Month: March 2008

Liturgical Easter Hangover

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It was great to get the liturgical Easter hangover out of the way this morning. What was that? What am I talking about?  Oh – well, that is what I call this Sunday. It is like we have all just got up from a rough night before on the second Sunday of Easter. We spend a week of building toward Easter in all the richness of the Holy Week celebrations, and then we take a week off. When we show up again on the second Sunday, we seem to have forgotten that we still bask in the glow of the Easter candle.  This morning when I lead with the words, “Alleluia Christ is risen!” The response that the congregation offers (usually with exuberance)  is THE LORD IS RISEN INDEED, ALLELUIA! Today, It was a little less than exuberant and at 8 AM it was barely audible.

Now don’t be getting all sensitive about this evaluation of our liturgical laxity. I  FULLY understand appreciate how it is to sort of feel a little out of steam after a REALLY big week of celebration the resurrection. In many ways – I feel that in every fibre of my being. Yet, we have to be reminded that we have 50 days of Easter and they should be exciting and they should be joyful. The church has designed the seasons in such a way that there is a festive feel to the 50 days that follow the solemnity of the 40 days of Lent!  As liturgically limp as we might feel, we have to dig deep and take on the next party. I am reminded of a wedding weekend back out east in Newfoundland.  There is the party that takes place the night before the rehearsal as we get reunited with friends and family, the party after the rehearsal, the wedding itself which is the mother of all parties, the party at the gift opening the next day, and if you do it right the party the next night if you have family to leave to return to their homes! It is one long weekend of celebrating. When its all over – it is easy to succumb to the idea that we need to get back to reality, back to work, back to solemnity. Alas, we will not treat our Easter celebration that way. Yes we have been ‘busy’ with church but we have so much to celebrate we are going to let Joy dominate our worship, and our lives. And I am proud to say that the people of God did not disappoint at St. Mark’s today.

While we may have started slow this morning at both Masses, we got it together and our celebrations were filled with Easter Joy [Rick Gelinas was so joyful he wore his Maple Leafs Jersey to 8 AM a week early just to remind me that they beat the Montreal Canadiens last evening]. At 10:30 we enjoyed each other’s company at the Soup Luncheon ans we celebrated Nettie Sears 85 birthday. You can see in the phots that we had a great time. We also committed to follow the example of Thomas seek out the wounds of Jesus in the world, enter into those wounds and recognize God and declare God’s presence when we see the wounds.  To that end I invite you to again read my blog from yesterday regarding Similac Sunday. As noted we have envelopes available at the church for your use if you wish to give. I’m not sure if everyone understood that the envelopes were at the back of the church or not and I have not looked to see if a tonne of them have been taken or not. But please consider responding to God by seeking to touch the wounds of Jesus. That woundedness  can certainly be found in an infants hunger. 

Jerry Marcotte sent me a great PowerPoint about Mother Theresa which I attached it in the email that I reminding you that this page is updated. If you are not on my email list, get in touch with me and I will send it to you as well. One of my favourite quotes of hers is “If you can’t feed a hundred people. Feed just one.”  In this Similac Sunday we have a great opportunity to heed her words.

Thanks for a great day everyone – you helped me past my the liturgical Easter hangover.

A Big Announcement regarding April 20th

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Eastwood Citadel edited 

The other day I was privileged to have a tour of the Eastwood Salvation Army Citadel and was impressed with what they have to offer, particularly in the way of outreach to the community around them. The pastors there are Captains Stephen and Erika White. They are a dynamic young couple who come from the greatest of places, Newfoundland!

    Stephen and Erika edited

In touring the church I was introduced to a program that I did not know existed in this community. The church has a Neighbourhood Services Center, which serves as a connector to the community around it. One of their valuable programs is the Diaper and Formula Program.  I asked the Good Captains what the program provides. Stephen White tells us that This program has proved to be a positive ministry in that it helps families, single parents, and most importantly infant children during times of financial crisis. We are able to provide these citizens with formula and diapers to assist them, helping them provide for their young children and get through hard times.”

  

 It is a program that receives funding from The United Way, and it has seen its funding reduced of late. And yet, the demand on the program seems higher than ever. I immediately felt that indeed God calls us to respond to these needs. To that end I have declared April 20th at St. Mark’s by-the-Lake to be…(Drum roll please)…SIMILAC SUNDAY! [Note: I have no allegiance to Similac over any other brand….it just goes well with the word Sunday!]

 

At Church tomorrow you will find a bulletin insert with the following details;

 

St. Mark’s by-the-Lake

& Eastwood Salvation Army Citadel are teaming up.

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Together we invite you to make a difference

in the lives of young families.

 

Eastwood sponsors a program that provides formula for

babies in families of great need.

 

The program is in a state of need and

they are struggling to keep their cupboard stocked.

 

HOW WE CAN HELP WITH THIS?

 

1.      GIVE TO A JOINT RESPONSE

The Average Cost for a can of Formula is near $20. We have envelopes available in the form of a ‘LOVE OFFERING’ (They are at the back of the Church) in which

you can donate as many cans as you would like to. The Church will purchase in bulk as much as we can with what you give.

 

2.      PURCHASE FORMULA

If you are out shopping and you see a can of formula on sale [OF ANY BRAND] pick it up and bring it in on or before April 20th.

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Please consider donating to this project.

As Community we can make a difference.

 

I leave you with these words of Jesus of Nazareth from Matthew’s Gospel chapter 25 as paraphrased in “The Message”

34-36 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

   I was hungry and you fed me,
   I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
   I was homeless and you gave me a room,
   I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
   I was sick and you stopped to visit,
   I was in prison and you came to me.’

 37-40 Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

 

[BY THE WAY — IF YOU HAVE NOT DONE SO OF LATE – YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT THE PARISH WEB PAGE AT www.stmarkschurch.net  TO SEE VIDEOS AND PHOTOS OF HOLY WEEK. IF YOU WERE HERE CHANCES ARE YOU ARE FEATURED IN THERE SOMEWHERE]

 

Hockey Losses

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I note here three significant events from the Hockey world last evening:

1.       THE LEAFS

      The Toronto Maple Leafs were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. This is the 3rd consecutive year that TO has not made the playoffs.  Today I think of Ed Smith, Randy Kettlewell, Art Shields, Steve White x 2 (one a parishioners here at St. Mark’s and the other the Captain at Eastwood Salvation Army Citadel – more on him later ) and my Dad, all of whom are  big Leafs fans and offer my sincere regrets for your situation. Let’s just hope that by the time April 6th rolls around the snow has melted so that the boys in blue can get some exercise on the golf course. On a serious note, I must confess that I have been secretly cheering for Toronto to get into the playoffs.  It is always so much more exciting that way.

 

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2.       THE SPITFIRES

      The Windsor Spitfires were defeated 4-1 in the first round of the OHL Playoffs. This, after a year in which they surprised most and a year which brought unbelievable adversity and loss.  I was at the Barn last night with a ‘newfound’ friend and fellow fan Stephen (thanks for the call to go Stephen, you are a great guy for a Leafs fan!) and I must say it was heartening to see the support that the fans gave to this team that has been through such tragedy and has rose to do so well in the midst of it all. With the recent death of their Captain Mickey Renaud it is hard to imagine what is going through the minds and hearts of these young players. All of our hearts and prayers go out to the Spits. 

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      3. RYAN WILSON

      Also impressive is the play of Windsor’s Ryan Wilson who Captains the Sarnia Sting. He has impressed me very much. I met him at his step-father’s funeral last Wednesday, a day before this series started. While I am sad to see Windsor lose, I am pleased for Ryan and for his mom Heather that he is doing so well. I am sure that it is good for the family to keep focused on something that Barry (His stepdad) felt so passionate about. From all accounts Barry was very proud of Ryan as is his mom Heather.  Now let’s hope he can keep it going. I have been praying for this young man and his family in the midst of their loss.   

 Ryan Wilson

HOCKEY JERSEY SUNDAY

In a little over a week on April 6, 2008 we will observe Hockey Jersey Sunday at St. Mark’s by-the-Lake. This will be our 5th Hockey Jersey Sunday and I hope to plan some new things that will bring us even more spirituality and more opportunity to show our love for God as found in the playful places in our lives. This tongue-in-cheeck event, started as a little fun, has become a favorite of many in the church. In past years we have attracted the attention of the local papers and the local CBC, not to mention Hockey Night in Canada for our ability to laugh at our selves, while celebrating Canada’s game. (No need to write me – I no our ‘official’ sport is Lacrosse) In any event HJS is a hit at St. Mark’s and we invite you all to participate.

So if you are saddened by either loss last night or if your thankful that your team is on top, bring your sorrow and bring your joy to the table of the Lord! Do Plan on Joining us for Hockey Jersey Sunday. WE WORSHIP AT 8 am AND 10:30 am

Meister Eckhart

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Lest yestreday’s blog left you with the impression that the Church of England in its’ persecution of Roman Catholics in the 1500s is alone in its ability to miss thepoint, I bring you today’s tidbit of interesting history. Aparently, there are days in RC History which are sort of a sad statement as well.

 

On this day in 1329 Pope John XXII condemned some of Meister Eckhart’s writings as heretical.  

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JOHN XXII

 

In fact Eckhart was tried and reportedly died before his verdict was rendered. Today many progressive theologians look at Eckhart as a philosopher and theologian who was ahead of his day. While I understand his work is used in some circles and in some seminaries, the Vatican has still not restored this man to a ‘state of orthodoxy.’ His reputation has not been rehabilitated as it were. In the prologue of the ‘papal bull’ that condemned him are found these words;

 

“In the field of the Lord over which we, though unworthy, are guardians and labourers by heavenly dispensation, we ought to exercise spiritual care so watchfully and prudently that if an enemy should ever sow tares over the seeds of truth (Mt. 13:28), they may be choked at the start before they grow up as weeds of an evil growth. Thus, with the destruction of the evil seed and the uprooting of the thorns of error, the good crop of Catholic truth may take firm root. We are indeed sad to report that in these days someone by the name of Eckhart from Germany, a doctor of sacred theology (as is said) and a professor of the order of Preachers, wished to know more than he should, and not in accordance with sobriety and the measure of faith, because he turned his ear from the truth and followed fables.

The man was led astray by that Father of Lies who often turns himself into an angel of light in order to replace the light of truth with a dark and gloomy cloud of the senses, and he sowed thorns and obstacles contrary to the very clear truth of faith in the field of the Church and worked to produce harmful thistles and poisonous thornbushes. He presented many things as dogma that were designed to cloud the true faith in the hearts of many, things which he put forth especially before the uneducated crowd in his sermons and that he also admitted into his writings.”

 

 

You can read this ‘bull’ in its entirety by clicking here. It is an astonishing thought to me that Meister Eckhart, whose writings I so love, is considered to have taken to the ‘Father of Lies.’ The Pope, then writing from Avignon, seems to find most offensive the idea that his ‘heretical’ ideas were mostly offered to “the uneducated crowd” when he preached.  The uneducated crowd that John XXII was referring to were the people of God. One of the scariest prospects for the Holy See at the time was the fact that Eckhart was preaching his theology of self emptying and looking to accept the divine in others to the people in the vernacular, which in his case was German. I imagine it was a dangerous proposition for the church to allow the people of God the power to embrace knowledge, thought, instruction, and dialogue. In knowledge there is power, and I am certain that was the greatest threat of all to the church.

 

  MeisterEckhart2

One of his offences was his theology of God in humanity. His theology was very incarnational. The church never understood the encouragement he gave to the people that the Divine can be found within them and that they should nurture that sense of the Holy and allow it to grow. He wrote; “The seed of God is in us. Given an intelligent and hard-working farmer, it will thrive and grow up to God, whose seed it is; and accordingly its fruits will be God-nature. Pear seeds grow into pear trees, nut seeds into nut trees, and God-seed into God.”  Again – I find myself on the outside of the church’s position and embracing the ‘heresy’ of Eckhart. The Dominicans to which he belongs lobbied at the end of the last century to have Eckhart fully embraced by Rome. While there were rumours that John Paul II was sympathetic to their cause, Rome has not issued any official response. It’s a pity really.

 

It is interesting that over the many years that have passed since Meister Eckhart was reeled in by the church; his writings and his teaching have become stronger than ever. It is worth noting that while Eckhart may have died with no record of where he is even buried, his words have not just survive but have instructed for centuries. It is the Easter story all over again.  God arrives in places and persons that often make the institution uncomfortable.  Again and again the institution responds poorly to the lights that arrive in its midst. Miraculously, those lights are not extinguished. The darkness does not prevail. Love lives -even after death.

 

Eckhart once said, “God is at home, it’s we who have gone out for a walk.” Indeed, I believe that the church has oft gone for a long stroll while God waited at home patiently.  I just hope God’s patience does not run out.

St. Margaret of Clitherow

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Today in the Roman Catholic Church is a feast day for St. Margaret of Clitherow. Now This is what www.catholic.org has to say about Margaret.

 

St. Margaret Clitherow was born in Middleton, England, in 1555, of protestant parents. Possessed of good looks and full of wit and merriment, she was a charming personality. In 1571, she married John Clitherow, a well-to-do grazier and butcher (to whom she bore two children), and a few years later entered the Catholic Church. Her zeal led her to harbor fugitive priests, for which she was arrested and imprisoned by hostile authorities. Recourse was had to every means in an attempt to make her deny her Faith, but the holy woman stood firm. Finally, she was condemned to be pressed to death on March 25, 1586. She was stretched out on the ground with a sharp rock on her back and crushed under a door over laden with unbearable weights. Her bones were broken and she died within fifteen minutes. The humanity and holiness of this servant of God can be readily glimpsed in her words to a friend when she learned of her condemnation: "The sheriffs have said that I am going to die this coming Friday; and I feel the weakness of my flesh which is troubled at this news, but my spirit rejoices greatly. For the love of God, pray for me and ask all good people to do likewise." Her feast day is March 26th.

How we can do this to each other is beyond me. This of course was a day in age when those who were RC were persecuted in England. So these ‘God-fearing’ people in the middle of the fourth week of Lent that year thought it a good thing to ‘press’ a woman to death for become a member of the Roman Catholic Church – all in the name of God. Boy we can be brutal.

I remember reading about Margaret a few years ago and thinking how very faithful she must have been to choose that painful end over recanting. It seems today that we would deny faith rather than be embarrassed at a cocktail party. But we have been reminded this week that this sort of dark and brutal reality is not the answer. That as sure as Jesus showed a different and appropriate response to the violence of his day, so too did Margaret of Clitherow show a fearless and appropriate response to violence in her day, and we too are called to respond to the violence of our day with nonviolence and action.    

LIGHT has defeated darkness and we must respond in Light, in Love and in hope. Not long ago I was reflecting with someone about how brutal religious extremist can be in the Middle East. I hear people musing about it all the time. It is terrible when we hear of people being torn apart limb by limb for their Christian faith. And yet as Margaret of Clitherow’s story reminds us, this is not new. We still allow violence in the name of The Supreme Love. Let us all embrace the Easter Gospel and try and live with a sense of peace and justice. We can all affect a new way of being by being brave enough to embrace the faith we have been given and by refusing violence as a response., beginning with how we respond to those closest to us. Love, Love, Love!

Jubilate Deo, Omnis Terra

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[There are highlights of this great weekend found on Youtube. You can view this video by clicking here]

  St. Mark's Holy Week and Easter 2008 044

At Easter, when we were in seminary, the late great George Black would have us sing a wonderful Taize Canon and the words were;

 

Jubilate Deo

omnis terra,

servite Domino in laetitia

Alleluia, Alleluia in laetitia,

Alleluia, Alleluia in laetitia.

 

That translates to:

 

Make a joyful sound to God,

all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness

Alleluia, Alleluia with gladness

Alleluia, Alleluia with gladness

 St. Mark's Holy Week and Easter 2008 009

That song has been ringing in my head all morning as I look back at Saturday’s Vigil and Sunday Morning’s liturgies. We have celebrated the great triumph of Light and Love. We celebrate that God is good and God wants good for us. Our response has to be a joyful one and it has to be a full response. On Saturday Evening we celebrated the fullness of that love as we baptized little Elijah Paulton and Gabriella Goetz. We were so pleased to have the Rev’d Sue Paulton as our guest preacher and concelebrant. She had a special interest in that her Grandson is Elijah. Alex Haley wrote; “Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do.  Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children” It was very touching to watch Sue baptise Elijah. So much better, I think, that she was at church on Saturday to baptise her grandson. Thank you Sue and thank you to the folks from St. David’s and St. Mark’s (West End) who came out in support of your fine priest.

St. Mark's Holy Week and Easter 2008 017

 

 

Both Elijah and Gabriella were so good and they were so beautiful. It was great to see our friends from St. Barnabas present as well. Dave and Gisela are such great people and it was good to see their family and friends there offering love and support.   

 

Sunday morning was also tremendous. Our 8 AM celebration was one f the largest groups I have witnessed at that time. Our 10:30 AM Liturgy was more than full with 245 people fitting into a space that will feel over full after 200. The kids were awesome and the whole atmosphere was of joy and of jubilation. We made lots of joyful noise to the Lord. Eric Mainwaring was present and offered his gift of music on the trumpet. It was tremendous. It was a great addition to the choir and Andrea who were stellar in their leadership of music ministry. Beyond all of that the congregation sang with the greatest sense of joy and celebration and there was no doubt that this is a community of the resurrection.

 

So once again… There are highlights of this great weekend found on Youtube. If you were here this weekend there is a good chance you are in the video!!!You can view this video by clicking here.

A Great Youth Vigil

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Tonight Catherinanne and I were privileged to be present for a portion of the Youth Vigil at the church. Jane had a block of the vigil time slotted off for the young people to come out and be together. In that time they were invited to reflect, to pray and to share. It was very well done and I must say I was very proud of the work being done in this parish for the development of faith of young persons.  

To see a short video highlighting tonight’s please click here

[YOU MAY WANT TO PAUSE THE MUSIC ABOVE FIRST]

This prayer comes to mind as perhaps appropriate to what I witnessed tonight. It comes from The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and was prepared for those getting ready for World Youth Day.

Prayer for Youth
(as they prepare for and travel to the World Youth Day)

Where can I go when the night is dark and I stumble along the way?
I will go up to the house of the Lord, my God, whose light turns the night into day.
Where can I go when my heart is low and my spirit wounded with pain?
I will go up to the house of the Lord, my God, to the God who gives joy to my youth!

Where can I go when my heart is full, overflowing with thanks and praise?
I will go up to the house of the Lord, my God, whose peace is the joy of my days.
Where can I go when my heart is healed and mended with comfort and love?
I will go up to the house of the Lord. my God, whose grace gives me strength from above.
Where can I go when my heart is at peace and filled with the spirit of truth?
I will go up to the house of the Lord, my God, to the God who gives joy to my youth!

Where can I go to give of myself in return for all I’ve received?
I will go up to the house of the Lord, my God, who calls me to serve those in need.
Where can I go to pour out myself as God’s love is poured out for all?
I will go up to the house of the Lord, my God, whose love bids me answer the call.
Where can I go for life worth the living, for love strong in word, deed, and truth?
I will go up to the house of the Lord, my God, to the God who gives joy to my youth!