Father Monte Peters
posted July 11, 2020
A sincere Thank You to all who participated in so many ways in the “Drive By Anniversary” last Saturday. Your cards, treats, gifts, greetings and presence were very heartfelt and appreciated. And especially I am grateful to God for the privilege and the blessing of serving the people of God in the priesthood.
In the Gospel parable this weekend, Jesus tells the crowds about the bountiful value of ‘good soil’. In part of his encyclical letter “Laudato Si” Pope Francis tells us about the poor care we are giving to the soil and the earth of our Common Home. “The earth’s resources are being plundered because of short-sighted approaches to the economy, commerce and production. The loss of forests and woodlands entails the loss of species which may constitute extremely important resources in the future, not only for food, but also for curing disease and other uses (Para 32)…. The good functioning of ecosystems requires fungi, algae, worms, insects, reptiles and an innumerable variety of organisms (Para 34) … Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost forever (Para 33)… Greater investment needs to be made in research aimed at understanding more fully the functioning of ecosystems (Para 42).” He concluded his encyclical with this thought: “I propose that we offer two prayers. The first we can share with all who believe in a God who is the all-powerful Creator, while in the other we Christians ask for inspiration to take up the commitment to creation set before us by the Gospel of Jesus. (Para 246).”
posted July 4, 2020
The following quotation is from Cardinal Suenens, a Vatican II Leader who died in May, 1992. This was his reply when he was asked why he was a man of such hope.
Because I believe that God is new every morning. I believe that God is creating the world today, at this very moment. God did not just create it on the long ago and then forget about it. That means that we have to expect the unexpected as the normal way of God's Providence is at work.
That 'unexpected' of God is exactly what saves and liberates us from determinism and from the sociologism of gloomy statistics about the state of human affairs in the present. That 'unexpected', since it comes from God, is something coming out of his love for us, for the betterment of his children.
I am hopeful, not for human reasons or because I am optimistic by nature, but because I believe in the Holy Spirit present in his Church and in the world - even if people don't know his name. I am hopeful because I believe that the Holy Spirit is still the creative Spirit, and that he will give us every morning fresh freedom, joy and a new provision of hope, if we open our soul to him.
The story of the Church is a long story, filled with the wonders of the Holy Spirit: we must remember the saints and the prophets bringing, in hopeless times, a gulf stream of graces and new insights to continue on the road.
I believe in the surprises of the Holy Spirit. The Council was such a surprise, and Pope John XXIII was another. They took us aback. Why should we think that God's imagination and love might be exhausted?
Hope is a duty, not just a nicety. Hope is not a dream, but a way of making dreams become reality. Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them become true.
posted June 28, 2020
What to expect when you come to Mass this weekend. So begins the expansion of the social bubble to include the Atlantic Provinces is a signal that we can begin the regular schedule for Masses in our Parish. Parishioners will discover some physical changes when they enter the church. The normal protocols for entry into a controlled building will be followed.
Volunteers will be available to guide worshipers during the liturgy. Physical distancing will prevail.
Face masks are required as you approach the church. They may be put aside during Mass, but every time you leave your seat they are to be worn. Masks are available in the lobby of the church.
Mass attendance is by appointment. To make an appointment to attend Mass, call the church at 444-6021 (Holy Family). Leave a message if no one answers. Otherwise, call Barb at 457-1559. To make an appointment to attend Mass at St. Ann’s, call Liz Solomon 363-4493. Remember the weekend Mass is on a first come first served basis.
Be advised that a dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass issued by Bishop Riesbeck has been extended to Parishioners who are particularly vulnerable (ie. Over the age of 60, existing heart of lung conditions, diabetes, or otherwise compromised immune system). Such parishioners are encouraged to remain home, to continue to watch Mass from their homes on TV, or social media. Likewise, parishioners who feel sick in any way, and those with any form of fever or cough are urged to refrain from public gatherings, including liturgical celebrations.
If you have any questions or concerns please call.
posted June 20, 2020
On Friday morning our Premier announced some changes in church attendance and our Bishop sent the message that "we are now permitted as churches to admit more than the previous allowance of 50. The requirement of physical distancing between persons or groupings still needs to be maintained." Each parish is to determine the number of people for their church. This is wonderful and rewarding news that our province is managing to hold the coronavirus pandemic at bay.
I remain concerned about the safe distribution of Holy Communion. With this is mind, a small working group is advancing plans for live streaming our St. Kateri Sunday Mass at Holy Family worship site. Please pray for the success of their effort. Until this becomes active, Holy Mass can be viewed daily on television from Toronto and every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings from St. Mary Magdalene Parish churches.
Please note that for their safety and the safety of others, many are choosing to remain at home. This is an option we deeply respect. We need to know that everyone is dispensed from the Sunday obligation to attend Mass during this pandemic.
Some have asked for the words of an Act of Spiritual Communion.
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 June 13, 2020
We began this journey under the cloud of the Coronavirus Pandemic in mid-March. We learned along the way how painful and stressful the limits placed upon us can be. We yearn for the moment when we will be free of these restraints. We are like Moses’ people in the first reading of the week. Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14-16
At the same time, the pandemic continues to infect thousands of Canadians across the country. We have been fortunate in New Brunswick, that our leadership acted so swiftly to contain its rapid spread. But we must continue to be vigilant. And continue to take the recommended precautions.
When Moses spoke to his people, during their desert trek, he reminded them that they would survive their time of testing with God’s help. Our bishop asks us to watch the Mass on television or the internet, pray the Rosary, read the Scriptures, to pray with each other, to sustain our faith. We believe that God is with us to sustain us, to encourage us, to ease our pain and suffering and to help us.
May this time of testing be a blessing for us. Let it be an opportunity for personal spiritual growth. What is your vision of what lies ahead?
How can you be a helpful companion to others on this journey? What is God saying to us? Please pray for David MacPhee and his family of the Kingsclear community.
Some members of our faith community are working at setting up a live streaming service and others are developing a webpage. Let us pray that we are going in the right direction.
posted June 5, 2020
Thanks be to God and our provincial leadership teams, the state of our part of the world has been kept relatively free from the deadly effects of the Corona Virus Pandemic.
Over the past number of days I have been pondering over whether we should have Holy Mass in our Parish. This weekend I decided not to preside at a church gathering. A working committee has been struck to come up with a plan for live streaming our service. The technology for this kind of programming is new to me.
I’ve been told that virtual media will be part of our ‘new normal’.
Please say a prayer that we will get it right. For those who are disappointed let me say I am sorry but safety is a prime concern.
Referring to the 2nd reading for today (June 7th) St. Paul writes “Brothers and sisters, put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the Communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”
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.”