From your Pastor

Father Monte Peters

Part II: Pope Francis: A Crisis Reveals What Is in Our Hearts

posted December 5, 2020

.I remember especially two nurses from this time. One was the senior ward matron, a Dominican sister who had been a teacher in Athens before being sent to Buenos Aires. I learned later that following the first examination by the doctor, after he left she told the nurses to double the dose of medication he had prescribed – basically penicillin and streptomycin – because she knew from experience I was dying. Sister Cornelia Caraglio saved my life. Because of her regular contact with sick people, she understood better than the doctor what they needed, and she had the courage to act on her knowledge.


Another nurse, Micaela, did the same when I was in intense pain, secretly prescribing me extra doses of painkillers outside my due times. Cornelia and Micaela are in heaven now, but I`ll always owe them so much. They fought for me to the end, until my eventual recovery. They taught me what it is to use science but also to know when to go beyond it to meet particular needs. And the serious illness I lived through taught me to depend on the goodness and wisdom of others.


This theme of helping others has stayed with me these past months. In lockdown I`ve often gone in prayer to those who sought all means to save the lives of others. So many of the nurses, doctors and caregivers paid that price of love, together with priests, and religious and ordinary people whose vocations were service. We return their love by grieving for them and honoring them.


Whether or not they were conscious of it, their choice testified to a belief: that it is better to live a shorter life serving others than a longer one resisting that call. That`s why, in many countries, people stood at their windows or on their doorsteps to applaud them in gratitude and awe. They are the saints next door, who have awakened something important in our hearts, making credible once more what we desire to instill by our preaching.


Part III - next week…

Part 1: Pope Francis: A Crisis Reveals What Is in Our Hearts

posted November 29, 2020

In this past year of change, my mind and heart have overflowed with people. People I think of and pray for, and sometimes cry with, people with names and faces, people who died without saying goodbye to those they loved, families in difficulty, even going hungry, because there’s no work.


Sometimes, when you think globally, you can be paralyzed: There are so many places of apparently ceaseless conflict; there’s so much suffering and need. I find it helps to focus on concrete situations: You see faces looking for life and love in the reality of each person, of each people. You see hope written in the story of every nations, glorious because it’s a story of daily struggle, of lives broken in self-sacrifice. So rather than overwhelm you, it invites you to ponder and to respond with hope.

These are moments in life that can be ripe for change and conversion. Each of us has had our own “stoppage”, or if we haven’t yet, we will someday: illness, the failure of a marriage or a business, some great disappointment or betrayal. As in the Covid-19 lockdown, those moments generate a tension, a crisis that reveals what is in our hearts.


In every personal “Covid” so to speak, in every “stoppage” what is revealed is what needs to change: our lack of internal freedom, the idols we have been serving, the ideologies we have tried to live by, the relationships we have neglected.


When I got really sick at the age of 21, I had my first experience of limit, of pain and loneliness. It changed the way I saw life. For months, I didn’t know who I was or whether I would live or die. The doctors had no idea whether I’d make it either. I remember hugging my mother and saying, “Just tell me if I’m going to die.” I was in the second year of training for the priesthood in the diocesan seminary of Buenos Aires.


I remember the date: Aug 13, 1957. I got taken to a hospital by a prefect who realized mine was not the kind of flu you treat with aspirin. Straightaway they took a liter and a half of water out of my lungs, and I remained there fighting for my life. The following November they operated to take out the upper right lobe of one of the lungs. I have some sense of how people with Covid-19 feel as they struggle to breath on a ventilator.


Part II – next week

An Everlasting Dwelling Place in Heaven

posted November 23, 2020

This past Thursday night, we offered a Service of Remembrance held in Holy Family Church. It was intended to be an opportunity for relatives and friends of members who have died since last November to be remembered. Praying for the deceased is an on-going practice of our faith whether it be in community or in private.


As Catholics we believe that the dead are still alive, still living a conscious and loving relationship with us and each other. After death we live on in communication with others who have died before us, in communion with those left behind on earth, and in communion with God. We affirm this belief whenever we recite the credal formula “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.”


November is the month dedicated to the memory of all those who have died. We pray for the dead because we believe that we are still in vital communion with them. Love, presence, communication reach even through death. We and they can still feel each other, know each other, love each other, console each other and influence each other. Our lives are still joined. We pray for the dead in order to remain in contact with them.


How do we communicate with them? We communicate with them through God in prayer. In our liturgy our words of prayer are addressed to God. Normally our prayers are phrased in words addressed to God as in “Lord, have mercy on his/her soul.” Why? Because it is in and through God, within the heart of God, that our communication with our deceased loved ones takes place.


But our belief in the communion of saints also allows us to talk through prayer to individuals who have died. We are part of them and they are part of us. The bond of our loving relationship remains, in death their life has been transformed.


We are reminded of this in the language of the funeral liturgy. Therein we listen to the words of the Preface: “In Jesus, who rose from the dead, our hope of resurrection dawned. The sadness of death gives way to the bright promise of immortality. Lord, for your faithful people life is changed, not ended. When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven.”

Service of Remembrance

posted November 15, 2020

This coming week, on Thursday night, a Service of Remembrance will be held in Holy Family Church. It is intended to be an opportunity for relatives and friends of members who have died since last November to be remembered. Unfortunately, due to the restraints placed upon us by COVID-19 regulations, it is by invitation only. But praying for the deceased is an on-going practice of our faith whether it be in community or in private.


As Catholics we believe that the dead are still alive, still living a conscious and loving relationship with us and each other. After death we live on in communication with others who have died before us, in communion with those left behind on earth, and in communion with God. We affirm this belief whenever we recite the credal formula “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.”


November is the month dedicated to the memory of all those who have died. We pray for the dead because we believe that we are still in vital communion with them. Love, presence, communication reach even through death. We and they can still feel each other, know each other, love each other, console each other and influence each other. Our lives are still joined. We pray for the dead in order to remain in contact with them.


How do we communicate with them? We communicate with them through God in prayer. In our liturgy our words of prayer are addressed to God. Normally our prayers are phrased in words addressed to God as in “Lord, have mercy on his/her soul.” Why? Because it is in and through God, within the heart of God, that our communication with our deceased loved ones takes place.


But our belief in the communion of saints also allows us to talk through prayer to individuals who have died. We are part of them and they are part of us. The bond of our loving relationship remains, in death their life has been transformed.


We are reminded of this in the language of the funeral liturgy. Therein we listen to the words of the Preface: “In Jesus, who rose from the dead, our hope of resurrection dawned. The sadness of death gives way to the bright promise of immortality. Lord, for your faithful people life is changed, not ended. When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven.”

Development and Peace – Recovering Together Campaign

posted November 7, 2020

Development and Peace Canada has joined over 200 organizations from across Canada to launch “Six Principles for a Just Recovery.” The goal is to push the Canadian Government to ensure that the recovery from the pandemic is a catalyst for change. The pandemic has revealed the deep inequalities that exist here in Canada and in the Global South and that have been created by an economic model which places profit before human dignity and care of our common home.


The six principles are a commitment to a just future that puts the health and wellbeing of ALL peoples and ecosystems first, and builds a more equitable, resilient, and sustainable society.


This moment is a reminder that the status quo can and must be disrupted. We are standing on the threshold between the old world and the next and we must choose to build the future we want.


Six Principles for a Just Recovery:

Put people’s health and well-being first. No Exceptions: 
Health is a human right and is interdependent with the health and well-being of ecological systems. 
Strengthen the social safety net and provide relief directly to people: 
Focus relief efforts on people – particularly those who are structurally oppressed by existing systems. 
Prioritize the needs of workers and communities:
Government support to any sector should be accompanied by conditions that ensure support flows to workers, including migrant workers and students, and communities – not to shareholders and corporate executives. 
Build resilience to prevent future crises: 
We cannot recover from the current crisis by entrenching systems that will cause the next crisis. 
Build solidarity and equity across communities, generations, and borders: 
In a globalized world, what happens to one of us matters to all of us. 
Uphold Indigenous Rights and work in partnership with Indigenous peoples: 
A Just Recovery must uphold Indigenous Rights and include the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples, in line with the standard of free, prior, and informed consent.

Attached to the Bulletin is a message from Bishop Riesbeck regarding a Special Collection for Development and Peace for the weekend of November 14th & 15th. You can also make a donation online at devp.org/give.

Children of God

posted October 25, 2020

Pope Francis supports ‘civil unions’ for same-sex couples.


In a feature-length documentary, titled “Francesco”, which tells the story of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Pope Francis reveals his support for the creation of civil union laws for same-sex couples. “Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God. You can’t kick someone out of a family, nor make their life miserable for this. What we have to have is a civil union law: that way they are legally covered.


The opinion is not new to the pope. While service as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis endorsed civil unions for gay couples as an alternative to same-sex marriages. He isn’t trying to change church doctrine, but he is expressing his belief that gay people should enjoy the same rights as heterosexuals. Evgeny Afineevsky, the director of the documentary, said “The world needs positivity right now” and the film deals with issues the pope cares about most, including climate change, poverty, care about refugees and migration, border and walls, family separation and people most affected by discrimination.


Pope Francis’ outreach dates to his first foreign trip in 2013 when he uttered the now-famous words “Who am I to judge” when asked during an airborne new conference returning from Rio de Janiero about a purportedly gay priest. “If someone is gay and he searched for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”


In the documentary there is a segment when a gay Italian man who was attending one of the Pope’s daily masses, gave Pope Francis a letter that explained conversations he and his partner were having over whether to take their children to church, fearing they might be subject to unfair judgement as children of a gay couple. Later, the pope called him and encouraged him to take their children to church and to be honest with the pastor about their living situation.


In essence Pope Francis has not promoted change in the moral or sacramental teaching of the Church. He has simply called for all people to be treated with the dignity and love which is their due by being created in God’s image and likeness and being children of our Heavenly Father. The message of Jesus is He came to save us all. It is with the grace of God that we focus on the beauty of the person and that we are called to treat each other with fairness and dignity.

The Leadership Role of Women in the Church

posted October 18, 2020

In a recent video talk, Pope Francis commented on the important leadership role of women in the Church. By virtue of baptism, all members are called to be missionary disciples of the Lord. No one has been baptised to be a priest or a bishop. We have all been baptised as lay people.


Many women, answering this call, keep the church on its feet throughout the world with their admirable self-giving and ardent faith. The Holy Father recognizes this fact when he proposes that women should have “a real and effective impact on the organization, the most important decisions, and the direction of communities, which continuing to do so in a way that reflects their womanhood… We must emphasize the feminine lay presence because in the Church women tend to be left aside.”


This video talk is not the first time Pope Francis has insisted that women should hold positions of responsibility in the Church and participate in its decision-making bodies. Recently he called upon six women with extensive resumes to join the financial advising team of the Vatican.

Welcoming Season of Creation

Blessed are You, God alive in Earth and Cosmos!

Welcoming this Season of Creation, we celebrate your
generosity, as late summer ripens to early autumn. 
All your creatures reveal your beauty, truth and wisdom.
We give thanks for flourishing fields, bringing forth rich
harvest … colourful gardens, attracting precious pollinators.
In every season, You give us what we need. Eagerly your
Spirit nourishes us to receive and share loving kindness and compassion. 
Forgive our carelessness, causing Earth’s distress, with
loss of many species. In a time of pandemic, guide us to
participate in your call to transformation.
Awaken us to walk lightly on the land, seeding integrity
… cultivating justice … creating a climate of equality and peace.  
Gratefully, we pray in the name of Jesus, who calls us to
grow, making all thing e new. 
Amen 

~ Roma De Robertis, SCIC
(Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception)

Fratelli Tutti

posted October 9, 2020

Pope Francis issued a new encyclical on the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. Fratelli Tutti is a letter teaching us that everyone in this world is connected. It follows in the wake of Laudato Si, a letter that teaches us that everything in this world is connected.


The Pope sees the current world situation as comparable to the Cuban missile crisis, World War II or 9/11. In other words, he sees the world as being on the brink and leaning toward division.


Cardinal Michael Czerny, the newly ordained Canadian who heads the Vatican’s migrants and refugees office, commented that “depending on your age, what was it like to hear Pius XII deliver his Christmas messages during World War II; or how did it feel when Pope John XXIII published Pacem in Terris; or how did you feel after 9/11?” He said, “I think you need to recover that feeling in your stomach, in your whole being to appreciate Fratelli Tutti.”


Cardinal Czerny goes on to say, “If we take responsibility for our common home and for our brothers and sisters, then I think we have a good chance, and my hope is rekindled and inspired to keep on going and do more.”


Pope Francis is pushing back on a theory that most subscribe to without realizing we are doing so. “We believe ourselves,” he says, “to be self-made, without recognizing God as our creator; we’re prosperous, we believe we deserve everything that we have and consume; and we’re orphans, disconnected, totally free, and alone.”


The truth is the opposite to being self-made prosperous orphans and the encyclical offers an alternate way of looking at what is going on in our lives. The encyclical is an invitation to see one another as a neighbour, as a friend, to build relationships particularly at this time when the world feels so politically divided, and cries out for healing ways.

Sharing the Wisdom of Time

posted October 2, 2020

In the preface of a new book published by Loyola Press which highlights the wisdom of the elderly, their experiences and their insights as fundamental contributions to society, Pope Francis calls for an alliance between the young and the old to undertake an intergenerational conversation

.

During the launch of “Sharing the Wisdom of Time”, the Pope invited young people to listen and bond with their elders in an effort to counter a culture of waste, a growing indifference to the plight of migrants and refugees, and a dangerous resurgence of populism that spurs hatred and intolerance.


The book contains stories gathered from elderly persons all over the world, from 30 countries and from all walks of life. In the preface the Pope repeatedly expresses his belief that the young can only sink roots into the soil of tradition through their relationships with the elderly.

Pope Francis explains that this alliance entails sharing the experience of older people, heeding their advice and creating a strong bond with the new generations who are hungry for guidance and support as they prepare for their future.


The stories are organized in five thematic chapters – work, struggle, love, death and hope. Each chapter begins with the Pope reflecting on each theme.


Speaking off-the-cuff during the book launch, Pope Francis touched on current themes and issues such as migration and the tragedy of so many force migrants and refugees who die on their journeys of hope and of the responsibility of policy-makers and world leaders to find solutions that safeguard the lives and dignity of all; the importance of cultivating memory so that evils – such as wars – witnessed in history are not repeated; the danger of populism that gives rise to hatred and intolerance.

Healing the World

posted September 27, 2020

At his recent audience Pope Francis explained that creation must be protected and not exploited. Human beings must change their relationship with nature and view it not as an “object for unscrupulous use and abuse” but as a gift they are charged by God to care for.


People are called to contemplate creation as a reflection of “God’s infinite wisdom and goodness” and not act as it people are the “center of everything” and the “absolute rulers of all other creatures”.


“Exploiting creation – this is sin. We believe that we are the center, claiming to occupy God’s place and thus we ruin the harmony of creation, the harmony of God’s design. We become predators, forgetting our vocation as guardians of life.”


With this remark, Pope Francis is continuing his talks on “healing the world” with the theme of “caring for the common home and contemplative attitude.” Contemplation is pushback to “an unbalance and arrogant anthropocentrism” in which humans place themselves and their needs “at the center of everything.”


“It is important to recover the completative dimension, that is, to look at the earth, at creation as a gift, not as something to be explicated for profit.” The pope said. “When we contemplate, we discover in others and in nature something much greater than their usefulness.”


Citing a recent report that glaciers in Antarctica are collapsing due to global warming, Pope Francis said that the consequential rising sea levels “will be terrible,” and he called on people to “guard the inheritance God has entrusted to us so that future generations can enjoy it.”


“Each one of us can and must become a guardian of the common home, capable of praising God for his creatures [by] contemplating them and protecting them.”

For the Love of Creation

posted September 17, 2020

“For the Love of Creation” is a faith-based initiative for climate justice. It originates with the Joint Ecological Ministry (JEM), a collective that has the support of a growing list of national churches, Christian international development agencies, and faith-based organizations. It sees itself as a gathering together as people of faith in the hopes of making a meaningful contribution in the next decade towards a sustainable future for all life in our Common Home. 


Many people have hope of influencing our Canadian government as parliamentarians dig into the work of planning an economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 


“For the Love of Creation” has launched a Parliamentary Petition calling on the Government of Canada to:

    • Commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 60% below 2005 levels by 2030, and invest in a just transition. 

    • Honor the rights of indigenous Peoples;

    • Commit equal support for climate change adaption and mitigation measures in the Global south; and

    • Respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Global South.


Readers are encouraged to consider signing this petition and sending it to:

Joint Ecological Ministry 

101 Thorncliffe Park Drive

Toronto, Ontario M4H 1M2