Our Parish Update - Tuesday, May 19, 2020

  • May 19, 2020
    TUESDAY, MAY 19, 2020

    The parish is – by God’s grace as reflected in parishioner donations – still able to pay it’s
    monthly bills. The big-little word  therefore  to  say  and  have  remembered is  thank  you!   
    There  are  parishioners  who  drop off  their regular donations through the letter slot at the
    parish offices. Other persons prefer to mail their donations.  Thank you to parishioners who are
    mindful of MacMorran Community Centre and the people who often have greater material needs than we do.  The Archdiocese has not received bank assistance with permissions to offer (us) the online giving requested the end of March.  Conversations about parish finances are possible by calling Fr. Earl Smith, SJ at 754- 0170.

    Word about the suffering of our brother Jesuits at Rene Goupil Infirmary, Pickering has been
    circulating for the last three weeks.  The Infirmary has been closed to its residents for the
    moment.  A sanitation of it and some physical upgrades to COVID 19 health standards has begun.  
    Seven men have died within  the last three weeks including  Fr. Michael Murray, SJ, who died
    yesterday at Pickering/Ajax hospital. Please keep our men at the center of our prayers and all
    COVID 19 sufferers.

    The eight Jesuit  volunteers  and the nurse volunteer have completed their work and have gone into self-isolation. We thank them for their dedication and sacrifice.

    Br. Joe Frechette, SJ, recently got a one day long hospital outpatient  procedure to drain fluid
    from his lungs that prevents him from properly breathing.  He also has the use of oxygen.  The dose has been increased within the last two weeks.  His spirits are good.  There are friendships and family members for him to enjoy and enrich his quality of life.  He is thrilled to enjoy real
    spring weather and the growth of beautiful green things all around him.  Hurrah for Br. Joe who
    returns a hello to all of us here in St. John’s.

    Frances Shano,  mother of Fr. Philip Shano, SJ , a native of St. John's NL, died peacefully on
    Monday, May 18, after suffering a serious stroke on Mother's Day. She would have turned 90 in a few weeks. Philip and his six siblings give thanks for their mother's great life.


    Modern communication devices provide much useful fascinating information. But they may fall short
    of wisdom such as accumulated by Grandparents during the ups and downs of their lives. Now could be an excellent opportunity to share with your children appreciation of grandparents, aunts and uncles, pastors and teachers you have known. I myself appreciate and treasure Fathers Mike Murray, Larry Kroger, Jack Lynch, Ed Merchant and Bill Maurice, all deceased Jesuits and priests, with whom I lived while at St. Peter’s Parish, Thunder Bay, ON.
    Fr. Wayne Bolton, SJ

    In  these days of self-isolation, it almost seems as if we living the life of a monk.  The writer
    of the following article looks for advice and insights from three modern-day monks as we live in
    these pandemic days.

    The Cistercian monks at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky chant Psalm 91 every evening at
    Compline, a psalm that contains the following lines:

    You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
    nor the plague that prowls in the darkness, nor the scourge that lays waste at noon.

    Paul Quenon, O.C.S.O., a monk at Gethsemani, has been praying this psalm nightly for decades, but only in the last month have the words hit home: “I never thought the threat of plague would pertain to us or specifically to me.”

    The Cistercians of the Strict Observance, also known as the Trappists, is a contemplative religious
    order. Cistercian monastic life is characterized by work, silence and prayer in obedience to an
    exacting interpretation (hence the “Strict Observance”) of the sixth-century Rule of St. Benedict
    for monasteries.

    It is a life lived in community behind the enclosure of monastic walls, separated from the world.

    Because of COVID-19, many of us are living, in a way, like monks, enclosed and isolated in our
    homes. But unlike the monks, we did not ask for or want this situation, nor it is one for which many of us were spiritually prepared.

    COVID-19 cannot but remind us of our mortality and fragility, and so it can help us to rethink our
    priorities. “All life is lived in the shadow of death,” said Br. Quenon, “and we forget that.”

    It  is,  however,  a  situation  from  which we  can  perhaps  learn  something  by turning  to  
    monks  for  guidance,  so  I corresponded with three Cistercians, two from Gethsemani as well as
    the abbot of a Trappist monastery in the Midwest, to ask them about what the monastic life could
    teach us as individuals and families during this unique time in quarantine.

    Without diminishing the catastrophic loss of life and jobs caused by the pandemic, Michael
    Casagram, O.C.S.O., at Gethsemani said that perhaps COVID-19 is “a divinely disguised moment for human breakthrough.” Our society revolves around the notion that power and wealth give meaning to existence, that they allow us to take control of our  lives.  But,  Fr.  Casagram  continued,   “power  and  wealth  create  an  illusion  of  meaning  and  purpose  while undermining our spiritual destiny.” We think they give us some measure of control, but inreality they “close the
    door to grace.”

    When we are busy with our daily routines and tasks—and most of us would admit that we are too
    busy—it is easy to feel as if we are in control and that the life we are pursuing bestows ultimate
    meaning. Yet our pursuit of meaning through power and wealth leaves us spiritually impoverished as we scurry about, consumed by the busyness of life.

    COVID-19 cannot but remind us of our mortality and fragility, and so it can help us to rethink our
    priorities. “All life is lived in the shadow of death,” said Br. Quenon, “and we forget that.”

    In a talk he gave to novices at Gethsemani in 1965, the Trappist writer Thomas Merton said that
    life in this world is designed to distract us from thinking about questions of ultimate importance
    and particularly from thinking about our mortality. Forced isolation, on the other hand, “is making
    us face our own thoughts, deal with our own feelings,” said Fr. Casagram. “We can run from these or we can learn from what they are telling us, both good and bad.”

    Br. Quenon described quarantine as “a chance to get over the fear of solitude and find the actual
    comfort in being with something that transcends a life scurrying from this to that.”

    Quarantine can thus lead us inward if we allow it. Br. Quenon described quarantine as “a chance to
    get over the fear of solitude and find the actual comfort in being with something that transcends a
    life scurrying from this to that. You must return to yourself to find that which transcends
    yourself, however you name it.”

    Fr. Casagram suggested that the spiritual discipline of lectio divina is worth cultivating during
    this time of quarantine. Lectio divina is a form of contemplative reading mandated in the Rule of
    St. Benedict that involves spending time in silence, away from all distractions, meditatively
    reading a short passage from Scripture or a classic of Christian spirituality. Finding the time for
    such discipline is difficult  when we are preoccupied with our regular duties, and although  we  
    are  not  moving  about  physically  as  much  during  quarantine,  we  still  find  ourselves  
    distracted  in seemingly innumerable ways.

    “So much depends on persons simply taking the time to read,” said Fr. Casagram. “I feel Godis
    speaking to us through all kinds of circumstances if we are present, attentive with our heart to
    his loving presence.” And it is through being present to our thoughts and feelings as well as to
    God’s loving presence that we can become more fully present to those with whom we are living in

    We can take this opportunity to recognize that “our happiness depends largely on living in
    communion with those our lives are naturally intertwined.”
    SOURCE:   Gregory Hills, America Magazine, April 22, 2020


    Smiling while ageing…

    -     At twenty we don’t care what the world think of us; at thirty we worry about what it thinks
          of us;
          at sixty we discover that it wasn’t even thinking of us.

    -     Life begins at forty,
          but so does arthritis and the habit of telling the same story three times to the same person.

    -     The housefly, escorting her daughter across the head of a completely bald man, observed,
          “How quickly times change!  When I was your age, my dear, this was just a footpath.”

    -     An old man was being interviewed on his one-hundredth birthday. “I’m proud to say I haven’t
          an enemy in the world,” he boosted. “That’s a wonderful thought,” said the young reporter.
          “Sure is,” the old man said with a smile.
          “Outlived every damn one of them!”
    Toni Sortor, The Book of Clean Jokes, page 3


    Let’s refresh our prayer rituals this spring while considering a not much explored prayer method.
    Henri Nouwen describes a form of meditation that is widely supported in the writings of many
    canonized saints and acknowledged ‘sage’ personages.
    Descent into the Heart

    The quiet repetition of a single word can help us to descent with the mind into the heart.  The
    repetition has nothing to do with magic.  It is not meant to throw a spell on God or to force him
    into hearing us.  On the contrary, a word or sentence repeated frequently can help us to
    concentrate, to move to the centre, to create an inner stillness, and thus to listen to the voice
    of God.    When we simply try to sit silently and wait for God to speak to us, we find ourselves
    bombarded with endless conflicting thoughts and ideas.  But when we use a very simple sentence such as “O God, come to my assistance,” or “Jesus, master, have mercy on me,” or a word such as “Lord” or “Jesus”, it is easier to let the many distractions pass by without being mislead by them. Such a simple, easily repeated prayer can slowly empty out our crowded interior life and create the quiet space where we can dwell with God.  It can be like a ladder which we can descend into the heart and ascent to God.
    Henri Nouwen, You Are The Beloved, April 20, 2020

    Vinita Hampton Wright

    How can I pray when I’m anxious? That is, how is it possible to pray when anxiety fills my person?
    How might I go about prayer when I’m in such a condition? Here are a few points to remember.

    First of all, reality does not change when I experience internal changes. I might be enraged,
    frightened out of my mind, or too worried to remember words to a prayer. But God continues to dwell with me. God continues to love me. I remain a person created in the divine image. The world
    continues moving toward God’s purposes.

    Second, it is useless to pretend that I’m not anxious. I must stay with what is and deal with the
    here and now. Anxiety results from multiple factors: my physical state, my mental state, my
    emotional state, my spiritual state, which feels the effects of all other states but may not change
    as much as I think. What I mean by that is, my spiritual reality is established by the work of
    Christ and kept by the power of the Holy Spirit. How I interact with my spirituality can be
    affected by anxiety, but I can take action even then. When I accept that anxiety is happening in me
    at this moment, I have the power to make choices.

    Third, true prayer shapes itself to the situation. How I pray when anxious may not look like how I
    pray when I’m not anxious. For example:

    •    During non-anxious times, perhaps I can sit quietly to pray.
    •    During anxious times, I pray while pacing or rocking
    •    During non-anxious times, I might use a lot of words—fully developed thoughts and ideas.
    •    During anxious times, my prayer is a word or short phrase, such as “Help!” or “I need you!”
    •    During non-anxious times, I enjoy praying with Scripture or types of meditation.
    •    During anxious times, I find it easier to pray with objects, such as a smooth stone in my
         hand. Please keep in mind some simple ideas if you are anxious and trying to pray.

    Do not rely on your thought processes during great anxiety. Such a state can skew our thinking and
    set our thoughts in useless circles. For anxious times, have a few statements of truth, such as a
    few short verses of Scripture that can keep you grounded.

    It is always appropriate to cry out to God. Speak plainly. Allow your emotions to express your
    heart. Remember the psalms, those poetic yet frank prayers to God in all seasons.

    Carry out St. Ignatius Loyola’s advice to “act against.” Whether our anxiety is the simple result
    of factors we can recognize, or it feels like an out-and-out attack from something evil, we can
    counteract it. When afraid, we speak our trust. When worried, we remember God’s protection and help
    in times past. When tempted to despair, we find one thing for which to give thanks. When beaten
    down, we choose to help someone else.


    Words can never adequately convey the incredible impact of our attitude toward life. The   I live
    the more convinced I become that life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we
    respond to it. . . .

    I believe the single most significant decision I can make   on a day-to-day basis is my choice of
    attitude.  It is more important than my past, my education, my bankroll, my successes or failures,
    fame or pain, what other people think of me or say about me, my circumstance, o r my position.  
    Attitude is the “single string”  that keeps me going or cripples my progress.  It alone  fuels my
    fire or assaults my hope.  When my attitudes are right, there’s no barrier too high, no valley too
    deep, no dream too extreme, no challenge too great for me.
    SOURCE:   Strengthening Your Grip,  Chuck Swindoll, Pages 206-207

    God of goodness, help me not to be ruled by circumstance but to learn to turn circumstance in my
    hand like a stone, looking for   its most pleasing perspective .  Give me the eyes to see the
    positive and the hopeful.  Amen.
    SOURCE:    Rusty Freeman


    9:00 am        Mass live-streamed in the Basilica, St. John’s for those who wish -
    12:00 pm      The Angelus and Scriptural Rosary are recited for those who wish.

    6:45 pm                            All members log into Zoom
    7:00 -7:30 pm                  Angele Regnier - Talk 1
    7:30 - 8:00 pm                 Small Group 1 (Participants check emails for small group link)

    9:00 am                           Mass live streamed in the Basilica, St. John’s for
    those who wish.
    12:00 pm                        The Angelus and Scriptural Rosary are recited for those who wish.

    6:45 pm                            All members log into Zoom
    7:00 - 7:30 pm                 Angele Regnier - Talk 2   (Participants check emails for small group
    7:30 - 9:00 pm                 Adoration live-streamed from the Basilica , prayer rooms
    9:00 pm                            Return to Zoom call for Final Word and Wrap Up
    Adoration continues for anyone who wants to return.