Sample quotes from retired Archbishop Sylvain Lavoie OMI's reflections.
A French Canadian logger went to confess a sin for which he claimed there was no forgiveness for. The priest urged him to confess anyway. The logger recounted how he was logging with an unbeliever who fell in the water. He grabbed him by the hair and asked him if he believed in the Lord Jesus and the pope. When the unbeliever answered no, the logger held him under the cold water. Pulling him up by the hair, he asked him a second time if he believed in the Lord Jesus, the Pope and the Church. When he answered no again, the logger held him under the water again then pulled him up. When he asked him for the third and last time if he believed in the Lord, Jesus, the Pope, the Church and the seven sacraments, the man replied yes. Then Father, the logger said, I drowned him before he loses the faith.
The Kingdom Priorities of Holiness and Justice We dont speak of holiness much in our modern world, yet we are all called to holiness, to wholeness, wellness. Matthew in the gospel is an example of someone moving towards holiness repenting, changing his life, and leaving all to follow Jesus. And as Jesus stresses, holiness is doing our best to avoid sin, which in Greek means missing the mark. Ultimately, holiness involves truly loving God in prayer, and learning to love others as we love ourselves.
Unconditional love: Jean Vanier, son of the former governor-general of Canada and founder of LArche, has written a book entitled Becoming Human. In that book he writes eloquently how he discovered new depths of meaning and purpose in his life by living with the mentally challenged. That experience challenged his faith and helped it to grow. Here is how he puts it:
I believed in love but for me, love meant generosity, doing good for others. At that time, I did not realize that through our love we can help others to discover their own intrinsic value; we can reveal to them their beauty and their uniqueness. Gradually, through lArche, I began to see the value of the communion of hearts and of a love that empowers, that helps others to stand up; a love that shows itself in humility and in trust.
Sunday 21 - Journey of Faith:
The readings today take us on a journey of faith. That journey begins
with the first reading. The Israelites are in the desert, about to
cross into the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua. It is
Joshua who replaces Moses as the leader. His single minded concern is
that the people let go of false gods, the gods of other nations, and
place their complete and total faith in the one God of their
ancestors, the one God who communicated with Moses on the mountain
and in the desert. To their credit, the people are able to do so, at
least on this occasion. However, we know from the scriptures that
they were not faithful to that profession of faith over the following
centuries. This profession of faith would then remain as a constant
test of their fidelity to the one God of their ancestors.
Darkness There is almost nothing as heart-warming when traveling by boat on a rough lake at night under completely dark, cloudy skies as turning a corner and seeing the light of a familiar beacon or light. Then we know we are close to home and safety. Tonight, we celebrate the light of Christ which banishes all darkness.
That there is darkness in our world is all too real. One example suffices to illustrate: In one northern community, a young man, high on drugs and alcohol and driving at a high speed, struck and killed a promising seventeen year old girl with such force that the coffin had to be closed. He went on to strike another five vehicles before stopping and attempting to flee on foot. There is also the darkness of economic hardship, political unrest, family tensions, corruption, depression for some, loss of hope for others and addictions of all kinds, just to name a few.
Waiting: Our problem is not only that we do not wait well, but that many of us cannot wait at all. Noted author Ron Rolheiser OMI tells of encountering a rather sophisticated lady whose problem was boredom. It turned out that she had done and seen it all - premarital sex, drugs, alcohol, gambling, travelling, jobs, relationship after relationship, broken marriages. She was jaded, worn out. At the tender age of 30, there was nothing left to wait for, to expect. She had lost her enthusiasm for life. She had not been able to wait for anything in her life, and now there was nothing in her life left to wait for. She who wanted it all right now, complete fulfilment and consummation on her own terms, found herself spiritually bankrupt and empty.
God Hidden in the Poor Christ the King The contrast between the way Jesus seemed to view royalty, and the need that the modern world still seems to have for royalty that can impress us with its grandeur and pomp, calls us to look at this title of King more closely, using a particular lens, the lens of the poor, to assess both the notion of royalty, and the notion of authority.
The readings give us some food for thought about these themes, and about the end of time, judgment and the meaning of life. Then this homily will focus on the writings of a modern day prophet who still lives among us to explore the deeper meaning of this feast.
In his recent book entitled The Scandal of Service, Vanier shares very insightful thoughts on authority and Christian service. He writes In this domain of the heart, all people are alike. There is no visible hierarchy one could signify by dress. People are all alike, and they have the same dignity. Each ones life and history are sacred. Each person is unique and important. The only hierarchy that remains is one of love, and that remains hidden. So at the end of our lives we will be judged by how we have loved, and not by our clothes, or the masks society has imposed on us.
How strikingly similar to the gospel are his words. In the end, we will be judged only buy charity and how we have treated the poor.
On Servant Leadership Jean Vaniers recent little book, The Scandal of Service, is an example of humble leadership. Hear what he writes about authority: The word authority comes from the Latin word augere (to grow). All authority, whether it be civil, parental, religious or community, is intended to help people grow towards greater freedom, justice and truth. Often, however, it is used for the honor, power, privilege and positive self-image of those who exercise it. By stooping down to wash the disciples feet, Jesus calls us all to exercise authority humbly, as a service.
"Stop! Acts 2:38! An elderly woman had just returned to her home from an evening church service when she was startled by an intruder. She caught the man in the act of robbing her home of its valuables and yelled, Stop! Acts 2:38! which reads, Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven. The burglar stopped in his tracks and the woman calmly called the police and explained what she had done. As the officer cuffed the man to take him in, he asked the burglar, Why did you just stand there? All the old lady did was yell out a scripture passage to you. Scripture? replied the burglar. She said she had an axe and two 38s!
The Sound of Silence A group of tourists took the tram up the mountain in Jasper in the summer time. They then climbed up and over the nearest peak, and found themselves in Marmot Basin where the ski lodge is busy all winter. There was no one else around, and above all, not a sound. There was no plane, no traffic, no birds, not even the whisper of a breeze. There was only silence, a silence so prominent that it was unnerving for this group of tourists. They had never had that experience before in their lives. It was an experience that naturally led them to think of prayer, the kind of prayer that the readings speak about today.
The Church A Russian army general once had an audience with Pope John XXIII. He boasted that given another fifty years, communism would destroy the Church. The pope responded quite lightheartedly that boast was impossible, because, as he put it, We Catholics have been trying to do that for centuries and we still have not succeeded.
Cross is a blessing. Fr. Bertrand Mathieu, a veteran Oblate missionary to the Dené people in northern Saskatchewan, who retired at age 86 and died recently at age 88, knew the answer. He used to repeat often, to himself and to others, that The cross is a blessing. The cross is a blessing. He understood the secret of the Paschal Mystery, the underlying secret of the message of todays readings that the cross is a blessing. Do we also truly believe, and live, this truth?
Just baptize them An old joke fits the reading today. A Protestant pastor, a Jewish rabbi and a Catholic priest were discussing how to get rid of bats in their bell towers. The pastor and rabbi had tried poisonous bait and trapping them in vain, but none of that worked. The priest, on the other hand, had some success he just baptized and confirmed them and never saw them again!
Cursillo We can all identify with these types of soil. Perhaps we have been all four, or we know of someone who fits one or the other description. For the sake of illustration, we can use persons who attend a faith event such as a Cursillo. Some persons who really could benefit from the experience refuse to go at all they are the hard soil of a path, without roots. Some go and enjoy the experience, but nothing changes in their lives when they return home they are the rocky soil with only superficial roots. Others go, enjoy the experience, attend a few follow-up meetings after they return home, come back to church for a few Sundays, then disappear they are the thorny soil that takes root, grows a little, but that does not last. Finally, there are those who take the Cursillo, benefit from it greatly, strive to live their commitment to the Fourth day, help organize and carry out other such events, and actively share their experience with others, They are truly rich soil taking root, growing, and bearing fruit that others can see and use for themselves.
Do not judge...The young pastor of a small northern community was out jogging one day. He decided to stop by a house to visit the wife of an alcoholic who had earlier asked him for help to cope with her situation. Upon entering the house, he found a drinking party in full swing. Instantly angry at what was happening, he noticed a lady he did not recognize in the room and was told she was from the south. She had just arrived in the community and was already staying with someone. He got even angrier at her, thinking they had enough people living common law already. After visiting briefly with the wife in the kitchen, he had to pass right by that strange lady on the way out. He forced himself to talk to her and got to know her a little. She shared with him a bit of her story, how her abusive partner had locked her in the trunk of a car and left her there for hours. She excused herself for being a high, and promised she would sober up and come to visit him that evening. He continued jogging, and on the way back heard a loud explosion. Racing into the community, he found that a house was on fire and a woman was caught in the basement. It was the lady from the south he had met at the party. It seems that after talking to him, she went to that house to rest in the basement and fell asleep. The furnace exploded, engulfed the house with flames, and she died in the fire. He was shaken, feeling some guilt for a while. In the end, realizing that he was not responsible for what happened, he was grateful for the short conversation they had, and the bond that was established between them. To this day, he still remembers vividly the girl from the south who taught him not to judge people. Read More...
"Call to service" Brother Walter Demong is a humble seventy-five year old Oblate brother living at Mazenod Residence in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. After a dedicated career managing a herd of prize-winning dairy cows at the former St. Charles Scholasticate near Battleford, he spent some years doing maintenance and providing hospitality at Queens House of Retreats and Renewal in Saskatoon. Since 1990, after a short stint as part of the Emmaus House youth ministry in Saskatoon, he has served the Oblate retirement community at Mazenod, doing maintenance, providing hospitality and deeply involved in social justice work in the city of Saskatoon. His life is rooted in prayer and the Eucharist, then flows out all day in selfless service to others. He is a model of one who lives out on a daily basis the message of the readings for today, this fifth Sunday of Easter. Read More...
Caring and Contemplation John, an amateur photographer, loved taking pictures of old abandoned farmhouses. He would then frame them as gifts. Traveling through the countryside one day, a majestic old house caught his attention. Its unusual style, rustic colours and many windows spoke to him of past glory and life. However, there was a four strand barb wire fence between him and the house, making it very awkward to come any closer. He noticed that a short distance away there was a gate with a metal lever mechanism that looped over the post of the gate and applied pressure to keep it taut. He lifted the lever, the wire gate fell to the ground and he had easy access to the house for his photography. He felt deep gratitude for the farmer who had placed the gate there, as if it was for his purposes only, and for that simple yet marvellous invention of a lever mechanism to open the gate.
That incident brought to his mind this Sundays Gospel, in which the Lord Jesus reminds us that he is not only the Good Shepherd who cares for us, who wants an intimate relationship with us, but also the Gate that provides sure and safe access to good pasture in the reign of God. We are encouraged to believe in him, to pray to him, and to follow him in caring for others. As his sheep, we are to live lives of contemplation and caring.
The readings today really form two separate units. First, they firmly establish the identity of Jesus, and second, they remind us of what our response should and could be - contemplation and caring.
Jimmy was sent by his wife to see his pastor, because his behavior was driving her crazy. He was depressed and unable to sleep. He had seen doctors and counselors and received all kinds of pills, none of which were making any difference. The pastor was able to uncover that although Jimmy had been a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, he had never done a sincere, honest Step 5 (Admit to God, himself and one other person, the exact nature of his wrongs). Instead, he was two-stepping the program, going directly from Step 1 to Step 12. When the pastor pointed out that humble honesty was the key to the program, Jimmy finally cleaned house, did a major Step 5 and confessed his darkest secrets. He walked away a free man, and talked about that experience at many Round-Ups after that. He had experienced the new life of Easter through forgiveness. Read More...
You are who you are who you are what are you afraid of? Those are the words that Richard Rohr, noted Franciscan priest, writer and speaker, spoke as he started a retreat to the Oblates some years ago. That statement shocked at least one Oblate present into greater self awareness; self knowledge, and in the end, greater self love.
On this fourth Sunday of Lent, those words along with the healing of the blind man, invite us to pray for the courage to make an inner journey into greater self-awareness and to live as children of the light.
Thirst for more An Oblate missionary assigned to minister on a First Nations community started his ministry by visiting every home to introduce himself to the people and to practice his Cree. He was welcomed into one home by a young woman who was a single parent of five children and was expecting a sixth. When the missionary commented on her five children, she made no bones about informing him that they were all from different fathers, except the one she was expecting. That one would be the second child from her present partner who was in jail for his abusive behaviour when drinking. The missionary sympathized with her, suggesting that it was hard to find a permanent, long-lasting relationship. He tried to support her as best as he could. He affirmed her efforts to raise the children alone and also serve as the receptionist at the Band Office. He proposed starting a Bible Study in her home, hoping that through this study of the Word of God, she would find strength to cope with her challenges and become part of a community of faith. As he left he could not help but think of todays gospel, and feel that he had just met a Samaritan woman. He was filled with hope that like the Samaritan woman, she would also meet Jesus as the one who could offer her a life filled with greater meaning, peace and even joy. Read More...
Setting Priorities A story recounted by Adam Exner, Archbishop emeritus Vancouver, fits in with the readings today. As a young priest, he was travelling to the East on the train and happened to be seated in the same compartment as a harried businessman who tested his patience with his complaints. This man had a beef against almost everyone in his life, and about almost everything. He filled the hours with complaints about his wife, his job, his boss, the government, his kids and more, ad nauseum. Finally Adam interjected with the concise comment, Sir, it seems to be that you dont know who you are, where you are from, and where you are going. The mans face turned pale; he stammered to a stop, and then the two of them had an earnest, heart-to-heart talk about the meaning of life, and this mans situation.
Some time later, Adam was walking down the corridor in another part of the train, when it made an unscheduled stop at a station in a small town in Ontario. Curious as to why the train had stopped, Adam looked out a window and noticed a stretcher being carried off the train many cars back. Somebody must have had a heart attack or something similar, he thought to himself with a silent prayer for that person, and the hope that it was not too serious or fatal, as the train resumed its journey.
When he finally made his way back to his place, he found that his companion was not there. It was he who had been carried off the train on a stretcher. To this day he has no idea what happened, whether the man was alive or not, but he was encouraged and his heart deeply warmed by his last memory of the man their heart to heart conversation that perhaps had given this man a last chance to come to terms with the many troublesome issues in his life to at least, at the 11th hour, come to some inkling of who he was, where he was from, and where he was going.
The readings today invite us to take stock of our lives, to see who we are, where we are from, and where we are going. In short, we are invited to set priorities that will build up the reign of God. Read More...
Be Holy as God is Holy One woman who had been sexually abused by a relative at the age of fourteen, was able to go on a healing journey and learned the truths that are taught in the readings today. She was able to confront her abuser with love, to share her feelings with him about what he had done to her 35 years earlier, without revenge or even calling him names. She even apologized to him for how she had treated him for all those years, and in the end, gave him a hug. Another person who heard her share her story at a pilgrimage remarked afterwards, Thats impossible. That is true. For us on our own, it is impossible. But with the power of the Holy Spirit within us and the teachings of Jesus to guide us, it is possible. This woman loved her enemy by forgiving him, and was set free to move on with her life. Such is the power of love, of compassion, of being holy as God is holy. Read More...
You Change the World The theme song for the Christopher Leadership Course Instructors Seminar in The Pas in November was Today Im Gonna Try to Change the World by Johnny Reid. He sang it in Ottawa on Canada Day where it caught the attention of seminar leader Angie Mihalicz. She chose it as the theme song for the seminar. How the song was conceived is significant. Apparently one morning Johnny told his son, as he set out for school, to go out and change the world. His son agreed and set out to do so. It suddenly struck Johnny how hypocritical he was telling his son to do that when he was not doing it himself. Reflecting on what he should be doing to change the world, he sat down and wrote the song.
Here are some of the words:
That song has a powerful message for us as we celebrate the birth of the one who truly did and continues to change the world, Jesus Christ. The readings today invite us to believe in Jesus and to be like Jesus. We are asked to believe in Jesus who is the Light of the world, and to light one candle ourselves, to spread the light of Christ to others. Read More...
ADVENT Fr. Bill Stang OMI started a shrub and flower garden in the back yard of the archdiocesan residence in The Pas last year. This spring, he placed railway ties along the fence and filled the space behind them with topsoil. In the process, he noticed a plant sprouting up in the compost bin. Thinking it might be a zucchini plant, he lifted it out and planted it in the freshly laid topsoil. The growing conditions must have been ideal, because that plant grew to be at least twenty feet long and produced, not zucchini, but three huge pumpkins. That small seed, thrown into the compost, frozen all winter and rescued in the spring, was transformed into a magnificent pumpkin plant that produced beautiful fruit. This seems like such a minor everyday reality, but when we take time to ponder it, the word awesome comes to mind. Fr. Bills pumpkin plant can be a symbol of this season of Advent. Read More...
"Christ the King" This feast of Christ the King was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 to counter totalitarian regimes that denied God and Church, like that in Mexico at the time. The main idea behind this feast is ancient - Christ reigns, and Jesus is Lord
The readings for today reveal two different images or perceptions of a king. In the first reading from the book of Samuel, all the tribes of Israel wanted David to be their king, and the elders anointed David king over Israel. This is very much the way that Eric Apetakagan became chief of the Norway House First Nation. After completing the three year Nathaniel Lay Formation program in Winnipeg, his heart was set on full time ministry within our archdiocese. However, before that came to pass, twenty elders from the community met with him and petitioned him to run for chief. After consulting with us and receiving our blessing, he ran for chief and was elected."From Death To Life" Recently the television news carried the story of an amazing act of faith. A woman whose son was murdered in a random act of violence finally found the courage, through prayerful grieving, to go to the jail and visit the man who had murdered her son. Somehow in the course of that visit, forgiveness happened in her heart. She realized that this man who killed her son had projected onto her son all the pain, frustration and self-hatred that was in him which he had not faced. She understood him and the negative influences and lack of love had shaped and formed him into a killer. She stopped judging him and forgave him, and took him as her own son. Now that he is out of jail, they are working together on a project called From Death To Life to help improve the lives of at-risk men so that similar tragedies will not happen again. She is a marvelous example of someone who prayed for forgiveness and became the answer to her own prayer, forgiveness, which is the purest justice of all.Read More...
"Strive to be humble" One canoeist loves to pray in a canoe on a lake when he is at his cottage, especially on calm mornings. He paddles out to the center of a bay, and then lets the canoe drift in the light breeze. It is amazing how sensitive the canoe is to the slightest breeze, sometimes drifting steadily along; sometimes stopping completely, sometimes turning right around depending on the breeze. The sensitivity of the canoe to obeying the gentle pressure of the breeze is a prayer in itself for him, that he might be as humble and open to Gods will in his life as is the canoe in which he is praying sensitive to the breeze.
"Faith, hope and trust" A fellow was hiking in the mountains when he fell over a cliff. Halfway down the face of the mountain, he luckily managed to grab hold of a branch with both hands that stopped his fall. Suspended between heaven and earth, he looked up and saw he had fallen a long ways. He looked down and saw he could have fallen a much longer distance the people below looked like ants. In desperation he called out for help. A loud voice responded, Yes, what do you want? The man asked who that was and the voice replied, God. If you are God, can you get me out of here? asked the man. The voice replied, Yes I can have faith, let go of the branch, and I will take you to safety. The man looked up and saw how far he had fallen; looked down and saw how far it was to the road below, tried to let go of the branch, and finally cried out, Is there anybody else up there?Read More...
"A Spirituality of Discipleship" Ron Rolheiser, in a recent article, also highlights spirituality as letting go. The title of the article in the Prairie Messenger speaks for itself: The most important task of mid-life and beyond is to grieve and to forgive. In his article Rolheiser quotes Alice Miller, the renowned psychologist, who puts it this way: All of us, from the time that we are infants in the cradle until we are self-possessed enough to write an autobiography like Morris Wests, are not adequately loved, not adequately cared for, not adequately recognized, not adequately valued and not adequately honored. Moreover, all of us also suffer positively some rejection and abuse, none of us is spared lifes unfairness. It is easy for us to be bitter rather than grateful; to be paranoid rather than hospitable, and to be angry rather than gracious.
Dear abuser, I need to
share something with you. I am trying to forgive something you did to
me. Remember last year when you were at our house, you and me were
watching TV, and you did something that felt really wrong, and now
seeing you today makes me feel like killing myself again. My life was
really going good and the way I wanted it to be, but since that night
my life totally changed. I felt dead, I felt dirty, and I felt
ashamed of myself. Recently my life was going good, until you came
here, and all those feelings came back to me. Tell me why did you do
that to me, why did it seem like my life was wrecked when it was
going so well? I dont want to live the life that I used to live
after you molested me. Thank you for reading this letter. I hope that
writing this letter to you will help me to heal myself and forgive
you. Once again, why did you do this to me? Is it because something
like this happened to you when you were younger? Maybe you need help also.
The late Pope John Paul II, towards the end of his time here on earth, seemed to intensify his efforts to live out this Easter faith, forgiveness and healing. Despite the protests of some of the officials in the Vatican, he insisted on apologizing for the sins and failings of the institutional Church to various groups of people throughout the world. He was single minded in that effort and very focused on it. What a powerful example he was for us! Read More...
Forgiveness We are given two metaphors in this story for our stance toward this overwhelming compassion of God. One is the son who repented and returned to receive his fathers forgiveness. The other is the righteous son
who never strayed, yet was filled with anger, resentment, jealousy and unforgiveness. These are two examples of our own spiritual journey. Which one resembles us? The youngest son sinned, but repented and humbly returned to seek forgiveness. The eldest son, though he never left home, has the most difficult spiritual journey to make, to admit and deal with his own defects of character, the greatest of which is unforgiveness.
"The glory of God is young people fully alive"
Properly understood and put into practice, this statement alone, adapted from St. Iraneus, would go a long way to ending the recent epidemic of suicide among our youth. Our task as adults is to help our young people live full human lives that will reflect the glory of God and lessen the incidents of suicide.
A first step in addressing this issue is to define suicide.
Noted spiritual writer and theologian Ron Rolheiser writes that suicide is a disease and generally the most misunderstood of all sicknesses. It takes a person out of life against his or her will, the emotional equivalent of cancer, a stroke or a heart attack.
Suicide is never a good thing to be desired. It leaves behind an immeasurable pain on the part of the family, relatives and friends of those who do it or even attempt to do it. We dont have the right to take our own lives. Life is a gift from God, meant to be lived as God wants it to be lived.
Suicide is a desperate response to intense painful emotions such as hopelessness and despair that threaten to overwhelm some wounded youth. They can see no other way out of their painful situation. There are some people who through lifes hurts have ended up locked in spiritual prisons that all the love in the world cannot seem to break through. Read More>
Beatitude People The young boy travelled far from his home to study under a great teacher. When he met the wise old man, his first question was, How long will it take me before I am as wise as you? The response came swiftly, Five years. This is very long time, the boy replied. How about if I work twice as hard? Then it will take ten, said the master. Ten! That's far too long. How about if I studied all day and well into the night, every night? Fifteen years, said the sage I dont understand, replied the boy. Every time I promise to devote more energy to my goal, you tell me that it will take longer. Why? The answer is simple. With one eye fixed on the destination, there is only one left to guide you along the journey. There is a saying that life is more about the journey than the destination. To become beatitude people we must make the beatitudes our way of life today.
Now he was angry and confused - this wasnt what he had prayed for. Scotts experience fits in here. He was a workaholic too busy for his two sons. He always had excuses, and was hard on his sons. A tough disciplinarian, he tried to raise them the way his army father had raised him. One day he lost his job, became unemployed, and was even tougher on the kids. His wife suggested they pray, and she found a part time job. Now he was angry and confused - this wasnt what he had prayed for.
Then the family talked him into coming to LSA ... There, during the blessing of the water, he thought of how his grandmother always had time for him, became aware how he was not like her, and too busy for his boys. He decided to take more time for them.
Then, he heard a homily on the two sides of love (discipline and affection) in which the presider asked the parents when they had last told their children that they loved them. He realized he had never done that, and resolved to do it right there and then, at LSA, in their tent that night during a family meeting. He apologized to his family for his mistakes and asked their forgiveness. His kids were blown away, hugged him and cried. He went away from LSA a changed man, a pilgrim of the heart. He spent the rest of the summer doing things together with his wife and kids and they developed into a close family over the years. Read More...
The Joy of Doing Gods
Will These readings remind me of my late brother
Louis who died of cancer in January of 2009 after a valiant four year
battle. He was a quiet self-effacing man who lived in the farming
countryside near the now extinct hamlet of Highgate Siding. His many
virtues shine forth now, to those who knew him as much as when he was
alive. He was honest to a fault, sometimes costing him financially.
He had a keen sense of justice and fairness in his business dealings.
His gentleness made him a beatitude person. He loved his wife and
family passionately, and cared deeply for the less fortunate.
Do you hear what I hear: It seems an elderly gentleman had serious hearing problems for a number of years. He went to the doctor and the doctor was able to have him fitted for a set of hearing aids that allowed the gentleman to hear 100%. The elderly gentleman went back for a checkup a month later and the doctor said, Your hearing is perfect. Your family must be really pleased that you can hear again. To which the gentleman replied, Oh, I havent told my family yet. I just sit around and listen to the conversations and Ive changed my will three times already! Read More...
And then it happened: I experienced a taste of this inner transformative power of the Spirit through prayer one day as a young priest in Beauval. It was Friday of a busy week, and I had just learned that a busload of grade eleven students from the Convent in North Battleford was coming up for a sports event and they wanted the local parish to help organize their stay. I felt a bit overwhelmed with everything on my plate but decided to be faithful to my hour of prayer despite all that there was to do.... Read More...
Shining Like Stars We know that no human effort or sacrifice can take away sin or pain. Jesus own sacrifice for all time took away sin, perfected us and brought about forgiveness. Our response must be to place our sin and sinfulness at his feet, to receive his forgiveness and healing, to become holy, single-minded in his service, free from sin and addiction, and to live in his glory.
Someone who had a very positive influence on my life is Archbishop Emeritus Adam Exner, former bishop of Kamloops, Winnipeg and finally Vancouver before he retired. As a spiritual director in Battleford, he had a constant stream of people coming to him for advice. As my spiritual director, he was the first one to hear my story, discern my need to work on my relationship with a member of my family, and suggested that I spend a month praying only with Isaiah 43:1-7, words that I dearly needed to hear at that stage of my life. At certain times later on in my ministry, especially in moments of personal crisis, he would listen to me and invariably come up with precisely the words that I needed to hear at that time. Would that we could all be as positive an influence on others as he was to so many. Read More...
The youth can lead the way. Many years ago, a volunteer at Stanford Hospital in the States got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5 year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. The volunteer saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, Yes, Ill do it if it will save Liz. As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, Will I start to die right away? Being so young, the boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood. Read More...
It was not an expense, it was an investment: Every night he would call his wife Donna long distance to talk about their day. One day I commented to him that this practice of calling long distance everyday must get to be expensive. He replied very simply that it was not an expense, it was an investment. I was impressed by the conviction in his voice as he said that, and marveled at the wisdom his response showed.
Freedom to Serve: I think of a university student in Saskatoon who remained silent when a fellow student unfairly criticized the Church in a class and how angry he was at himself for his lack of courage to speak up for truth. On the other hand, I think of a friend who had the courage to tell his brother they were leaving a stag party when a stripper was brought in to entertain the gathering. That was a courageous and righteous act and I was proud my friend for his courage to speak up and act.
"TRANSFORMATIVE Faith" Thomas Keating, renowned monk and spiritual writer, claims that we have it all upside down. Many people in our society have a notion of God that comes from their childhood training, leaving them with a God who is judgmental, strict, demanding, distant and aloof, and whose love must be earned. The reality is just the opposite God is almost too present to us, in so many ordinary ways, that we miss it and seek him in the sensational or the extra-ordinary. .......
Jesus in the gospels is challenging the Jews to move beyond their limited notion of God to faith in Him as the only one who can reveal to them the true nature of the Father. He calls them to faith in him as Son of God, as the one who has seen the Father, as the source of eternal life, the one who can share with them the Fathers very being. Read More...
Fully Human and Alive An ancient philosopher once wrote, The unexamined life is not worth living. Someone else once quipped, The unlived life is not worth examining. St. Iraneus took this further with famous quote: The glory of God is man and woman fully alive. Read More...
Called To Be Prophets. Richard Rohr, another modern day prophet, shares this insight into being prophetic: There are two ways of being a prophet. One is to tell the enslaved that they can be free. It is the difficult path of Moses. The second is to tell those who think they are free that they are in fact enslaved. This is the even more difficult path of Jesus.Let the Light Shine A group of tourists were visiting a huge cathedral. A little girl in the group stopped, in contemplative silence, to look at the beautiful huge stained glass windows. The afternoon sun was shining brightly, bathing the group in a splendid symphony of gorgeous colors. After some time, as the group was about to leave, the little girl asked the guide, Who are those persons in those beautiful windows? The guide told her that they were the saints. That evening, as the little girl prepared for bed, she told her mom that she knew who the saints were. Well, who are they? her mother wanted to know. Saints are persons who let the light shine through them! was her innocent reply.
A child's wisdom: A young boy with a handicap was making his first communion. After the Eucharist, there was a family gathering. The uncle, who was also the childs godparent, told the mother, What a beautiful liturgy; how sad that he didnt understand a thing.
The child heard these words and his eyes filled with tears. He said to his mother, Dont worry, Mom, Jesus loves me just as I am. The child had a wisdom that this uncle didnt yet attain, that the Eucharist is a gift from God par excellence. That child is a witness that the handicapped person, sometimes very seriously handicapped, finds life, strength and consolation in and through communion with Jesus in the Eucharist. And Jean asks, is there not a cry for communion with Jesus in the Eucharist in the desire of all people for a communion of hearts?
The Eucharist is Gods effort to covenant with us, to live among us, to love us, to invite us into communion with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Sometimes it is the least and the lowly who understand this best. More...
The Commandments To Love The Returning To Spirit program that has been spreading across western Canada is an example of a movement that is based on love. It teaches participants to deal with their past hurts rather than build up big stories around those wounds and carry anger through life. They learn ways to address their issues and then communicate their hurt to others with love as a way of letting go and moving on with their lives. More...
Shepherds of the Heart Jean Vanier, in his latest book Becoming Human, shares his personal transition in his notion of love. He used to think that love involved being good, being efficient, using ones intelligence and time well and doing things for others. Then he chose to live with the mentally challenged and found he was challenged to live his life on a whole different level. The mentally challenged werent impressed at all by his competence; they did not care about his degrees. They just wanted his love, his affection, his attention, they wanted to know him. They taught him the importance of relating from the heart. And that has made all the difference in his life. He now goes around the world teaching that wisdom.
I am convinced that the deepest need of our youth, indeed, of every human being, is to be loved, to belong and to be valued. If these needs are met by loving parents, supportive nuclear and extended families and welcoming churches, then our youth wont need to resort to drugs to feel loved, to gangs to feel that they belong, or to indulge in pre-marital sex to feel valued.
Walk the talk: Nelson Mandela is an example of that kind of authority and integrity. He was imprisoned unjustly in South Africa for twenty fives years because of his struggle against apartheid. Yet upon his release, he more than any other person spoke of the need for forgiveness and power sharing with the very white people who imprisoned him. When he speaks of forgiveness and reconciliation, people listen to what he has to say because he has lived it firsthand. He has that kind of moral authority that commands attention. More...
deepest fear is not that we are inadequate;
Vacation is Good! A pastor was getting ready to go on vacation. He had a few parting words for the congregation: Every pastor should take a month of vacation every year. If the pastor is really good at his work, then that pastor needs a vacation. If the pastor is not really good at it, then the congregation needs a break! More...
"Christmas in the Light of Easter" Tonight, Christmas eve, we listen to St. Luke's wonderful account of Jesus' birth. Luke puts into his version of this time-honoured story very significant details that make it a catechesis leading us to a more mature faith. St. Luke meditates on the events of Christ's birth in the light of his whole life, death and resurrection and the sending of his Spirit at Pentecost, the birthday of the Church. St. Luke already perceives in this child whose birth he writes about, the Messiah, Son of God and Risen Lord. For him, we cannot really separate Christmas from Easter. In the end, he invites us to celebrate Christmas in the light of Easter. For St. Luke, the story of the Lord's birth is the entire Gospel in miniature. Parallels and connections between the beginning and the end of Jesus' life show that the seed of his mission as Saviour was already within him at the time of his birth. The faith of the early Church in Christ can teach us much about the Historical Jesus. Let us explore the story and learn from Luke, master story teller and evangelist. More...