My dear friends in Christ,
Along my journey, God has put a number of wonderful people in my path. While our paths have taken us in different directions, quite often I will think of them and a smile will come to my face.
During this most recent lockdown (sidenote, I am ready for this to end so that we can safely return to the things that we love and are life-giving, and being with those that we love), I wrote down a number of names of those people that I have not reached out to for some time. Like many other things, if I don’t do something first thing in the day, the day gets away from me. I’ve had the good intention to reach out to a number of people, and literally, not just days but years have passed by. So, this week I made good on my intention, and reached out to one of my sales reps who I dealt with when I was working in retail, before I heard that gentle whisper and answered that call to a vocation to religious life. So, I looked up this individual’s email address, and yikes, we had last corresponded in 2013! So, I used my Fr. Greg email, and off I sent my note with all my contact information at the bottom.
The next day I was delighted to come into the office to have a voicemail message from this individual, and it was an absolutely beautiful message. That afternoon I reached out again, this time via phone, and we caught up, spoke about the pandemic of course, but other things, life-giving things as well. At that moment our paths once again merged together, and two people felt comforted, remembered, and in the most beautiful and pure sense - loved.
In our Gospel this weekend from John 15:9-17, Jesus commands his disciples to love one another. Jesus gives us the greatest example of how to love and to serve one another. As disciples of Christ, we are called to be the light of Christ to one another, and to love one another. That love can be, as I learned this past week, something as simple as thinking of someone else, and putting that thinking into action. When we do this, each in our own little way, we bear the fruit that Jesus speaks of as the branches attached to the true vine, Jesus Christ.
Here is the opportunity and challenge for us today. Don’t let this opportunity pass by and let another day get away from you. Reach out to someone that you have not spoken with for some time, for whatever reason. It will do you both a world of good. Don’t just talk about the pandemic. Allow the Holy Spirit to work through you to bring comfort, strength, peace, and hope to that other person. Be the light of Christ to that other person, who just may need it at this very moment in time. The result will be that it will do you both a world of good – and feel cared for, remembered, and loved.
This is putting our faith into action. I too am a work in progress. Amen.
May God continue to bless and keep safe 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!
My dear friends in Christ,
As we continue to navigate through COVID-19 with Christ as our guide, it is hard to believe that it has been six weeks since our last public weekend masses here at St. Julia. I pray that while this time has been filled with challenges, we have been able to reflect upon the blessed moments that God continues to grace us with.
Moment by moment. That is so very key. Whenever we experience a change in our life, the loss of a friend or loved one, or perhaps the loss of a dream, people will ask how are you doing? If you are like me, you give the generic response of “good.” There are good days and bad days. I was once told it really is moment by moment. There are good moments, and not so good moments. But gradually, over time, we pray that there are more good moments. Those good moments guide us on the road to recovery. That really is the road that we are on at this moment – together – as we navigate through COVID-19. The guiding light through all of this, and all challenging times, is that Christ is our guide. Through the power of prayer and keeping ourselves rooted in our faith, we can get through these difficult times together. Just as Christ has navigated us through past difficulties and challenges, moment by moment, prayer by prayer, when in the moment nothing made sense, somehow, we made it through. That was only by the grace of God. And God will see us through this moment in time as well.
As we continue through these most unprecedented times for many of us, may we do so together, united in prayer, with Christ as our guide. Amen.
God bless and stay safe,
That Divine Mercy Sunday points us to the merciful love of God? The Easter Octave has always been centered on the theme of Divine Mercy and forgiveness. God extends His mercy to each and every one of us. Mercy is the loving kindness and compassion shown to one who offends. Divine Mercy Sunday, therefore, points us to the merciful love of God that lies behind the whole Paschal Mystery — the whole mystery of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ — made present for us in the Eucharist. In this way, it also sums up the whole Easter Octave. As Pope John Paul II pointed out in his Regina Caeli address on Divine Mercy Sunday, 1995: "the whole octave of Easter is like a single day," and the Octave Sunday is meant to be the day of "thanksgiving for the goodness God has shown to man (and woman) in the whole Easter mystery." Let us be constantly reminded that as sinners, God is ready and waiting to welcome us into his loving arms. Yet we must make the first move. God is ready to forgive us through the healing power of the sacraments and to pour out His grace upon us – that supernatural gift given to us through the Christ. On this Divine Mercy Sunday, may each of us seek strength and comfort in the merciful love of God!
Dear Sisters and Brothers in the Risen Lord,
Hope. This is the message of Easter. This is the truth that we celebrate. This is who we are called to be as disciples – people of hope.
This is an Easter like no other. Yet over two thousand years ago, that day was like no other. Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and salvation history was changed forever. What we are currently experiencing will no doubt change our lives forever as well. Yet in time, while we will never forget, we will move on with the everyday busyness of our lives. The same can be said about the miracle of Easter. As an Easter people, there is nothing ordinary about what we are celebrating this day. It is the most extraordinary of all events! Jesus’ rising from the dead, his life, death and resurrection, is what we celebrate at every Mass. Let us never forget this. It is a message of hope.
This is the truth that our families, our neighbours, our country and our world need to hear. We need to tell the world around us Jesus is risen and he is with us. We need to show the world that we are witnesses to this truth. We are his disciples. We are Easter people! We are people of hope.
It is my hope and prayer that everyone keeps safe, healthy, and well, and I look forward to welcoming everyone home, to your spiritual home of St. Julia very soon. Please rest assured of my prayers. On behalf of myself, Deacon Bryan and Deacon George, we wish each of you and those that you love a most blessed Easter season!
In Christ’s love, Fr. Greg Schmidt
From Our Pastor