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.
Today, the Church celebrates its “birthday” with the feast of Pentecost. It is a scene of great drama: rushing wind, tongues of fire, the uttering of many languages. It is also a scene of transformation: timid disciples empowered to speak boldly, such that no matter what the religious, cultural, and linguistic differences, each hears the message in a language they can understand. Such is the power of God’s Holy Spirit: to break down the walls of division and to create the unity that is the Father’s desire for all creation.
Transitions are difficult moments in our lives. Whenever we come to the end of something in our life, we face the challenge of letting go of what is familiar, of plunging into the unknown. Letting go is hard. No less, beginning again is hard, even when the new reality is something to which we've been looking forward for a long time. As anyone who has worked their way through a 12-step recovery program knows, there is no other way: all we can do is “let go and let God”, living life “one day at a time!”
This week's Pastor's Corner is by Robert Assaly who is a full-time stagiaire at St. Monica's Parish.
"The Church must breathe with her two lungs". So wrote Pope Saint John Paul II 22 years ago in “Ut Unum Sint”. These lungs to which he refers are the Western (Roman Catholic) and Eastern (Orthodox) churches, known as “Sister Churches” since the lifting of their nearly millennium old mutual excommunications. One Body, two lungs — of which the Holy Father asserted must become a “unity bestowed by the Holy Spirit.” This is the same Spirit of today’s Gospel reading which Jesus, on the night before he died, promised the apostles His Father would send. No doubt, in using the “lungs” metaphor, the Pope had in mind that the biblical word for breath and Spirit are the same, and that the Eastern churches emphasize the Holy Spirit.
What makes a “house” a “home”? If we believe the real-estate agents, the value of a home is defined by external factors: size of the lot, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, richness of decoration, perks like a finished basement, a remodelled kitchen, and all the modern gadgets that make life easier and more comfortable. And of course, ... location, location, location! (Try Toronto and Vancouver!)