Author: M D

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, June 20 at St. Francis Xavier Parish

Dear Friends,

As we continue into the second half of the month of June and celebrate the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, I would like to provide you with a reflection that can help us to enter into our Sunday readings:

“Mark is writing his gospel for a community suffering persecution, Christians who feared that any day they might be overwhelmed by either the waves of their own cowardice and infidelity to Christ, or blown off their Christian course by the fear of imprisonment and death. They could be tempted to believe that Jesus is “asleep” and cares nothing for them. In different contexts, we too are familiar with the storms that can brew in our own hearts. The struggle between fear and faith is a constant theme in Mark’s gospel, continuing until the very last verse (Mark 16:8), but that we have a Gospel according to Mark witnesses to the final triumph of faith. Among these disciples are men who know this sea well, and for them to be afraid shows that their fear was humanly well founded. Although they have seen Jesus’s power over the chaos that overwhelms people’s bod­ies and minds, this crossing had been Jesus’s idea, and their cries to him sound more like accusations of his lack of care for them than proclama­tions of their faith in him.

In the image of Jesus peacefully asleep in the storm-tossed boat there may be the memory of Jonah fast asleep in the bowels of the ship while God hurled great winds and waves at the vessel carrying the disobedient prophet away from his calling to the conversion of Nineveh (Jonah 1:4-15). Jonah has to re­sort to the much more dramatic and drastic solution of allowing himself to be tossed overboard before God will calm the storm. In contrast, Jesus rises from sleep, and the brief and powerful words of this most obedient prophet of God are enough to restore order out of chaos. Jesus rebukes the wind and the sea in the same way as he had “rebuked” or exorcised the “unclean spirit” and healed the tortured psyche of the man in the synagogue in Mark’s account of Jesus’s first miracles (Mark 1:23-27). And there comes a great calm.

Jesus’s authority over the natural world confronts our faith in an unsettling way. As Michael Casey writes: “We do not mind a man forgiving sins, because the supposed effect is invisible and beyond proof. Cures can be dismissed as merely ‘psychological.’ Our weak faith can dodge the question if there is some possibility of a ‘rational’ explanation. The nature miracles are different. They confront our faith directly” (Fully Human, Fully Divine).

Jesus’s authority over the storm reveals him as Lord of Creation, and re­calls the divine authority over the chaotic waters “in the beginning” (Gen 1:1) and when God divided the waters to allow the people to pass through from slavery into freedom (Exod 14-15). This divine prerogative is also praised in a number of the psalms, including Psalm 107, which is today’s responsorial psalm. But the disciples are looking and not perceiving, listening and not under­standing, despite the privileged instruction Jesus has given them (cf. Mark 4:10- 12). Jesus’s command of peace and stillness over the wind and waves assures the disciples’ safe crossing, but their crossing from fear to faith is at a perilous beginning point. At least Jesus seems to suggest that the journey is possible. “Do you not yet have faith?” But the disciples turn to one another, not to Jesus, with their questions about his identity.

The Jesus who has risen from the sleep of death is the faithful hope of every disciple and postresurrection community. Often the storms sweep down on us as suddenly as the wind and waves on the Sea of Galilee, and we find ourselves unprepared for sickness, for a terminal diagnosis for ourselves or a loved one, for the upheaval of personal relations, the painful work of retrenchment. The mass media brings tragedies into our homes, and we may find ourselves say­ing: “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Yet Jesus is present in the storms and will bring us to the shore of new beginnings and new initiatives.” (Living Liturgy 2021)

Today (Friday) our Diocese released a pastoral letter from His Excellency Bishop Douglas Crosby, OMI, to the faithful of the Diocese of Hamilton regarding the recent discovery of the unmarked graves of children at the former Kamloops Residential School. The Letter can be accessed at the Diocesan website here and also will be posted in our online bulletin tomorrow (Saturday).

On Tuesday of this week we celebrated the funeral Mass for the soul of Carmelo Mulay. As always, I invite you to pray for the one who has passed away, for the repose of his soul, and to keep his family in your prayers as well. Lord God, whose days are without end and whose mercies beyond counting, keep us mindful that life is short and the hour of death unknown. Let your Spirit guide our days on earth in the ways of holiness and justice, that we may serve you in union with the whole Church, sure in faith, strong in hope, perfected in love. And when our early journey is ended, lead us rejoicing into your kingdom, where you live for ever and ever. Amen. 

We are continuing to hold online gatherings on Zoom to help parishioners stay connected during this time when our regular ministries and programs can not take place in person. This week’s gatherings are Coffee With the Clergy on Monday evening (hosted by Deacon Brian), Game Night on Wednesday evening (hosted by Youth Ministry), and the praying of the Rosary on Thursday evening (hosted by Youth Ministry). Please visit the online bulletin for more details, and contact Wes at wmoga@hamiltondiocese.com if you would like the Zoom invite for any of these gatherings.

Registration is now open for our summer online activities for students! This summer we will be holding two weeks of an online mini-camp for students entering Grades 3-6 in the fall. Each day of camp will focus on a different saint and will include games, prayer, videos, crafts, and outdoor activities! Kits with supplies will be delivered to campers in advance. Students going into Grades 7 and up can volunteer as leaders!

We will also be having an online evening series for those entering Grades 7-12 called Coffee with Jesus. Through stories from Scripture, videos, small group conversations, prayer, and games, this 4-part series will encourage participants to accept Jesus’ invitation to be refreshed and renewed by their relationship with him! More information for both of these online activities, as well as registration forms, can be found here.

Just a reminder that the Lord’s Day Masses have resumed at the regular times: 5:30PM Saturday and 9:00AM and 11:00AM Sunday. The 4:00PM Mass is taking a summer break as always at this time. For parishioners who cannot be with us in person, we livestream the 9:00AM Sunday Mass on our YouTube channel. 

We wish a happy and blessed Father’s Day to all of the dads and father figures in our lives!

God bless, everyone.
Fr. Mariusz

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, June 13 at St. Francis Xavier Parish

Dear Friends,

We have been back in the liturgical season of Ordinary Time since we concluded the season of Easter, but the past two Sundays we celebrated important Solemnities that constitute the core of our Christian faith. This Sunday we are back, so to say, on the regular schedule as we celebrate the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time and we reflect on the parable of the growing seed.

“Jesus’s parables are not nice entertaining little stories. As Jesus proclaims in the first words he speaks according to Mark (Mark 1:14-15), his mission is to an­nounce the Good News of the kingdom, the reigning and transforming presence of God in his person and words, and call the people to faith and repentance. Like all the parables, the two parables of green and growing things we hear today are words of Jesus that tease us into contemplating our own lives and our response to the kingdom.

In the first parable, Jesus compares the growth of the king­dom to the seed that is planted by the farmer who then retires from the scene into the rhythm of his everyday life. Day and night he wakes and sleeps, while the seed, once sown, has its own potential for growth independent of the farmer. The mystery of growth belongs to the seed and the soil, to the gradual “dispossession” of the hard little seed to the nourishing earth, and its consequent unhurried and gradual growth: first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain. The only activity required of the farmer is vigilant patience. In the dispossession that is his incarna­tion, even Jesus had to accept some unknowing, some surren­der of events into his Father’s hands (Mark 13:32).

Perhaps we have had the experience with children who have planted their seeds in the garden and, excited about the possibilities of the flowers or vegetables to come, must be dissuaded from regular and disastrous digging down into the earth to see how the growth is proceeding! The farmer must wait confidently on God’s good time and providence, and eventu­ally the time of growth and the time of harvesting will intersect. Once we have received the seed of God’s word in the soil of our hearts, we must be ready for the dispossession, the gradual unfolding of the seed’s potential that will push into our consciousness and transform our lives, making us a plentiful harvest and enabling us to become nourishment for others. Because the growth of the seed is God’s secret, it can often happen in what, to our limited human perspec­tive, are the most unlikely places: in the lives of the poor, the despised, the persecuted. This was surely a great consolation to Mark’s community, for this was the reality of their lives. It should give the same hope and confidence to Christians today in our personal, communal, or national situations. What seems humanly insignificant, and even a failure, is transformed by God’s power, just as the seed of Jesus’s life fell into the ground of death to be transformed by his resurrection (cf. John 12:24). This is the great encouragement for disciples as we live between the planting and harvesting into the kingdom of God.

The parable of the mustard seed and its surprising growth is also one of en­couragement for struggling communities frustrated or despondent because of what seems the small and insignificant growth of the kingdom of God and its impact on the world around them. Jesus makes use of legitimate poetic license in exaggerating the size of the mustard seed (“the smallest of all the seeds on the earth”) and the bush that grows from it (“the largest of plants”), in order to stress the extravagant and disproportionate growth of the kingdom. That God is in all our beginnings and endings is the great and faithful hope of Jesus’s dis­ciples. The mustard bush, we are reminded, does not exist only for itself, but it offers a welcoming refuge for the birds of the air who nest in its shade. So the Christian community should spread out its branches in welcome to others, espe­cially to those who are enduring the heat of suffering, who are searching either physically or spiritually for some “shade” or sanctuary.

We often find it hard to be at home and comfortable with mystery; there is still the primeval temptation to be like gods, to know everything, to overreach our God-given humanity. That we have Jesus’s word to “explain” to us the deeper meaning of God’s action in our lives and our world, is the privilege of Jesus’s disciples.” (Living Liturgy 2021)

This past Monday we received confirmation from the Chancery Office that as of today (Friday), churches in our Diocese can reopen! At the present time we can accommodate 15% of our seating capacity as per provincial guidelines during the time of pandemic, and with all pandemic protocols in place. Here at St. Francis Xavier we will gather for the Lord’s Day Masses at 5:30PM on Saturday and at 9:00AM and 11:00AM on Sunday. Since we are already into the summer months, the 4:00PM Mass will take a break for the time being. Please note that as we are now allowed to have Masses inside the church building, we will not be having the outdoor Masses that were mentioned in my previous email. Also, our parish office will now be more available to you as of Tuesday, June 15. If you would like to visit the office, please call ahead of time to let us know and we will schedule your visit so you are not left outside waiting in the heat of the day for your turn to come inside.

We are continuing to hold online gatherings on Zoom to help parishioners stay connected during this time when our regular ministries and programs can not take place in person. This week’s gatherings are Coffee With the Clergy on Monday evening, hosted by Fr. Claude and Deacon Carmelo and Pray & Chat on Thursday evening. Please visit the online bulletin for more details, and contact Wes at wmoga@hamiltondiocese.com if you would like the Zoom invite for either gathering.

Registration is now open for our summer online activities for students! This summer we will be holding two weeks of an online mini-camp for students entering Grades 3-6 in the fall. Each day of camp will focus on a different saint and will include games, prayer, videos, crafts, and outdoor activities! Kits with supplies will be delivered to campers in advance. Students going into Grades 7 and up can volunteer as leaders!

We will also be having an online evening series for those entering Grades 7-12 called Coffee with Jesus. Through stories from Scripture, videos, small group conversations, prayer, and games, this 4-part series will encourage participants to accept Jesus’ invitation to be refreshed and renewed by their relationship with him!

More information for both of these online activities, as well as registration forms, can be found here.

This week on Thursday we celebrated the funeral Mass for Mrs. Evelina Grilli. Please pray for the repose of her soul and also in your prayers remember her grieving family.  Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen. 

Because we have now reopened, the live-streamed Sunday Mass for those who cannot attend in person will be moving to our regular Sunday Mass at 9:00AM with the Rosary prayed a half an hour before. You are invited to join us virtually for this Mass if you prefer to not yet attend in person. 

God bless, everyone.
Fr. Mariusz

Corpus Christi Sunday, June 6 at St. Francis Xavier Parish

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, also known to us under the Latin term Corpus Christi. As we find ourselves in a moment of history when most of us cannot receive the Blessed Sacrament because of the pandemic restrictions in place upon gatherings, we might see how much we miss receiving Christ, who comes to us in the form of bread and wine. I invite you to reflect on the readings for this Sunday.

“Sometimes we find ourselves in a lineup with a bunch of strangers, shuffling down the aisle in church, and we forget that we are standing with our family on the path­way to heaven about to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ offered once for all time for the salvation of the world.

The sacrificial nature of the Eucharist is clear from Jesus’s words and actions at the Last Supper, but hearing the words of institution over and over can become a part of a rote behavior that obscures their life-giving meaning. In the words of Mark’s gospel, “While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said, ‘Take it; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.’”

The primary sacrificial context for the Last Supper comes from the Passover feast in which the meal is situated, but the offering of Jesus’s Body and Blood on behalf of “many” – that is, for all people – takes on and reinterprets much more of the sacri­ficial imagery of the Old Testament. The bread that he broke is a sign of his body, which he will offer in death, the true bread of the presence. The “blood of the covenant” shares in the imagery of the cere­mony in Exodus in which Moses sprinkled blood on the people of Israel as a sign of their obedience to the covenant. The phrase “shed for many” draws us inexorably to the Suffering Servant of Isaiah, who pours himself out as an ex­piation for the sins of the people.

These sacrificial realities are not alien to the Last Supper. They are an in­herent part of Jesus’s actions, which he interprets for his apostles prior to the crucifixion. But for these understandings to come to the fore, the first Christians had to meditate and reflect on what Jesus had done and what this meant for the continuing life of the church.

The author of the Letter to the Hebrews makes it his mission to explicate and explain what took place on Calvary in light of the Jewish sacrificial system. He explains that Jesus is not only the sacrifice for the sins of the world but also the perfect high priest and that through the offering of himself as the perfect sacri­fice, Jesus “is mediator of a new covenant:… those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.”

Jesus’s words over the bread and wine, then sharing it with his disciples, sig­nifies his giving them a share in the atoning power of his death. And that aton­ing power has as its goal eternal life with Jesus. But it was not just those who sat at the table with Jesus who are able to share in the atoning power of Jesus’s sacrifice; Jesus opened the way for all to share in the eternal inheritance.

The Eucharist fulfills the sacrificial system and gives us the ability to share in the power of Christ’s atoning death here and now, but it also prepares us for our eternal inheritance. With the rest of God’s family, we will share in the mes­sianic banquet. Jesus tells us “many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 8:11). Only the true bread of heaven, the perfect High Priest, could offer himself once for all and so pave the way for our entry into the temple made not with hands. So walk with joy toward the temple prepared for us for eternity, as you are about to share a foretaste of the unending banquet.” (Living Liturgy 2021)

In the light of the discovery of the unmarked graves of 215 children at the Kamloops Residential School, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops as well as the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate have released statements of heartfelt sadness, sincere regret and condolences. These statements will be published in our online parish bulletin tomorrow. We are all invited to pray for and remember the souls of those children who rest nameless in unmarked graves, that our loving God grant them eternal rest and give consolation to their grieving families. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen. 

You are invited to join many Catholics across Canada, the USA, and other countries for a two-hour virtual Bible conference this weekend on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, also known as the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. The Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. But what does the Holy Bible have to say about it? Join in online Saturday, June 5, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. (EST). Register for free here! It is not too late to register tonight (Friday).You will need access to Zoom.

Last week I mentioned in my weekly email that with the stages of reopening which will begin to take place soon, we will have an opportunity to have an outdoor Sunday Mass on June 20 and 27 at least. Obviously, everything depends on if the weather cooperates with us on these days. So, bring your lawn chair, sunglasses and an umbrella in case of light rain and join us in the Marian Garden, behind the parish hall, for the first outdoor Sunday Mass at 10am on June 20.

Today, Friday, final touches were put on installing the HVAC units on the church roof that will provide a nice breeze in the church when the hot hot summer kicks in. We thank those involved in this project and pray that the units will serve our church for many years, hopefully at least 30 like the old ones. I am sure the bill for this project will arrive on my desk before I move to the new parish, and it is not a small one!

Our online gatherings over the next week are:
Monday, June 7 – Coffee with the Clergy hosted by Deacon Brian (7:00-8:00pm)
Wednesday, June 9 – Game Night hosted by Youth Ministry (7:00-8:00pm)
For the Zoom invites or more information about either of these events, please contact Wes at wmoga@hamiltondiocese.com.

This summer we will be offering several online activities for students, including week-long half-day online camps for Grades 3-6 and an evening series for those in Grades 7 – 12. Please visit the online bulletin for more details. Registration will open this coming week!

This Sunday we will still be live-streaming our Sunday Mass at the regular time of 10:00am with the Rosary prayed at 9:30am as always. Come and pray with us virtually. This Sunday Deacon John Girolami is preaching. Hopefully it is a good one, otherwise …. 🙂 Just kidding!

God bless, everyone.
Fr. Mariusz

Holy Trinity Sunday, May 30 at St. Francis Xavier Parish

Dear Friends,

Right after the conclusion of the Easter Season we are invited to contemplate and celebrate the most important mystery of our faith – the Holy Trinity, God who reveals Himself to us as a unity of three Persons.

“Ronald Rolheiser has written: “The most pernicious heresies that block us from properly knowing God are not those of formal dogma, but those of a culture of individualism that invite us to believe that we are self-sufficient, that we can have community and family on our own terms, and that we can have God without dealing with each other. But God is community – and only in opening our lives in gracious hospitality will we ever understand that” (“Finding God in Community,” Canadian Western Times). And so we need this solemnity that reminds us that God is a Trinity, a flow of relationships between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and ourselves. The Lectionary readings chosen for today, therefore, are about relationships of love.

Today’s gospel gives us the concluding words of Matthew. The risen and authoritative Jesus meets with the Eleven, wounded by betrayal and failure, still a very human mix of hope­ful faith and hesitant doubt, of adoration and indecision. For our consolation, these are the disciples to whom Jesus entrusts the inclusive mission of making disciples of “all nations,” without distinction of race or culture. With the authority of the risen Jesus, they are commis­sioned to baptize “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” and to teach these new followers to obey everything that Jesus has revealed to them during his earthly mission. On their first missionary journey (Matt 10:1, 5-8) there had been no command to teach, but now that they have experienced not only Jesus’s life but also his death and resurrection, they are equipped to teach the full sig­nificance of his instructions.

We who have gathered to celebrate the Most Holy Trinity have been baptized and taught, called and schooled by Jesus through the mission of his church. We have been drawn into the divine-human com­munion of that first “trinitarian” moment of Jesus’s baptism by John in the Jordan when the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were named. Matthew gives us the solemn assurance that Jesus, Immanuel, “God-with-us” (cf. Matt 1:23) as the per­sonal promise of God, will be with the church until the end of human history. His is no “absentee lordship” but a presence of a servant Christ who wishes to liberate rather than dominate. His church, therefore, must also be a humble ser­vant that remembers that its authority is not absolute but is derived from Jesus; a church that identifies with those who are a very human mix of faith and doubt; a church that avoids all triumphalism and selfishness to the wounded people of our world…” (Living Liturgy 2021)

Just a few days ago we received some detailed information from the Diocese regarding the process of reopening churches, and when and how the different stages of reopening will unfold. According to this information:

Step One (proposed to take effect around June 14th and to last for 21 days): Limits indoor gatherings at places of worship to the current cap of 10 people. The churches remain closed. During this phase, outdoor religious services are permitted without limits as long as 2m distancing is maintained.

Step Two (proposed for the first week of July at the earliest): Places of worship are permitted are reopening at 15% capacity and with pandemic protocols (masks, social distancing, cleaning, etc.) observed.

Step Three (at least 21 days following the start of Step 2): Places of worship are permitted to hold “larger indoor services” but no specific number or percentage is provided at this time.

With the beginning of Step One (around June 14th), it is permitted to have outdoor religious services. In response to several inquiries and following consultation with the Episcopal Board, His Excellency Bishop Douglas Crosby, OMI, grants permission for parishes who wish to celebrate Sunday Masses outdoors under the following conditions:

– The parish has an adequate outdoor sound system;
– The parish has adequate outdoor space;
– Participants are not permitted to remain in cars during the liturgy;
– Participants are to be seated at least 2 meters apart as in the church and wearing masks;
– The liturgy is celebrated fully as in the church with the necessary ministers.

Our parish is in the process of assessing the possibility of celebrating an outdoor Sunday Mass here at our property in the Marian Garden, located behind the parish hall on Sunday, June 20.

Our parish Bible Study Group is inviting you to join them for a new study entitled Lectio: Prayer: Finding Intimacy with God. The study will begin this Tuesday, June 1 and run for 6 consecutive weeks. For more information about the study and registration please visit our online bulletin.

Our other online gatherings over the next week are:
Saturday, May 29 – Rosary led by Youth Ministry (7:00pm – 7:40pm)
Monday, May 31 – Coffee with the Clergy hosted by Fr. Claude & Deacon Carmelo (7:00-8:00pm)
Thursday, June 3 – Pray & Chat hosted by Deacon Carmelo and Wes Moga (7:00-8:00pm)
For the Zoom invites or more information about any of these events, please contact Wes at wmoga@hamiltondiocese.com.

Plans are in the works for this year’s summer activities for students! Stay tuned for an update coming next week.

In your prayers please remember our parishioners who passed away this week: Robert Foster, whose burial prayers took place earlier this week, and Juan Mendola, who will be laid to rest tomorrow. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen. Please pray also for their families to be consoled in their grief.

As always you are invited to join us virtually from your homes this Sunday for the Rosary at 9:30am and the Mass celebrating the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity starting at 10am on the parish YouTube channel.

God bless, everyone.
Fr. Mariusz

Pentecost Sunday, May 23 at St. Francis Xavier Parish

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost, reminding ourselves that Christ did not leave us alone after ascending to heaven, but continues to remain with His Church by the power of the Holy Spirit. At the same time this Sunday brings to a conclusion the season of Easter for 2021.

“The gospel read during the Mass on Pentecost day tells us of Jesus’s appear­ance to his apostles in Jerusalem on Easter evening. He is suddenly there, even though the doors were locked, as the evangelist notes; he shows his hands and side to his disciples. Should we not connect this action with the greeting Jesus gives his disciples, “Peace be with you”? This is not an ordinary greeting. In John’s view, it is connected with the wounds, because peace flows from the passion and resurrection. (For Luke, Christ’s display of his wounds was a way of assuring the disciples of his identity, this is not the case for John.)

Now Christ “sends” his disciples. In doing so, he uses the kind of formula we find frequently in the fourth gospel: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” For John, however, such formulas express more than a simple parallelism; they do more than affirm the divinity of Christ on the grounds that he acts as the Father acts. They are also a theological statement that believ­ers share in the very life that is common to Father and Son.

The formula ends rather abruptly: “I send you.” He is not sending them to a place, but giving them a mission that they must carry out. What is the mission? It is that of forgiving sins, as Christ immediately makes clear. Since, however, Christ draws a parallel between his action in sending the disciples and the Father’s action in sending him, he is also telling the disciples that they are to continue the work that Jesus himself has been doing for the reconstruction of the world. They too are to do the Father’s work. As Jesus reveals the Father and makes him known, so the disciples are to reveal Jesus and make him known.

St. Luke tells us in today’s first reading of how the Spirit came upon the disciples as they were gathered in the upper room. Luke thus puts the com­ing of the Spirit on Pentecost. John, however, in the gospel reading, speaks of the Spirit being given on Easter evening. Is there contradiction here between Acts and John? Has John conflated Pentecost and Easter? According to some exegetes, John is not conflating the two events, but neither is he distinguishing them; he is interested, rather, in giving expression to the paschal mystery as a unitary whole.

We should note that Luke too has an anticipation of Pentecost inasmuch as he speaks of the apostles having been chosen by Christ “through the holy Spirit” (Acts 1:2). It seems more accurate, therefore, to say that these various actions and gifts of the Spirit (including John 20:22) were all a prepara­tion for the definitive coming of the Spirit. When we say that the church was born on Pentecost, we are undoubtedly simplifying somewhat. After all, the church was born from the side of Christ on Calvary, while the various appear­ances of Christ after his resurrection were so many stages in the formation of the church. The church was born on Calvary and born of his resurrection, no less than she was born of the Spirit on Pentecost. The whole first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles is concerned with this gradual formation that was going on even before the Spirit was poured out on Pentecost.

We may say that St. Luke lays greater emphasis on the historical facts, while John is more concerned with the close connection between Calvary, the resurrec­tion, the appearances, and the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost.” (Living Liturgy 2021)

At the present time the church remains closed for any public Masses and celebrations with the exception of baptisms, weddings and funerals, which are limited to only 10 people. After the announcement by the provincial government yesterday (Thursday) about the stages in which the province will gradually reopen, we do not have any new information regarding when we will be allowed to reopen to gather together in person once more for the celebration of the Eucharist.

Since last Sunday we have been journeying through Laudato Si Week! Our parish’s Laudato Si Circle would like to thank all those who have been able to take part in the week-long Recycling Challenge and who joined in with Monday evening’s live-streamed Opening Liturgy. They are hosting one final event for the week, which is a Zoom session on Monday evening that will include activities, prayer, and conversation on the theme of the importance of recycling. All are welcome to attend! If you are interested, please contact Wes at wmoga@hamiltondiocese.com

We recently began a series of regular online gatherings open to all parishioners to help us stay connected with one another and with our faith during this time apart. Two of these are coming up this week:

Games Night – Wednesday, May 26 from 7:00-8:00pm on Zoom
Rosary led by our Youth Ministry – Saturday, May 29 from 7:00-7:45pm on Zoom
If you are interested in taking part in either of these events, please contact Wes. Hoping you can join in for these times of faith, fun, and fellowship!

In your prayers I invite you kindly to remember the souls of Margaret Badeau, whose funeral Mass was celebrated today (Friday) at St. Francis Xavier Church, and William Chopp, whose burial prayers took place at Mountview Gardens Cemetery. They were both long-time parishioners in our community. Also please pray for their families as they grieve the loss of their loved ones. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

This coming Monday is Victoria Day, which normally would be a day for many families to get together and celebrate, but with the restrictions in place due to the pandemic things will be less celebratory. And so we will be here, Fr. Claude and I, to say the morning Mass that day and you are always invited to join us. The schedule for that day and week will be published in the online parish bulletin as always. 

This Sunday the Lord’s Day Mass will be live-streamed on the parish YouTube channel once again at 10:00am, with the Rosary beginning at 9:30am. I hope you can join in with the celebration of the Mass from home.

God bless, everyone.
Fr. Mariusz

The Ascension of the Lord, May 16 at St. Francis Xavier Parish

Dear Friends,

We have only one week left until the end of the Easter season. This Sunday, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord as we read the Gospel passage in which Christ commissions his disciples to “go into all the world…”

“In their different ways, all the gospel writers want us to appreciate the thresh­old moment of Jesus’s exaltation into heaven. Luke ends his gospel with one account of the ascension of Jesus happening on the evening of Easter day, and begins the second part of his good news, the Acts of the Apostles, with another account forty days later. Perhaps Luke is using these two accounts to stitch together the farewell reality of Jesus in his glorified humanity (Luke 24:50-53) and the mission of the church, his Body, which in his Spirit must continue his presence and work in the world (Acts 1:9-11). Luke addresses the Acts of the Apostles to “Theophilus” (“Lover of God”), perhaps a patron of the early Chris­tian community. Gathered today around the Word, we are also the intended readers, all called to be “lovers of God.”

Mark narrates that Jesus is risen. He has appeared to his followers during forty days – a biblical number symbolic of both fullness and transition – and has instructed them about the promised coming of the Holy Spirit. He explains this coming in baptismal terms. Water had been the baptismal medium of the Baptist, but this new baptism will be in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. So the disciples wait for this unimagined and unimaginable outpouring, still cap­tive to curiosity about times, dates, the possible relationship of Israel to the kingdom about which Jesus has so often spoken, and an implied hankering for knowledge of their own positions in this kingdom. Jesus deflects their desire for such answers into a concern for mission – the witness to him that the dis­ciples will be called and empowered to give beyond Jerusalem, beyond Judaea and Samaria, to the very ends of the earth. The disciples are still a wounded community, wounded by Judas’s treachery, by Peter’s betrayal, and by their own cowardice. Yet it is in the midst of such failure, false expectations, and incor­rigible personal ambitions and wishes for quick solutions, that Jesus will call them to mission.

For some reason, the Lectionary omits verse 14 from today’s reading of the “longer ending” (and third postresurrection appearance of Jesus) of Mark’s gospel. It is considered an inspired but later addition to Mark 16:8, for the com­fort and strengthening of the communities on mission. And so as we gather liturgically around the table, we may not realize that Jesus’s commission to go and proclaim the Good News of his resurrection to the whole of creation is also given to the wounded Eleven “at table.” Nor do we hear how Jesus upbraids them for their lack of faith and stubbornness – something that is surely a great consolation for ourselves as wounded, struggling disciples in whom the flame of missionary desire can flicker or even be extinguished. Yet like the Eleven, we are also people entrusted with the mission of proclaiming the gospel now that the physical presence of Jesus has ascended to heaven and is no longer with us. We too are sent to do new wonders, speak new words with the fire of the Spirit on our tongues, offer new healing to our sisters and brothers, and cast out con­temporary “demons” from ourselves and others. And all this continues to be “in the name of,” in the personal power of Jesus into whose Body we are baptized.” (Living Liturgy 2021)

As you may know from the announcement made yesterday by the provincial government, the stay-at-home order has been extended until June 2nd. Today we received a memorandum from the Diocese informing us that the churches in our Diocese will remain closed for the duration of this extended lockdown. We hope and pray that we can be reunited soon here at our place of worship so that we can once again pray together as a believing community.

On Wednesday of this week work started on replacing the old AC units on the church roof. The old units were removed, and the new HVAC units were placed on the roof in new locations, away from the edges, but are not yet connected to the system. The work will continue next week with some adjustments to the ducts on the roof so that they can be tied into the existing ones in the church. If you would like to see some pictures from the project please visit our online bulletin, which will be posted tomorrow in the late afternoon.

This Sunday marks the beginning of Laudato Si Week! 6 years ago, in May of 2015, Pope Francis published his encyclical on the environment in which he calls the Church and the world to acknowledge the urgency of our environmental challenges and to join him in embarking on a new path. Our parish’s new group, the Laudato Si Circle, is hosting three events to mark this week. The Recycling Challenge starts on Sunday, and a tracking sheet can be found here. Monday evening at 7:00pm there will be a live-streamed liturgy on the theme of care for creation on the parish YouTube channel. And next Monday evening (May 24) there will be a Zoom session open to all ages on the topic of recycling at 7:00pm. The Circle hopes that you can join in and wishes you a blessed Laudato Si Week!

This coming Thursday, May 20, students, staff, and families from our five elementary schools will be gathering virtually at 9:15am for a live-streamed liturgy on the theme of the Rosary, which will include a pre-recorded praying of the Rosary that many students and staff have contributed video clips to! All are invited to join in. Our live-streamed morning Mass will be held at 8:30 am that day, rather than 9:00am.

Our new series of ONLINE GATHERINGS has begun! This past Wednesday a number of families gathered on Zoom for our first parish Games Night! Here is the schedule for this coming week:

MONDAY, MAY 17: COFFEE WITH THE CLERGY
Host: Deacon Brian Prieur
Time: 7:00-8:00pm
Includes: Reading of the Gospel of the day, brief reflection on the Gospel and Saint of the day, discussion time, Question & Answer period. Please submit faith-related questions for the Q&A in advance to wmoga@hamiltondiocese.com.

THURSDAY, MAY 20: PRAY & CHAT
Hosts: Deacon Carmelo Campanella & Wes Moga
Time: 7:00-8:00pm
Includes: Check-in/chit-chat time with a few icebreaker questions, followed by some time in prayer using a traditional Catholic prayer practice.
FOR THE ZOOM INVITES: Please contact Wes at wmoga@hamiltondiocese.com.

God bless, everyone.
Fr. Mariusz

Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 9 at St. Francis Xavier Parish

Dear Friends,

The season of Easter is gradually drawing to a close, as this Sunday we celebrate the sixth Sunday of Easter. But we still have two important Solemnities ahead of us. This weekend we continue to read from the Gospel of St. John, which draws our attention to Jesus’ discourse at the Last Supper.

“The heartbeat of today’s gospel and of the second reading from 1 John is “love.” As disciples, we are called to feel this pulse and make our lives beat in rhythm with it. The love commandment that Jesus gives to his disciples depends on God’s limitless love for the world (John 3:16). This love is made incarnate and dwells among us in Jesus, the one who is “close to the Father’s heart” (John 1:18), and so Jesus’s own relationship with his Father, his own life and death, become the norm of the costly love he asks of his disciples. This must not be a cramped or grudging love, but joyful and expansive, encompassing the world for which Jesus was sent.

One of the most priceless human gifts is friend­ship. It allows us to disclose ourselves to and receive from another in complete openness and trust. With a friend we can think aloud; participate in one another’s joys and sorrows, hopes and fears; survive loneliness, indifference, hostility. Small wonder, then, that in to­day’s gospel Jesus calls his disciples by this most pre­cious of names: “my friends.” Drawn into and abiding in the mutual love of the Father and the Son, disciples are no longer called servants but friends.

The Johannine community was to live as friends and so, throughout his gospel, John introduces us to various occasions of friendship: John the Baptist, the precursor and “the friend of the bridegroom” (John 3:29) who, like a best man, hands over the bride Israel to Jesus; the family at Bethany, especially Lazarus, the friend for whom he wept at his grave and for whom Jesus was the tomb breaker (John 11:35-44); Pilate, who at a critical moment preferred to be a friend of Caesar rather than Jesus (John 19:12); the disciple beloved of Jesus (John 13:23; 19:26; 21:7); and Peter, the forgiven friend who will lead and shepherd the community of the forgiven (John 21:44ff.). As we gather (still virtually) around the table of our eucharistic supper, we hear that we have been chosen by Jesus as his friends and commissioned to befriend the world in and with the love he has shown us.

The most startling, profound, yet simple naming of God is proclaimed in the reading from the First Letter of John: “God is love.” The letter is addressed to the “beloved,” those with whom God has taken the initiative, who are parented by God’s love, and this self-giving love is the source of human love. Like today’s gospel whose heartbeat is love, so love beats strongly in this reading – named nine times in its four verses. It is love that is expansive and global, yet also inti­mate and personal, revealed most fully in Jesus, the Son of God and our brother.

In a remarkable photographic event, at the turn of the millennium invita­tions were sent to 192 countries inviting photographers to submit entries that captured and celebrated the essence of humanity’s “Moments of Intimacy, Laughter and Kinship.” Ultimately, seventeen thousand photographers from 164 countries entered with over forty thousand photographs. As well as becoming an international traveling exhibition, the winning photographs are published as three incredible books entitled FamilyFriendship, and Love. As love always does, the images reach across all continents and races, youth and age, poverty and affluence, to reveal the heart of humanity and, surely, the heart of God. The viewer has no idea if the God of Jesus Christ is known or unknown to the 6-year-old “policeman” in the slums of Calcutta who is holding up his hand to stop the traffic so that three blind men, their hands on one another’s shoulders, can safely cross the road; whether any prayers are being murmured by the 84-year-old woman saying goodbye to her dying 92-year-old friend; or what is the faith of the parents welcoming their womb-wet, wailing newborn. But the Christian gazing on these photographs, or on such realities in our everyday lives, can surely say: “God is love.” (Living Liturgy 2021)

We will be offering a number of online gathering opportunities for our parishioners starting soon, which will allow us to connect through the means of Zoom to have some time for conversation, games and prayer together. An email will be sent sometime at the beginning of next week inviting each one of you to be part of this parish initiative. The first Games Night is coming up this Wednesday, May 12! It will run from 7:00-8:00pm and will include 3 games that can be played through Internet links or screen sharing, with prizes up for grabs! Come play as an individual or as a family! For more information, or to get the Zoom information, please contact Wes at wmoga@hamiltondiocese.com. More details to follow about the other upcoming online gatherings.

This year, our parish will join Catholic communities around the world in celebrating Laudato Si Week! Six years ago, Pope Francis published his encyclical entitled “Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home”. In it, he talks about how we are shaping the future of the Earth, and he calls the Church and the world to acknowledge the urgency of our environmental challenges and to join him in embarking on a new path. During Laudato Si Week, our parish’s new Laudato Si Circle group will be hosting three events that they hope that individuals and families from our parish will join in with: a live-streamed liturgy on the theme of Creation, a week-long recycling challenge with the opportunity to win prizes, and a Zoom session also on the topic of recycling. For more details about these events, you’re invited to visit the online bulletin or the Circle’s brand new Facebook page, which is called “Laudato Si Circle – St. Francis Xavier Parish, Stoney Creek”. A printable score-sheet for the recycling challenge will be shared in the bulletin and on the Facebook page next weekend.

After many years of hard work and tremendous exhaustion, to the point that there is nothing that we can do to extend their lifespan any longer, it is time to retire our church roof AC units which have served us for at least 30 years. After obtaining permission from the Diocese, this necessary work to replace them will begin this coming week. We hope that by the end of May, or maybe even sooner, we will be able to have new HVAC units in place so that when we finally reopen, we can welcome you back with cold air (but very warm hearts!) during the hot summer months. 

Come and celebrate the Sunday Mass virtually with us on our YouTube channel! This weekend Deacon Carmelo is preaching and it’s going to be a revitalizing, ravishing homily (if it is not then we will fire him – just kidding!!). Before the Mass we will pray the Rosary at 9:30am

God bless, everyone.
Fr. Mariusz

Fifth Sunday of Easter, May 2 at St. Francis Xavier Parish

Dear friends,

Still being in the lockdown due to the pandemic that has changed our lives so much, we are continuing to celebrate the season of Easter as we gather virtually this weekend to reflect on the passage taken from St. John’s Gospel, in which Christ says: I am the vine, you are the branches. 

“Today and next Sunday the gospel readings are from the Last Supper discourse of John. Chronologically, the Last Supper took place before Jesus’s death and resurrection, yet we hear them after Easter. This is a reminder that we are not remembering and celebrating events in their strict historical sequence, but that we are immersed in a liturgical mix of time and timelessness; we are celebrating the mystery that is always and everywhere the reality of the resurrection of Jesus. As we listen to the Johannine account of the last meal of Jesus with his disciples, we are, here and now, at the table with Jesus and the community of disciples, tangling our lives with him, the true vine, and with the branches of all the baptized. 

We hear much shouting of would-be people of power: fanatical tyrants, political agitators, self-righteous politi­cians. We may even add to this chorus our own small voices on matters per­sonal, ecclesial, or social. But what Jesus speaks about at table is the power of love and of gentle growth. He gives us another image of the great intimacy and interdependence that exists between himself, his Father, and his disciples: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower” – and we are the branches. The vine and vineyard were familiar images to the people of God in the Old Testament. Israel was the vine brought out of Egypt and planted by God the vine grower in its own soil (Ps 80:8-13). So significant was the image of the vine that on one facade of the Jerusalem temple sanctuary was carved an ornamen­tal vine with golden clusters of grapes as big as a human hand. And the early Christian community painted the vine on the walls of the catacombs in memory of Christ, the true vine. 

The image of the vine is a radically nonhierarchical image of the people of God, for all the branches are so intertwined that when looking at a vine it is almost impossible to tell where one branch begins and another ends. All tangle together as they grow from the central stock, undifferentiated by anything but their fruitfulness….

To remain healthy and productive the vine must be pruned by our vine grower God. Those in whom the baptismal sap rises have already been pruned by the words Jesus speaks, but we must continue to accept not only the short, sharp pain of God’s snipping from our lives the small and withering infidelities, but also be willing to endure the longer agony of more drastic pruning that is sometimes necessary. This is not to make of the Vine Grower a ruthless tyrant, because what is done is done out of love for the vine. In his passion and death, the Christ who knew no sin was made sin for us (cf. 2 Cor 5:21), and suffered in faithful hope that most drastic pruning of his passion and death so that the branches of the vine, his community, might thrive through his resurrected life.

Sometimes what needs to be pruned in our lives is the parasite runner of indi­vidualism that wants to go its own way, or the sucker that feeds on self-interest; both draw life away from the vine. At other times, our vine-dressing God recog­nizes our potential for greater fruit-bearing, and with this the need for heavy pruning. After such pruning, a vine may bear no fruit for several years, but it remains rooted and waiting, confident in the tending of the Vine Grower, until both are rewarded with a tremendous, bursting yield. When we yield such a harvest of good works, says Jesus, we give glory to the Father and are con­firmed in our discipleship.” (Living Liturgy 2021)

Thank you to a number of our parishioners who participated in the little survey that was sent out last Saturday. Its responses show that there is a need for us to connect in this challenging time to help maintain our  sense of community, by providing such things as time to pray together and an opportunity for the study of the Bible, which we had been doing here before the pandemic every Tuesday.

This week we have published the financial statement for the past three years on our website, to communicate to you the financial situation of our parish. The financial committee has provided important feedback about our situation which is attached to the report. Please visit our website for the report and go to the “Donate” to see it. If you have any questions please call the parish office and speak with our bookkeeper Jean Goobie or email the members of our financial committee, whose names are listed on the statement. I wish to thank all our parishioners for your financial contributions in the past years to help maintain this church that has been entrusted to us, and especially now as we are not able to be together in person – many parishioners so generously drop off their Sunday donations at the parish door or use the online giving option. Please know that our parish offers a pre-authorized giving option that can so easily replace the need to use your envelopes and yet provides the parish with consistent donations. Please call or email our bookkeeper if you would like to switch to pre-authorized giving. I hope that one day we here at SFX can become more “green” by completely eliminating the use of Sunday envelopes, since they create a lot of paper waste and each year some boxes end up not being claimed.  

Next week is Catholic Education Week, when we acknowledge the importance of the separate education system and those who are involved in the education efforts that are centred on the Gospel of Christ and Christian values. Our Diocese provided materials for the celebration of CEW that can be accessed through our online parish bulletin (published tomorrow) or by visiting our Facebook account. One of those materials is the celebration of the Liturgy of the Word by Bishop Crosby in the newly built St. Benedict Church in Milton. 

This year, our parish will join Catholic communities around the world in celebrating Laudato Si’ Week. Almost 6 years ago, in May of 2015, Pope Francis published his encyclical entitled “Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home”. It is a letter that he addressed to “every person living on this planet”, and in it he talks about how we are shaping the future of the Earth. He calls the Church and the world to acknowledge the urgency of our environmental challenges and to join him in embarking on a new path. Last year, our parish established a Laudato Si Circle, a group that meets regularly with the focus of praying with and for creation, striving to become stronger stewards of creation, and taking action for change. During Laudato Si Week, we will be hosting three events that we hope that individuals and families from our parish will join in with. For more details about these events, you’re invited to visit the online bulletin or the Circle’s brand new Facebook page, which is called “Laudato Si Circle – St. Francis Xavier Parish, Stoney Creek”.

Please join us virtually for the celebration of the Sunday Mass that will be livestreamed at 10am this Sunday with the Rosary prayed at 9:30am.

God bless.
Fr. Mariusz

Fourth Sunday of Easter, April 25 at St. Francis Xavier Parish

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Easter, and the Liturgy of the Word focuses on the image of Christ as the Good Shepherd. 

“This Sunday’s gospel presents us with one of the most loved images of Jesus when he says of himself, “I am the good shepherd.” We are sometimes seduced by images of a smiling Middle Eastern shepherd with a cuddly, clean, and fluffy lamb tucked under his arm. Much less romantic and more accurate and robust is the earliest known statue (ca. 60 CE) of the Good Shepherd at Caesarea Maritima in Israel. The legless remnant has a huge, heavy sheep draped around the shepherd’s shoulders. To carry such a load would be no easy task! In 1 Samuel, we have another vigorous Old Testament description of a shepherd in the con­text of King Saul’s attempt to dissuade the young David from fighting against the mighty Philistine warrior, Goliath. David argues his case for the fight with a graphic description of how he kept sheep for his father: “[W]henever a lion or bear came to carry off a sheep from the flock, I would chase after it, attack it, and snatch the prey from its mouth. If it attacked me, I would seize it by the throat, strike it, and kill it…. The same Lord who delivered me from the claws of the lion and the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (17:34-35, 37).

As our Good Shepherd, Jesus fights for us, saves us from the gaping jaws of whatever or whoever seeks to grab and destroy our disciple­ship and wound the little “flock” of the Christian community. He shepherds us with his loving care so that we may “have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). In contrast to the Good Shepherd is the hireling who is concerned primarily with his own self-interest: his reputation, remuneration, and safety. Through the prophets, God had denounced the shepherd leaders of Israel who had pros­tituted their pastoral ministry. “I myself will pasture my sheep,” God promises his people (Ezek 34:15; cf. Isa 40:11; Jer 31:10). There are still some political, social, and ecclesial “hired men” with us, but there are also the mag­nificent shepherds who are willing to lay down their life for their sheep. (Living Liturgy 2021)

On Wednesday of this week the Bishop’s Office released the list of clergy moves for this year, and as some of you already know, my name is on it. My pastorate here at St. Francis Xavier Parish will come to its completion on June 30 at 12:00 noon. At that time the new pastor, Fr. Ross Campbell, appointed by the bishop, will embrace this position. As you know from the online parish bulletin two 2 weeks ago, the process involving the appointment of new pastors is quite lengthy and requires a lot of insight into the specific needs of each parish community, as well as the bishop’s knowledge of the priest who is appointed for each position. Fr. Ross, with his deep dedication to the priestly ministry, tremendous devotion to the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the celebration of Mass, and his youthfulness, is a really good choice by the Bishop for St. Francis Xavier Parish. Fr. Ross will be joined here by a new associate pastor, Fr. Peter Robinson, who at the present time is a transitional deacon assisting at Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Stoney Creek, and will soon be ordained as a priest for our Diocese. That means that Fr. Claude Perera will also be leaving our parish. He will be going back to Sri Lanka either at the end of August or the end of September of this year.  As for myself, I wish to say how grateful I am to have been able to spend the past 6 years in your midst here at St. Francis Xavier. I am certain that there will be many opportunities for us to say goodbye to one another over the next couple of months.

In your prayers please remember the souls of our parishioners who passed away this week: Bettina Cipriani, whose funeral took place on Monday of this week here at St. Francis, and Serena Di Legge, whose funeral Mass will be celebrated after the current lockdown. Also please pray for their families who are grieving their loss: Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

I would like to thank the Cipriani Family for mentioning our parish in the obituary for their mother and suggesting that memorial contributions to St. Francis Xavier Parish would be sincerely appreciated by the family. It is a wonderful way to support our parish, which is a constant part of our lives from the moment of our sacramental baptism and throughout many other celebrations during our lifetime until the end of our earthly journeys.

Once a month our youth ministry community is coming together on Zoom to pray the Rosary, and all are welcome to take part! Grab your Rosary and join in this coming Wednesday evening, April 28, at 7:00pm as we pray and reflect on the Glorious Mysteries! If you are not already on Wes’ contact list for Zoom invites and would like to participate, please email her at wmoga@hamiltondiocese.com.

Our Children’s Liturgy team continues to release a new virtual liturgy video each weekend on the parish YouTube channel. They premiere at 8:00am on Sundays and remain on the channel for you to view whenever it is most convenient.

This Sunday, and each coming Sunday for the duration of the current lockdown, the Lord’s Day Mass will live-streamed on the parish YouTube channel at 10:00am. I hope you can join in with the celebration from your homes.

God bless.
Fr. Mariusz

COVID-19 Update

Dear Friends,

We have received a memorandum from the Chancellor of our Diocese, Monsignor Murray Kroetsch, informing us that:

1. Masses and other liturgical celebrations scheduled for Saturday, April 17th and Sunday, April 18th are to take place in Parishes provided that the 15% capacity limit and all other Covid-19 protocols are observed.

2. Beginning on Monday, April 19, 2021 all churches in the Diocese of Hamilton are closed until further notice, with the exception only of the following:

a) Weddings with a total of 10 people (including the priest/deacon);

b) Individual Baptisms with a total of 10 people (including the priest/deacon). To the extent possible Baptisms should be postponed until the church is reopened.

c) Funerals are permitted in the church with a total of ten people (including the priest), but are strongly discouraged for the health and safety of the priest and the mourners. It is recommended that only the Rite of Christian Burial at the cemetery take place in accord with the requirements of the Provincial Order and the Ontario Bereavement Authority.

In this situation here at St. Francis Xavier Parish we will livestream daily Masses during the week at 9am with the Rosary prayed at 8:30am, followed by the Chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3pm. Please join us as we pray for those who are sick, for each other, and for the end of the pandemic.

Also I would like to mention that the Bishop’s office informed us just a moment ago that the Episcopal ordination of Bishop-elect Wayne Lobsinger, which was originally scheduled for February 2, 2021 and then rescheduled to June 29, 2021, has been rescheduled in the light of today’s announcement by the Provincial Government to this Sunday, and will take place at 2pm at the Cathedral Basilica of Christ the King in Hamilton. Please note that due to the ongoing pandemic the Episcopal ordination is by an invitation only. We once again congratulate Bishop Lobsinger on his appointment and pray for him.

God bless, everyone.
See you on Sunday (April 17/18, 2021)
Fr. Mariusz

Third Sunday of Easter, April 18 at St. Francis Xavier Parish

Dear Friends,

As we approach the 3rd Sunday of Easter (April 18) and continue our celebration of the Easter Season, I invite you to enter into it by reflecting on the Gospel reading for this Sunday, recalling Christ’s post-resurrection appearance to his disciples.

“This Sunday’s gospel follows the appearance of the risen Jesus to the two dis­ciples on the way to Emmaus. The Emmaus meal was a welcoming event; the meal with the risen Jesus in Jerusalem will be a missioning event. Despite the witness of the two disciples who have hurried back from Emmaus and the news of Jesus’s appearance to Simon, the eleven and their companions are still startled and terrified when Jesus appears among them and greets them with peace. They think he is a ghost! In this gospel of Luke, as in John’s narrative last Sunday, Jesus makes clear to them the reality of his glorified human presence, his full embodied existence, by showing them his wounded hands and feet, inviting them to touch him, asking them to give him something to eat, and then taking the piece of grilled fish and eating it before their eyes.

In Luke’s Last Supper account, Jesus was among his disciples “as the one who serves” (Luke 22:27); now he is among them as one who is to be served. Just seeing with their human eyes is not enough. As Jesus had done in the passion predictions during his ministry, as he had done for the disciples on the way to Em­maus, as the two messengers at the tomb had done for the women on Easter morning, Jesus now opens the eyes of the Jerusalem disciples’ hearts so that they may understand the Scriptures. Luke mentions the threefold division of the Hebrew Scriptures: the teaching of Moses (the Pentateuch/ Torah), the Prophets, and the Writings (represented by the psalms). These were the Scriptures that had nourished Jesus throughout his life.

Jesus tells his disciples clearly that they cannot stay in this Jerusalem house of ecstatic joy, listening to his words and serving him at table. This experience must burst through the doors in the service of those outside, people of all nations who are waiting to hear the Good News of repentance and forgiveness of their sins. (…)

This is what the disciples are to witness. And we, who at the Eucharist also sit at the “transformed table” of Jesus, share in the same urgent mission. As individuals and as church, we must admit our own sinfulness, continually turn to Jesus in repentance, and then go out in the strength of the Eucharist we have received to bear credible, outreaching witness of the need for conversion to the following of Jesus in our own small or larger worlds. Many places in our con­temporary world are obviously not founded on repentance and forgiveness, but on war and entrenched animosities that we may publicly lament, or rationalize, or even excuse, while at the same time still allowing violence and bitterness to inhabit our hearts. If we are to be disciples who take seriously Jesus’s Easter greeting of “Peace be with you” and who offer this peace to one another around the eucharistic table with a present and future intent, we need to create a space in our lives and our hearts where such peace with God and with our sisters and brothers can truly be at home.” (Living Liturgy 2021)

Every year at the Easter Vigil the Catholic Church welcomes new members into its family through the reception of sacraments. While people can become Catholic at any time of the year, the Easter Vigil is a particularly appropriate moment for adult catechumens to be baptized and for already-baptized Christians to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church. Parishes welcome these new Catholics through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). Here at St. Francis Xavier Parish we welcomed into our Catholic community through the sacrament of baptism: James Cieri and April Evans, who during the Easter Vigil received the sacraments of Confirmation and First Communion. At the same time Adriana Molinares, who is already Roman Catholic, received the Sacrament of Confirmation. We welcome and congratulate you all on this tremendous occasion. I wish to invite our parishioners to welcome our new family members by extending words of welcome when you see James, April and Adriana at Sunday Mass or by sending them an email. At the same time, I wish to thank our RCIA team for leading and guiding the catechumens and candidate during this unprecedented time when most meetings had to take place online. I am very grateful to Ken Mariglia, the RCIA parish coordinator, who was responsible for organizing meetings during the past 7 months and keeping everything planned. I also wish to extend my appreciation to the RCIA team members who were involved in preparing and leading seasons every week: Linda Mariglia, Leorita Staresina, Frank Lupo, Marianne Grguric and Fr. Claude. Thank you as well to the RCIA sponsors who were present at the sessions and assisted the candidates: Jean Goobie, Laura Moore and Carlos Mestre.

In your prayers please remember our parishioners who passed away this week: Mariangela Suriani, whose funeral was held on Wednesday, and Nella Carniti, whose funeral was on Thursday. Both funerals took place at St. Francis Xavier Church with limited capacity due to the ongoing pandemic. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen. Please remember also the families who mourn the loss of their loved ones.

One again I am renewing my appeal to our parishioners on behalf of our Knights of Columbus.  They need your assistance during this challenging time when they cannot have any fundraising events. A few months back one of the freezers belonging to them failed and is beyond the cost of repair. They are asking if anyone would be able to donate a used stand-up freezer. If a parishioner has one that they no longer need then the Knights would be prepared to come by to pick it up. Please call the Grand Knight, Rocco Viola, at 905-662-1224 for more information.

Finally, as you know from the announcement made by the Premier of Ontario just an hour ago, as of Monday, April 19 places of worship will be limited to only 10 people in the building at a time. As of now we do not have any additional information regarding the celebration of Masses, liturgies and Sacraments from the Diocese, but the moment we know something I will send an email to all on our distribution list and post it on our website.   

You are invited to participate in Mass this weekend either in person (we remain at 15% of our seating capacity) or online. At this time we continue to live-stream the 9:00am Sunday Mass.

God bless.
Fr. Mariusz

Second Sunday of Easter, April 11 at St. Francis Xavier Parish

Dear Friends,

“This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad, alleluia”! These are the words from the responsorial psalm that we sang on the Easter Sunday Masses and the antiphon prayed in the Liturgy of the Hours during the Octave of Easter. They remind us that the joy of Easter cannot be contained just in one day but we have the whole Season of Easter to come to deeper appreciation of Christ resurrection. This Sunday is the second Sunday of Easter, also known as Divine Mercy Sunday and the Gospel recalls for us the profession of faith by Thomas. 

“Thomas had not been in the room when the risen Jesus appeared to the dis­ciples, and so has missed out on any personal encounter with him, the words of missioning, and the bestowal of the gifts of peace and forgiveness in the Spirit. John makes Thomas a foil for our own need of these gifts and our struggles with doubt and faith. Often the comments about Thomas concen­trate too much on him as a doubter (which he is never called anywhere in the gospels) and too little on his desire to touch the source of life. John’s gospel shows him to be the kind of person who blurts out the questions or comments others are too timid or too embarrassed to speak. He is ready to go along with Jesus en route to Lazarus’s grave and die with him (John 11:16); and he is hon­est enough at the Last Supper to say that none of the disciples have any idea where Jesus is heading (John 14:5). The disciples to whom the risen Lord appeared on Easter eve announce the resurrection to Thomas in the same words as Mary Magdalene spoke to them: “We have seen the Lord.” And they are just as unsuccessful in convincing Thomas as Mary had been with them. Like all disciples, Thomas needs a per­sonal experience of Jesus before he will believe. Until then, he is locked in his own criterion for faith: he wants Jesus to be “touchable.” 

So eight days later, on the next “first day of the week” according to the resurrection timeline, the risen Lord of the Sabbath stands again in the midst of his disciples, greets them with his peace, and then turns to the individual who is most in need of this. For eight days Thomas has wrestled with the dark stranger of doubt and is wounded by this struggle. The wounded, risen Jesus and the wounded disciple stand before one another. Jesus invites Thomas to stretch out his hand to the wounds of his hands and side. But there is no physical touching. Jesus’s personal presence and self-offering to Thomas touch him and demolish all doubts. Here is “the way, and the truth, and the life” that Thomas is seeking, and he responds with the most profound and personal assent of faith in all the gospels: “My Lord and my God!” For the future gen­erations who will listen to this gospel in the presence of the physically absent Jesus, the last beatitude that Jesus then addresses to Thomas is our greatest hope: “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” It is to hand on such life-giving faith, says the evangelist, that he has written his gospel. 

In his Asian Journal, Thomas Merton wrote: “Faith means doubt. Faith is not the suppression of doubt. It is the overcoming of doubt, and you overcome doubt by going through it. The man of faith who has never experienced doubt is not a person of faith. Consequently, the monk is one who has to struggle in the depths of his being with the presence of doubt, and has to go through what some religions call the Great Doubt, to break through doubt into a certitude which is very, very deep because it is not his own personal certitude; it is the certitude of God Himself, in us.” (Living Liturgy 2021)

Thank you to our parishioners who donated towards this year’s Easter flowers. The names of all those for whom we prayed at each Easter Mass have been published in last Sunday’s online bulletin on our website. Having flowers decorating the sanctuary always makes that space more beautiful and joyful. 

I am sure that many of us know this, but since Thursday, April 8 we are under a “stay at home order” lockdown due to the ongoing pandemic. That means that we can only accommodate 15% of our seating capacity at any time, including weddings, funerals and any other Masses and liturgical celebrations. But the good news is that the Church remains open and accessible for private and communal prayers. 

I wish to thank all the volunteers who assisted us during Holy Week: our lectors, ushers, musicians, decorators and altar servers, as well those who provided help in organizing different ministries. Having our volunteers helps to have the Liturgies and Masses proceed smoothly with less stress on your pastor 🙂

The Knights of Columbus need your assistance. A few months back one of the freezers belonging to them failed and is beyond the cost of repair. They are asking if anyone would be able to donate a used stand-up freezer. If a parishioner has one that they no longer need then the Knights would be prepared to come by to pick it up. Please call the Grand Knight, Rocco Viola at 9056621224 for more information.

During the past few weeks, when we were doing the online booking for the Holy Week Masses and liturgies, I was able to collect multiple new email addresses from our registration system. I am going to add those emails to the contact list for my weekly parish email that I send on Fridays, but if anyone wants to be removed from that list please email me back this request.

Please remember in your prayers our parishioners who passed away recently: Victoire Losier, Antonio Truglia and Rosa Petitti. And please pray for those who are grieving the loss of their loved ones. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

As this Sunday we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday, all are invited to join us for the Holy Hour with the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament which will begin at 2pm. During this time there will be an opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation until 3pm, when we will pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy followed by the Benediction at 3:30pm. 

Just a reminder to us all about being careful when we receive the Blessed Sacrament during Mass while having to manage our face masks. I have noticed that sometimes, as parishioners are removing their facemasks, and trying to consume the Blessed Sacrament at the same time, some pieces of the Host get broken and fall onto the floor. Please don’t rush the process. 

An update on First Reconciliation and First Communion has been sent by email to the families of all those students in Grades 2 and 3 who have been registered to receive them this spring, as well as to school staff who are involved. The information in the email is also available in the News tab of the parish website.

See you on Sunday everyone, either in person or on the livestream of the 9am Sunday Mass. 

God bless.
Fr. Mariusz

1st Reconciliation and 1st Communion – update

Dear Students, Parents, and School Staff, Happy Easter!

We hope that you and your families are all doing well. This is a follow-up to the initial letter that was sent in January regarding the upcoming celebrations of First Reconciliation and First Communion for your child/children/students.
After hearing the news of first the most recent lockdown and now the stay-at-home order, the decision has been made to postpone the celebrations of these Sacraments until (hopefully) later in this school year. Under the heightened restrictions, we are permitted to have only 15% of the church’s seating capacity filled, which for most of the schools would translate to only the students and their parents being able to attend based on the number of students that are registered. We will be working with the schools to choose new dates and will update you on those in the near future, in the hopes that the restrictions will be eased by that time so that additional family members can be present.
In the meantime, we have some resources to share with you to aid particularly those who have been learning online, or who may have had their in-class preparation for one or both of these Sacraments disrupted by the pandemic, in at-home preparations for each Sacrament. Our Diocese has suggested the following videos to watch, which cover the basics of First Reconciliation and First Communion. They are designed to help students and families to better understand what First Reconciliation and First Communion are all about and make these celebrations more meaningful.

First Reconciliation: · Sophia Sketchpad: Confession
7 min. 54 sec. – good for adults and children ·
Busted Halo Sacraments 101- (why we confess)
5 min. 9 sec. – for adults, excellent catechesis on Reconciliation but brief enough for children

First Communion: · Sophia Sketchpad: The Eucharist
6 min. 38 sec. – good for adults and children
Busted Halo Sacraments 201- (what we believe)
9 min. 18 sec. – for adults, excellent catechesis on the Mass, but brief enough for children

We also have the following resources to share with all of you, families and school staff, at this time:

Videos:
Instructions for our Celebrations at St. Francis Xavier
Please note one change from what you will see in this video: When coming forward for Communion, rather than removing your mask and consuming the host while you are standing directly in front of the priest, please first move 6 feet away from him once he has placed the host into your hand and then remove your mask, consume the host, replace your mask, and return to your seat.

Virtual Church Tour:

Handouts:
A step-by-step Confession guide and Examination of Conscience for Children
Virtual church tour worksheet (This can be submitted for the chance to win a prize! More details are in the Virtual Church Tour video.)
Preparing for First Confession (brief document with tips for parents from the Diocese)
Preparing for First Communion (brief document with tips for parents from the Diocese)
Reconciliation word search
First Communion memory page

We’ll be in touch again once a new set of dates has been chosen for each school. Thank-you for your understanding and patience during this challenging time in all of our lives. We pray that the joy of the Resurrection will fill your hearts with peace and hope during this Easter season! Our risen Lord is with us always, walking beside us at every step of our journey through life.


God bless,
Fr. Mariusz

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord at St. Francis Xavier Parish

Dear Friends,

With the celebration of Palm Sunday this weekend we enter into Holy Week, the most sacred time in the Church’s year as we prepare for the celebration of Easter. This Sunday we read the Passion narrative according to St. Mark, and I invite you to enter into this reflection:

“If the gospel accounts stopped just after Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, how would you imagine the next few days playing out? The scene could easily be imagined as a hero’s entry in advance of his great triumph soon to follow.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, his disciples must have felt the same weight of expectations, the portent of what Jesus’s entry meant, not just for them­selves, but for everyone. If Jesus was the promised Messiah, the events to come were not just concerned with the realities of one Passover in Jeru­salem or the fate of the people of Judah but with the world and, yes, the world to come. What could one do but wait with sharp expec­tancy for events to unfold?

And yet one unnamed woman does more than wait. Her actions interpret not only Jesus’s entry as the expected king, but the sort of king Jesus must be. After his entrance into Jerusalem, Jesus went to Bethany. In Bethany, “a woman came with an alabaster jar of perfumed oil, costly genuine spikenard. She broke the alabaster jar and poured it on his head.” In this action, she simply supports the reception accorded Jesus as he entered Jerusalem as the king. The mashiach (Greek, christos) is the “anointed one,” and her actions tell us that she not only understands that Jesus is the anointed one but that she has a need or responsibility to anoint him. But who is she to anoint a king?

The people gathered around Jesus, however, ask a different question: “Why has there been this waste of perfumed oil? It could have been sold for more than three hundred days’ wages and the money given to the poor.’ They were infuriated with her.” Their question is not without merit, for in scolding her they probably were attempting to voice Jesus’s concern for the poor seen throughout his ministry. Jesus asks another question, “Let her alone. Why do you make trouble for her?”

Somehow the concerned disciples have missed something. “She has done a good thing for me. The poor you will always have with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them, but you will not always have me.” Jesus’s response is not an attempt to mark out the permanence of poverty as a social problem but to note that her “good thing for me” has focused proper attention on him. Whether or not she knows the full implications of what she has done, she has directed those present to see Jesus as the Messiah, to grasp his christo­logical identity.

Her identification of Jesus as the Christ by anointing went deeper, however, than even she knew, for she could not have known that she had “anticipated anointing [Jesus’s] body for burial.” Faithful women will later seek to care for Jesus’s broken body after his death in order to anoint it with burial spices, but they would not find a body. The unnamed woman, though, already had anointed Jesus not only as a king but as the humble King who emptied himself out in death.

The humility of Jesus is reflected by the generosity of this woman, who pours out all that she has as a witness for him. Who is she to anoint a king? Given the universal significance of Jesus’s passion week, her anointing might seem a little thing, but it is the most any of us can do: she recognizes Jesus, and gives all she has for him, not understanding completely that her actions helped to prepare the King, first for his death and then for his triumph, but knowing somehow he is the Messiah.

The significance of her actions is felt when Jesus says, “Amen, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed to the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” We, too, are called to recognize Jesus the Messiah in faith, not simply as a conquering hero but as a servant willing to give himself up to death for us.” (Living Liturgy 2021)

I think that by now many of you will have heard that the provincial government has announced that, due to the increasing number of Covid-19 cases in our city, as of Monday we will enter into the “grey zone” with more restrictions in place to limit the spread of the virus. Please note that starting Monday we will ONLY be allowed to accommodate 15% of our church’s seating capacity. Some parishioners who have registered for a Mass on Easter Sunday and/or a Liturgy on Good Friday will be contacted by our parish office on Monday offering you a place at a different Mass or Liturgy that has a smaller number of bookings. This Sunday the celebration of Masses will remain at the 30% seating capacity.

Just to remind everyone that the blessing of Palms will be omitted from the celebration of Mass this Sunday, as was mentioned before in my communication 2 weeks ago, and all Masses this Sunday will begin in the usual way. Also I forgot to add before that the washing of feet at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday will be omitted as well this year as per Diocesan guidelines during the time of pandemic. 

Finally, I want to stress once again that in regard to the bookings for Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter, your booking does not reserve you a particular seat in the church. Seating will be on a first come, first serve basis and therefore please be aware with the reduced seating capacity in the church you will likely be seated in the Chapel Hall or the Great Hall.  

Congratulations to the students from our 2 elementary Schools, St. Agnes and St. Francis Xavier, who received the Sacrament of Confirmation this week through the hands of Fr. Claude and myself. We invite our parishioners to remember them in your prayers, that they may be courageous witnesses for Christ. The candidates for Confirmation from St. Clare of Assisi School will be confirmed towards the end of April due to unforeseen circumstances. 

Our Lenten Retreat for Youth and Families concludes this Sunday evening from 7-8pm on Zoom, and all are welcome to attend! This week’s theme is Holy Week. If you would like to participate and are not on the contact list, please email Wes at wmoga@hamiltondiocese.com to receive the Zoom invite. Thank-you so much to those who have facilitated and participated in our retreat!  

Once a month our youth ministry community is coming together on Zoom to pray the Rosary. All are welcome to take part! Grab your Rosary and join in this Tuesday evening, March 30, at 7:00pm as we pray and reflect on the Sorrowful Mysteries. If you are not currently on the contact list for Zoom invites from Wes, please feel free to contact her for this information at wmoga@hamiltondiocese.com. Hope to see you Tuesday!

The Stations of the Cross on Good Friday will be led by the youth of our parish in the form of a tableau with music and reflections. The Stations will begin at 7:00pm, and will also be live-streamed for those who would prefer to take part from home.

You’re invited to join us for Palm Sunday Mass in person as we gather as a believing community. For parishioners who are prevented from attending at this time we provide the live-streamed 10:00am Sunday Mass this weekend on our YouTube channel.

God bless.
Fr. Mariusz

Sunday, March 21 at St. Francis Xavier Parish

Dear Friends,

As we prepare to celebrate the Fifth Sunday of Lent, I would like to invite you to spend a few moments of your time with the Gospel reading for this Sunday.

“The gospel of this Sunday proclaims the paradoxical wisdom of emptying in order to become full, of dying so that we may be raised to new life. This is the “hour” of radical obedience and exaltation for which, from Cana, through con­troversies, festivals, and miraculous signs, Jesus has been waiting: an hour that in today’s gospel sees Jesus sought by new “first disciples,” those beyond Israel, to whom the evangelist refers as “some Greeks.” They were probably Greek-speaking Jews who had come up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. They approach Andrew and Philip, two of Jesus’s original disciples who are apparently approach­able and good at bringing others to Jesus. (Remem­ber Peter, Nathanael, and the boy with five barley loaves and two fish.) Although these seekers may have been Jews from far-flung places, John uses this episode on the threshold of Jesus’s “hour” to suggest the call of the Gentiles. Many nations who eagerly seek Jesus will be drawn into his mystery when he is lifted up from the earth on a cross; all those who will belong to the church that is meant to be multiracial and multicultural.

To explain the meaning of his “hour,” Jesus tells the parable of a grain of wheat. When it is dropped into the earth, the seed shrinks, empties itself, and dies. But in the warmth and moisture of the earth new life breaks out of the husk and bears much fruit. “Fruit” in John’s gospel means “life,” and the hour is at hand when Jesus will be buried in the heart of the earth and rise from there to transformed and transforming life.

The larger world beyond Israel now includes us. If we wish not only to see but also to follow Jesus, we must choose to empty ourselves of self-centered­ness, of the instinct for self-preservation at the expense of our sisters and brothers. Those insulated from others’ suffering, eager for good connections, popularity, and status, rather than finding and following Jesus, will lose their lives. From seeds buried in the warm love and service of others, and watered by fidelity to our baptismal commitment, the Christian community grows into the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is not easy; it was painful for Jesus, and it is painful for us. Jesus’s soul was troubled, we hear, but he embraces his hour of his own free will. He has already told the crowds, “No one takes it [my life] from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father” (John 10:18). What Jesus has done, he proclaims, has always been for the glory of his Father, and he will die because of the way he lived. The Father’s voice affirms Jesus’s proclamation, declaring that Jesus is giving glory to God, and will be glorified because of this. It is a voice, says Jesus, that speaks not so much to reassure Jesus himself, but to bring faith and encourage­ment to the bystanders.

We are now the crowd assembled around Jesus. Do we understand his words or the Father’s voice? Can we recognize his saving cross at the epicenter of the tragedies that are born of sin, planted on the seismic fault lines that threaten to open and crack our world apart: the divides between rich and poor, peace and violence, north and south, east and west? Even more important, can we allow ourselves to be drawn to the exalted cross of Christ so that we ourselves may offer from the “right place” of the cross the fruit of healing reconciliation for the glory of God?” (Living Liturgy 2021)

As I mentioned in my weekly message last Friday, we have provided numerous opportunities for Masses and Liturgies for Holy Week and Easter. Some of them are very busy already and some have a very small number of bookings. Please reserve your Mass or Liturgy as soon as possible to help us determine the number of ushers and lectors that will be needed.

This week our Confirmation candidates from St. Francis Xavier School (on Tuesday), St. Clare of Assisi School (on Wednesday) and St. Agnes School (on Thursday) will celebrate the reception of the sacrament of Confirmation. Please keep them in your prayers, that they may be courageous witnesses for Christ and his Church in the world.

Last weekend at all Lord’s Day Masses I informed our congregation about the serious problems with our two candle rooms. What’s the story? A few weeks ago, one of our long-time parishioners expressed an interest in providing financial assistance to renovate one of the rooms. To obtain the proper information about how much it would cost, we contacted the Diocese about sending a construction company to take a look at the project. During the assessment it was discovered that all of the pillars supporting the candle rooms are rotten and have been almost entirely eaten away by termites over the years, and they cannot support the windows which constitute the main portion of the walls. The recommendations from the construction company and the engineer that did the assessment are that:
– no one should be entering the candle rooms from now on because they could collapse
– the rooms cannot be simply restored – they would have to be rebuilt from the ground up.
Therefore, I wish to inform you that the candle rooms are now closed to the public and cannot be used for unforeseen future. The Diocese will provide further assessment on the situation as we go forward.

The Bishop Farrell Library and Development and Peace are partnering to offer the Reel Justice Film Festival, a series of online viewings of justice-themed films followed by opportunities for discussion. This month, on Thursday, March 25 at 6:30pm, they will be featuring the film To the Arctic. This 40 minute documentary is suitable for the whole family! An extraordinary journey to the top of the world, the documentary adventure reveals a compelling tale of survival. Narrated by Oscar winner Meryl Streep, the film takes audiences into the lives of a mother polar bear and her twin seven-month old cubs as never before captured on film, as they navigate the changing Arctic wilderness they call home. To sign up, please visit this link.  There are so many issues of injustice all over our world, it is hard to know where to begin. This is a great place to start!

This weekend is Solidarity Sunday. Share Lent has been a tradition in Canadian parishes since 1968. It was established to embody the two pillars of social action – charity and justice – that Pope Benedict XVI described as “not only social, but also spiritual actions, accomplished in the light of the Holy Spirit”. Each year, the campaign tells the stories of our sisters and brothers in the Global South. Not stories of poverty and misery, but of incredible strength, resourcefulness and courage. Development and Peace and its partners can accompany and support them in their quest for justice because thousands of Canadians donate to Share Lent every year. This year, our campaign theme is Share Love, Share Lent. It is inspired by the message of social fraternity conveyed by our Pope in his latest encyclical, Fratelli Tutti. The Solidarity Sunday collection is an opportunity to honour the Holy Father’s message as a global community and to find inspiration from the parable of the Good Samaritan which is at the centre of his encyclical. Please give generously!  Your donations make a big difference in the world. You can visit the parish YouTube channel starting tomorrow to view a video from our parish Development & Peace team to learn more about Solidarity Sunday and how you can contribute.

Our Lenten Retreat for Youth and Families continues this Sunday evening from 7-8pm on Zoom, and all are welcome to attend! This week’s theme is Repentance. If you would like to participate and are not on the contact list, please email Wes at wmoga@hamiltondiocese.com to receive the Zoom invite.

You’re invited to join us for Sunday Mass in person as we gather as a believing community. For parishioners who are prevented from attending at this time we provide the livestreamed 9am Sunday Mass on our YouTube channel.

God bless.
Fr. Mariusz

Sunday, March 14 at St. Francis Xavier Parish

Dear Friends,

We have arrived at the midpoint of our Lenten Season with the celebration of the Fourth Sunday of Lent, which is commonly known as Laetare Sunday. The name comes from the entrance antiphon reflecting on Isaiah 66:10-11: “Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her. Be joyful, all who were in mourning; exalt and be satisfied at her consoling breast.”

“Today we hear one of the most well-known and best-loved verses in the whole of John’s gospel, a verse that proclaims “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” These words are spoken in the context of the night visit of Nicodemus to Jesus. Nicodemus, a Pharisee and Jewish leader and teacher, avoids the daylight that might reveal him as associating with a man who is unpopular with the religious institution, and so arouse suspicion of Nicodemus’s own motives and stance. To be unafraid or un­ashamed of professing our friendship with Jesus by the way we live every day always brings hard demands. The German theolo­gian Eugen Drewermann gives us a memo­rable image of ourselves when, in the words of the gospel, we have “preferred darkness to light,” to that light which is the only Son of God..: “It can happen that we become like bats, like night-flying creatures who are so accustomed to the dark that our whole biorhythm is attuned to these shadowy periods, as if our eyes would be hurt and our whole lives would be turned inside out if we were dragged out of our caves and the hidden and fearful forms of our existence were exposed to the quiet regions of light and the brightness of day” (Dying We Live: Meditations for Lent and Easter).

…We all have our own caves that we need to name. Lent is designed to drag us out of their darkness into the Easter light of Christ through prayer, fasting, and the “alms­giving” of the gift of ourselves as well as the offer of material assistance to our sisters and brothers in many kinds of need.

To help the night visitor, Nicodemus, to come into the light of understanding something of his mystery and mission, Jesus uses a good catechetical approach: he talks the language of his listener. He reminds this “teacher of Israel” (John 3:10), who is very much in the dark, of a story from their own Hebrew Scriptures (Num 21:4-9). In the wilderness, the people grumble against God and are struck with a plague of serpents whose bite could cause death. The people come to Moses, admit their sinfulness, and ask him to intercede for them with God. When he does so, God tells Moses to forge a bronze serpent, fix it and raise it up before those who are stricken. If they gaze on it, they will be saved. This seems a great paradox: healing and life from gazing on a creature of death! But they obey and are healed.

In our humanity, we are all bitten by death; yet, Jesus tells Nicodemus, the God who is love wants to give us life that never ends. And so the flesh of the Son of Man will be brutally, senselessly twisted around the wood of the cross, forged by the fire of his passion and death, and raised up for our salvation. In John’s gospel, “raising” or “lifting up” always has the double sense of crucifixion and exaltation, death and resurrection, for the two movements are inseparable. To gaze with the eyes of faith on this mystery and commit ourselves to it will mean eternal life. Jesus does not come to judge, but just as turning on a light exposes what is hidden in darkness, so it is when the light of Christ shines upon us to ex­pose both good and evil. The cross that will be raised up and venerated on Good Friday will give way at the Easter Vigil to the raised Easter candle, marked with the cross of fragrant “nails” of incense, from which we catch fire and rekindle our baptismal commitment to the saving and universal love of Jesus Christ.” (Living Liturgy 2021)

Congratulations to the students from St. Martin of Tours School who received the Sacrament of Confirmation last night (Thursday) by the laying on of hands by Fr. Claude and myself (social distancing rules were observed). Please keep all our students who have received their Confirmation in your prayers, as well as those who are preparing to receive it later this month.

The schedule for Holy Week and Easter has been published in the online bulletin on our website, as well as on our Facebook page last weekend and on the doors of the church. In preparation for Holy Week and Easter we have activated an online booking system for all parishioners who intend to be present at the Masses and Liturgies during these holy days in the Church’s year. Please book your spots at those celebrations to help us determine the necessary number of musicians, lectors and if needed Ministers of the Eucharist as soon as possible. As I mentioned last Sunday, if some Masses and Liturgies have poor registration numbers then they will be removed from the schedule and all who had signed up for them will be notified by an email or a phone call so that they can book spots at one of the other available times if they wish. For parishioners who do not have access to the internet or email, please call the parish office to register.

Our Diocese has provided us with guidelines for the celebrations during Holy Week and Easter. I would like to inform you that according to those guidelines, the blessing and distribution of palms on Palm Sunday has been omitted this year due to the ongoing pandemic, as well as Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament after the Mass on Holy Thursday. The Adoration of the cross during the Liturgy of Good Friday will be only by the presiding priest. Also the singing of the Litany of the Saints during the Easter Vigil will be omitted, and the renewal of baptismal promises that takes place at the Easter Vigil and Easter Masses will happen without the sprinkling rite.

As we approach the celebration of Easter, I would like to invite our parishioners to participate in providing the “Easter Flowers”. You can like to make a donation for them in the Sunday collection basket or online through our website in memory of your family members or friends who have passed away. For the past few years now, we have dedicated all Masses on Easter Sunday in memory of those who have gone before us in faith, praying for the repose of their souls.

Our Lenten Retreat for Youth and Families continues this Sunday evening from 7-8pm on Zoom, and all are welcome to attend! This week’s theme is Almsgiving. If you would like to participate and are not on the contact list, please email Wes at wmoga@hamiltondiocese.com to receive the Zoom invite.

In your prayers please remember the souls of our parishioners who passed away this week: Fred Mastroianni and Francesco Basolini, as well as their families grieving their loss. Eternal rest, grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace.

For your convenience I wish to provide you with the schedule for Holy Week and Easter in this email:

Palm Sunday
Saturday, March 27th:       5:30pm   
Sunday, March 28th:         8:00am, 10:00am, 12:00 Noon, 4:00pm

Holy Thursday (April 1st)
Mass of the Lord’s Supper: 7:00pm

Good Friday (April 2nd
Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion:         11:00am, 1:00pm, 3:00pm
Stations of the Cross:       7:00pm

Holy Saturday (April 3rd)
Blessing of Easter Food:    12:00 Noon
Note: please remember that there is NO 5:30pm Mass on this day. 
Solemn Easter Vigil:          8:00pm

Easter Sunday (April 4th)
7:00am, 9:00am, 11:00am, 1:00pm

Please note that due to the ongoing pandemic, we are only permitted to accommodate 30% of our church’s seating capacity. All parishioners attending Masses and liturgies on Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday must register ahead of time. The registration page is on the main page. You can also register by calling or emailing the parish office. Please register as soon as possible.

And finally, this Sunday we sleep one hour less as Daylight Savings Time begins on March 14 at 2am. Please do not forget to set you clocks ahead one hour! Those who are homebound or unable to attend Masses in person at this time are invited to join us for the live-streamed celebration of Sunday Mass at 9:00 AM. Before the Mass you can also join in for the recitation of the Rosary at 8:30 am. 

God bless.
Fr. Mariusz

Sunday, March 7 at St. Francis Xavier Parish

Dear Friends,

In preparation for the celebration of Mass on the 3rd Sunday of Lent, I invite you to reflect on the Gospel reading that will be our focus this Sunday.

“We find it easy to admire – even if we do not imitate – the compassionate Jesus, but an angry Jesus armed with a corded whip, driving traders and money changers out of the Jerusalem temple and upturning their tables, may shock us. This gospel does not actually use the word “angry,” but Jesus’s actions are played out against the backdrop of the “zeal” of Psalm 69:10, and the burning passion of the psalmist for God and the house of God, the Temple, that Mark places in the mouth of Jesus. This is the zeal that will consume Jesus in the hot noon of Calvary.

The cause of Jesus’s anger is not so much the money exchange or animal trading in the outer court of the temple. Foreign coinage that bore pagan or imperial images could not be accepted for the half-shekel tax for the upkeep of the temple sanctuary, and so it had to be exchanged for acceptable temple currency with which to pay this tax and also buy sacrificial animals. John writes that “the Passover of the Jews was near,” and so those flocking to Jerusalem to celebrate this feast from all over the Roman Empire needed to buy the animals required for participation in the temple worship and the domestic rituals. They could do this most conveniently at the temple. Jesus is not unaware of the need for the money exchange, nor so naïve as not to know that petty pilfering and profiteering can be involved in these transactions. Something much more radical is happening: the reclama­tion of the holy place from marketplace to his Father’s house; from empty, atro­phied ritual to living worship.

By his “parable in action,” Jesus momentarily terminates the temple worship, reclaims it from chaos and commerce, and cleanses the privileged piece of crea­tion that is his Father’s house of prayer. No doubt a few hours later the tables were again in place, animals led back in, coins exchanged – with plenty to talk about!

Yet the disturbing Jesus does not disappear from the scene; he has more “table turning” to do. He stays to answer the criticism of his opponents who can see no further than the temple built over forty-six years by human hands or who refuse to imagine or tolerate any alternatives to the religious practices and institutions that they consider faultless and unchangeable. In this Jesus stands in the line of the Hebrew prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, and Amos, who angrily and zealously denounced triumphalism and absolutism in worship. Jesus, too, will suffer the fate of so many prophets before and after him: rejection, persecution, even death. Jesus dares to name himself as the new and living temple in which the divine pres­ence dwells. Ultimately, the sanctuary of his body will be destroyed in his pas­sion and death, only to be raised again in three days. It is only after these events that his disciples will remember and understand Jesus’s words.

The contemporary church cannot consider itself beyond the reach of Jesus’s whip or overturning hands… For us who are living stones in the temple of Christ’s Body, Lent is also a time for cleansing the deep personal sanctuary of our hearts, for driving out of our lives whatever clutters our discipleship, blocks our ears to the word of God and the prophets, and distracts us from trading justly and lovingly with the gifts God has given us.” (Living Liturgy 2021)

Last night (Thursday) we celebrated the reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation by Grade 7 students from Our Lady of Peace Elementary School. We wish to congratulate our young people on this occasion, as well their parents and sponsors, and the school staff who assisted them in preparation for the sacrament. We realize that the celebrations are different this year due to the ongoing pandemic but the grace of God in Confirmation is present and working within us. Some of you may be surprised, as I heard last night, but this year it is Fr. Claude and myself who administer the Sacrament as our Bishop has granted all pastors and associate pastors the faculty to administer Confirmation, as per the Diocesan instructions during the time of pandemic, and this faculty is in place until the end of June 2021.

This coming Thursday we will celebrate Confirmation with students from St. Martin of Tours School and their families. Please keep these candidates in your prayers.

Our Lenten Retreat for Youth and Families continues this Sunday evening from 7-8pm on Zoom, and all are welcome to attend! This week’s theme is Fasting. If you would like to participate and are not on the contact list, please email Wes at wmoga@hamiltondiocese.com to receive the Zoom invite.

Development and Peace’s annual fundraising campaign has begun. This year it is called Share Love Share Lent and is highlighting the wide variety of ways that Development and Peace works to support our brothers and sisters in the global south who suffer injustices. Much more information can be found here. A collection will be taken up at our parish on Solidarity Sunday, which this year falls on Sunday, March 21. Please give generously if you are able.

Please remember in your prayers the soul of Anna DeSimone, a long-time faithful parishioner, who passed away this week and whose funeral is tomorrow, Saturday, at 10:00am. The funeral Mass will be live-streamed on our YouTube channel. Also please pray for her grieving family. Eternal rest, grant unto her O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace. May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Join us for the celebration of the Sunday Mass in person at the regular times. We hope that more of you can start to join us in person again as you feel comfortable. For those who are not able to do so at this time we continue to livestream the 9am morning Mass on Sunday.

God bless.
Fr. Mariusz

Sunday, February 28 at St. Francis Xavier Parish

Dear Friends,

This Sunday, which is the Second Sunday of Lent, as we gather for the celebration of the Mass and to receive the Body of Christ, we will reflect on the Gospel that describes for us the transfiguration of our Lord.

“The readings present a compendium of themes that shape the Lenten sea­son. The first reading concludes the cycle of narratives about Abraham (Gen 12–23), which unfold from his call, with the promise that he and Sarah will be the parents of many nations, through the covenant and the birth of a son, the bearer of the promise (Isaac), and reaches its pinnacle in God’s command that Abraham offer Isaac as a holocaust. As one of the most treasured subjects of Christian art, the denouement of the story is familiar. At the last moment “the Lord’s messenger” intervenes; Isaac is spared, and the promise is renewed: “Because you acted as you did in not withholding from me your beloved son, I will bless you abundantly” (Gen 22:16-17).

In both Judaism and Christianity Abraham is a paradigm of faith who “when tested was found loyal” (Sir 44:20), who “hoped against hope” (Rom 4:18), and who “by faith, . . . when put to the test, offered up Isaac” because he believed in a God who could raise up the dead (Heb 11:17- 19). Also in Jewish tradition Isaac is transformed into a model of self-sacrifice who went willingly to his death, which is adopted by Christians for Jesus, “the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me” (Gal 2:20).

“Transformation” would be a better term to describe today’s gospel story, since Jesus, though in the form of God, took on the “form of a slave” (Phil 2:6-7), and is now transformed and seen as an exalted member of the heavenly court. The narrative is dense with biblical allusions. The dazzling white clothes are a sym­bol of divine presence in Daniel 7:9, while the presence of Elijah and Moses has been interpreted in a number of ways. They are symbols of the prophets and the Law; both are people who did not taste death but were exalted to heaven (Elijah in 2 Kgs 2:1-12; Moses in extra-biblical tradition); they are faithful prophets who suffered because they followed God’s word.

The deeper focus of the account emerges from the divine voice: “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him” (Mark 9:7). The transformation follows the first of three predictions by Jesus of his death by crucifixion, which the disciples consistently resist. Peter’s desire for three booths seems an attempt to substitute divine presence for the way of the cross. The same three disciples who witness Jesus’s transformation fail to watch with him during his agony in the garden (Mark 14:32-42). Mark’s readers and we ourselves are to hear the voice of a Jesus who says that the way to glory is only through the cross.

The narrative is also followed by one of the most dramatic stories in the gospel (Mark 9:14-29), the exorcism from a young boy of a destructive demon which the disciples of Jesus are powerless to combat. Raphael’s magnificent panorama “The Transfiguration,” which greets visitors to the Vatican muse­ums, captures the sequence perfectly. While Jesus and the heavenly companions are illumined in resplendent colors, the fruitless struggle of the disciples with the demon occupy the lower right-hand corner. The eye cannot help but behold the chaos of earthly evil when looking at heavenly glory.

…The deeper meaning of the narrative for Mark and for us during Lent is that even after moments of tran­scendence and transformation, we must come back to earth, continue to hear the voice of Jesus, and follow him on the way to the cross. Experience of tran­scendence is juxtaposed with the struggle against evil. The readings today encourage deep faith and trust in God.” (Living Liturgy 2021)

We are back to our regular schedules when it comes to the celebration of the daily and Sunday Masses, as well as with having the parish office reopened. When attending Masses and visiting the office you must follow all the pandemic protocols that are in place, and you are asked to please call the office to make an appointment with our secretaries before visiting.

This week we begin the celebrations of the Sacrament of Confirmation for students in Grade 7 from our five elementary schools. On Thursday evening, the first group of students from Our Lady of Peace School will participate in the Liturgy of the Word, during which they will receive the Sacrament. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the attendance is limited at 30% capacity and the candidates will be confirmed not by the bishop but by Fr. Claude and myself (this year because of the pandemic, our bishop delegated to all priests the power to give the sacrament of Confirmation). Please keep our candidates for Confirmation in your prayers. We pray that they will be strong, courageous, and enthusiastic witnesses to the world of Christ and his Church.

Today our secretaries worked extra long to have all the remaining tax receipts folded, placed in envelopes, sealed and mailed. Today was the final day to request your receipt from the parish office – they are now in the hands of Canada Post. Thank-you to those parishioners who were kind enough to pick them up or who requested a copy be sent to them by email. Doing this has saved us both time as well as some of the expense of paying for stamps and envelopes. We still had to send out more than 600 receipts. 

The One Heart, One Soul Campaign continues at our parish. We have reached $356,387 in pledges, which is 58.3% of our campaign goal. If you have not yet made a pledge and are intending to, please submit your pledge card to the Diocese.

This Sunday our Diocese observes a Holy Hour of prayer for the victims of sexual abuse and their families. It was decreed by our Bishop in the year 2019 that all parishes in our Diocese be invited to pray as a community for healing in the lives of those who have suffered from the scourge of abuse. Here at St. Francis Xavier Parish the Holy Hour will begin at 3pm with the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, followed by a time of adoration, and will conclude just before the 4pm Mass with Benediction. Please join us in prayer.

Our Lenten Retreat for Youth and Families continues this Sunday evening from 7-8pm on Zoom! This week’s theme is Prayer. If you would like to participate and are not on the contact list, please email Wes at wmoga@hamiltondiocese.com.

Our condolences to Fr. Mike Downey, our former parish associate, who grieves the loss of his mother Shirley Downey who passed away on Monday, February 22 at the age of 92 in Cambridge. The funeral Mass will take place at a later date. Eternal rest, grant unto her O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace. May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Parishioners who cannot be with us in person are invited to celebrate the Sunday Mass with us virtually on our YouTube channel this Sunday at 9am.

Have a blessed weekend everyone.
Fr. Mariusz

Sunday, February 21, 2021 at St. Francis Xavier Parish

The season of Lent is upon us! It began a few days ago with the celebration of Ash Wednesday, which also coincided with the re-opening of our church after the stay-at-home order was lifted. This Sunday we celebrate the First Sunday of Lent and follow Christ into the desert.

“Every year on the First Sunday of Lent, the gospel proclaimed is the wilderness temptation of Jesus. Mark’s account is honed to three short verses following immediately and urgently after the baptism of Jesus. The Spirit “drove” Jesus into the wilderness, says Mark. We often describe people as “driven” – by ambi­tion, lust, desperation – but what drives Jesus is the Holy Spirit. He is tossed into the physical and spiritual space where, before he begins his public ministry, before he proclaims one word of the Good News, he must struggle with two consequences of his baptism: his naming as Son of the Father and his solidar­ity with sinful humanity represented by the crowds on the Jordan’s banks who were called by John to a baptism of repentance. Now there are no crowds; Jesus is alone with the Spirit of God and the spirit of evil, with the wild beasts and the angels, with communion and conflict, with the struggle – that will persist throughout his life and death – to be the faithful Son. He is alone with the mem­ory of his ancestors and their wilderness wandering in what for them was not only a place of God’s revelation and promises, but also a place of their tempta­tions and failures. Jesus will show himself to be the most faithful Israelite. The opposition between human sin and divine presence, between the “angelic” and the “beastly,” was starkly exposed in Jesus’s own psyche. And if we are honest and mindful, we know them in ourselves and in our own struggles to be faithful sons and daughters of our same Father.

The English artist Stanley Spencer (1891–1959) painted a “wilderness series” about the life of Christ. In one of these paintings he depicts Jesus sitting on the desert sands with a “wild beast.” But the beast is not a roaring lion or a skulk­ing tiger. In his cupped hands he holds a small but deadly scorpion. Jesus is no wraith-like ascetic, but very much a plump “flesh of our flesh” man. Spencer may be suggesting that the really dangerous beasts are those small ones that can slither insidiously into our lives; the persistent sins and small infidelities that, almost unnoticed, can inject a paralyzing venom into our discipleship…

Jesus comes out from his wilderness experience strengthened for praise and pain and mission. The arrest of John the Baptist is the first storm that breaks over Mark’s gospel, but over it rises a Galilean rainbow of hope as Jesus pro­claims his first words: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” On Ash Wednesday, the last words of that proclamation were an alternative that was pronounced as we were sprinkled with ashes as baptized disciples of the tempted One and called to Lenten mindful­ness of the struggle between sin and grace, success and failure, into which we too are tossed.

The desert sand is not under our feet but in our hearts. Its grit is the daily irritations and indefinable loneliness we often feel. We need these Lenten weeks of heightened awareness of the importance of uncluttered spiritual and physical space where we can come to grips with our pain, where we can dis­cover the beauty of God and our sisters and brothers under the surface sands of our busy lives, and where we can allow our ears to be “dug out” (Ps 40:6) by closer listening to the word of God in our Sunday liturgy. We may then become much wiser about the spiritual baggage that we, as wilderness travelers, need to keep or discard in the trek toward Easter.” (Living Liturgy 2021)

Daily and Sunday Masses have now resumed at the regular times and with the pandemic protocols in place. If you are coming to the church, please remember to sanitize your hands at the stations provided in the Narthex, to wear your facemask at all times while you are inside the building, and to maintain social distancing. The parish office has also re-opened, and office hours are Tuesday to Friday from 9am to 4pm. If you need to visit the office, please make sure that you call in advance to schedule your appointment. If your request can be handled by phone or email, please use these methods to communicate with the staff in order to help minimize visitors to the office during this time.

As I mentioned in last week’s email, tax receipts for 2020 are now available at the office. You can either request to have your receipt emailed to you or make an appointment to come pick it up during office hours. They will be also available for pick-up this Sunday in the lobby of the church before the 5:30pm Saturday Mass and 9:00am and 11:00am Sunday Masses – our secretaries will be waiting there to assist you.

I would like to remind those who make their donations to the parish through our website using CanadaHelps that a tax receipt is emailed to you automatically as a PDF life each time you donate, and is not recorded in our parish system.

Beginning tonight, the Stations of the Cross will be held at the church on each Friday of Lent at 7:00pm. You are welcome to come to reflect and pray. Pandemic protocols must be followed therefore we are not able to provide you with a booklet of the Stations to follow along with.

This week we begin the Lenten Bible study entitled Forgiven; it is not too late to register! Please see the parish bulletin for additional information. Meetings will take place online so that there are no social distancing concerns – you can participate from the comfort of your home!

One last reminder to any students in Grade 5 and up who would like to participate in this year’s THINKfast, which will be held over Zoom on March 5 and 6, that the registration deadline is this coming Friday, February 26. The registration form and much more information about this event are available at this link here.

The weekly Lenten retreat for youth and families begins this Sunday evening on Zoom! More information can be found here. If you have not received the Zoom invite and would like to participate, please contact Wes at wmoga@hamiltondiocese.com.

In your prayers, please remember the soul of Lorenzo Castelli who passed away this week and whose funeral took place on Thursday: Eternal rest, grant unto him O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

I invite our parishioners who are homebound or unable to attend Masses in person at this time to join us for the live-streamed celebration of Sunday Mass at 9:00 AM, as we are now returning to our regular Sunday schedule. Before the Mass you can also join in for the recitation of the Rosary at 8:30 am, led by our parishioners.  

We hope to see you soon, everyone.

God bless,
Fr. Mariusz

MESSAGE OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS FOR LENT 2021

“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem” (Mt 20:18).

Lent: a Time for Renewing Faith, Hope and Love.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Jesus revealed to his disciples the deepest meaning of his mission when he told them of his passion, death and resurrection, in fulfilment of the Father’s will. He then called the disciples to share in this mission for the salvation of the world.

In our Lenten journey towards Easter, let us remember the One who “humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8). During this season of conversion, let us renew our faith, draw from the “living water” of hope, and receive with open hearts the love of God, who makes us brothers and sisters in Christ. At the Easter vigil, we will renew our baptismal promises and experience rebirth as new men and women by the working of the Holy Spirit. This Lenten journey, like the entire pilgrimage of the Christian life, is even now illumined by the light of the resurrection, which inspires the thoughts, attitudes and decisions of the followers of Christ.

Fasting, prayer and almsgiving, as preached by Jesus (cf. Mt 6:1-18), enable and express our conversion. The path of poverty and self-denial (fasting), concern and loving care for the poor (almsgiving), and childlike dialogue with the Father (prayer) make it possible for us to live lives of sincere faith, living hope and effective charity.

1. Faith calls us to accept the truth and testify to it before God and all our brothers and sisters.

In this Lenten season, accepting and living the truth revealed in Christ means, first of all, opening our hearts to God’s word, which the Church passes on from generation to generation. This truth is not an abstract concept reserved for a chosen intelligent few. Instead, it is a message that all of us can receive and understand thanks to the wisdom of a heart open to the grandeur of God, who loves us even before we are aware of it. Christ himself is this truth. By taking on our humanity, even to its very limits, he has made himself the way – demanding, yet open to all – that leads to the fullness of life.

Fasting, experienced as a form of self-denial, helps those who undertake it in simplicity of heart to rediscover God’s gift and to recognize that, created in his image and likeness, we find our fulfilment in him. In embracing the experience of poverty, those who fast make themselves poor with the poor and accumulate the treasure of a love both received and shared. In this way, fasting helps us to love God and our neighbour, inasmuch as love, as Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches, is a movement outwards that focuses our attention on others and considers them as one with ourselves (cf. Fratelli Tutti, 93).

Lent is a time for believing, for welcoming God into our lives and allowing him to “make his dwelling” among us (cf. Jn 14:23). Fasting involves being freed from all that weighs us down – like consumerism or an excess of information, whether true or false – in order to open the doors of our hearts to the One who comes to us, poor in all things, yet “full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14): the Son of God our Saviour.

2. Hope as “living water” enabling us to continue our journey.

The Samaritan woman at the well, whom Jesus asks for a drink, does not understand what he means when he says that he can offer her “living water” (Jn 4:10). Naturally, she thinks that he is referring to material water, but Jesus is speaking of the Holy Spirit whom he will give in abundance through the paschal mystery, bestowing a hope that does not disappoint. Jesus had already spoken of this hope when, in telling of his passion and death, he said that he would “be raised on the third day” (Mt 20:19). Jesus was speaking of the future opened up by the Father’s mercy. Hoping with him and because of him means believing that history does not end with our mistakes, our violence and injustice, or the sin that crucifies Love. It means receiving from his open heart the Father’s forgiveness.

In these times of trouble, when everything seems fragile and uncertain, it may appear challenging to speak of hope. Yet Lent is precisely the season of hope, when we turn back to God who patiently continues to care for his creation which we have often mistreated (cf. Laudato Si’, 32-33; 43-44). Saint Paul urges us to place our hope in reconciliation: “Be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20). By receiving forgiveness in the sacrament that lies at the heart of our process of conversion, we in turn can spread forgiveness to others. Having received forgiveness ourselves, we can offer it through our willingness to enter into attentive dialogue with others and to give comfort to those experiencing sorrow and pain. God’s forgiveness, offered also through our words and actions, enables us to experience an Easter of fraternity.

In Lent, may we be increasingly concerned with “speaking words of comfort, strength, consolation and encouragement, and not words that demean, sadden, anger or show scorn” (Fratelli Tutti, 223). In order to give hope to others, it is sometimes enough simply to be kind, to be “willing to set everything else aside in order to show interest, to give the gift of a smile, to speak a word of encouragement, to listen amid general indifference” (ibid., 224).

Through recollection and silent prayer, hope is given to us as inspiration and interior light, illuminating the challenges and choices we face in our mission. Hence the need to pray (cf. Mt 6:6) and, in secret, to encounter the Father of tender love.

To experience Lent in hope entails growing in the realization that, in Jesus Christ, we are witnesses of new times, in which God is “making all things new” (cf. Rev 21:1-6). It means receiving the hope of Christ, who gave his life on the cross and was raised by God on the third day, and always being “prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls [us] to account for the hope that is in [us]” (1 Pet 3:15).

3. Love, following in the footsteps of Christ, in concern and compassion for all, is the highest expression of our faith and hope.

Love rejoices in seeing others grow. Hence it suffers when others are anguished, lonely, sick, homeless, despised or in need. Love is a leap of the heart; it brings us out of ourselves and creates bonds of sharing and communion.

“‘Social love’ makes it possible to advance towards a civilization of love, to which all of us can feel called. With its impulse to universality, love is capable of building a new world. No mere sentiment, it is the best means of discovering effective paths of development for everyone” (Fratelli Tutti, 183).

Love is a gift that gives meaning to our lives. It enables us to view those in need as members of our own family, as friends, brothers or sisters. A small amount, if given with love, never ends, but becomes a source of life and happiness. Such was the case with the jar of meal and jug of oil of the widow of Zarephath, who offered a cake of bread to the prophet Elijah (cf. 1 Kings 17:7-16); it was also the case with the loaves blessed, broken and given by Jesus to the disciples to distribute to the crowd (cf. Mk 6:30-44). Such is the case too with our almsgiving, whether small or large, when offered with joy and simplicity.

To experience Lent with love means caring for those who suffer or feel abandoned and fearful because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In these days of deep uncertainty about the future, let us keep in mind the Lord’s word to his Servant, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you” (Is 43:1). In our charity, may we speak words of reassurance and help others to realize that God loves them as sons and daughters.

“Only a gaze transformed by charity can enable the dignity of others to be recognized and, as a consequence, the poor to be acknowledged and valued in their dignity, respected in their identity and culture, and thus truly integrated into society” (Fratelli Tutti, 187).

Dear brothers and sisters, every moment of our lives is a time for believing, hoping and loving. The call to experience Lent as a journey of conversion, prayer and sharing of our goods, helps us – as communities and as individuals – to revive the faith that comes from the living Christ, the hope inspired by the breath of the Holy Spirit and the love flowing from the merciful heart of the Father.

May Mary, Mother of the Saviour, ever faithful at the foot of the cross and in the heart of the Church, sustain us with her loving presence. May the blessing of the risen Lord accompany all of us on our journey towards the light of Easter.

Francis

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