This weekend we begin a new liturgical year with the Season of Advent. With each passing day from now until Christmas, we will lose about 20 minutes more of daylight. As I love to go for walks, in the evening there will be opportunities to enjoy the stars in the sky and all of the decorations that light up our neighbourhoods. There is something about darkness. We slow down, and in the case of reflecting upon the Season of Advent, we prepare.
The message we will be hearing throughout the season of Advent is exactly that. Preparing – preparing our hearts, for our God is sending a Saviour, Emmanuel, which means God-with-us.
This preparing involves prayer and our active participation in the liturgy and sacraments of the Church, and our willingness to serve and to be of service to one another. Advent draws us in and invites us to do all this, with the help of Holy Spirit, to meet our God, who comes to us in the form of a baby.
As we begin this Advent journey as a parish family, either in person or virtually, may we ponder the birth of our Saviour some 2000 years ago as we unite our prayers together to prepare for the coming of Christ into our hearts this Christmas.
O come, O come, Emmanuel.
May God bless and keep safe each of you and those that you love,
This weekend we celebrate the great Solemnity of Christ the King. It also draws to a close our liturgical year in the life of the Church as we prepare to begin the Season of Advent.
Next to the gift of life, our faith is the greatest gift we could ever be given. That faith stems from an ongoing and active relationship with God and His Son, Jesus Christ. That Son is rich in love and mercy. It is that love and mercy that we are called to share with others. This can be both a challenge and opportunity. Every day, we hear about the great need, and that need is found right in our own community. I was in awe last week when Deacon George spoke of the generosity of our community in giving to the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Those donations provide for so many, the poor and the powerless. These are the ones who our King identifies with the most. Our King is not a king of wealth and power.
May we continue to care for those in need, for they are Christ in our midst. May we turn to our Lord, Christ the King, for help and assistance. May the Holy Spirit give us that nudge to see the need in our midst. May we seek comfort in our faith, and know that we need not be afraid. Everything we need for our salvation is given to us in Sacred Scripture, and each week we unpack it, together, and help one another along the way to bring it alive, to reveal Christ’s presence in our midst, all with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Know of my prayers, today and always, and thank you for all that you do to care for those in need.
This upcoming week I will have the honour and pleasure of visiting our three seminarians currently in formation for our diocese. Monday will take me to St. Peter’s Seminary in London to visit Yohander Sanchez who is in his first year of theology. On Tuesday I will be making my way to St. Philip Neri Seminary in Toronto in the late morning to visit Brian Izzard who is in his second year of philosophy. This is also where I completed my theology so it will be nice to return to see the Father’s who aided me in my formation. As you can imagine, I was a wild one in the seminary. In the early evening I will conclude my day to going to St. Augustine’s Seminary in Scarborough to visit Deacon Daniel Corso, now in his fourth and final year of theology.
My visits are for many reasons. To meet with them in person to check in to see how they are doing. To listen to them, as they share both the joys and the struggles of formation, as this is not an easy road, and their schedules and work loads are quite demanding. To see how they are doing spiritually, as they continue to discern God’s call. I will remind them of the balance of work, prayer, and rest. Most of all I want to assure them of the prayers of both myself but of the entire diocese and the Serra Club, and if it is God’s will, of those they will one day serve.
The journey to become a priest is long, as these gentlemen are in formation for seven to eight years, thus our prayers, encouragement, and support are essential. It requires perseverance on their part, but also being open to listening to the Holy Spirit. The end goal is spirit driven, to serve the people of God and for the salvation of souls.
We are nearly at the end of the Church’s Liturgical Year. Next Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King and the Sunday after that begins the new Church Year with the first Sunday of Advent, leading up to the Solemnity of Christmas on December 25. How is this possible? The same can be said for one’s time in the seminary. The time goes by so very quickly, and I will remind the gentlemen to enjoy and embrace the journey, for it truly is a blessed one at that.
Thank you for praying for our seminarians, and join me as we implore the Holy Spirit to stir in the hearts of more young men the courage to explore a vocation to the priesthood in our diocese. These men are in our homes, schools, and community. Tap them on the shoulders. Say “you have the qualities that would make a good priest,” and plant the seed.
May God bless each of you and those that you love.
It has been a busy and blessed start to the month of November here at St. Julia. From the celebration of All Saints on Monday, All Souls on Tuesday, our Memorial Mass Tuesday evening, virtual Denis Morris Catholic High School Mass on Wednesday, and our Summit Adoration Night Wednesday evening, I have been most blessed to witness how the Holy Spirit is alive in our parish and community.
At our mass with our high school students, I preached about the funeral mass. In my five plus years of priesthood, journeying with families as they say goodbye to their loved one has been some of the most touching and moving times in my ministry. It is at these times when hearts are moved, reminding one of the importance of our faith, our relationship with God and our creator, and that we will see our loved ones again in heaven. Just as important is that we need to continue praying for those who have gone before us, and that those prayers are what continue to keep us connected. This, and more, is what these young ladies and gentlemen needed to hear. In the back of my mind, I thought, where else are they going to hear this?
Yes, the funeral is for the beloved family member or friend who has died. But the funeral mass is for the living as well – all those who mourn the loss of a loved one or friend. It is meant to bring comfort, strength, and peace to all, and to assure the family that they are not alone, and that this parish family is here to pray alongside them. So why should the funeral be held at the church? It is in the church where we welcomed that soul into the family of faith, at baptism, and it is at the church, at the funeral mass, where we entrust that soul to the love and mercy of God. The beautiful mass, and the eucharistic prayers are offered just for that loved one – your loved one. Plus, as I say, we are no closer to our loved ones who have gone before us than at the celebration of the mass – every mass.
As we pray for all the departed souls who have gone before us, I pray that each of you, who mourn the loss of the loved one, whether it be recent or many years ago, be assured of my prayers and the prayers of your family here at St. Julia. May these prayers bring you comfort, strength, and peace.
May God bless each of you and those that you love.
From Our Pastor