I am sitting in the Megabus terminal waiting to return to Toronto after five days in Montreal. At least part of this trip has been a pilgrimage of sorts. As is my custom in this city, I attended Sunday mass at St. Patrick's Basilica. I had planned to meet my son after the 12:30pm mass but having gotten there early I attended an earlier mass. Afterwards I walked to Place Frere Andre to await my son. One of the things I noticed there in secular, worldly Montreal was the people who passed by the statue of St. Br. Andre, touched the foot and said a prayer. This was something I was not used to seeing, a statue of a saint in a public square being reverenced by passers by. Nor was this the only one. The stature of Bl. Emilie Gamelin in Berri UQAM station has a well worn foot. Perhaps in this city there are still a few believers?
Monday I was on my own so I made my way to St. Joseph's Oratory. As I left the Metro I wondered how I was going to find the place until I looked up the hill and saw it dominating the view. I found my way to the entrance and walked up the steps to the base of the crypt church. By that time I was grateful for the escalators which took me up to the basilica. I wandered about looking for a quiet place to sit and pray the rosary, I found it in the blessed sacrament chapel to the rear of the main altar. I stayed there for a long time. I was deeply impressed by both a sense of the Lord's presence and that he was no less present in the humble tabernacle of my parish church.
After finishing my rosary I walked about the basilica some more. The confessionals in the basilica are not quite what you might expect. They look far more like the entrance to a crypt than a confessional. Perhaps the priest sensed my confusion because just as I paused in front of his confessional he kicked the door. I took the hint and went in. Afterwards I attended an English language mass in the side chapel of the basilica.
One word of warning. If you visit St. Joseph's Oratory you might want to avoid the main gift boutique. While the two gift shops in the basilica are modest affairs which do not excessively distract from the atmosphere of the place, the main gift shop is trinket central. I found it a bit much.
On my last full day in the city I made my way to Mary Queen of the World Cathedral. I wanted to see it because it is likely the closest thing I will get to seeing St. Peter's of which it is a copy. Again I was impressed by the availability of confession. Each church I visited had priests available for confession. In what was an unexpected gift, this church had the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the side chapel off the nave. I spent some time in there with my Lord. I had intended to stay for mass but circumstances intervened necessitating a tour of the facilities at the Eaton Centre.
Thanks be to God for a fruitful pilgrimage and a safe trip.