Our Parish Update - Tuesday, April 28, 2020

  • April 28, 2020
    TUESDAY, APRIL 28, 2020
    Ottawa – On Friday,  1 May, 2020, the Catholic Bishops of Canada will consecrate their individual dioceses or eparchies to Mary, Mother of the Church, seeking her protection during the Coronavirus pandemic, similar to what other Episcopal Conferences throughout the world have already done. Along with the Bishops, pastors, families, groups, individuals and other faith communities may likewise choose to join the consecration as part of the global effort to unite in faith and prayer in this most difficult time.
    The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), in fraternal communion with the leadership of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has agreed that this Marian consecration be held on the same day in both countries, making this a most meaningful and powerful intercession throughout North America to the Blessed Mother. The Bishops of Mexico, as well as the other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, consecrated their dioceses and eparchies to Mother Mary this past  Easter Sunday.  Pope Francis has already offered up a moving Prayer to the Virgin Mary for protection in light of COVID-19 last 11 March 2020.
    The first day of May holds particular significance as it marks the beginning an entire month to honour the Blessed Virgin Mary. “May is the month dedicated in a special way to the Mother of Christ. We believe that she is, in a spiritual but real sense, our mother too” , said the Most Reverend Richard Gagnon, Archbishop of Winnipeg and CCCB President. “We turn to her and ask for the help of her powerful and maternal prayers to God for us. To consecrate ourselves to Mary means to be united with her in entrusting our lives entirely to God.”
    Archbishop Peter Hundt will be celebrating a live-streamed Mass on Friday,  May 1st at 9:00 am at the Basilica and he will consecrate the Archdiocese to Mary, Mother of the Church, at that time.  He will also announce this Act of Consecration on the Archdiocesan website and at the Basilica live-streamed Masses .
    If you look through Catholic art and history, you will find that Mary has been depicted in various ways according to the time period and the culture. If you read the Gospels you will find that the four evangelists have also portrayed her in different ways.
    Mark almost seems to see her as an outsider in 3: 31-35. Matthew places her in the Messiah’s genealogy, but in the nativity story, the main focus in on Joseph. Luke, on the other hand, portrays Mary as a woman of faith, beginning with the story of the Annunciation and ending with her being with the other disciples at Pentecost. John never actually names her, but John presents her as a faithful disciple, being present at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry at Cana and at the end of his ministry at Calvary.
    Despite much of the artwork depicting her, Mary was, first of all, a Jewish woman, very unlikely to have had blue eyes or light colored hair. She had a strong belief in the one living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Prayer was a part of her daily life, and despite the fear she felt when the angel came to her, she wasn’t afraid to ask questions. She used both faith and reason. She had the courage to say yes, despite the uncertainty and obvious risks involved in becoming pregnant while she was betrothed to Joseph.
    What was life like for Mary in Roman occupied Palestine? It was both difficult and dangerous, filled with tension, poverty, unrest and violence. Many women biblical scholars from the Third World see similarities in Mary’s life then with those of so many poor women in their own countries now.
    When we recall the story of Mary and Joseph going to Bethlehem to be counted, we can also see many  poor women and children driven from their homes today,  because of debt, taxation, or decreasing natural resources.  When we recall the story of Mary giving birth in a stable, we can   see  many pregnant women today who do not have basic pre-natal care, babies who are born in the worst possible conditions, and a high infant mortality rate.  When we recall the story of the flight into Egypt, we can see women and children today running to escape being raped, tortured or killed by unjust or invading military forces.  When we recall the story of Mary at the foot of the cross, we can see the faces of so many women today who have had their sons, fathers  or husbands  murdered or “disappear” at the hands of a dictatorial regime.   
    Back to the original question, “Who is Mary?” She has traditionally been seen as a model of prayer, piety, and obedience to the will of God.  She has been seen by some as being very passive.  But when we look again at the Gospel stories and think about the times in which she lived, we realize that she was not passive but very pro-active indeed.
    Mary  is  a model of courage in the face of danger - she did what needed to be done to save the life of her child. She was faithful to her vocation when it was difficult or even dangerous to do so. Mary is a model of faith but she was also not afraid to ask questions. She experienced physical danger at the hands of an unjust regime, but in the Magnificat she proclaims a God of justice for all.  Mary was greatly puzzled by some of the things that her son said and did, but she loved him unconditionally to the very end.  And through it all, she did not lose her own identity, her faith in God, or her faith in herself.  
    Mary certainly must have felt the presence of God when Jesus was born.  But she also must have felt the absence of God at Calvary as she heard her son say, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  But God did not abandon her, any more than God abandons us.  The Resurrection assures us that our God is a faithful  God, who always was, is, and will be with us.   
         Maria R. Kelsey,
        Pastoral Assistant

    Easter means hope prevails over despair. Jesus reigns as Lord of Lords and King of Kings . . . Easter says to us that despite everything to the contrary, his will for us will prevail, love will prevail over hate, justice over injustice and oppression, peace over exploitation and bitterness.
    Desmond Tutu
    Crying in the Wilderness: The Struggle for Justice in South Africa

    . . . if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in the a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant to the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
    Clive Staples
    C. S. Lewis, Into The Wardrobe

    (The Resurrection of Jesus reveals a fullness of life that surpasses anything we can image. Let yourself hope and long for this new life.)

    April 29 is the feast day of  St. Catherine of Siena, the third order Dominican mystic and Doctor of the Church, who lived in the fourteenth century. “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire,” she wrote, and she proved the truth of those words with her own life. Although she was only 33 years old when she died, she had already negotiated peace between Italian states, restored the papacy to Rome after 67 years in France, and written a theological treatise about her many rich experiences of God.

    Fr. William J. Bourke SJ of the Jesuit Province of Darjeeling (India) passed away peacefully on November 29, 2019 in his 94th year and 71st year as a member of the Society of Jesus. His funeral Mass was held at 2 pm on November 30 at St Joseph’s school, North Point, Darjeeling, and he was buried in the Jesuit cemetery there.
    Uncle Bill had an endless curiosity about the world and its cultures, which I suspect contributed to his decision to become a missionary, and his interest in languages.  He was a voracious reader, with a particular interest in historical nonfiction.  I think he felt that one needed to know the past, in order to find the path forward.
    He approached life with boundless energy, joy, and humour.  One of his favourite mantras was:  “Expect the unexpected.”  When he had to deal with the “unexpected”,  he did so with patience, grace and humour.
    He lived to serve others and to make the world a better place.  Despite his many accomplishments, he never “tooted his own horn”.  He had a tremendous impact on the lives he touched, whether it was through teaching, mentorship, his translation work, or simply providing words of comfort.  I think that’s why people seemed to be drawn to him.
    When I visited him in India in 2010, we encountered many people on our travels, who came up to him to shake his hand or share a story. Whether they were former students or people he befriended in his day to day life, he seemed to have made a difference – he’d made their lives better.
    A Memorial Mass and Celebration for Uncle Bill took place at Rene Goupil House, Pickering on January 19th,  2020.  It was an opportunity for friends and family to celebrate his life and legacy.  I was honoured to share the First Reading: Romans 10: 9-16, which was also the First Reading at his funeral Mass held in Darjeeling.
    It very much spoke to his calling to be a Jesuit and a missionary, especially the line “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Although he is no longer with us in person, he continues to live on; in the memories and hearts of those he touched and served throughout his remarkable life.
    SOURCE:   David Mackett, nephew Fr. Bill Bourke, April 25, 2020


    The Shipwrecked Mariner
    The shipwrecked mariner had spent several years on a deserted island. Then one morning he was thrilled to see a ship offshore and a smaller vessel pulling out toward him.
    When the boat grounded on the beach, the officer in charge handed the marooned sailor a bundle of newspapers and told him, "The captain said to read through these and let us know if you still want to be rescued."
    SOURCE:   Joke resource site

    The Vatican has released a free online prayer book to help Catholics seeking divine assistance amid the coronavirus crisis. The book,  called “Strong in the Face of Tribulation: The Church in Communion – a Sure Support in Time of Trial” , is divided into three parts.   The first part contains prayers, rituals and supplications, including prayers for the sick and for liberation from evil. The second explains how Catholics can continue to practice the faith without the support of the Sacraments. The third section gathers together Pope Francis’ reflections since the pandemic struck
    The 192-page book is available for download in PDF format on the website of the Vatican’s publishing house, the Libreria Editrice Vaticana -

    This springtime could be a time to deepen our prayer; loving intimacy with the Lord. Here in some advise to allow it to more easily happen.
    To pray, I think, does not mean to think about God in contrast to thinking about other things, nor does it mean spending time with God instead of spending time with other people.  As soon as we begin to divide our thoughts into thoughts about God and thoughts about other things, like people and events, we separate God from our daily life.  At that point God is allocated to a pious little niche in some corner of our lives where we only think pius thoughts and experience pius feelings.  Although it is important and even indispensable for our spiritual lives to set apart time for God and God alone, our prayer can only become unceasing [prayer] when all our thoughts – beautiful or ugly, high or low, proud or shameful, sorrowful or joyful – can be thought in the presence of One who dwells in us and surrounds us.  By trying to do this, our unceasing thinking is converted into unceasing prayer, moving us from a self-centered monologue to a God-centered dialogue.   The main question, therefore, is not so much what we think, but to whom we present our thought.”
    Henri Nouwen, Clowning in Rome.