Bringing Love to Chaos

Bringing Love to Chaos

By Elizabeth Chesley-Jewell

If you were to attend the Atrium downstairs today, you would witness the littlest ones of the parish preparing our prayer table for Advent. They will light one candle for hope and raise their voices asking Jesus to, “come and be born in our hearts.” Since the Atrium opened in 2016 the way I celebrate Advent has changed. It can be difficult to look inward and examine your heart to ensure it is ready to receive the newborn child. However, this can be done joyfully. For the love of Jesus Christ envelops us regardless of our faults. The preparation process becomes easier when you acknowledge that you are loved unconditionally and that the joy of Christmas will come to you regardless of how unworthy you feel. The Gospel today begins a little less joyfully. We are told of great disasters that will precede the second coming of Jesus Christ. The Son of Man will come, but not before floods and chaos upset the earth and its people. The whole event sounds bleak and it does not paint a very good picture of the world we have created. We are warned that when Christ comes in Glory, we will ignore all the signs that are in front of us like we have done for centuries. If it happened tomorrow most of us would miss it unless it went viral on social media. So how do we prepare ourselves? The Gospel tells us to stop worrying about the things we cannot control and instead focus on strengthening our hearts, so we may escape disaster and stand before Jesus in His magnificence. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians tells us that we do this by increasing our love for one another. Being self-absorbed prevents us from loving the stranger and from valuing each human we encounter. Furthermore, it inhibits us from receiving the redemptive love of Jesus Christ. You cannot be fully open to something that you do not value. It is not about being perfect, for Christ’s love knows no bounds. Instead, it is about reaching out to those in our midst and being the face of Christ in a lost world. It is through performing acts of love that we become closer to Jesus Christ, and prepare the world for the celebration of His birth and for when He comes again in Glory. That is where the joy of the Advent season is found, in giving and receiving love. May you receive the strength you need to accept and share the unconditional love of Jesus Christ.

Sunday’s Readings:

Jeremiah 33.14-16

Psalm 25

1 Thessalonians 3.12-4.2

Luke 21.25-28, 34-36

How R.C.I.A. Brought Me to Seek the Kingdom of God

How R.C.I.A. Brought Me to Seek the Kingdom of God

By Kimberley Morton

 

Today, the Feast of Christ the King marks the end of ordinary time as we head into Advent and on Sunday December 2nd our RCIA catechumens will attend the Rite of Acceptance Mass, their first official action in the Church and in their journey of faith. I remember when I was approaching this Mass I was very nervous about standing up in front of everyone, I was very much still trying to understand what I was seeking. I later realized that what I was doing was putting on the cloak of Jesus so that I could formally begin my journey of faith and joy, the quest for truth that will bring me one day to the Kingdom of God. St John Cassian tells us ‘the objective of our life is the Kingdom of God’ and the innermost meaning of the entire Old Testament is summed up in the expression of the ‘Kingdom of God’ and it remains a major key of understanding of the whole of Jesus’ message. Pope Pius XI in Quad Primas, (1924), tells us, “…when the populace thronged around Jesus in admiration and would have acclaimed him King, he shrank from the honour and sought safety in flight. Before the Roman magistrate he declared that his Kingdom was not of this world. The gospels present this Kingdom as one which men and women prepare to enter by penance and cannot actually enter except by faith and by baptism, which though an external rite, signifies and produces interior regeneration.” Our RCIA catechumens are on their own paths of regeneration and truth toward the Kingdom of God. My journey, like yours, has many twists and turns and ups and downs but I embrace the words of St Paul when he tells us “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.”

Sunday’s Readings:

Daniel 7.13-14

Psalm 93

Revelation 1.5-8

John 18.33b-37

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

Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick

Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick

A note from Fr. Norm, Associate Pastor

Today we take a break from our usual reflection on the Sunday readings to reflect on the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick which will be celebrated at a Mass on Saturday, 27 October at 11:00am. Throughout his public ministry the sick came to Jesus to be healed. People brought their loved ones to him so that he could touch them and give them comfort and hope. Sometimes that healing was physical, at other times the sick were restored to their family and community where they could receive the love, acceptance, and care they needed. St. James tells us (James 5:14-15) , “Is anyone among you sick? They should summon the priests of the church, and they should pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord and the prayer of faith will save those who are sick, and the Lord will raise them up…”. When we celebrate the Sacrament of Anointing, we come asking Jesus for mercy and help. Through the ministry of the Church He is present and by His touch and the anointing of the Holy Spirit he offers us what we need. We may come seeking a cure, but Jesus may offer us peace of mind, and inner calm. We may come seeking relief from the stress or anxiety or depression caused by the pressure of our lives and the Holy Spirit gives us strength to fight against the darkness. We may come because our illness or state of mind separates us from others and we are given a welcoming community that tells us that we are loved and not alone. We invite all who would like the healing and comfort of this Sacrament. A light lunch will be served following the Mass. All are welcome and please invite those you think may need to experience the loving touch of Jesus.

Sunday’s Readings:

Wisdom 7.7-11

Psalm 90

Hebrews 4.12-13

Mark 10.17-30

Becoming the Servant of All

Becoming the Servant of All

By Erica Tice, USMC Campus Minister

Today’s Gospel features the second prediction of Christ’s passion and death and Christ uses it as a teaching moment when His disciples neglect to fully comprehend the lesson He is trying to teach. He tells his disciples that if they wish to be first in the kingdom, they must be not only the last of all but also the servant of all. Although it is not yet clear to the disciples, sacrifice, service, and sanctity are necessary for following Christ who, being the master teacher, will lead by example and make the lesson clear when He accepts His passion and death. Practical 21st century application of this lesson means that our life of service springs from our own devotion to the sacraments, especially the Eucharist which is so deeply tied to Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross. Lumen Gentium describes the Eucharist as being “the source and summit of the Christian life,” (no. 11). Sacrifice is, therefore, at the heart of our Christian life in the presence of the Eucharist. Our active participation in the Mass and our attentiveness in Adoration can fill us to the brim with the love of God present in the Eucharist, thereby allowing us to become conduits of God’s grace and agents of humble service. We are sanctified through the sacraments and through the self-gift of our lives to others. In today’s Gospel, however, the disciples cannot yet see the connection between sacrifice, service, and sanctity. They do not yet have the grace that flows from the Eucharist; they cannot yet make their lives about humble service because their teacher has not yet instituted the Eucharist and ratified it by His passion and death. This is not the case for us: we can let the sacraments fill us with God’s love so that we might become the least of all and the servant of all in imitation of Christ, our teacher and our Lord.

Sunday’s Readings:

Wisdom 2.12, 17-20

Psalm 54

James 3.16 – 4.3

Mark 9.30-37

Keeping up Appearances

Keeping up Appearances By Fr. Morgan V. Rice, CSB If I am going to watch any TV shows, I tend to opt for the British ones such as those on PBS’s Masterpiece. I look forward to Sunday nights to spend an hour or so watching Downton Abbey, Sherlock, or whatever series is airing. In my earlier years, one of my favourite British shows was the sitcom Keeping Up Appearances with the colourful character Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced “bouquet”, please!), who sought to follow the etiquette book to a T. Appearing proper and limiting the amount of association she had with the “less-respectable” members of her family, she always sought to impress others “of importance”, including the Anglican vicar. Often, though, what she tried to downplay or hide rose to the surface to humorous effects! One of the things that we human beings are sometimes very concerned about is looking good. I invite us to consider the appearance we put forward and who we might be trying to please or impress. I admit that physical appearance is important to me; it bothers me when my shoes are not polished or when I have not had time to iron my shirt, though many people would never notice or even care. Some people’s concern might be avoiding looking old or weak; others might want to avoid the appearance of ever being wrong. Whatever we do to maintain a particular appearance can take a lot of energy and effort that perhaps could be directed in more beneficial ways. In the Gospel this weekend, Jesus decides not to keep up the appearances that the Pharisees and scribes are expecting him and his disciples to have. For example, they are not washing their hands before they eat, and they are being judged for not doing so. Yet, Jesus is not swayed. Instead, he points out that what is truly important is what flows out of us from the heart. In the second reading, St. James writes of the importance of being a “doer” of the word, that is putting our faith into action. Like it was for Jesus’ disciples, living this way might solicit criticism rather than popularity or praise, but living out God’s word within us is what will help us to appear most authentically as a reflection of Christ.

 

Sunday’s Readings:

Deuteronomy 4.1-2, 6-8

Psalm 15

James 1.17-18, 21-22, 27

Mark 7.1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Bread of Life

Bread of Life

By Lisa Fernandes

In our Lord’s Prayer Jesus taught us to say “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6.11). At the Last Supper Jesus said “Take and eat; this is my body” (Matthew 26:26). And the name of Jesus’ birthplace, Bethlehem, literally translates as house of bread. Bread is mentioned many times in the Bible, at least 492 times in the original text. Why bread? Bread has long been an essential part of life. A recent article detailed an archaeological find in northeastern Jordan from 14,400 years ago suggesting humans were making plant-based bread thousands of years before agriculture. I literally break bread every Friday with my family when we get together for dinner. I also recently started baking bread. I find it a mindful experience and fulfilling especially when I do the kneading by hand – and it is special because it is for my family. In the first reading we hear the children of Israel on their Exodus en route to the promised land, complaining that they should have stayed home where they had their fill of bread. The Lord responds by saying to Moses: “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day” (Exodus 16.4). God delivers the bread the next morning as nourishment called manna thus fulfilling his promise. So bread in this way is a renewing of the physical body. The second reading tells us that we have to rejuvenate ourselves with the spirit of the mind: as Jesus says …”to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to cloth yourselves with the New Man, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 23-24). Here Jesus talks about bread not only as physical but spiritual food. In the Gospel reading the theme of the bread of life continues. Bread is transformed from physical to spiritual as Jesus says: “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). And of course after the Gospel, during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the purely physical bread becomes transubstantiated into the body of Christ.

 

Sunday’s Readings: Jeremiah 23.1-6 Psalm 23 Ephesians 2.13-18 Mark 6.30-34

Time Away

Time Away

By Fr. Norm Tanck, CSB

In today’s Gospel we see that Jesus and the disciples were so overwhelmed with the needs and demands of others that they need time to get away, to think and pray, to plan and dream, and to rest and regroup. The Gospel of Mark tells us that they were so busy that they couldn’t even find time to eat. So Jesus says to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” There are times when we need to get away and tend to ourselves. If we don’t take time for ourselves, our bodies will take it for us. How often have you found yourself trying to fight off a yawn or stay awake at a meeting? We know that more serious things that can happen if we don’t take the time to rest or exercise, to slow down and calm down. We can also find ourselves lonely if we do not make quality time to be with friends and family. And we need time for prayer; personal time, for private prayer and time to pray in community. Psalm 23 reminds us that, “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose; Near restful waters he leads me; to revive my drooping spirit.” But that doesn’t excuse us from being aware of the world around us. Today’s Gospel points us back to the world we leave behind as we tend to our personal or communal needs. From their private place Jesus looks and sees all those who were still seeking healing and comfort from him. The Gospel tells us that later Jesus, “saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things”.

Sunday’s Readings: Jeremiah 23.1-6 Psalm 23 Ephesians 2.13-18 Mark 6.30-34