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?
SAINT MONICA (AD 322–387), also known as MONICA OF HIPPO She was an early Christian saint and the mother of St. Augustine of Hippo. She is remembered and honored in most Christian denominations, albeit on different feast days, for her outstanding Christian virtues, particularly the suffering caused by her husband's adultery, and her prayerful life dedicated to the reformation of her son, who wrote extensively of her pious acts and life with her in his Confessions. Popular Christian legends recall Saint Monica weeping every night for her son Augustine.
It has been a full year indeed! As we re-enter Ordinary Time this weekend, we do so filled with so many graces: of the joy of the Resurrection at Easter, of the Lord’s promise to be with us “always, until the end of time” at his Ascension, realized in the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and deepened in our pondering of the mysteries of the Holy Trinity and of Christ’s self-gift in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood.
After the Easter season, the Church celebrates a series of “theme” feasts, highlighting diverse aspects of our Catholic identity. At Pentecost, we proclaimed our identity as a Spirit-filled people, empowered to bear witness to a diversity of gifts in the one Spirit. Last Sunday, as we marked World Environment Day, we recalled that we are created in the image of the Trinity: in our lives, loves, and relationships, in our earth and cosmos, we reflect a God who is mutual, self-giving, overflowing communion of love.