Cardinal Marc Ouellet, primate of the Roman Catholic Church in Canada. He spoke at the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Quebec City on December 8th, 2009, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Patroness of the archdiocese:
At the beginning of the apparitions in Lourdes in 1857, when Bernadette asked the beautiful Lady her identity, she replied by raising her eyes to Heaven and humbly crossing her arms on her breast: "I am the Immaculate Conception." Three years later, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary was solemnly proclaimed at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
I would like to remind you of this providential occurrence in a moment when Quebec’s society questions its cultural identity and fundamental values. Who are we, Quebecers, to whom the source of immigration is more or less recent? We respond partially to this question in celebrating the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, as primary patroness of the Archdiocese of Quebec. Our historical and cultural Quebec identity is profoundly religious and even Catholic. And we should be proud!
"Who are we?" if not the daughters and sons of this Immaculate Virgin, our Mother who has watched over our baptism since the beginning of Quebec City. Who are we, if not the men and women who are blessed by God since the foundation of the world to be saints in Her presence of love.
Who are we, if not sinners, children of Adam and Eve, authors of the first sin, of whom the consequences affected all human beings until the present time. We are not proud to be sinners, but it is an advantage to know and above all to recognize it through the confession of our faults that liberates our conscience and leave it free through mercy and pardon.
Quebec’s society does not willingly recognize the values of its religious identity. Its people have certain unhappy and confused memories of this identity, that handicap their hope and motivation for the future. Similarly, the power of life and death over someone else extends its empire beyond the unborn children and is now threatening, through the imminent legalization of euthanasia, the security and dignity of the sick and those who are most vulnerable.
|The Immaculate Conception, Patroness of the Archdiocese of Quebec City|
Brothers and sisters, we are fortunate enough to know who we are: the creatures of a God of Love, the only Master of life and death. We do not want, at any price, to take His place in deciding the final hour of our dying and handicapped brothers and sisters.
Let us thank God for illuminating our consciences with the light of His Word and for fortifying our will with his grace, so that we may have the courage to help our society rediscover its most profound identity, that is, its covenant with God. The more our baptismal identity is lost in the common conscience, the more we should cultivate it and offer ourselves as missionaries of Divine Love that gives joy and peace.
In raising our eyes towards Mary, who is totally consecrated to Christ, in contemplating her fullness of grace that she pours on the Church and the world, do we not have the feeling of being blessed and privileged? Do we not sense at the same time the responsibility of being even more, missionaries in this society? Let us not be afraid, we are for this society as an inner compass that keeps the course towards the north pole of the Divine Eucharist.
May the Virgin Mother obtain for us this grace, she who we contemplate with a living faith as the Immaculate Heart. The holy Cure of Ars nourished a filial devotion to her, so much so that in 1836, before the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, he had already consecrated his parish to Mary as "conceived without sin."
Dear brothers and sisters, may the Blessed Virgin, our Mother, accompany us in this year for priests that we are celebrating, so that we, priests, may be solid and enlightened guides for the faithful that the Lord has confided to our pastoral care. May she support our steps in this mission and obtain for us the grace to stay faithful to who we are: members of the Body of Christ.
"I am the Immaculate Conception." May this intimate revelation of Our Lady to the Church and to St. Bernadette Soubirous touch us profoundly and rejoice our heart "to the praise of God’s glory, this grace that we receive through His beloved Son." Amen!
Marc Cardinal Ouellet