“The Father has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13)
On the last Sunday of every liturgical year, which this Sunday is, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Christ the King—King of the Universe. Next Sunday, we will begin a new liturgical year as we celebrate the First Sunday of Advent.
The Solemnity of Christ the King takes place on the last Sunday of the liturgical year to remind us that at the end of time, Christ will come to judge the living and the dead. The solemnity is intended to remind us that we are to be ready to meet Christ when He comes by being ready to meet Him today and always. While Christians have always believed that Jesus was their king, this liturgical feast was established in 1925 by Pope Pius XI. He instituted it in troubled times to remind Catholics that the worldly powers that were causing such political turmoil at the time were only temporary and passing. The true Kingship over humanity belonged to Christ and Christians ought to be more concerned with following Christ than those passing worldly powers. At the same time that Pius XI instituted the feast, he suggested that as it was celebrated all Catholics ought to renew their consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Pius XI’s motto as Pope was: “Christ’s Peace through Christ’s reign.”Continue Reading Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
Giving thanks to God for surviving a pandemic, while still praying for peace, truth, healing and reconciliation
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 Peoples 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.
Of course the history of our continent also shows us that this cooperative relationship between the first European settlers and the Indigenous People did not continue for very long. After a very short period of time, the European settlers began to take the land for granted and to demand that it all be given to them. What was at first regarded as a privilege to be grateful for, soon began to be regarded as something that was owed to them and the land and the Indigenous People were exploited. The great buffalo that roamed the continent were soon extinct and the Indigenous Peoples lost their lands and were relegated to reserves across both Canada and the United States. We still hear of the tragic circumstances of this history today as we read about the high suicide rates among the young people in the Indigenous communities. The recent revelations about the experience and trauma of many Indigenous persons in the Government mandated Residential School System has kept this tragic situation before our eyes and minds. This is a part of our history that still calls for much truth, healing and reconciliation.Continue Reading Thanksgiving 2022
Preparing for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
In the Anointed for Mission programme that the Archdiocese uses to prepare the candidates for the Sacrament of Confirmation, there is a game that is played to try and get the candidates to take a stand for justice. In this game, people are told to award themselves points for certain qualities about themselves and to subtract points for certain other qualities. The winner of the game is the person who gets the most points. That person is given a prize of a bag of a large number of small chocolate bars. Some of the things that they are told to award themselves points for are: if their family owns their own home; if they have more than two cars in the family; if they are boys; if they are good at sports; or if they were born in Canada. Some of the things that they lose points for are: if their family does not own their own home, if their family does not have a car; if they are girls; if they are bad at sports; and if they were born outside of Canada.
The purpose of the game is to try and get the young people who are preparing for Confirmation to see the injustice of the game and to get them to want to stand up against such an unjust game. By the time the game is over, they are supposed to be angry at the injustice and want to stand up for those who are being unjustly treated. The idea is that they will see that this is sometimes the way the world actually treats people. One of the reasons that the prize is a large bag of many small chocolate bars is because it is hoped the winner will also understand how unjust the game has been and decide to share the chocolate equally with all of the candidates who take part in the game. Happily, throughout all of the times I have been involved with this exercise, the winner has always decided to share his or her prize because he or she understood that the prize was only won because of a number of unjust situations and they have a desire to share with others.Continue Reading In the Jesus Movement, Every Life Matters
This Sunday, throughout the Archdiocese of Toronto, is Stewardship Sunday. This is a Sunday, in which we are invited to think about all that God has given to us and are to challenge ourselves to respond to the many gifts that we have received. In his previous pastoral letters on Stewardship Sunday, Cardinal Collins, has asked all of us to consider how we can be involved in our parish communities as a way of thanking God for the gifts that He has given us in this life. Although this Sunday pastors are to read Cardinal Collins’ letter on this subject, I would like to just comment on someone who recently caused me to think of one who was a faithful steward in her life.Continue Reading Stewardship Sunday 2022
Visitation, by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1491), depicts Mary visiting her elderly cousin Elizabeth.
There is a beautiful hymn, or prayer, which the Gospel of Luke reports to be the words of Mary in response to Elizabeth’s greeting to her when she had come to visit her after giving her “yes” to be the Mother of the Lord. This hymn is known as the Magnificat. It is prayed every evening by those who recite the Liturgy of the Hours as part of evening prayer. This hymn states the following:
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.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Continue Reading Gratitude Changes Everything!
If the home that you grew up in was like the one in which I grew up in, you might have heard things like this said to you as a young person:
“If you eat your vegetables, you can have dessert.”
“Finish your homework and then you can watch television.”
“If you get a good report card, you can go to camp this summer instead of summer school.”
Hearing things like this as we grow up, can lead some of us to think that life is fair and that if we are good, good things will happen to us. In fact, for some Christians, one of the very difficult challenges in life is trying to understand why it is that if they pray and follow the commandments, it is still possible for bad things to happen to them. For many, there is a sense that faith should act as a kind of lucky charm; protecting them from anything difficult in life. I sometimes think of this as a kind of “Rabbit Foot” approach to faith. It is like thinking that by hanging a rosary from the rear-view mirror of our car, we will be protected from an accident. What a rosary is really intended for is for praying, that we might know that God is with us through all of the different circumstances of our lives.Continue Reading “Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12: 1-2)
St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), Founder of the Jesuits
I would invite you to think about someone whom you know and love; someone whom you now believe is in Heaven with God. What is it that you remember about that person? Why is that person special to you?
I could be wrong, but my guess is that what you remember about the special person that I have asked you to think about is not how much money they made per year; or how big their house was; or what kind of car they drove. What you remember is probably how they loved you, supported you, and how they reflected God’s love to you. In many ways, what we remember about those people who were special in our lives is those things that they did to build up their wealth in the riches of the things that matter to God. Those things that matter to God are expressed beautifully in the commandments: “you shall love the Lord your God above all things and your neighbour as self.”Continue Reading “If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1-2)
For many very good Christians one of the biggest questions that they have about their faith life relates to how they are to talk to God; or to put it another way, how they are to pray. In this Sunday’s readings, we are given some of the most powerful lessons about prayer that are found in the Scriptures. In the first reading from the Book of Genesis, we are allowed to listen in on a conversation that takes place between Abraham and God. The Gospel contains an actual lesson in prayer from Jesus to His disciples. Both have a great deal to teach us about the way in which God invites us to communicate with Him. They provide an invitation to relate to God freely, openly as we authentically come before Him. They also encourage us to trust that God will always hear our prayers; even if it can sometimes take us a while to understand His answer. In order that we might understand His answer, Jesus promises us that His Father will send us the gift of His Holy Spirit.Continue Reading “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1)
This past Friday, July 1, as we celebrated Canada Day, one of the “good news” stories that was reported on the Friday evening news had to do with the number of new Canadians who received their citizenship in different celebrations across Canada. As a priest, I have had the privilege of accompanying both friends and parishioners who have received their citizenship and it is always a very happy experience that usually comes at the end of a difficult and challenging adventure. For many, a new life in Canada has come at the end of a journey that entailed much hardship. Often, those who come to Canada have left family and loved ones at home. There can be many sacrifices in coming to a new country. Yet, despite the difficulties, those who do seek a new life in a new country often do so because they believe in the better future that lies ahead of them; either for themselves or for their children. The dream of a better future makes the sacrifices of the difficult journey worthwhile. Often, it is only the hope of that better life, and the security that it offers, that gives those who come to Canada the strength to persevere through the different and various challenges and tribulations.Continue Reading I have set my eyes on your hills, Jerusalem my Destiny!
We celebrate this weekend our parish’s titular feast day, the Solemnity of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. This feast takes place on June 29th, but over the last few years we have switched its celebration to the nearest Sunday so that it may be celebrated more solemnly at our Sunday Masses. It is obvious why we call Saint Peter our titular saint— the parish being named Saint Peter’s; but perhaps the connection to Saint Paul is not so clear. It is because of the many years of faithful service that the Paulist Fathers rendered to this parish that we also honour Saint Paul as our parish’s other titular saint.Continue Reading The Solemnity of Saint Peter and Saint Paul