Notes from Near and Far

by Noëlla de Laforcade

Notes from Near and Far

MH Ottawa

Since I have been at our house in Ottawa, the capital of Canada, for more than six months, it is time to write some first impressions.

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner.” Each Saturday evening at the corner of Highway 417 and Parkdale Avenue, this prayer can be heard for three-quarters of an hour at the Coptic Orthodox Church of St. Mark and St. Mary of Egypt.

The people, many of them from Egypt, pray it in preparation for confession before the Sunday liturgy.

Going there every Saturday is a way for me to bring all the people, living and dead, to Christ, our Savior, and of praying in communion with the Church, East and West. Week after week, that prayer enters deeper and deeper into my heart, and I get lifted up and nourished by it.

After that, they have vespers and a wonderful teaching on the Canticle of Canticles. Then they continue with night prayer, and after that some of them go to the market to give food they have prepared to the homeless.

Being in a poustinia house* makes me even more aware of the need for mercy. Day by day, Arlene Becker, Catherine Lynch, and I are learning and growing into that way of living. Mercy and trust.

Our friends continue to come, especially to talk with Arlene or Catherine. I stand in awe at this beautiful work of mercy they are doing—receiving each person who comes with kindness and helping to bring light where there is darkness, and consolation where there is suffering.

I myself have started to go to a nursing home to pray the rosary with a friend.

We have also been attending the liturgy and the social gatherings afterwards in various churches, and I am touched by the commitment of young people to the faith despite this very secular environment.

*Poustinia house: a Madonna House mission house whose principle work is prayer for the people in the area and listening to whoever comes to the door.