… 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
Looking back it has already been close to 1 year since we last sent out an update. It has been a full year and one with a lot of adjustments, challenges and changes. This year, up to this point in our family life, has been one of the greatest struggle and growth, but also great blessing.
As always, we have enjoyed so much the time that we have had to spend with family and friends in the south. It has become so precious to us, as the distance makes our hearts long for the physical presence of our loved ones, which we have grown to cherish much more deeply than we ever have.
There has been a lot happening in the community this year. Joshua celebrated his third funeral service within a month and a half of each other, just last month, which is always a very moving opportunity and one he feels so honoured to be asked to celebrate. We believe that it is truly a comfort for the people here to have a presence at the church. It was reassuring, just recently when Joshua was asked to lead a funeral service they said, “We are thankful to have you here to do this for us.” We also finished up sacramental prep with the celebration of the Sacrament of First Holy Communion, back in May, a total of 8 children and their families attending. It has been an ongoing journey here in the ministry of presence, the more we are truly present the more we feel welcomed in; a school, where we are equals walking side by side and discovering what we can bring forth from eachother. A wonderful mystery! As we get to know people more there is a certain longing we have to go deeper and to encourage others to go deeper as well, in their faith, and so there has been some challenging pastoral moments.
We continue to host a family games nite every Friday night during the winter months, which is a highlight especially for the children. We had the help of some of the community members, and one of the other pastoral administrators, in relocating our shed from the front yard to the back and now have a lovely pull through driveway and extra parking; a huge transformation, and now the church is visible from the main road!!
At the kids’ Spring Break we were able to join both sides of our family, and were blessed with a prolonged visit(with Joshua’s side), albeit not under the most preferable of circumstances with Joshua being diagnosed with MS and facing a lot of uncertainty. Although at times we felt lost, and didn’t know what to do, we also felt so blessed and provided for and were showered with so many prayers and so much support. It was a big adjustment of our lifestyle, especially at first, but feel now that we have somewhat settled into this new reality.
In previous years Joshua has been a one-man show with getting our winter’s firewood; cutting the wood, hauling the wood, and splitting and stacking the wood. But this year from start to finish it was a team effort! Volunteers from the community, family, priests, seminarians, and even the Bishop lent us a huge helping hand! We were blessed to have 2 new priests arrive in the diocese, serving northern BC and the Yukon. So we were able to start having them come down to celebrate Mass twice a month, instead of the usual once a month, which it had been for the last 2.5 years.
One of the biggest highlights of the year was our time with family over the summer; celebrating both of our parents’ anniversaries (35th & 40th) as well as Joshua’s brother’s wedding. Our summer vacation finished up with our speaking(as the key-note speakers) at the Catholic Family Conference on Vancouver Island; a whole new experience for us. We were very humbled to see God work through us and touch the lives of those who attended. Joshua’s favorite moments were being able to talk to the men, sharing his story with them and encouraging them in their walks and also being surrounded by the support of our family while doing so. Denise’s favorite moment was being able to journey with a loved one back to the Catholic faith! At the beginning of the conference we had all our kids up there with us and did a short rap grace and introduction, which ended up being a great hit both with the kids and the crowd. It was great being able to incorporate our whole family into our sharing! It was very uplifting to be surrounded by so many other Catholic families, and also to have some of our extended family with us; Denise’s mom, brother, and sister-in-law, and Joshua’s parents, 3 siblings, and 3 cousins.
The kids had a good start to the school year, still enjoying the fact that there is an actual school bus that drives them to and from school. Kateri has moved in to the older grade, the Grade 3 – 5 class. Her favourite part of school is her Tahltan language class that she has every day. Isaiah started Kindergarten, joining his big sister Gianna in the K – 2 class. Isaiah is very quiet in class but loves recess and a program they do, called “Go-Noodle”! Gianna loves math and reading and enjoys helping Isaiah with these skills too! Aliz has been enjoying Headstart(preschool) but hasn’t had too many classmates. Being a social butterfly this has been difficult for her, so has been intermittent with her excitement in attending. Tobias has been into everything, whatever he can reach or get a chair to reach, and has been starting to say a few more words.
We wound down the fiscal year here with a trip to Whitehorse, for our Pastoral Advent Retreat on Church law, mainly highlighting the Sacraments with emphasis being on ways and ideas for being more pastorally present in our communities. As always it was good to be together with our northern family; the priests, other pastoral staff, the Maryhouse ladies, and our other friends. We always leave to come back home feeling so spiritually nourished, We also had our fill of fun, staying at our friends’ place and with their 6 kids, all around the same age as ours. Our God-son’s family with five kids live next door too, so it is always a party! This time around we were able to go to the pool, to the sledding hill for a pizza and hot chocolate party, and the Santa Claus parade and live Christmas tree light-up!
Our new year started out with a surprise bon fire in our back yard, which we found out about when we got a knock on the door at around 11pm, and were greeted by a caravan of vehicles in our driveway. It was SAFE! It was the brush pile that we had built back in the summer when we were clearing the front yard to move the shed and build the new driveway. That morning Joshua had taken some hot ash from the fireplace and emptied it on the pile, as he always does, and with there being a foot and a half of snow over the pile who thought it would flare up. Some 8 hours later it indeed did. So it worked out well with the very cold weather and added some excitement to everyone’s new year’s eve. A day later we were joined by our friends from Fraser Lake, a family with 6 kids, for a few days. It was so wonderful to have close friends with us to spend some of the holidays doing fun things together.
We recently had two seminarians, studying for the Diocese of Grouard- McLennan(Northern Alberta), from St.Joseph’s Seminary in Edmonton stay with us. They were here for around 3 weeks for their pastoral experience. It was a truly blessed time as they fit seamlessly into our family and community life. It was special for the community to see these young men who are studying to be priests and they even got a comment, “People still do that?” But they were received so openly be all in the community. It was wonderful having their hand for catechism classes and they were even each able to share a reflection at our Sunday Communion Service. Really, for us, it was like having family staying with us with the gracious amount of support they brought. The Lord continues to bless us with unique opportunities, like this, that give us a greater love for our universal Church and a greater appreciation for how He continues to work in and through our lives and the lives of those around us.
We wrapped up this last weekend with the Winter Carnival here in town, bookended with Gianna’s birthday(on Friday) and her party(on Monday). Although it was a lot of fun it definitely left us fairly exhausted. Life here in a small town usually doesn’t have this much going on at once 🙂
Well, we feel that there is so much more we could say and share however out of the hope of actually getting out this update to all of you we will have to leave it at that. And hopefully we will have time to write some more soon!
We hear this beautiful Psalm today (Psalm 23). It’s one I am sure many, if not all of you, are familiar with. It depicts our Lord and God as our Good Shepherd; one who provides for our needs so that “[we] shall not want” for anything. He is one who “comforts [us]” and “leads [us] in right paths.”
I find it interesting that, in the Gospel today, we are compared with sheep! I have heard that they are not very smart, hence why they need a shepherd. Truth be told (and I speak firstly of myself) we are not the brightest when it comes especially to spiritual matters. We continually go back to our same habits of sin as much as we try to turn from them, we get distracted by worries, and we stray awful close to cliffs of self-sufficiency and doubt among many other things. We are in need of being led by a shepherd who can bring us comfort and security, who knows our weaknesses and can lead us to green pastures and beside still waters.
Two lines in our Gospel today really spoke to me:
The first, “He calls his sheep by name… He goes ahead of them and the sheep follow because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but run from him because they don’t know the voice of strangers.”
It is important then for us to be able to hear the voice of the shepherd so that we can follow it, otherwise it will be the voice of the stranger that will entice us in. In today’s world however there is so much noise. The biggest one I can think of is our televisions, but we also have our iPads, Tablets, iPods, telephones, e-mail, the news, the media; all these things that fill our heads with noise. How are we to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd? In the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: “We are no longer able to hear God; there are to many frequencies filling our ears.” Now I am not saying to get rid of these things, although that would certainly make it a lot easier for us to hear God’s voice, but I know for myself this noise distracts and pulls our minds and hearts away from silence. As a family, we challenge ourselves on Sunday to pull away from the screens and the noise, to be in the silence of eachothers, and God’s, presence because this is where His voice is. So my challenge for you is this; think about the nose in your life, from the time you get up in the morning. This week(maybe even today) be conscious of even just one thing that creates noise in your life and take it out for a day. Spend that time in silence and allow the Shepherd to speak to you.
This leads us to the closing line of the Gospel, Jesus’ life’s vocation: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
“Sometimes in the media world we live in, I would say a post-Christian and anti-Catholic world for the most part, we get this message that the Church is oppressive, that God is a mean ogre in the sky who wants to squash our fun. Nothing could be further from the truth. What God gives us is this incredible plan of his that is all about helping us live the abundant life.” -Teresa Tomeo (from Opening the Word on FORMED.com).
Yes, these green pastures and still waters can be likened to heavenly paradise into which we can enter by Jesus, “the gate;” the way in. However Jesus not only leads us to life in heaven, but ‘abundant life’ here on earth if we follow in the paths he has made for us. Let’s go back to the words of St.Peter in the 2nd reading(1 Peter 2:21,23) for a moment: “Christ also suffered for you leaving an example, so that you should follow in his steps… When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.” So we have this Good Shepherd who leads us, by first walking the path that we too must walk, in order to have HIS abundant life in us.
I want to share a little story with you to go back to the behaviour of sheep. I have heard it said: “That when a lamb is particularly rambunctious or adventurous, repeatedly putting itself in danger, a shepherd will sometimes purposely break one of it’s legs. He then puts the lamb around his neck until it’s leg is healed. By that time, the little lamb has become attached to the shepherd, and it never again strays far from it’s masters protection and guidance.” Fr.John Bartunek (The Better Part, pg 895)
In my own life I can really relate to this lamb. I didn’t realize how self-sufficient I had become. Yes, I said I needed God but I feel that there wasn’t a deep realization of that need. So when I was hit with what started as a common cold and ended with me losing much of my balance and proper leg function I was for the first time in my life actually, physically in need of others to help me. I couldn’t do everything any more. Before all this had happened I had booked myself for a 2-day silent retreat. God had placed the need for this on my heart, even having to sacrifice time with my family who we were down to visit with. At the beginning of the retreat I remember the priest explaining the purpose of the silence, ”To create a space to hear the voice of the Lord speaking to us.” It hit me, and made so much sense. And it was such a time of grace for me. I realized, in my physical weakness how weak I was spiritually and how much I needed God. This time of intimacy in the silence gave me a new perspective and a new angle from which to see life. But I first needed to have my ‘leg broken’, so to speak, so that I could learn to remain close to Him, to rely on Him for my every need.
In closing, the Lord guides us, as a shepherd guides his sheep, if we are open and disposed to hearing his voice in the silence. He has an incredible plan for each one of us, to help us live the abundant life here and now and (God willing) eternal life with him in heaven. So let us not be timid or fearful but live whatever presents itself to us, because everything is a gift from our Good Shepherd for our own good and for our abundance!
With the closing line in today’s Gospel(Matt. 5:48) Jesus gives a challenge that carries a lot of weight, but offers us a way to true happiness, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” There is a lot packed in to this one line; “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Can we really be perfect? Yes, and according to Christ it is by love; “Love your enemies and pay for those who persecute you.” Our usual strategy might be to avoid our enemies, or to simply put up with them, but to actually love them?
What Jesus is trying to show us here is that love is not about feelings, or about loving those who love us, but rather desiring good for the other. To give an example, [to love a friend we could just do so because we know that we will receive something good in return, but when you love an enemy, who will not return in kind, you truly know that you are loving].
If you notice in the first reading(from the old law) we are told “love your neighbor as yourself,” but Jesus, in his ‘new commandment’(in fulfilling the old law by making himself its centre) tells us to love our neighbor as he loves us. This is really where the revolution of the heart is, because anyone can love those who love them, as even those who do not believe in Christ do, but we must “love [our] enemies and pray for those who persecute [us].” Can you imagine getting to heaven and the first person you meet is the one you liked the least on earth? It’s possible, after all, “[God] makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends his rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” God desires the good of all, and his love extends to all the same, saints and sinners alike, even to those with the worst intentions. For God IS love. And Jesus asks us to love as he loves us? But how can we possibly love like this? The truth is that we can’t love as we ought to on our own, but we can with Him and through Him.
By Christ’s death on the cross he took the Church(which is all of us) as his spouse(laying down his life for his bride) and gifted to her the Holy Spirit making us, each one of us, in a very personal way members of his body. As St.Paul says, the two became one flesh. In a tangible way this is the gift of the Eucharist to us, supernatural food for our Christian souls to supplement our weak efforts and keep us strong, united with Him, as we follow this difficult path. So we now share perfectly with Christ in his atonement(reparation for our sins), in his supernatural life(received through the sacraments), and in his triumph(through the resurrection-eternal life).We have the power, in and with Christ and the Holy Spirit, to overcome the world and the devil. We are promised perfection in him, provided we desire, cooperate, and ask for it!
We have this ideal, to “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect,” and we also have Jesus Christ, his Son, who shows us by his example this path that we must take, walking it ahead of us and beside us. He was betrayed and abandoned by his closest friends, tortured, humiliated, unjustly condemned, and put to death. He loves us as we are, that even while with our sins we keep acting as his enemies today. To see with the eyes of Christ on the cross; these are the eyes with which we need to gaze upon our enemies; If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also, if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well, if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them a second mile!
If you want to be perfect begin by loving your enemies! They will be your aid in reaching perfection. Today, think of one person you have a hard time getting along with, or someone whom you do not like being around. Start with saying a prayer for them and for the opportunity to see them with the eyes of Christ. Are you holding a grudge with anyone, or seeking vengeance, or not speaking with someone because of differences. Pray for Jesus to show you a way to love. Pay attention to the thoughts that cross your mind about others this week, and take those moments to offer a prayer. Instead of calculating your love (ie. I won’t do this for that person they did this to me; I won’t speak to them because they did or didn’t do this to/for me) open yourself to God’s love for you and look for opportunities and invitations to love those that are most difficult for you to love; start in little ways.
It is by our love that we are set apart from the world, and it is in our love that we have the opportunity to be like our God, to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect.
Just stumbled upon a great idea today as we received an e-mail from HolyHeroes.com: to pray a novena to the Holy Spirit in preparation for Lent!
“We want to prepare our Lent in imitation of Jesus, who was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert of His Lent.
This Lent, rather than trying to change ourselves by penances and sacrifices of our choosing, we want to be led by the Spirit so that He can guide us in the ways He would like to transform us.”
You can find the article here.
Well, here is a long overdue recap of the last few months, by way of pictures. It will be short, in the way of writing, and sweet! Enjoy!!
We had a family photo shoot down at Glenora. We were able to enlist one of our friends, who enjoys photography, to spend some time with us to do this.
Now you may have noticed that we do not have too many pictures of the community. To explain, we are wanting to respect the people here that are a part of our church community, and wider community, by limiting the amount of photos we put of them on this blog. We hope you enjoy what you do see though and that it may give you a little snapshot of what is going on up here with us. We will share stories(hopefully), inspirations, and highlights as we feel prompted!
Blessings to you!
Well, it appears like we have blasted into the new year, and missed posting our pictures for most of the fall and into the tail end of 2016! With family life and ministry it seems that life has still happened and time has passed. Sometime soon we will post some highlights for you, but until then….
We ended up getting out to do a few fun things on the weekend.
On Saturday we visited with our friends, who just had a new baby goat born. Kateri was loving holding the animals, including the chickens. We went sledding at their place and stayed for a bit of a visit, warming up inside on hot chocolate!
Then on Sunday afternoon, after visiting with our Church community post Communion Service, we decided to hit the ‘ski hill’ for some more sledding. It has been nice here lately with temperatures dropping down to around 20 below at night but warming up to the mid teens during the day. It hasn’t snowed here in a while, so the hill was mainly ice(or really, crunchy snow), but we all had a blast!
Many blessings to you all!
I find that most people who claim themselves to be Christians do so because, in some way, Jesus has touched their lives and effected some kind of conversion in them. I don’t think I would be too far off to say that he has touched each of your own lives in some way, as he has mine. And so, if he has impacted us, should not our lives look different than everyone else’s, than people who are not Christians and who have not encountered the transformative power of the Gospel message. Mahatma Ghandi, a famous leader in India, once told a Christian friend, “I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” These words from Ghandi are both sad and powerful to reflect upon. He must not have encountered Christians living as salt & light, as we hear we should be!
In the Gospel reading today(Matthew 5:13-16) we are challenged by Christ’s words to his disciples, as they are just as relevant for us who are his followers today; “You are the salt of the earth… You are the light of the world.” Why would Jesus use these metaphors? Firstly salt. What is it used for? In Jesus’ time it was used to preserve, to cure meat so that it wouldn’t go bad. Salt is also used to bring out flavor in food. It brings out a fuller flavor, a richer taste, of the food to which it is added. Salt can also have an opposite effect, it can render infertile. Think of the Dead Sea, a body of water bordering Israel. It is so high in salt content that no plant or animal life can live in it or around it.
Now for light. Light illuminates. We can see the beauty of things when they are illuminated. We also need light so that we can see where we are going. It can guide us in the right direction towards something (think of commercial airliners landing at the airport. There is a special strip of lights at the end of the runway so that the pilots know if they are approaching at the right angle, both at night as well as during the day).
Notice that salt, as well as light, exist not for themselves but for something else. In and of themselves they hold no value, their value is in what they accomplish, or what change they effect. So how does this apply to our lives. We need to think of them in relation to our role as Christians! Our job, by our witness to Christ, is essentially to preserve, season, to bring out the richness of what is best in our society and culture. And also, on the other hand, to get in the way of what is dysfunctional in our society in order to render it infertile. We also are to bring the light of Christ to the world, to bring light where there is deep darkness, to illuminate all that is worth seeing while at the same time exposing all that is ugly. By the quality and integrity of our life we show what has value and reveal what doesn’t have value. By our actions others should be able to say, “That is what we are meant to be.”All of the saints embodied this, but I think of Saint Mother Theresa, in her example of bringing Christ to the neglected. It was never about her, but about bringing Christ’s face to others so that they would see Him. But at the same time it exposed the injustice that these people were neglected by society, dying on the streets. She brought value and dignity and richness to these lives, to these people whom she served. We may not be able to serve as Saint Mother Theresa did, but what we can do is bring the face of Christ to those we meet every day, to our own family members(that is usually where it is hardest), and even to our enemies.
Something I heard recently really inspired me in this manner, of what we are to be for the world, for others. Our own holiness, our own spiritual life, our relationship with Christ doesn’t merely exist for our own happiness and for our own salvation, but for the world’s happiness and the world’s salvation, for those who will encounter Christ in us and through us! So just as salt and light only have value in what they effect, so also, in a way, our own holiness has value in what it effects in others.
One final thought before I close: Jesus warns us, “If salt loses it’s taste… it is no longer good for anything.” Being a Christian and being salt and light are inseparable. This is our entire purpose, to be salt- to season and destroy, to be light- bringing direction and exposing the ugliness(of sin) which is to be avoided. If we lose sight of this we become useless, as salt that has lost it’s taste, “no longer good for anything.” The world needs vibrant Christians, otherwise it will lose it’s way. What would be guiding and giving taste otherwise.
We are, each one of us, a city built on a hill. We cannot be hidden! By your profession as a Christian you are being looked to, whether you realize it or not. How are you being salt? How are you being light? The world is in need of Christ, this great treasure that we bear, so do not lose your taste, do not hide under a bushel basket. Instead, let your light shine!
*Part of reflection adopted and paraphrased from Bishop Robert Barron’s homily, The responsibility of Christians during troubled times
We hear in the Gospel today the familiar sermon on the mount(Matthew 5.1-12), where Jesus instructs his disciples in the beatitudes. “When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him.” In the same way we come to this liturgy today, we come to Christ in the Eucharist, to remind ourselves that what the world has to offer will never truly satisy us, only God will!
I have found living up here in the north that people really focus on what the weather is or what the temperature is outside, especially during the colder months. This has come to make sense to me as I have found it can make all difference on whether you should go out for a drive somewhere or stay at home feeding wood to the furnace. The thermometer can be a very useful tool in surviving the elements, in knowing what to prepare for and what to do. Really it can help us make decisions that can be a matter of life or death. I would suggest that today, in the beatitudes, Jesus introduces us to the happinessometer; this would be his version of the thermometer for the spiritual life. A way of measuring where our spiritual temperature is at and how to prepare to receive true happiness.
I would like to focus on one of the beatitudes in particular for today. In understanding this particular one, I believe, we can get to the root of what the beatitudes are all about; “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” What do we “hunger and thirst” for? [We can think about it in the course of a day; we hunger and thirst for lots of things, but we’re going to go deeper than that. What do you hunger and thirst for in the deepest part of your life? If you look to your heart, what is the most powerful and abiding desire in you? Jesus teaches here that it must be for righteousness, meaning doing the will of God. We must hunger and thirst for doing God’s will. When you think about it, it’s not my will that matters in the end. It’s no my purposes, my plans, that truly matter, it’s God’s will, it’s righteousness. We will be happy, we will be filled, we will be satisfied, if we hunger and thirst for His will above all. The problem is that we hunger and thirst, with our hearts, for things that aren’t God, that aren’t His divine life, and that is why we are left unsatisfied.]*
So we can see it is really a matter of the heart; the beatitudes are a matter of the transformation of our hearts, seeing things from God’s perspective, and about growing His divine life in us. When we make ourselves available to Him then He begins to live His life in us and transform us; His grace and the power of his cross bring about in us this change, a greater poverty of spirit, detachment from the world, meekness, mercy and love, purity of heart, and peace, then we will experience true satisfaction, true happiness.
This sounds a lot like what Christ offers us in the Eucharist, but I think so often we grow complacent and He becomes someone we receive without knowing the full significance:
In the Eucharist we receive Jesus, in the appearance of a piece of bread, but in it’s substance his very self(body, blood, soul, and divinity). We receive his divine life in us, consumed into us, as Jesus said, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him.” (John 6:56.) For Him to effect change in us we must accept this truth by faith; God’s offer of communion in Christ and in the Holy Spirit. And in cooperation with God’s grace our hearts and minds are transformed by this ‘communion’. In turn our faith in Him and our love for Him increase also, but only when we come prepared to receive Him.
In closing, where is your happinessometer at? Cold, maybe red-hot, or perhaps even luke warm. How blessed are we to have this great sacrament, the Eucharist, God coming to us in such a tangible way, wanting to give us his divine life! Are we hungering, are we thirsting, for that divine life, His will above ours? This will tell us exactly where our spiritual temperature is at!
* Excerpted from Bishop Robert Barron’s Homily, Blessed Are We (an excellent listen!)
Recently a friend asked us, “So, what does a typical day look like for you?” And so we figured it would be a good opportunity to share that thought with all of you also, as you may be wondering the same thing.
Really, we are simply living our family life, with a ‘regular’ family schedule. Gianna and Kateri attend the Tahltan school, and are provided lunch and healthy snacks every day, while Isaiah and Aliz usually attend Headstart 4 mornings a week.
Tuesday evenings, except for in the summer months, we host a Rosary and Adoration night at the church at 8 pm, so usually one of us will lead that and get some nice prayer time in while the other will finish getting the kids to bed and finish washing the dinner dishes:)
During the school year we have Catechism classes after school on 2 days of the week, from 3-4:30.
There is always the regular things to do around the house for maintenance. The summer months usually see us doing bigger projects like roofing, building new stairs to the church, painting, or other such time-involved tasks and repairs. Joshua also has to cut our wood for the winter, about 4-5 cords, and we usually try to stay a year ahead so that it has time to dry out before using it the following year. The house and the church both use wood for heating.
On one day maybe someone would stop in for a chat and you put on tea or coffee and make some time to visit, or another person may need help writing e-mails(as a regular does who doesn’t know how to read or write). It really is a ministry of being available.
It is also a ministry of presence. We try to attend whatever events are happening.
In this day and age it’s not too common that you get the opportunity for both parents to be at home raising your children. This, we feel, is one of our biggest blessings. And so we attend everything in the community as a family.
But really, a regular day is nothing fancy simply being present,to our kids and anyone else who wants a few moments to chat. It is really a breath of fresh air to what seems the alternative of the rush and busyness of city life. You would regularly just fill your day with more things because you can, while we feel that we don’t have the same pressure to do so up here. And simply the normal routine of dishes (no dishwasher!), meal preparation, laundry and cleaning fill up the day on their own!
I guess we could give you a snapshot of what last week looked like for us here:
Sunday(January 15): Sunday is perhaps our most structured day of the week. While Saturday evening saw Joshua preparing his reflection for today, we have also picked the songs for the service, or will do so in the morning. We have breakfast;usually pancakes or the like but sometimes a simple one like granola if we are going for simplicity and less to clean up. Sunday and Saturday(more often) are generally special breakfast days. We prepare the coffee and hot water for tea and goodies and make any last minute tidy ups. Joshua will start the fire in the church furnace, and depending on how cold it is, anywhere from 2 to 3 hours before the Service is due to start. We will usually watch the Holy Heroes Sunday Mass prep video and print off a colouring page that depicts an image from the Sunday Gospel for the kids to colour while we wait for Service time(although with it being in the US the odd time the solemnities don’t line up with our Gospel, as I noticed for the Sunday I posted the link for). We also have a snack for the kids during this time, to stave off hunger until after the service. Our Communion Service begins at 11:30 am, with Joshua leading and Denise in the pew with the children. A typical Sunday will see about 10 people attending, although there can be upwards of 20, not including ourselves. After the service we invite everyone over for refreshments, goodies, and a light snack. We visit in the living room and around the kitchen table and people go on their way. On this particular day 2 ladies stayed to play cards, which happens fairly regularly, while another man stayed and got Joshua’s help to check his Facebook as he can’t read or write. After everyone has left we generally have a restful afternoon. Today we invited one of the men who comes to church, who lost his wife a few years ago, over for supper. As we were sitting down to supper another couple showed up, who are the kids’ ‘adopted’ grandparents, as we wrote about here. They had already eaten but they joined in for the visit and had some dessert. Being it was a school night we got the kids down to bed by 8 pm, and resumed our cleaning up, doing dishes, etc.
Monday(January 16): Today the kids didn’t have school, as it was a professional day for the teachers, so we decided to do a fun activity together; ice fishing! We wrote about it, and posted pictures, here!
Tuesday(January 17): Today Joshua took out one of the elders to go hunting all day, as he doesn’t have a vehicle and enjoys the company. The kids’ school starts at 9, for all of them, but getting there is nice as it is only a 3 minute drive and rush hour is about 5 vehicles and they’re all going the same place:) And for the younger ones it is a 3 minute walk around the back of our house, through the RCMP driveway, and we’re at Headstart. Gianna & Kateri are at school from 9-3 while we pick up Isaiah & Aliz to come home for lunch at 12. If we feel that they are up for it, they can go back in the afternoon from 1-3. It is during the day that we can get some of the administrative things done, phone calls, planning, preparation for Catechism, house visits etc., as Tobias usually has a bit of a nap. After school the kids sometimes have a friend over, as they did today, to play until supper time. After supper we get ready for bed and have some prayer time and quiet reading until 8ish.
Wednesday(January 18): Our weekdays follow the same schedule with exceptions. Today Denise spends the afternoon planning her lesson for Catechism for the older class (ages 9-12), which she leads from 3 – 4:30 in the Atrium in the church basement. Denise has the help of one of the elders from our Church community. Today we had 5 young people in attendance. At 7 pm we attended Family Nite at the Rec Centre, which has just started up as a weekly program. They had beading, colouring, games, and even a game of basketball. While not well attended we hope that it will become so, but generally parents don’t attend these type of things with their kids. There was probably 14 kids there, but there was only 1 other parent there besides ourselves. There was however a couple grandparents and 2 of the staff from the Clinic(who organize this event). Wednesday nights we also have Adoration and the rosary from 8 – 9pm, so Denise headed back to the church to lead this while Joshua finished up with the kids at the Rec Centre at around 8:45. Generally we have anywhere from 1-4 people in attendance for Adoration/Rosary.
Thursday(January 19): Today we had Catechism class from 3 – 4:30, at the church, with 5 young children in attendance. This is the younger class, ages 6-9, and generally we have up to 8 children attending this class. Denise baked a cake for one of the ladies who attends church, whose birthday it was, and we all went over to her place after supper to celebrate with her.
Friday(January 20): One of the men, who comes to church, was over for supper as he had just come back from Terrace, where he had been for the week, and had brought us some groceries back. He had picked us up some of the things we can’t get here or that are much less expensive to buy down south, like yogurt and milk. (He always think of us! He is also a huge help around the church, cleaning and vacuuming after each Sunday Service.)
We had family games nite, which we host every Friday night during the winter months, from 7 -9. Generally we get anywhere from 4 – 10 young people in attendance, but again very, very rarely ever have any parents attending. It is usually a pretty noisy crowd, but the young people enjoy playing games (and we enjoy them!)and, in between, taking breaks to play downstairs with the toys or with our 2 pet rats, which have been quite a hit. We enjoy snacks, usually of popcorn and iced tea! We have found it is a great way to be able to host an event in the community, but still be able to involve our kids! And it is one of the highlights of their week.
Saturday(January 21): Saturday is our tidy-up day. The kids each pick a chore to do and we work together to tidy up the house; dusting, vacuuming, cleaning out and putting new bedding in the rat cage, wiping down the windows and mirrors, etc. Joshua takes some time today to gather his thoughts and prayers from the week for his reflection on the Gospel for the Sunday Liturgy, although today he doesn’t have to write a reflection as we will have a priest visiting to celebrate Mass tomorrow. Denise will normally bake some cookies or some kind of goodies for Sunday after the communion service/Mass. In the evening we usually make pizza, from scratch, and have a movie night!
Sunday(January 22): Today was spent in preparation for Mass and for supper afterwards. Once a month we have a priest come down from Whitehorse to celebrate the Mass, generally the 4th Sunday of the month. Fr.Tito, from the Phillipines originally, and Simon, a seminarian originally from Lebanon, arrived at 4:15 pm after celebrating Mass in Iskut at 10 am and Dease Lake at 1 pm. The sacrament of confession was made available, again our once a month opportunity for this sacrament. We had 20 people(not including ourselves) in attendance for Mass. After Mass we have a potluck supper, something we only do once a month for this special occasion. The people really enjoy this as it also gives them an opportunity to visit with the priest.
So there is a week in a semi-brief summary!
It is a very unique and blessed opportunity, and a challenge, for us to be able to do this type of ministry. To show the love of Christ that we have encountered, within the community of our family, with all that we meet is our mission. In the words of two of our more recent Popes:
“…Christ’s instruction: ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved.’ I am particularly content that this mission will be carried out thanks to Christian families who, joined together in a community, have the mission of giving the signs of the faith that attract men to the beauty of the Gospel.” –Pope Francis in an audience with members of the Neocatechumenal Way, March 6, 2015
“…the family, like the Church, ought to be a place where the Gospel is transmitted and from which the Gospel radiates…the future of evangelization depends in great part on the Church of the home.” -Pope Saint John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation (a proclamation from the modern day Apostles) Familiaris Consortio (The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World), #52
We are encouraged daily by the words of Catherine Doherty which so much apply to our family life, especially her Little Mandate.
“The duty of the moment, our nitty-gritty, daily, ordinary routine of life, can bring the face of Christ, the icon of Christ, into the marketplace. Then Christ can come into the place where you work or play or eat. He will come into your home or a restaurant or a school or a company cafeteria or a subway or wherever.” -Nazareth Family Spirituality, pg 31
“There are plenty of good things you can go out and do, programs and such, but whatever you are, you have to realize that there is always a duty of the moment to be done. And it must be done, because the duty of the moment is the duty of God. Tired, untired, sick, well, whatever your state, do the duty of the moment. It’s what God calls us to do. And if we do it, people follow us. We don’t have to preach by word of mouth. We preach by living. We preach by doing. We preach by being.” -Nazareth Family Spirituality, pg 32
We are getting a true northern experience up here! Last Monday the kids had a day off school, as it was a professional day for the teachers. And we wanted to do something outdoors with them, being that the weather had warmed up to above zero after a couple weeks of sub 20 below. The skating rink was covered in snow and melting from the rain the previous day, so when ‘Grandpa’ Jim offered to lend us his auger we decided ice fishing would be a great thing to do. He even decided to join us, as it was too icy on the roads for him to go hunting as he had planned to do that day. ‘Grandpa’ Jim and ‘Grandma’ Kitty are the kids’ adopted grandparents 🙂 (Being that their grandkids don’t live in town they take the opportunity to shower our kids with love, and hugs, and treats!) We went up to Sawmill Lake, a couple kms above town, and drilled 4 holes. The ice was about 18 inches thick! It was a perfect day; a couple degrees above zero, partly overcast. The kids lasted quite a while, especially with the snacks!