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Hello from Becca! Our Pastoral Associate

We all reach moments in our lives where we desperately need to hear God’s voice to tell us how to act in a certain situation. Do you ever get frustrated that God won’t just speak words
from the heavens to guide us?
In fact, God already did: He gave us the Bible. In the Scriptures, “the Father who is in heaven
comes lovingly to meet his children, and talks with them,” (Catechism of the Catholic
Church, #. 104).
When reading the Bible, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here are a few tips:
Believe it or not, don’t start at the beginning! Start with the Gospels, which are the stories of the life of Christ
found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (found about 2/3 of the way in).
Read slowly. Focus on quality, not quantity, of reading.
If something stands out to you, stop! Re-read that section a few times and let the words sink into your heart
and mind. Listen to the still, small voice of God in your heart and mind.
This week, commit to pray with Scripture! To learn 5 steps for reading and praying with Scripture, go to our
website, click on the PRAYER section, then watch the video about Scripture from Fr. Josh Johnson.

FIFTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

God does provide….one way is through Prayer

In the Gospel reading this week Jesus sends His disciples out two by two, and tells them that He will provide for us. In turn, Jesus sends us out as
well today, as modern day disciples. Now while I do believe He has provided for our physical needs for our journey, Jesus has provided in
another very essential way….. through prayer. Jesus is there to lead and guide us all days of our lives as we live a journey of faith with Him and
others. Jesus is our source of power, strength, and encouragement. A few weeks back, Fr.Toochukwu spoke about our cell phones and how when the
cell. phone battery gets low, we go and reconnect the phone to it’s source of power. If we don’t plug the phone in, the connection will get lower and
lower and eventually it will die. I believe our prayer life is very similar in the sense that if we don’t connect to our source often, our personal connection with the Lord will weaken, and weaken,
and eventually we too will lose total connection to the source. I know in my own life, if I don’t pray everyday, suddenly I feel vulnerable and alone, and I need to reconnect with the source, which is the Lord.
So what is prayer? One of the gifts St. Mother Theresa had was to express complex thoughts very simply, she said about prayer “Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God.” Isn’t that a beautiful way to say it?

Next week, we will be speaking about different forms of prayer, but in the meantime please go to the new prayer
section on this website

Saint Thomas More: Prayer

God bless you all, Deacon Dan MacDonald

TWELFTH WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME

If it were Today

Today is the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (the Feast Day of the birth of John the Baptist). Both the life of Jesus, and John the Baptist were foretold by prophets, especially Isaiah. The only record of the birth of John the Baptist appears in the Gospel of Luke and it is at the heart of our Gospel reading today. A key player in this event is, of course, John the Baptist’s father Zechariah. Zechariah was a Jewish priest, but when the Archangel Gabriel revealed to him that he would father a child, Zechariah refused to believe it. As a result he was rendered speechless un-til John was born. Zechariah had total trust in the Lord. Although it was traditional at that time to name the first son after the father, he and
Elizabeth had been told that they were to name him John. As reported in the Gospel, Elizabeth said “He will be called John.” The family protested at which time Zechariah wrote “His name is John.” When he did that, Zechariah could speak once more. He did not say “should be”; he said “is.”
The trust shown by Zechariah is an example to us that we must trust in God, not just when it is
convenient, but all the time.
When I was researching the life of John, I guess after all was said and done, I was left with a ques-tion. If John were here today, how and what would he be telling us ? Of course, John would be pointing us to Jesus, and preparing the way for in this case, the return of the Lord. While over 2000 years have passed, in one sense nothing has changed, Jesus is still our source of light in the world, and He is still offering us a relationship with him that is life changing; where we can be immersed in His love. I feel that John would be speaking out about injustices in the world. I can see him
being the most vocal opponent to things going on in the world, like the detaining of migrant
children in the U.S., tearing children away from their families and holding them in an old Wal-Mart. He would be the first person down at the Olivet cemetery, cleaning up the statues and signs, and
decrying that Christianity should not be the one last religion, philosophy, or belief system that it is ok to persecute. At the same time though, he would be reminding Christians to pass on the
authentic, loving, mercy filled good news gospel, and to use scripture and the traditional teachings of the church as guides in our new evangelization. Lastly, I feel as if he would be so in touch with the poor, that maybe he himself would be living on the streets, and proclaiming the gospel to
everyone that he meets. So what is the message that is being given to us today by John, when
remembering his feast day? We are to point all we meet to Jesus, the best we can, and to live the authentic gospel message while remembering those who are left behind, so they too can live in the light of Christ.

God bless you all, Deacon Dan

SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD

A Gift that will Sustain and Transform us

 

This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi. This is a solemn feast in which Jesus
offers us yet another free gift, the gift of himself. We see Moses coming to the people where
they all answered with one voice. “We will do everything that the Lord commands”.
Jesus, on the other hand, provides a food that will sustain to eternal life.
Originally, we were created out of love, to be one with God. Eventually we as people turned our backs on God, but
through the sacrifice of Jesus, our relationship was renewed. The thing about this gift is that it cannot be forced, or manipulated
in any way, it is our choice to receive the gift or to not receive the gift. God’s desire is to be in relationship
with us and through offering this gift, he wants us to become a Eucharistic people.
This may be an odd sounding phrase to be a Eucharistic people but I believe the key underlying theme that helps us
understand it is the theme of sacrifice. Two examples of sacrifice come to mind as throughout the Old Testament we
read about sacrifices to God. Then in the New Testament ,Jesus sacrifices his own body so we can be in right relationship
with the father. I believe that if we are going to be a Eucharistic people, we need to sacrifice in our own lives.
A couple of examples come to mind, the first being that we are called to reach out to communities in need and help
anyone living on the margins, that can often take sacrifice. Sometimes too we may be estranged from someone and
need to reconcile, that takes sacrifice.
Now, you may be recalling the words of Jesus when he said that he doesn’t require sacrifice. It’s absolutely true, it’s
absolutely nothing to do with what he needs, it’s all about what we need to be a Eucharistic people.
From the reading though we can be encouraged by the fact that every Sunday, Jesus offers us this gift of the Eucharist,
to sustain us and help us in our Christian Journey. This is truly the greatest gift that we can receive and that we can in
turn share with our families, friends, and all whom we encounter.
Let us pray for the grace to encounter Jesus and become the people he wants us to be. Amen
God bless you all,
Deacon Dan MacDonald

TRINITY SUNDAY

We are Disciples too

I was struck with the “great commissioning”, gospel reading for this
Sunday. Especially considering what the disciples had just seen, the death and
resurrection of Jesus lived out right before their eyes. What stood out to me was not
that they worshiped Jesus, but that the reading says some doubted. Why, after all this
would they doubt?
So, I looked at a few other translations, and I came across the use of the word
“hesitated”. It seems more likely that they weren’t questioning their belief in Jesus, it
was that they were unsure of themselves, and what would happen next. What could
the disciples bring to the mission of Jesus? And how could they live out the command of Jesus to make disciples of all
nations? I know many have similar feelings today when it comes to spreading the gospel message. What is it that I
can bring to this incredible commissioning which Jesus calls us to today? It is the same commissioning today, as when
he called the first disciples.
This all got me thinking about the gifts that people have, and the gifts we bring to the service of God with the guidance
of the Holy Spirit. Some have the gift of music, some have a great love and knowledge of scripture, while others have
the gift to preach to congregations. I have known some others too, who witness their faith by their everyday interactions
with people. They don’t talk about their faith all that often, but the Holy Spirit, and the love of Jesus seems to be
present in all they say and do, and in all that they are. I am sure you can think of someone in your life that matches that
description. They bring us closer to Jesus, just by the dignity of their life.
After thinking all of this through, I finally came to the conclusion that Jesus simply wants us to witness to his love for
us and witness to our faith, to whomever we encounter. We can only do that by expressing our gifts and by showing
God not as a distant entity who is far away from our lives, but as a friend who is part of every aspect of our lives. His
spirit flows in all of creation, in love, suffering, and joy. If we do get discouraged and become hesitant though, he gave
us two gifts to help us through. The first gift is the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the second is community,
he gave us each other. So on Sunday, we may gather and be strengthened by the Eucharist, and by the friendships
we develop to help us along the journey. For me, those two elements are the reason that Christianity has grown from
humble beginnings to now reaching the far corners of the earth. All of this was accomplished through witnessing the
love of Jesus to the world, which is in need of Jesus now, more than ever.
God bless you all, Deacon Dan MacDonald

 

 

PENTECOST SUNDAY

New Spiritual Life

I feel any reflection on Pentecost has to start with Genesis 2:7, where God
breathed on the first man and gave him life; just as Adam’s life came from
God, so now the disciples’ new spiritual life comes from Jesus.
Pentecost was the time that Jesus breathed life into the church, and sent
the Holy Spirit upon the disciples as he said “Receive the Holy Spirit”. In
a very real sense this was a special type of “ordination” to the disciples,
whom Jesus gave the ability to forgive and retain sins. Before Pentecost,
the disciples were holed up in the upper room and were scared to go out
on mission. So not only does Jesus imbue the Holy Spirit upon the disciples, he “unlocks the door”, and sends them
out to further his mission on earth according to their own particular gifts, and to have other people join the mission and
grow the church. I have been blessed to see these gifts lived out collectively and individually in the service of God and
his church. Reflecting upon the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, it made me realize just how much we need each other to
grow the church, and even to survive in this world. We were blessed last year to have three speakers be with us at our
mission who focussed on the Holy Spirit, leading up to Pentecost weekend. Each speaker brought their own gifts, and
ways of teaching us about the Holy Spirit, and all three have been able to bring Christ into the world and bring people
to Christ through their various ministries.
In our lives, if we take some of the gifts one by one, I bet we will all have someone come to mind who has that particular
gift. For the gift of wisdom, I think of my parents, for the gift of understanding I think of my spiritual director, for
the gift of fortitude I think of my wife, just to name a few. What has come abundantly clear to me is that I wouldn’t be
able to get along without them, and the gifts that they bring or have brought to me. I am sure all of you have similar
experiences and feelings as I have, in that we are intrinsically connected to one another in our lives, and are so much
stronger together than trying to go it alone. As we grow in relationship and love for the Holy Spirit, our relationships
to each other grow as well. This growth in the spirit should orient us outward rather than inward, toward service to
God and others rather than service toward ourselves. That itself is the greatest gift we are given, and one shared by all
who open their hearts to it. Let us pray for the grace to “unlock the door” to mission this Pentecost weekend.
God bless you all, Deacon Dan MacDonald

SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

I Call You Friends

 

In today’s Gospel text from St. John (15:15), we witness a deepening of relation-ship between Jesus and those who follow him when Jesus says “I do not call you servants any longer … but I have called you friends.” What a remarkable thing to say, as Jesus is pushing us from an intellectual understanding of Jesus, to a heart-felt love for him and everyone around us. Fr. Thomas Rosica speaks of friendship with Jesus very eloquently when he said “Christianity demands that the believer not only grasp intellectually the main tenets of the faith, but also act on them in daily life. The extraordinary story of Cornelius’ conversion in today’s first read-ing certainly illustrates this message. It is the longest individual narrative in the Acts of the Apostles. The theme of this narrative is divine compulsion: Peter is the least prepared to accept

Cornelius into the Christian community, and he even refuses to admit him two times.”

So what does friendship look like with Jesus in our daily lives? One example may come from our own daily lives.

I have a small group of friends that I grew up with in Pictou County. Some don’t live there anymore but others still do. They are a group of people that I know in my heart will be there at the end of my life, and all through my life. No matter where we may live, or no matter where we might go to live, we still have a bond that will continue. Most of us met on the crosswalk of Diamond Street School in Trenton, on the first day or grade primary, and we have been friends ever since. The amazing thing is for me that regardless of how long it’s been since we saw each other, or how long since we have seen each other, our conversation picks up right from where it left off. Also, we can be truly ourselves with each other, the good and the bad, and not feel judged or belittled. Truly friendships that will last forever, I imag-ine it is an experience similar to many of you.

Isn’t this really the kind of friendship that Jesus wants with us? One where we can come to him with our whole self, the good and the not so good. Where we can be ourselves and come before him in truth and in love.

Pope Benedict also spoke beautifully about friendship with Jesus, right at the beginning of his pontificate. Three times during that memorable homily, Benedict XVI spoke of the importance of “friendship” with Jesus; the Church as a whole and all her pastors, like Christ, must set out to lead people out of the desert, towards the place of life, toward friendship with the Son of God, toward the One who gives us life, and life in abundance.”

That is what Jesus wants from us, a friendship with us which will lead us to an abundant life.

God bless you all Deacon Dan MacDonald

FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

Jesus is the True Vine

The reading this week leaves me with the feeling that the first step on any journey of faith comes
with an acceptance that Jesus is the true vine, and we are the branches. Through telling of the
parable of the vine and its branches, the Lord Jesus told us that it is very important to establish a
proper relationship with God. The Lord compared us to the branches and compared Himself to the
vine. Our relationship with the Lord is like the relationship between vine branches and the vine.
Away from the vine, the branches will lose the supply of life, get withered and then die. It reminds me
of someone who comes to the faith either for the first time, or returns to the faith after a long time away.
Have you ever seen someone who goes through a spiritual awakening, and how they change over time? You see the
gradual movement of the Spirit within them, and eventually a full transformative experience follows. It may not be a
perfect analogy but when I speak about transubstantiation, I use the example of a personal transformation. When
someone comes to faith, after a period of time they become more Christ like and grow in their faith. It is very similar
to the Eucharist in the sense that the person doesn’t physically change; they look the same as before, but in their
substance or spirit, they are very different.
When we move throughout our life, it is important to keep in mind the true vine and to make sure we are attached to
the vine. As part of that process we prune the bad branches and in turn become better people, and come closer to our
Lord. From this we will bear much fruit.
God Bless You All, Deacon Danny

FORTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

Saying what needs to be said

I really like this time during the Easter season, between Easter Sunday and
Pentecost. Many of the Readings bring me back to the joy of Easter, and the
sacrifice that God/Jesus made for us. This week’s Gospel reading is no different
as Jesus speaks of sheep and says “I am the Good Shepherd, A good
shepherd lays down his life for the sheep”. It never ceases to amaze me when I
think about God creating us completely out of love, for no other reason than to
be in relationship with Him. Then, when we turned away from that relationship,
He came to us and lived with us, and became us, and then ultimately
sacrificing Himself in order to reconcile ourselves with Him thus giving us the
opportunity to spend eternity with Him, and to live in Him. So, in order to be a good shepherd, we must be
willing to sacrifice as well. Sometimes, we end up in situations where we must stand up for God, and also, I believe
sacrifice is at the core of evangelization as well.
There are two examples that come to mind that might illustrate my point a bit better. The first is by St. John Paul II, and
the other was by a friend of mine.
In 1998, St. John Paul II visited Cuba. He was the first ever Pope to visit Cuba. On one occasion, I recall, he was giving
a speech and as part of the speech I remember him saying “Things have to change here”. What was remarkable about it
was the fact that Fidel Castro was sitting a few feet away from the pontiff, and clearly was not happy with what was happening.
What I liked about John Paul II’s speech was that he could have faced real ramifications for his speech, but that
did not stop him. He spoke the truth and said what needed to be said. He truly laid down his life for us, the sheep of his
flock.
Another example for me was one time, we were doing a live broadcast of a music awards show. It was about to go live
all across Saskatchewan. We had a production meeting before hand when one of the crew sarcastically said “Maybe we
should pray.” So one of my friends who was on the crew said “good idea”, and she did. It created a somewhat awkward
moment which she truly could have been ridiculed for, but ultimately she stood up for what she believed and proposed
Jesus to the outside world. Afterwards, I walked over and told her that that was the best thing I had ever seen, and it
really was. Both of these examples are what God is calling us to do, to bring and share his love with all. We may all
face different circumstances, but it is the same call.
God bless you all, Deacon Danny