Sunday, 25 November 2012

Life in the midst of suffering and pain

As we bring the Church’s liturgical year to a close (next Sunday is the First of Advent), we celebrate the feast of Christ the King.

Jesus’ Kingdom is no earthly kingdom. It is a Kingdom of the heart, the holy place within us where we know and experience Divine Life, eternal and unitive Life. 

In the Gospel for today, Jesus is before Pilate. Jesus the “King,” is to be scourged and crucified. Jesus is broken and wounded. 
To follow Jesus Christ and to live a “Kingdom” life IS NOT TO SUGGEST that we will avoid suffering and pain and loss in life.

To follow Jesus Christ and to live a “Kingdom” life IS TO SUGGEST that we can discover and live a satisfying life even in the midst of our suffering and pain.

Brokenness and suffering is very much a part of the human condition. Everyone of us are broken and suffer in various ways throughout our entire life. Our suffering and pain should not rob us of a satisfying and fulfilling life. Yet many people allow themselves to be consumed with that which is not right in their lives.
Jesus shows us the way to be open to a Love filled life even in the midst of suffering. During the trial and crucifixion of Jesus, the great evil and the pain did not become a barrier to Him Knowing the Father, and continuing to love those around him. He remained centered in the Father’s Love.
Because the power of the Cross of Christ the King, we are made free to also remain centered in the Father’s love. This is what it is to begin to experience the Kingdom of God – an openness to the Divine Love that neither sin, suffering, or death can separate us from.
Today we celebrate and give thanks to Christ our King, for the truth, life and love that He has opened up for us.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

NHL: Millionaire's fighting with Millionaire's over who gets more Millions

I love hockey.

I can remember trying out for the atom team at St.Bon's, in that old and small rink behind the school, in 1971 when I was in grade 2 (that's a long time ago!!). And I've played hockey right up through high school, when I joined the Military, and even now as an older man, I continue to play in a recreational league. I was never very good at it - I was always a "3rd" line player. But I've always enjoyed the fun of the sport and the fellowship of the team.

And I've always enjoyed watching NHL hockey. Growing up, Bobby Orr was my hero. And I loved the rivalry between teams like Boston and Montreal. I remember fondly the excitement in the voice of the CBC commentator as he would describe Guy Lafleur racing down the ice.

In 1975, at the height of hockey's legendary players, the average player salary was $25,000 a year.

These hockey legends played professionally because they loved the game. They weren't well paid, but they did what they loved. Having said that, I certainly think it right that as Hockey revenue's went up in time, salary's and security should also go up - but not to the point where it is today.

I actually find this latest NHL lockout disgusting. It is the heights of greed. Millionaire players fighting with Millionaire owners over who gets more millions for playing a game.

50% of the world population lives on less than $2.50 a day. 80% of people live on less than $10 day. There are numerous justice and equality issues that are urgent and very real - not a game.

Just this week we commemorated Remembrance Day, remembering Canadian Service men and women who have offered their lives for those who could not and cannot help themselves - for an average salary!

I love the game of hockey. It is Canada's game.
But it seems to me that the NHL has become someone else's game.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Remembrance Day Thoughts

Remembrance Day, November 11, 2012

Today our country is commemorating Remembrance Day. 
And also today the Church is hearing the story of the widow’s mite: the giving of our all.

God’s Life & the Church’s Mission
The life that we live is God’s life. It is not ours to cling to, but God’s to share. The Church’s mission is to awaken this truth of unitive Love and Life within the heart of every human being.
Awakened and Transformed
As our hearts are awakened, like the widow and her mite, a transformation begins to take place that has a ripple effect.

As our hearts are transformed into self giving, our homes are transformed, our church is transformed, our community is transformed, our province is transformed, our country is transformed, our world is transformed. 

Self Giving and Sacrifice
This requires, as with the Widow, and foundationally with Jesus, self giving and sacrifice for the benefit of others. 

Remembrance Day
Today is Remembrance Day, and we are remembering the men and women of our Armed Forces who have offered themselves for the benefit of others who could not help themselves. 

Today we are remembering those who responded to the call to battle evil in conflicts such as:
  • The Second World War and the evils of Facism and Marxism. 
  • Crotia and the evils of ethnic cleansing.
  • Afghanistan and the political extremism and Terrorism of the Taliban.

Our Neighbours
The people of Europe in the 1940’s, the people of the Balkin’s  in the 1990’s, the people of Afghanistan in the early 2000’s...
...All of these people are our neighbours, made in the image of God, and we are united with them in the very same Divine Spirit that we share and that we are.

Societies that know the gift of freedom and equality have a responsibility to find ways to offer something of ourselves for the benefit of those who cannot help themselves.

Some of My Own Story
During the Second World War my father and six of his brothers offered themselves to fight the evils of Hitler’s Facism.

As a chaplain in the Canadian Forces in the 1990’s, I had to help prepare soldiers and families for the conflict in Crotia. 

In 2011 my eldest son offered himself to fight the evils of Taliban extremism and terrorism in Afghanistan.

I’ve had to reflect on such sacrifices in a very personal way. And I’ve had to ask myself “Is it worth it?” And the answer is Yes. It is Freedom's responsibility.

Jesus asks us to lay down our lives for our neighbours. The widow in todays Gospel offers her all. Free and equal people are called to help those who cannot help themselves.

So today, let us remember and give thanks for our men and women of our Armed Forces who have sacrificed themselves for others.

And may their sacrifice not be lost as we continue our stand against evil and injustice in our world.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Material things don't satisfy our deeper human needs

A rich young person came to Jesus and asked  What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

You or I with all of our material wealth living in a country like Canada could ask What do I have to do to make the most of my life? Or, What do I have to do to know and become more aware of a life now in God?
Jesus' initial response to the young person is to ask if he's kept the commandments. But that by itself is not enough to inherit the fullness of life. The Commandments are a great place to start, but we have to go deeper than the commandments as we mature in faith and life.

The next thing that Jesus did was to look at the young person and love them, “Jesus looked at him and loved him.”
Yet this rich young person missed this Divine gaze of love. He was too consumed with his "things" and other distractions that he was unable to see and know God's love for him. 

Yet this is where it is at! Becoming more aware of the Lord’s love for us is where true and lasting treasure is to be found.

Material things are fleeting and they do not satisfy our deepest needs. Maturing spiritually is to learn to detach from material things. Maturing spiritually is to learn to detach from all which is not in this present moment (including things, thoughts, memories, distractions).
As we mature in faith, as we learn to detach from material things and inner distractions, and to desire more and more the spiritual awareness of the Lord’s love for us, we actually “receive” the Holy Spirit and know eternal life.

If we are going to have a more full and meaningful life, regardless of what material things we have or don't have, we need to get on our knees, open our hearts,  and say “Lord, I need your Love.”

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Thankfulness in Brokenness

Today many families are celebrating Harvest Thanksgiving. Yet many families will struggle today because of broken relationships within the family.

Today’s Gospel is about divorce. What a subject to reflect on for Thanksgiving!

Because this is a painful issue, and because so many people are affected by it, is not a reason for us, the Church, to avoid it.

The same goes for:
  • Adultery and not understanding and respecting the boundaries around covenant marriage.
  • Fornication, especially with adolescents and young people.
  • Homosexuality and the need for intimacy with someone of the same gender. 
  • Abortion and the sanctity of all human life.

These are examples of difficult and painful issues. They are real and present in people’s lives, and need to be dealt with compassionately. 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus was teaching against divorce for “Any Matter” (which was an ongoing debate with his contempories). In fact, the Scriptures do allow for divorce for infidelity, emotional or physical neglect or abuse.

Regardless of what the Scriptures say or don’t say about divorce, or any other moral issue, the fact remains that mistakes happen, and that people end up broken and wounded.

Historically, the Church has beaten people up with the morality straight jacket; that is, in our  obvious weaknesses we are to see ourselves as miserable sinners who are separated from God. This has been done with the absolute neglect of encouraging an authentic and deepening inner life.

It's not our morality that is most important, but our awareness of being united to God's Divine Life, regardless of the mistakes that we make. The more aware we are of our Divine Union, the more moral we will become, and not the other way around!

We are, all of us, broken and wounded, and the Lord desires to love us into healing, wholeness, restoration, joy, love and fullness of life!

And as the Church, we don’t judge anyone. As we recognize the garbage in our own lives, and our need for lifelong healing and conversion, the Holy Spirit convicts us, and changes us.

Therefore as the Church, We stand with one another, in the presence of our Lord, to help each other up when we fall, when we are broken, when we are hurting, when we are confused.

That is what I give thanks for today.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Who do you follow?

These days, asking someone who they follow, the first thing they may think of is Twitter or Facebook!

The truth is that we all "follow" someone. There are people in our lives whom we look to encourage us, inspire us, to model our lives after. That could be someone we know personally, someone of influence in society, someone of interest in history.

Abraham Lincoln is a national leader who inspires me because of his commitment to freedom and equality for all people. Nelson Mandela inspires me because of his ability to overcome adversity and change a nation. My wife is someone whom I look up to and inspires me in how we live together as a family. Bobby Orr is my hockey hero that I look up to. Max, my dog, inspires me to play and have fun.

But of all the ones that I look up to, it is Jesus who is the most important Person that I follow.

The Church historically has done injustice to what it means to follow Jesus. Following Jesus is not about the moral do's and don'ts. Following Jesus is about a deepening awareness of our absolute Oneness with Divine Life. Morality needs to be consequent to a deepening and maturing inner life. That is what Jesus reveals to us.

Because of the Cross of Jesus, I can know and experience forgiveness in my life.
Because of Jesus, I can know non-judgemental compassion toward all people.
Because of Jesus, I can know the power of Divine Love, the Holy Spirit, to reconcile and unite.

As I follow Jesus, I learn to travel within my heart and mind. I learn to know the silence and stillness at the very center of my existence. It is in this Holy Silence, this Holy Ground, that I know that I am one with God, and one with you. It is out of this sacred place that we can support one another in our struggles, respect our differences, celebrate our sameness.

As I follow Jesus, I know a peace that no one else can give.

Who do you follow?

As Jesus and his disciples were proceeding on their journey, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” And to another he said, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.” And another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.” Jesus answered him, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.”

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Welcome Back to Church!

Welcome to Back to Church Sunday!

What is Church?
Is it the building? No. That’s why we call the place where we gather an Oratory - which means "place of prayer."
Is it the people? Yes. And we gather together as Church in order to encounter the living God in Word, Sacrament and in each other. 

The gathered church is a place where we come to discover and explore the purpose and meaning of life.

The gathered Church is a place where we come to encounter Jesus Christ risen and alive. 

The gathered Church is a community that seeks to serve the needs of others. 

The call of Back to Church Sunday is really a call Back to Life.

- the church is place to come to get your life together.
- the church is a place where there are hypocrites, and there is always room for one more!
- the church is a place where you can wear whatever kind of clothes you want to wear.
- the church is a place where it is ok to doubt and not necessarily believe the same things.
- the church is a place for men, women, children, old and young.
- the church is a place where your past is forgiven.
- the church is a place where it is ok to not be ok.
- the church is not about religion as much as it is about relationship.

To be Church is to…have a heart and mind that is changing and maturing in Christ. It is to be in relationship with God and one another. It is to be reaching out in love and care to a hurting and broken community and world. 

Lets change our hearts and minds and give them to the Love that is Christ.
Let us make His Love known.
Let us change our families, communities and  world for good.

Welcome back to Church!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Does Religion cause War?

There is so much war and conflict in our world. Every time we turn on the news, there is conflict, death and destruction somewhere. And often time it seems to have some kind of religious connection. One of the headlines over the last week has been the violent protests in parts of the Muslim world in reaction to a Western film about Mohammad.

War and violence stems from Ideological Extremists in every area of human community - extremist religious or secular ideology, extremist political or economic ideology. History shows us examples of extremism from all of these areas.

Extremism is about being closed minded. Extremism is about seeing oneself as different or superior than another. Extremism is about being threatened by that which is different that oneself.

Extremism does not only play itself out on the world stage of politics and war, it plays itself out in families, schools, workplaces and communities with "emotional" violence and abuse towards those who may seem different from "us" or who do not think like "us."

The remedy for all forms of extremism is to seek to become more open minded. "Open Minded" is a spiritual or inner stance, where a person learns to go deeper inside themselves, to become more aware of your own inner issues that need to be acknowledged and healed. In the process of becoming more "at home" within ourselves, not only will we find that we are less threatened by that which is different from us, but we will also become more aware of the One Source of Life that we all share and live out of. We will become more aware that we are in fact One and Equal in God's Divine Life.

It is out of this center, this Holy Place, that each of us, one by one, will become agents of peace and transformation in our world.

Religion, at a deep and mature level, is not the source of war, but the way to peace.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Faith and Works

The Gospel calls us to come to know who Jesus Christ is, to deny our selves, and to follow Him in our service to others. 

To do this requires faith, and it requires hard work.

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works?” (James)

Faith is not…
Faith is not simply saying that one believes in Jesus.
Faith is not simply going to the liturgy with the church.
Faith is not simply saying prayers.

If this is all faith is to you, then it is a dead faith.

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works?…faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”

Faith is …
Faith is an inner consent to that Life which is bigger than we are.
Faith is a saying yes to the life of Christ within us and amongst us.

Faith brings us to the point of being able to say with St.Paul that it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.

Faith causes us to seek to serve Christ in every single other person we encounter.

Faith and Works
So once we come to the realization that Christianity is not just about what we think and say, but also about what we do, our WORKS, then I would like to suggest that there are at least two modes of how we carry out Christ’s works: individually and corporately.

At home, in our work places, when we are out in the community getting on with our personal lives, we are to acknowledge and respond to Christ in all whom we meet.

In addition to living out our faith in our individual lives, we also need to be involved in the “works” of our local church. 

It is not enough for you to come in here on a Sunday morning, say your prayers, and to leave without doing something to contribute to our shared work in serving the needs of others. 

“Financial” support of our Work
To do the ministry and work that we are involved in, yes, it requires your proportional and consistent financial support. 

“Personal Gift” support of our Work
We all have different gifts, and we all have “A” gift. Whether it be music, visiting the shut in, preparing meals for the bereaved, serving in the café, operating the sound room, etc, we all have gifts to offer in our shared work of ministry.

“Time” support of our Work
In addition to your financial support, and the offering of your personal gifts, your TIME to share in our Corporate Work for Christ is absolutely crucial.

There is a lot of ministry happening in this parish. Therefore we need a lot of help.

Do you want a faith that is dead, or do you want a faith that is alive?
Do you want to belong to a church that is dead? Or to a church that is alive?

Then get yourself involved in the work that we do.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

We are all wounded and in need of healing

In the Gospel of Mark we read that “They brought to him a man who was deaf and who had an impediment in his speech.”

They brought to Jesus a person who was in need of healing. The truth is that every single one of us are in need of healing!

Woundedness comes in so many forms:
  1. Physically 
-       arthritis setting in.
-       backs giving out.
-       cancer eating at the body;
-       etc.
  1. Psychologically
-       anxiety
-       depression
-       mental illness
-       etc
  1. Emotionally
-       dealing with job loss;
-       the stress of having to relocate;
-       having to manage change;
-       broken relationships;
-       managing memories and experiences from our past.
-       Etc.
  1. Spiritually
-       life loosing meaning;
-       the empty ache at the core of our being;
-       restlessness.
-       Unhappiness.
-       Etc.

Every single human being is wounded in some way and is in need of healing!

Why the Church exists

The Church exists in order to “change” people.
The Church exists to heal humanity.

There is healing in the daily, loving relationships within the community of the church.
There is healing in the hearing of the Word of God.
There is healing in the worship.
There is healing with the holy oils that we use in the liturgy.
There is healing as we share in the Body and Blood of Christ.

My friends, Jesus heals!

And every single one of us has a role to play in this healing ministry of the Church.

First of all, let us recognize our own need for healing. Everyone here is broken in some way.

We need to acknowledge our own hurt and pain and invite the Lord to come along side.

As you worship with your heart, as you hear the Word of God, as you receive and participate in the Holy Eucharist, allow the Lord to work in your life and touch you and heal you in ways that only His Love can.

Secondly, as in our Gospel today, “They brought to Him a man who was in need of healing.”
As we experience the Lord’s healing love, we need to bring others to that experience.

What are you doing to encourage and bring others along to encounter Christ?
We should never tire of inviting others to come to our Sunday liturgy, café, or programs.
No greater gift can we give a friend than to meet the Lord of Life.


Open up your broken hearts and minds to the Lord of Life.
Let Him in.
Don’t be afraid.
Let Him love you.
Let His love touch your brokenness.
And may you know His Life in all its fullness.
Then bring along a friend to also meet the Lord of life.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

I am not worthy

As a parish priest, I encounter people from time to time who say to me that they "are not worthy to go to church."

The truth is that we have all done things in our lives that we are sorry for or that we need to be sorry for. We all make mistakes, and it is important that we do have some sense of guilt for harm that we cause to others and ourselves. But once we work through our guilt, do what we can do on our part for reconciliation, and seek to adjust and change, then we move forward with a new beginning.

Will we keep on making mistakes? Yes. But hopefully we are becoming more self aware in the process, and therefore becoming less judgemental of others. As we recognize our own need for understanding, compassion and forgiveness, then we should be developing a greater awareness of non-judgemental compassion towards others.

In other words, as I experience more and more the power of the Cross of Christ in my own life, I should be becoming a more forgiving person towards all others.

Some say "Because I make mistakes in my life, then I am not worthy to go to church." Not true.
Others say "Because the church is filled with people who make mistakes, I don't want to be part it." Shouldn't be true.

Because you are not perfect, you should be coming to church in order to experience the power and wonder of God's love and forgiveness. And as you become part of this healing process, you can become part of the reaching out to and the necessary healing of those around you.

Richard Rohr writes that "religion's main job is to reconnect us to the Whole, to ourselves, and to one another - and thus heal us." No matter what mistakes we've made in our lives, at a deeper level of consciousness, we are in fact not separate from God nor from one another.

You are worthy to come to church. The church needs you. The world needs a compassionate and non-judgemental Church.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Our Thoughts Matter

Is there more to our lives than just the routines and rules of our jobs? Of our responsibilities at home?
Is there more to being Church than sitting through liturgy?

External Ritual (Mark 7:1-5)
“Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders?” 

The religious leaders of the day are asking Jesus why he does not keep all of the traditions and rituals.

External tradition, rituals, or rules are necessary in any and all forms of organization and community life. But, if we are to live more meaningful lives, there has to be more than just the “rules.” 

The “Disconnect”
“this people honours me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (v.6)

Jesus contrasts the disconnect between the external life and the inner life, and challenges us to give priority to what is going on inside of us.

The call to LEARN the way of Jesus
“hear me all of you, and understand…” (v.14)

In order to develop a spiritual life, and for it to mature in such a way that our “outer lives” will flow more naturally out of our spiritual lives, we need to learn to understand the way of life that Jesus is teaching us through practices like Bible study, Christian education programs, worship, the practice of meditation, serving the needs of others.


What is “within” is what defiles
“Nothing that enters one from the outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.” (v.15)

Attitudes, words, and behaviours are reflections of what is going on inside of us. “From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts….and they defile.” (v.21)

The inner life, spiritual life, is the life of our THOUGHTS!
The Lord is calling us to learn to get a handle on our thoughts!

Christian life is firstly a commitment to the inner, spiritual life.
An inner life that is directed by the Spirit of God.
An inner life that is filled with freedom and love.
An inner life that reflects itself in lives that are compassionate, merciful, filled with joy, peace and love.
An inner life that reflects Jesus Christ in what we think, what we say and what we do.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Difficult Biblical Teaching

The Hebrew and Christian Scriptures are filled with difficult sayings and teachings.

In today's Gospel from St.John we hear...“Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood you have no life in you...[and then some of the disciples say] This is a difficult teaching, who can accept it?”

In today's New Testament reading from the letter to the Ephesians we hear  "wives, submit yourselves to your husbands."
How do we deal with difficult Scriptural teaching? Do we read the Bible literally? Or do we read it in its cultural and historical context?

I know my wife is certainly not going to submit to me! And that is because the Christian objective of freedom and equality for all has worked its way to fruition in our society over the centuries.

The cultural context for "wives, submit yourselves to your husbands" is from a time when women were understood to be property, given away and traded in marriage, and were indeed less important in society than men. Knowing that, what the writer to the Ephesians does is actually take a step forward for the dignity of women when he says "husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her."

The bigger issue is how do we interpret Scripture?

In the Anglican approach is: Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience.

We read Scripture in the context of a living tradition that has formed the Bible as we now have it, the same living tradition that continues to handle and interpret the Scriptures in every generation. Our use of reason is a very important aspect of how we interpret Scripture - what we teach from Scripture has to be reasonable. And Experience is the final component that we apply in our approach to Scripture. How does our human experience inform our understanding of Sacred Scripture?

Even with this approach, we still have two options to choose from when it comes to difficult teaching – Scriptural teaching that we don’t understand or agree with.

The first choice is to dismiss it (like those in the Gospel today) and throw it out as meaningless or irrelevant. The other choice we have is to struggle with the teaching or issue. St.Augustine of Hippo, in his book “On Christian Doctrine,” encourages this struggle with difficult Biblical teaching.

We need to come to terms with the truth that it is only in struggling with the Biblical issues, in the light of the teaching tradition of the Church, and coupled with reason and experience, that the Holy Spirit will lead us into the fullness of Christian Truth.”

The easy choice is to dismiss it, the mature and life-giving choice is to struggle with it.

For those of us who can struggle with and accept the words of Jesus, be gripped by His Love and can enter into relationship with Him, we can say with Peter 

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Food for Life

In order for us to live healthy and balanced and satisfying lives, there are so many areas of the human makeup that needs to be properly fed and nourished. We have biological, psychological, sociological, financial needs that have to be met. 

Yet the greatest area of the human experience that must be discovered and properly nourished is the foundational Life that we are.

Today the Church is continuing to reflect on the “Bread of Life” sayings of  John’s Gospel (6:51-58).

“unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.”
“whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day”
“For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink”
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood REMAINS in me and I in him”
“…the one who feeds on me will have life because of me”

Do you want a more full and meaningful life? 
Then we need to ask the question …

What does it mean to “Remain” in Christ? 
In other words, what does it mean to remain in "Life?"

What does it mean to remain in Christ, return to Christ, come back to Christ, long for Christ, desire Christ, hunger for Christ, thirst for Christ?

When we are not consciously in Christ, not AWARE of the Loving Divine Life that we share, then we are actually less alive.

That is to say, when Divine Life – the living Word of God, the Love that is God – is not at the center of our consciousness, we are in fact spiritually less alive.

When we REMAIN in Him – with His Word on our minds and His love in our hearts - we are more awake, free and alive.

This is a fundamental truth of Christian living.

Feeding on Distractions
What Jesus is saying to us, is that when we allow distractions, the unimportant changing details of life to consume us, to take over our consciousness – being all that we THINK about – then we are among the living dead, not fully alive.

Jesus says to us, do not feed on such unimportant and sometimes evil things.  You are robbing yourselves of freedom and fullness of life.

Feed on Me
Jesus says, think about Me. 
In silence, know and experience my love for you in your heart.
Think about and remember my words, keep them in your mind.

**Keep returning to my words and to my love.**

Feed on me and you will know a life that will never end.
Feed on me and you will never die.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The Supreme Sacrifice: Maximilian Kolbe

Today the Church is honouring Maximilian Kolbe. During the Nazi occupation of Poland, he helped thousands of refugees, including Polish Jews. He was arrested by the Gestapo in 1941 and imprisoned at Auschwitz. Three months after Maximilian's arrival, a prisoner escaped and, in retaliation, 10 men were chosen at random to die. One of them was a young father and Maximilian offered to take his place. His offer was accepted.

In October of 1982, Pope John Paul II canonized St.Maximilian. At the Vatican for that ceremony was the family and descendants of the man that Maximilian exchanged his life for. Wow.

What a powerful story and witness.

As Christians we are called to strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being. We are called to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

Maximilian Kolbe knew and experienced at a deep level the one Life that we all share in Christ. He recognized that Divine Life in the Polish Christian and Jewish refugees whom he risked his life to help. He recognized that Life in the young father who was one of the 10 chosen for execution - when he offered his life in exchange.

Maximilian Kolbe knew and followed the Master of Life. He respected the dignity of every human being regardless of cultural and religious differences. He served the needs of those around him by offering his own life.

Let us be inspired by Maximilian to come to know Christ more, and to offer our lives in serving and responding to the needs of others. This is the hope of the world.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Focused Living That Effects Others Positively

Two weeks ago the church was reflecting on the story of the feeding of the 5000. 5000 people in need, with few people and resources to respond, but with faith in Christ, those needs were met.

Last week the church began reflecting on Jesus’ “Bread of Life” sayings. The feeding of human needs at a deeper level than just the physical.

Regardless of what is going on in our lives or what is not going on in our lives, it is only Jesus, the Bread of Life, that can meet our deepest needs and desires. In the process of our needs being met, The Lord then sends us out to love and care for and help meet the needs of others.

Newsflash: The church exists to serve those who are not in the church!! The church is not a private club for “members only.” Nor are we only here to serve those who are here. OUR MANDATE IS TO SERVE THOSE WHO ARE NOT IN THE CHURCH.

But for us to effectively care for others and be instruments of transformation in our society, we must first come to Christ. 

 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him…”

How does this divine encounter happen and then mature?

“Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from Him comes to me.”
We need to learn how to listen and respond to the Word of God.

There is a popular nutritional saying “you are what you eat.”
There is also a spiritual saying “you are what you focus on.”

Focused hearing
Learning to meditate and focus on the Word of God as a regular part of daily life.

Focused Silence
Practicing sacred silence where we simply learn to rest and be still in the Love that is God. 

Focused action
The practical love that we show to one another in our common life as a church and as we reach out to those around us.

So my friends, let us mature in our feeding on the Bread of Life, listening to the Word of Life, and the silence of Holy Life and love-filled communion. And as our emotional and spiritual needs are met, let us together as a church and in the power of Christ, strive to reach out more effectively and feed the needs of those around us.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

The Canadian Women's Soccer Loss to the USA

What an amazing soccer game yesterday between Canada and the USA women's teams. The determination, the team work, the amazing goals. Another great Olympic match where someone has to win and someone has to lose.

Apparently the Canadian team, with new coaching over the last year, has done a 180 degree turn in how it is playing. The same team had to fold and withdraw in a world class event only a year ago.

So to have come to the Olympics, and to have risen to such a high standing, is an absolutely tremendous accomplishment for the team as a whole.

But the loss because of an incompetent referee call is very difficult to swallow. For a game that will decide who goes to the gold medal match to be determined by such bad refereeing is a major obstacle for any team to overcome.

Yet life and sport is full of disappointing losses and bad decisions by others that we cannot control.

A true winner is one who can pick themselves up after loss and disappointment, and start again playing as hard as they can.

Canada's women's soccer team has responded well to good coaching over the last year, and are playing their game much better. I'm sure that with that same approach to coaching and encouraging, they will play well and hard in the bronze medal game. And win or lose, they are winners in my eyes.

We can all learn from good coaching and encouragement, and how to deal with loss and disappointment.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Sunday Reflection

Valerie and I have had a wonderful holiday. Relaxing, restful.
St.Anthony, a 4th century desert father, wrote that the strings on an instrument need to be relaxed from time to time, in order to keep them from breaking.
Holidays are about that relaxing of the instrument in order to keep it from breaking. 
Holidays also can enable us to gain or regain perspective on what is most important in our lives.
  • what we need in life.
  • what we are striving for in life.
Holidays, for me,  is also about reading books!! This summer, among other books, I have been enjoying an historical fictional novel Camelot in 5th century Briton.
Camelot, the striving for a just society
The novel is about:
  • the invasion of Saxons onto the island of Briton, and how both peoples developed and integrated.
  • it is also a story of how the druid religion of Briton was replaced by Rome’s Christianity.
  • Merlin, the famous druid, thinks that Briton can only be saved by finding the cauldron and returning to the old Briton religion. 
  • Author, the Warrior King, wants peace and justice for the people of Briton, and he thinks that this can only happen with a strong army, good laws and government.
  • Christianity, at this stage in its development, and which is not understood by many of its practitioners, is somewhere in the middle. 
Striving for meaning
What is interesting about the novel, and about the history, is that it is a story about striving for meaning, for truth, for justice and for peace.
This is true in the history of every society.
This is also true in the development of every human being.
Todays Gospel
In the Gospel today (John 6:24-35), the people are looking for Jesus. They are looking for more out of their lives. They are among those 5000 whom Jesus has fed, and now they are striving for more.
We are all striving for meaning and satisfaction in life, and today's Gospel what it is that can meet our deepest needs is...
The Bread of God
“The bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
And Jesus says:  “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” 
My Perspective
I’m fresh off of holidays. Rested, relaxed.
I am renewed in the perspective that I have a lot of things to be thankful for.
I have a beautiful wife who loves me.
I have three beautiful and healthy children.
We have a wonderful home and domestic life.
I am able to travel and see different parts of the world.
I live in the great country of Canada, and the tropical island of Newfoundland.
I even have a great little doggie.
But you know, I have also come to the renewed perspective, that all of those things don’t and can’t meet my deepest needs.
My greatest hunger, my greatest needs, my greatest striving, is satisfied only as I feed on Jesus Christ, the bread of life.
It is Jesus that I need to seek out and feed on.
The same is true for you.
The same is true for our society.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

My Summer Holidays

Valerie and I have just completed our summer holiday, and, as wonderful as it was, it is good to be back at my work  in the parish.

Holidays are such an important part of the rhythm of the year. In the midst of our daily responsibilities, both at home and professionally, it is important to our health and well being to be able to look forward to and to enjoy the experience of holiday rest.

I began my summer holiday this year by hosting a priest colleague from Kingston, Ontario. We offered them good old Newfoundland hospitality, and they were very impressed by the experience and the province. We visited Trinity, Bonavista, Port Rexton, Conception Bay North, and of course St.John's. They got to experience Newfoundland theatre in Trinity, see the Puffins in Bonavista, beach fire in Port  Rexton, and the Masterless Men on George Street. They loved it.

After we put them on the plane back to Ontario, Valerie and I visited her dad and his wife in Twillingate. They showed us around all the beautiful communities, feasted on lobster, and even had some duet music happening.

After Twillingate, and because we have had no summer for at least the last two years, we had decided to try a trip down south in July (to guarantee at least some degree of summer). As it turned out, we could have stayed home and gotten just as much sun as we did down south! The trip was certainly very relaxing.

Beach and Ocean

For both Valerie and I, our garden is also a place of peace and rest and holiday. We put a lot of work into our garden, which we enjoy doing; but we also simply enjoy being "in" our garden.

Herb Garden

Green House cherry tomatos


Cucumber, Green Pepper, Lettuce



Holidays are certainly about rest and relaxation, but can also be about spending time with family and friends. And although we had family time going on throughout our holiday, the last weekend we put a little push on. Andrew, our youngest, has been working on the mainland during the summer. So the best we could do with him was have some "FaceTime" on the iPhone. Victoria and Valerie had a "mother and daughter" weekend and got their nails done. Matthew and I spent the weekend golfing in Gander - which included the "Head Hunter" triple hamburger from Jungle Jims!

It has been a wonderful holiday, for which I am very thankful.

And I pray that I have been granted the rest and re-creation that is required to continue to love and serve the community in the power of the Holy Spirit.