Parish & Your Pastor 

Father William Brennan

National Indigenous Peoples Day is June 21st

posted June 15, 2024

This week we are highlighting a couple of activities for National Indigenous Peoples Day (this coming Friday) as we continue to seek opportunities to learn more about First Nations history and culture and supporting our journey as we strive to become better allies.

Sitansisk 21st Annual Powwow (St. Mary’s First Nation). This weekend is Sitansisk Annual Powwow. Come hear the drum beat of Mother Earth on June 14, 15, & 16 at St. Mary's Old Reserve (534 Union Street). Click on the following link for more information on the schedule of events: https://www.facebook.com/groups/239686049557017

Activities for June 21st


‘Hello Crows’ will be at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery (703 Queen Street) this coming Friday from 12 noon to 1pm. Formed in 2022, this group of highly talented Wabanaki songwriters and storytellers, also represent a collective voice both for their people and their generation. Through their performances they hope to educate audiences about their history and beautiful culture while sharing the social obstacles their community continues to face today.


The Joint Economic Development Initiative (JEDI), the Wolastoqey Tribunal Council Inc. (WTCI) and the MAWIW Council (Elsipogtog, Neqotkuk and Esgenoôpetitj First Nation communities) will once again be hosting a family day filled with festivities, activities for kids and onsite vendors on the grounds of the NB Legislature Building this coming Friday from 12:30pm to 3:30pm. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn and celebrate Indigenous culture!


Other Activities:

Wabanaki Healing Garden. The entrance is situated in the Fredericton Botanic Garden (Prospect Street entrance). The Healing Garden is the brainchild of Cecelia Brooks, a Knowledge Keeper from St. Mary’s First Nation, and her son, Anthony Brooks. "One of the things that Anthony and I talked about was the reconciliation process here in Canada, and that we truly believe that it's the grassroots people that will initiate that and carry that," said Cecelia Brooks. “Since time immemorial the Wabanaki People have lived in gratitude and nurtured reciprocity with plants and all other beings on this earth we know to be our mother. Sharing this harmonious approach to life and living beings is reflected in the Wabanaki worldview through our ancient languages, culture, dance, and song. The garden is an expression of our love and hope for the healing and nurturing of the earth and all her people.” For more information on the Healing Garden and guided tours click on the following link: https://www.wabanakitreespirit.ca/new-page-1


CBC Gem Documentaries: Last February our Parish presented two watch and learn documentaries on Indigenous Spiritual Ceremony. This event also supports the Truth and Reconciliation 94 Calls to Action, “Recognizing that all Canadians, as treaty peoples, share responsibility in establishing and maintaining respectful relationships”. Both these documentaries ‘Telling Our Story’ and ‘My Name is Wolastoq’ can be found online at CBC Gem.


National Indigenous History Month
Learning Opportunities

posted June 7, 2024

National Indigenous History Month: During the month of June, you are encouraged to take opportunities to learn more about First Nations history and culture. It is a time to honor the stories, achievements, and resilience of Indigenous Peoples. To help support our journey of becoming better allies, this week we are highlighting information on upcoming Powwows in our region. Traditionally Powwows are a time of celebration and gratitude. A full schedule of the 2024 Powwows is available in the lobby of the church. Additional resources that can be found on our Parish website – stkateri.ca. Deepening Our Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation

National Indigenous History Month

posted May 31, 2024

June is National Indigenous History Month in Canada with June 21st designated as National Indigenous Peoples Day. During the month of June, you are encouraged to take opportunities to learn more about First Nations history and culture. It is a time to honor the stories, achievements, and resilience of Indigenous Peoples.


To help support our journey of becoming better allies, through the month of June, we will be highlighting three books by Indigenous authors and other related books and activities to undertake throughout the next several weeks and in the months to come.


Book 1: “Out of the Depths” by Isabelle Knockwood. Isabelle Knockwood is an elder of the Mi’Kmaq Nation, author, and survivor of the Shubenacadie Residential School. She attended St. Mary’s University and in 2013, was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Civil Law by Saint Mary’s University. Her booked is dedicated to all former students of the Indian Residential School in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia. The following are some reflections from her book, Out of the Depths. See selection of books in the church lobby at Holy Family.

“I am holding the Talking Stick. I have been talking about the Indian Residential School in Shubenacadie for many years, and I still don’t understand why the hurt and shame of seeing and hearing the cries of abused Mi’kmaw children, many of them orphans, does not go away or heal. I hope that the act of writing it down will help me and others to come up with some answers.”
“Often we were silenced and repressed not so much by physical violence but by psychological intimidation.”
“As children, the residential school students were warrior children—we stood on the front line alone, unprotected and unarmed trying to defend our culture, identity and heritage.”
“Our elders were the most respected members of the Mi’kmaw community. They were the mental storehouse for the genealogy of every member of the tribe. The custom of consulting elders is called Weji-kluluemk. Elders also had a vast knowledge of survival skills.”
“Our home clothes were stripped off…we were given new clothes with wide black and white vertical stripes. Much later I discovered that this was almost identical to the prison garb of the time.”
“As a child, I lived in perpetual fear of saying and doing anything…I knew if my work was too good, it would bring the response, “Who do you think you are?”
“Why, I wondered, had we put up with the Indian residential school system for so long, what made us so powerless? For me one of the keys lies in the way our parents were deceived into giving up their children to become little hostages of a state whose goal was to stifle and destroy their cultural identity and inheritance.”
“Did the two groups understand the nature of an apology differently? The Merriam Webster Dictionary, for instance, defines the term apology as, “an expression of regret for a mistake or wrong with implied admission of guilt or fault. The Mi’kmaw word for “apology” has a more complete definition. “Apiksiktuaqn” includes both “apology” and “forgiveness”. Apiksiktu, therefore, means, “I am saying to you that I am taking it back.” It also has a second meaning, “Apologize and forgive her/him.” Elizabeth Paul and Phyllis Googoo explained that apiksiktuaqn combines both an act of apology and an act of forgiveness.”

The following are three other books suggested by Open Space published by the Jesuit Forum for Social Faith and Justice. Click on the following link to learn more: https://jesuitforum.ca/resources/dialogue-guides/

  • Listening to Indigenous Voices: A Dialogue Guide on Justice and Right Relationships

  • On Care for Our Common Home: A Dialogue Guide for Laudato Si’

  • Living with Limits, Living Well!: Hints for Neighbours on an Endangered Planet

Development and Peace:
Canadian Foodgrains Bank

posted May 25, 2024


Development and Peace (The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace) is the official international development organization of the Catholic Church in Canada and the Canadian member of Caritas Internationalis. Development and Peace has an account at the Foodgrains Bank that they draw from to provide food assistance during emergencies around the world and to fund programs that support families and communities in their efforts to access more and better food in the long term.


On October 7, 2023, after an attack by Hamas militants on Israel, Israeli forces responded with a sustained aerial bombardment, a military siege and ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. To date, more than 23,000 Palestinians have been killed, more than 85% of the population have been internally displaced and have lost their homes, livelihoods, and belongings. Large-scale damage to residences, business, infrastructure, and restrictions on the availability of water, food and fuel have largely halted all economic and agricultural activities. Communications are cut regularly, and a lack of fuel has resulted in insufficient fuel for electricity generators, water treatment plants, and sewage pumping stations to operate. The ongoing war and border restrictions have hampered the delivery of consistent and sufficient humanitarian assistance to affected populations.


Even before the crisis, many families in Gaza faced acute food insecurity: In 2022, 65% of the Gaza population was either severely or moderately food insecure.


Since the start of the war, these households have increasingly been forced to adopt negative coping strategies such as reducing the number of meals and portion sizes and cutting adults’ consumption to allow children to eat. The Food Security Sector currently estimates that 2.3 million people, the entire population of Gaza, is food insecure.


Catholic Relief Services is preparing for a 12-month, Emergency Food Response in Gaza to serve 1,485 internally displaced families (approximately 8,910 people), with a focus on IDPs living within non-UN collective centers and IDPs staying with host families, in the southern governorates in Gaza. CRS will work with the El-Amal Rehabilitation Society (El-Amal) and Palestinian Organization for Development (POD) to implement the project. The current plan is to provide an initial round of in-kind ready to eat food assistance (equivalent to CAD$356 / household / month), followed by two additional rounds of either multipurpose cash assistance (MPCA) or in-kind food assistance (equivalent to CAD$279 / household / month), depending on assessed market functionality and access.


Food is essential. Your gift will help provide relief to the people who know the pain and fear of hunger and will help support Development and Peace’s work to end global hunger through the Foodgrains Bank. To donate click on the following link: https://foodgrainsbank.ca/donate/


Pentecost Happened At A Meeting

by Fr. Ron Rolheiser, posted May 17, 2024

“If you’re someone who’s at all concerned about community, family, church, justice, education, culture, or civic issues, you will, no doubt, find yourself at a lot of meetings. A colleague of mine likes to quip: “When they write our history, they’ll simply say, `They met a lot!'”


Indeed, we do. We meet a lot. There are an endless variety of issues that call for our participation in group discussion and community discernment: church issues, education issues, justice issues, moral issues, political issues, social issues, economic issues, and cultural issues. It’s a bottomless well and all those meetings can seem like a huge waste of time and energy, a distraction to real work. Moreover, at a point, we can’t help wondering too: “Are all these meetings changing anything? Would life be any different (other than more leisured and pleasant) if we stopped having all these meetings?” It’s easy to grow tired, discouraged, and cynical about all the meetings we’re asked to attend.


But we should keep something in mind: Pentecost happened at a meeting! One of the central events that shaped Christian history and history in general, happened not to an individual off praying alone or to a monk on a mountain-top or to a solitary Buddha meditating under a tree. None of these. Pentecost happened at meeting, and it happened to a community, to a church congregation assembled for prayer, to a family of faith gathered to wait for God’s guidance. Moreover, it happened in a common room, a meeting room, in one of those humble, church- basement, type of rooms. It can be helpful to remember that. Our search for God should take us not just into private places of quiet and contemplation but, equally, into meeting rooms.


Where Christianity is different from most other world religions is partly on this very point. In Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism, spirit and revelation break into the world very much through an individual, particularly an individual who is deeply immersed in private prayer. God speaks deeply to those who pray deeply.


Christian spirituality and Judaism have no argument with that. We agree. There’s a privileged experience of God that can be had only in private, alone, in silence. To find God, to receive God’s spirit, it’s important that, at times, we pull away from the group, that we set off to the desert,

to the chapel, to the lonely place, the quiet, to be alone with God. We see Jesus do exactly that. Mark’s gospel tells us that when his ministry was most intense, when it was “too busy even to eat”, Jesus pulled away, to be alone for a while. There are times that call for withdrawal and silence. Meister Eckhart once wrote: “There is nothing in the world that resembles God as much as silence.” All good spirituality shares this view.


However, where Christianity and Judaism differ somewhat from some of the other world religions is in our belief that there is an equally privileged experience of God that can be had only in a group, in community, in family, at a meeting. We don’t just meet God in the desert or in the deep quiet parts of our souls. We meet God there, surely, but we also meet God in the group, the community, the family, at the church gathering, at the meeting: “For where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them!” In Christian and Jewish spirituality there are two non-negotiable places where we meet God, alone and in the family. These are not in opposition, but complementary, relying on each other to keep our experience of God both deep and pure.


Pentecost, it is important to note, happened to a group at a meeting, not to an individual alone in the desert. That can be helpful to keep in mind when we tire of meetings, despair of their effectiveness, or resent that they pull us away from important private endeavours. The fact that Pentecost happened at a meeting can also be helpful in keeping us focused on why we are going to all these meetings in the first place.


Peter Maurin, Dorothy Day’s initial mentor, used to say: “When you don’t know what else to do, keep going to meetings!” Sound advice! Meetings are the “Upper room”, the place where we wait for Pentecost. And what are we waiting for? Why are we in the upper room, at a meeting? Because we are waiting there, with others, for God to do something in us and through us that we can’t do all by ourselves, namely, create community with each other and bring justice, love, peace, and joy to our world.


And so, we need to go to continue to go to meetings. We need to spend time together waiting for God, waiting for a new outflow of heavenly fire that will give us the courage, language, and power we need to make happen in the world what our faith and love envision.


See you at the meeting!”


Happy Mother’s Day! 

posted May 10, 2024

On this Mother’s Day weekend, take time to give thanks and show gratitude to all the mothers in our lives whether it be our mother, mother-in-law, grandmother or great grandmother, sister, aunt or other mentor. Thanks for the nurturing, the sacrifices, the wisdom, the love and joy they bring each day. For your reflection this weekend, we offer the following prayer:

A Psalm for Women

Divine Wisdom, out of love and compassion you created me and called me “woman” bone of bones and flesh of flesh companion and partner with man.


You created me in your own image to be fruitful and to fill the earth with life, leading, ordering and empowering the created universe, together with the holy women and men, created and infused with your spirit of love.


You have drawn me into a web of woven threads with the ancient ones: Eve and Esther, Ruth and Naomi, Sarah and Rebecca. You have drawn me into a sisterhood of pieces and patterns designed by holy women: Mary and Elizabeth, Martha of Bethany and Mary of Magdala, Pricilla and Lydia.


You have drawn me into a kinship with the wild, daring, holy women whose lives flavor my own: Therese of Lisieux and Catherine of Siena, Clare of Assisi and Teresa of Avila, Margaret of Hungary and Briget of Kildare.


You have drawn me into a union with the wise women of my own time and culture: Dorothy Day and Thea Bowman, Mother Teresa and Edith Stein, Simone Weil and Catherine de Hueck Doherty.


In their company I will spring up, blossom, and grow into the woman of wisdom you have molded and formed from the beginning of time.

Carol Gura, Catholic Women’s Devotional Bible


Good News from Development and Peace: Stand for the Land Campaign Concludes with Honduran Ambassador to Canada receiving over 52,000 Signatures!

posted May 4, 2024

Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada concluded its 2023 mobilization campaign, Stand for the Land, on Wednesday, April 24, by handing over to Her Excellency Beatriz Valle, Ambassador of Honduras to Canada, a letter signed by 52,629 Canadians that draws the attention of the Government of Honduras to the struggles of people in Guapinol and the San Pedro sector. Since 2015, these communities have been protesting an open-pit iron mine that was irregularly set up in Carlos Escaleras National Park.


Her Excellency said she was “touched by the solidarity expressed by the Canadian population towards the community of Guapinol, which is so far away.” She promised to pass on the message to her Minister of Foreign Affairs and to ask people in Congress to take up the Guapinol case with her government.


The initial goal of the campaign was to collect 32,000 signatures (1,000 for each of the 32 unjustly imprisoned Guapinol defenders), but Canadians responded with such exceptional solidarity that this goal was well surpassed. The handover of the letter was done by a five-person delegation that was supported by several members of the organization.


During the meeting, Carl Hétu, executive director of Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada, highlighted that on March 22, Her Excellency Elizabeth Williams, Ambassador of Canada to Honduras, had visited the Guapinol community, accompanied by our campaign partner, ERIC-Radio Progreso, to express solidarity with the victims of the conflict and their families. Hétu said he hoped that the campaign would support the Honduran government in implementing concrete action to help the Guapinol and San Pedro communities.


Gabrielle Dupuis, vice-president of the national council, left the meeting proud “to have been able to bring the voices of more than 52,000 Canadians to the table,” and hoping these voices would encourage the Honduran government to continue implementing reforms that favour vulnerable communities.


Elvin Hernández, a human rights investigator with ERIC-Radio Progreso, said, “I hope this information will be passed on to the President of Honduras, Xiomara Castro, and that from there, the three fundamental demands you have so confidently made [in the letter] can be addressed or expedited.”


For the communities of Guapinol and San Pedro, this meeting is a major step toward the recognition of their rights. It sends a strong message to the Honduran government, telling it that over 52,600 people in Canada Stand for the Land and support the communities’ struggle to obtain protection for Carlos Escaleras National Park; an end to persecution of environmentalists; and just compensation for the Guapinol Eight, who remained unfairly incarcerated for over two years.


Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada would like to thank our members and the Canadian public for their important role in the success of this campaign.


Earth Day 2024 is Monday,
April 22nd

posted April 20, 2024

This coming week we once again mark Earth Day and as people of faith, we have a responsibility to protect our common home and a commitment to care for creation. Laudato Si' teaches us that “everything is connected and concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of Society (LS 91). Each community can take from the bounty of the earth…but it also has the duty to protect the earth and to ensure its fruitfulness for coming generations. (LS67).”


The following is an excerpt from A Passion for Life by Sr. Joan Chittister entitled, “I Believe in God, Creator of the Earth” offering some reflections on caring for creation as taught to her at a young age by her parents and which remains with her still.


“Never, ever, throw anything in the water, my father taught me when we were out fishing, pop bottles and sandwich wrappers all over the bottom of the little skiff. Never, ever, throw cans out a car window, my mother warned us. These other messages were the anthem by which I lived my young life: Don’t ever hurt an animal. Don’t ever keep more fish than you can eat. Don’t ever use more of anything than you need. Don’t waste anything. Don’t ever dig up flower gardens. Don’t ever trample down small trees. Don’t ever hurt a baby bird.


Why? Because making a garbage heap out of the water and the woods, my property or nobody’s property, destroyed the beauty and goodness of creation. Because destroying another being just for the sake of destroying it took life in vain. Because creation was good and each part of it had its own purpose that’s why. Because we were to walk through life on tiptoe, as part of creation, not as predators with swollen bellies and bloated souls. We were to learn from animals and care for flowers, to have enough and never too much. We were meant to leave the world better than we found it.


This was a way of life that held more than humanity sacred. Those lessons ring in my heart this day, more loudly than ever before.


God, the Creed insists, created the earth. The earth, like us, in other words, breathes the breath of God. The simplicity of the statement overwhelms. What is it that has been created by God that does not reflect the presence of God? What is it, created by God, that can cavalierly be destroyed without remorse, without awareness of the divine life within it?”

A Prayer for our Earth
O God, you embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction. Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with very creature as we journey towards your infinite light. Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace.
Pope Francis

Feast of St. Kateri Tekakwitha

posted April 13, 2024

This coming Wednesday, April 17th is the feast day of St. Kateri Tekakwitha. During Lent she was a featured Saint in one of our Bulletins. Ahead of her feast day we offer insights on the journey of a little girl who listened to her mother’s stories about Jesus and combined with the spirituality of her community lead her to grow into a young woman who chose to be baptized and devote her life to Jesus.


The story begins…  Born in 1656, she most likely lived in a bark-covered longhouse within the Turtle Clan community. As a toddler she would play near her mother, Kahenta, and the other women while they planted corn, squash, and beans.


At a young age her mother told her stories about Jesus but since this was all done in secret it was likely told to Tekakwitha in whispers. At the age of four, a smallpox epidemic killed her family, and she was then for a time cared for by her mother’s Christian friend, Anastasia.


Tranquility and solitude…  As she grew up her eyesight worsened from the effects of smallpox and bright sunshine hurt her eyes. Despite poor eyesight she was a child of nature. Tekakwitha and the other children in her community gathered to listen to elders’ stories. She heard stories of the sun, thunder, and stars and of the spirit of plants and animals. Stories of the world being made by the Creator filled her with joy. She also would think of the stories her mother and Anastasia had told her about Jesus and treasured them in her heart.


A child of the woods…   Because the woods provided shelter from the bright sunlight, Tekakwitha would often wander and gather blueberries, strawberries, and woodland flowers. In the fall, she would return to the woods this time gathering hickory nuts and walnuts. Tekakwitha noticed how squirrels gathered food for the winter and how the evergreen boughs danced in the wind. She was surrounded by gifts of creation.


During her walks in the forest, she often spoke with the Creator God. She would make crosses out of two sticks and place them in many places in the forest. Returning the next day, she would kneel at each cross and pray, continuing to feel God’s calling and giving back to God her love and attention.


Baptism day…   Easter morning of 1676 was Tekakwitha’s baptismal day which took place in a rustic chapel. In honor of Easter the chapel was adorned with beaver and elk pelts, colorfully embroidered bear and buffalo rugs, blossoming branches and flowers. Her baptismal waters were drawn from a spring nearby which still flows more than 300 years later. She was given a new name, Catherine, after Saint Catherine of Siena. The Indigenous pronunciation being Kateri.


In honour of St. Kateri, let us all take time on April 17th to pray together in mind and spirit:

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, our elder sister in the Lord, discreetly, you watch over us; may your love for Jesus and Mary inspire in us words and deeds of friendship, of forgiveness and of reconciliation.
Pray that God will give us the courage, the boldness, and the strength to build a world of justice and peace among ourselves and among all nations.
Help us, as you did, to encounter the Creator God present in the very depths of nature, and so become witnesses of life, Amen

Fr. Bill’s Easter Message

posted March 30, 2024

On several occasions this past week people have said to me, “I can’t believe that it is Easter again already.”


I certainly feel the same way. However, on deeper reflection, the truth is that it has been Easter over and over again every day of the past year thousands and millions and billions of times.


Whenever there has been new creation born into our world and universe, this is God’s creative love and life at work; be it a star, plant, fish, mosquito, lizard, moose or a human being. This is Easter Grace!


Whenever a kind, loving, or forgiving gesture has taken place, this too is Easter Grace!


Wherever a person or group speaks out against injustice and oppression and takes action to make ‘right relationship’, this is Easter Grace and Reconcili-action!


Wherever we pray and hope for God to break into circumstances in our lives in which we have no control to make much change or our efforts seem too small and inadequate, this is Easter Hope at work in us!


Wherever loved ones are making the passage through death, and we are with them from near or far away places through our prayer, support, care, and a faith that assures us and them that God’s promise of Resurrection and Eternal Life for them is real and to be trusted, this is Easter Presence!


Whenever groups with diverse backgrounds, beliefs, ways of expressing their faith, ideologies, and ways of being family and community can sit together with a deep commitment to listen in a way that brings peace through dropping our protective armor of prejudice and the dismantling of military arms, this indeed is an Easter Miracle!


As we celebrate Easter Sunday and the 50 days of the Easter Season this year, may we notice each day the reality of God’s presence through the Risen Christ among us through reflecting on the ‘litany’ above and anything you might add to this ‘litany’ as you experience and observe God’s abundant Easter presence always and forever!

Happy Easter!

Message from Fr. Bill

posted March 23, 2024

This week we move into the celebration of Holy Week. This is considered the ‘Greatest Week’ of our liturgical year. It encompasses the end of Lent and the Easter Triduum. This week provides us with a graphic remembering of God’s love for us in Jesus’ total giving of himself in love through his dying and rising in glory. In our remembering, we are inspired by Jesus’ presence in our world and personal lives. We are touched deeply by his unwavering commitment to be with us in the delights, ordinary moments and suffering experiences of our lives and bringing all of us into the glory of Easter with Him.


The Easter Triduum, which is the three days from Holy Thursday evening to Easter Sunday evening, is celebrated as one great feast. This is why we are strongly encouraged to participate in the three main celebrations: Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Thursday evening, The

Celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday evening or Easter Sunday Mass.


I would invite you to see these three days as a retreat time for yourselves and your families by attending these liturgies and taking some reflective time between these celebrations to let them speak more deeply into your lives.


Special note about Holy Saturday and the ‘Sacred Fire’ connected to the Easter Vigil
The Easter Vigil always begins with lighting a new fire recognizing the gift of God’s fire within the universe, the center of the earth, on the earth, within each of us and Christ as Light for the World. This year Wolastoqey Fire Keeper and Parishioner Mike Solomon will make and attend a ‘Sacred Fire’ in an area in front of Holy Family Church (parking area) for us to gather, be in a circle of community and prayer before the Vigil. The Fire will be there by 6 pm and the Easter Vigil begins at 8 pm with Fire being taken from this Sacred Fire to light our New Pascal Candle. You are invited to spend a bit or an extended period at the Sacred Fire during this time. Even if you gather there for a moment or two as you arrive for the Vigil will be a gift.


Saint Padre Pio (1887-1968)
Patron of adolescents & spiritual healing

posted March 23, 2024


Saint Padre Pio was born Francesco Forgione on May 25 1887 in Pietrelcina, in the province of Benevento, Italy. A son of very devout peasant farm laborers Grazio Mario Forgione and Maria Giuseppa Di Nunzio. They were very devoted to the saints and the Blessed Virgin Mary. He was baptized in the nearby Santa Anna Chapel.


Around the age of five he had a desire to serve God and dedicated himself to Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary. He was able to communicate with his guardian angel and had visions of the Blessed Mother quite regularly. At the age of ten he met a travelling bearded Capuchin friar who was asking around the countryside for provisions and he decided he wanted to be just like the bearded friar.


His parents looked into the possibility. The friars agreed but said he would need a better education. His parents were poor and so his father left for America to earn money so he could get the proper education. At fifteen, Francesco entered the noviciate of the Capuchin Friars Minor and received the name Pio.


As a novice he learned structure and discipline. At the Friary they gathered for prayer seven times a day, studied for long hours, lived in a very small and simple cell, went barefoot, did manual labour and much fasting. In 1907, at age nineteen he made his final vows, and in 1910 he was ordained a priest.


He was most often in poor health but he was very devout in prayer to the point of being in ecstasy and sometimes levitating, and at times losing track of time and place. In 1916, then twenty-nine years old he was sent to Our Lady of Grace Capuchin Friary in San Giovanni Rotondo where he would remain until his death.


On September 20, 1918, while praying after mass he had a vision and suddenly, he received the stigmata where he received the wounds of Jesus in his hands, feet, his side and his shoulder. His wounds which caused him pain, bled daily and smelled of flowers. He had these wounds for fifty years and of the many doctors who examined these wounds could find no scientific explanation for this.


He became known as a mystic and his masses were very devout. He heard confessions for hours on end and gave spiritual counsel to many. Padre Pio showed bilocation and levitation, the charisms of healing, prophecy, numerous miracles. He could read what was in people’s hearts and spent weeks at a time without eating, living only on the Holy Eucharist. He had a hospital built for those in need.


September 22, 1968, Padre Pio celebrated a solemn Mass to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of his receiving of the stigmata. the next day, on September 23rd, at the age of 81 all his wounds disappeared with his death and hundreds of thousands of people attended his funeral. He was beatified May 2, 1999 and canonized June 16, 2002 by Pope John Paul II. His feast day is September 23rd.


Prayer
Saint Padre Pio, you loved God with all your heart and bore the wounds of Christ on your body. Through you, many lives were converted, hearts healed, and sins forgiven. Please pray for me, that I will receive the healing I need so that I will more fully devote myself to the will of God and serve Him with all my might. Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, pray for me. Jesus, I trust in You.


Fasting
Think of the small and simple cell each of the friars lived in. See if you can go without some of the comforts of home for the next week and try and live simply.


Almsgiving
Take the time to call or talk to a sick friend or someone you know is going through a hard time. Even just listening may be helpful to them, so they know someone cares


Saint Cecilia (c. 200-c.235)
Patroness of composer, singers, musicians & martyrs

posted March 16, 2024

Saint Cecelia has for centuries remained one of the Church’s most beloved Saints. She was a follower of Christ and died a martyr. In a book called The Passion of Saint Cecilia, an inspiring legend from the fifth century is where we find the basis of reflections on the life of this holy martyr.


Cecilia was born in Rome to a wealthy and noble family. It was also a time when Roman Emperors often persecuted Christians. Her parents gave her the name Cecilia, which means “lily of heaven.” She is also known as “Cecilia of Rome”.


A Christian with a very deep faith, Saint Cecelia spent time fasting and performing other penitential acts and pledged her life to Christ and him alone as his bride. Against her wishes, her parents forced her to marry a pagan nobleman named Valerian. At the wedding she sat apart from him and sang in her heart to God. Because of this after her death she was declared the Saint of musicians.


After the wedding, to protect her vow of virginity, she told her husband, that an angel of the Lord was watching over her to see that her vow was respected. He wanted to see this angel so she said if he went to the third milestone on the Via Appia and receive catechetical instruction and was baptized by Pope Urban I, he would be able to see the angel. He followed her instructions and after his baptism he saw the angel standing beside her, crowning her with a chaplet of red roses and white lilies, symbols of her martyrdom and purity.


After becoming a Christian, Valerian shared his faith with his brother, Tiburtius, who also converted and was baptized. They then became very active with the underground Christian community. They started to do good works and buried those who were martyred for their faith. When they were ordered to offer sacrifices to the Roman god Jupiter, they refused. When Maximus, a Roman officer ordered by the Prefect Almachius to have them martyred and attempted to carry out the command, he had a heavenly vision and was instantly converted. When he professed his faith, all three were martyred and Cecilia ended up burying them.


When Cecilia also would not sacrifice to pagan gods she was arrested. Prefect Almachius, knowing she was loved by the people did not want them to know he planned to have her executed. After three tries to successfully carry out her execution, she was left alone to die, as Roman law forbade a fourth attempt.


She lived for three days and since she was well liked the whole community came to her house. She gave away all her money and left her house to Pope Urban I to use as a place of Christian worship. She was buried in the catacombs but centuries later, in 1599, Pope Paschal I moved her body to her former house that Pope Urban I had earlier converted to the Church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, Rome, Italy. At that time her body was found to be still incorrupt. It was as if she were just sleeping. Saint Cecilia is one of the most famous Roman martyrs. Her name was inserted into the Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I), along with other saints and Roman martyrs.


The first music festival held in her honor was in Normandy in 1570. Musicians’ charity, Help Musicians annually hosts a celebration in her honor which usually takes place at Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral or Westminster Cathedral.


Prayer:
Dear Saint Cecelia, I come to you today seeking your guidance and support. As a musician, you dedicated your life and talents to the Lord, and I ask that you intercede on my behalf as I strive to do the same. Help me to use my gifts for the good of others and to bring joy to all those around me. Grant me the courage and determination to always strive for good in all that I do. Saint Cecelia, Virgin and Martyr, pray for me. Jesus, I trust in you.


Fasting
This week give up something you really like. For instance, go without that speciality coffee, following your favorite celebrity on TikTok or


Almsgiving
Try to spend 10-15 minutes in prayer or read a different passage from the Bible each day this week. Spend that time thinking about all those who have been persecuted because of their faith and how lucky you are to be free to follow yours.


Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897)
Doctor of the church; Patroness of priests & missionaries

posted March 9, 2024

Marie Françoise-Thérèse Martin was born in Normandy, France on January 2, 1873 to a very pious family. She was the youngest of nine children. Her mother died when she was four years old and her father moved the family to Lisieux where she was raised by her father, her sisters and an aunt. Three of her sisters became Carmelite nuns. She herself had wished to become a Carmelite at a very young age.


After her mother died, Thérèse became prone to having fits and tantrums to the point of becoming physically ill. On May 13, 1883, after having a debilitating episode, she received a “manifestation of grace”. There was a statue of Mary next to her bed, which had been there for years, but on this day, “All of a sudden, the Blessed Mother appeared so beautiful that I had never seen anything like it before; her face radiated ineffable goodness and tenderness, but it was her ravishing smile that penetrated my soul to its very depth.”


After overcoming many obstacles, Thérèse finally received permission from the Bishop of Bayeux to enter the Carmelite convent as a postulant on April 9, 1888, at the age of fifteen. She embraced religious life and lived it with fervor and devotion, and made her final vows on September 24, 1890. Sister Thérèse lived the hidden and holy life of a Carmelite nun, never leaving the convent until her death.


She lived holiness by love and childlike trust and performed little sacrifices. She couldn’t make big sacrifices and do huge acts and deeds like many others could but she could make many little sacrifices. That is when she began her “Little Way” when she came to realize that “Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, or even at their difficulty, as at the love with which we do them”


When she was twenty-one years old, under obedience to her sister Pauline who had recently been elected as Mother Superior, Mother Agnes of Jesus, Sister Thérèse began to write her autobiography. This autobiography, The Story of a Soul, speaks of her family life, offers insights into her vocation as a Carmelite nun, and reveals how devoted she was to Jesus, wanting to be with Him forever in Heaven, even from the earliest moments of her childhood. She died three years later, as result of contracting tuberculosis at the age of twenty-three which had caused her great suffering. At one point when she felt her condition worsening, she said, “I feel that my mission is about to begin, my mission of making others love God as I love Him, my mission of teaching my little way to souls. If God answers my requests, my heaven will be spent on earth up until the end of the world. Yes, I want to spend my heaven in doing good on earth.”


Sister Thérèse died on September 30, 1897, at the age of 24 surrounded by all of her religious sisters in the Carmelite convent of Lisieux. Her final words were, “Oh! I love Him! My God, I love Thee!”


Prayer
Saint Thérèse, as a child you fell in love with God while living within the school of love that was your family. Your love grew so intense that God took you to Himself at a young age, to be with Him forever. Please pray for me, that I will discover the same intensity of love that you did, so that I will also share in the glory in which you now share. Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, pray for me. Jesus, I trust in You.


Fasting
Fast from hurrying. Saint Thérèse, also known as “The Little Flower” lived the old saying: “Stop and smell the roses.” So, stop what you are doing for a few minutes to listen to, look at and take in the essence of the world around you, what God has created.


Almsgiving
Do some “little thing” to help out. Pay for a stranger’s drink at the coffee shop, shovel your elderly neighbour’s doorstep, give someone a lift to the store and back so they don’t have to pay for a taxi, pick up garbage on your next walk around the block. Gestures don’t need to be big to make a big difference. 

Saint Mary Magdalen (1st Century)
Patroness of Contemplatives, converts, women & people ridiculed for their piety

posted March 2, 2024

Mary Magdalen (Magdalene or Magdala) was said to have been born in the fishing community of Magdala on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. In the Bible she is known as a woman who embraced with courage and maturity the grace (power and love) of God which brought healing into her life and assisted her in facing the evils (biblically the seven evil spirits) that life challenges all of us with.


Without agreement, scripture scholars throughout history have identified Mary Magdalene with other’s named Mary who were friends and followers of Jesus. However, it is agreed among all that Mary Magdalene was a deeply committed follower of Jesus. She, along with several other women, travelled with Jesus and helped support his ministry with whatever means they had. As well, the Gospels record her as being one of the women who, with great courage, stayed at Jesus side throughout his crucifixion at great risk to their lives while others disciples fled. They faced with amazing love, faith and courage, the worst of humanity in the evil action of mob violence that brought Jesus to his death.


Of great significance is that she stayed hopeful, in her devastating grief, that ‘death cannot be the end’ and became the first witness of the Resurrection. The Gospels all describe Mary Magdalene as going to the tomb on Easter morning. When she saw that the tomb was empty, she stood outside, weeping. Jesus appeared to her and asked her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She did not recognize him and thought he was the gardener, until he called her by name, “Mary!” Upon hearing this, she realized He was Jesus! She went to the grieving disciples to announce to them the message of the Resurrection and is correctly known as the first to preach the Good News of Jesus’ Resurrection (John 20:11-18) and making her the Apostle to the Apostles as referred by Thomas Aquinas.


Pope Francis says the following in reflecting on the need for hope and transformation in our world: “Turning to Mary Magdalene, her example is one of hope, and her intercession helps us to live the experience of the Resurrection, because at the time of tears and abandonment, she hears the Risen Jesus who calls us by name, and with a heart full of joy goes to announce: I have seen the Lord!"


Prayer
Saint Mary Magdalene, woman of courage and discernment, when you encountered Jesus, you opened yourself to his power and love in accepting healing and assistance to face the violence and subtleties of evil that we all face within society and ourselves. In following Him, you were faithful to Him throughout His ministry and were a witness to His death and Resurrection. Please pray for me and our world, that I may always have the courage to stand with you against injustice and wrongdoing, even at the foot of the Cross so that I may also be a witness to the transforming effects of the Resurrection. Saint Mary Magdalene, pray for me. Jesus, I trust in You.


Fasting
Reflect upon your personal struggles and those of others in the world and the temptation to live in self-pity, hopelessness and/or constant anger at the injustices and harm done to you and others. By embracing the courage and hope of Mary Magdalene in these situations through her embrace of God’s grace, make an effort to fast from acting out in hurt or causing harm to yourself or others. This is one thing we should try to do every single everyday of our lives, and not just during Lent.


Reflecting on our personal struggles and hurts we carry, may we refrain from doing those things that may cause harm to ourselves or others such as fasting from gossip, ungratefulness and putting ourselves first.


Almsgiving
Pray for freedom, like Mary Magdalene did, to provide for the mission of Jesus by giving of her resources, time and personal presence. This Lent is an opportunity to continue and possibly increase the giving from your resources, time, and personal gifts such as your capacity to listen, work beside others, forgive, organize and participate in ‘goodness’. Your prayers can open the doors of Jesus’ example, assistance and grace in living a fuller discipleship.


Knowing that, through prayer all things are possible with Jesus, consider donating time at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly or infirmed at a special care home or volunteering/supporting those organizations that assist refugees or asylum seekers.


Saint John Chrysostom (c.347-407)
Patron of Lecturers, public speakers & preachers

posted February 23, 2024

Saint John Chrysostom was born in Antioch, he studied the Greek classics and was trained as an orator. He left his studies and began to study the ascetic live, prayer and scripture. He was baptized and underwent a profound conversion which led him to a life of great solitude and prayer.


He joined a community of hermits in 374 and began rigorous fasting, penance and a continual study of the Bible to the point of having memorized a good portion of it. Because of this he became well versed in the Bible. After several years his health began to deteriorate and he returned to Antioch to regain his health back.


Ordained in 386, he wrote many sermons and commentaries and was famous for his eloquent sermons. These contained dogmatic, moral and historical teachings from the early church. Appointed Archbishop of Constantinople in 398. Even though his position gave him power and wealth he lived a simple life and cared for the poor.


He preached on moral and spiritual guidance and against materialism of the imperial court and against pagan activities. Because of his preaching he made enemies in very high places and was exiled on more that one occasion. The last was complete banishment from the Roman Empire.


After his death because of his powerful preaching, he received the title “Chrysostomos” (golden mouth). He also left behind around 700 sermons, close to 250 letters, as well as commentaries on Scripture and important teachings on the Eucharist. His homilies, for the most part, held emphasis on care for the poor. His best-known homily, though quite short, was the Paschal Homily.


Prayer
Saint John Chrysostom, we pray for the strength to follow the example of your unwavering faith. Please intercede for us and guide us in our spiritual journeys and may we be filled with your compassion and your love. Saint John Chrysostom, pray for us. Jesus, we trust in you. Amen.


Fasting
Try giving up social media on Fridays in Lent or maybe make a point on Fridays to watch YouTube videos created by Fr. Mike Schmitz, Fr. Mark Goring, Fr. Columba Jordan and Catholic Women Preach. They are not long videos but are very informative about the Catholic faith in a relaxed manner.


Almsgiving
Saint John Chrysostom constantly preached about helping the poor and needy. Try donating food, clothing or time to organizations who help clothe feed and assist those in need and if that is beyond your ability at this time then say a special prayer that they will receive what they need to sustain them.


Saint Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680) Patroness of Ecology & The Environment

posted February 16, 2024

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha was the first North American Indigenous woman to be canonized. She is often called the “Lily of the Mohawks”. She is the patron saint of ecology, those who have lost their parents and World Youth Day.


Born in the Mohawk village of Ossernenon, on the south side of the Mohawk River in present-day New York State, she contracted smallpox in an epidemic; her family died and her face was scarred. She converted to Catholicism at age nineteen, when she was baptized and given the Christian name Kateri in honor of Catherine of Siena. Refusing to marry, she left her village and moved for the remaining five years of her life to the Jesuit mission village of Kahnawake, south of Montreal on the St. Lawrence River in New France, now Canada.


Upon her death at the age of 24, witnesses said that her scars vanished minutes later, and her face appeared radiant and beautiful. She is the fourth Indigenous person of this land to be venerated in the Catholic Church and the first to be canonized. Under the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, she was beatified in 1980 and canonized by Pope Benedict XVI at Saint Peter’s Basilica on 21 October 2012. Various miracles and supernatural events are attributed to her intercession.

Prayer

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, our elder sister in the Lord, discreetly, you watch over us. May your love for Jesus and Mary inspire in us words and deeds of friendship, of forgiveness and of reconciliation. Pray that God will give us the courage, the boldness, and the strength to build a world of justice and peace among ourselves and among all nations. Help us, as you did, to encounter the Creator God present in the very depths of nature, and so become witnesses of Life. With you, we praise the Father, the Son and the Spirit, Amen.

Development and Peace Share Lent Campaign

posted February 9, 2024

This year, Development and Peace — Caritas Canada’s Create Hope: Reaping our Rights campaign calls you to stand with small-scale farmers and peasant communities who feed the world while caring for the Earth.


Climate change, land grabbing, resource theft, soil contamination, armed conflicts, forced displacements. Everywhere on Earth, and especially in the Global South, impoverished peoples are facing growing challenges. Rural populations are particularly hard-hit.


This year, we will meet the farmers who feed and protect the planet. That is why it is imperative to defend rural communities’ such as in Nigeria where farmers are denouncing oil pollution; Indonesia, in training next-generation farmers; and in Bolivia supporting Indigenous and farming communities. We need to protect their rights to life, land, water, biodiversity, justice, health, participation, decent livelihoods, a healthy environment and more.


We know that we reap what we sow. So, let’s sow love, dignity, peace, and justice together every day, to create hope and reaping a better world. Pope Francis once said, “Each generation must make the struggles and achievements of past generations, while setting its own sights even higher. This is the path. Goodness, together with love, justice and solidarity are not achieved once and for all; they must be realized each day.”


Over the next six weeks of Lent, you will be introduced to farmers in the Global South who are struggling and how we can help them.


Peace and Peacemaking

posted February 2, 2024

With so much of our world in turmoil, with so much distrust, anger, and division, all of which is so readily visible through social media, let us take some time today, tomorrow or in the days ahead to contemplate on where in our daily lives can we be instruments of peace. Henri Nouwen a Dutch Catholic priest, professor, and influential spiritual writer offers some thought-provoking reflections on peace and peacemaking:


● “Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone's face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I      forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.


● We cannot love issues, but we can love people, and the love of people reveals to us the way to deal with issues.


● When peacemaking is based on fear it is not much different from warmaking.


● Only those who deeply know that they are loved and rejoice in that love can be true peacemakers.


● Prayer—living in the presence of God—is the most radical peace action we can imagine. Prayer is peacemaking and not simply the preparation before, the support during, and the thanksgiving after.


● Prayer is not primarily a way to get something done. In prayer we undo the fear of death and therefore the basis of all human destruction.


● Peacemaking begins and ends with Jesus. Jesus embodies peace, makes peace, shares peace, and blesses peacemakers. We must, therefore, become more and more like him -- ourselves embodying peace, creating peace, sharing peace.


● For Jesus, there are no countries to be conquered. No ideologies to be imposed. No people to be dominated. There are only children, women, and men to be loved.


Christ is the first peacemaker since he opened the house of God to all people and thus made the old creation new. We are sent to this world to be peacemakers in his name.” (excerpts from Peacework)

A Prayer for Stillness

by Fr. Ron Rolheiser posted January 28, 2024

Be still and know that I am God. Scripture assures us that if we are still, we will come to know God, but arriving at stillness is easier said than done. As Blaise Pascal once stated, “All the miseries of the human person come from the fact that no one can sit still for one hour.” Achieving stillness seems beyond us and this leaves us with a certain dilemma, we need stillness to find God, but we need God’s help to find stillness. With this in mind, I offer a prayer for stillness.


God of stillness and of quiet…


• Still my anxiety, my heartaches, my worries, and stop me from always being outside the present moment. Let each day’s worries be sufficient onto themselves. Give me the grace to know that you have pronounced my name in love, that my name is written in heaven, that I am free to live without anxiety.


• Still the fever I inhale from all the energy that surrounds me, that makes my life feel small. Let me know that my own life is enough, that I need not make an assertion of myself, even as the whole world beckons this of me from a million electronic screens. Give me the grace to sit at peace inside my own life.


• Still the restlessness of my youth: still that hunger that would have me be everywhere, that hunger to be connected to everyone, that wants to see and taste all that is, that robs me of peace on a Friday night.


• Quiet those grandiose dreams that want me to stand out, to be special. Give me the grace to live more contentedly inside my own skin.


• Still me in the congenital fear that I’m unloved, that I’m unlovable, that love has to be earned, that I need to be more worthy. Silence in me the nagging suspicion that I’m forever missing out, that I’m odd, an outsider, that things are unfair, and that I’m not being respected and recognized for who I am. Give me grace to know that I’m a beloved child of a God whose love need not be earned.


• Still my unforgiving thoughts, the grudges I nurse from my past, from the betrayals I’ve suffered, from the negativity and abuses I’ve been subject to. Quiet in me the guilt I carry from my own betrayals. Still in me all that’s wounded, unresolved, bitter, and unforgiving. Give the quiet that comes from forgiveness.


• Still my heart so that I may know that you are God, that I may know that you created and sustain my every breath, that you breathe the whole universe into existence every second, that everyone, myself no less that everyone else, is your beloved, that you want our lives to flourish, that you desire our happiness, that nothing falls outside your love and care, and that everything and everybody is safe in your gentle, caring hands, in this world and the next.

(Excerpt – September 25, 2017)


Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
(Jan 18th to 25th)

posted January 19. 2024

For your reflections on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we offer the following wisdom from Fr. Ron Rolheiser on “The Path Forward”.


Ecumenism - The Path Forward (Excerpt)

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI


“I was very blessed during my theological formation to have had the privilege of taking classes from two very renowned Catholic scholars, Avery Dulles and Raymond E. Brown.


And what these two shared in their vision for ecumenism was this: The path towards Christian Unity, the road that will eventually bring all sincere Christians together into one community, around one altar, is not the way of somehow winning the other over to our own particular denomination, of getting others to admit that they are wrong and that we are right and of them returning to the true flock, namely, our particular denomination.


It begins with the honest admission by each of us that none of us, no one denomination, has the full truth, incarnates the full expression of church, and is fully faithful to the Gospel. We are all deficient in some ways and each of us in some ways is selective in terms of which parts of the Gospels we value and incarnate and which parts we ignore. And so, the path forward is the path of conversion, personal and ecclesial, of admitting our selectiveness, or recognizing and valuing what other churches has incarnated, of reading scripture more deeply in search of what we have ignored and absented ourselves from and of individually and collectively trying to live lives that are truer to Jesus Christ.

The path to unity then lies not in converting each other over, but in each of us living the Gospel more faithfully so as to grow closer to each other in Christ.


Raymond E. Brown contends, “that in a divided Christianity, instead of reading the Bible to assure ourselves that we are right, we would do better to read it to discover where we have not been listening. As we Christians of different churches try to give hearing to the previously muffled voices, our views of the church will grow larger; and we will come closer to sharing common views. Then the Bible will be doing for us what Jesus did in his time, namely convincing those who have ears to hear that all is not right, for God is asking of them more than they thought.”


Indeed: God is asking more of us than we think.”


Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
(Jan 18th to 25th)

posted January 12, 2024

With more than 100 years of history, this annual observation involves Christian communities throughout the world. The theme for 2024 is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10.27).


The celebration for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was prepared by an ecumenical team from Burkina Faso located in West Africa which includes the neighboring countries of Mali and Niger. Burkina Faso is currently experiencing a serious security crisis, which affects all the communities of faith and Christian churches have been especially targeted.


Christians are called to act like Christ in loving the Good Samaritan, showing mercy and compassion to those in need, regardless of their religious, ethnic, or social identity. It is not shared identities that should prompt us to come to the aid of the other but love of our “neighbor”.


It is by learning to love one another regardless of our differences that Christians can become neighbors like the Samaritan in the Gospel.

Prayer for the Unity of Christians
Lord Jesus, who prayed that we might all be one, we pray to you for the unity of Christians, according to your will, according to your means. May your Spirit enable us to experience the suffering caused by division, to recognize our failures, and to hope beyond all hope. Amen. (excerpts from the WCC and Living with Christ)

Ecumenical Service & Prayer for the Week of Christian Unity January 18th to 25th.


To begin the Week there will be a service at Holy Family Church (1500 Hanwell Road) on Thursday, January 18th at 12 noon. This is an opportunity to bring a friend of another Christian denomination with you and for Christians to come together to pray for unity. Following the service there will be a time to get together with a light luncheon of sandwiches, sweets and coffee in the Church Hall. Everyone is welcome!

Epiphany of the Lord

posted January 5, 2024

This weekend is the Feast of the Epiphany and the end of the Christmas Season and one last opportunity to see all the Christmas decorations, trees, flowers, and our Mangers. With the Season of Ordinary Time just around the corner, it is also a signal to all Christians that the ‘work of Christmas’ begins. This work is best reflected in a poem by Howard Thurman, an African American theologian, educator, and civil rights leader:

The Work of Christmas
When the song of the angels is stilled. When the star in the sky is gone, when the kings and princes are home, when the shepherds are back with the flock, ‘The Work of Christmas’ begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among others,
To make music in the heart.

As we step into this new year let us do so with the same prayerful and open hearts of Mary and Joseph and may this ‘work of Christmas’ become present in our hearts, in our prayer and through our actions. We offer the following verse from the song, ‘A Welsh Prayer’ as inspiration in the days and weeks ahead: “...grant us a spirit of thanksgiving and give us strength to serve. That when you call on us, we shall be ready, to answer for this corner of the earth.”

Peace and Joy.

World Day of Peace

posted December 29, 2023

Since 1967 World Day of Peace has been celebrated each year on January 1st. This year’s theme is ‘Artificial Intelligence and Peace’.


This week we offer you an excerpt from Pope Francis’ message for World Day of Peace, “It is my prayer at the start of the New Year that the rapid development of forms of artificial intelligence will not increase cases of inequality and injustice all too present in today’s world but will help put an end to wars and conflicts and alleviate many forms of suffering that afflict our human family. May Christian believers, followers of various religions and women and men of good will work together in harmony to embrace the opportunities and confront the challenges posed by the digital revolution and thus hand on to future generations a world of greater solidarity, justice, and peace.”


On this World Day of Peace let each one of us take a moment in our day to reflect the following message of hope for peace by Pope Francis:

“Let us implore from on high the gift of commitment to the cause of peace. Peace in our homes, our families, our schools, and our communities. Peace in all those places where war never seems to end. Peace for those faces which have known nothing but pain. Peace throughout this world which God has given us as the home of all and a home for all. Simply PEACE… In this way, the lives of our dear ones will not be lives which will one day be forgotten. Instead, they will be present whenever we strive to be prophets not of tearing down but of building up, prophets of reconciliation, prophets of peace.”
–Pope Francis

Christmas Message from Fr. Bill

posted December 23, 2023


There is an old legend about a conversation between Jesus and the Angel Gabriel after Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. It goes like this:


Gabriel says to Jesus, “Does everyone on earth know about God’s love and your love for them?”

“No”, Jesus says, “Only a handful”

Then Gabriel asks Jesus, “So how will the others know?”

And Jesus says, “The handful will tell another handful.”


The Gospels point out who the handful were in Jesus’ life. Sometimes it was a small handful like around the manger at his birth. Sometimes it was one person. Sometimes it was a crowd like when he fed the multitudes of 5000. Sometimes his ‘handful’ was himself, when he was alone.


This is the way of our lives. We have the same kinds of ‘handfuls’ through which we are invited to give and receive God’s love and care. Like Jesus, there are ‘handfuls’ that are naturally part of our life through family and communities where we live and the relationships that evolve and deepen in this context. However, it is important to point out that Jesus went to the margins of society to those alienated, homeless, ill, and struggling and included them in his ‘handful’.


As we celebrate Christmas this year, may the ‘handful’ you celebrate with and connect with at table, through technology, at social gatherings, time alone, at liturgies, community kitchens, hospitals and many other places and ways, bless you with the gift of Jesus Christ in the midst of it all. May your ‘handful’ continue to grow in familiar places and in the margins. May the blessings and grace of this be experienced by a deeper knowing of God’s love for you and those in your ‘handful’.


Merry Christmas and Many Blessings for 2024!


The Christmas Tree and Lights

posted December 16, 2023

An evergreen tree represents life and symbolizes God’s constant faithfulness and eternal life. As we anticipate lighting the Christmas Tree lights this year, we offer the following reflection from Fr. Ron Rolheiser on the Christmas Tree and Christmas Lights:


The Christmas Tree.
Its job is to join heaven and earth, to be a ladder for the incarnation, a vehicle God can use to climb down to earth. That is why there should always be either an angel or a star on top it (for what else do you find in the sky than stars and angels?).


The Christmas Lights.
They represent the light and warmth of God, but in a special way. The custom of putting up Christmas lights originates in the Northern Hemisphere. Here Christmas comes just after the winter solstice, that is, pretty well on the coldest, darkest day of the year. Originally, before electricity, lights were real fire, bring both heat and light. The idea then is that, just when it’s darkest and coldest, God’s light and warmth break into the world. The custom of having midnight Mass, which some trace to Francis of Assisi, has the same rational. At the coldest darkest hour on the coldest, darkest day of the year, the warmth and light of God breaks through.”


As you prepare your tree this year give thanks for its beauty. May its evergreen branches remind us of God’s unending care for all people; may its lights illuminate our way and may its presence bring joy and hope for all people.

Blessing the Family Christmas Tree


Bless this tree, this sign of life and freshness and perseverance in our midst. It stands as a reminder that you are born anew in us each day. Bless our family and friends as we celebrate this joyous season. Keep us safe in our travels, kind in our conversations, and gracious in our giving and receiving. We ask you this in confidence because we know you love us.

Advent
Nativity Scene

posted December 1, 2023

To identify with Mary in faith during this season of Advent is to be open to receive what she received. The first gift was that of a sense of gratitude for the warmth of God’s love given to her in Christ. Mary and her cousin Elizabeth also lived in a time of advent, of waiting and preparation for their promised sons to be born. This year marks the 800th Anniversary of the first Nativity scene attributed to St. Francis of Assisi in Greccio. He wanted to do something that would recall the memory of the child born and display the inconveniences he had as he lay in the manger, surrounded by animals. As we wait in hope and anticipation during this Season of Advent, let us take a closer look at some of the Christmas symbols attributed to the Nativity scene and what they represent as provided by Fr. Ron Rolheiser.


“The Creche”

It’s an image of heaven. Everything about it radiates peace, love, fulfilment, the end of longing, the lack of tears. It’s an icon of Isaiah’s vision of

the lion lying down with the lamb, of God wiping away every tear. The baby, appropriately enough, is always asleep because the whole scene depicts eternal rest, namely, what it means to sleep “in heavenly peace.” Silent Night, combined with a creche is as good a holy picture of heaven as you’ll get this side of eternity.


“The Crib”

The crib is a trough, a place where cows, sheep, oxen, and horses come to eat. It’s appropriate that Jesus – who is food for the life of the world – should be lying in a trough, a wooden one too. The wood of the crib will later on become the wood of the cross, that place where Jesus gives himself completely as food for the life of the world.” As for Mary and Elizabeth, Advent can be a time of preparation for us. A time to be in God’s Word, to ponder again the precious gift of Jesus.


As you set your intentions for each day throughout the season of Advent, the following prayer may help guide you on our journey:


Radiant creator, awaken me to your presence. Jesus, light of all lights, kindle love in my heart. Spirit of illumination, guide my path today.


The Holy Season of Advent

Advent is a time of waiting and of hope. Next weekend we will begin our Advent season with the lighting of the first candle on our Advent Wreath. As we move further into Advent the Nativity scene will be gradually built beginning with an empty stable, followed by the shepherds and animals and finally for the Christmas Masses, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus.

As Christmas approaches, the church wreaths and trees will appear, ready to be illuminated with the birth of Jesus, reminding us of the Light of Christ.

This Advent, with Mary as our model, may we all experience a special time of waiting, hope and peace. Be sure to watch for the three wise men as they journey towards the stable arriving on the Feast of the Epiphany!  

An Accumulation of Losses

By Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM posted November 17, 2023

Psychotherapist and author Francis Weller has studied grief for decades and explores how we often attempt to keep grief separate from our lives. Weller writes: “No one escapes suffering in this life. None of us is exempt from loss, pain, illness, and death.” How is it that we have so little understanding of these essential experiences? How is it that we have attempted to keep grief separated from our lives and only begrudgingly acknowledge its presence at the most obvious of times, such as a funeral? “If sequestered pain made a sound,” Stephen Levine says, “the atmosphere would be humming all the time.”


It is the accumulated losses of a lifetime that slowly weigh us down—the times of rejection, the moments of isolation when we felt cut off from the sustaining touch of comfort and love. It is an ache that resides in the heart, the faint echo calling us back to the times of loss. We are called back, not so much to make things right, but to acknowledge what happened to us. Grief asks that we honor the loss and, in doing so, deepen our capacity for compassion. When grief remains unexpressed, however, it hardens, becomes as solid as a stone. We, in turn, become rigid and stop moving in rhythm with the soul. . . . When our grief stagnates, we become fixed in place, unable to move and dance with the flow of life. Grief is part of the dance.


As we begin to pay attention, we notice that grief is never far from our awareness. We become aware of the many ways it arrives in our daily lives. It is the blue mood that greets us upon waking. It is the melancholy that shades the day in muted tones.


It is the recognition of time’s passing, the slow emptying of our days. It is the searing pain that erupts when someone close to us dies—a parent, a partner, a child, a beloved pet. It is the confounding grief when our life circumstances are shattered by the unexpected—the phone rings with news of a biopsy; we find ourselves suddenly without work, uncertain as to how we will support our family; our partner decides one day that the marriage is over. We tumble and fall as the ground beneath us opens, shaken by violent rumblings. Grief enfolds our lives, drops us close to the earth, reminding us of our inevitable return to the dark soil. . . .


It is essential for us to welcome our grief, whatever form it takes. When we do, we open ourselves to our shared experiences in life. Grief is our common bond. Opening to our sorrow connects us with everyone, everywhere. There is no gesture of kindness that is wasted, no offering of compassion that is useless. We can be generous to every sorrow we see. It is sacred work.


Reflection on Hope and Peace

posted November 11. 2023

This Saturday we celebrate Remembrance Day and on Thursday, November 16th we have a Service of Remembrance in our parish to remember and honor those loved ones who have died this past year. At this Service of Remembrance we will be lighting a candle for each person. This is a gesture of hope and comes from a deep belief that the light our loved one gave to the world continues to remain in and among us as a core part of our lives. The candle lighting is the symbol of the deep reality that we continue to lean into and take inspiration from the light of our loved one’s life. It also is tied to the belief that there is nothing that can take ‘the light’ of our loved one from us, not even death. Through resurrection they continue to live their light and shine the gift of love eternally through their full union with God.


The following is a quote from Fr. Ron Rolheiser about lighting candles. It is especially appropriate as we live Remembrance Day (s) with a renewed commitment to address violence with non-violence and peace making.

To light a candle is an act of hope.
In the days of apartheid in South Africa, Christians there used to light candles and place them in windows as a sign to themselves and to others that they believed that some day this injustice would end. A candle burning in a window was a sign of hope and a political statement. The government didn’t miss the message. It passed a law making it illegal to place a lit candle in a window, the offense being equal to owning a firearm, both considered equally dangerous. This eventually became a joke among the kids: “Our government is afraid of lit candles!"

They had reason to be! Lit candles, more than firearms, overthrew apartheid. Hope, not guns, is what ultimately transforms things. To light a candle as an act of hope is to say to yourself and to others that, despite anything that might be happening in the world, you are still nursing a vision of peace and unity based upon something beyond the present state of things and this hope is based upon deeper realities and powers than the world admits.


Fr. Ron Rolheiser


Meet Breiner Osbeli Vail Morales

posted November 3, 2023

For a number of years, Fr. Monte sponsored a child through Chalice, a Catholic Sponsorship Program. It has been decided to continue this sponsorship through our Parish. Breiner is seven years old and lives in Guatemala. He loves to draw and play soccer. Brenier has finished his pre-school studies and is now in first grade. His favorite subjects are language arts and math. He hopes to be a police officer when he grows up. Breiner’s brother is also attending school and they like studying together.

Breiner’s mother Delfina extends a special thank you for our support which gives him the opportunity to continue with his studies. Breiner and his brother are a blessing to her.

When you have a chance, look at our bulletin board in the lobby for a photo of Breiner, a picture which he drew and a letter from his mom. As we receive updates from the family, we will continue to provide you with Breiner’s progress.

For more information on Chalice go to www.chalice.ca or call 1-800-776-6855.

Prayer for World Peace

posted October 27, 2023


Great God, who has told us “Vengeance is mine,” save us from ourselves, save us from the vengeance in our hearts and the acid in our souls.


Save us from our desire to hurt as we have been hurt, to punish as we have been punished, to terrorize as we have been terrorized.


Give us the strength it takes to listen rather than to judge, to trust rather than to fear, to try again and again to make peace even when peace eludes us.


We ask, O God, for the grace to be our best selves. We ask for the vision to be builders of the human community rather than its destroyers. We ask for the humility as a people to understand the fears and hopes of other people.


We ask for the love it takes to bequeath to the children of the world to come more than the failures of our own making. We ask for the heart it takes to care for all the people as well as for ourselves.


Give us the depth of soul, O God, to constrain our might, to resist the temptations of power, to refuse to attack the attackable, to understand that vengeance begets violence, and to bring peace—not war—wherever we go.


For you, O God, have been merciful to us.

For you, O God, have been patient with us.
For you, O God, have been gracious to us.


And so may we be merciful and patient and gracious and trusting with these others whom you also love.


This we ask through Jesus, the one without vengeance in his heart. This we ask forever and ever. Amen.

— Joan Chittister


World Mission Sunday – October 22nd, 2023

posted October 21, 2023

Today is World Mission Sunday. Inspired by this year’s theme “hearts on fire, feet on the move” this Sunday is an opportunity to renew our baptismal call to be disciple-missionaries.


Sr. Mary’s Mission (Part 2): Sr. Mary’s mission in Kibera, Kenya, begins by befriending. “I began with Christians I met in the church. Slowly I gained their confidence, and they welcome me to their houses. They share their problems. When the stories are painful, even if I have nothing to offer, it’s possible to find someone who can help. That makes me create friendships with other people who are able to help. So, its friendship, but a friendship that means you can’t just sit and watch; that something has to be done.”


Nobody is quite sure how many people live in Kibera, but it could be anywhere up to 1.2 million. There is widespread poverty; many people live hand-to-mouth, doing whatever work they can find to bring home income for their families. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, much of the work available has dried up, and the cost of food is rising.


‘As human beings, we are already social beings. So, we cannot do without each other,’ says Fr. Firmin, a missionary Priest serving in Kibera.

‘And our ministry is the Ministry of Christ. As a missionary, this is also to care for the poor people around us. On World Mission Sunday, we have a chance to come together as a global family, in support of mission and missionaries – and all of our sisters and brothers in need.’


This year, Sister Mary needs our support to ensure her work continues to make a difference for many more vulnerable children. We all have a part to play in igniting God’s love. This World Mission Sunday let us set hearts ablaze with Christ’s love through missionaries, like Sister Mary, and the inspiring people they walk alongside.


Special donation envelopes are available in the lobby of the church or donate online at https://missio.org.uk/donate/

(Excerpt from the Missio)


World Mission Sunday – October 22nd, 2023

posted October 13, 2023

For this year, Pope Francis has chosen a theme inspired by the story of the disciples on the way to Emmaus, in the Gospel of Luke 24:13-35: “hearts on fire, feet on the move”. World Mission Sunday is an opportunity to renew our baptismal call to be disciple-missionaries. This is not easy in today’s world. This day is celebrated in every Catholic community in the world. It’s a moment of grace to express solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Christ who are living in situations of poverty, violence, and oppression.


Sr. Mary’s Mission (Part 1): Kibera, Kenya, is the biggest urban slum in Africa. It’s rife with all the problems poverty brings – malnourishment; addiction; abuse. But missionary Sr. Mary meets the challenges of life in Kibera with faith and friendship. ‘Our charism is “be one with the people”, go where people are”, says Sr. Mary. ‘It’s from St. Paul, but our foundress, Sister Magdalene, also took it from St. Charles de Foucauld: to be there with them from the grassroots, discover what is happening, and together learn what to do.’


That is why Sr. Mary and her fellow Little Sisters of Jesus choose to live in the heart of Kibera, alongside the people they serve. That way, she can better understand the daily challenges, and reach all who are in need.


Among the many people Sr. Mary works alongside is Linet, who courageously lives out her faith by rescuing and fostering children who are at risk from harm. Linet shares: ‘We have so many challenges…it’s a challenge to find all of it. I need clothes. I need to pay for school. It’s difficult.’ Thankfully, Linet has people like Sr. Mary who support her mission.


Join us next weekend on this special occasion, that unites Catholics all over the world in prayer and celebration of our Church's mission to share God's love with all people. Special donation envelopes are available in the lobby of the church or donate online at https://missio.org.uk/donate/  (Excerpt from the Missio)

What Is Love Asking Of Me Now?

posted October 13, 2023

Last weekend in his homily, Fr. Bill referenced this article by Fr. Ron Rolheiser. In the article Fr. Rolheiser quotes, "That is the question we need to ask ourselves every time the circumstances of our lives are shaken (by wound or by grace...)." Please use the link provided below to access this article for your reflection and inspiration. https://ronrolheiser.com/what-is-love-asking-of-me-now/


Happy Thanksgiving

posted October 7, 2023

This Thanksgiving weekend we offer the following reflections from three women who through their own faith filled wisdom may inspire in us a grateful heart. Let our lives be full of both “thanks” and “giving”. Wishing you all a blessed Thanksgiving!

Why Give Thanks - Songs of the Heart, Joan Chittister
“We need to stop and thank God—consciously—for the good things of the day. We spend so much time wanting things to be better that we fail to see our real gifts. There are banquets in our life and we don’t enjoy them because we are always grasping for something more: the perfect schedule, the perfect work, the perfect friend, the perfect community.
We have to realize that God’s gifts are all around us, that joy is an attitude of mind, an awareness that my life is basically good.
Thank you for the new day.
Thank you for this work.
Thank you for this family.
Thank you for our daily bread.
Thank you for the storm and the moisture it brings to a parched earth.
Thank you for the corrections that bring me to growth.
Thank you for the necessities that keep me aware of your bounty in my life.”
An Autumn Blessing by Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wiederkehr
“Blessed are you, Autumn, you draw us away from summer’s hot breath. As your air becomes frosty and cool, you lead us to inner reflection.
Blessed are you, Autumn, season of so much bounty. You invite us to imitate your generosity in giving freely from the goodness of our lives, holding nothing back.
Blessed are you, Autumn, your harvesting time has come. As we gather your riches into our barns, reveal to us our own inner riches waiting to be harvested.
Blessed are you, Autumn, season of surrender, you teach us the wisdom of letting go as you draw us into new ways of living.
Blessed are you, Autumn, season of unpredictability. You inspire us to be flexible, to learn from our shifting moods.
Blessed are you, Autumn, feast of thanksgiving. You change our hearts into fountains of gratitude as we receive your gracious gifts.”

Season of Creation

excerpt from Pope Francis’ Message for the Care of Creation posted October 3, 2023

October 4th, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi will mark the end of the Season of Creation and the opening of the Synod on Synodality a process that began in October 2021.


Pope Francis invites us to “…join the mighty river by transforming our hearts. This is essential for any other transformation to occur; it is that “ecological conversion” which Saint John Paul II encouraged us to embrace: the renewal of our relationship with creation so that we no longer see it as an object to be exploited but cherish it instead as a sacred gift from our Creator. Furthermore, we should realize than an integral approach to respect for the environment involves four relations: with God; with our sisters and brothers of today and tomorrow; with all of nature; and with ourselves.”


As our journey through the synodal process continues, the Pope shared the following reflection on healing and unity: “Lac St. Anne, I learned, is also a place of healing, consolation and love, a place that “reminds us that fraternity is genuine if it unites those who are far apart, and that the message of unity heaven sends down to earth does not fear differences, but invites us to fellowship, a communion of differences, in order to start afresh together, because we are all pilgrims on a journey.”


And as this Season of Creation ends, the Popes asks that “…as followers of Christ on our shared synodal journey, let us live, work and pray that our common home will teem with life once again. May the Holy Spirit once more hover over the waters and guide our efforts to “renew the face of the earth”.”


Orange Shirt Day

posted September 22, 2023



An Invitation to wear Orange: This year at St. Kateri Parish, we offer the invitation to wear Orange at the weekend Masses on September 30th/31st , since Saturday, September 30 is The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. It is also called Orange Shirt Day.

Of course, this is simply an invitation and it is important that we gather together gratefully and openly with everyone and without judgment as to whether or not we are wearing Orange:

The following is helpful information on why we offer this invitation to wear Orange at the Masses.

Orange Shirt Day was inspired by Phyllis Jack Webstad, a Stswecem'c Xgat'tem First Nation elder in Williams Lake, B.C. She wore a bright orange shirt to her first day of residential school in 1973 when she was six years old. The shirt was taken from her and since then, the colour orange has reminded her that her feelings did not matter.

Orange Shirt Day was started in Williams Lake in 2013 to commemorate all Residential School Survivors. The orange shirts are a symbol of solidarity. Wearing orange recognizes the many losses experienced by students, their families and communities, over several generations, including loss of family and culture, language, freedom, parenting, self‐esteem and worth, and painful experiences of abuse and neglect.

September 30th falls during the time of year when Indigenous children were taken away to residential schools. This day acknowledges that residential schools are a part of our history. Wearing an orange shirt is a national movement to recognize the experience of those who went to Indian residential schools, to honour them, and show a collective commitment to ensure that Every Child Matters. Wearing orange is not just an act of support, but also a commitment to learn, understand, and vocalize the truth about Indigenous history, experiences, and aspirations.

This year you are invited to join in on wearing orange, delving into the heart of our rich and complex histories, and speaking up to share these truths. Our mission, now more than ever, is to inspire every person to step up, speak up, and act to end racism, helping to forge a culturally safe community where Indigenous peoples can thrive. It's a journey we all need to undertake together - Indigenous community and allies alike – and so we wear Orange together.

Season of Creation 2023, Part 3

posted September 15, 2023

This past Spring, we held a book club featuring the best-selling novel, by Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer's "Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants". Our discussions provided us with a wonderful opportunity to journey together on the path of Truth and Reconciliation with the Indigenous Community. During this Season of Creation, we are granted with yet another wonderful opportunity as we consider our role and responsibility about understanding and caring for creation through the following reflections extracted from the book.

“How in our modern world, can we find our way to understand the earth as a gift again?”
“If we think about the earth bestowing us with a responsibility to harvest her gifts in honorable ways, how might you reimagine the production of natural resources in your area?”
“If we use a plant respectfully, it will flourish. If we ignore it, it will go away.”
“A landscape that once supported some of the world’s highest biodiversity now supports a single crop or has become a parking lot. A true waste of land.”
“Gratitude for all that the earth has given us lends us courage…to refuse to participate in an economy that destroys the beloved earth to line the pockets of the greedy, to demand an economy that is aligned with life, not staked against it. It’s easy to write but harder to do.”
“Gratitude plants the seed for abundance.”

Season of Creation 2023, Part 2

posted September 11, 2023

As we continue our journey in this Season of Creation, this time offers, in the words of Pope Francis, “individual believers and communities a fitting opportunity to reaffirm their personal vocation to be stewards of creation, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care, and to implore his help for the protection of creation as well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live."


Let us all reflect and act in a significant way to care for Mother Earth, to become better caretakers and give thanks as she sustains us daily.


Education:
“There is a nobility in the duty to care for creation through little daily actions, and it is wonderful how education can bring about real changes in lifestyle. Education in environmental responsibility can encourage ways of acting which directly and significantly affect the world around us, such as avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, showing care for other living beings, planting trees, turning off unnecessary lights. All of these reflect a generous and worthy creativity which brings out the best in human beings.” -Laudato Si’ (no. 211)


Prayer:
Giving thanks for our daily food before each meal of the day is one form of prayer we can practice as individuals, as a family or as a community. “One expression of this attitude of thankfulness is when we stop and give thanks to God before and after meals. That moment of blessing, however brief, reminds us of our dependence on God for life; it strengthens our feeling of gratitude for the gifts of creation; it acknowledges those who by their labours provide us with these goods; and it reaffirms our solidarity with those in greatest need.”-Laudato Si’ (no.227)


Community:
While we can all strive as individuals to take steps to take care of God’s creation, to be good stewards, it must also be done as a community. “…self-improvement on the part of individuals will not by itself remedy the extremely complex situation facing our world today. Social problems must be addressed by community networks and not simply by the sum of individual good deeds. The ecological conversion needed to bring about lasting change is also a community conversion.” -Laudato Si’ (no. 219). Saint Francis of Assisi, the Patron Saint of Ecology, reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs.” – Canticle of the Creatures, St. Francis of Assisi.


Season of Creation 2023, Part 1

posted September 5, 2023

The Season of Creation starts on September 1st with the Day of Prayer for Creation, and ends October 4th, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the Patron Saint of Ecology. Throughout the month-long celebration Christians around the world come together to care for our common home. The following is an excerpt from the Pope’s message for World Day of Prayer for Creation 2023.

“Let Justice and Peace Flow” is the theme of this year’s ecumenical Season of Creation, inspired by the words of the prophet Amos: “Let justice flow on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream” (5:24).
“On a beautiful summer day in July 2022, during my pilgrimage to Canada, I reflected on this on the shores of Lac Ste. Anne in Alberta. That lake has been a place of pilgrimage for many generations of Indigenous people. Surrounded by the beating of drums, I thought: How many hearts have come here with anxious longing, weighed down by life’s burdens, and found by these waters consolation and strength to carry on! Here, immersed in creation, we can also sense another beating: the maternal heartbeat of the earth. Just as the hearts of babies in the womb beat in harmony with those of their mothers, so in order to grow as people, we need to harmonize our own rhythms of life with those of creation, which gives us life”.
“During this Season of Creation, let us dwell on those heartbeats: our own and those of our mothers and grandmothers, the heartbeat of creation and the heartbeat of God. Today they do not beat in harmony; they are not harmonized in justice and peace. Too many of our brothers and sisters are prevented from drinking from that mighty river. Let us heed our call to stand with the victims of environmental and climate injustice, and to put an end to the senseless war against creation.”

A Litany of Women for the Church

Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB, posted August 24, 2023

“Dear God, creator of women in your own image, born of a woman in the midst of a world half women, carried by women to mission fields around the globe, made known by women to all the children of the earth.


Give to the women of our time the strength to persevere, the courage to speak out, the faith to believe in you beyond all systems and institutions, so that your face on earth may be seen in all its beauty, so that the church may be converted to your will in everything and in all ways.


We call on the holy women who went before us, channels of Your Word in testaments old and new, to intercede for us so that we might be given the grace to become what they have been for the honor and glory of God.


Saint Mary Magdalene, minister of Jesus, first evangelist of the Christ; pray for us.

Saint Scholastica, who taught her brother Benedict to honor the spirit above the system; pray for us.

Saint Hildegard, who suffered interdict for the doing of right; pray for us.

Saint Joan of Arc, who put no law above the law of God; pray for us.

Saint Clare of Assisi, who confronted the Pope with the image of woman as equal; pray for us.

Saint Julian of Norwich, who proclaimed for all of us the motherhood of God; pray for us.

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, who knew the call to priesthood in herself; pray for us.

Saint Catherine of Siena, to whom the Pope listened; pray for us.

Saint Teresa of Avila, who brought women’s gifts to the reform of the church; pray for us.

Saint Edith Stein, who brought fearlessness to faith; pray for us.

Saint Elizabeth Seton, who broke down boundaries between lay women and religious; pray for us.

Saint Dorothy Day, who led the church in a new sense of justice; pray for us.


Mary, mother of Jesus, who heard the call of God and answered; pray for us.

Mary, mother of Jesus, who drew strength from the woman Elizabeth; pray for us.

Mary, mother of Jesus, who underwent hardship bearing Christ; pray for us.

Mary, mother of Jesus, who ministered at Cana; pray for us.

Mary, mother of Jesus, inspirited at Pentecost; pray for us.

Mary, mother of Jesus, who turned the Spirit of God into the body and blood of Christ, pray for us, Amen.”


Reflection from Fr. Bill

posted August 19, 2023

Our world today has many wise, faith filled, courageous and loving people whose actions and words inspire us. In addition to the wisdom you carry yourself and the wisdom of hundreds of other inspiring folks that you have interacted with this past week, the following three women might carry some inspiration for you in these quotes and some further reading of their work.

From Sr. Helen Prejean, C.S.J. who is a Roman Catholic nun, a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph based in New Orleans, who through her ministry in prisons has accompanied prisoners on death row and has given them a loving face and presence in their dying moments. Author of Dead Man Walking:

“I saw the suffering and I let myself feel it…I saw the injustice and was compelled to do something about it. I changed from being a nun who only prayed for the suffering world to a woman with my sleeves rolled up, living my prayer.”
“The important thing is that when you come to understand something you act on it, no matter how small that act is. Eventually it will take you where you need to go.”
“I want the last face you see in this world to be the face of love, so you look at me when they do this thing. I’ll be the face of love for you.” (To a death row prisoner before his execution.)

From Sister of Mercy theologian and professor of spirituality, Sr. Janet Ruffing, R.S.M., Ph. D, who teaches graduate courses on Christian spirituality, mystics and mysticism, and meditation at Yale Divinity School.

“If we are as busy as we pretend to be, then we are too busy to allow ourselves to be affected by the pain and suffering of our world. We are too busy to be addressed personally by the social, political, or ecological disasters occurring in our relationships. We are too busy to listen to our own feelings or those of others. Our busyness insulates us from care and from compassion.” Janet Ruffing.

From Cynthia Bourgeault, Ph.D., who is an Episcopal priest, teacher, and retreat and conference leader. The author of several books, she lectures and gives workshops throughout North America and the world. Excerpts from her book The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind.

“As we enter the path of transformation, the most valuable thing we have working in our favor is our yearning.”
“Philippians 2:5: “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” The words call us up short as to what we are actually supposed to be doing on this path: not just admiring Jesus, but acquiring his consciousness.”
“Somewhere in those depths of silence I came upon my first experiences of God as a loving presence that was always near, and prayer as a simple trust in that presence.” The Wisdom of Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind.
“One can only imagine how greatly the political and religious culture wars of our era could be eased by this simple courtesy of the Law of Three: (1) the enemy is never the problem but the opportunity; (2) the problem will never be solved through eliminating or silencing the opposition but only through creating a new field of possibility large enough to hold the tension of the opposites and launch them in a new direction. Imagine what a different world it would be if these two simple precepts were internalized and enacted.” Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three: Discovering the Radical Truth at the Heart of Christianity.


When God Says No

Excerpt from “A Moment to Breathe" by Kelly Balarie posted August 11, 2023

But as it is written, “What no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart has conceived—God has prepared these things for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians2:9

“I was excited for this big opportunity. I was going to be used by God for something magnificent, something meaningful. I could feel it. I could see it. And I could almost smell it…until, it happened. The phone rang and I heard, “There has been a change of plans.” Have you ever received one of those calls? The type of call that takes away the good you were supposed to unwrap, hold, and then jump up and down over?


There was another woman, and I was asked to hand over the near once-in-a-lifetime dream. I didn’t want to, but I relented. Nearly every part of me felt like kicking and screaming, but the other part of me trusted God would use this to speak to my heart. So, I listened. And remembered the words of 1 Corinthians 2:9: We cannot fathom the thing God has prepared for those who love him. God loves me. God also loves her. He has plans for us both.


It's in moments like these we have to choose. We can choose to wallow in the idea of limited opportunity, or we can choose to see the unlimited God we follow.


Not too long after I was passed over, I got word about the other woman. She was diagnosed with severe cancer. She noted how vital and encouraging this special event was in her life. How God had carved it out just for her soul. How others had blessed her in a way she would never forget.


To her, it was a cherished honor she could hold through hard times. She received her “something magnificent, something meaningful,” but the thing is—so did I. He made my sacrifice count for her. And that is worth something.”

A Moment to Breathe…
“Picture the face of a friend who received something you really, really wanted. Ask God to fill your heart with gladness for her. Then send her a note, telling her how happy you are for her.”

Feed the Hungry

Excerpt from “How Do We Feed the Poor”
by Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI posted August 4, 2023

“How can you and how can I feed the hungry?

There are a couple of possible approaches: Mother Theresa takes one approach. For her, Jesus’ command is simple and clear. Each of us should personally, beyond government and other agencies, reach out concretely and touch some poor person or persons. There should be times when we are, literally, taking food to hungry people, working in soup kitchens, giving aid to individual street people, and having a poor person eat at our table. This approach is individual, personal, and concrete. Each poor person has a face, and one does not, at least not all the time, ask questions regarding where this person will eat tomorrow or what social problems are causing this hunger. In this view, the demand that we feed the hungry challenges us precisely to reach out beyond ideologies and social theories and irrespective of social structures, like the Good Samaritan, person-to-person, take food to the hungry.

But there is another approach, more abstract though not less critical. In this view, it is less important to feed this or that individual person on a given day than it is to change the social, political, and economic structures that are responsible for that particular person being hungry. This approach is less personal and slower, but can, at the end of the day, be more far-reaching. In it, one attempts to feed the hungry by involving oneself in social justice groups that are trying to change the conditions that produce poverty.

Both of these approaches, in their best expressions, are predicated on some other things: Feeding the hungry, as Jesus asks us to do it, involves a reduction
in our own standard of living. To feed the hungry means to consume less ourselves, to do some fasting,
and to live in a simplicity that puts us in more solidarity with the poor. Feeding the hungry also means prayer. We have some bad habits that only God can cure and thus only the outside power of God can ultimately transform our world.

So, which is the best approach? As Christians, our task is not to pick between being a Mother Theresa or a social justice advocate. The Gospel asks us to be both. We need to work at transforming the conditions that create poverty even as we, like Mother Theresa, reach out personally, beyond the economics and social issues involved, to feed very individual poor people.

Jesus’ command to feed the hungry asks to become a Dorothy Day.”

Climate Change

posted July 28, 2023

As we continue to enjoy the long days of summer, it is not uncommon to hear remarks such as “what is happening with the weather?”. An almost daily topic on the news are reports on global warming and just last week we recorded the earth’s hottest temperatures. Countries all around the world are struggling with the effects of climate change and environmental injustices. In some places the results are devasting—with deforestation, droughts, fires, torrential rains, floods, and tornadoes. As we each try in our own way as individuals and as a community to care for and become better stewards of God’s gift—Mother Earth, we offer the following reflections:

“Even a wounded world is feeding us. Even a wounded world holds us, giving us moments of wonder and joy. I choose joy over despair. Not because I have my head in the sand, but because joy is what the Earth gives me daily and I must return the gift.” — Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of Braiding Sweetgrass

"The function of one generation is to make change possible for the next. The real function of each generation is to sow the seeds that will make a better world possible in the future."—Sr. Joan Chittister

“The Eucharist joins heaven and earth; it embraces and penetrates all creation. Thus, the Eucharist is also a source of light and motivation for our concerns for the environment, directing us to be stewards of all creation.”—Laudato Si’, Para. 236

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

— Albert Einstein

“Here we are, the most clever species ever to have lived. So how is it we can destroy the only planet we have?” – Jane Goodall

“We are all part of Mother Earth. She sustains us and we must sustain her in return.” —Chief Dan George

“When enough people come together, then change will come, and we can achieve almost anything. So instead of looking for hope — start creating it.”— Greta Thunberg

“Together we can preserve the forest, securing this immense treasure for the future of all these our children.”— Chico Mendes

“I only feel angry when I see waste. When I see people throwing away things we could use.”
— Mother Teresa

A Prayer for the Earth
O God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes. Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction. Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth. Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey toward your infinite light. We thank you for being with us each day. Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace. (Excerpt from Laudato Si’)

Moments of Enlightenment
The Monastic Way

By Sr. Joan Chittister posted July 22, 2023

There are moments in life—both spiritual and intellectual—that are like no other. They change us. They redirect us. They complete us. Between these moments of enlightenment—all of which are relatively rare—we simply go from one life event, one change point to another. But after such times of acute insight, life takes on a different hue.


Enlightenment is a matter of coming to see life—to see ourselves—differently. It transforms us from average, everyday kind of people to people with a purpose in life.


Sometimes it is the moment in life when we simply know, absolutely know, that the person we have just met is the person we are going to marry. Or sometimes it is the awareness that what we studied so hard to become is not what we are going to be. Or it might be the awareness that where I am is not where I belong. For me, it had to do with coming to understand that I would spend my entire life simply following the Presence of God that consumed me more than anything else I could imagine in life. I dedicated my life to trying to unravel what that entailed in the present world and passing on those thoughts to others.


Where these Moments of Enlightenment come from are seldom able to be identified with any kind of certainty. They just are. They are within us, unspoken and often unseen, but never unknown. They strike us like lightning and burn within us all our lives.

We recognize them when they happen to us, but we would never have planned them.


Perhaps it is exactly a new vision that is true of all enlightenment: it drives us beyond the obvious and reveals itself to us slowly. It is something to be developed in us, not something that evaporates on the spot.


Enlightenment comes from outside ourselves. It is not a plan; it’s a happening. It fills us with new light. It astounds those around us to see us change our lives so suddenly, so totally. And in the end, it changes the focus, the direction, the very center of our lives.


The View from My Window

By Hannah Van Dyk (Excerpt from the Book A Moment to Breathe) posted July 15, 2023

“Provide justice for the needy and the fatherless; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute. Rescue the poor and needy; save them from the power of the wicked.” Psalm 82:3-4

I like being comfortable. My favorite spot in my house is where my white chair sits by a window that overlooks my street. On sunshine-filled days, sitting in that spot with my coffee, my favorite quilt, and a good book is the best way for me to get outside of my head for a little while.


My setup at work is similar. My chair sits in front of a large window, overlooking our street, and the sunshine streams in, always with a cup of coffee beside me. But my work window seat leaves me feeling anything but comfortable.


I work and live in the inner city, and the reflective windows—the same windows that allow the sun’s rays to stream through—are what people use as their mirror. There’s a tent outside my window, too, made of yellow and blue tarps haphazardly thrown together for someone to sleep on the street. My heart becomes uncomfortably knotted every day, and the world’s pain seems too overwhelming for any one person to make a difference to those people the world has deemed the least among us, to those among us hurting the most.


How do we serve, even when it seems too hard, even when it feels too uncomfortable, too inadequate? How de we move both individually and collectively, so our acts of service make the most difference for those whom Christ has created in His image?


We tune in so we don’t avoid what makes us uncomfortable. We pray for our neighbors in Christ and also for our hearts to be moved to service. We listen to the needs of those in our community who are crying for justice. And we begin today, standing up for what is true and right, demonstrating Christ’s love in action.

A Moment to Breathe…
It doesn’t have to be big or grandiose. Just one small gesture. One simple act of kindness. Pray for the eyes of your heart to see the hurting around you and to know the one thing you can do today.

Reflection from Fr. Bill

posted July 15, 2023

St. Ignatius of Loyola prayed and taught others a daily prayer called "The Examen' or 'The Awareness Examen'. It is a prayer that facilitates our deeper awareness of God's activity in our life and it fosters gratitude and deepening in our closeness to God and others.


Our lives are filled with daily blessings and gifts given by God. We experience these gifts in nature, relationships, activities and events. Some of these blessings come in the midst of challenges. It is a very common experience to move from one thing to another, to another, to another throughout the day without much reflecting on or savoring the gifts of God in it all.


This ‘Examen Prayer’ is a simple 10 to 15 minutes at the end of a 24 hour period to go back over this past day with God. It is a time to let God point out gifts and blessings that have been given and to become aware of them, savor them and acknowledge God as the giver of them. It can be a time for God to affirm how you have embraced and used these gifts well or failed to use them in some way. Then you simply express gratitude to God and ask God to assist you in the next day ahead with living and acting on the awarenesses that have come up in this prayer time.


I invite you to give it a try. Take 10 minutes and follow these steps:

Step 1: Preparation: I allow my spirit to rest awhile. I consider where I am going and for what purpose. I make a gesture of reverence and humility such as the ‘Sign of The Cross’.
Step 2: I Give thanks in General: I thank God for all of the goodness and gifts that are mine and in the world.
Step 3: I Ask for Help: I ask the Holy Spirit to help me notice particular moments for which I am grateful.

Step 4: I Review: I review my day and notice what stands out… especially those thoughts, words and actions which moved my mind or heart ‘upward and forward’ towards positive ‘energy’. That is…
I Notice – and lovingly contemplate with God …
• the good thoughts, ideas and inspirations (my own and others) … and give thanks
• the good words spoken, heard or written (my own and others)… and give thanks

• the good deeds and actions (my own or those of others)… and give thanks
I ponder how God was coming to me – or with me – in these experiences …

Step 5: I Respond: I respond to what the Spirit showed me and speak with God
Step 6: I Resolve: I move into tomorrow (the next 24 hours) asking for with even more attentiveness to what invites me to become more loving, more giving, more compassionate… more thankful… and in that spirit of gratitude, to make my own unique contribution to the building up of the body of Christ.

A Summer of Centering

Quotes from Ron Rolheiser, OMI, posted July 1, 2023

One summer I took up the Exercises of Ignatius for a typical reason. I was tired, felt dissipated, uncentred, emotionally and physically I needed a vacation. I looked for it in a prolonged prayer experience. I entered a retreat house for 40 days of withdrawal and Ignatian prayer. The overriding experience is one of being slowly, painfully, though surely, centered. I want to share a bit of that experience of centering in the hope that it might help some of you in your own struggles to find a center.

• Through the Ignatian Exercises one thing becomes clear: All rest, all freedom, all peace depends upon focusing upon God as center. It does not take many days in the desert before a mirror starts revealing more.
• I saw some habitual patterns – tired, overextended, distracted in my work, worried I will disappoint, too busy to pray properly, too preoccupied to appreciate properly.
• When you see those patterns, you become frightened, frightened by your attachments, frightened that you are not free, frightened that you cannot relax and frightened at how badly you are uncentered and how badly you need certain things and persons.
• After a few days of withdrawal with St. Ignatius, a realization of the patterns is clear and with that realization comes the beginning of healing because that brings the desire to change.

What is needed? The solution that God himself proposes to Israel, the SHEMA, the prayer which every pious Jew has nailed to his or her doorpost and which is said three times daily: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your might…”And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart and you shall teach them to your children..” (Deut. 6:4-9)


Under Ignatius’ influence, I wrote my own SHEMA. “Hear, O Rolheiser: The Lord our God is one Lord; you must put him before all else, then all else will fall into place. Brand that into your heart and into your mind. Teach it to your students; write it in your column and talk about it at the table and to your friends. Put it on a sign by your mirror, and pray it daily, and mean it! Then and only then, will your tiredness turn to peaceful solitude, your compulsiveness to freedom and your restlessness to restfulness.” When I pray that three times daily, there is a lot less compulsiveness.”

For your Reflection from Fr. Bill

posted June 22, 2023

Fr. Henri Nouwen, (1932 – 1996) was a Dutch Catholic priest, professor, writer and theologian. His interests were rooted primarily in psychology, pastoral ministry, spirituality, social justice and community. Over the course of his life, Nouwen was heavily influenced by the work of Anton Boisen, Thomas Merton, Rembrandt, Vincent van Gogh and Jean Vanier. His writings reflect a deep relationship with the Holy Trinity in the lived experiences of our lives. These are a few quotes to give you a taste of his wisdom:

“The real enemies of our life are the 'oughts' and the 'ifs.' They pull us backward into the unalterable past and forward into the unpredictable future. But real life takes place in the here and now.”
“Discipline means to prevent everything in your life from being filled up. Discipline means that somewhere you're not occupied, and certainly not preoccupied. In the spiritual life, discipline means to create that space in which something can happen that you hadn't planned or counted on.”
“God is a God of the present. God is always in the moment, be that moment hard or easy, joyful and painful.”
“Peacemaking is a full-time vocation that includes each member of God's people.”
“Perhaps nothing helps us make the movement from our little selves to a larger world than remembering God in gratitude. Such a perspective puts God in view in all of life, not just in the moments we set aside for worship or spiritual disciplines. Not just in the moments when life seems easy.”
“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.”
“Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Success, popularity, and power can indeed present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of the much larger temptation to self-rejection. When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity, and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap, however, is self-rejection. As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking, "Well, that proves once again that I am a nobody." ... [My dark side says,] I am no good... I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected, and abandoned. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the "Beloved." Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.” Henri J.M. Nouwen
"Dear God,
I am so afraid to open my clenched fists!
Who will I be when I have nothing left to hold on to?
Who will I be when I stand before you with empty hands?
Please help me to gradually open my hands and to discover that I am not what I own, but what you want to give me."

J.M. Nouwen, The Only Necessary Thing: Living a Prayerful Life