A few weeks ago, in the parish’s R.C.I.A. programme (Rites of Christian Initiation for Adults), one of the candidates for baptism spoke of the challenge of dealing with people who might find inconsistencies with some of the things that are said in the Bible. I am sure we have all encountered people like this. At work, we might meet someone who will ask if we really believe that the world was created in seven days. When we explain that we do not take the story literally, and that with God one day could be a billion years, they may try and find some other inconsistency with our behavior, or the Church, that would allow them to reject the faith. It is also not uncommon for teenagers to try and find ways of rejecting the faith that their parents try to hand on to them. A teenager might also decide that since his or her parents are not living the faith to the exact letter, he or she can reject it as not worth following. This kind of rejection of Christ also happens when people feel that the weak humanity of a Christian leader is reason to reject God. Continue reading
Thanksgiving is a North American holiday. If I remember my school lessons correctly, it derives from the experience of the first European settlers here in North America and their experience of their first few years here on this continent. The way we were taught about this holiday when I was in elementary school recalled how difficult these first Europeans found the bitter winter to survive on their own and how unprepared they were to make it through this difficult climate. They were so unprepared for the conditions they found on this continent that it was only with the help of the Indigenous People, who knew the land and the ways of growing here, that they were able to make it through those initial days. Once they had learned to grow crops in this territory and figure out how to survive the conditions on this continent, they were so grateful that they began to have a special feast called “Thanksgiving” at the end of the growing season to celebrate the goods of this land and the great opportunities that they had discovered here. From my school days, I recall a part of those initial Thanksgiving celebrations involved celebrations with the Indigenous People who had helped these first settlers to make their lives possible here. That is why so many of our celebrations still highlight the many vegetables and local products that were handed over to the Europeans by the Indigenous People to help them survive. Continue reading
This Sunday, October 4th, the Church celebrates one of its most beloved saints, Saint Francis of Assisi. As his feast falls this year on a Sunday, the celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection takes precedence over his actual feast day; something that Saint Francis would no doubt insist upon.
The life of Saint Francis has served as a model for our present Holy Father, Pope Francis, who has chosen to name himself after this beloved saint. Pope Francis has followed the example of Saint Francis’s love for the poor in much of his ministry. He has also looked to Saint Francis as a model for the way in which we ourselves might be called to care for the environment and our common home, “mother earth.”
One of Saint Francis’s most famous poems is known as the Canticle of the Sun. In this beautiful poem, Saint Francis acknowledges all of creation as a gift from God and points out the interconnectedness of creation. The poem itself goes like this: Continue reading
One person I am always amazed with in history is Lorenzo Medici, the great Italian ruler of the Renaissance. He went down in history as Lorenzo il Magnifico, Lorenzo the Magnificent. Would not that be a nice nickname to have down through history? The Magnificent! He was called this because he was generous in everything he did. He never just simply went for the minimum; he always gave the very best. He did not just dip his toe in the sea of life, but dived right in. And so, he was known as the Magnificent.
Now an Italian ruler of the Renaissance is perhaps not so important to us in our own life but, I think, that spirit of absolute generosity, abundance and magnificence is something that we need to reflect upon in our life in Christ. In fact, that is basically a reflection of the Lord God himself because God does not measure out His mercy to us in little tiny amounts. God always acts with superabundant generosity, with magnificence, in the way in which He gives to us the grace in our lives, and the blessings with which we are surrounded. Continue reading
For most people, the most difficult aspect of Jesus’s teaching is that which relates to the requirement that we must forgive those who have hurt or offended us. This seems to be related to the fact that most of us think that by forgiving someone, we are extending to them a favour or a grace that they do not deserve, given the pain and hurt that they have caused us.
This is certainly how I used to think.
It was only after I discovered how much freedom comes from forgiving another person that I discovered the deeper spiritual reasons for Jesus challenging us to forgive others in the same way that we desire to be forgiven by Him. Continue reading
In my opinion, the best flavour of ice cream in the entire world is chocolate peanut butter. I love this flavour of ice cream so much that I cannot keep any in the house. When, and if, I do keep it in the house, I am unable to control myself and I usually eat the whole pint in one sitting.
The preference that I have for chocolate peanut butter ice cream is a personal opinion. The fact that I like it, is a truth that is relative only to myself. Others may have different opinions and it does not really affect my opinion or their ability to have a different opinion. My opinion on this matter does not really present a problem for others.
On the other hand, there would be a real problem if for some reason, I believed that my opinion needed to become a truth for all people. If for some reason, I believed that everyone else had to share my preference for chocolate peanut butter ice cream, my insistence on this issue would begin to infringe on the right of others to have an opinion. Worse, still, would be the case if I were to form an alliance with all the other people who loved chocolate peanut butter ice cream and we worked together to lobby for laws that required that only chocolate peanut butter ice cream could be manufactured. We could demand that no other flavours be manufactured and that all people must eat our flavour of ice cream. Taking our efforts to the extreme, we could demand that everyone eat chocolate peanut butter ice cream and perhaps put at risk the lives of those people who have a severe allergy to peanuts. Continue reading
There is a rather simple story about death that I heard several years ago. Because it captures so concisely how I think we as Christians feel about death, I usually tell this story at every funeral I celebrate, either at the funeral home prayers or in the homily at Mass.
The story simply goes like this:
A preacher was preaching to a congregation. He said, “if anyone wants to go to heaven, please stand up now.” Everyone in the congregation stood up. He then said, “if you want to go now, keep standing.” At this point, everyone sat down. Continue reading
If a stranger calls you on the phone, it is very hard to know if what they tell you about themselves is true. They can claim to be tall, when in fact they are very short. They can promise you a free vacation in a dream paradise, when in reality they are simply trying to get your credit card number. They can also claim to be calling on behalf of Revenue Canada and require your soc The same is true for e-mail. We can receive an e-mail from someone claiming to be other then they are and asking us to send them money. Others make outrageous promises to deposit large amounts in our bank accounts if we send them our banking information and passwords.
We can only really be sure that someone is who they claim to be when they come into our presence and prove that they can deliver on the promises that they make to us. Even in the case of people we do know, unless they live among us and show us that we can trust them, it is hard to know if they can fulfill the big promises that they might make to us.
The promises that Jesus makes to us are huge. Continue reading
A few years ago, I sat in on one of the parish’s confirmation classes. On that particular day, when I was dropping by to sit in, the class was engaged in playing a rather different game, which I would call the “Injustice Game.” The purpose of this exercise was to attempt to get the students angry about injustice in the world and to motivate them to desire to do something against that injustice as they became aware of it. In relation to the goals of preparation for Confirmation, the exercise was intended to help these young Christians understand that through the anointing they received at Confirmation, they were being called to witness to Christ and the values of His Gospel in their day to day lives. The game was intended to help them see that the adult Christian, who has been anointed in Confirmation, is called to speak up against discrimination and injustice. Continue reading
Imagine what it would be like if Canada Post only delivered on one day during each person’s entire life. On that day, the individual would receive every letter and every bill from his or her lifetime. The experience would be overwhelming and would crush the person who attempted to deal with this lifetime of correspondence in a day.
Sometimes, I think we can all loose perspective on life and think that we must handle all of our life’s problems on our own—all in a day.
This is certainly what I did when the events of COVID 19 started to develop last March. Instead of taking things one day at a time, one thing at a time, I began to panic and believe that I had to solve every possible concern facing myself and the parish, on my own and in that moment. Continue reading