Thanksgiving Gratitude—The Key to Opening the Narrow Gate!

Decorative ImageThanksgiving 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 Thanksgiving Gratitude—The Key to Opening the Narrow Gate!

“The Lord Upholds My Life” – Building on 125 Years of Discipleship!

Decorative ImageOn July 14, 1904, a young 14 year-old girl, by the name of Anna Warde, drowned near Juddhaven Muskoka attempting to save a younger child who was drowning. Anna was a member of this parish’s choir and was away on her summer holiday when she drowned. Anna would have sung in the choir in the first of the three churches that have served our community. The plaque which is at the doors of our church today to commemorate Anna’s life, would have been in all three of our parish churches: the one first constructed after the parish was established in 1896, the second church that was built in 1906, and this present building that has stood here since 1925. The plaque was placed there by Anna’s parents who must have been devastated by the death of their daughter. After her death, they came to worship in this church so that as the Psalmist says in today’s readings, the Lord might uphold their lives.Continue Reading “The Lord Upholds My Life” – Building on 125 Years of Discipleship!

“Who do you say that I am?” A Question to be Answered by Discipleship!

Decorative Image“Who do you say that I am?”

As Jesus puts this question to Peter in this Sunday’s Gospel, there is a possibility that we might hear it as a question that He is putting only to Peter as a way of inviting Peter alone to make a profession of faith regarding Jesus’ identity. It is, however, clear from the way that Jesus responds to Peter’s answer that Jesus has far more in mind then simply asking Peter whom He thinks Jesus to be. Jesus responds to Peter’s answer by telling him exactly what His mission is about and by explaining to Peter that those who truly believe that He is the Christ must live their lives in a way that reflects what they profess Him to be.Continue Reading “Who do you say that I am?” A Question to be Answered by Discipleship!

“The Lord Jesus made the deaf hear and the mute speak. May he soon touch your ears to receive his word, and your mouth to proclaim his faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father, Amen (The Ephphetha Prayer from the rite of Baptism of Infants)

Decorative ImageThere is a beautiful prayer that is used in the rite of Baptism for an infant. It is based on today’s Gospel that tells of Jesus healing the deaf and the mute man. As he does so, he touches the deaf man’s ears and mouth and says “ephphetha,” the Aramaic word for “be open.”  Although most people who are baptized can hear and speak, this prayer asks that the ears of the individual will be opened to hear God’s Word in faith and that hearing it they may also speak it in faith. This is an important prayer in the world we live in today. Throughout our lifetimes, each one of us hears so many words and are invited to speak in different ways. As Christians, we are called upon to discern what we listen to and ask if it corresponds to our Gospel values and to speak and act according to these values.Continue Reading “The Lord Jesus made the deaf hear and the mute speak. May he soon touch your ears to receive his word, and your mouth to proclaim his faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father, Amen (The Ephphetha Prayer from the rite of Baptism of Infants)

“Hear me all who understand. Nothing that enters one form outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from the heart are what defile” (Mark 7:15)

Decorative ImageIn our first reading this Sunday, from the Book of Deuteronomy, we hear the people of Israel asking what other nation has a god who lives so closely with them as the God of Israel dwells with them. They believed that by observing the commandments, they were God’s people and God dwelt with them. As the psalmist proclaims: “The one who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.” As a sign that the Lord lived with them, the people of Israel kept the Ark of the Covenant, containing the Ten Commandments given them by God, in the Temple in Jerusalem.

For us as Christians, the idea that God dwells with us actually takes on a much greater significance. We believe that God sends His Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts. We no longer have the idea that God dwells in a building. For the Christian, each human being is called to be a Temple of the Holy Spirit. This reality, that God desires to come and dwell within us, is why Jesus places such a significance on the interior life. In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus draws our attention to the reality that it is what is in a person’s heart that determines whether the Lord Himself is able to dwell within that heart. As many of the great spiritual writers of our tradition have written, God cannot dwell in a heart that is full of hatred, envy, pride and greed. The heart must be a place that is open and free to contain the Lord.Continue Reading “Hear me all who understand. Nothing that enters one form outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from the heart are what defile” (Mark 7:15)

“This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” (John 6:60)

Decorative ImageThis Sunday, after six weeks of reading it at the Sunday Masses, we conclude the Bread of Life discourse from the Gospel of John. As it comes to a close, we hear the reaction of those who have heard Jesus say: “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” For many of Jesus’ contemporary listeners, the idea of eating His flesh and drinking His blood is incomprehensible and they reject the idea completely. And yet, while in many other cases when He is misunderstood, He explains himself more clearly, on this matter Jesus does not back away from his insistence that those who wish to have eternal life must consume His Body and drink His Blood. Unable to accept this idea, many of His followers state that it is a teaching that it is difficult to accept. We are told at this point, that many of Jesus’ followers turned away and no longer followed Him. When He asks the twelve if they also wish to leave, they do not indicate that they understand, they simply state that they have nowhere else to go because in faith they affirm that He has the words of eternal life and they have “come to believe and know that [Jesus] is the Holy one of God.”Continue Reading “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” (John 6:60)

The Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for He has looked with favor on His Lowly servant” (Luke 1:46) 

Decorative ImageFor many people, when they hear of the way in which the Church honors Mary, the Mother of Jesus, in the liturgy, they wonder why so much attention is paid to Mary by Catholics. From a theological point of view, I think the best explanation of this is found in the Constitution for the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum concilium), from the Second Vatican Council. In this document, paragraph 103, we read: “In celebrating the annual cycle of Christ’s mysteries, holy Church honours with especial love the Blessed Mary, Mother of God, who is joined by an inseparable bond to the saving work of her Son. In her (Mary), the Church holds up and admires the most excellent fruit of the redemption, and joyfully contemplates, as in a faultless mirror, that which she desires and hopes wholly to be.” Or in much more simple words, the Church celebrates Mary because in her we see what we too hope to be and attain. It is important to note that Catholics do not worship Mary; they venerate her as one they hope to follow.Continue Reading The Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary

“Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you”

Decorative ImageI always like it when I can start a homily with a good story. I like it even more when I can start a homily with a really good Bible story; and when it comes to Bible stories, they do not get much better than the story about the prophet Elijah.

At a very difficult time in the history of Israel, Elijah was called by God to be a profit and bring God’s message to the people. At the time Elijah was called, the nation was being ruled by an evil King and Queen by the name of Ahab and Jezebel. They had brought false gods into the worship of the country and had taken to worshiping the false god Baal, who was thought to be the god of rain, thunder, lightening, and dew. Elijah was called to tell the people of Israel that there would be a drought for as long as they were unfaithful to the true and living God. Because Baal was thought to be in charge of the rain, for Elijah to claim that the true God had power over it, was a direct challenge to Baal’s authority.Continue Reading “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you”

“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35)

Decorative ImageTo begin, I would like to thank Fr. Seamus Hogan and the parish staff for giving me a vacation and allowing me a break. It had been almost two years since I had a vacation and a chance to be away for more than a day or two.

It had also been about two years since I was able to be with my parents. Happily, as vaccinated Canadians were allowed to enter the country, they were able to travel once again and return to their Canadian home near Parry Sound. Since I had not seen my mother in two years, I was a little surprised in the changes that had occurred in her since our last visit. She now uses a walker to walk further than a few steps. My father does everything for her. I am reminded by them of the same faithful witness that I have often seen in many of our older parishioners as they care for one another, or their parents or, their family.Continue Reading “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35)

With Profound Sadness and Heartfelt Sorrow! 

Decorative ImageWith profound sadness and heartfelt sorrow, we the parishioners of St. Peter’s Parish, learned with the rest of Canada of the discovery of another 751 bodies in a cemetery of a residential school in Canada. 

We are deeply sorry that our Indigenous brothers and sisters suffered and died in such a tragic manner in Canada’s residential schools. 

We pray for these innocent children and their families. 

Our community expresses its profound sorrow that this happened in Canada and that members of the Catholic Church participated in this system. 

We are praying for all who continue to suffer because of these tragic events. All will be remembered at our parish Masses.

We pray for reconciliation and healing in our nation and Church.