Why is Canada so secular


Sermon by Pope Francis

Vatican basilica
Sunday 12th October 2014



We have heard Isaiah's prophecy: "The Lord God wipes the tears from every face ..." (Isa 25.8). These words, filled with hope in God, point to the goal, show the future we are approaching. The saints lead us on this path and guide us. These words also describe the calling of men and women who are missionaries. Missionaries are those who, in obedience to the Holy Ghost, have the courage to live the gospel. Also the gospel that we have just heard: "So go out into the streets," says the king to his servants (Mt 22.9). And the servants went out and gathered all they met, "bad and good", to take them to the king's wedding supper (cf. v. 10).

The missionaries accepted this calling: They went out to call everyone in the streets of the world. And so they have done the church a great deal of good, because if the church stops and shuts itself down, then it becomes sick; it can corrupt, both from sin and from a false science separate from God: worldly secularism.

The missionaries fixed their gaze on the crucified Christ, accepted his grace and did not keep it to themselves. Like St. Paul, they have become everything to all; they knew how to live in poverty and abundance, in satiety and in starvation. They were able to do everything through the one who gave them strength (cf. Phil 4.12-13). In this power of God they had the courage to "go out" into the streets of the world with trust in the Lord who calls. Such is the life of a missionary ... only to find oneself far away from home, from their own homeland, and very often to be killed, murdered! As happened to many of our brothers and sisters these days. The church's evangelizing mission is essentially to proclaim the love, mercy and forgiveness of God revealed to people through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Missionaries served the mission of the Church by breaking the bread of the Word to the smallest and most distant and by bringing to all the inexhaustible gift of love that flows from the heart of the Savior.

Such were Saint François de Laval and Saint Marie de l’Incarnation. I would like to give you, dear Canadian pilgrims, two pieces of advice on this day: You are that Hebrews and, in conjunction with the thought of the missionaries, they will do your communities very good.

The first piece of advice is: “Remember your rulers who preached the word of God to you; look to the end of their lives and imitate their faith ”(13: 7). The memory of the missionaries sustains us as we see the small number of gospel workers. Their example attracts us, it makes us imitate their beliefs. They are fruitful testimonies that give life!

The second piece of advice is as follows: “Remember the earlier days, when after your enlightenment you endured many a tough battle of suffering ... So do not throw away your confidence that brings great rewards. What you need is perseverance ... ”(10:32, 35-36). Honoring those who suffered to bring us the gospel means that we too will carry on the good struggle of faith, with humility, meekness, and mercy in our everyday lives. And that bears fruit. The memory of those who went before us, who founded our Church. A fruitful church, the Church of Québec! Fruitful of the many missionaries who have gone everywhere. The world has been filled by Canadian missionaries like these two. Now some advice: this commemoration should not lead to giving up boldness and courage. Maybe - no rather without "maybe"! - the devil is jealous and cannot stand the fact that a country is so fertile in terms of missionaries. Let us ask the Lord that Québec may return to this fertile road to give many missionaries to the world. May these two who founded the Church of Québec, so to speak, help us as advocates. May the seeds they sown grow and bear fruit in new courageous, far-sighted men and women with an open heart to the call of the Lord. Today one must ask this for your homeland. From heaven they will be our advocates. May Québec again become that source of able and holy missionaries!

This is the joy and the message of this pilgrimage of yours: remembering the witnesses, the missionaries of the faith in your country. This remembrance always supports us on the way to the future, to the goal when "God, the Lord, wipes the tears from every face ..." "We want to cheer and rejoice at his saving act" (Isa 25,9).