Stay Awake, be Ready

Stay Awake, be Ready

By Marilena Berardinelli This weekend Toronto hosts the Santa Clause parade. To mark the occasion, a Catholic institution in the city invited my family to a party inaugurating the start of the “Christmas Season”. This early holiday invite, besides upsetting my liturgical sensitivities (the Christmas Season follows, not precedes, December 25), caused me to wonder how the world will fare if even Christians have lost sight of the two-fold goal of the weeks previous to Christmas (Advent): a time to remember the birth of Jesus and to prepare for his second coming among us. Today’s gospel sets our priorities straight. Using the apocalyptic language of falling stars and darkened suns, Jesus prepares his disciples for the signs indicating when God’s reign will be fully established on earth. Jesus’ words are not simply a call to “stay awake” to the signs, but a challenge to us to “be ready” to greet them. In our context, Jesus’ words are not an invitation to discern Christmas lists, holiday menus, or vacation itineraries, but instead to discern how the choices we make, especially in the coming weeks, “ready” us for God’s kingdom. I don’t think that early Christmas celebrations are bad. However, I do believe that the God who works with us, in us, and through us in the building of the kingdom is inviting us today not to be bystanders to the status quo, but to discern our individual involvement in the transformation of our world. What choices will I make? What organizations will I support? What charities will I give to? How will I advocate the building of a kingdom that acknowledges and respects the sacredness of all, that supports the common good and acknowledges solidarity with the poorest and most vulnerable, that makes ecological choices that places creation first and that works for peace both in my home and in my world? How will I respond to Jesus’ invitation to participate in God’s new world order?

Sunday’s Readings:

1 Kings 17.10-16

Psalm 146

Hebrews 9.24-28

Mark 12.38-44

Within the Christian tradition, discernment is the art of prayerful decision making. St. Ignatius of Loyola defined discernment as the ability to see clearly God’s deepest desire for us and for the world. Our parish hosts several prayer groups that support the journey of discernment needed in the building of the Kingdom, including: Christian Meditation Group, Contemplative Women of St. Anne and the Basilian Lay Associates. For more information on participating in these groups, please see our website or take an information card that is available in the church narthex.

And on Earth, as in Heaven

And on Earth, as in Heaven

By Michael Pirri

“Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered in to heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf…” (Hebrews 9.24-28) The modern concept of a church building is a development of the Jewish tradition of the synagogue and the temple. The synagogue is traditionally understood as a place for verbal prayer and reverent reading and discussion of Sacred Scripture. The temple, was a place to encounter the presence of God in a restricted, and limited way. Modern churches combine the two, they are a place to encounter God through the scriptures, and in the sacrifice of the Eucharist. The Sacred Liturgy is where we “take part in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the holy city of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, a minister of the holies and true tabernacle” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 8). Our church buildings serve as a place for us to “see” the full community of liturgy: angels, saints, and the Trinity. In some ancient churches in Rome, inscribed above the doors, you’ll see PORTA CŒLI, Latin for Heaven’s Gate. The importance of the rituals and sacraments that take place in a church cannot be understated. Here heaven dips down to earth and we reach upward, and, for a moment, we see God face to face.

Sunday’s Readings:

  • 1 Kings 17.10-16
  • Psalm 146
  • Hebrews 9.24-28
  • Mark 12.38-44

 

For those interested in how human understanding of the Liturgy helps shape church architecture, there’s a great publication entitled Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy by Denis R. McNamara.

Serving the Poor and the Call to Holiness

Serving the Poor and the Call to Holiness

By Michael Pirri

Following the canonization of 7 new saints last week, Pope Francis remarked “The world needs saints, and all of us, without exception, are called to holiness. We are not afraid!” It’s easy for us to distinguish ourselves from the traditional saints, most often far removed from our contemporary life; we can have a hard time imagining the circumstances these holy men and women found themselves in. Their lives undoubtably provide us with inspiration for our own personal calls to holiness, but it can be difficult to translate their work into a modern context. Among the new saints of the Church is St. Oscar Romero, a Latin American Archbishop who was murdered while celebrating Mass in the spring of 1980. He frequently spoke out against poverty, human rights injustices, assassinations, and torture in his home country of El Salvador. From 1977-1989, 12 religious and one lay missionary were assassinated during the civil war for their work against the oppressive government. These events are part of society’s collective memory. He is a modern saint, providing modern examples of works of charity. These men and women were committed to Christ’s call to love and serve our neighbours. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are[…]” Hebrews 4.15 St. Oscar Romero’s work with and for the poor are directly related to today’s Gospel reading. “whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10.43-45) May we pray for the discernment to respond to the call to serve the poor among us.

 

Sunday’s Readings:

  • Isaiah 53.10-11
  • Psalm 33
  • Hebrews 4.14-16
  • Mark 10.35-45