Posted November 14, 2014:
Grace Through a Government Building

by Frank Brick.

When Pascal Richard, my fellow Madonna House applicant, suggested that we go to the Assembly building, the Parliament of the Province of Quebec, I was not very interested.

We were on an applicant pilgrimage to the province of Quebec to discover the roots of the faith in Canada and to walk through the Holy Door commemorating the 450th anniversary of the founding of the first diocese north of the Spanish colonies.

Pascal and I were talking about what to do during our afternoon break.

Pascal is French Canadian, but I am Irish Canadian from a small English-speaking town in central Ontario. Why should I spend my short amount of free time at a government building of a place that seemed so foreign to me and my heritage?

But one thing I have learned in applicancy is to remain open to the movements of the Holy Spirit. "Listen to the Spirit. He will lead you," is a line from our Little Mandate, words that we try to live by here at Madonna House.

These words kept coming back to me as Pascal suggested a second, and then a third time, going to the Assembly.

So we went, and words and pictures cannot fully express to you all I experienced there as I gazed upon the front wall of the main building of the Quebec Parliament.

There were about twenty-five statues set in the wall and facing out towards the viewer and the world. These statues were of persons from Quebec and Canada’s history, such as Champlain, Cartier, Viel, Olier, Wolfe, and Montcalm.

And Pascal and I were amazed at the number of Catholic saints of Quebec depicted: such as Marie de l’Incarnation, Marguerite Bourgeoys, Jean de Brebeuf, and Francois de Laval.

What struck me most about these religious statues was that they were there in the first place—on a government building! I just had not expected that.

And in front of all the persons of history and the truly great saints, I was moved to see statues of a First Nations family—at ground level and in a prominent spot in front of the of building.

At a time when "society" seems to be so against the family and the government provides free abortions, on a parliament building where legalizing euthanasia was recently discussed, here was a simple, humble family.

The son was kneeling down hunting with his bow and arrow while his Dad was standing beside him calmly watching. Mom and the rest of the kids were kneeling or sitting behind the father. Their faces radiated peace.

Our society was built on the family where lessons are passed on from father to son and mother to daughter.

These statues of the native people also spoke to me of forgiveness between cultures that have hurt one another.

The people of Quebec have honored the First Nations communities by placing the statues in a place of honor and depicting them with respect. It was almost as if the Quebec government was saying to the First Nations people of Quebec, "Please forgive us for what we did to you and your ancestors."

All of this led me to ask myself, "Can I ask to be forgiven the same way I have been shown by the government of Quebec? Can I admit that I have hurt people, the people I love and work with every day? Can I ask forgiveness of them and of those I have hurt in the past?"

All of this was food for thought for the rest of this pilgrimage. It also remains food for prayer on this journey to the Lord that he has begun in me.


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