Wednesday, May 12, 2010

為天主!為加拿大!For God and Canada

This article was published on the May 10 issue of The B.C. Catholic newspaper

「為天主!為加拿大!」是本國天主教婦女聯盟Catholic Women League美麗的口號。這口號讓我記起真福聖女加大利納Bl. Catherine of St. Augustine,我們視她為其中一位在加拿大的天主教教會的創辦先鋒;她的紀念日在五月八日。


真福加大利納一六三二年五月三日,生於法國諾曼第Normandy。祖母常在家接待貧病的人,給加大利納一面身體力行的好教材。小加大利納三歲半時,已深 深懂得在任何事情上,都承行天主的聖意:每做一件事前,習慣向童貞瑪利亞尋求准許。她信任、忠誠於天主和聖母,矢志「承行主旨」之心,確是我輩的好榜樣。 加大利納十歲時將自己奉獻於聖母, 十二歲加入「慈恩護病女修會Institute of the Augustinian Hospitaller Sisters of the Mercy of Jesus」,十四歲領受會衣,十六歲被派遠赴新法國(現在的加拿大)服務。


一六四八年五月三十一日,加大利納從海路出發,航程艱辛且冗長,不少人途中死去,而加大利納亦重病垂危,但 奇蹟地得癒於童貞瑪利亞的特別照顧中。

福女在八月十九日在魁北克Quebec登岸,隨即展開護理病患者的工作。她傑出的護理心與觸角力,嬴得了眾 人的愛戴。她與土著們建立了良好關係,並向他們教授要理。除了悉心關愛病者的健康外,加大利納也設法照顧他們的靈魂;她常為醫院的病人祈禱,祈求他們享有 善終。


真福加大利納藉奉獻痛苦來服務在新法國的聖教會。一六五二年,加大利納的內心,受到兩股誘惑的攻擊:不潔的 思想和放棄工作的念頭。她竭力以祈禱、嚴齋、克己和端莊,克服了第一股誘惑。為克服第二股的誘惑,她特地發了終身聖愿: 要留在新法國。

真福加大利納常在神視中,見到耶穌、聖母、聖人和煉靈。一六四九年,其中一位早期在加拿大殉道的聖人,聖若 望.貝巴St. Jean de Brebeuf神父,經常給福女顯現,並指示她成聖之道。

新法國售酒政策引發連串腐敗,福女得悉耶穌為此而大怒,遂立即多做補贖和祈禱,求罪人能改過自新。她藉着祈 禱和受苦為思定.麥轖Augustin de Mesy總督賺得了悔罪歸化之恩。

一六六三年二月五日,加拿大廣泛地域發生大地震。福女早巳在神視中預知此事。她努力為罪人祈禱和奉獻自己; 結果,强烈地震後,並沒有人死去。

真福為使別人靈魂的得救,以奉獻自己的痛苦為使命,也因此不少煉靈受惠於她。由於她為聖教會在新法國的使 命,奉獻她的痛苦和生命,所以,真福加大利納同時被尊為其中一位在加拿大的天主教會的創辦先鋒。

一六六八年四月二十日,加大利納開始吐血,同年五月八日去逝,時年三十六歲。瞻仰她遺容的人,都說她儀容像 在默觀祈禱中。一九八九年四月二十三日,教宗若望保祿二世,尊加大利納為真福



“For God and Canada” is the beautiful motto of the Catholic Women’s League, which celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel, their patroness, on April 26. This motto reminds me of Blessed Catherine of St. Augustine, whose feast day was May 8. She is considered the co-foundress of the Church in Canada.

A French flower

Blessed Catherine was born on May 3, 1632, in Normandy, France. Her grandmother welcomed the poor and the sick to their home, and thus taught Blessed Catherine not only by words, but also by example. When barely 3 and half, Blessed Catherine already had a deep desire to do the will of God in all things.

She did nothing without first asking permission from the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is a good example of total trust in and fidelity to the will of God and the Virgin Mary.

At the age of 10 she consecrated herself to Our Lady. At 12 she entered the Institute of the Augustinian Hospitaller Sisters of the Mercy of Jesus. At 14 she took the religious habit, and at 16 she came to New France.

Works in New France

The ship which carried this sister left on May 31, 1648. The journey was hard and long. Illness on board caused many deaths. Blessed Catherine became fatally ill and was close to death. However she was miraculously healed by the Blessed Virgin Mary.

When she arrived in Quebec on Aug. 19 Blessed Catherine started working with the sick. With her good nursing qualities and remarkable common sense she was loved by all. She won the friendship of the native people and she taught them Catechism.

The sister looked after the sick with dedication and love. She was concerned, above all, with the wellbeing of their souls. She prayed fervently that all patients in the hospital who died would be in a state of grace.

Sanctity through suffering

Blessed Catherine served the Church in New France by offering up her sufferings. In 1652 the sister was assailed by two temptations: impurity, and a desire to return to France. She overcame the first temptation by prayer, fasting, discipline, and sleeping on a hard bed. She overcame the second by making a perpetual vow to remain in her adopted country.

The sister was blessed with visions of Our Lord, Our Lady, angels, saints, and holy souls. In 1649 St. Jean de Brebeuf (one of the Canadian martyrs) was killed. After his death he appeared to Blessed Catherine frequently in order to be her spiritual guide on the way of perfection.

Trade in liquor erupted like a plague in New France. Blessed Catherine saw Our Lord very angry because of it, so she increased her penance and prayed for the conversion of the guilty parties. Through prayer and suffering she could obtain the grace of conversion, for she obtained this grace for the governor, M. Augustin de Mesy, who had been giving free rein to the liquor trade.

On February 5, 1663, there was a huge earthquake across Canada. Blessed Catherine saw the earthquake in a vision before it took place. She prayed and offered herself as a victim for the sins of the people. Despite of the violence of the quake, there was no report of loss of life.

Offering up suffering for the salvation of others was the mission of Blessed Catherine. Through suffering she also obtained release for a great number of souls in purgatory. Because she offered her life for the Church and for the salvation of New France, Blessed Catherine is considered the co-foundress of the Church in Canada.

On April 20, 1668, Blessed Catherine began to spit blood. She died on May 8 at the age of 36. All the people who viewed her body testified that her countenance stayed like that of a person in contemplation. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 23, 1989.