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

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