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
At the beginning of this Easter Season, you and I celebrated Easter by renewing our baptismal promises. In the Ritual for Infant Baptism, there are about a hundred different readings that can be used at a Baptism for a child. Despite this great variety, I find that I have used only one reading at almost all of the Baptisms that I have celebrated in my years as a priest. The reading that I always use at Baptism is the text from Matthew in which Jesus commissions His disciples to go out into the world and baptize all nations. The exact words that Jesus used are as follows: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the ages” (Matthew 28: 19-20). What strikes me most about this passage is the amazing promise that Christ has made to all of us through our Baptisms: “Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the ages.” Christ promises all of us that He is with us always, forever, until the end of time. Today, as we celebrate Pentecost Sunday, Jesus tells us that He will fulfill this promise to be with us always by sending the Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts.Continue Reading Pentecost – Fulfilling the Promise to be With Us Until the End of the Ages (and inviting us today to take our place in His living Church)!
In the days following Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples of Jesus locked themselves away in self-isolation for fear that the Romans and Jews might arrest them for being followers of Jesus. This self-isolation was very similar to that which many people today have had to experience. Throughout the entire time of the disciples’ isolation, Jesus appeared to His disciples and strengthened them with assurances of His resurrection, peace, and the gift of the Holy Spirit by which He would always be present in their lives.
Today, as we celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension, we see that a huge change takes place in the life of the Apostles and disciples. We are given a hint as to what the nature of this change might be in the first line of this Sunday’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles, as we read: “In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day He was taken up to Heaven” (Acts 1:1). Up until this time, the story of the Church was basically the story of the disciples as they lived and physically walked with Jesus. While He was with them, Jesus lead the way and was in charge. The disciples lived with Jesus and did not need to take responsibility for the community of the believers or the direction that community might go. Jesus’ ascension into heaven marks a new beginning for the life of believers. They will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and the disciples of the Lord will be called upon to take responsibility for the Church as they are directed in the world by the Holy Spirit as to how to serve the Lord in different situations. This new responsibility of discipleship is also sometimes called stewardship.Continue Reading The Solemnity of the Ascension: Stewards Sent to Continue Building the Church in a Post- Pandemic World
It is a very rare thing for me to get to a Toronto Maple Leaf game. Tickets are expensive and hard to come-by. Recently, as a result of the pandemic, it has been even more rare for any of us to take in a game. I think because it has been about three years since I had last been to a game, I was quite taken in by the whole atmosphere of the crowd and the spectacular environment of the whole show; not just of the game, but of the environment that surrounded the whole game.Continue Reading “We Are His People, the Sheep of His Flock:” World Day of Prayer for Vocations. (Go Leafs- Go!)
“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 Divine Mercy Sunday 2022
It has been more than two years since the pandemic began. Since the start of it, many people have been hoping and praying for a “new heaven and a new earth,” free from this illness. There have been many temporary “fixes” that made some people think that we were on the verge of being delivered from anything that might threaten our safety and way of life. So many people placed a false hope in the announcement that a vaccination had been found. We were then told that a second dose would provide the solution that we were all praying for. Then a third and then a fourth. And now we are being told that it is something that we will have to live with for the time being. As the hopes of life returning to normal seemed to be in sight, the terrible and sad news of war came to us as Russia, without provocation, invaded Ukraine. The terrible spread of death that this was has unleashed in Ukraine, and the unsettling threat that it could spread elsewhere, once again leaves many feeling the reality of our uncertain situation.Continue Reading “A New Heaven and a New Earth” (Rev. 21:1) – Easter 2022
Jerusalem is, and has been for several millenniums, a great walled city that must be entered through one of the several gates found in the city’s walls. It is also a holy and sacred city. For the Jews, Jerusalem is that city where God dwelt with His people in the great temple at which they could visit Him and offer Him sacrifice. 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. This meant that one had died with God in His Holy City and had indeed lived a blessed life.Continue Reading Palm and Passion Sunday
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 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 blessing 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 Today, If You Hear God’s Voice, Harden not Your Hearts
The season of Lent is that time in the Church year when the baptized are called to prepare to renew their baptismal promises, and when those who are not baptized enter into the final stages of their baptismal preparation. As we are to prepare to do this throughout Lent on Easter Sunday, today I would like to speak a little bit about what is one of my favorite themes in the Liturgy for Baptism by making particular reference to the Ritual for the Baptism of Infants.
When a child is baptized, the Rite of Baptism begins at the doors of the church. The priest greets the parents and godparents of the child at the doors of the church and asks them to introduce the child to the Christian community. This is also what we did with the adult catechumens when they were introduced to the Christian community for the first time. The only difference being that the adult candidates are not baptized right away, but undergo a period of preparation. In the baptism of a child, the infants are baptized right away in the same liturgy. The reason why the infants are to be introduced to the community goes back to that period in time when the Church was persecuted and only those known by the community could enter the Church. In fact, it is the role of the sponsors even to this day to testify to the sincerity of those who inquire into the life of the Church. Once the children have been introduced, they process with the priest and their families into the church to hear God’s Word proclaimed. A similar procession takes place at the Easter Vigil when the candidates and the whole community process in after the Easter candle, which represents the Risen Christ who they are all to follow. At the Easter Vigil, the symbolism is of us all following Christ, the true light of the world.Continue Reading The Eucharist—Our Weekly Encounter with the Risen Lord