… it all started when a man and a woman said “I DO”… Well, it actually started a while before that but let’s skip to the really good part… Continue reading
… it all started when a man and a woman said “I DO”… Well, it actually started a while before that but let’s skip to the really good part… Continue reading
We continue our Advent journey of preparation and expectation of the birth of Jesus. But have you ever realized that Jesus wants to be born in you?
Jesus wants to be born in us!
There are 2 figures which point us towards this reality today:
1.) John the Baptist (from the Gospel for the 2nd Sunday of Advent; Matthew 11.2-11) came proclaiming the coming kingdom, a kingdom which we hear about from the prophet Isaiah(35.1-6,10) in the first reading. We hear of John appearing in the “wilderness” (also understood as a deserted and desolate place). So why do we meet John there? It seems to me because there are no distractions; nothing to divert us from what is going on in our heart. In our lives we are constantly tempted to divert and distract ourselves from what really matters, to fill those empty spaces.
John calls you and me in to the wilderness(the desert) to “prepare the way of the Lord”, to open our eyes and become convicted, to turn and confess and prepare our hearts(the wombs of our hearts) to give birth to Christ. What do I mean by this? That our lives would be centred and focussed on Jesus, and our relationship with him; expressing in our thoughts, our words, and our actions.
2.) Mary, the mother of God offered her entire being and body to this reality, of birthing Christ. Saturday began the novena(9 days of prayer) before the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas, of the unborn, and of the Whitehorse diocese.
We have been blessed to have been donated a beautiful statue which resides at a side altar, above a votive candle stand, in our village church here in Telegraph Creek. This week she will be travelling to the different homes of our church community until her feast day on December 12th(also the National Day of Prayer in Solidarity with Indigenous People).
She appeared to Juan Diego in the year 1531, in Mexico, and by a miracle imprinted her image upon his tilma. The details and symbols* of this image revealed the message she wanted to share, not only with Juan Diego and the Indigenous Mexicans but to all people, about who she is and consequently who Jesus is:
Her dark complexion and mix of Indigenous and Spanish features represents the unity of all people, that we are all her children. Her eyes are gazing down, revealing humility. As great as she is she is not god. Indian gods always looked straight ahead, never down. Her face has an expression of compassion, as a mother gazing at her child(ren).
Her mantle is a blue-green colour, a colour of cloak which was only worn by the native emperors. The stars on her mantle were configured as they were in the sky just before dawn on that day she appeared to Juan Diego. Indigenous tradition also recognized the end and beginning of different eras by comets or bodies of stars.
Her hands express prayer and offering, while her bent knee, as in movement, signifies dancing prayer; expressing how the indigenous prayed.
The particular band around her waist is the sign of a pregnant woman. For the indigenous it was a sign of someone to come. This is also one of the few depictions of Mary in pregnancy.
Mary hides/eclipses the sun, only the rays come forth. She does not extinguish the light and it shows that she is greater than the Indigenous sun god.
She is standing on the crescent moon indicating that she is greater than the Indigenous god of night and also signifies her purity/immaculate conception .
The Angel ‘carrying’ Mary is seen by the Indigenous as an “intermediary god” carrying in a new era. The Angel is holding both her mantle(representing the heavens) and her tunic(representing the earth by the flowers) in each hand signifying a union between heaven and earth.
“A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun,
with the moon under her feet…she was with child…” -Revelation 12.1-2
So let us look both to the examples of John the Baptist and Our Lady today as we pray for strength to turn away from distraction and sin and open our hearts to welcome Christ who wants to be born in us, not only at Christmas but, today!
It was crazy reading the Gospel from yesterday (Luke 21.5-19)! Crazy, because it was almost like I was reading the daily world news in Jesus’ response to his disciples about the temple and “when there shall not be left one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”:
-“Nation will rise against nation…” v.10
-“…there will be great earthquakes and…famines…” v.11
-“…wars and insurrections…” v.9
-persecution of the Church v.12
-people turning against each other v.16
What Jesus speaks of that will happen, before the end, is happening right now! Are we at the end? We very well could be! But that doesn’t really matter.
You may be thinking, ‘Well of course it matters. What do you mean that being at the end doesn’t matter?’
I say this because we really need to focus on what does really matter! Jesus warns us not to be led astray, in verse 8.
what DOES matter?
Remaining faithful & enduring, in faith and hope.
If it is the end, or even if it isn’t, what should we be doing?
Remaining faithful & enduring, in faith and hope.
All is in Gods hands, including you and me.
Even, and especially, in our everyday tasks, our work, and our responsibilities(2 Thess. 3.7-12), it is essential to seek God and keep walking toward Him. Keep your eyes on Him. Keep your thoughts on Him.
There is so much in this world drawing our attention away from Him, with everything around us and in us: the needs, hurts, brokenness, distractions, temptations to pleasure to ‘unplug’ and ‘escape’, and false promises of security. We worry about missing out and we worry for our children and grandchildren and their futures.
Amidst all of this remain faithful to Him; this is your testimony(Luke 21.13).
Everything we rely on in this world will one day pass away, BUT He will not!
Remain faithful. Endure in faith, that all is in God’s hands, and endure in hope in what does last, Heaven!
Lord, I pray for the grace today to endure, to fix my eyes on that which does not pass away, and to endure in faith and hope in your promise, remaining faithful to you. Amen
Do not underestimate the power you have to overcome temptation!
Surrender is key here.
One of the biggest lies of the devil is that just because you are tempted you have to give in, and essentially surrender to the sin. But we have to realize that ….
it is ok to feel angry,
it is ok to feel lustful,
it is ok to feel jealous,
it is ok to feel impatient,
it is ok to feel these things.
It is only when we surrender to these that the feeling becomes a sin. And all too often the moment it begins we just give in.
What do we do? Because we will be tempted. Jesus starts his ministry being tempted in the desert by the devil (Luke 4.1-13). And he shows us the way through temptation.
You see… temptation made him stronger, and it can make us stronger too. Think of it as resistance!
Our children received a rock tumbler as a Christmas gift last year. What it does is polish rocks; what would take Mother Nature hundreds to thousands of years takes just several weeks in a rock tumbler. How it works though is the important part; it works by adding grit(course sand) which, when combined with water and the rocks and the continual turning/rolling action of the barrel, wears down the rough points and surfaces. Regular rocks are turned into gem stones by this continual rubbing and resistance.
You and I are called to greatness….
…and part of becoming great is being able to face temptation, to struggle through it. Like a rock in a rock tumbler temptation(grit) will smooth out your sharp edges and polish your rough parts.
As you surrender to God’s love(and not to temptation), and as you surrender to His word and his work and his life in you…
…you will, bit by bit and grit by grit, become who you are meant to be, who God is calling you to be!
Do not underestimate the power you have to become a saint!
*initially posted May 19th, 2021 in ”pages”. I have decided to re-publish as a post instead, just finally got around to it 😊
The following was our Christmas letter that we mailed out to many of our friends and family last fall(2020). Since it has been a while we figured it was a good excuse, and about time, for a public update. Perhaps this will spur more regular posts 🙂
“Who are you?” The line hit me with a bit of shock sitting in the newly finished church in Telegraph Creek, still waiting for the installation of the last few holy fixtures of the crucifix and the stations of the cross, while reflecting on the scriptures for the 3rd Sunday of Advent. Relegated, at least that is the feeling, to simply keeping the church open on Sundays for people to ‘pop in’ for personal time with the Lord is a bit underwhelming. The comfort of an hour long scheduled gathering for worship & communion seems like a distant yet fond memory, yet this is where we are. What do you mean ‘who am I’? Well, “I am a husband, a father.” These are my immediate reactions. If someone asked me this as I was walking down the street these would probably be my first responses. As important as these things are, as I dwelled a bit longer on this word I hoped that I could be asked this question out of curiosity of why I do what I do in life, as a husband and as a father. “Who am I?” I am, our family is, we all are, called to testify to the light. And as we are nearing the celebration of Christmas this theme of light resonates back on this year, beyond, and forward to the new year just around the corner.
It is amazing to see where we have come over these last couple years; ‘New life’ and ‘light’ in so many ways. The greatest sign of this for us was the wonderful sunflower ‘bush’ (pictured below, on our move in day).
that we discovered in late Spring that had sprung up on the edge of the upper terrace of our yard, 100 or more feet from our old garden where we had previously (before the wildfire) planted sunflower seeds. It was for us a beautiful sign of the work that God has been doing all along. It has been a reminder for us to trust In His plan and to enjoy the journey and cherish relationships.
We really enjoyed our time in Dease Lake, having sparked new relationships and having had the time to spend with the church community there. Our favorite past time would have been going down to the lake, via the path at the end of our street, and ice fishing or walking on the trails. One of the highlights for the kids in late spring was their two-day lemonade stand where they made almost $200! They made all sorts of wonderful noise enticing customers, a welcome joy many mentioned as they stopped by. There were several generous customers that paid $20 for their cup of lemonade. They were raising money for their sponsor child and kept just enough to each get a double scoop ice cream cone at “The Shack,” the local take out restaurant.
We were blessed with the presence of 2 young workers who came to help us with the continued work on the house & church: siding, painting, and building both both wood and storage sheds. Just having their presence and company was so wonderful and the children loved their time with them.
A lot of the year was spent in joyful expectation of the new life in Denise’s womb, with talk of name ideas and voting on whether the baby would be a boy or girl, light or dark, taller or shorter.
Another highlight was a visit with family (both sides of grandparents & cousins) mid-summer, with a secondary purpose of bringing back a full trailer load of pews & IKEA cabinets (and a snowmobile as well, diving into a whole new world). In our plea for help for extra workers, to our bishop, we returned with seminarians, who lived with us for 6 weeks and helped with painting of our doors, and installation of cabinets, pews, wainscotting, doors, and trims. Wow, it was a lot, but what an amazing help! The kids’ favourite time with these guys was our after supper board games, which got pretty heated at times but brought much enjoyment.
Josh spent much of his time this year continuing to coordinate work on the house, while also making late summer runs for appliances to Terrace & for countertops to Prince George.
Despite our desires to wait to move in to the new house until it was completely finished we opted for the best option of being able to settle in before we left to head south for the arrival of our newest little life. Our time living in Dease Lake, sadly, came to an end at the beginning of September. While it was sad to leave it was so wonderful also, to be living back in Telegraph Creek, despite all of the changes in our hearts and within the community; the grief, the growth, the planning and coordinating, the waiting, the stress, the expectation all coming to a culmination. There was, and still is, that peaceful feeling that we were meant to be back and that we were once again ‘home’.
But amid this feeling it was also slightly hectic as we moved back amid incomplete wiring and finishing work, only to be leaving 3 weeks later. However the leaving again came with the excitement of time with our family and the new life that would be arriving soon!
Above all, our most cherished time this year was the arrival of little, or should we say tall, Malachi. We were blessed with 6 weeks with extended family. And while we would say that it was quite busy adjusting to being back in our new home still with a few things to finish, with a newborn, homeschooling, and isolating for 2 weeks upon our return it allowed for much growth as a family in many different ways.
The saddest part has been, perhaps, the delay of the dedication of the Church, that had initially been planned for November 29th, although it has allowed us to take the time to really be present with our children and slowly pick away at the work and the final touches still to be done. Do I dare say that COVID has made our lives more purpose focussed and presence filled?
This Christmas, as we will not be able to gather for the traditional evening Mass with a priest and the community we recognize that the Lord is calling us to testify to the light of this newborn child in a manger who brings peace, clarity, wholeness, and purpose through every situation, to every life. We recognize this year He is calling us in new ways to bear this light to our community here. We pray that you may be blessed, regardless of whether you have been yet this year, with an encounter with His peace and His light in your life that you may be able to testify… ”The light has shone in the darkness …but the darkness has not overcome it!”
For pictures of the construction & progress of the house and church you can go to the Whitehorse Diocesen website for a full video gallery of the project from start to finish. ENJOY!
How hard it is to see our suffering as a blessing!
In our lives we do not look for suffering; good health is preferred to sickness, joy is more acceptable than sorrow, success is more desired than failure, and riches more cherished than poverty!
But Jesus’ measurement for blessedness are things so detestable by our standards; poverty, hunger, grieving and sorrowing, and being hated, despised, and excluded.
So, why these situations and states in order for us to blessed? Why suffering? Why poverty? Why hunger? Why exclusion? I believe the simple answer would be because these all bring us to a profound need, a need for God and for total reliance on Him.
But it is hard to be faithful! There are so many comforts and temptations that distract us and pull us away from God and the path of blessedness. It is kind of like a tug-of-war, with the world as our opponent. It is impossible for us to pull and to resist on our own. We need God pulling with us, for us! He has actually already won the “tug-of-war” so we just really need to let go, fall on our knees, and acknowledge our need for Him.
“Blessed the one who trusts in the Lord”– Psalm 1 (response)
We will face hardships, temptations, and struggles in this life. We will have the desire to escape into comforts, but we need to remember that we can not face these on our own.
Trust in the Lord with all that you are!
Go to Him and ask Him for help and strength!
And in time you will see the blessedness of suffering as the way of drawing ever closer to him.
Praise the Lord for opportunities to grow more in need of Him and to draw closer to Him; that poverty has become a sure path to eternal riches, hunger has created a way to eternal satisfaction, sorrow and grief have become paths leading to eternal joy, and that rejection has paved the way to an acceptance into an eternity in love.
Jesus is waiting for you today, so come to Him hungry and empty.
Come and allow, not the world but, Jesus to fill you by the power of the Holy Spirit!
I felt so inspired to share this reflection, after sharing it at our Liturgy last Sunday, because this suffering really speaks to us in a very personal way as we have struggled through these past 2 years among so much adversity, all exascerbated with the challenges faced during a pandemic. At times we have felt so low, but it has been prayer, a dependance on God, and the support & encouragement we have received from so many family, friends, and clergy that has carried us. To put it in a nutshell, this passage from Luke(v.21-22 particularly) has almost completely related to our situation and speaks deeply to our hearts.
We have been asked by quite a few people lately, perhaps because we are all out in “public” with things opening up more and people gathering again (as we had a funeral service for an elder earlier this week), “how much longer are you staying?” And we feel as if people are really saying, “why are you still here? With everything that has happened and the church coming to the forefront of controversy with residential schools, shouldn’t you be somewhere else? Wouldn’t it be easier to go home and be with your families?”
So through it all we have been reminded this week, “We love because he first loved us.” Wherever we are, wherever He puts us and calls us to be, it is Gods love that we sink in to, that we accommodate to permeate our hearts, and that we seek to share by first loving those closest to us(our children and each other); allowing His love to shine forth from our hearts as a beacon of hope to all. And, as we heard recently from another person: “I hope you guys grow old here!”
We are faced with this question in the Gospel of Matthew(11.2-11) as we await the coming of Christ during this season of Advent.
Perhaps we wonder at times, “Are you the one..” Jesus? As John the Baptist sends his disciples with this question. Are you the one who is coming in to my life, the one whom my heart is searching for? Or is there another?
A question to ponder for the 3rd Sunday of Advent:
WHAT DO YOU HEAR AND SEE? …
… when you are in the silence?
… gazing at Jesus on the cross?
… when reading His word, the scriptures?
… when you receive Him in the Eucharist?
When he comes in to our lives we will experience true joy, eternal joy! And we will see and hear amazing things!
Let us quiet our hearts amidst the busyness that can be as we draw near to the celebration of Christmas and listen for His answer.
What a shockwave has hit our community! Each one of us has been affected in one way or another. Each one of us experiences loss and grief at some moment in our lives, some more than others, in differing capacities, but who ever thinks they will be the victim of the disaster from a forest fire.
We were informed on Tuesday evening that St.Theresa’s Catholic Church and rectory(the house we were living in) were both taken by the Alkali Lake fire, along with many other structures/homes in the village.
Fortunately for us we had left town last Thursday morning to head south for the birth of our newest baby, bringing with us our hard drive with our family photos. We left, not realizing it would be our last view of the place. We have been dealing with grief and a sense of loss of all the special keepsakes that are irreplaceable but most of all the loss of the Church and our home that was filled with so many faith filled memories for so many of the faithful over the years. Our hearts also hurt out of love for all of the others in our community who have lost so much, these people that we have come to know and love and have become such a special part of our lives. Although we have also felt a bit distant to this tragedy(as we were not around during evacuation) we are also aware of the blessing of our children not having to face the intense emotions of being forced out of our home. In that regard though it has also felt very surreal to all of us and I think finally getting to go back at some point will create some closure for us.
We feel that God will use this for good. Even just two days after we heard the news we were already feeling so blessed with the love and support of family, friends, and even people we have never met. This situation has really helped us to put life, its meaning and purpose, into perspective. Thinking back to all of the jobs and tasks we were trying to get complete before we left, it is not that we got them done but how we did them that really mattered. Were we doing them with great love? Were we lifting up our brothers and sisters in need of prayer as we worked? The truth is, not always. We have felt, in our hearts and soul a call to go deeper through this; God calling us to surrender everything, to ‘sell’ all we possess and be little, simple, poor, childlike(as we pray as a couple most mornings, from Catherine Doherty’s Little Mandate). We feel blessed, yet perplexed, to part of the great mystery of encountering Gods will and His love through all of this.
Although Telegraph Creek may never be the same as it was, we take comfort and joy from the memories we have had there thus far.
In the words of a good friend of ours, we pray that “from the ashes will rise beauty”; a more beautiful community, a more unified community!
And so we would like to share with you our last few memories of what life in Telegraph Creek was for us before it was, and we were, changed forever!
Because of the hot weather during the last couple months of July we spent many afternoons/evenings swimming in Sawmill Lake and cooking supper over the campfire.
Fr.Leo, from Toronto, came for a visit to celebrate Mass and prepare three of the youth for their First Communion by celebrating their First Reconciliation. We had a potluck supper afterwards in the back yard.
Josh putting a new roof on the shed, and the kids using some of the leftover vinyl for a slip-and-slide.
A visit from our good friends, the Bruneaus(also a part of the Holy Family Apostolate) who came up for 4 days. It is always such a blessing for us to share a bit of our life with friends. And always such a comfort and joy to have visitors!
An afternoon down at the beach, on the river, with one of the nurses. Fishing, digging in the sand, rock collecting, and watching a wedding party (in suits and dresses) boarding jet boats for a the ceremony down the river.
Tobias’ apparent love of water. And another visit from some good friends(from Whitehorse); what a blessed July!
Bishop Hector joining our family picnic.
Bishop Hector came to Telegraph Creek on the second last Sunday of July to celebrate three First Communions and two Baptisms. He was also able to go down to the fish camps to visit with the people there.
We had also been blessed by the presence of Kristina(pictured sitting at the picnic table with the kids), a young woman from Vancouver who came up for six weeks this summer to help out in our Mission churches. She stayed at St.Mary Magdalene Mission in Dease Lake and was a huge help with sacramental prep, also travelling to Iskut and Good Hope Lake for this purpose and making a connection with the people with her joyful and loving personality. In this short time she became a special part of our family life and we feel so strongly that God placed her in Dease Lake at just the right time to bring the support and the light of Christ that was needed.
So, so many good memories, and perhaps it’s only the beginning.
Many people have been asking how they can support or help us. Your prayers for the community, for hope, strength, and courage, as we prepare to rebuild are such a blessing and so greatly appreciated.
On the other side of things, if you would like to make an online donation towards a Relief Fund for the Telegraph Creek Community, or for the Rebuilding of St. Theresa’s Mission, you can go to the Diocese’s website here, and click on ‘Donate Now’. Don’t forget to select which fund you would like to donate to from the drop down tab.
Reflecting on the Mass readings from yesterday and also celebrating the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel today we wanted to share a short reflection with you!
St.Paul reminds us(Ephesians 1.3-14) that God has called us, to be holy, and blessed us with his graces to ‘live for the praise of his glory’, encapsulating what it means to be Christian!
“God the Father has blessed us… with every spiritual blessing… He chose us before the foundation of the world to be holy… [He has lavished on us the riches of his graces]… that we might live for the praise of his glory…”
How are we responding to this in our own lives, in our every moment of every day, as we receive his graces in suffering, as we receive blessings or inner promptings, in moments of consolation or desolation?
We have the example of Amos(Amos 7.12-15), who was called to speak to God’s people at a time when they had become very big-headed, very rich, and very influential. He was a sheepherder, a nobody, called by God to bring his Word to a great(in a worldly sense) nation.
When we don’t get in the way with our ego, big-headedness, and pride, God can do the greatest work in us and through us! He can use us in our littleness to show His greatness!
This is of course why we are reminded in the Gospel(Mark 6.7-13) by Jesus to have total dependance on God and His providence, taking nothing extra for the journey.
How can we allow God to work through us this week? How can we turn our inner attitudes, our dispositions, towards full and complete trust without letting ourselves get in the way?
Let us look to our heavenly mother, Mary, especially as we celebrate her feast day today, and seek to model her response to God; her meek and humble heart;
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour. For He has looked with favour on his lowly servant.”
Our Lady of Mount Carmel R./ Pray for us!
At the beginning of June we had the opportunity to attend a Catholic Family Camp at Braeburn Lake, about a 1 hour drive north of Whitehorse. It was such a wonderful opportunity to enjoy some re-creation time for all of us, for the kids to be able to just run around and have fun with a lot of their friends, and to connect with other families, all of whom we knew previously. We also got to celebrate Mass outdoors! This was the first family camp for Whitehorse and there were 7 other families present. Here are some highlights:
Josh was out in Dease Lake last week preparing the site for the new church building. It was great to have the help of some other Catholic men! Next week will be the final site prep with removal of a few more trees on the front edge of the property and the rest of the stumps. And then we will also be putting in the foundation posts.
And then we were all in Dease Lake the following day, taking the school bus out, to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day. It started with a walk from the school up to the Community Centre. There was traditional drumming to open the event as well as a clan designation ceremony(for all those who were not Tahltan). Denise and the kids became honourary Wolves (Ch’ioyone) and therefore Josh was an honorary Crow(Tsesk’iya). There were also lots of activities including a bouncy house, t-shirt making, face painting, language games, and stick gambling.
We had a field trip this week down at the 6 mile fish camps where the school kids got to release the salmon that they had raised in a fish tank at their school.
Happy Birthday St.John the Baptist!
His is the only other birthday that we celebrate in the Liturgy of the Church, aside from Mary’s and Jesus’. We celebrate it just after the summer solstice, after which the days begin to get shorter. It fits with the celebration of Jesus’ birthday, 6 months later, that takes place just after the winter solstice as the days begin to get longer. With this in mind we are reminded of John the Baptist’s saying in scripture “He must increase, I must decrease.” (John 3:30). We could truly grow when we begin to model our lives after him, ‘God must become greater, I must become less.’
Here are some further thoughts from the scripture readings today, spoken so well by Jeff Cavins: