“We Are His People, the Sheep of His Flock: World Day of Prayer for Vocations

Yesterday morning, at St. Paul’s Basilica, Archbishop Prendergast of Ottawa, ordained Deacon Adam Hincks and another Jesuit to the priesthood and five others to the diaconate. At almost the same time, Cardinal Collins, our Archbishop here in Toronto, ordained four priests to serve the diocese at St. Michael’s Cathedral. Earlier this month, Sister Christina of the Sisters of St. Joseph, and a parishioner here at St. Peter’s Parish, made her profession of vows to her community. All of this happened to be taking place on a weekend in the Church that coincides with the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Continue reading

Divine Mercy Sunday

“Give Thanks to the Lord, for He is Good; His Steadfast Love Endures Forever.”

Have you ever noticed how people speak to one another when they fall in love? Once they have first gained the courage to tell the other person that they love him or her, they begin to use this expression quite frequently. As it begins to loose some of its impact, they begin to use expressions like “very much,” or “very, very much.” Ultimately, people who are in love tell the other person that they love the other so much that they will love them “forever,” or for “all eternity.” In fact, if the person you love ever tells you that they love you so much that they will love you until next Thursday, you can be pretty sure that your relationship is in trouble. Continue reading

Celebrating A Love That Cannot Wait

The 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

Today, If You Hear God’s Voice, Harden not Your Hearts

This Sunday’s first reading, from the Book of Exodus, presents us with what is probably the second most famous story about fire that is to be found in the Bible. In this story, we hear how God called Moses to lead the Jewish people from the slavery that bound them in Egypt to the freedom that they would experience in the Promised Land. Called by God, Moses responds “Here I am.” From this point on, he will be called to lead the Jewish people to freedom. The Exodus story is extremely important in helping us to understand what it is that Christ has done for us by His life, death and resurrection. We will hear much of the Exodus story throughout the Lenten season. Once Moses has responded to God’s call, he will go into Egypt and confront Pharaoh and demand freedom for the enslaved Jewish people. In order to obtain this freedom, Moses will lead the people of Israel through the desert. On the journey, those whom he is leading will doubt in his leadership and turn away from the true God towards false gods and they will spend forty years in the desert before they are willing to trust God and are finally allowed to enter into the promised Land. Through this experience, the People of Israel will come to believe that Yahweh really is the true God and they will believe that they are able to experience His blessings in the Promised Land where He dwells with them. The image of fire is also used to show that God is leading the people of Israel to their new land as a pillar of fire goes before them. Continue reading

Lent 2019

“The Lenten period of forty days spent by the Son of God in the desert of creation had the goal of making it once more that garden of communion with God that it was before original sin” (Pope Francis’ Lenten letter for 2019).

The Church begins this season of Lent by reading on the First Sunday, of this privileged season, the story of Christ’s going into the desert for forty days to do battle with the temptations offered by the Devil. In regard to Christ’s time in the desert, Pope Francis has written the following in his Lenten letter for 2019: “The Lenten period of forty days spent by the Son of God in the desert of creation had the goal of making it once again that garden of communion with God that it was before original sin.” Continue reading

Marriage Sunday

This Sunday, within the Archdiocese of Toronto is being celebrated as Marriage Sunday. I am not sure if this date was chosen because this is the weekend before Valentine’s Day and it is a day to celebrate the love of all married couples; or if it was chosen because next weekend is the Family Day Weekend and the Sacrament of Marriage is the foundation of all Christian Family Life. As it is Marriage Sunday, this weekend I would like to share with you the prayer that I talk about with all couples who are preparing to be married here at St. Peter’s Parish. Continue reading

Baptized and Confirmed, We Are All Of Us Anointed as Members of the Body of Christ—Called to Stewardship

Over the years, I have had many people ask me a very simple question when we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. That question is: “Why was Jesus baptized?  If Jesus is sinless and the Son of God made flesh, why does he need to be baptized?”

The reason why Jesus chooses to be baptized is connected with who Jesus is. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Jesus has become one of us in order to show us the way to salvation and how we are to live in order to be saved.  He is baptized, in order to show us that it is through Baptism that we are called to share in the life of the Holy Trinity. Jesus is anointed by the Holy Spirit before he begins His public ministry in order to show us that as we are anointed by the Spirit in the Sacraments of Initiation, we too share in His mission. Just as in Baptism the Father declares Jesus to be His beloved Son, so too through our Baptisms the Father claims us to be His beloved sons and daughters. As Jesus took up His ministry after His Baptism and anointing by the Spirit, so too each one of us is given a mission within the Church through our Baptism and anointing at Confirmation. Continue reading

Mary—Model of the Blessed Life

One of the things about being here at St. Peter’s Parish that I find a little funny at times, is that often I will be walking between the Centre and the Church, and as I do so someone will roll down their car window, and stop me on Bathurst Street, to demand that I give them a blessing as they are driving by on the street. My first inclination is to try to have a conversation with them to find out what they think that a blessing signifies. However, as the traffic is often heavy and they are in a hurry, they frequently get a little angry with me and demand that I stop my small talk and quickly give them the blessing that they are seeking before they drive off. These experiences have helped me to realize that many people may not even know what a blessing signifies or be aware of what is required for a blessing to really be of any value. Continue reading

Every Family is Sacred!!

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