Reflection for Sunday, August 27th, 2023

Tomorrow, August 28, the Church celebrates the memorial of Saint Augustine. Augustine was born in northern Africa in the year 354. One thing that he is known for is his many writings; and probably his most well-known work is an autobiographical book called Confessions.

In the Confessions, we learn that Augustine’s life story was quite connected to that of his mother, Monica. It is appropriate, then, that the memorial or feast day of Monica is today, August 27, the day before the feast day of Augustine. (Since the 27th falls on a Sunday this year, the Sunday celebration takes precedence, and so the readings and prayers of today’s Mass are not from the Memorial of Saint Monica.)

Augustine wrote about the mother “who brought me to birth, both in her flesh, so that I was born into this temporal light, and in her heart, that I might be born into eternal light.” This phrase can be seen as referring to the fact that, with the help of Monica’s constant prayers and encouragement, Augustine made important changes in his life, one of which was his conversion to Christianity.

Saint Monica and Saint Augustine, pray for us!

Paul Robson SJ

Reflection for 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 20, 2023

Faith, Humility, Trust, Love

Matthew’s writing is a bit disturbing. The disciples are trying to get Jesus not to bother with the Canaanite woman because she is a non-Jew, and then his answer seems rude, saying, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel;” but there is a reason why Matthew writes about this story.

First, to understand the Gospel, we need to know who the Canaanites are and who are the dogs mentioned in the story. The Canaanites were the ancestral enemies of the Israelites. “Dogs” was a name for the Gentiles.

The Canaanite woman obviously had heard about Jesus and knows who he is, calling him “Lord, Son of David,” and knows what he is able to do (miracles), and knows she is in the presence of someone very special. Because she loves her daughter who is tormented by a demon, and being a woman of great faith, she is begging humbly for her daughter, not for herself, shouting out to him persistently, placing all her trust in him.  She manages to change his mind and moves his heart by playing on the meaning of the words to get Jesus “to feed the dogs”.

Jesus breaks tradition and praises the great faith of the woman. He shows his power as he casts out a demon with merely a word.

This story tells us that God cares for all peoples. It tells us about the inclusion of the Gentiles, the non-Jews. “For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples”, and he is “merciful to all.”

Lord Jesus, teach me to be humble, to be open, to listen, to deepen my faith as I place my trust in you. Teach me to pray from my heart. I read that love, faith, trust, and humility are the secret ingredients for prayer that moves the heart of God – even a prayer as simple as, “Lord, help me.”

Rosella Kinoshameg DOS

Reflection for the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

29 January 2023

Lately whenever I read scripture, it seems or feels like it was written for us, Anishnabek, because the stories and circumstances that the people of Israel were in are so like our situations. The Jewish people were like prisoners in their own land when the Roman empire claimed it as their territory. The land belonged to Jesus’ people, but it was controlled by foreigners who benefited economically. The Jewish people were resilient as our people are, and they kept their traditions alive as we strive to keep ours.

As I was reflecting on these readings, I thought of our Anishnabe elders and how they would aptly fit the description of the people Zephaniah talks about in the first reading. The humble and lowly of the land, who are not deceitful and do no wrong. We have such elders who are also our prophets, like Zephaniah was. In the Sermon on the Mount of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus teaches us the attitudes we are to adopt. Paraphrasing Jesus’ teaching about the Beatitudes, He is saying: Blessed are you when you don’t fit in, in the world, then you will be free. Those who are poor in spirit have nothing to lose and so are free with nothing binding them. Comfort is assured for the grieving. The meek, the mild, the humble, will inherit the earth, the humus, that which is a dark soil, rich in nutrients, perhaps meaning that the meek are life giving. Much more can be said about each one of these Beatitudes but putting them into practice would speak louder. These are what make our elders the wisdom people, the guides and spiritual leaders for our community, also it is that to which we as baptized Catholics are called to be.

St Paul in the second reading tells us how to be the Beatitudes. The fullness of wisdom and strength is in Jesus, from whom the wisdom of the world will be shamed. We, Anishnabek are the poor, we are those who mourn; we are the meek and mild, hungering and thirsting for what is right and just. We are a blessed people. There is no need to worry or be afraid, but we can rest in peace and know that Jesus is our strength and wisdom. Let us not boast in what we think are our accomplishments, but let us acknowledge and boast in God’s love, life and mercy.

– Sr. Terry (Kateri) Beaudry cps

Reflection for the 4th Sunday of Advent

18 December 2022

Coming into our last week of Advent, the Gospel presents St Joseph, who is only found in the nativity narratives.  He was a man of faith, humility and integrity. The young woman he was to marry was pregnant with a child that was not his. We can only imagine his turmoil, because the woman he loved and trusted was seemingly unfaithful. Joseph’s own faithfulness and love for Mary were being challenged. When pushed, how many of us would be willing to accept a humiliation that was not ours, like he did? Joseph was unwilling to expose her to “public disgrace” and planned to send her away quietly. Once he made the decision to do this, he rose above his own desires and self interests, showing and putting into action his love for Mary. After he resolved to let Mary go quietly and rose above himself, loving unconditionally, the doors of grace opened for him. He was able to receive his mission and see God’s plan while sleeping. When we are awake, we get distracted by daily events, and when asleep we go into the depths of our unconscious, where our spirit resides.

St Joseph accepted his mission of walking with and supporting Mary, to help bring Jesus our Saviour to birth into this world. He too had been waiting and preparing for the coming of Jesus, and little did he know the role God had for him. St Joseph lived and walked with Mary, while protecting, loving, and nurturing Jesus into the man he became. Jesus was born a baby and had to learn everything as he grew. What is the message for us here today as we come to the end of 2022?

Advent is a time of waiting, as St Joseph waited. Life was not easy for them then and it is still not easy for us now, as life is always laden with challenges. St Joseph welcomed Jesus into his life and built his life around the life of Jesus. Like St Joseph, we need to welcome Jesus into our lives and build our life around his, and in this way, we also bring and give Jesus to the world around us.

Let us ask St Joseph to bring Jesus to birth and nurture his life in our lives, building ours around his. St Joseph has always been a saint I felt close to and one who has always answered my prayer requests, and he will answer yours. St Joseph pray for us.

Sr. Terry (Kateri) Beaudry cps

First Sunday of Advent – 27 November 2022

By Fr. Antoni Baranowski, S.J.

The four weeks of Advent are not just an endurance and patience test before we
reach the Christmas joy of opening gift boxes. It is a privileged time to meditate
upon the true meaning of the upcoming Christmas.

The word “Advent” means “coming” and refers to three comings of Jesus: the first
one at Christmas; the second one at the end of time; and the third one is His daily
coming into our lives. The dominant liturgical colour is purple because preparation
also includes repentance.

The readings from the first Sunday of Advent draw our attention to the coming of
the Son of Man at the end of time, to judge and renew the world. The Word of God
during the second and third weeks of Advent focuses on the preaching of John the
Baptist, reminding us to repent and prepare the way of the Lord. While being called
to conversion, a joyful anticipation of Emmanuel-God staying with us is already
perceived on the third Sunday, known as “Gaudete” or “Rejoice” Sunday. On the
fourth Sunday, we contemplate the mystery of God becoming man at Christmas.

While participating in many different Christmas parties, let us set aside some time
for prayerful reflection on the birth of Christ bringing peace and joy into the world.

Reflection for 34th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Christ the King

Jesus is king. He is “first-born”, which can be understood as meaning that he is divine. Christ the king, by his death on the cross, reconciled the world to God.

In the Bible, priests, prophets and kings were anointed with oil. We learn in the first reading that David was anointed, and in the Gospel reading, Jesus is declared “Messiah”, the “anointed one”. Two times and Jesus is described as King of the Jews.

David was anointed the first king of all the tribes, “anointed king of Israel”. God promised David a secure kingdom forever. The Lord told him he “shall be shepherd of my people Israel”. With this promise the Jews expected an anointed one from this lineage and one to come and save them from the Romans. Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s promise to the house of David but a different kind of king with a kingdom which we can envision as truth, life, holiness, grace, justice, love and peace, a spiritual and not a physical reality.

Jesus is declared “first-born of all creation”, meaning he existed before anything else was created. Mary gave birth to her “first-born” son. Christ is the image of the invisible God. He is first-born of the dead.

In the Gospel reading, Jesus is identified as King of the Jews, Christ of God, the Christ. We, as readers, already know that the words being spoken are true, but these groups of people unknowingly proclaim the truth about who Jesus is. The focus is not on Christ in glory, but the reading takes us to see Jesus as he is crucified and how he is taunted by groups of people. The leaders, the soldiers, the one criminal all ridiculed, scoffed, mocked, derided, and rebuked him. The other criminal rebukes the first one, realizing who Jesus is, calling him by name, indicating he knows or has heard about him. When he turns to Jesus, he asks him to “remember” him, asks for mercy. “Remember” means that only a king can give mercy or pardon. One group only stood by watching. Jesus did not come to save himself but to save sinners. Jesus had begun his ministry by bringing good news to the poor, and here he is at the end of his ministry bringing good news to the one criminal by telling him, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise”.

Today, the feast of Christ the King, we “give thanks to the Father who rescued us from the power of darkness, transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins”.

Rosella Kinoshameg, DOS

In “End Times” Live Fearlessly

33rd Week in Ordinary Time – November 13, 2022

When a horrible injustice occurs, such as when 22 people were brutally slain in Nova Scotia a couple years ago, you might hear someone say something like, “there’s a special place in hell for persons who do such evil things.” I confess that I have used that expression myself on occasion.

The readings from the prophet Malachi and from the Gospel of Luke for this 33rd Week give us encouragements to live hopefully and without fear or judgement. On those who live in reverence “the sun of righteousness will arise with healing in its wings”, Malachi wrote. In other words, we are encouraged to do good and let God sort things out.

The idea that Malachi had of an afterlife system of rewards or punishments was a later development among the Israelites. The author of the Book of Genesis, for example, refers to the “world of the dead” (Gn 37:35). The common name for that world was Sheol.

In Sheol the dead went into an underworld of stillness and lifelessness, regardless of how they had lived. It was only a few centuries before Jesus that Jewish scholars began to have the idea that the dead must pass into an afterlife where the good are rewarded and evildoers are punished. Jesus was also schooled in that thought.

However, Jesus was insistent that we are not to make judgements about persons. “Do not judge, or you will be judged” (Mt 7:1). And in the passage from Luke’s Gospel today Jesus encourages us to not live in fear. Rather, even if you suffer because of your belief in me, he said, “not a hair of your head will perish.” In other words, put all your trust in Jesus, and you have nothing to fear.

The good news in the readings today offers us the opportunity to renew our dedication to live fearlessly as part of the “beloved community” as we follow and imitate Jesus and rely on the loving kindness and mercy of Gtchi Manido. In “End Times” or any time of hardship, live in hope.
Always be kind and compassionate. Live fearlessly.

Fr. Mark Hoelsken, S.J.


Ignatian Spirituality Conference

The Jesuits of Canada are hosting their first-ever online Ignatian Spirituality Conference this spring!

Register to take part in this free event from April 2-3, 2022, and experience time-tested methods to delve deeper in the spiritual life, recognizing our call to collaborate in Jesus’ project of hope, reconciliation and justice.

Why Attend?

  • Make meaningful connections
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  • Eight sessions with speakers including James Martin, SJ, Laurence Loubières, XMCJ, and Greg Kennedy, SJ

Learn more and register today here.

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