In a moving prayer from Rome last week Pope Francis reminded us… "Embracing his cross means finding the courage to embrace all the hardships of the present time, abandoning for a moment our eagerness for power and possessions in order to make room for the creativity that only the Spirit is capable of inspiring. It means finding the courage to create spaces where everyone can recognize that they are called, and to allow new forms of hospitality, fraternity and solidarity. By his cross we have been saved in order to embrace hope and let it strengthen and sustain all measures and all possible avenues for helping us protect ourselves and others. Embracing the Lord in order to embrace hope: that is the strength of faith, which frees us from fear and gives us hope." We are responding to the situation that has appeared before us and what our actions are at this time will determine how our lives will be changed. We don’t have to be afraid and we won’t be if we take care of each other. So, to whom can you and I reach out to make them feel more peaceful? Who could use our quiet voice to be reassured? We can do it simply through an email, text or phone call. Letting others know we are thinking of them and praying for them brings hope.
The members of our pastoral team and administrative staff are here for you. We are working from home but we check our email and phone messages regularly and we will respond. Among many other matters, weddings, baptisms, first communions, and funerals have had to be postponed but assistance will be given in order to rearrange these celebrations. If there is anything you need or we can do for you, please let us know. Also if you know of anyone who can be assisted, encourage them to contact us. We can be reached at 519-432-3475. Stay safe. Be well.
Many appreciated the liturgy resource provided last week. This week I draw your attention to another one, "Holy Week At Home". It adapts the rituals of Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday for our prayer.. As the resource reminds us, they are not intended to replace the liturgies but do give us the spirit of what we are called to pray for and reflect upon since we are unable to gather as a parish family. You can access the material here.
As one response to the COVID-19 pandemic religious leaders in Canada have produced a reflection, "Hope, Gratitude and Solidarity." It is an invitation to respond generously and to trust in the love and mercy of God – the source of all hope. You can read it here.
Countless prayers have been written at this time of crisis. Written by Kerry Weber, A Prayer Amid an Epidemic, closes with the thought “Whether we are home or abroad, surrounded by many people suffering from this illness or only a few, Jesus Christ, stay with us as we endure and mourn, persist and prepare. In place of our anxiety, give us your peace. Jesus Christ, heal us.”
This coming week is called “holy” because we remember the selfless love of Jesus for all of us. He came into our life so we never have to endure anything - joys or sorrows – alone. I will be praying for you – that you and I will travel throughout the week with a heart that listens so we will experience the presence, peace, hope and love He intends for us.
Fr. Jim Mockler
From the Desk of the Rector
Many of you must be thinking, how can we make our Holy Week experience a sacred one without attending church as we normally do? The pandemic has challenged us to think differently and to pray differently throughout the Season of Lent and now throughout Holy Week. Thanks to the creativity of our liturgists, we offer you the following resource for prayer: Holy Week at Home: Adaptations of the Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil, and Easter Sunday Rituals for Family and Household Prayer. Each prayer service is prefaced by an introduction highlighting one of the sacred symbols for each of the five moments of prayer. This is followed by a brief service of listening to the Word of God and of intercessory prayer. When the formal time of prayer is complete there are a few reflection questions offered to initiate a time for sharing faith.
We the staff of St. Peter’s Cathedral Basilica sincerely miss your presence and prayerfulness during our regular times of worship. We will miss you all the more this Holy Week. We hope these simple services of prayer, offered together in your household, will remind you that we are united spiritually at this time.
Imagine yourself, a friend and follower of Jesus, on the Mount of Olives with a large crowd of people. You are on your way into the city of Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread—the Feast of Passover. This is the season of great rejoicing as hundreds of thousands of fellow pilgrims descend upon the Holy City, Jerusalem.
You see something very unusual happening to Jesus as a few of his close collaborators bring to him a donkey and her foal. They take their precious cloaks, place them on the back of the colt and help Jesus on to the little donkey. This seems strange…
You’ve never seen Jesus ride any beast of burden before because he usually walked everywhere. Something unique is happening. He almost looks like a king. Though, using a colt to ride upon, he appears to be a very humble king. This image reminds you of a passage of scripture from the lesser known prophet Zechariah. He once predicted that a Messiah would come to us when he wrote, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Could this be the moment when Jesus is finally revealing his kingship to all the world? Yes! Yes! It is! And now, you find yourself caught up in the excitement of the moment and join the crowd You take your own prized cloak and spread it on the ground before Jesus. You break off olive branches and wave them exuberantly before the “Son of David” and you shout “Hosanna, Hosanna in the Highest.”
Now, step back from your daydream. Wouldn’t we just love to be out in a great crowd of believers shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David, the King of Israel” at this very moment. Our current circumstances make it impossible for us to do so. And yet, there is ample reason for us to rejoice and be glad. While the bulk of our prayer, right now, is focused on asking our gracious and compassionate God to help us in the crisis of this global pandemic, we also need to give praise and thanks to God for the very people who selflessly work the frontline of the pandemic keeping us safe and healthy. They are living witnesses of the saving actions of Christ the Saviour. They, like Jesus, mount a humble war horse and head into battle to protect and to save lives.
I offer a couple questions for your prayer time as we join Jesus entering another dark moment of human history. Keep in mind he enters as a triumphant and victorious King. His only desire is to save and to reconcile us, no matter the personal cost he must bear. How much of your prayer time is spent in rejoicing, thanking and giving praise to God for all the good that exists around you? What is the cloak (the most important possession you have) that you are willing to place at the feet of Jesus for him to make use of during these unprecedented days?
Fr. Gary Ducharme
Being Present at the
THURSDAY OF THE LORD’S (Holy Thursday)
Readings: Exodus 12.1-8. 11-14, Psalm 116,
1 Corinthians 11.23-26, John 13.1-15
“Who would you object to having wash you? What life are you rejecting by your objection?”
When Jesus goes to wash Peter’s feet, Peter is appalled” a master is typically washed by the servants, not the other way around! Jesus insists this is necessary for those who desire communion with God. Each of us needs to see ourselves as needing to be cared for, as well as offering care. So, while you consider whose feet you might be called to wash (and whom you might be called to serve in the world), you might also consider those you might resist allowing to wash (and serve) you. Being permitted to care for others gives us much life, but when we refuse the care of others, we deny them that same dignity and life.
“We enter into life by our embrace of death—and we do this in different ways.”
This is the heart of our faith: we embrace death to find new life. It feels easier to avoid death but, in so doing, we miss out on the life of the Resurrection that follows. We need to recognize the different ways we behave in response to death, and we see some examples in the Passion reading. Judas betrays; Peter denies; Pilate becomes complicit in Jesus’ suffering; those who do not understand Jesus call for His death; the soldiers profit off of Jesus’ torture. Mary the Mother of Jesus, Mary the wife of Clopas, Mary Magdalene, and John stand with Him and witness; another soldier offers a drink; Joseph and Nicodemus ask for Jesus’ body, and prepare their friend for burial. Each person must respond to the dying; the way they do will frame the choices they make in response to rising. Everyone grieves and encounters suffering differently. Each of these people, and each of us, will have to make our way through the grief, if we are to find the risen Jesus.
“New life begins with confusion that gives way to deep joy.”
In the Gospel both at the Vigil and on Easter Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb to grieve, only to discover it is empty. The death she expected to greet her is not there. As we walk through the sufferings and deaths of our own life, experiencing Resurrection depends on our willingness to give ourselves over to the confusion that precedes joy. It is a fragile and beautiful thing to let go of our grip on death long enough to allow our confusion to give way into a new understanding—indeed a new life beyond what has passed away. May we find ourselves rising, if slowly, from our own lives’ suffering and confusion into the joy of knowing and loving the risen Jesus, today and every day.
Gospel Reflections from the CCCB National Pastoral Initiative for Life and the Family, 2020
Praying the Readings of
The Easter Triduum
“How do we have a sense of God being with us during these challenging times? I find it very easy to pray when things are going well for me; when I am in charge and control. This has not been the experience these days. My prayer now is not so much what I do for God, but more of what God can do for me – and this is not easy at all! Those who knew Jesus stood by helplessly powerless has they watched him being condemned and crucified. Perhaps we feel helpless and powerless these days. But we are not without faith or courage: God is with us. This is Christian hope: not that things will turn out well or the way we want, but that whatever happens, God is with us.
Through the cross, fear was shattered by hope, darkness was overcome by light and death was defeated by life. This is a time of crucifixion, but the resurrection will come – for all of us. In prayer, let us reach out to and connect with each other; we are not alone – God is with us.”
Br Michael Moore, OMI
God is With Us
“Palm Sunday, is the opening of Holy Week, the climax of Lent and the celebration of the Paschal Mystery, the high point of our liturgical year. Partly due to traditional and commercial influences we tend to make more of Christmas than Easter but, in terms of our faith, Christmas only has meaning in the context of what happened in Holy Week and Easter.
The theme of this week and of today’s liturgy is clear. What Jesus experiences for us is a manifestation of God’s overwhelming love for each one of us. Further, by our identifying ourselves with the ‘mystery’ of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection we ourselves experience a great liberation, a ‘passover’ from various forms of sin and enslavement to a life of joy and freedom. Certainly our celebration of Holy Week is not just to be one of memories, or even just of thanks but of entering, together with Jesus, into a new experience of living. It is meant to be real and not merely religious, pious and devotional make-believe.
Today’s liturgy combines both a sense of triumph and tragedy. Very importantly, we are reminded at the beginning, that we are about to commemorate the triumph of Christ our King. We need to keep this in mind as we proceed in the second half to hear the long tale of the sufferings and indignities to which Jesus was subjected. A tale not relieved — yet — by the proper end of the story: the Resurrection to new life. So as we listen to the Passion story unfolding let us keep in mind the Hosannas as Jesus our King entered Jerusalem, his city. Very soon it will be difficult to recognise our King in the battered, scourged, crowned-with-thorns, crucified remnant of a human being.
What we see in today’s readings is God using perfectly human situations in order to convey, in dramatic fashion, his relationship to us. Today’s readings also tell us that Jesus suffered. And he really did suffer. There are those who tend to minimise the sufferings of Jesus because "after all, he was the Son of God, he had a ‘Divine Nature’." This is to deny one of the most central teachings of the New Testament that Jesus was one hundred percent a human being and, except for sin, shared our human experiences in every way.
At the moment of his death, Matthew in today’s Gospel reading says that Jesus "released the spirit". It is a way of saying that he breathed his last breath and died. But it also has the other meaning that the life, sufferings and death of Jesus, when properly understood, released a power into the world, the power of the Spirit of God, a Spirit with which Jesus himself was filled. Jesus’ followers will soon become filled with that Spirit also. Jesus’ disciples, energised by the power of their Lord and Master, will go through similar experiences to his. The death of Jesus, which we commemorate today, was not in the end a sign of failure. It was Jesus’ moment of triumph and victory. The same can be said of the long line of martyrs and witnesses over 2,000 years.
So, as we participate in the liturgy of Holy Week, let us not concentrate simply on the sufferings of Jesus as if there was something good about suffering. Those sufferings only have meaning because they lead to resurrection, new life and new joy. Suffering, pain, sickness are not in themselves desirable. They become, however, sources of good when they help us to become more mature, more loving, more caring, more sympathetic people — in other words when they lead us to be more like Jesus himself, when they lead to our own liberation and the liberation of others.”
Excerpt from Commentaries on Daily Readings-Palm Sunday,