One of my favourite Christmas symbols is the Nativity Scene, “la crèche.” We owe this beautiful tradition to St. Francis of Assisi, who established it in 1223 in Greccio, a humble Umbrian hill town. Francis wanted “to see” and “to reveal” the Most High Son of God, born in the humility and poverty of a stable. To a society where riches had become an obsession, Francis showed the generosity of God. In a Church where the clergy sought honours and power, Francis reminded them of the humility of God.
“Are you the one who is to come? Or are we to wait for another?” This question, posed to Jesus in today’s Gospel, is our question too. As we reach the middle of the Advent season, as we begin counting down the days till Christmas, we are invited to reflect on a vital question: “What … or who are we waiting for?” How should be waiting? Today’s liturgy invites us to cultivate two key Advent attitudes: patience and joy.
You may have noticed last Sunday the banner placed over the altar, with a single word to help us focus our meditation. Last week’s call to VIGILANCE is succeeded this week by an invitation to HOPE. Hope, as we know, is much more than pie-in-the-sky optimism. It is the conviction that even when the night seems dark and cold, the dawn is near: we are not alone, and God will never abandon us. God hears and answers us.
Most Reverend Christian Lépine has appointed Fr. Raymond Lafontaine Episcopal Vicar for the English-speaking faithful and Director of the Office for English Pastoral Services (O.E.P.S.). Fr. Raymond Lafontaine, M.A., S.T.L., D.Th. Fr. Raymond is a priest of the Archdiocese of Montreal, serving as Pastor of St. Monica’s Parish in N.D.G. After undergraduate studies at McGill in Mathematics, and a brief career as an actuary, he entered St. Paul’s University Seminary in Ottawa in 1986, where he received his B.Th. and his M.A. (Christian Ethics) degrees summa cum laude.
This week, many of us attended the keynote conference at the Archdiocesan Parish Vitality Conference: “Set the World Ablaze!” Deacon Keith Strohm, author of the book Becoming a Parish of Intentional Disciples, invited us to embrace as individuals the challenge of naming, claiming, and sharing the gifts God has given uniquely to each of us, and as parish communities to identify and call forth the gifts of all so that parish life is strengthened and the work of evangelization and ministry to those around us is enriched. By now, most of us are familiar with the notion of “stewardship”: to receive God’s gifts gratefully, to cherish and tend them in a responsible and accountable manner, to share them in justice and love with others, and to return them with increase to the Lord.”
Hallowe’en. All Saints Day. All Souls Day. Remembrance Day. November comes upon us, and we see the signs of death in nature: falling leaves; wet, windy days; long, chilly nights. November naturally invites us to ponder our mortality, finitude, and vulnerability. Our faith takes death seriously. But it also teaches us that death is not the final answer. “Death, where is your victory?
Over the past few weeks, we have been exploring diverse ways in which we as adults are being called to growth in faith and transformation in the Holy Spirit. This week, I would like to highlight two programs that will begin here at St. Monica's this November. Both are connected to being attentive to how the Spirit is at work in our lives: our personal lives as individuals and families, and our collective life as a church community
Over the past 15 years, I have enjoyed integrating my love of movies with the challenges of the “New Evangelization”. In our yearly Video Divina film series, we have explored a wide variety of theological, spiritual and ethical themes through the medium of film: Catholic Identity, “Saints Alive!”, Heroes of Conscience, Images of Priesthood, Focusing on the Family, Jesus-Films and Christ-Figures, The Sacramental Imagination, and “Movies with a Mission!”
Transformed by the Holy Spirit: Coffee and Conversation – The Wild Goose
October 12, 2016
A perennial question we ask here at St. Monica’s is: “How can we reach out more effectively to the spiritual needs of the parents and families of our Faith First children?” In response, for several years now, Anna Diodati and Monika Berintan have been animating “Coffee and Conversation”, which meets every second Sunday, between the 8:30 and 11:00 a.m. Mass. This year’s program will make use of a video series by Franciscan Father Dave Pivonka: “The Wild Goose”, an ancient Celtic title for the Holy Spirit! Let’s hear from Fr. Dave:
In this weekend’s Gospel, ten lepers experience healing from their encounter with Jesus, but only one comes back to give thanks. It is so easy to take God’s many gifts for granted! Our annual celebration of Thanksgiving is a reminder of how important it is, throughout the year, to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude” for all of God’s gifts: the gifts of creation, the produce of the earth, the fruits of human labour, and most of all, our families and friends, our neighbours both near and far, the people in whom we meet God’s image and likeness.