Our Lady offers hope, even in bleak winter of the soul

This year's Mass on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe was a beautiful witness to unity amidst diversity in culture, language and spirituality. We had the rosary prayed in five languages (Stoney, Spanish, Cree, Tagalog, Dene). We had sweetgrass and a solemn procession of elders and chiefs. We had traditional drummers and readings proclaimed in Stoney and Cree. We had choirs from Our Lady of Guadalupe Spanish Parish, Our Lady of Seven Sorrows Parish in Maskwacis, and the Filipino Couples for Christ.

While the weather outside St. Joseph Basilica was bone-chilling cold, those inside experienced a unique moment of warmth and community.

In his homily, Archbishop Smith reflected on the cold as a metaphor for something deeper.

"Simply put, just as winter envelops the land at those points where the earth is farthest from the sun, so does coldness of heart spread in those whose lives are at greatest distance from the Son," the Archbishop said. "Jesus is the Son of the Father, sent at that time when humanity's distance from God had left it encased in the ice of sin. He came as Saviour, to lead us back by his death and resurrection to the warmth and glow of the Father's love.

"When we grow distant from him, we inevitably grow distant from one another and, indeed, from our true selves. Hurts arise; they are not healed but harden into bitterness. Lives can become frozen in the immobility of addictions. Hope fails to blossom, because the light of Jesus the Son has been eclipsed by the darkness of sin.

"Yet hope can arise, even in the bleak winter of the soul. This is the message of Guadalupe. Recall the miraculous roses given as a sign to confirm the truth of Our Lady's visitation to Juan Diego. To the wonder of all, they bloomed at a time of severe frost. Mary knows the hearts of her children, she sees our neediness. In her maternal love, she shows us how hope can blossom even when we would judge it impossible. She does this very simply: by directing us back to the Son -- her Son and the Son of the Father."

Read the full homily text