New publication: Homilies of Bishop Gabriel Malzaire

A Decade of Grace
Homilies and other presentations by Bishop Gabriel Malzaire of Roseau, Dominica
Reviewed by Mike James

Bishop Gabriel Malzaire has just published a selection of his homilies and messages for different occasions during the past 10 years to mark the 10th anniversary of his ordination as Bishop of Roseau in Dominica on October 4, 2002.

The first striking thing about the collection is the solid basis for his homilies in the Word of God, in the Scriptures and especially in the Gospels, and their witness to Christ. In one of his Christmas homilies he reminds the reader that “Christmas is Emmanuel-God with us. It is the story of the perpetual invitation of God to each one of us that we may learn to treat each other as if the
Messiah were among us.” And he adds, on a theme running through the collection, “This is essentially what we are called to be – an alter Christus – another Christ.”

The solid expression of committed Faith in language that the ordinary person can fully grasp is a telling witness to the current responsibilities entrusted to Bishop Malzaire as Chairman of the Doctrine Commission and also the Education Commission of the Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC). The reasoned and “undoctrinaire” homilies are typical of an approach that has endeared him to critical thinking university students whom he serves as the AEC Liaison to the Catholic Student Movement (CSM)

Topics such as “Call no Man Father”, “What about Intercommunion?”, “What about the Saints?” and “What about Tradition?” whet the interest of the reader to discover how he will address topics which are of real concern inside and outside the Catholic Church, but which are rarely addressed to ordinary Catholics and others for being “unsuitable” or “
too complex”.

Bishop Malzaire does not disappoint in addressing such issues of concern humbly, clearly and from the perspective of the Gospel Jesus and the teaching of the Church.

To take but one example, “The Ordained Ministry: A Crazy Choice” is the theme of a homily delivered at the ordination to the Diaconate of a seminarian on the way to becoming a Catholic priest. Bishop Malzaire told the congregation:

“In the eyes of the contemporary world, that (voluntary celibacy) can easily be viewed as utter craziness. For a young man who was just on the verge of committing his life to the marital state, this can be truly incomprehensible for some. But who says we are not allowed to be crazy for the Lord, so to speak? Pentecost was a crazy experience, the ministry of Peter, James, John and Paul was crazy. They all died for the love of Jesus. Who are we therefore not to sacrifice something, if it would help free us for the service of God and his people… Our world is crying for witnesses of the
highest kind. Celibacy, therefore, provides a great opportunity for such a level of selfless service.”

And what did Bishop Malzaire say in his “Call no Man Father”? A brief quote may encourage the reader to obtain and read his full analysis of those words of Jesus.

“Jesus was encouraging his followers to focus on what was essential in regard to their roles. They were to differentiate between ‘being’ a father, teacher, rabbi and ‘having’ titles which could only be a show (Mt. 23 4-6). Jesus was essentially saying to his disciples; try to be what you say you are.”

Perhaps one editorial improvement in the collection might have been to have included the actual Bible references for the Christmas, Holy Week and other homilies which would not have been needed in the original setting as the congregations would have heard them read before the homily. An omission however that can be easily remedied in the next edition.

Copies of the current edition are available in Trinidad at
The Sanctuary, Diego Martin, Living Water Community, Frederick Street in Port of Spain, Santa Rosa Bookstore in Arima and at the Christian Bookstore on Harris Promenade, San Fernando.

Proceeds to the Renovation Fund for the Roseau Cathedral in Dominica.