A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘Canada Day

Yesterday, my husband and I visited the Canadian Museum of History. I had planned to go this month to see a couple of special exhibits, but the free bus fare and museum admission convinced us to make the trip on Canada Day.

The return trip may not have been fun—we ended up walking back to the Ottawa side of the river to catch a packed bus home—but the visit was great.

People of all ages and cultural backgrounds faced the crowds and on-again, off-again rain to have fun with their families, visiting the children’s museum; looking at the totem poles in the Great Hall; learning about the Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest, sources of some key legal principles echoed in our country’s laws (even though the wait time to enter the exhibit was about an hour); exploring the story of Canada from the 1837 rebellions to Confederation.

If we take advantage of these chances to learn more about Canada’s history and the many cultures of those who have chosen to call this land home, we might be more appreciative of the freedoms and opportunities we’re blessed with just by virtue of being Canadian—freedoms and opportunities others can only dream about. And we might be more motivated to work for change on issues that matter to us: the environment, healing for survivors of residential schools and their families, support for refugees and other immigrants, education, health care, and so on.

I pray that we’d be thankful for our country’s natural resources, for the immigrants who contribute to its growth and prosperity, for Canada’s good neighbours and allies, and for the many other ways God has blessed this nation. And I pray that the Lord would continue to bless us and guide us in caring for his people here and where there is need elsewhere in the world.

Tomorrow Canada marks 147 years since Confederation.

Our plans for the day aren’t set yet. Maybe we’ll hit a local park to take part in some Canada Day festivities. Maybe I’ll grill something for dinner, since this past weekend I finally asked my husband to teach me how to use the gas barbecue. Maybe this will even be the year we take in the fireworks on Parliament Hill.

No matter how low-key our celebrations—wearing head-to-toe red and white or painting my face just isn’t my thing—we’re proud and happy to be Canadian.

Not to mention thankful.

grandmother

My grandmother who immigrated to Canada from Denmark in the 1950s

I’m thankful for the courage my immigrant ancestors showed in making the journey to Canada to start a new life. And as I’ve read about the conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Ukraine and other countries around the world,  I’m thankful for the peace and the freedoms we enjoy here, including the freedom to choose where we live, which faith we practise, and which candidates we’ll vote for—not a thing to take for granted with a provincial election this month, a municipal election in the fall, and a federal election next year.

I’m thankful that this country welcomes people from many countries and ethnicities, since that wasn’t always true.

And I’m thankful for the opportunities we have to maintain and share our cultural heritage but still be Canadians with equal standing.

But as citizens with a duty “to contribute along with the civil authorities to the good of society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity and freedom” (s. 2239 of the Catechism), we can work to make this country an even better place to live in.

I pray that God would help us appreciate the country we have and guide us in building a society that better reflects our faith—one that works to reduce poverty, protect the unborn, care for the terminally ill, restore the environment, and look after those in need.

The love and service of one’s country follow from the duty of gratitude and belong to the order of charity.

– s. 2239 of the Catechism

Today marks Canada’s 146th birthday.

My family’s not into putting on temporary maple leaf tattoos, although we did that when my son was younger. We don’t have big family barbecues. We’ll probably celebrate quietly, enjoying the day together, maybe taking in some of the Canada Day show on Parliament Hill on TV or going to see some fireworks in our area of Ottawa.

But we’re thankful to be Canadian every day.

I read today in s. 2241 of the Catechism that “The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin.”

my grandparents

My mom’s parents, both first-generation Canadians

My mother’s family came to Canada in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and my father’s family came here in the mid-20th century. Whether they arrived with family, to join family, or not knowing a soul in this country, they all immigrated in search of a better life. They became part of the fabric of their communities through their jobs as factory workers, painters, firefighters, watch repairmen, and so on; through their involvement in their churches and their children’s schools; and through the connections they made with neighbours and those who ran local businesses such as restaurants, grocery stores, and shoe and jewellery repair shops.

In short, they fulfilled, along with their fellow Canadians, “the duty of citizens to contribute along with the civil authorities to the good of society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity and freedom” (s. 2239 of the Catechism).

I feel blessed to live in a nation where my son attends school with children from many different backgrounds and sees them just as kids. Where I get to experience the food, music and dance of other cultures. Where, as a woman, I can vote, attend school and fully participate in the life of my community. Where we’re at peace with our neighbouring country. Where I can worship the Lord without fear of persecution or of prosecution. Not to say this country is perfect—no country is—but I know I’m blessed to call it home.

And so I pray that God will bless this country and guide us in serving it.


Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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