Dear Parishioners of St. Peter’s Parish:
A Year of Transition
This year, our parish community will experience many changes and transitions – some challenging, and others very exciting. I believe it is important that all of us, as a parish community, understand the changes and the reasons for them. So, your parish Pastoral Council decided it was an appropriate time to provide you with an update.
The two biggest changes we face this year involve the parish offices moving out of the Paulist Ministry Centre and the renovations to the Rectory. Continue reading
“The Kingdom of God is at Hand. Repent, and Believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15).
The Season of Lent begins with the beautiful practice of presenting ourselves before the Lord on Ash Wednesday for the imposition of ashes on our foreheads. As the ashes are imposed on our heads, there are two formulas that may be said as we receive the ashes. These are either: “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel;” or “Remember, you are dust and to dust you will return.” These two formulas express well the meaning of this season. In Lent, we are called to turn away from all that prevents us from following the Lord. This is what is implied in the first formula that calls us to conversion. We are also to remember that it is only because of Christ’s resurrection that we have been saved from turning back to dust at the end of our earthly journeys. Because Christ has risen from the dead, we too are invited to share in His resurrection and the Kingdom that He has won for us by His life, death and resurrection. The whole purpose of Lent is that we should prepare during this season to renew our baptismal promises on Easter Sunday. Continue reading
We begin reading today at Sunday Mass the Gospel of Mark. The Sunday readings are divided into three different annual cycles of readings. These have the names: “Year A”, Year B”, and “Year C.” In each of these years, the Church has us listen to one of the three Synoptic Gospels, which are Matthew, Mark and Luke. The Gospel of John, because it is dramatically different from these Synoptic Gospels, is read in portions in each of these three liturgical years. The Gospel of Mark is read in Year B, which is the liturgical year that we begin now. In the early Church, people thought that the Gospel of Matthew was the first to have been written. This is why the Gospels are ordered Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the Bible. However, today, Bible scholars think that the Gospel of Mark was written first and that it was used by both Matthew and Luke indirectly to write their Gospels. Because the three seem to have similar sources, they are called the Synoptic Gospels. The Gospel of John is so different that it is believed to have been based upon an entirely different set of traditions. For this reason it is not one of the Synoptic Gospels and is read each year in small portions. In fact because the Gospel of Mark is the shortest, this year, during Year B of the Lectionary, in the summer there are six weeks in which we read from chapter six, the bread of life discourse, from the Gospel of John. Continue reading
Every year, on the first Sunday following Christmas, the Church celebrates the beautiful feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The purpose of this beautiful feast is to remind each and every one of us that the most important place where we are to encounter God’s love for us is within the family. Like all of us, Jesus was born into a human family so that we might all be reminded that it is first and foremost within the family that we are to make Christ’s love present to our brothers and sisters and where we are to encounter the love and acceptance that we all desire and long to know. This beautiful feast is to remind all of us that every family—mine and yours—is a sacred place where God’s love is to be encountered. Continue reading
This past week, there has been a very powerful film called “The Human Flow” showing at both the Bloor Docs Cinema and the Toronto International Film Festival’s Bell Lightbox Theatre. “The Human Flow” is a movie by director Ai WeiWei that presents a powerful look at the plight of the world’s 65 million refugees. It shows the way in which so many human beings have been uprooted from their homes and wander the world aimlessly, often because they are regarded as mere objects and pawns in the world of international politics. This movie attempts to show how real human beings are effected and destroyed by the manner in which world politics have impacted their lives. Not since World War II have so many people been uprooted by events like civil war, global warming and the political unrest that has been unleashed by the greed and power struggles of the world’s elites. This past year, the St. Peter’s Parish Community became acutely aware of the tragedy of the world’s refugee crisis as after a long wait, the community welcomed the re-settlement family that we have sponsored through Project Hope. This beautiful family left Iraq because they were persecuted as Christians; only to find themselves in Syria as civil war broke out there. To this date, some of their family are stuck in Turkey, awaiting re-unification here in Canada. I am so grateful to the many members of our community who have worked tirelessly to welcome and support this wonderful family. What this movie “The Human Flow,” and our parish’s experience with a resettlement family, make so very clear is how powerless individual persons can be in the face of the world’s political arrangements that are negotiated by the powerful elites of this world. It can be tempting to feel only despair in the face of such a situation where the dignity of the human person is given so little concern. Continue reading
Where I am presently living at Holy Rosary Parish, during the renovations of the rectory, I do not have access to internet and cable. This has happily meant that I do not watch a lot of television. Last week, when I was in Vancouver for the National Liturgy Conference, I was able to watch more television than I normally do in a month. One of the things that surprised me is the number of television shows that are on related to developing and celebrating the talents that some people possess. Some of the shows that can be found on the television include titles like “The Voice,” “America’s Got Talent,” Britain’s Got Talent,” “So You think you can Dance,” and “Dancing with the Stars.” All of these shows have in common the desire of those who appear on the show to have their unique talents and qualities recognized in the hopes of becoming famous. Continue reading
I really like the way that people who are in love speak to one another. It can almost seem like there are never enough words to express their affection for one another. The first really big challenge in their communication usually comes when they desire to tell the other person that they are in love for the first time. Once the first person has mustered the courage to tell the other person “I love you,” it almost seems like they cannot say it enough. They start to say it to the other person all the time. Soon those words lose their force and they need to start adding adjectives, like “I love you very much,” or “I love you very, very much.” Usually, once people run out of words for how much they love one another, they usually start to add expressions of how long they wish to love one another to their words of affection. These expressions of love, which have to do with time, usually state something like “I will love you to the end of time,” or “I will love you for all eternity.” I do not think I have ever heard people who really deeply are in love say: “I will love you until July 1, 2020; that is how much I will love you!” Real and true love always wants to express that the beloved is everything to the one who loves and that the hope is that this love will last forever. Continue reading
There are many times in life that we are asked to do something and we say “yes” because we imagine what we are being asked to do will never come to pass. This was certainly the case when I was asked to be power of attorney for my pastor while I was in my first parish more than twenty years ago. At the time, the priest who was my pastor was about 65 years old and he asked me if I would look after him if he ever got sick or needed care. He was very healthy, and I thinking nothing would ever happen to him, happily said “yes” to his request. Continue reading
“But who do you say that I am?”
In our Gospel reading this Sunday, Jesus puts a very pointed question to His disciples— “Who do you say that I am?” Before He does this, He asks them: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Whether we recognize it or not, this is also a question that Jesus puts to each one of us. In fact, the fact that we are here at Mass this morning means that we are answering Christ’s question. You and I get up on a Sunday morning and make time to come to Mass, because like Peter, we too believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. To make this choice, to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, is not an easy choice to make. Like the disciples, we who are Jesus’ disciples of today, live in a world that says that Jesus is many different things. Just as Christ’s original disciples report that the world says many different things about Jesus— that He is John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or a Prophet— so too our own world reports that Jesus is many different things. Today there are many who say that Jesus was a good person, a profound thinker, or one who was deeply compassionate and truly understood the human condition. All of these are beautiful answers, but they do not explain why you and I, and billions of people throughout time, have professed Jesus to be the Son of God and the Messiah who has come to bring us eternal life. Ultimately, the reason why you and I get up and come to Mass is because like Peter, we too believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God. And as Jesus tells Peter, this is not a fact that is revealed to us by flesh and blood, but rather a gift that we have received from the Father in faith. Continue reading
A few weeks ago, I was out walking on my sick calls. As I walked near Christie Park, I found myself approaching a group of rough looking young men who I noticed were pointing at me and started smiling and laughing among themselves. Not recognizing any of them, I tried to look away from them and hoped that their attention would turn to another matter. Soon one of them started to yell at me “Yo man.” Because it was a pretty large group, I was sure that I was in for a bit of trouble. I started to pray that I would find the right things to say and keep my calm. I still hoped that they would find someone or something else that would catch their attention. As the group approached, the largest member of the party said to me “Yo man, are you a priest.” Not knowing what kind of trouble I was in for, I meekly said that “yes” I was. As soon as I said I was a priest, this man’s face lit up and he said to me: “Yo man, you used to visit my school. I loved it when you came into our class.” Although he had changed significantly from when I had known him years ago, as soon as he told me his name, I remembered what a kind and wonderful person he had been, and, as I discovered, still was beneath his rough and tough exterior. We had a great talk about what he was up to since I last knew him in school and he introduced me to all of his friends, some I had known from the same school, with whom he had just finished playing sports in Christie Park. Continue reading