5th Sunday of Lent – Homily from Fr. Paul Voisin, CR

To read the readings of the day for this 5th Sunday of Lent click here.

Fr. Paul Voisin, CR, Superior General of the Congregation of the Resurrection, will offer this homily today, the 5th Sunday of Lent.

One of the realities of every family with a son or daughter in the military service, is the fear that one day an Officer, or Chaplain, or Commander will come to their front door with the sad news of the death of their child in combat.  Movies made famous the scene of registered letters or telegrams being received advising families that their loved one fighting far from home had died in the defense of freedom. The universal response of any parent would be devastation, the deep sorrow over the loss of a daughter or son before their time.

I thought of this when I read in the gospel (John 11:1-45) the simple words, “And Jesus wept”.  Jesus, as God-made-man, felt the human emotion of sorrow and loss at the death of his friend Lazarus.  He shared with Martha and Mary their grief over the death of their brother.

However Jesus, as God-made-man, could do more than grieve.  He had the power to raise Lazarus from the dead, which we see so dramatically in the gospel.   We can only imagine the joy and relief of Martha and Mary, and all their relatives and friends in Bethany to have him back among them.

Jesus tells us that “I am the resurrection and the life”.  As he rose from the dead, so those who follow him faithfully will share in his glorious resurrection.  However, for me, these words are not only talking about his resurrection but that he, personally, is the source of new life for those who following him faithfully.  Our relationship with him, here and now, will be the source of that new and risen life.  Not only after our physical death will we experience this resurrection, but here and now.  When Jesus rose from the dead the impossible and improbable happened, and God has the power to do the impossible and the improbable in our life today.

In our First Reading from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel (37:12-14) God reveals that he will raise the dead, that his people will live with him eternally.   They will share in his Spirit.

In our Second Reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans (8:8-11) St. Paul reminds us that we are more than flesh and bones, we are spirit.  Although the body may die, our spirit is eternal, and lives with God who raised Jesus from the dead.  Those who belong to God, live with God eternally.

When we think of the resurrection we naturally think of Easter and the Easter season.  However Jesus, as our “resurrection and life” is a reality of every day.   His ability to do the impossible and the improbable is not limited to Easter, but is ours every day.  That is why the virtue most associated with the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is hope.  Every day we should have hope, believing that God is with us, and that when we cooperate with his grace we can do the impossible and the improbable.  I am sure we can all reflect on our own lives and how God has done for us the impossible and the improbable, surprising us with an outpouring of grace and blessing.   Perhaps it was a family situation, or at school or at work, when all seemed dark and gloomy, when tempers flared or hurtful words were spoken.  Perhaps it was when a dream was smashed and our plans went unfulfilled.  Perhaps it was the grief of losing a loved one.  Just as Jesus wept, so too he weeps WITH us in those moments.  His compassion goes out to us in our moments of need.  His grace is abundant, and at the same time we are bombarded by the grace of his resurrection and new life if we turn to Jesus with hope.  Our hope is a sign of our faith in God, and a testimony to our experience that in the past God did the impossible and the improbable.

During our Lenten journey we have been called to die to ourselves in order to rise with Jesus.  As we respond to God each day the life and light of Christ grows within us.  Thus we are transformed, so that when we celebrate Easter we are a new person, a renewed family, more united friends, and more amicable neighbours.  This will not happen against our will.  We must will it, and work for it.  God can only do the impossible and the improbable with our help.  There are still two weeks that remain before we celebrate the new life of the resurrection.  May they be weeks that we follow faithfully the Lord Jesus and continue to die to self, in order to rise with him.  Through prayer, fasting and acts of charity we are uniting ourselves more closely with Jesus, and moving our hearts, minds and spirits closer to him and his kingdom.

Jesus weeps with us, as he has a compassionate heart and knows our human suffering.  He renews our hope that he can do the impossible and the improbable.  However, my fear is that if we do not respond to him he will weep FOR us, and the loss of our eternal spiritual life for not knowing, loving and serving him.

Sacrament of Reconciliation During COVID-19

During this difficult time of physical distancing when we are unable to receive the sacraments in the normal way, many are concerned about our inability to go to Confession. Unfortunately there is simply no way to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the traditional way right now, so Bishop Crosby has issued a statement about how we can still receive forgiveness and experience God’s mercy.

A brief summary is:

I … assure penitents that their sincere request for forgiveness, a perfect act of contrition and the firm resolution to confess their sins (even mortal sins) as soon as it is possible, obtains the forgiveness of their sins.

You can read the entire statement here.

Stations of the Cross Online

For all those who have been missing our Friday Stations of the Cross, the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd in Singapore has posted some really lovely videos praying the stations. Each video is about 45 minutes and is a very prayerful experience for us during this last week of Lent. Following the praying of the Stations, Cathedral Rector Msgr Philip Heng, SJ, shares a reflection on the Stations.

Here is a link to the Stations they prayed during the 1st Week of Lent.  You can find the other four weeks following this video.

Here is a link to the Cathedral’s youtube channel in case you want to check out their other videos.

Palm Sunday Information

For catholic’s sacramentals are an important part of our life of faith – blessed palms for our homes are sacramentals. While this years palms have not yet arrived at the church we still anticipate their delivery. If they arrive in time for Palm Sunday the ritual of the blessing of palms will take place. When Father Raph and Father Tim celebrate Mass privately on Palm Sunday they will bless the palms. The palms will then be distributed at the first Sunday Mass after this period of isolation is lifted.

FORMED: The Catholic Faith, On Demand

Formed is a Catholic website which offers access to Catholic movies, faith formation videos, audio talks and children’s videos. Normally you would pay a monthly subscription to use this platform, but during the COVID-19 crisis they have made their resources available to all for free for 40 days. (NOTE: You have to provide a credit card to sign up and then cancel your subscription before the 40 days are up or you will be charged.)

 

From the Pastor’s Desk… March 25, 2020

As we find our world being turned upside down. As we experience the powerful grip of fear. As we long for understanding. As we grieve the death of far too many of God’s children. As we feel the longing for a human embrace. As we feel the hunger for God’s sacraments, where are we to turn? My friends, we turn to the God who has not abandoned us and who continues to stand by our side, we turn to the God of Hope! Continue reading

Invitation to Pray from Bishop Crosby

During these Lenten days, and mindful of all who are affected by the COVID-19 Virus, we are called to be more fervent in prayer.  Since we are not able to gather publicly for prayer at this time, we are encouraged to pray with our families in our homes, our “domestic” churches, and to draw on the many spiritual resources which are part of our Catholic tradition. Continue reading

COVID-19 Coronavirus

UPDATED INFORMATION regarding EASTER and COVID-19

Please see updated directives from Bishop Crosby on the celebrating Easter in Hamilton Diocese by clicking here.

 

As of today, Monday March 16, 2020, all Masses in the Hamilton Diocese are cancelled until further notice.  Please read these updated directives from Bishop Crosby.

St. Francis of Assisi Parish has also made the difficult decision to cancel all Monday – Friday parish activities until further notice.  This includes all weekday Masses, meetings, gatherings and outside use of the facilities.  The only exception is the St. Vincent de Paul Food Hamper Program which will continue.

The parish office is also closed. If you need to contact us please call or email, we will respond as quickly as possible as we work from home.

Please take care of yourselves and keep all those who are ill and our healthcare workers in prayer.  Pope Francis has composed a prayer to Our Lady during this crisis, let us pray together in solidarity with all those affected throughout the world.

TV & Online Masses

During this time of COVID-19, when churches are closed and Mass is not celebrated publicly, you can still spiritually participate in the celebration of the Mass.

Televised Masses:

Salt and Light (Channel 240, Rogers Cable)
Monday to Saturday: 6:30 am, 9:30 am, 11:00 am, 3:00 pm, 10:30 pm
Sunday: 11:00 am,10:30 pm

Vision TV (Channel 27, Rogers Cable)
Monday to Friday: 8:00 am, 12:00 pm
Sunday: 8:00 am

Joy TV (Channel 173, Rogers Cable or Channel 656, Bell Satellite)
Monday to Friday: 10:30 am, 4:00 pm
Sunday: 10:30 am

On-Line Masses:

www.dailytvmass.com

Welcome to St. Francis of Assisi Parish

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred… let me sow Love.
Where there is injury… Pardon.
Where there is doubt… Faith.
Where there is despair… Hope.
Where there is darkness… Light.
And where there is sadness… Joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen

~ St. Francis of Assisi