Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The Journey to Initiation (RCIA)

If you have been flipping through your copies of the readings at Sunday Mass the past couple of weeks, you will have noticed that we have been using the Scripture readings used for the First and Second 'Scrutiny' for the RCIA -- Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults -- Program.

These candidates have expressed a desire to be baptized and received into the Catholic Church.  Over the past several months they have journeyed with others, learning about our faith. They have undergone this program so that at the Easter Vigil, they will respond lovingly to God's call to be baptized, confirmed and receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist for the first time.

Fr. Edwin has invited parishioners to attend the Easter Vigil Mass where the sacraments of initiation will take place for the RCIA candidates.  Please keep in mind that the Mass is long (3 hours...at least).  There will be 9 readings from scripture (7 Old Testament Readings, Epistle from the New Testament and the Gospel), in addition to the sacraments of initiation being conferred on the cadidates.  If you are able to attend, it will be a wonderful celebration as we come together to rejoice in the Lord's Resurrection.

Plus, Fr. Edwin has asked that you continue to pray for the candidates.  Below you will find a photo of the candidates, with their sponsors at the Rite of Elect ceremony that took place at Holy Redeemer Parish in Pickering on Sunday, February 26 celebrated by Bishop Vincent Nguyen.

Thank you for your prayers and support for the RCIA candidates.  May this Lenten season be a time of growth as we journey towards the joy of Easter.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Notes from Parish Lenten Mission

Last week, Fr. Dominic Borg delivered our Parish Lenten Mission. Some of you may have noticed Ken scribbling a few notes during his homilies. Encouraged by our holy pastor, below you will find his notes that are particularly worth remembering.

First, a few points from his homily at Sunday Mass last weekend:
  • Fr. Dominic spoke of Lent as our period of preparation, a journey towards Easter - the feast of our joy and freedom. Lent, he explained, comes from an Old English word that means something like "spring" or "spring time." God has the power to change our winter (death) into spring (life).
  • Lent is a time to abide, to immerse ourselves more fully, in the Divine Word of God. The Word of God has the power to create out of nothing. The Church teaches that God created ex nihilo (Latin, out of nothing). When we read Psalm 51 (Create in me a clean heart, O God...), we can take it to mean two ways. First, God can create a new and loving heart for us out of absolutely nothing because of who He is. Second, we are nothing in comparison to the greatness of God, and so out of our nothingness will God create this new loving heart.
  • Lent is our imitation of Christ who was driven by the Holy Spirit to the wilderness, the desert. This experience of the desert is powerful and should lead us to realize that the Cross is not just an ornament to be worn, but a principle to be lived.
Second, a few points from his homily on Monday evening:
  • Example-education is the best education. Christ told His disciples, "Wash one another's feet as I have washed yours." St Paul tells us to "imitate me as I imitate Christ." Moreover, God Himself told the Israelites, "Be holy as I, your God, am holy." To be holy is to be perfect in love and mercy. Be perfect as your God is perfect, be merciful as your God is merciful, be loving as your God is loving.
  • Prayer is dialogue with He who loves us. St Teresa of Avila teaches that prayer must be rooted in humility, the love of neighbour, and detachment from this world. We should always remember that when two or three are gathered in the name of Jesus, He is in their midst. Jesus is God, and God is love. Where love and charity are found, God is always there.
  • Pope Benedict XVI's message for Lent 2012 is a catechesis on Hebrews 10:24. In it, he teaches us that we should have concern for each other, reciprocate this concern of others in gratitude, and that we are all called to holiness.
  • We should always be mindful that God is perfect, and He is never wrong.
Lastly, a few points from his homily on Tuesday evening:
  • The first reading of Mass from the prophet Isaiah (55: 10-11) tells us that God's Word will not return to Him void, but will accomplish what is sent for. The Word of God was sent for healing His people and delivering His people. Healing and delivering can both be derived from the Latin word salve (think 'salvation') which means medicine.
  • St Paul's letter to Timothy tells us that all scripture is the inspired word of God. We should read the Bible for a purpose. This purpose is not so that we can learn about something other than ourselves, but precisely so that we can learn something about ourselves. Think of the Word of God as light that illuminates our being so we see more of it. Think of the Word of God as awakening in us as sleeping giant of faith.
  • St Jerome's commentary on the "Bread of Life Discourse" in John 6 tells us that the Bread of Life is both the Holy Eucharist and the Word of God. Read John 6 with the Eucharist in mind, and then read it again with Sacred Scripture in mind.
  • It's not a matter of how much of the Word we memorize; it's a matter of how the Word affects us, and how much of this effect we notice.
  • The Gospel passage of Mass (Mt 6: 7-15) presents the Lord's Prayer. At the end of the prayer Jesus pinpoints that forgiveness is the key to the entire thing. We should be mindful of the words "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us," especially when we recite them: these are not empty words.
  • We are encouraged to read at least parts of the following documents: Verbum Domini (On the Word of God, September 2010) and Porta Fidei (On the Year of Faith, October 2011). These documents will prepare us to the coming Year of Faith, beginning later this year and ending in 2013.
This is by no means a comprehensive summary of the Lenten Mission, but only some of the key points that were written down. May these bear fruit in your Lenten Journeys, as we move closer to the greatest feast of our faith at Easter.

God bless you all!