At St. Monica’s, every September marks a new pastoral year that invites us to explore our faith by considering a theme that is relevant to our lives. This year, our theme is Called to be Holy … “Be Holy, for I Am Holy”. (1 Peter 1:16) What a happy coincidence it was that, as we were deciding on this theme, Pope Francis released his latest apostolic exhortation, Rejoice and Be Glad: The call to holiness in the contemporary world! With this resounding confirmation, we wasted no time in putting together a program that we are proud to share with you.
This weekend, as secular Quebec society marks “La Fete Nationale”, the Church celebrates the birth of John the Baptist. Aside from Jesus and Mary, he is the only saint whose birthday is celebrated in our liturgical calendar.
Moving with transcendent beauty and mystery, with liberty and energy, with grace, the flight of Hopkins' windhover is widely understood as a poetic metaphor of Jesus the Christ, in the full glory of His Resurrection. Hopkins' poetic reflection offers a dense, intense, and mysterious experience, that, in some way, can evoke in us glimpses of the Resurrection.
Indeed, the gift of unconditional love is difficult for us to conceive. Yet this is exactly what is offered to us each year at Christmas. In the mystery of the Incarnation, God embraces our humanity, takes on our very flesh in Jesus. This may literally sound “too good to be true.” Yet true it is. In our darkness, our fear, our disappointments, God comes close to us.
I think we all believe in God in our own way. Or want to. Or need to. Only so many of us are afraid to. Unconditional love is pretty terrifying. We don’t think we deserve it. It’s human nature to run. But God always finds us. God never gives up. I used to think that’s what other people were for. Lovers, friends, family. But I had it all wrong.
Did you know that the Pillars Trust Fund directly supports three important ministries in the diocese of Montreal for our English Catholic Community? Since 2008, Holly Kristen Eugenio – a face our young people recognize – has been a Youth Worker at the Youth Mission Office at the Archdiocese; in 2014, Corey Jolly – another familiar face – works as a Lay Evangelist out of the Office of English Pastoral Services at the Archdiocese, and this summer, Terrel Joseph – he’s a new face (but not for long) – is a Parish Vitality Consultant for the Pillars Trust Fund.
Saint John Mary Vianney (1787 – 1849), the Cure of Ars and patron saint of parish priests worldwide is the special patron of the Pillars Trust Fund annual campaign this year. With the campaign focused on Reinforcing Parish Vitality, we pray to Saint John Mary Vianney to bring special blessings to our priests, and to those who might consider priestly vocations.
Last Saturday, we were privileged to offer the sacrament of the anointing of the sick, and special prayers for healing, to many members of our parish community. In the liturgy, Fr. Lloyd reminded us that all of us, in one way or another, are in need of healing – be it physical, emotional, or spiritual. Christ reaches out and touches us often especially where we are most wounded, and this allows us to minister to others in their vulnerability. We count on the prayers of our sisters and brothers who are sick and homebound.
During October, we look back on our lives to thank God for the many blessings we have received. This past year, one of our parish blessings has been the arrival, on July 20, of the Syrian refugee family we are sponsoring, Ziad and Eman Alrayes, with their children Abeer, Ziad, Mariam and Yousef.
Since then we have realized more and more that the relationship has been a mutual gift. As always: In blessing, we are blessed.
Most families aim to be happy. While we may argue and accuse, take offense, assign blame, and carry grudges, our deeper goal is to celebrate that “complete joy” Saint Paul talks about. Our sovereign need to be personally right and to affix fault to others, however, is a serious obstacle to comprehensive happiness. Whose fault is it, anyway, and how does the assignment of blame help a situation along to final resolution?