Late 2016 HIGHLIGHTS and … then some more!

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.

edited1edited9edited19edited39edited43edited60Version 3Version 2

p1260375

Riding in the RCMP Cruiser during the Terry Fox run. It was a long way for the little ones, but they did make it just past the half way point.

p1260381

Enjoying ice cream after the run!

p1260394

Kateri up to her face painting again!

p1260442

Dressing up at the McBride Museum, in Whitehorse

p1260453

p1260459

Holy Family Apostolate meeting at Maryhouse, in Whitehorse; starting with a meal, then a holy hour, and finishing with reflection and sharing.

p1260474

A fairly typical Whitehorse run; loading up the groceries and building supplies.

p1260476

Stopping overnight in Teslin, to visit with Trudy, one of the other Pastoral Administrators in the diocese. Driving was a bit dicey as we hit a snow storm.

p1260504

Kateri posing with Constable Warkentin

p1260510

Denise’s mom had flown to Whitehorse and travelled down with us, so she was in town for 2 weeks.

p1260554p1260559

p1260615

Our new pet, Tuffy

p1260638

Carving pumpkins in preparation for All Hallows Eve

p1260639p1260640p1260642

p1260661

There’s Tuffy again:)

p1260664p1260669

p1260733

Our first snowfall, at the beginning of November

p1260747

Tobias’ first snow:)

p1260762

Celebrating mommy’s 33rd birthday

p1260778

Baking Christ the King cookies

p1260785

Getting ready for our procession on the Solemnity of Christ the King. It was pretty cold out so we didn’t get too many takers

p1260789

p1260815

Something we were inspired to try this year; rolling our own beeswax candles for our advent wreaths. A few people from our church community joined us to make some for themselves also.

p1260817p1260824p1260826

img_2186

Celebrating Mass during our Diocesan Retreat for pastoral staff, at the beginning of December, at the Cathedral in Whitehorse. 

p1260845

p1260958

Singing for the Christmas concert

p1260963

Every year Santa shows up after the Christmas concert to bring presents for all of the kids.

p1260970p1260984p1260990p1260992

p1270018

Christmas tree hunting. We even found an ‘ethical’ tree (or at least we were told we did!) because we found it underneath the power lines. I guess one day it would have to eventually be cut down anyways:)

p1270058

A late night skate, across the street, at the Rec with some hot chocolate to warm them bones

p1270067

p1270094

Out at another one of our friends’ places, having a winter pre-Christmas party on their pond

p1270099p1270116

p1270130

Our Nativity Pageant, complete with a live baby Jesus:)

p1270131

Fr.David Reilander, President of Catholic Missions in Canada, sharing his Christmas message, up close, with the children

p1270146

Christmas morning, unwrapping Baby Jesus the best gift ever!

p1270150

Putting Baby Jesus in the manger

p1270190

The view from our living room window, over to the Rec Centre and the RCMP. It had warmed up just enough for the snow to slide part way down the roof and give us the snow cave feel. It stayed like this for quite a few weeks as we had a pretty long run of colder temperatures.

p1270226

Putting together our new family puzzle

p1270253

Aliz helping mommy make biscuits

img_2208

St.Ann’s Mission in Watson Lake. Joshua went to help one of the other Pastoral Administrators with the major renovations being done in the rectory to make it ready for our two new priests from India. He went for a few days in the middle of December and then for 1 week at the beginning of November.

img_2231

Celebrating Mass in Watson Lake

img_2232

Our 2 new priests from India, Fr.Deva(L) and Fr.Suresh(R), and Jean Claude(another of the Pastoral Administrators in the diocese), working on the rectory renovations in Watson Lake

p1270257

Here is Tuffy’s brother, Sven, who we picked up a few weeks after getting Tuffy, so that he would have a friend to keep him company.

p1270266

p1270271

The three magi, following the star and bearing spiritual gifts for the good people of Telegraph Creek, on the feast of the Epiphany!

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!

Advertisements

New life & Sledding

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!

p1270422

P1270425.jpg

P1270427.jpg

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!

P1270430.jpgP1270434.jpg

P1270439.jpg

Many blessings to you all!

Salt & Light

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!

 

 

Further Reading

Reading 1 – Isaiah 58:7-10
Psalm – Psalm 112:4-9
Reading 2 – 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
Gospel – Matthew 5:13-16

 

*Part of reflection adopted and paraphrased from Bishop Robert Barron’s homily, The responsibility of Christians during troubled times

True Satisfaction

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!

 

Further Reading:

Reading 1 – Zephania 2:3, 3:12-13
Psalm – Psalm 146:6-10
Reading 2 – 1 Corinthians 1:26-31
Gospel – Matthew 5:1-12

* Excerpted from Bishop Robert Barron’s Homily, Blessed Are We (an excellent listen!)

 

 

 

 

A day, or a week, in the life ….

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

 

 

Ice Fishing

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!

p1270292

p1270296

Kateri caught the first fish!

p1270298

p1270300p1270302p1270310

Your genius?

“God made us to show forth His goodness and to share with us His everlasting happiness in heaven,” according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. (Baltimore Catechism, 3) Our Gospel reading today reveals this to us in the person of John the Baptist, a real example for us in living out our genius. [You and I were each created with a particular genius, that is to say, there is one way that you can glorify and bring praise to God better than anyone else can.]

What I found most intriguing about today’s Gospel passage(John 1.29-34) was that John says, not once but twice, “I myself did not know him.” And yet look at the opening line of the Gospel, “John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and declared( I envision him shouting and pointing), “Here is the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Jesus was made known/revealed to him and he continued to proclaim this, as we see in the next verse following the Gospel passage we hear today(John 1.35-37); “The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples; and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, ”Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.” (John 1.35-37) Can you imagine today just standing with two close friends saying, “Look it’s him.” And they just leave you for him! BUT THIS IS IT! This is what we are called to do! We are called to proclaim Jesus Christ with our very lives AND(not OR) with our words. As John declares “I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed…” What are you called to do so that Jesus Christ might be revealed?

But perhaps the most powerful point of the passage is WHO John proclaims Christ as, “the Lamb of God.” What does this mean? To grasp the depth of these words we could go into two examples that foreshadowed him:

Issac & Abraham – Genesis 22.1-14; God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his son Issac, Isaac carried the wood for the sacrifice on his shoulders up Mount Moriah(present day Jerusalem & Golgotha, where Christ would be crucified), prepared an altar on which he laid his son, he is stopped short of sacrificing his son and God provides the Lamb. In the same way God provided his son Jesus, who carried the wood of the cross on his shoulders up Golgotha to be sacrificed for our sins.

And some 500 years later we have the end of the slavery of the Israelites in Egypt(Exodus 12.1-13); The Passover Lamb was sacrificed, it’s blood placed on the doorway protecting them from the death that was to come to every firstborn son. We too are saved by the blood of the lamb, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” who shed his bloods blood on the cross for us.

Unknown.jpeg

So it is this intimacy of a God who has saved us, who desires to be so close to you that he sent and gave up his very son to death to remove all that stands between you and Him. And all this, foreshadowed over thousands of years, so that you might share everlasting happiness with him forever? What an offer? But is it an offer that you are going to take him up on?

In closing I cannot think of a better way to take God up on His offer of everlasting happiness, and I cannot think of a better way to reveal him in our lives than to echo the words of the psalmist today deep in our souls, “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will!” (Psalm 40)

I also invite you to discover your genius, your one way that you can glorify and bring praise to God better than anyone else can! It may take you a lifetime time to discover, or maybe it is right there and you just haven’t thought about it or recognized it yet.

O Blessed Trinity, abundantly assist me in becoming that which thou intended me to become when thou created me, for in that perfection I will give thee the glory thou desirest of me, and in that perfection I will find my greatest joy in heaven. Amen       -(excerpt from a prayer by Fr.Lucian Pulvermacher, OFM Cap)

 

Further reading:

Isaiah 49.3, 5-6

1 Corinthians 1.1-3

 

Mary, model of prayer

Happy new year!

On this the solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, the readings today focus so much on prayer and relationship with God that they are practically “oozing” with it, to use a not so technical term. They each show us something particular about prayer, each a different aspect or angle.

From the book of Numbers we hear the great blessing prayer; perhaps you have heard it before:

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.” -Numbers 6.24-26

Given by the Lord to his people, through Moses, he was reminding them with this prayer of his favour for them; that He would take care of them and that they need not worry. But isn’t it true that when we forget whose we are, and how he wants to bless us, that we lose that sense of peace. It is a good reminder to us!

In Paul’s letter to the Galatians(4.4-7) we hear another reminder, that we are adopted as God’s sons and daughters through Christ his Son with whom and through whom we have redemption. St.Paul uses an endearing term with which our Spirit cries to our heavenly Father as his children, “Abba! Father!” We translate this as something like, “Daddy!” I can particularly connect with this term of endearment as it is one that my children use for me. They come running to me, at times, with their arms open, looking up, “Daddy!” Without the words I can hear them saying, “I need you! I need your comfort, I need your strong arms around me, I need your love. I need you.” It is very powerful for me to translate this to the heavenly Father as I run, like my children do to me, to my Father God, my “Abba”, my Daddy! How about for you, would this change how you approach prayer?

Now of that weren’t enough we still have the Gospel passage(Luke 2.16-21), taking place just after Jesus is born. God coming to us in, I daresay, an even more intimate way than “Abba”, coming among us, to be one with us. The shepherds, upon hearing of his birth from the angels, made haste(as we hear in Scripture) to see him. They wasted no time! It makes me reflect on how hasty I am to start my day in his presence. Waking up the wee bit earlier and taking that time can make all the difference. That, like the shepherds, we might be prepared and return(to the rest of our day) “glorifying and praising God” for all that we have heard and seen as it has been spoken and revealed to us. So we can see how making haste to be in his presence gives us the power to praise him throughout our day, no matter what may come our way. It is also a reminder that we should go out as the shepherds did, not keeping the Good News to themselves but sharing it with all that they met so that others might also share in the amazement.

And then amidst all of this we have Mary, of whom the Scripture says, “treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.” She is the mother of God, the God-bearer, who has brought him forth into our very midst by her submission to God’s will; “May it be done to me according to your word.” For her to have said that shows us the depth of her relationship with God. To internalize God’s very word and to treasure and ponder it’s meaning, this is one of Mary’s great gifts to us, and I believe it is so beautifully and powerfully conferred to us by her most holy rosary! The rosary where we can, like Mary did, ponder and treasure the events and the mysteries of Christ’s life. The rosary is a school of prayer unto itself. It can teach us meditation, by using our imagination and the power of our mind to grapple with the mysteries and try to allow them to make a deeper impression on us, as we use the vocal prayers(Our Fathers, Hail Marys,etc) to space out these meditations. We can even allow it to go deeper into contemplation, which is a mysterious openness of and movement of the will towards a particular good, the way that you would experience a particular beauty and don’t have the words to express it.

DSC_0648b.jpg

I would encourage you to take some more time with these scriptures this week, and ask the Lord where he wants to lead you in prayer, in relationship with him. Pray the rosary and Mary will lead you in praying more powerfully and profoundly and she will help you to ponder the richness, the depth, the beauty, and the mystery of God’s love for you.

I would like to close with a quote from St.Louis de Montfort,

“We never give more honor to Jesus than when we honor his Mother, and we honor her simply and solely to honor him all the more perfectly. We go to her only as a way leading to the goal we seek – Jesus, her Son.”

More quotes:

The belief of the shepherds who heard the voices of the angels, and of the people who heard the shepherds’ testimony, set into motion a sharing of faith that has endured for more than two millennia and has spread to all corners of the world.”                                                                                       – Cardinal Sean O’Malley

“The most deadly poison of our times is indifference. And this happens, although the praise of God should know no limits. Let us strive, therefore, to praise Him to the greatest extent of our powers.” – St.Maximilian Kolbe

A Christmas Reflection

While I don’t normally share so much in a deep way with others in writing this seemed to be a good opportunity to share a little about what has been happening in our lives through my(Joshua’s) experience of Advent and the coming of the Christmas season. I find it helps me to process thoughts, feelings, and events when I write them down. As such, I wrote this last Friday, the evening before our Christmas Mass, however I had written it down on paper. I find that my creative flow is stifled by the keyboard so whenever I reflect it is by writing down my thoughts on just plain old paper with a pen. So I am transferring it here for your benefit, hopefully! Enjoy!!

As I await in joyful expectation the arrival of the Christmas season my heart is yearning and leaping, it seems almost as a bride awaiting the coming of her bridegroom to her.

At the turn of every season of the Church I find myself opening up to what the Lord has to offer me or teach me. In prayer I ask to be led deeper, but what is so different about this Advent, about this year? Why do I feel the ardent yearning, this great desire for my true lover. For he is surely already near to me, indeed with me!

Amidst the fullness of life with 5 children(age 7 and under) we have been the worst this year with maintaining a daily Advent prayer. It has been busy, with being in Whitehorse for the first week of Advent, however grace filled with being able to enter into the mystery and depth contained in this beautiful season, and in our faith during our pastoral retreat. Coming back and feeling like I haven’t really caught up with certain “business” things(letting go of control) and leaving to go to Watson Lake in 30 to 40 below temperatures to help with renovations at the rectory there and returning with oozing power steering fluid and air in the system, arriving back safely I’m sure on the many rosaries prayed during the five and a half hour drive. Then having to deal with a squealing alternator, which I will more than likely have to replace next week with the new one that just arrived with the new drive belts today. And this week, with all of the preparations, God has called me deeper in prayer and I am really just encountering a new zeal and love for Him. He has led me into prayer this week, helping me to recognize in a new way the importance of starting my day with a substantial committed prayer time, even being joined by one of my daughter’s one morning.

I continue to recognize His blessings in my life that, even being what seems so far away from family, all I need is Him yet being blessed with so much more. He has even blessed me with breakdown in entertainment technology, (as silly as it may seem that the old iPhone I have that I would watch youtube videos on no longer supports youtube videos, and it happened two weeks into Advent.) so that I have had more time in prayer and reflection while washing the dishes; really one less thing to pull at my time and attention has made a big deal for me. Sometimes it is just so hard to let go of things on our own, although hard at first I can now thank the Lord with a fuller heart.

So with fresh snow on the ground, a beautiful time of adoration on Wednesday evening, and anticipation for Mass(the last one here being three weeks ago) I can run with joy and awe and hail Him as the lover of my soul, my Saviour in whom is wrapped up my heart.

I pray this also for all of you, that you may find yourself open to Him and His great love for you. Ask the Lord, as I now remember doing near the beginning of this Advent, to help you to encounter His great love for you in new ways. He will not disappoint you, and maybe even surprise you!

 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.” – John 1.1-3

(An excerpt from the Christmas Gospel reading for Mass during the day)

 

May the Lord richly bless you and your family this Christmas season!

 

 

Crisis at Christmas

A reflection for the 4th Sunday of Advent (Year A)

The Gospel today shows highlights for us the crisis at the first Christmas. (Matthew 1.18-24)

We may picture the first Christmas to be like what we see on many Christmas cards, a peaceful, picture perfect night, but the Gospel today offers us a moment to internalize and connect with the events preceding Christ’s birth. As we look back on these events we can see God’s hand in the work of salvation, yet I’ma sure at the time for Joseph and Mary God’s plan wasn’t so clear.

For Mary maybe you can see how difficult it would have been, being found to be with child before she married. How is she supposed to explain this, being impregnated with God’s child, without sounding crazy? How were her family, and Joseph and his family supposed to understand? As for Joseph, we can perhaps feel his struggle. What was he supposed to think? Can you imagine his anxiety and confusion? And also being under the pressure of the Law and custom to have her killed (for being with child, not of him).

Like Joseph & Mary, how do we respond in our own lives when things don’t go as we think they should? Perhaps we build things up in our own minds and fabricate our own way through instead of asking the Lord to show us a way through, a way to understand, a path of clarity.

In the Gospel we hear how an angel appeared to Joseph in his dream and revealed God’s will for his situation. Notice how his first words are “do not be afraid”. Now it is usually never this easy for us, but it gives us an opportunity to ponder how God speaks to us. Are we leaving room in our lives for Him to speak to us and to reveal his plans?

Recently I have been reflecting and praying about something in my own spiritual journey that has been repeatedly coming up, in conversation and in reading scripture, and, although it is not a crisis, it has caused me to look past the surface of what I would think God is saying to how he is truly speaking, to my soul. I can picture how, in a different situation under stress, I may not have had the same clarity or openness.

It really is quite beautiful that while God could have saved us any number of ways he chose to come among us and become one of us. He came into the world because of our great need. He came into the world prophesied by Isaiah as Emmanuel (‘God with us’) and foretold by the angel to be named Jesus (‘God saves’), both which we hear in the Gospel today. He comes into our turmoil, our anxiety, our crisis, our need! He comes into our daily lives as a child bringing change, but also a joy and a peace.

So as we draw nearer to his birth at Christmas let us remember God is with us, to save us, from our anxiety, our doubts, our fears, our lack of faith, in whatever we are going through. He gives us the example of Joseph and Mary today in order to realize that we need to open ourselves to how He is speaking to us and embrace the clarity that he offers when we lay aside our own plans and seek his. He comes amidst us no matter what the situation of our life may be this Christmas, we can find him wherever we may be if we are open to his voice speaking to us.

Further reading:

Isaiah 7.10-14

Psalm 24

Romans 1.1-7