The Very First Holy Communion

communionAs many of the young boys and girls in our parish make their First Communion today, the Gospel reading for this Sunday tells us the powerful story of the very first Holy Communion to take place after Jesus rose from the dead. The story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus shows us the importance of the Eucharist in the life of the Church. In this story we hear that on the very day that Jesus rose from the dead, the first day of the week, that day being a Sunday, Jesus Himself celebrated the Eucharist with His disciples. It was only in His doing this that these two people, who had known Jesus personally in life, were able to recognize Him and see Him present in their lives. This story tells us a great deal about what it means to be Christians and the place that the Eucharist is to have in the life of each Christian. Continue reading

Celebrating A Love That Cannot Wait

maxresdefaultThe celebration of Easter is for all Christians the highpoint of our year of faith. At Easter we celebrate the fact that Christ has risen from the dead and destroyed death for all who place their hope in Him. Easter means that, because of Christ’s resurrection, we shall not die but rather we are all invited to spend eternity with our loving God in heaven. At Easter we think of our loved ones who have died and we rejoice that they have been spared death because of Christ’s resurrection and are with Him in heaven for all eternity. Ultimately, at Easter we celebrate that God loves us so much that He destroyed death so that He might spend eternity with each of us. Easter is the greatest celebration of God’s unconditional and undying love for each of us; a love so strong that death cannot destroy it. Continue reading

Palm and Passion Sunday

Jerusalem is, and has been for several millennium, a great walled city that must be entered through one of the several gates in the city’s wall. It is a holy and sacred city. For the Jews, Jerusalem is that city where God dwelt among His people in the great temple at which they could visit Him and offer Him sacrifices. In His Holy City, God would listen to His people and they could be assured that they were standing in His presence. Whenever there was a great feast for the Jewish people they would go up to the city of Jerusalem to be near to God and celebrate with Him. For the Jewish people to live within the walls of Jerusalem—the Holy City—was the perfect life; it was equivalent to living with God on earth. In the mind of the Jewish person, the perfect place to die was within the walls of Jerusalem. To die within the walls of the Holy City meant that one had died with God in His Holy City and had indeed lived a blessed life. Continue reading

The Eucharist—Our Weekly Encounter with the Risen Lord

transfiguration1The season of Lent is that time in the Church year when the baptized are called to prepare to renew their baptismal promises, and when those who are not baptized enter into the final stages of their baptismal preparation. As we are to prepare to do this throughout Lent on Easter Sunday, today I would like to speak a little bit about what is one of my favorite themes in the Liturgy for Baptism by making particular reference to the Ritual for the Baptism of Infants. Continue reading

Lent – The Season of Vocational Awareness and for the Renewal of Baptismal Promises

lentThis coming Wednesday, March 1st is an important day in the life of our Church. It is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the forty day season of preparation for the celebration of Easter. For that reason, I would like to speak a little bit about Lent and its importance in the spiritual life of each one of us.

In the history of the Church, Lent began as that season when the Catechumens who were preparing for baptism would enter into their final stages of preparation before being baptized at Easter. In the first few centuries of the Church’s history, many adults prepared to be baptized at the Easter Vigil. However, as by the ninth and tenth centuries most adults were baptized, Lent became a season not just for baptism but also for the repentance of those Christians who were already baptized and would prepare for the renewal of their baptismal promises at Easter. This is also now what the majority of us are called to do in the approaching season of Lent. Because most of us are already baptized, Lent is a time for us to prepare to renew our baptismal promises by turning away from what prevents us from living our baptisms and being the people that God has called each one of us to be as a result of our baptisms. At Easter, our community will celebrate the baptisms of those joining the Church at Easter, but each one of us is also called to renew our baptismal promises at the Easter Sunday Mass that we will attend this year. For that reason, I would like to say just a few words about what it means for each of us to be baptized. Continue reading

If You Wish To Be Blessed, Cling To The Lord At All Times

BlessedAfter His teaching of the Great Christian prayer, the Our Father, the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount which we hear in today’s Gospel are probably among Jesus’s most famous and important teachings. Perhaps the only other teaching of similar importance would be the Great Commandment that Christ has given, that we must love the Lord our God above all things and our neighbour as ourselves. These three teachings are intimately connected as the fundamental teachings for the followers of Jesus. Continue reading

Called to Speak for the Lord

silence-1Martin Scorsese’s powerful film Silence presents the moving story of Jesuit priests Sebastian Rodrigues and Francisco Garupe. Set in the seventeenth century, the movie presents the story of these two Portuguese Jesuits and their search for their spiritual father, Jesuit priest Father Cristovao Ferreira. Father Ferreira had been sent to Japan as a missionary for the Christian faith. After he had spent some time there, word comes back to the Jesuits that Father Ferreira had fallen into apostasy, the sin of denying the faith. Father Sebastian and Father Francisco, his two devoted students, cannot believe that their spiritual father could possibly fall into apostasy and insist that the story of his fall is only a rumour or a malicious slander. They beg to go to Japan to discover the truth or to save their friend. At first their religious superior is dead set against them going on this dangerous mission. However they insist on going to find the truth or to save their friend. As their superior becomes convinced that their desire to go has been placed in their heart by the Holy Spirit, they are given permission and set out on their great mission. Continue reading

Salvation is for All!

wise_menAt the time of Christ’s birth, there were only three continents known to exist among those who lived in the Mediterranean world; these were Africa, Asia and Europe. The early Church tradition regarded the three Wise Men as coming one from each of these continents. They represented the people from all over the known world at that time coming to acknowledge Christ as King and Saviour. The word “Epiphany,” which is the name of the Solemnity which we celebrate this Sunday, means “manifestation” and it refers to the manifestation of God’s love for all people in the birth of Christ. Continue reading

Christmas 2016

WWT“He it is who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for Himself a people of His own who are zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14—Midnight Mass)

Every Monday evening, during the winter months, our parish community hosts a meal for those who would not otherwise be able to have a meal through a program called the Winter Welcome Table. This is a project that involves probably over a hundred volunteers throughout the course of the year. Many of those who help with the Winter Welcome Table do not even stay around to see those who come for the meal. Some volunteers might simply come in on Monday morning and help set-up. This past Monday, the Winter Welcome Table hosted its annual Christmas dinner. I cannot describe what a beautiful event this was. Our community had been preparing for this event for several weeks. Many in our community donated Christmas gifts to be given to the men and women who come to this meal. Those who donated these gifts often never see the people to whom they are given. Sister Gabriel visited our school and organized for the students to donate presents and to make handmade Christmas placemats for those who attend our dinner. For several weeks before the dinner was served, volunteers arranged for enough turkeys to feed the many who would gather. On the actual night of the Christmas dinner over forty volunteers were involved with cooking the meal, preparing for the event and serving the 140 individuals who came to enjoy this meal. What struck me, and many of the people who attended this meal, about this evening was the joy that was expressed by all who attended. The volunteers were so happy to be hosting this event and were overjoyed to be able to offer something to those who might otherwise not be able to have a Christmas dinner. Each meal that came out of the kitchen was prepared with loving attention, as if for a family member. Those who were attending the meal were truly moved by the fact that people cared enough to offer them a meal and a Christmas present. Many of the regular attendees were and are on a first name basis with the volunteers. For me, the parish’s Winter Welcome Table is a beautiful statement of our parish’s belief that because Jesus has come into the world, we are all of us brothers and sisters in Christ, called to give back to the Lord in service to our brothers and sisters in need, as a way of expressing thanksgiving for God’s boundless generosity in saving us through His Son. Continue reading

May the Lord Come In, He is King of Glory!

communion with GodThe Bible starts and ends with two beautiful stories about God’s communion with the human person. At the beginning of the Bible, in the Book of Genesis, there is a beautiful story about the creation of the world and the manner in which humanity lived in communion with God in the Garden of Eden. At this time, the human person is described as almost being at one with God as God walks in their midst and humans fear nothing in God’s presence. They enjoy intimate communion together . The Bible ends with the beautiful image of Heaven which is presented in the Book of Revelation. Again, here, redeemed humanity is presented as living in communion with God for all eternity at the Heavenly banquet. Those who are admitted to this banquet, will praise God with his saints and angels and know His love for all eternity. Some, who have been admitted to the Heavenly banquet, have gained their admission through their perseverance and conviction that God is with them in their trails and difficulties of life. Continue reading