The most difficult times can produce the greatest spiritual blessings. God truly knows just what we need at every moment!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time - B

Nm 11:25-29; Jas 5:1-6; Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.

If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire.

And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.

And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where 'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched."

They are very strong words. Listening to these words we feel immediately awkward, uncomfortable and absolutely ill at ease. We would prefer to skip this passage or even to delete it from the Gospel. But Jesus is telling us today in a very open way about something we prefer not to listen to. He is telling us about Hell and the scandal we are causing by our words, our teaching, our behaviour and our negligence.

First we have to make a clear distinction between two different things:

- being upset

- and being scandalised

- In the first case I am upset because I don't like the truth somebody is trying to tell me, and in this case I am wrong!

- In the second case I am misguided, somebody purposely give me the wrong example, lied or did something wrong in order to mislead me, to encourage me to commit a sin.

And this is the case Jesus is talking about in today's Gospel.

Let us see the first part:

"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea."

Let us take an example:

Do you remember your First Holy Communion? If you are a faithful Catholic, that is one day of your childhood that stands out in your memory. We make a big deal out of receiving First Holy Communion. Grandparents will travel a hundreds of miles to be present for a seven year old’s big day. Parents will work hard with their children to be sure the little ones understand what they are doing and Whom they are receiving. First Communion is not a celebration of childhood. It is a celebration that the child is now admitted into the Gift of a Eucharistic relationship with Jesus Christ. We remember the first time we received Him, and we thank God that we have lost count of the times we have been united to Him in the Eucharist.

But, do you know what is the most frustrating moment -for me- at the beginning of the school year? It is when I am confessing the grade three children. Last year there were prepared for the First Communion, for ten months they were coming to participate in the classes, they were all excited to be prepared to receive Jesus Christ, they were excited for their first Reconciliation, the day of First Communion they were beautifully dressed and living and extraordinary day, ... and then ... after summer holidays they say with sincerity:

- "Father since the day of my First Communion I haven't been in the church".

- Why?

- "O, you know father we were traveling, golfing, camping, visiting our relatives ... and when I ask my Mom why we don't go to the church at least on Sunday, she answered me that we have no time, that we are too busy."

And I ask myself: "What for was this whole year's preparation, courses, stress, and finally let us be frank 'hypocrisy'?" Was it only for this one Sunday at the end of May, or maybe for our "comfort" so that we can say "I am catholic"?

In this case children are not upset, they are scandalized.

You can tell me that there are far bigger and more serious scandals caused by unfaithful and treacherous priests, and you certainly know it better than me. But does it justify the scandals we are causing to our children? They (the priests) will be certainly called to account, but is it an excuse for me and my acts, words and sins?

And ... what kind of books do we allow the children to read? What kind of movies they are allowed to watch? What do they can see and learn in our houses and in our schools? How to understand the fact that children are coming sometimes complaining:

"Father, why our teacher is contradicting the teaching of the church and this, what our parents tell us. We are confused. Who is right?"

They are upset –certainly they are- but they are also scandalized.

Do we realise that it is a very serious matter? Do we realise that we will be called to account for what we were teaching and showing our children?

Let us see the second part when Jesus says:

"If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off ...

And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off...

And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out ..."

It is obvious that I cannot and should not cut of my hand, but I certainly can cut off my stupid TV programs or channels?

I certainly don't need to cut off my foot, but I can simply restrain to go where I will get nothing good or nothing worthy. Or where I expect to be confused or to do something wrong.

It is obvious that I cannot and should not pluck out my eye, but I can certainly plug off my computer connections and not to be exposed to the sin of pornography.

This I can without cutting off my hands or my feet ... or without plucking out my eyes.

Jesus talking about the matter of sin and scandal is very serious, because it is the reason for what He came to the world to liberate us from the sin, even of sometimes it makes us upset, or awkward, or uncomfortable.

Because as Card. André Vingt-Trois – archbishop of Paris says:

Christ didn’t come to accept the opinions of the majority or to adjust to the politically correct ideologies of His time. He did have much greater ambitions; He came to call sinners to repentance and holiness.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Seventh Worldwide Children's Eucharistic Holy Hour

See the Web Page





The order of service for the Worldwide Children’s Eucharistic Holy Hour, as outlined below, is straightforward and easy to use. The basic form may be modified to accommodate your particular circumstances. For example, in many places throughout the world it may not be possible to expose Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament or to have a procession with our Blessed Mother’s statue. Nonetheless, adoring Jesus truly present in the tabernacle is exactly why the “Little Shepherds of Fatima” referred to Jesus as the “Hidden Jesus,” truly present and yet hidden from our eyes.

This order of service to “Visit with the Hidden Jesus” will soon be available in booklet form. It will be a modified version of that used for the Worldwide Children’s Eucharistic Holy Hour and is meant to be used for a Visit or Holy Hour in your parish church or chapel. For more information, please visit our website at

Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

Wis 2:12, 17-20; Eph 4:1-7, 11-13: Mt 9:9-13

St. Matthew, one of the twelve Apostles, is the author of the first Gospel. This has been the constant tradition of the Church and is confirmed by the Gospel itself. He was the son of Alpheus and was called to be an Apostle while sitting in the tax collectors place at Capernaum. Before his conversion he was a publican, i.e., a tax collector by profession. He is to be identified with the "Levi" of Mark and Luke.

His apostolic activity was at first restricted to the communities of Palestine. Nothing definite is known about his later life. There is a tradition that points to Ethiopia as his field of labour; other traditions mention of Parthia and Persia. It is uncertain whether he died a natural death or received the crown of martyrdom.

He preached among the Jews for 15 years; his audiences may have included the Jewish enclave in Ethiopia, and places in the East.

St. Matthew's Gospel was written to fill a sorely-felt want for his fellow countrymen, both believers and unbelievers. For the former, it served as a token of his regard and as an encouragement in the trial to come, especially the danger of falling back to Judaism; for the latter, it was designed to convince them that the Messiah had come in the person of Jesus, our Lord, in Whom all the promises of the Messianic Kingdom embracing all people had been fulfilled in a spiritual rather than in a carnal way: "My Kingdom is not of this world." His Gospel, then, answered the question put by the disciples of St. John the Baptist, "Are You He Who is to come, or shall we look for another?"

Writing for his countrymen of Palestine, St. Matthew composed his Gospel in his native Aramaic, the "Hebrew tongue" mentioned in the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. Soon afterward, about the time of the persecution of Herod Agrippa I in 42 AD, he took his departure for other lands. Another tradition places the composition of his Gospel either between the time of this departure and the Council of Jerusalem, i.e., between 42 AD and 50 AD or even later. Definitely, however, the Gospel, depicting the Holy City with its altar and temple as still existing, and without any reference to the fulfillment of our Lord's prophecy, shows that it was written before the destruction of the city by the Romans in 70 AD, and this internal evidence confirms the early traditions.

We imagine Matthew, after the terrible events surrounding the death of Jesus, going to the mountain to which the risen Lord had summoned them. "When they saw him, they worshipped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them [we think of him looking at each one in turn, Matthew listening and excited with the rest], 'All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age'" (Matthew 28:17-20).

Matthew would never forget that day. He proclaimed the Good News by his life and by his word. Our faith rests upon his witness and that of his fellow apostles.

He is the patron saint of our parish, our religious community, our church. What is the meaning of the words "Patron Saint"?

Patron saints are chosen as special protectors or guardians over areas of life. These areas can include occupations, illnesses, churches, countries, causes -- anything that is important to us. The earliest records show that people and churches were named after apostles and martyrs as early as the fourth century.

saint to whose protection and intercession a person, a society, a church, or a place is dedicated. The choice is often made on the basis of some real or presumed relationship with the persons or places involved.

We as Catholics are expected to have also our personal, individual Patron Saints. Like Mary, Joseph, James, John are obviously Patrons in the lives of those who were baptized with these names. But what is a patron saint of a girl who was baptized Kaleya ?

Recently, the popes have named patron saints but patrons can be chosen by other individuals or groups as well. A patron saint can help us when we follow the example of that saint's life and when we ask for that saint's intercessory prayers to God.

XXV Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wis 2:12, 17-20; Jas 3:16-4:3; Mk 9:30-37


Our culture's understanding of greatness comes down to amassing enough wealth and power to do whatever you want. Jesus, on the other hand, reveals that human greatness has to do with living the truth of our relationship with God and with each other regardless of how much wealth or power we may possess.

The secret of understanding the greatness of Jesus and thereby the meaning of human greatness is to understand the relationship of Jesus with God. He reveals what it means to live and to die as God's beloved Son (Mk 1:11). In other words, Jesus shows us the implications of being created in the image and likeness of God as beloved son or beloved daughter. Believing in his human soul that his relationship with God was his ultimate truth, Jesus trusted that God's will for him amidst the trials he endured could only be love.

Now is the time to take the antidote for envy: to become like a little child, recognizing our radical dependence on God and others.

Today's Scripture readings warn about one of the most hateful sins - envy. The Old Testament reading tells how people bring down a "just man" because he makes them feel bad by comparison. St. James identifies envy ("jealousy and selfish ambition") as the source conflicts and wars. And in the Gospel we see Jesus' disciples manoeuvring for top spot.

As the Catechism explains, envy is a desire for superiority that leads to "sadness" at the other person's good fortune and satisfaction at their downfall. "When it (envy) wishes grave harm to a neighbour," says the Catechism, "it is a mortal sin." (#2539) It can plunge a person into hell - to spend eternity with the one whose root sin was envy. Lucifer could not stand the idea of anyone being superior to him - not even God. Envy fuels his implacable hatred of God and God's children.

All of us experience envy - sometimes in ridiculous ways. I remember being envious of another priest's full head of hair and rich speaking voice. It tormented me, although I did eventually repent. A person can repent of envy - but that repentance involves the willingness to be cured.

In the Divine Comedy, Dante describes a cure for envy. He tells about a woman named Sapia who was so filled with envy that she rejoiced at the downfall of her hometown - because its defeat brought bad fortune to those she envied. Well, Sapia repented and wound up in Purgatory. But before she could enter Paradise, she had to undergo a cure. It involved having her eyes sealed and putting her arm on the person ahead of her to find her way. The cure for envy is understanding - not just intellectually but deep in one's soul - our dependence on each other.

An ancient Spartan gives us a good example. The city had to choose 300 men for its governing body - and Paedaretos was on the initial list of candidates. When the final list was read, however, Paedaretos was not chosen. A friend said to him, "I am sorry. The people ought to have known what a wise officer you would have been." But Paedaretos replied, "I am glad that Sparta has 300 men better than I!" Here was a man who knew that the greatness of others did not subtract from - but added to - him. He had the antidote for envy.

If a pagan could have such wisdom, what about us who have the example - and grace - of Jesus? Now is the time to take the antidote for envy: to become like a little child, recognizing our radical dependence on God and others.

Who would be the greatest among the disciples? Who would make it to the top? Would it be James, John, Peter, or Andrew? They did not know what greatness was. They would learn though. Jesus would show them greatness from a cross.

Jesus calls us to be his disciples, His true followers. He calls us to set aside our own desires for the sake of others. He calls us to seek the greatness of humble generosity, to “rank first” among our families, friends and communities by taking on the spirit and role of being their servant. “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be last of all and the servant of all.” The jealousy and selfish ambition that attacks the just man in the Book of Wisdom in our first reading this Sunday, and that James berates in the second reading are the sad marks of identification of the godless, people who have rejected God and His Son. The sign of the Christian is seen in setting another’s needs over his or her wants.

Friday, September 11, 2009

24th Sunday Ordinary “B”

The story is told about Mrs. Smith. Mrs. Smith received the news that one of her neighbours, Mrs. Jones, was very seriously sick in hospital. She asked the bearer of the news to bring a message to Mrs. Jones. “Tell her that I'll remember her in my prayers, and that I hope she'll soon be feeling better.”

And she was as good as her word. That same night as she said her night prayers she prayed very sincerely and fervently for Mrs. Jones. She said to God, 'Lord, I want to commend my neighbour Mrs. Jones to you. She's very seriously ill. She needs a lot of help, a lot of support.'

When she finished her prayers, she felt better. And yet, something was bothering her. But she was tired and she soon fell asleep. She had a dream. In her dream she heard God saying to her, 'I can see that you're very concerned about your neighbour, Mrs. Jones.'

'Yes, Lord, I really am,' she replied with no little pride.

'And I understand that your neighbour is in great need of help,' said God.

'So I've been told,' said Mrs. Smith.

The Lord said to her 'You know, what she needs most is someone to spend a little time with her.'

'You're absolutely right Lord. I was thinking the same myself,' Mrs. Smith answered.

'Now when you asked me to help her, you weren't expecting me to come down from heaven to visit her, were you?'

'No, Lord, I wouldn't expect you to do that. Nor would my neighbour expect it either. In fact, I think the shock of it might kill her.'

'But she does need someone to visit her?'

Yes, she does, Lord.'

Jesus said 'Whom can I send?'

After a long pause, Mrs. Smith said, 'Send me, Lord.'

When she woke up from her dream, she knew exactly what she had to do.

St James says, 'If someone comes to you who is lacking food or cloth­ing, it's not enough just to say to him, "I wish you well," and leave it at that.'

It's not enough to say to a needy person, 'I'll pray for you.' We must not think that we have done our bit once we have referred the matter to God. That sounds very much like passing the buck. When we pray for another person, in effect we are saying to God, “Here I am, Lord. Send me”.

Our prayer should commit us to some positive action, no matter how small. But even a small act, such as a visit, could prove to be a costly gesture, because it means putting ourselves alongside a suffering person. And to do that is to lay ourselves open to that person's pain. We will inevitably absorb some of that pain.

To pray for people, or to wish them well, is a good thing. It gives them the comfort of knowing that they are not alone.

But the Bible says that is not quite enough. St. James calls that a dead faith. If our faith is alive we will express our concern in action also.

St. Peter got the identity of Jesus absolutely right. Jesus was the Messiah. St. Peter’s faith was perfect as far as words went. But when the time came for action, he was sadly lacking.

When Jesus asked him to watch with Him during His agony in the garden, he fell asleep. And later that night he denied that he had ever known Jesus.

So there is a type of faith that consists only of words. And there is a faith that flows into actions. We need God's grace, not only to profess our faith, but also to live it.

We are all aware of the upcoming debate in the House of Commons concerning Euthanasia and assisted suicide. Many of us have written letters to our members of Parliament.

It should give us a good feeling to have participated somewhat in the fight for justice for the elderly and those others who may also become victims of this new law.

We may even have prayed to the Lord about the issue.

And that’s good but we didn’t do this to feel good. We did this to be faithful. And being faithful does not end with one good deed. It calls for consistency and persistence.

For example, now that we have written our letters and said our prayers, how many of us have discussed the issue with our neighbours, many of whom may not be aware of Bill C-384.

Don’t be fooled. This issue will be introduced as one of mercy. A human right.

Once it becomes law, once the door has been opened it will not be closed.

The strategy of those who want to sneak this past us is to not allow debate on the issue once it becomes controversial.

Take the issue of abortion for example – how often do you hear about it in the news? Never.

It is a forbidden topic in politics in Canada.

There is no outcry because there is no discussion in the first place. As a result Canada is the only country in the western world that has absolutely no law in place regarding abortion.

None whatsoever.

And they don’t like to call it abortion anymore. Instead it’s a human right. A woman’s reproductive health issue.

What ever happened to the baby’s right to be born?

Abortions can be done in Canada, any time and any place without penalty. As I speak, there are Canadian babies that are being dissected in the womb. First they are killed with instruments and then dissected, removed and disposed of.

This can be done anytime up to the day before the birth of the baby. We don’t hear about it because the topic is taboo.

We think if we don’t hear about it, it isn’t happening.

Make no mistake about it our silence has put the blood of thousands of innocents on our hands.

And God will want an answer for our silence.

Recently Audrey and I were at the Hospital for a hymn sing which is done every Thursday by the various churches, each church taking a turn.

After the sing-a-long was over we were greeted by a lady with a Dutch accent. During the course of the conversation she informed us that she just recently returned from a final visit to her birthplace in Holland.

A final visit? we asked. Yes, she said, I am getting older now and with the new laws over there, if I get sick and end up in their hospitals that could be it for me. They could just put me down like a dog and it would be perfectly legal and nothing could be done about it.

You see in 1984 Holland introduced legal Euthanasia. It was introduced as a humane measure to end people’s suffering. It was introduced as a human right.

At first it required the patient to give their consent and when this was not possible then a responsible relative had to give their consent.

Then the doctors made the argument that for various reason it was not always possible to get either the patient nor the relative’s permission and the patient suffered needlessly.

So we are told that the law was changed to allow the doctor in certain cases to be the only one to make the decision.

Today this is commonplace.

A survey conducted by the Journal of Medical Ethics in Holland looked at figures from 1995 (that was 14 years ago) and at that time they found that even then of the 3600 authorized cases for euthanasia there were also 900 others which the doctors performed without any permission from anyone.

In those identified cases the doctor merely stating that they felt they were terminating the patient in their best interest. Nothing was done about it. And so today it has become commonplace.

Dr. Henk Jochensen of the Lindeboom Institute and Dr. John Keown of Queen’s College, Cambridge carried out a study and found that the reality in Holland is this: In a clear majority of cases of euthanasia, both with and without request, many now go unreported and unchecked.

Dutch legal claims of effective regulation ring hollow. There is no regulation. Like abortion in Canada, it is not discussed. It is just done.

Dr. Peggy Norms, chairwoman of the group “Alert” tells us “ We need to learn from the Dutch system that euthanasia cannot be controlled.” There are patients in a nursing home who are carrying around what they call sanctuary certificates all the time on their persons. This certificate states that they do not want to be helped to die.”

But there is no guarantee that any doctor will honor the certificate.

People are afraid of being sick in case a doctor takes the decision, without their permission, to stop treatment or to otherwise initiate termination.

In Holland, it started innocently. A law to allow euthanasia in special cases, with many safeguards in place, in the interest of humane treatment to end suffering.

In Holland today we are told that any person can be selected for termination in a hospital. The Doctor makes the decision. He or she need not consult with colleagues or even the family. The doctor makes the sole decision. And they do so with impunity. The law protects them.

Once the door was open it was a very speedy and slippery slope to the present state of affairs.

And that door is about to be opened in Canada. In the name of so called mercy, medical practitioners, not necessarily a doctor, will be allowed to assist at suicides and to practice euthanasia.

Euthanasia is now legal in several states in the United States and soon will be in Britain.

Are we next? And will Canada, as it did for Abortion, be the one to set the example by removing all restrictions?

Considering that the elderly account for just over a third of the funds spent on health care and with our over extended health care system, what do you think the odds are that financial consideration will be the one important determining factor.

Do we need this bed for someone else?

And just as our tax dollars are being used to kill hundreds of thousands of innocent human babies in the womb, our tax dollars will also be used to foot the bill for the expected thousands of innocent elderly and other vulnerable and expendable human beings to be disposed of in a humane manner in the misguided name of mercy. Mercy.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that the works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbour in their spiritual and bodily necessities.

Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting, are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving others and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and the imprisoned and burying the dead.

No where does it include ending the life of anyone either in the womb or the hospital bed in the name of mercy. The right to end life in all these cases belongs to Almighty God alone.

In Canada we have the blood of thousands of innocents on our hands since the onset of free and uncontrolled abortion. Make no mistake about it we will have to answer to Almighty God for our silence on that issue. Are we about to add Euthanasia to the list of our corporate sins? Or are we going to fight this?

Are we going to add our names to those who may have to pay a price for their convictions in order to protect the innocent?

And here I think of Leah Hallman and her associates. What will her fight against abortion cost her? A fine, an education, a jail term? Maybe all three? This is the kind of faith in action that St. James is talking about. Their faith is not one of words alone. They backed up their words with action.

Will we oppose abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide in an open and vocal manner realizing that it could also cost us a price? Will we be true disciples of Jesus by standing and defending the innocent?

In today’s Gospel Jesus calls to us.

If anyone wants to be a follower of Mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for My sake, and for the sake of the Gospel, will save it.

Jesus is asking us right now: You already have the killing of innocents by abortion in Canada and now Euthanasia and assisted suicide are coming your way. If you call yourself Christians, if you say you are my disciples, if you are followers of Mine, what are you doing to try to stop this injustice?

Will you take up your cross and follow Me – no matter what the cost?

Deacon Bernie Ouellette