A wise spiritual director once advised my wife that ours needs to be a “guerilla spirituality”—young professionals with families cannot live the fixed spiritual pattern of monastics. So I look to nourish my spirituality with prayer in the fleeting moments of my life—short prayers when going up and down stairwells, listening to spiritual podcasts when making a short car run to grab groceries. I try to pray a Rosary in the car every day (instead of indulging my guilty pleasure of talk radio) and I stop my day to pray the Angelus, although sometimes the only quiet place I can find for that is the washroom at work. I belong to a small group that meets to pray, discuss, and eat together every two weeks. This is incredibly sustaining to my interior life as it puts me in contact with other small parts of the Church who are praying for me, and I in turn am able to pray for them. Of course, the best nourishment is the Mass, so on the rare times that I can attend during the week, I try to go (and at St Basil’s, thankfully, usually I can pair that with the Sacrament of Reconciliation).
I’ve been at St Basil’s for three years, since moving to downtown Toronto. Initially, I came here because it was my local parish, but I’ve grown to love it as a parish that contains the wonderful diversity of our urban life. There are old people and young people, and people in all sorts of professions and from all sorts of different places. I love the aesthetic of our worship—it retains the beautiful traditions and music of our Catholic ancestors while still preaching the Gospel, which is (of course) always relevant to our modern lives. I also love that our loud and messy young children are welcome. I have made many friends here, which is really quite different from most of the parishes I have been a member of in my life—people seem more eager to connect and start relationships.
Still, I would like to see a growth in vibrancy of congregational worship, especially singing. As Catholics we sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that worship is something the priest does, but it is really not true. Our liturgy is often very receptive, a series of proclamations from the ambo while we in the pews sit and listen. This is not very worshipful. In practical terms, I would love to see a real culture of active participation in the Mass (responding in our parts, and singing), and of praying together the prayers of the Church, especially the Hours. This is not just for “churchy” people; it should be part of the life of all Christians. I think that if we revitalize our worship we will revitalize our faith and our fellowship.
Faith requires conversion. Every day I need to remember that “turning towards the Lord” is an ongoing endeavour and that before I can change the world I need to turn myself back to the source of life. Conversion is not a one-time thing but an ongoing process, and I need to embrace that process every single day. Once I have the attitude of conversion, I need to spread the joy that this brings with others. Faith that is kept inside is sure to whither—it’s like a plant: it needs to see the light and fresh air in order to thrive.
I am saddened by the marginalization of faith in society. It seems that fewer and fewer people are aware of the significance of the questions of faith, or of how fundamental these questions are to our notion of humanity. We don’t so much live in a world that is hostile to Christ as one that is apathetic to Him. Sadly, the end result of this is a world where we are apathetic to each other, and which results in the epidemic of loneliness and isolation that plagues our society.
I am still gladdened by the fact that, due to our Christian heritage, we remain a compassionate society. There is an understanding that we need to help our brothers and sisters in need, that justice belongs to all equally and not just to the strong, and that love is the greatest virtue. Divorced from the source (that is, the Gospel) these values lose some of their power to convert, but their endurance in our world is a sign that the Gospel is still very much alive.
It is important to me that I do my small part in making my wife, my children, my family, and my friends into saints. If I can cooperate with God in this, I will have done my duty.