My dear friends in Christ,
Jesus said to his disciples: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.” In our Gospel this weekend from John 15:1-8, we are taught that we must cling to Jesus the way that a vine is attached to a branch. How important this is during the time of a pandemic. We must cling to our Lord, and our lives must grow from our Saviour. I think what has carried me though this past year is clinging to this vine, Jesus, through prayer and being nourished by the Word of God and the Body and Blood of Christ. When you reflect, I pray that you can say the same – that your faith and being fed, for many spiritually, has provided you with the strength, comfort, and hope that only Jesus and our Father can provide. On this Fifth Sunday of Easter, we are reminded once again that we are an Easter people – a people of hope.
We begin the month of May, the Month of Mary, dedicated to our Blessed Mother. We too cling to her, asking her intercession, to protect us, our loved ones, and for an end to this pandemic.
As found on the Vatican website, “Pope Francis is requesting that during this month of May the entire Church invoke the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the end of the pandemic and, in a special way, he is inviting all of us to pray fervently for those most closely affected by it. During each day of May, guided by a calendar with specific intentions, all the Shrines around the world, united in a communion of supplication, will lift up their prayers, which, like the fragrance of incense, will rise up to heaven. Thirty Marian Shrines will take turns leading this prayer throughout the Church and offering the faithful a series of prayer moments for them to participate throughout the entire day.”
Click here to view the full press release
Click here to pray the Rosary each day in May at 12:00 p.m.
As a community of believers here at St. Julia, may we cling to the true vine, Jesus Christ, our Blessed Mother Mary, and cling to our rosaries as we pray for an end to this pandemic and the safety of all. We also pray for all the lives lost, and for those who mourn the loss of a loved one or friend.
May God continue to bless and keep safe each of you and those that you love.
My dear friends in Christ,
On this Fourth Sunday of Easter, also known as Good Shepherd Sunday, I find great comfort in our Gospel from John 10:11-18 when Jesus says “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” In the midst of this pandemic that has gone on far longer than anyone could have ever imagined, I am reminded yet again that we are not alone. Jesus continues to watch over us, his sheep. It is not just during these times but at all times that we need to be affirmed of this, and to listen to His voice. It is so easy for us to stray, perhaps placing our hope in the things of this world. As sheep, as disciples of Christ, we place our hope in one God, made up of three persons - God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
The Gospel passage continues “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me - just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.” This passage demonstrates that Jesus cares for us as a shepherd cares for his flock. We are his flock. Jesus knows us inside and out and will do anything to save us. This is the beauty of our relationship with Jesus.
This Sunday and this upcoming week, may we focus on our relationship with Jesus, for He loves each of us and has given His life for us. This is what the season of Easter is all about - renewing our relationship with Jesus, a personal relationship at that. May we dive deeper into all that Jesus did for us, and continues to do for us as our shepherd and friend. May we continue to be an Easter people, people of hope.
Please know of my continued prayers for each of you and those that you love, and I look forward to the day when we can all be reunited together – safely – in our church dedicated to St. Julia.
I wish you all a blessed week and keep safe.
My dear friends,
Last Sunday I had the blessed opportunity to celebrate First Communion with eighteen of the children from our parish. I must say I am grateful we did as these celebrations are postponed indefinitely in our diocese. This is what these families needed. To gather together, in their church, as a family, in a service that was simple yet still beautiful. The focus was on one thing, or I should say one being, and that is Jesus. Communion. One. Here is an excerpt of what I wrote to the parents / guardians:
At your child’s baptism, you gave your child the greatest gift that you will ever give them – the gift of faith. You continue to nurture and feed that faith. Now the time has come to do exactly that – feed your child with the Body of Christ in the beautiful Sacrament of Communion.
Over this past year I have witnessed far too many special occasions in the life of the church that were either postponed or cancelled due to the church being closed or with limited capacity…I am blessed to care for the spiritual needs of this community – your spiritual home of St. Julia. And now is the time to care for your child, by bringing Christ to these young people who are excited and ready to receive Jesus for the first time. They have prepared extensively in their classroom at St. Peter Catholic Elementary School. I have practiced virtually with them and have assured them that I will guide them every step of the way!
And that is exactly what we did. They encountered Christ, the real presence of Jesus, body, blood, soul and divinity. And it was beautiful.
In the midst of these challenging, and perhaps dark times, the light of Christ guided these children and their families to come and be one with us. The Easter candle burned brightly, reminding us again of the light of Christ in our midst. Everyone left with a smile, under their mask of course, for this was a moment of joy for all of these families. It was a sign of hope.
As the parish community of St. Julia, let us pray for these families. May they hunger to return and be fed by the Body of Christ. May they feel welcomed, and loved. May the happiness the children experienced on the day of their First Communion be one they desire in their hearts every week. May the gift of faith given to them at baptism be reignited.
May each of too be guided by the light of Christ. May we too be people of hope, reminding ourselves that God has seen us through difficult times in the past, and that God too will see us through these times as well. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
Once again, this weekend in our Gospel we will hear Jesus speak the words “Peace be with you.” May God continue to bless and protect each of you and those that you love, and may the peace of Christ be with you always.
My dear friends,
Easter blessings to each of you! As an Easter people we continue to celebrate the resurrection of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Our Paschal candle continues to burn brightly in our sanctuary and represents Christ, the Light of the World. In fact, it will continue to burn for the entire fifty days of the Easter Season, concluding on Pentecost Sunday when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles. The candle is made of pure beeswax and represents the sinless Christ who was formed in the womb of this His Mother, Mary. The wick signifies His humanity, and the flame His Divine nature, both soul and body.
At our Easter Vigil I had the honour of lighting this candle with the new Easter fire, symbolizing our eternal life in Christ. We then processed into our dark church, and with tapers, that light spread throughout the congregation to those both in person and our virtual congregation. It is that light that is so very special for this truly is the light of Christ – thanks be to God.
This weekend we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. In the Divine Mercy image, we see the risen Christ whose hands and feet bear the marks of the crucifixion. The two rays coming forth from Jesus signify the sacraments of mercy (Baptism and Penance), and the Eucharist. For me, this is an invitation to encounter Christ and for us to place our complete trust in our Lord.
As we continue to navigate through these times together with Christ as our guide, may we seek strength in our faith and in the one who defeated death. It is the light of the risen Christ who continues to lead us in times of darkness. May we not lose hope, for we are an Easter people.
Jesus, I trust in you.
May God continue to bless and protect each of you and those that you love.
My dear parish family of St. Julia,
Waiting. Having just celebrated our Good Friday services, Holy Saturday is a time of waiting. It is on this day that Jesus is in the tomb before his glorious rising from the dead on Easter Sunday.
Waiting. Our community has had the honour of journeying with and praying for Nicole, who will be baptized in the Catholic faith, and Jacob and John, who will be received into the Catholic Church at our Easter Vigil. They have been waiting anxiously for this day. The good kind of anxious, when they will encounter Christ in the sacrament of Confirmation and the Eucharist.
Waiting. It has been a long year, yet it has flown by at the same time as time does. Many are waiting to hold and embrace a loved one. Many are waiting to return to their spiritual home of St. Julia, in person for Mass, and to celebrate this celebration of all celebrations, the Resurrection of our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Easter is all about hope. And we are called to be an Easter people. Not just during this Easter season of fifty days, but always. When we place our trust in God and in his son Jesus Christ, we come to realize, through the eyes of faith, that everything we have been waiting for is already here, for Christ is with us. That is why we have hope and are called to be people of hope, for we are not alone. So, whether you are joining us in person this Easter or virtually, wherever you may be, know that we are united around the altar, lifting one another up in prayer, and are united in the One, the One Christ, the One living Son of God, who has defeated death, and has gloriously risen from the dead. That is our faith. That is what we believe!
It is our faith and belief in the risen Christ that continues to see us through these times and is the very reason we have hope.
On behalf of your parish family of St. Julia, I wish each one of you and those that you love a blessed and grace-filled Easter.
Christ has truly risen from the dead. Alleluia!
From Our Pastor