SMDY Feast

First Pastoral Letter to Archdiocese of Toronto, 1842

Posted : Dec-12-2016

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Below is the text of the first pastoral letter written in 1842 to the faithful of the newly established Diocese of Toronto from its first bishop, Michael Power. The Archdiocese of Toronto kicks off its 175th anniversary year on December 17, 2016.


Remote as is your situation from the Centre of Catholic Unity and humble as may appear your lot among the children of God, still you are not forgotten by the Supreme Pastor of the Church, the legitimate Successor of Peter whose paternal solicitude extends to every part of the Catholic World. The common father of all Christians, Gregory XVI. having taken into serious consideration the vast extent of territory heretofore placed under the jurisdiction of our Venerable Brother the Right Revd. Bishop of Kingston, has been pleased to erect the whole of the more western portion of Canada into a separate and distinct bishoprick: and by Apostolical letters bearing date the seventeenth day of last december [sic.] and addressed to Us, He has likewise been graciously pleased to nominate and appoint Us the first Bishop of the newly erected diocess [sic.] and immediate suffragan of the Holy Roman See. We were at the same time authorized by letters of the same date, to make choice of the most suitable and convenient place in our Diocess [sic.] for our future residence. We have in consequence determined, with the advice and approbation of our Episcopal Brethren, to take our title from the City of Toronto and there to establish out Episcopal See. Most willingly would We have declined the responsability [sic.] of so high and so awfull [sic.] a dignity, and last year while residing in the Eternal City, We made the strongest representations that the choice should fall on some one more capable of fulfilling the duties of the Episcopal charge: for We had frequently present to our mind the expressions of that great light of the Church St. John Chrysostom: that those who are raised to that office require a great soul and much courage :that they stand in need of a thousand eyes on every side, that whilst they undertake to convert others, they may not suffer themselves to be perverted. But feeling that all further resistance, on our part, would be unsuccessful We finally yielded to the desire of the Sovereign Pontiff and consented to take upon ourselves the yoke of the Lord, by receiving episcopal consecration. After our acceptance, our first thought was to cast ourselves in spirit at the feet of the great Prince of Shepherds and Chief Pastor of souls, to beg of him to grant us strength generously to bear our burthen [sic.] and bestow upon us a portion of his divine grace, according to the measure of the giving of Christ. For atho' [sic.] deeply conscious of our weakness, and feeling our own inability to fulfill the obligations of the high office to which We have been raised, we are nevertheless consoled with the assurance that the Province of Almighty God frequently makes use of instruments apparently the most inadequate to accomplish its divine purposes: for, we are informed by the Holy Spirit of God, that the foolish things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the wise: and the weak that he may confound the strong: and the things that are base and contemptible and the things that are not; that no flesh should glory in his sight.

And now, Dearly Beloved, that We have made known to you the intentions of the Holy Apostolic See and the feelings which We entertain on our own appointment to the honours and responsibility of the episcopal dignity, We shall adress [sic.] you mostly in the language of the inspired writers as more capable of making a lasting impression on your minds. We beseech you therefore that you walk worthy of the vocation in which you are called. With all humility and mildness, with patience supporting one another in charity, carefull [sic.] to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. One body and one spirit: as you are called in one hope of your calling… Let therefore all bitterness and anger and indignation and clamour be put away from you, with all malice. And be ye kind one to another, mercifull [sic.], forgiving one another, even as God hath forgiven you in Christ. And with the Apostle, We most ardently desire first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all men for Kings and all that are in high stations: that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all piety and chastity. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth: for there is one God and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus who gave himself a redemption for all. Continual prayer should therefore be made to Almighty God, first for those who belong to the household of the faith, and then for those who are without that all may be brought to that unity of faith so strongly recommended by our Saviour: for We acknowledge with grief that other sheep we have who are not of this fold; and these also We must bring, and they shall hear our voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.

To you our venerable Brethren and Cooperators in the holy ministry Priests of Jesus-Christ, We say in particular: Godliness with contentment is great gain: for we brought nothing into this world and certainly we can carry nothing out: But having food and wherewith to be covered, with this we are content; for they that will become rich, fall into temptation… and into many unprofitable and hurtfull [sic.] desires, which drown men into destruction and perdition; for the desire of money is the root of all evils: which some coveting have erred from the faith and have entangled themselves in many sorrows. But you, O Men of God, fly these things: and pursue justice, faith, charity and peace with them that call on the Lord with a pure heart. Avoid foolish and unlearned questions knowing that they beget strifes. The servant of the Lord must not wrangle, but be mild towards all men, apt to teach, patient, with modesty admonishing them that resist the truth. Be prudent therefore and watch in prayers, but before all things have a constant mutual charity among yourselves: for charity covereth a multitude of sins. Be you an example to the faithfull [sic.] in word in conversation, in charity, in faith, in chastity… Feed the flock which is among you, taking care of it not by constraint, but willingly according to God; not for filthy lucre's sake but voluntarily… but being made a pattern of the flock from the heart. And when the Prince of Pastors shall appear, you shall receive a never fading crown of glory. Be vigilant, labor in all things, do the work of Evangelists, fulfill the ministry, be sober. In all things shew yourselves an example of goodworks [sic.], in doctrine, in integrity, in gravity, the sound word that cannot be blamed: that he who is on the contrary part may be afraid having no evil to say of us. Attend unto reading, to exhortation and to doctrine. Neglect not the grace that is in you which was given you by prophecy, with imposition of the hands of the priesthood. Meditate upon these things, be wholly in these things… for in doing so you shall both save yourselves and them that hear you.

And to you, Beloved Brethren, the faithfull [sic.] of our new diocess [sic.], We look for consolation; for you are our crown and our joy. We exhort you therefore, We beseech you by the name of our Lord Jesus-Christ that you speak all the same thing and that there be no schisms among you: but that you be perfect in the same mind and in the same judgment [sic.], learning of our Saviour to be meek and humble of heart, loving one another: for he that loveth not his brother, knoweth not God; for God is charity. You are members of one body; and if one member suffer any thing, all the members suffer with it and if one member glory, all the members rejoice with it… We beseech you likewise as strangers and pilgrims to refrain yourselves from carnal desires which war against the soul, having your conversation good before all men: that where as they speak against you as evil doers, they may by the good works which they shall behold in you glorify God in the day of visitation. Be ye therefore subject to every human Creature for God's sake: whether it be to the King as excelling: or to Governors as sent by him for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of the good; for such is the will of God, that by doing well you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: as free, and not as making liberty a cloak for malice, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the Brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the King. Obey your prelates and be subject to them for they watch as being to render an account of your souls, that they do this with joy and not with grief: for this is not expedient for you. We charge you also to do good, to be rich in good works, to give easily, to communicate to others, to lay up in store for yourselves a good foundation for the time to come, that you may lay hold on the true life. We beseech you, Brethren, thro' our Lord, J.C. and by the charity of the Holy Ghost that you help Us in your prayers for Us to God, that We may come to you with joy, by the will of God and be refreshed with you. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing: that you may abound in hope and in the Holy-Ghost.

In order to obtain the favour and blessing of Almighty God, We, by these presents, consecrate our Diocess [sic.] and all those confided to our care to the most Sacred and most Adorable Heart of Jesus and place them under the special protection of the most pure and immaculate Heart of Mary, the mother of God. Let us, Dearly Beloved, frequently withdraw in spirit into the sacred Heart of our Redeemer, ever sensible to our necessities and to the wants of the whole Church, and there make some reparation for the innumerable offences daily committed against this sanctuary of the Divinity and foundation of all graces. Let us likewise beg of the Virgin Mother of our Saviour, by the immense love and tender affection which her heart always bore to that of her divine Son, to intercede for us, that we may all be of one heart and one mind, that we may obtain the true spirit of charity, humility, meekness and patience and keep ourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of the same Lord Jesus-Christ until life everlasting. Now the God of Peace be with you all. Amen.

We hereby confirm and ratify as far as it may be necessary, all the statutes, ordinances, reservations and exceptions of our venerable Predecessors: We likewise renew all verbal permissions, granted without limitation of time, untill [sic.] the first day of August exclusively.

We are authorized by an Indult from the Holy See bearing date the ninth of January to introduce into our diocess [sic.] the Office and Mass of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to be said on the friday [sic.] after the octave of Corpus Christi. The Office and Mass are of the first class from this date.

The Diocess [sic.] of Toronto comprehends all that part of the former Province of Upper Canada or diocess [sic.] of Kingston to the west of the district of Newcastle, following, from Lake Ontario, the line which separates the Newcastle district from the Home district to lake Muskogo and then drawing a line in a north westerly direction thro' the Muskogo and Moon rivers and lakes to the mouth of the more westerly branch of the Two rivers" which empties itself into the Grand or Ottawa River.

SHALL the present Pastoral Letter be read in the time of High Mass or during the principal Mass the first sunday [sic.] or Festival after its reception.

GIVEN under our Hand and Seal, at La Prairie on the festival of the apparition of St. Michael the Archangel this 8th. day of May 1842.

+Michael, BP. OF TORONTO


J.J. HAY, Sec. ad hoc.

(True Copy.)

NOTE. – The Office and Mass of the Sacred Heart of Jesus are obligatory on the Clergy from this date: if however they are not to be found in the Missal or Breviary in ther [sic.] possession, We dispense with its recitation for this year.

[signature] +Michael Bishop of Toronto.