Saints and citizenship, going to Joseph, and becoming a better Catholic leader

Lady of Fátima
Lady of Fátima


Dear friends,

Both of us are subscribers to Magnificat—that marvelous little journal with daily mass readings, morning prayers, and evening prayers. It’s a perfect accompaniment to the calendar of the Catholic Church—as a conductor conducts an orchestra, so Magnificat helps thousands of Catholics follow together in the seasonal rhythms of our church. This includes helpful reminders of whose Feast Day it is, and rich reflections on their lessons for Christian life.

As Catholics, we live in a blessed calendar where every day is a holiday. Every day is a Feast Day marked by the virtuous example of a saint. And every saint tells us so much about how to live as better Christians—and in turn, how to be better citizens by more perfectly loving our neighbours. So many of these saints also demonstrated Christian virtue in the wake of disastrous politics in their times. Take August, for example. August 4 is the Feast Day of St. John Vianney, the patron of parish priests. He was renowned for bringing piety and zeal to a parish community that was once devoid of faith—a faith that was lost in the wake of the violent, anti-clerical, and atheistic French Revolution. August 14 is the Feast Day of St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Franciscan friar who famously volunteered to die in place of another prisoner, at the diabolic Nazi death camp of Auschwitz during World War 2. His radical act of charity brought the light of God’s love into a horrible place of political catastrophe—the Nazis’ murderous ideology of hate.

Some treat the saints as demi-gods—impossibly spotless, impossible to follow. But we are all called to be saints, and all saints were sinners. Moreover, there are thousands of them—and a thousand different paths and journeys towards God, each as unique as the saints who walked them. The saints have so much to teach us about living as virtuous citizens—in the way we lead in our communities, serve others, vote, run for office, and more. Come September, consider following the calendar of Feast Days and reading about these extraordinary servants of God. You will discover in their example an irresistible call to emulate their virtues, and a sense of wonder: How is God calling me to be a saint?

With love,
Matthew Marquardt & Brendan Steven

Upcoming Events

RISE UP! and be a Catholic leader

Helping you become a better Catholic leader is at the heart of our mission here at Catholic Conscience. So, we’re happy to share with you this upcoming Zoom conference on becoming a better Catholic leader, hosted by the team at Catholic Moms Group. Read the details below:
In this time of pandemic, Catholic leaders are needed now more than ever. All Catholic leaders are welcomed to join a Zoom conference that will inspire you to use your voice at work, home, parish or in ministry.
The Rise Up! conference takes place on Saturday, September 12, 2o2o from 9 a.m. to noon.
Conference speakers are:

  • Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto
  • Fr. Edward Curtis, rector of St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica
  • Dr. Josephine Lombardi, professor at St. Augustine’s Seminary
  • Dorothy Pilarski, founder of Catholic Moms Group

Registration is limited, so click here to claim your spot. You will receive a link to the conference video two days before the event.
Regularly priced tickets range $11.30 to $33.90 per ticket (there are also free tickets and sponsorship level rates available).
The conference is organized by the Catholic Moms Group, which was founded in the Archdiocese of Toronto and now operates in more than three dozen parishes around the world. Its mission is to revive the vocation of motherhood by supporting mothers at different stages in their mothering journey. You can learn more about their many events, resources and virtual meet-ups on the Catholic Moms Group website.
Catholic leaders of all genders, ages and experience-levels are welcome to join.


Works of Mercy In Our Community

ShareLife in Toronto by generously supporting your local Catholic agencies

The ShareLife campaign here in the Archdiocese of Toronto is in full swing, and the aim is to raise nearly $14 million for Catholic charities and agencies serving our vulnerable neighbours here in the region. We are called to bring God’s love to those who most require our solidarity and supporting the ShareLife campaign is a powerful way to do that. ShareLife’s impact through the work of its charities is incomparable:

  • 2,785 people with special needs and their caregivers were supported
  • 21,750 people helped through counselling and mental health programs
  • Over 10,000 seniors’ lives were improved through social activities, health services and income support

The parish collections are coming up in September, but you can also donate online through ShareLife’s new website. Please consider donating—in the time of COVID-19, the need for good works through Catholic charities is critical.

Click here to visit their website and donate.

Conscience Conversations

Rewatch our webinar on serving and leading during COVID-19

Did you miss our webinar on volunteering during COVID-19? Worry not—you can find a full recording by clicking here. Read a description of the webinar below and learn more about the content. Send us an email if you’re looking for volunteer opportunities during COVID-19—we’re always happy to help connect people!
In a famous prayer, Saint John Henry Newman wrote, “God has created me to do some Him some definite service… I have my mission.” We all have a mission to serve and lead in our communities—including you! As Catholics we are called to love our neighbours by serving them—bringing food to the hungry, comforting the suffering, healing the sick, being the face of God’s love in the world. But COVID-19 has shut down volunteer programs, parishes, community groups, and charitable initiatives. How do we continue serving our neighbours, despite the pandemic? This webinar features Catholic and community leaders in Canada, and will offer an inside look at how Catholic community organizations are responding to the crisis; how volunteer programs are adapting to COVID-19; creative new volunteer opportunities that have emerged in response to the crisis; and most importantly, how you can find new ways to volunteer and serve others in this time of extraordinary suffering. Your neighbours need you—we’ll help you get involved!

Serving Your Community


Last month, we shared with you the urgent need for more volunteers to support the re-opening of Catholic parishes. That urgency has not faded. As they re-open amidst the ongoing thread of COVID-19, many parishes are implementing strict policies around social distancing, mask-wearing, cleaning of shared spaces, and more to ensure parishioners are kept safe. By volunteering to clean parish spaces, usher parishioners to designated seats, and more, you will help our Church and your fellow Catholics in a time of great need.
We strongly encourage you to reach out by email or phone to your parish priest to see if you can volunteer and support the church’s re-opening.
If you live in the Archdiocese of Toronto, click here for the Archdiocese’s search engine of local parishes—simply input your postal code, find your parish, and click the link for their contact information.

From The Holy Father


Pope Francis is offering a series of talks on key themes in Catholic social teaching—critical reflections from His Holiness on the application of these timeless Christian principles to the challenges of modern life. In the Catholic Register, you’ll find the Holy Father’s reflection on the principle of the universal destination of goods—which the Pope calls “the first principle of the whole ethical and social order.”
A person should see his or her legitimate possessions “not only as his own but also as common in the sense that they should be able to benefit not only him but also others,” according to the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (“Gaudium et Spes”).
In fact, the catechism says ownership of any property makes the “holder a steward of providence, with the task of making it fruitful and communicating its benefits to others,” he said.
“We are stewards of goods, not masters” or lords keeping them “selfishly for yourself,” he added.
Click here to read the full article.

What We’re Watching


Our friends at the Newman Centre at the University of Toronto are hosting Dr. Samuel Gregg for a free lecture on the synthesis of faith and reason, and the latter’s roots in Christian principles.
The genius of Western civilization is its unique synthesis of reason and faith. But today that synthesis is under attack. The stakes are incalculably high.
In this lecture, Samuel Gregg shows that the increasingly common assumption that reason and faith are incompatible is simply at odds with the facts of history. The revelation in the Hebrew Scriptures of a reasonable Creator imbued Judaism and Christianity with a conviction that the world is intelligible, leading to the flowering of reason and the invention of science in the West. It was no accident that the Enlightenment took place in the culture formed by the Jewish and Christian faiths.
We can all see that faith without reason is benighted at best, fanatical and violent at worst. But too many forget that reason, stripped of faith, is subject to its own pathologies. A supposedly autonomous reason easily sinks into fanaticism, stifling dissent as bigoted and irrational and devouring the humane civilization fostered by the integration of reason and faith. The blood-soaked history of the twentieth century attests to the totalitarian forces unleashed by corrupted reason.
This lecture will do more than lament the intellectual and spiritual ruin caused by the divorce of reason and faith. It will show that each of these foundational principles corrects the other’s excesses and enhances our comprehension of the truth in a continuous renewal of civilization. By recovering this balance, we can avoid a suicidal winner-take-all conflict between reason and faith and a future that will respect neither.
Click here to RSVP



These are difficult days for Canada, the Canadian Church, and the Catholic Church around the world. In these extraordinary times, we need the intercession of the saints more than ever. We must especially turn to Saint Joseph, the patron and protector of both Canada and the Catholic Church, for his powerful intercession and support in our struggles. The below prayer was written by Pope Leo XIII and is meant to be said at the conclusion of the Rosary. Consider adding it to your Rosary prayers as a special intention for the protection of our nation—that the coronavirus crisis be ended swiftly.

To you, O blessed Joseph,
do we come in our tribulation,
and having implored the help of your most holy Spouse,
we confidently invoke your patronage also.

Through that charity which bound you
to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God
and through the paternal love
with which you embraced the Child Jesus,
we humbly beg you graciously to regard the inheritance
which Jesus Christ has purchased by his Blood,
and with your power and strength to aid us in our necessities.
O most watchful guardian of the Holy Family,
defend the chosen children of Jesus Christ;
O most loving father, ward off from us
every contagion of error and corrupting influence;
O our most mighty protector, be kind to us
and from heaven assist us in our struggle
with the power of darkness.

As once you rescued the Child Jesus from deadly peril,
so now protect God’s Holy Church
from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity;
shield, too, each one of us by your constant protection,
so that, supported by your example and your aid,
we may be able to live piously, to die in holiness,
and to obtain eternal happiness in heaven.

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