In a recent film about the renowned Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki, he relates some amazing facts about the reach of the breath that we breathe. Suzuki says that we now have evidence that the breath that we breathe out will enter into the space around us, gradually combine and recombine with other breaths, expand and travel. This process continues, he says, such that IN ONE YEAR our breath will have travelled around the world and back to us so that we will breathe in the breath we breathed out 365 days ago.
This is an astonishing fact. As are other facts that contemporary science offers for our meditation: we are breathing in the dust of stars, every moment. We are breathing in the breath of plants and animals, the breath of countless other human beings. The living and the dead.
It is one of our most ancient beliefs that we as Christians belong to a Communion of Saints, the living and the dead. We believe we are mysteriously, graciously, sustained by the goodness, the holiness, the justice of others. They are God’s breath among us now. Continue reading →
“When people become more concerned with the gratification of their own appetites than with their responsibilities to society, the days of that civilization are numbered.”
– Le Déclin de l’Empire Américain, Denys Arcand (1986)
In 2011, one only needs to listen to the headlines – be they international, national, provincial, or municipal – to hear the signs of imperial decay, as the signifiers that once held their identity in the polis, such as citizen, have come to be usurped by the ubiquitous taxpayer. The difference between the two is striking. Whereas the signifier citizen contains within it an understanding of the responsibilities that one’s belonging to a polis entails, a taxpayer assumes no such responsibility. A taxpayer is a consumer, one who pays a fee and expects a service in return. Or, perhaps as Arcand realized several decades earlier, a taxpayer is more consumed with her own appetites, a citizen with her obligations to others. Continue reading →
Mary Jo Leddy, The Other Face of God: When the Stranger Calls Us Home (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2011).
Reviewed by Ashely Cole
“If you looked me in the eyes and challenged us both about our impossible dreams for justice and peace, I would say yes dream on for there is a little street called Wanda Road where strangers sometimes become neighbors.”
-Mary Jo Leddy
Every year the Canadian population increases by 250,000 people. Many of those newcomers arrive as refugees and spend the next year to three years navigating the sometimes treacherous seas of immigration. More often than not, the faces we see on the bus and in the work force look less and less like us. Immigration is becoming the face of Canada, and how we deal with and understand Canadian immigration is to, in essence, understand a part of Canadian identity.
If one of these newcomers showed up on your front step with nothing but their suitcase and their child, what would you do? Call the police? Send them somewhere else? Or would you open your door and invite them in? Well this is exactly what Mary Jo Leddy did twenty years ago when she began what has become known as Romero House, a transitional housing and settlement office located in the west bend of Toronto. Not only did she open her door, she began a movement, modeled after this practice of creating space to allow a stranger to become a good neighbor. Continue reading →
The word Catholic is often a word I associate with violence, patriarchy, and old men preaching irrelevant points. I did not grow up in the Catholic Church or even a Christian home, so I am not speaking from years of experience on the ‘inside’; I am however currently situated in a work environment that is a Christian run agency and refugee resettlement office. Although Romero House is open to people of all faiths and is inspired by Christian principles, its internship program and other spiritual activities are heavily influenced by the fact that the Romero House founder and many board members are Catholic (of which there is a nun, a former nun, and a Jesuit priest). On the train ride from Winnipeg to Toronto, I remember reflecting on how I was more afraid to meet the Catholics than I was to meet the refugees; what I have come to know in my time at Romero House, however, is that it is in the living that faith becomes fact. I don’t work for a church, I work for a refugee office so there are some basic distinctions, but I have come to appreciate the underlying framework of Catholicism that shapes the work we do here. I believe that Romero House has opened itself to the idea that catholic means universal. In order to illustrate, I would like to spend some time reflecting on a few examples of how I have come to know this in my experience. Continue reading →