From the Plain of Abraham
The next regular post on the Catechism will go up Thursday, July 21.
My wife and I are presently vacationing in Canada between two family weddings. We spent four days in SE Nova Scotia, one night in Edmundston, New Brunswick, and are currently in the midst of a six-day stay in Quebec City before a long weekend in Montreal and then a trek to my hometown of Buffalo for my niece's wedding. On the way to Buffalo, we will be spending a night with a very close friend with whom I attended seminary high school and college. I did the same thing with another seminary confrere coming up through Boston two weeks ago. Regrettably I couldn't route through Philadelphia and stay with the fourth member of this seminary quartet. I know he'll get even.
Quebec City is divided into Old Quebec and the newer metropolis of 750,000 people. If you think back to your high school history, Quebec City is the site of major encounters between the French and the English on the "Plain of Abraham" along the St. Lawrence River during the Seven Years War (1756-1763). This is the war we refer to as the "French and Indian War," though this war was fought on two continent.
The entire Province of Quebec is French speaking, though we haven't had much problem communicating because the folks here--the business people, at any rate--are bilingual, and even those who are not understand VISA. We happen to be here at the height of tourist season so the downtown is pretty busy. I am getting a crash course (pun intended) reading French--from traffic signs, unfortunately. I am probably a danger on the road because I have no idea what a flashing red light or green light means.
Driving here on Sunday we stopped to walk through the Holy Door at St. Anne de Beaupre, and then two days later at the Cathedral in Old Downtown. I wish there was some way I could save one of those indulgences for much later in life. Quebec has always been identified as "French and Catholic." It is hard to know how the present day Church is doing in Quebec. Our bus tour guide pointed out a number of majestic Catholic Churches that, as she noted, fell to the malaise of declining attendance. She seemed impressed with how these grand structures had been converted into apartments, condos, libraries, and in one case, a girl's academy. Margaret and I, out walking last night in our own working class neighborhood where we are renting, discovered a Catholic Church at the end of our block which has Mass on the weekend, but I haven't seen a church yet with daily Mass.
I will say, though, that the people here are very friendly. When we are asked--which is often--where we are from, we receive the most kind expressions of sympathy for our tragedy of several weeks ago. Margaret was wearing her Orlando United shirt in a restaurant today, and several of the staff asked for information on how to purchase the shirts. It was very touching, actually, and I am forming a fine impression of this city.
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