Father Monte Peters
posted May 16, 2020 and again on May 23, 2020
In our Wednesday morning Zoom meeting with Bishop Riesbeck we priests learned that he and his team are in on-going communication with members of the provincial government. They are trying to formalize protocols for the public celebration of Mass and other religious services in our diocesan churches. I myself have decided for a number of reasons that I will not preside at a parking lot Mass. At this moment, I'm calling about asking for volunteers to assist me in developing a live-stream Mass for our parish.
Bishop Riesbeck has said that at least one person in each parish, called a Coordinator, must be identified as being responsible for the operational guidelines for the parish. Each parish should also have a Pandemic Protocol Committee in place to support the Coordinator. To date, in our parish no member has responded to the call for someone to volunteer for this important function. So, if you or someone you know would like to help our parish by accepting this responsibility, please call me at 470-2235. Thank you.
This weekend marks the beginning of Laudato Si' Week. This nine-day Vatican sponsored event commemorates Pope Francis' 2015 social encyclical highlighting our Church's teachings on the environment and human ecology "I renew my urgent call to respond to the ecological crisis. The cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor cannot continue." The theme of this week is "everything is connected," - a central message in the encyclical made all the more clear as the novel coronavirus has raised dramatic consequences for all aspects of life in our common home.
A number of virtual masses are being live-streamed and/or televised locally and nationally. Some were listed in last week's bulletin. The following prayer can be said by the viewer after the presiding priest has consumed the Body of Christ and the Precious Blood.
An Act of Spiritual Communion
My Jesus, I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment
receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.
posted May 9, 2020
Over the past week, our Diocese and many parishes have reached to social media to stay connected with the faithful. Under Bishop Riesbeck's direction, our Diocese of Saint John has now added its own YouTube page to its social media platform.
Now, because it has its own channel, anyone can post to YouTube. Our Diocesan YouTube page can be accessed through the diocesan website at www.dioceseofsaintjohn.org. or directly from the general YouTube site. Also, the Diocesan Facebook page can be linked directly from any Facebook account (simply search Diocese of Saint John) or through the diocesan website.
Bishop Riesbeck continues to livestream Sunday morning Mass at 10:00 am from the Cathedral Rectory Chapel. Also, a weekly Wednesday evening Rosary recitation is hosted at 7:00 pm on Facebook and on a Zoom version.
Locally, Sunday Mass is available on the St. Dunstan’s (https://stdun7.wixsite.com/stdunstansparish) and the St. Theresa websites (www.sttheresaparish.ca). Nationally, Sunday and Daily Mass is available at "Daily TV Mass" from Toronto.
Each Wednesday morning Bishop Riesbeck hosts a Zoom meeting with all our priests. This past week the conversation centered on what steps should be taken for public worship when our churches are re-opened. Preliminary protocols are being discussed with our bishop and his team of advisors and will be promulgated forthwith. In preparation for this phase, each parish is requested to designate one person, entitled the "Pandemic Response Team and Coordinator" to oversee this transition.
So if you, or anyone you know would like to help by volunteering for this responsibility, please call me at 470-2235. Thank you. .
posted May 2, 2020
The provincial government under Premier Higgs leadership is gradually opening up our province. He speaks of our future as ‘the new normal’. In concert with the steps being taken, our faith community health should help this effort by designing and promoting ‘a new normal’ for parish life and ministry.
When St. Joan of Arc was seeking help to fulfil her mission to enthrone the King of France, she said she was being directed by voices coming from God. Her voices, she said, came to her through her imagination, ‘How else would God speak to me if not through my imagination?”
It would be well for us Catholics to begin to imagine what future pastoral ministry could look like. We have some elements to consider. Pope Francis, for instance, imagines the church as a field hospital and a poor church for the poor. Bishop Riesbeck is promoting the use of social media. Our educators are developing eLearning strategies. Some faithful are taking digital pilgrimages. Other are participating in TV Masses. Some of our priests are utilizing live streaming programing.
Could this not be an opportune moment for parishioners to engage their gift of imagination inspired by God’s Holy Spirit to envision a design for a post-pandemic parish?
posted April 26, 2020
Our concerns around the Corona Virus Pandemic and the tragic killings in NS have overshadowed another crisis. Climate Change.
This past week, Wednesday April 22nd was the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day.
Greta Thunberg, the teenage Swedish climate activist, told a YouTube audience in a virtual meeting to mark the anniversary: “Whether we like it or not, the world has changed. It looks completely different from how it did a few months ago. It may never look the same again. We have to choose a new way forward... If one single virus can destroy economies in a couple of weeks, it shows we are not thinking long-term...”
In his general audience on that same occasion, Pope Francis called “for renewing our commitment to love and care for our common home and for the weaker members of our human family. As the tragic coronavirus pandemic has taught us, we can overcome global challenges only by showing solidarity with one another and embracing the most vulnerable in our midst.”
In New Brunswick we have learned the benefits of social solidarity. The full threat of the pandemic has been mitigated because of the sacrifice and cooperation of everyone. Imagine what effect social solidarity could have with the climate crisis. In the past month or so, for example, because of the almost universally enforced lockdown, earth’s carbon dioxide level has fallen 6%! A surprising and unexpected benefit for our common home. So change is possible if we humans act in harmony with the earth.
“We need a new way of looking at our common home,” said Pope Francis. We need ecological conversion (Paragraph 216 -221 Laudato Si). After all, “we are fashioned from the earth and fruit of the earth sustains our life... in today’s celebration of Earth Day we are called to renew our sense of sacred respect for our Earth, for it is not just our home, but also God’s home. This should make us all the more aware that we stand on holy ground.”
“In this Easter season of renewal, let us pledge to love and esteem the beautiful gift of the earth, our common home, and to care for all members of our human family. As brothers and sisters, which we are, let us together implore our heavenly Father: ‘Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth’ (Psalm 104:30)
posted April 19, 2020
The reflection in the Little White Book for today, Saturday, April 19th, takes us to the moment when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary encounter our Risen Lord while they are running ‘fearful and overjoyed’ to preach the news to the frightened apostles in the upper room. He says to them. “Do not be afraid.” He’s the same counsel the angel had given them when they found the tomb empty, “Do not be afraid.”
Looking back over the public ministry of Jesus how many times those around him have heard him say, “Don’t be afraid” or ‘Don’t worry” (Matthew 6:25-34 / Luke 12:22-31). In fact, at the Last Supper, John remembers him urging his apostles to “trust in God still... “ (John 14:1).
These are difficult days for all of us. Our busy lives have been brought to a halt by an invincible and threatening adversary. We find ourselves feeling worried, fearful, grieving, suffering, angry and anxious. We wonder if we will have the strength, resources and the patience to endure what we are going through.
At the same time, we are encouraged by creative and loving ways people are finding to help each other. A group of high school students using their phones to call elders in their community to bring some joy into their lives. Drivers doing errands for stranded friends and neighbors. Parishioners praying for each other and joining in the Daily TV Mass.
To put a fine point on it, today’s reflection ends remembering the words of Jesus ... “Trust God.”
posted April 10, 2020
These days of Holy Week, our parish churches are closed due to restrictions around the coronavirus pandemic, Citizens are finding that home time and family time can be rewarding in many ways. Catholics are able to take unique advantage of two traditional Lenten practices -(a) attending Daily Mass by seeing it on TV and/or through the Internet; and (b) praying the Scriptures. The TV Mass service is edifying but actually receiving Holy Communion is not possible. What is possible is for participants to be spiritually connected through prayer. One such prayer is said after the priest completes communion and is as follows: "My Jesus, I believe you are presentin the Most Blessed Sacrament. I love you above all things, and I desire to receive you into my soul. Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace you as if you were already there, and I unite myself wholly to you. Never permit me to be separated from you. Amen." Praying the Scriptures is enabled using the Reflection booklet, the Little White Book. The readings start on Easter Monday. They are designed to help you to enjoy six minutes in prayer during the next 50 days of the Easter season. Copies of the Little White Book are free and are made available in a box located on the doorstep of Holy Family Church and St. Ann's Church. (a gift from the Easter Bunny!) The key for using this booklet is the right-hand page. On that page each day (except Sundays) you will be taking a walk through the Sunday Gospels. The left-hand page is like a buffet table with information about the Easter season, or various traditions and customs, or the saint whose feast iscelebrated on that particular day.ActsUse the booklet as you wish, but the main thing is to spend some quiet time with our Lord using one of the oldest prayer traditions of our church -lectio divina-sacred reading. We take a short Scripture passage and simply let God speak to us through the words, guiding us to reflections that sometimes seem to come from nowhere. But they are not from "nowhere". They're from God.In your prayer, please pray for victims of the pandemic, for those who are caring for them, and for all the helpers who supporting front line workers -public servants, grocery, pharmaceutical and janitorial staff etc. And may the joyful blessings of Easter be yours.
Posted April 4, 2020
The Chinese word for "crisis" is composed of two characters signifying 'danger' and 'opportunity'. Putting aside the danger of this present moment with it's suffering and pain, it might be helpful to direct some attention to the spiritual opportunities offered by this current crisis.Among other things the practice of self-isolation and social distancing is putting a focus on the family. It's sad that the social side of our sacramental life is suspended with our churches locked and parish activities not allowed, but our family and home life is still important to us. Among other things, this crisis is forcing us back into our houses so that we can rebuild them into our homes and strengthen our family units.Sitting quietly in a room all alone or with one's family leaves us wondering how we can still practice our faith and grow our spirituality. But there isa virtual world around us that we can tap into.Mass for shut-ins, for example, can be viewed on TV or on the Internet. Viewers can participate by listening to the Word of Godand praying a Spiritual Communion.Praying the Rosarywith an on-line program and/or saying the Rosary as a family unit. Reading some Scriptureeach day privately or with the family. Using, for example, the little seasonal blue-black-white booklets is one way of learning how to do "lectio divina" -sacred reading. Saying Gracewhile sitting at the family table for a meal. Practising love of neighbour through getting to know other parishioners by establishing telephone contact with them using our parish directory. Those members who are living alone would appreciate a call, especially those who are frightened and lonely. This crisis time could also be an opportune time to read some devotional literatureor spiritual classics you've never had the time for. Finally, in addition to praying for those who are ill, praying in gratitude for all the people,the silent heroes, on the front lines -medical personnel, grocery store clerks, pharmacy staff, delivery drivers, errand doers, care-givers in seniors' residences and so forth. We may not know when this crisis will pass, but the faithful words of John Newman's hymn "Lead Kindly Light" come to mind -"The night is dark, and I am far from home, lead thou me on! Keep thou my feet, I do not ask to see the distant scene -one step enough for me."
Posted March 28, 2020
Pope Francis calls planet Earth “our common home”in his encyclical Laudato Si’. All created reality, human and non-human, finds shelter within our common home.These days inour common homewe humans find ourselves threatened by a universal, invisible and deadly virus. It is a crisis that affects all human beings equally. All are vulnerable, all suffer alike and together, and all pray for safety and protection.The human dimension is but oneaspect of creation. The Pope’s recent synod on the Amazon alerted us to how far we humanshave gone in mis-using and abusing God’s gift of creation. The Amazon rainforest, for instance, provides 20% of the world’s oxygen. It is sometimes describedas “the lungs of our planet”. Whereas viral activity attacks human lungs, human activity is attacking the lungs of our common home.On the positive side, some of the protectivesteps we have taken during this currentcrisis has led to unintended consequences. People are noticing a reductionin noise pollution and a lowering of carbon levels in air pollution. Limits imposed on human behavior have made us acutely aware of the benefits of social interaction and solidarity. May we continue in prayer and dialogue to be open to what the present crisis can teachus about the presence of God tobe found in all creation. As the oldfolk song reminds us “He’s got the whole world in his hands...“
Posted March 21, 2020
Did you ever imagine that the day would come when we would be ordered to close our churches? And to add to it, our public health authorities and political leaders are not able to tell us how deep this present crisis will become nor when it will end.In the meantime we listen. We find inspiration and hope in words of prayer and acts of neighborliness.One way we have oftaking care of each other is through social media. Willing volunteers are phoning all the parishioners listed in our parish directory. We want to stay in touch with you, hear how you are making out, and gather information to help us develop a parish social media network.This crisis is growing and leaving us worried, fearful and anxious on the one hand, while on the other it can be a blessed time where we learn to lean on each other, become closer to our loving God, and discover the strength, encouragement and hope that our faith offers us. As the old sailor says: “We can’t control the wind, but we can adjust the sails.”