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

Christmas 2018: Challenged by the Child Jesus to Stretch Our Hearts in Love

This past year at St. Peter’s Parish, especially the past few months, has been a time of great transition and change. For those of you who may be visiting, or may be here only for Christmas, over the past few months the parish has welcomed the Sisters of Life to the newly renovated Centre for Life in the rectory. We have also finished the renovation in the rectory and moved our parish offices from the Centre and returned them to the rectory. For those who are unaware of this, our parish offices are now located at the door under the archway here at the side of the church. What surprised me about this move and the renovation project which came to a conclusion over the past few months was how much of my own time it consumed and how many problems could arise in the course of a project. For months we awaited the arrival of the doors which we kept being told would arrive next week—always next week for about six months. When they finally did arrive, we were told that they were the wrong kind and that the locks would not work. Often while commuting back and forth from Holy Rosary Parish, I would arrive at the church to find someone else was parking in my parking spot and that I would have to beg them to let me use the parking spot assigned to me. Some days, I spent hours on the phone trying to resolve issues about the transfer of phones and other services needed to run the office. Through all the delays and disruptions that had to do with the construction, I kept making myself promises that as I arrived at the parish each day I would not let myself get distracted by the construction and superficial affairs of the renovation. I vowed I would focus on being a parish priest and serving the community of St. Peter’s and not allow myself to become overly involved in the renovations. Sadly, I would arrive at the parish and find myself caught up with questions from the contractor and architect and find it a real challenge to visit the sick or be present to the parishioners. To those who caught me on one of my bad days, after a difficult conversation with the architects, my apologies. Things got so bad, that as we had to move our offices just last week during the busy season of Christmas, there were times that I was feeling so busy, I feared that I would not be able to get into the Christmas spirit this year. Concerned that I myself might become this year a Grinch at Christmas, one day I decided that I needed a little break from the renovations and move and I went to see the newly released version of Dr. Seuss’ “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.” Continue reading

Like Christ, the Poor Widow Gave All She Had!

A few weeks ago, on what was one of the first cold days of the Fall, I was out for my Friday morning sick calls to the parish’s shut-ins, and because of the cold, I was wearing a scarf. I am assuming that because I was wearing a scarf, the couple who approached me were not aware of who I was. I was at first, also not aware of who they were. As it turned out, this couple was a pair of Jehovah’s Witnesses Missionaries and as they stopped me to talk, they offered me a copy of their beautiful magazine. Once they had showed me their magazine and introduced themselves, I decided that I would be a little mischievous with them. After they showed me their beautiful magazine that offered to explain the Bible to me, I told them how happy I was to meet them because I was from the local Catholic parish and sometimes we needed assistance serving the poor. I told them that with some of the other Christian denominations and synagogues in the neighbourhood our parish offered a meal to the poor once a week and I would love to be able to add their community to our local list. They told me that they did not do that kind of thing. That is alright I said, because I also said that with the Salvation Army and some of the other Christian denominations, the Catholic Church operates places like Covenant House and the Good Shephard Mission and that maybe they could give me some of the addresses for their shelters, just in case ours ever got filled up. I was told that they do not do that kind of thing. Just as one final attempt, I said that our St. Vincent de Paul Society will often do home visits to those in need in our community and sometimes I direct people to the Salvation Army Store. If I needed to get help for someone in their neighbourhood, I asked where could I send them? I was told that this was the government’s job and that they did not do that kind of thing. With that, I gave them back their beautiful booklet and told them that I think they had explained to me how their bible works. Continue reading

Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!

“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life.”

Is not this the question that each one of us would like to ask Jesus? Is this not one of the reasons that we try to follow Jesus and observe his teachings? In today’s Gospel, we hear of a man who runs up to Jesus and kneels before Him to ask the question to which many of us would also like to know the answer: “What must we do to inherit eternal life?” In responding to this question, Jesus answers with three different layers to His response. The first response that He gives to the man is that he is required to both know and follow the commandments. We know this man must be a good person, because he testifies that this he has done his whole life. The man is already living a good life and sincerely seeks to follow Jesus. When this man tells Jesus that he has always followed the commandments, Jesus tells him that there is still one thing that he must do, “sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” With these words, the man goes away, sad that he is not able to follow Jesus, because as the Gospel tells us, he had many possessions. The man is not able to give up everything to follow the Lord. As the other disciples see this good man go away sad, they wonder about their own future and Peter asks on their behalf what will happen to them, since they have left everything. To those who have left everything, Jesus assures them that will have treasure in Heaven and that they will indeed inherit eternal life. Jesus has a stern warning, however, for those who cling to worldly wealth, since it will be an obstacle to them entering the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus uses the image of a large camel trying to pass through a gate in the wall of the city of Jerusalem, known as the “eye of the needle.” Just as no camel was able to pass through this gate, so too those who cling to their wealth, will not be able to pass into Heaven. Their attachment to this world will make it impossible for them to freely pass into Heaven. In fact, Jesus goes on to say that in most cases, it is impossible for people to be saved on their own. Happily, as Jesus reports, while it is impossible for a person to be saved on his or her own, with God all things are possible. For the person who truly wishes to be saved, all that is really required of him or her is that he or she welcome Jesus as a little child would do. For those who do this, salvation is very easy, because it is accomplished not by one’s own efforts but by God’s Grace. Continue reading

“He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak” (Mark 7:37)

“He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” In fact, He, Jesus, has done much more than that. He has also destroyed death and given to each of us the gift of eternal life. It seems to me that this week’s Gospel and Sunday readings contain a very powerful reminder about what our faith is all about and where it is as Christians that we are really called to place our faith. Continue reading

The Prophetic Message of Christ is that Young or Old, We Are All God’s Children

This past week, one of the local neighbours invited me to attend a movie with him at the Varsity Cinema. The movie that he asked me to attend with him was called: “Won’t You Be My Nieghbour.” This is a documentary about the children’s broadcaster Fred Rogers and his show for children, which was better known as the Mr. Roger’s Show. It tells of how Fred Rogers was preparing to study to be an ordained Presbyterian Minister. However, just as he was in the midst of his studies he encountered the new medium of television in the early 1960’s. As he watched television, he was concerned about the kind of entertainment that was directed towards children. He saw that all of the television shows produced for children did not take them very seriously and had rather mindless comedy at their centre. He was particularly concerned by the pretend violence that these shows directed towards young people. Fred Rogers believed in the value of each young person and thought a more important mission would be to produce television which took young people seriously and tried to let them know how much each of them was valued and loved. Continue reading