climate justice

Building on an initiative by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) youth delegation to COP 19 in Warsaw last year, the LWF together with partners are calling to Fast for Climate. This call is an invitation to fast on the first day of each month. It invokes spiritual practices and ethical values, urging national governments to be more ambitious in climate change negotiations.

In an LWF statement of 1 April, WCC Central Committee member Metropolitan Serafim Kykotis of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa, reminds us that fasting “always has noteworthy intentions: the transformation of ourselves to do good things for the whole creation of God.”
While addressing climate change, the need for transformation in our actions cannot be limited only to individuals. There is also a need for responsible actions and influential agreements by state institutions.
The Conferences of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change have not yet delivered a promised multilateral agreement to curb CO2 emissions and thus limiting an increase in the average temperature of the world.

Yet there are steps that can help strengthen the negotiations on climate change. One initiative is the upcoming Climate Summit 2014 in New York, called by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, for September of this year. Ban Ki-moon has asked heads of states to “bring to the Summit bold pledges”.

“Innovate, scale-up, cooperate and deliver concrete action that will close the emissions gap and put us on track for an ambitious legal agreement through the UNFCCC process,” said Ban.

As a part of these efforts, the WCC will organize an interfaith summit on climate change before the Climate Summit to endorse a call from faith leaders urging the international community to address climate change more effectively.

Echoing vulnerable communities’ experiences in different regions, churches and faith communities  across the decades have appealed for an effective transformation of current development patterns and consumerist lifestyles which are depleting the planet.

Again, the IPCC’s new report confirms that time is running short, reminding us that visible and effective efforts should be made to strengthen climate resilience in order to reduce the risks of climate change.

Source: World Council of Churches

Friday, April 11, 2014

TRC and Taking Time for Lent

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is among the most complex happenings I’ve ever witnessed.

Today, I’m sure I heard mention of, or saw displayed, every emotion imaginable to humankind. I remember joy, resilience, pain, fear, elation, solidarity, grief, laughter, tears, friendship, and reverence . . . often all tumbling on top of one another in quick succession.

There was so much pride and celebration in the drumming, dancing, and processing of the opening ceremonies. There was such tenacity and resilience in the words of Indigenous dignitaries who spoke of the incredible failure of the residential schools to assimilate the children they took in. There was incredible, palpable pain in the testimonies of survivors who courageously took to public stages to share how residential schools affected brokenness in their lives. There was also tremendous kinship and sense of community among the thousands gathered – from the podium we heard news of a grandchild’s birth, a call to find and embrace your cousins, and lighthearted jokes that can only be shared by close friends.

From a Christian perspective, this cacophony of emotion felt a bit like experiencing the whole liturgical year all at once. In the collage of testimony, witnessing, shared meals, listening, and performance was all that is rhythmically experience from Advent to Advent. I heard hints of waiting and expectation that echoed eschatological hope. There was also firm sense that reconciliation was taking shape, though its manifestation among us is still incomplete. In the expressions of reconciliation and the presence of the church in listening circles, there were clear words and gestures of repentance. In the tribute performances offered by Indigenous children, shared talents pointed to resurrection and beautiful new life. And in the dozen or so languages spoken today, I was reminded of God’s love for diversity and the movement of the Spirit through our differences.

In these Lenten days, though, I am reminded that repentance cannot be rushed or confused. We must journey the journey God has set out for us, no matter how much our worlds seem to swirl all our emotions and seasons together. On Friday afternoon, the Anglican Church of Canada lives out a small step on this journey in presenting an expression of reconciliation. The Edmonton expression is a detailed timeline of evolving relationships between the ACC and Indigenous people. Like all good Lenten pilgrimages, the time line draws to a close with the unique hope of Easter: It invites you to consider how you can join your church and society in moving towards living into right relationships.

What have your footsteps on this journey been so far?

Source: The Community

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Looking for Artisans / Artisans Recherchés

Each year St. Philip's Church holds a Book and Bake Sale, this year we are adding artisanal crafts to our offerings. We invite artsans to display their handmade wares including jewelry, painting and pottery.

The sale will take place on Saturday, May 10th, 2014.

We are located on the border between Montreal West and NDG. This well attended event is a unique opportunity to promote and sell your crafts.

Contact Mark R. at markreimer@bell.net for more details on how you can secure a table.

Please forward this to anyone that may be interested.
_______________________________________

À chaque année, l'église St.Philip's organise une vente de livres et de pâtisseries, cette année, les cadeaux et objets faits à la main seront aussi offerts.

Nous invitons les artisans et artisanes qui fabriquent les objets faits à la main, incluant les bijoux, peintures, poteries, etc., de nous rejoindre pour offrir leurs créations.

La vente aura lieu samedi, le 10 mai, 2014.

Nous sommes situés entre les frontières de Montréal Ouest et NDG. Cet événement attire plusieurs acheteurs et présente une opportunité unique pour promouvoir et vendre vos créations.

Pour plus de détails ou pour vous procurer une table, communiquez avec Mark R., markreimer@bell.net.

Svp, envoyez ce message á tous intéressés.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Commission Begins Work on Proposed Marriage Canon Revision

The Commission on the Marriage Canon met for the first time April 3-4, 2014, at the offices of the General Synod in Toronto.

The eight commissioners, who come from across Canada and from varied backgrounds, began their day and a half together by becoming acquainted with one another, and by reviewing in detail their task as mandated by Resolution C003 of the 2013 General Synod and the terms of reference established by the Council of General Synod.

A process for inviting submissions to the commission from the church at large was agreed to and details about the broad consultation envisaged by the General Synod resolution will be announced in the near future.

The members of the commission also discussed what background resources will assist them in their assigned task of determining a way to amend the marriage canon “to allow the marriage of same-sex couples in the same way as opposite- sex couples” while at the same time ensuring that no one “should be constrained to participate in or authorize such marriages against the dictates of their conscience.”

A timeline for the commission’s work was also agreed to. A progress report will be made to the upcoming meeting of the Council of General Synod.

Members of the Commission on the Marriage Canon

Canon Robert Falby (chair)
Dr. Patricia Bays
The Very Rev. Kevin Dixon
The Rev. Dr. Paul Friesen
The Rev. Paul Jennings
Dr. Stephen Martin
The Rt. Rev. Linda Nicholls
The Most Rev. John Privett

Source: General Synod Communications

Related Article
Christianity Anglicanism and Sexual Orientation: A Brief History and Bridging the Divide Through Love and Respect

Friday, April 4, 2014

Primate, National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Issue Feast of Annunciation Statement on Indigenous Women

The Church remembers how Mary of Nazareth was visited by an angel and told she would conceive and bear a son and call him Jesus. Today, we recall her life’s vocation as the Mother of our Lord. She knows all the joys and worries, all the delights and fears that every mother (and father) faces in raising their children, seeing them leave home and strike out on their own. She knows the joy of giving birth and the awful pain of watching her son die. Christian art often portrays her receiving and holding his dead body with all the love she ever had for him. It’s a fitting image as we reflect on recent release of the Federal Government Report, “Invisible Women: A Call to Action”, a report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada.

The report highlights a number of harsh realities.

First, that “aboriginal women and girls are among the most vulnerable in Canadian society. They are three times more likely to be the target of violent victimization than non-aboriginal women and girls”. The rate of domestic violence targeting aboriginal women is at least twice what it is in the general public. Many aboriginal women are trafficked and exploited through the sex trade. The Native Women’s Association for Canada puts the number of known cases of missing or murdered aboriginal women and girls at 668 and indicates it could be as high as 800. These statistics are staggering and behind each one is a family in grief. For some there is consolation in being able to receive a body, to hold it with love and bury it with dignity. For others whose daughters are reported as missing with no trace for years, and in some cases not ever, there is no opportunity for closure. They live in the anguish of a hope continually pierced by despair.

We request that in every place the Church uphold in its prayers all these murdered and missing women, and their families and their communities.

Second, the Report addresses the matter of protecting victims of violence and supporting their families, “many aboriginal women living on reserve and in rural or isolated communities have no safe place to go when they need it.” It goes on to say that there is “an urgent need to increase the number of shelters and second stage housing”. The lack of a continuous police presence in many indigenous communities exacerbates protection services. For the families of victims there is a need for well trained liaison officers who can keep families better informed through clear policies and practices with respect to transmittal of information.

We fully endorse the recommendation that the Federal Government engage First Nations communities in examining how to improve support for shelters and front line services on reserves for victims of violence.”

Third, the Report highlights “the silence that is part of the on-going trend of mainstream society with respect to aboriginal people”. For them it feels like “they don’t count”. They are “invisible”. This silence “joins the resounding silence of the other tragedies which aboriginal people have lived through at the hands of other Canadians – the residential school system, the large scale removal of Aboriginal children from their families in the 1960’s and the on-going marginalization and racism” that is sadly still an ugly thread in the fabric of Canadian society.

We pledge our best efforts to break this silence. We call our Church to be unwavering in its commitment to anti-racism training initiatives.

We endorse the call for a nation wide public awareness and prevention campaign focusing on violence against aboriginal women and girls in Canada. We must address the root causes of such violence including high rates of unemployment, poverty, substance abuse and domestic violence. We must take action in reversing these horrible trends and their horrific statistics over the last twenty-five years. We request that the recently established Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation, and Justice for Indigenous Peoples read the report “Invisible Women: A Call to Action” and comment on ways by which the Church ought to respond to this call.

Finally, we are acutely aware that, for many, the Government Report falls short of completing the circle of concern, especially in the lack of a comprehensive national inquiry. We recognize that there is an urgent need for the development of a broad and diverse community of concern regarding the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada. While grateful for the recommendations in the Report, we believe that the Government should endeavor to facilitate this multi-member community of concern. A recognized Canada-wide inquiry could be a critical element of making this community.

Today the Church sings

“Joyful mother, full of gladness
in thine arms thy Lord was borne.
Mournful Mother full of sadness
All thy heart with pain was torn…”

May she, whose own soul was pierced with grief (Luke 1:35) draw near to all who mourn their children murdered or missing.

May she, whose own soul sang a song of divine mercy and justice (Luke 1:46-55) draw near to all who are eager to meet the hope of new beginnings.

The full Federal Government Report “Invisible Women: A Call to Action” may be found online.

Source: Anglican Church of Canada

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Church Remembers Missing & Murdered Native Women

The Anglican Church of Canada has pledged to help break the silence about the plight of missing and murdered aboriginal women, even as it urged its faithful to uphold victims, their families and communities in prayer.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, and National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald highlighted their cases as they commemorated the Feast of the Annunciation and recalled the vocation of Mary of Nazareth. “Christian art often portrays her receiving and holding [Jesus’] body with all the love she ever had for him. It’s a fitting image as we reflect on the recent release of the federal government report, Invisible Women: A Call to Action, a report on missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada,” they said in a joint statement.

Hiltz and MacDonald endorsed the report’s recommendation to engage First Nations communities in examining how front line services for victims of violence can be improved on reserves. They also expressed support for the call for a nationwide public awareness and prevention campaign on violence against aboriginal women and girls in Canada. Such a campaign must also address the root causes of violence, including unemployment, poverty and addictions, they added.

However, Hiltz and MacDonald also said that the report “falls short of completing the circle of concern,” because it does not recommend a comprehensive public inquiry despite mounting calls made by First Nations leaders, communities, members of the opposition, and the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people. The Assembly of First Nations has described the report as “disappointing.”

Released March 7 by the Special Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women, the report made 16 recommendations, including the implementation of a national DNA-based missing person’s index and the collection of police data on violence against aboriginal women and girls.

The Native Women’s Association of Canada has put the number of known cases of missing or murdered aboriginal women and girls at 668, but the number could be as high as 800, they noted. The number of domestic violence targeting aboriginal women is “at least twice what it is in the general public,” they said, adding that many aboriginal women are also trafficked and exploited through the sex trade.

“These statistics are staggering and behind each one is a family in grief,” they said. “For some, there is consolation in being able to receive a body, to hold it with love and bury it with dignity. For others whose daughters are reported as missing with no trace for years, and in some cases not ever, there is no opportunity for closure.”

The report also highlights the lack of services and protection available to aboriginal women living on reserves or in isolated communities. It cites the urgent need to address the lack of shelters and continuous police presence in aboriginal communities.

Source: Anglican Journal