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From the Desk of the Pastor: March 6

March 6, 2021

Good morning everyone.

This weekend we are eyewitnesses to the extraordinary images coming from Iraq as Pope Francis continues his pastoral visit to the homeland of our father in faith, Abraham.  Many of the Christian communities that he will visit are among the oldest communities in the world and the scriptures and prayers that he will hear chanted and spoken is in the same Aramaic language that Jesus would have spoken two thousand years ago. This is not an easy visit and many people for months tried to dissuade him from undertaking it.  But, as we have discovered, Pope Francis is determined to go to where there is suffering, bring the balm of mercy and linger a while to listen and be in dialogue.  As the ancient Christian bells of these historic cities and the call to prayer from the minaret announce the time to pray, he will pray for peace, for the suffering of the people and for a way forward that silences the bomb and gun forever and restores friendship.  His meeting this morning with Ayatollah Sistani, the leader of the Shiite Muslims will be among the highlights and destined to be remembered in years to come as among the most important of his papacy.  For those wondering why he would undertake this journey now with the many dangers involved, the answer is found in his last encyclical Fratelli Tutti.  In it he proposes that we must always be in solidarity with the suffering church and commit to listening and dialogue which are the first steps to finding the common ground for working together.  Please pray for him, those gathering to pray with him and for those who are accompanying him from Rome, that they are kept safe and that God’s will is done on this brave journey.  I encourage you to listen to this podcast, Inside the Vatican from America Magazine with Gerard O’Connell, a seasoned Vatican journalist and writer and experts on Catholic-Muslim relations for context and background. You will find it here: http://front.player.fm/series/inside-the-vatican/deep-dive-why-would-pope-francis-visit-iraq

 

The One Heart, One Soul Campaign continues and some parishioners have received their packages.  As I mentioned at Mass last weekend, Canada Post is experiencing some sorting problems and we were advised that mail could be delayed by a week to ten days.  If you have not received a package by March 15, please let us know.  The diocesan video and our parish video are still available at this link: https://www.oneheartonesoul.ca/standrewoakville 

 

We are beginning the third week of Lent and almost at the mid-point.  Fr. Rolheiser talks about loneliness and finding a “soul mate” in this week’s reading series.  What does the soul need and what are our deepest moral longings?  His portrait of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane is especially poignant as we come to discover the full meaning of who a soul friend is. I have enjoyed the comments on these pieces so far and the questions about further reading.  I plan to have a short list of books and sources for Palm Sunday weekend.  On Thursday, March 26 at 7.00 pm. join me on a zoom call to discuss the series and an opportunity to ask questions.  Information on how to join will be available in the next few weeks.  Questions have also come about retreats and the possibility of doing one at home.  I highly recommend this retreat  from the Pray as you Go and Sacred Space podcasts which are an outreach ministry directed by the Irish and English provinces of the Jesuit’s.  The retreat director is the English spiritual writer Margaret Silf.  Margaret is often in Canada (including Queen of Apostles near us in Mississauga) to lead retreats which are booked very quickly.  The first three sessions are available now and the others follow each Monday until the second week of Easter. The link is here.  https://pray-as-you-go.org/article/growing-back-better-a-lent-retreat-2021       

 

Adriana Rerecich, chaplain at St Thomas Aquinas High School and I are both reading Fr. James Martin’s new book Learning to Pray.  It was the subject of our conversation for the high school last Saturday.  We set out to talk about five of the ten reasons in the book that people have identified as reasons for not praying, but only got to two.  We plan to keep working on it.  (The book is very good and receiving rave reviews both here and in England.) The link to our conversation is here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XYulZVXyqw

 

Mass for the weekend is found here:  https://www.standrewoakville.com/sunday-masses-online Please check the website for the Stations of the Cross and other activities.  For the time being, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is available by appointment only.  Call Sharon and she will make the arrangements.  Next week we will post the day and times for reconciliation before Easter. 

 

Some parishioners have shared that they are soon to receive the vaccine for the COVID-19 virus.  This is very good news.  Fr. Felix and I are looking forward to our turn.  I hope that all of us are willing to follow the example of Pope Francis who has had his vaccine before his travels and encourages all Roman Catholics to do the same regardless of the vaccine which is offered.

 

Bishop Crosby has asked us to share a letter from him to all of our parishioners on the current federal debate on assisted death but specifically on the situation in Ontario relating to conscience rights for the healthcare community.  Please read it and if you are able to do so, support the campaign to contact our members of the legislature.  The letter is attached.    

 

Finally, a music treat inspired by Pope Francis trip to Iraq.  As they prepared for his pastoral visit to be in prayerful dialogue with the Muslim community four years ago in Morocco, this extraordinary concert took place in the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Casablanca.  The Muslim Call to Prayer is heard in the distance and moves into the hall as the Jewish invocation for Shabbat is taken up.  The third singer takes up the Ave Maria.  It is eight minutes of mesmerizing prayer and joy and a beautiful example of what happens when the doors are opened for dialogue and friendship.  The link is here: https://youtu.be/2ECsfvJ4p2c

 

May the Lord of light and joy bring us peace and good health during these last days of winter and inspire us for the next stage of our journey to Easter.

 

Be well,

 

Fr. Con