Our Superintendent, Pamela Guilbault, shares words of encouragement, messages of faith, and more in her weekly message.
June 26 to 30
It has been my pleasure to write these weekly reflections. I have grown in my own faith through the prayer, reflection, and journaling that encompassed this writing.
How fitting that this last week of our school year is a powerful message of accompaniment. Each of the readings articulate Christ's promise, and actions to journey with each of us. In the first reading, despite hardships, the Prophet Jeremiah reaffirms his trust in God saying, ‘The Lord is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph’ (Jeremiah 20: 10), giving him strength and protecting him from his enemies.
In St. Paul's letter to the Romans, we are reminded that God’s gift of forgiveness and justification abounds, offering reconciliation and abundant life to those who receive it which is further confirmation that He accompanies surpasses this life - into the next. There are no limits to his love.
The Gospel reading further emphasizes the value that God places on each individual. Jesus reassures them of the Father’s love and care for them: ‘Even the hairs of your head are all counted’ (Matthew 10:30). He affirms that God’s care extends even to the smallest details of His creation. This theme reminds us of our worth in God’s eyes and reassures us of His intimate knowledge and care for us. Jesus ends by making them this awesome promise: ‘Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven’ (Matthew 10:32). We are called to both continue His mission serving others selflessly with love and mercy, and to receive from others with grace and humility. As Gospel Witnesses we become "gift" to one another in the reciprocity of accompaniment.
June 19 to 23
The Gospel this week especially resonated with me. June is a month that necessarily becomes frenetic with a pace that must encompass both endings and planning for new beginnings. When Matthew recounts Jesus saying, "he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." I acknowledged that was what I have witnessed, and what I too have felt on a few "June" occasions. However, I reflected on the idea of compassion as an opportunity for us to accompany one another with grace, gentleness and kindness. In fact, I suggest that Jesus uses it deliberately, as the antithesis to chaos, anxiety, fear and hopelessness. Compassion means to respond from a place of love first.
I share with you a compassion meditation below:
Professor and Sister of St. Joseph Catherine Nerney shares a prayer practice that strengthens our compassion for ourselves, one another, and the world:
We are called to be compassion for our world. But to grow in this capacity, we must practice, practice, practice the art of communicating from the heart where God and we are one. The Hindu blessing of Namaste, which has become universalized, reminds us that “when I am in that place of the Divine in me and you are in that place of the Divine in you, there is only one of us.”
For this purpose, Thich Nhat Hanh and other Buddhist practitioners recommend that we regularly engage in a Compassion Meditation that is also known as metta or loving-kindness.… Take a few moments to let yourself be drawn into this contemplative practice for your good and others. Picture in your mind’s eye, try to encounter as vividly as possible, someone for whom you feel deep love and unity. Let him or her be there with you as you express these desires.
May you be happy.
May you be blessed.
May you be free and peaceful.
May you be ever loved.
May you be always loving.
Now repeat the exercise, this time picturing someone you hardly know. Wish them the same loving desires. You may choose someone you saw on the bus, someone in the supermarket or a church group, or perhaps someone you’ve read about in the news. Make the image clear and pray for them as sincerely as you can. Your goal is to open to them/give them their humanity.
Finally, repeat the visualization, selecting a person with whom you are feeling alienated, hurt, resentful, vengeful. What happens as you try to enter this “compassion meditation” with them?
A fourth component of this compassion meditation that I think is often needed, if we are to become more compassionate listeners and speakers, is to offer this loving-kindness meditation for oneself. Self-compassion is essential to help us let go of shame that blocks God’s love and peace from mercifying us. From deep inside us, God is trying to get dug out. Listen to God trying to free you at the same time to love yourself.
Catherine T. Nerney, The Compassion Connection: Recovering Our Original Oneness (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2018), 184–185.
In compassion, celebration and love we give without expecting payment, because we know that Jesus, our shepherd, unconditionally gives to us.
June 12 to 16
This week we celebrate the solemnity of the Feast of Corpus Christi; which is in essence the Body and Blood of Christ. In this feast we find our identity as Catholics, as we believe in the real presence of Christ in the holy Eucharist; we believe that Jesus is the Bread of Life. The Eucharist is the source and summit of not only the mass, but our faith. This is because at each mass, the paschal mystery is reenacted and provides us with proof of Jesus' promise of everlasting life. God always accompanies us, and He knows our every need. Therefore, he will always provide for us. Just as he first provided Manna to the Isrealites, He continues to call us to His table, where through His love, we are unified, equalized and invited to deeper relationships. The cup of blessings that we share is how we as Gospel Witnesses give life to our faith, and join in the joyful communion of Christ.
June 5 to 9
This Sunday we celebrate the solemnity of the Holy Trinity. It is the template and pattern of love for us. Three in one. It is the relationship: giving, receiving and communion that occurs that shows us the example of unselfish generosity, humble receptivity, grace and mercy. This divinity was gifted to us. Moses worships the Lord saying, "take us for your inheritance"; a beautiful phrase that pledges our faith, and our place within the family of God.
May 29 to June 2
On Pentecost Sunday, we celebrate our baptismal renewal when we are initiated into the Church. It is then that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit that each of us possess are activated. We are all embused with them - and we are commissioned to live as Gospel witnesses using them for the common good. This Sunday, God gives us as a companion the Holy Spirit, who resides within us as a flame; inspiring, igniting, guiding and, as we learned last week, even defending us throughout our lives. Let us give thanks for this divine accompaniment.
Richard Rohr's daily meditation As Close as our Breath
May 23 to 26
As we move into the last weeks of the school year, let us lift those who have been displaced by the wildfire crisis up in prayer. Let us ask God to remember us, His earth, and all he has created, to remember that it is indeed good and send us rain to quench the fires and restore balance.
This week is Ascension. Here are some thoughts on the Gospel:
“The blessed Apostles made such progress after the Lord’s Ascension that everything which had previously filled them with fear was turned into joy. For they had lifted the whole contemplation of their mind to the Godhead of Him that sat at the Father’s right hand.” (Saint Leo the Great)
This means as Gospel Witnesses we no longer live or act from a place of fear , but rather love and joy , knowing that Christ has died, and promised us salvation, so that we might experience eternal life with Him.
“Jesus’ Ascension into heaven constitutes the end of the mission that the Son received from the Father and the beginning of the continuation of this mission on the part of the Church. This mission will last until the end of history and every day will have the assistance of the Risen Lord.” (Francis)
This means that we are accompanied by Christ, now, tomorrow and forever. The Holy Spirit is the Paraclete- our guide and defender.
“Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture are bound closely together, and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing, and move towards the same goal. Each of them makes present and fruitful in the Church the mystery of Christ, who promised to remain with his own ‘always, to the close of the age’ (Mt 28:20).” (Catechism Of the Catholic Church, Nº 80)
As Gospel Witnesses, what we believe and the actions we display must be aligned in order for us to truly model our lives in the example of Christ who calls on us to love and serve one another unconditionally.
May 15 to 19
This week I am linking Pope Francis' homily. He not only blesses all mothers, He also reminds us that, on the last Sunday of Easter, the Holy Spirit accompanies us in two ways: as a close constant companion, and He is our advocate, defending us whenever we are in need. Through the Holy Spirit we are given guidance, and we dwell in the knowledge that we are beloved Children of God. As we celebrate Catholic Education Week, let us rejoice and give thanks for the blessings of our faith community.
May 8 to 12
This week, the liturgy of the word, calls us to consider our lives in the context of the legacy that we are going to leave behind.
As servant leaders in the many roles we have we are called to serve others with grace, humility and compassion, holding Christ as our example. This service is illustrated by the disciples in the first reading. When called upon, they respond without hesitation. In the second reading, God reaffirms us His "own people". We are again called to continue as Gospel witnesses, living an authentic christian Catholic life characterized by faith, love, hope and mercy.
Finally, the Gospel recounts Jesus telling us,“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” just prior to His death. He calls us to continue His mission, saying “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. His legacy is the promise of salvation.
As we celebrate teachers during Teacher Appreciation week, the legacy of dedicated, compassionate, and inspiring teachers is evident in our schools and communities when we see the students and staff thriving. Let us give thanks for the gift of accompaniment. AMEN
May 1 to 5
I hope that you are able to enjoy the beauty of spring as the earth wakes in response to the warmth of the sun, signalling a new cycle of nature to begin. This reminds me of the Gospel today on the feast of the Good Shepherd.
As the Good Shepherd we are called to listen to the voice of Jesus and respond to His invitation. A Shepherd was the epitome of excellent leadership. The shepherd knew each sheep, and lived amongst the flock. He provided gentle guidance, and the sheep trusted the shepherd, therefore when the shepherd called, the sheep would follow. Interestingly, this is where the cliche "follow like sheep '' is derived. However, they do not follow blindly. Instead, the sheep come when they hear the shepherd's voice because they trust in the care the shepherd will provide. The Shepherd has built a relationship. So too is Jesus calling to us in invitation. He recognizes our dignity and respects our freedom, offering us a choice- offering us his love. He promises us that He will accompany us in this life and the next- to eternity. This was the Easter gift that the world received.
Finally, through Him there is hope and purpose for our lives. We are blessed by the promise of knowing that everything has meaning if we place our trust in him.
April 24 to 38
Happy Easter! This week in the Easter Season, we mark the journey to Emmaus. It is particularly meaningful, as at Lakeland Catholic, this journey is an allegory for our own modern day faith journey. Throughout this year our feet have paralleled the footsteps of Cleopas and the other disciple, as they walked the long road from Jerusalem to Emmaus.
We embraced the theme of accompaniment - leaning into our faith and one another when our circumstances were overwhelming, we understood what the disciples must have felt as they walked in confusion and loneliness; needing one another for support.
Now, with the knowledge of the resurrection imprinted on our hearts, the journey has even deeper meaning, because we understand that it is the encounter with Jesus and our faith in Him that will ultimately result in us experiencing the many rewards that He promises in this life and finally everlasting life.
Let us remember that Jesus is with us always, and throughout our lives, we are blessed to have encounters with Him.
What does this mean? How will we know Jesus? His face appears in the child that is dysregulated, the parent volunteer, the unhoused, the parish Priest, a veteran teacher who mentors and quietly influences the positive school culture, the Elder who shares their residential school history, the YLL student groups, the school extra curricular coach, and the principal who covers classes or provides last minute supervision.
Encounters with Christ happen throughout our lives. They strengthen our faith, and help reinforce our understanding that GOD IS WITH US. We simply need to open our hearts to accept his unconditional love, and just as Cleopas and his friend, our eyes too will be not only "opened [to] ... Him", but also through the experiences of joy found in our daily lives as we live as Gospel witnesses.
April 17 to 21
This Sunday is Divine Mercy Sunday. What is Divine Mercy Sunday? Here is a link to Nine Things You Need to Know about Divine Mercy Sunday, as we reflect on the way that through Mercy, Christ becomes the paschal sacrifice that brings us the gift of everlasting life.
Jesus said to St. Faustina, "Humanity will never find peace until it turns with trust to Divine Mercy". This is a timeless reminder for us. We must trust in the Lord, surrendering our doubts and fears. In turn, we will be blanketed in His grace and mercy. The Peace of Christ will accompany us all the days of our lives. AMEN.
April 11 to 14
Our journey throughout the past 6 weeks of Lent culminated in the Easter Triduum. Holy Week invited us to reflect on how our modern day lives bear witness to the Catholic Christian mission we are called to exemplify. In humility and service Jesus washes the feet of His friends, and even his betrayer. We are called to continue our Gospel service to others through the outpouring of love. As Jesus, the sacrificial lamb, laboured through the streets of Jerusalem, bearing the burdens of our sin, we cannot help but reflect on our lives. What have we done that has caused hurt or pain? As we imagine the unconditional love that motivates Jesus to carry the cross, we consider our actions today, how can we take anger, pain and bitterness and change it to mercy, generosity and compassion?
Moving through the solitude of Holy Saturday, from the isolation and loneliness that comes from the silence of the tomb we reflect on the times that we turned inward rather than extending our hands and hearts in relationship with one another. However, it is not too late, the dawn approaches. Light emerges from the tomb, and we believe that Christ has risen! All our fears have been destroyed, for Christ has won over death- this is the resurrection promise - that all who believe will have everlasting life. This means that we are not alone; we are accompanied by a love that is so great, nothing will separate us, no matter what circumstances we are facing - not even death. What joy this brings, and this is the reason we are an Easter people - AMEN!
March 27 to 31
Last week’s theme was Jesus as Light. In today’s gospel, Jesus is resurrection and life and the rising of Lazarus is the sign. As in the case of the man born blind (9:3), the death of Lazarus has a greater purpose than the disciples realize. The perspective of the Spirit realizes that no one is either alone or self-sufficient. Instead of being motivated by fear, people who are in the Spirit live with the courage-generating assurance that life is a gift and a promise.
Being caught up in the dynamic of loving, we can witness to the glory of our life-giving God who does not send suffering but accompanies us in it through one another. We are reassured, through the miracle of Lazarus, that Jesus truly is the Messiah, if we believe. Finally, As Gospel Witnesses, we look towards Easter, where the healing love of God will be revealed through the actions of his Son.
March 20 to 25
March 20 to 25
As we journey deeper into Lent, I wanted to share this beautiful painting, and reflection both inspired by the Gospel this week. Again, it is clear that we are called as Gospel witnesses to accompany others- acknowledging them and loving each person as a treasured Child of God.
March 13 to 17
Let us rejoice in the extended light! Spring is just around the corner.
As we journey through the halfway point of Lent I wanted to share a poem/reflection from the Concord Pastor. This poem reminds us that just as He shared the living water with the Woman at the Well, He too will share it with us. It nourishes us and gives us everlasting life.
As The Deer Longs by Scott Soper
As the deer longs for running streams,
so I long, so I long, so I long for you.
1) A-thirst my soul for you the God who is my life!
When shall I see, when shall I see,
see the face of God?
2) Echoes meet as deep is calling unto deep,
over my head, all your mighty waters,
sweeping over me.
3) Continually the foe delights in taunting me:
“Where is God, where is your God?”
Where, O where, are you?
4) Defend me, God, send forth your light and your truth,
they will lead me to your holy mountain,
to your dwelling place.
5) Then I shall go unto the altar of my God, praising you, so my joy and gladnessI shall praise your name.
March 6 to 10
The Feast of the Transfiguration is a continuation of the resurrection story. It is a concrete example of the rewards we can expect from resurrection after we experience death. This is why we are beloved. The mountaintop experience, the euphoria we feel is when we know that God is near. However, we know that we cannot live our entire lives atop the mountain. Necessarily, we must come down, and when we are on the plains- (to continue the metaphor) we will experience suffering. When we encounter this suffering, we call upon the memory of the mountain top to support us in our journey. This is the accompaniment we are guaranteed because we are beloved by God. The relationship with God parallels the relationships we are called to have with others. We are to model our actions on Christ as evidenced in the Gospel, "This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him! " This is our mission as Gospel witnesses; to listen, and shape our actions in the everyday to shape our actions and become like Christ. AMEN.
February 27 to March 3
As we enter the first week of Lent, the recounting of how Jesus is tempted three times in the desert fortifies us for our own journey ahead. The way that Jesus rejects each temptation provides us with the guidance we need to live lives that exemplify Catholic Christian values. Jesus states that bread (food is not enough), and that we will only be truly nourished when our souls are satisfied by "words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
Next we are reminded of the folly of trying to "test" or "control" the will of God. Our God, and his plans, are greater and more wonderful than we can imagine or create of our own volition. He told Jeremiah, "I know the plans I have for you,” (29:11), and He has plans for everyone- everywhere- for eternity. When we surrender to God, we allow these plans to come to fruition, rather than trying to control the outcome of our life situations which is, in essence, "testing" the Lord; asking him to submit to our will rather than surrendering to His.
Finally, we see unconditional love when Jesus turns to His Father in worship when Satan presents him with the final temptation. Worship is the loving relationship between us and God. This Gospel fills us with encouragement for our Lenten journey. As Gospel witnesses, our mission is to love God and love one another. Let our hearts be nourished as we surrender our lives to be shaped in His perfection.
February 20 to 24
This week we have the call to holiness. As Gospel Witnesses, this call comes from deep within our soul, and reverberates throughout the heavens and the earth. The first reading reiterates this message, as Moses reminds us that we, as Children of God as sacred and holy, crafted in the image of God who is HOLY. In Paul's letter to the Corinthians, we are further reminded of our sacrality. We are likened to a"temple", housing the Spirit of the Lord. Finally, In the Gospel, Jesus invites us to love with unboundless love. To love without reservation and love unconditionally; when we do this, we truly mirror the image of Christ. Holiness therefore is both a gift and an action. As Gospel Witnesses this is our inheritance.
February 13 to 17
This week we are centred around unconditional love. This is fitting as we celebrate St. Valentine's Day. We know that God's unconditional love is the foundation for all love. This day is an acknowledgement of the love we share and the way we show it each day. We are not expecting perfection, but rather accompaniment.
Love is a choice. When we love, we choose to serve and give beyond ourselves - that is what makes our relationships meaningful, deeply rewarding and fulfilling. Just as Jesus sacrificed for us on the cross, we too, are called to sacrifice for others, which is unconditional love. When we make this choice, we are loving as Christ loves, living out his commandment to, "Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another" (John 13:34). Building the Kingdom of God through love is our mission as Gospel Witnesses . The rewards we receive in this life are many for love changes us and it changes those around us, bringing joy. We are further blessed, as Paul shares in the letter to the Corinthians, that, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him, " when we live and love as Christ commanded, God's promises to us in eternity are the reward we will enjoy.
February 6 to 10
Think about a time when you tasted food that was bland and unappetizing - perhaps french fries without that crisp tang of salt. Think also of a time when you stumbled around, wandering without direction in the dark. I imagine that each experience brings emotions and memories that you wouldn't want to repeat.
Today's scripture from Matthew uses an analogy of salt and light to inspire us toward continued discipleship. Both salt and light become purposeful when they are used as part of something greater: salt flavours and preserves, light illuminates and radiates. In this analogy, we too are called as Gospel witnesses to be the salt and light. We are called to use the gifts that we have been given as part of God's plan for us, and in doing so, our service is given divine purpose.
January 30 to February 3
This weekend our verses from scripture are called The Beatitudes. To live or be with these attitudes is a gift from God and they are a summary of the full Christian life. The life of Jesus is the fulfilment of all of them. Unlike the 10 Commandments that are prohibitive and tell us what not to do, the Beatitudes describe the rewards that accompany our lives as Gospel Witnesses if we adopt and nurture these gifts as part of our own way of being. The paradoxical nature of the Beatitudes is exactly how Jesus asks us to live, building relationships with one another, and caring for the world, as we build the Kingdom of God. The fulfilment of the gifts of the Beatitudes is not easy, but with perseverance, and the grace, mercy and love of Christ, the accompaniment of the Holy Spirit and those around us we are assured of eternity.
January 23 to 27
As we move through Christian Unity week, I wanted to share this reflection on Micah 6:8, from "Eight Days of Prayer" which beautifully illustrates the accompaniment that results when we as Gospel witnesses journey together in love with Christ as our example.
We – not me. The prophet warns the people what faithfulness to God’s covenant means: “ … and what does the Lord require of you? To do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.” In Biblical Hebrew justice and kindness (mercy) are not different or opposite from each other. They are in fact bonded together in a single word, mishpat. God has shown us what is good, asking us to do justice by loving kindness and by walking humbly with God. Walking humbly with God means walking alongside others and therefore it is not just about the individual: my walk, my love.
The love that God invites us into is always a love which gathers us into communion: we – not me. This insight makes all the difference in how we “do justice”. As Christians we act justly to manifest something of God’s kingdom in the world, and therefore to invite others into this place of God’s loving kindness. Within God’s kingdom we are all loved equally as God’s children, and as God’s Church we are called to love one another as brothers and sisters and to invite others into that love.
To do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with our God, calls Christians to act together in bearing a united witness to God’s kingdom within our communities: we – not me.
January 16 to 20
The second Sunday of Ordinary Time is anything but ordinary!
This Sunday we see light imagery coupled with baptism to inspire and remind us of our lifelong mission as Gospel Witnesses. Isaiah reminds us that we are called from our baptism to be that same “light to the nations,” revealing Christ in us to all those we encounter. This imagery is reinforced in the Gospel, with references to the heavens, dove, Holy Spirit, and water. John testifies what he has come to know about Jesus: that He is the Lamb of God, He forgives sins, He is Spirit-filled, He baptizes with the Holy Spirit, and He is the Son of God.
We are called to continue to reveal the depth of Jesus’ identity through our own Gospel Witness. It is through the "light" of our own baptism, that we grow and share with others. In our service, our love and accompaniment, the mystery of Jesus continues to be revealed to us and through us. This mission begins at our birth, and continues for our lifetime. What a gift we are given in this task to spread our baptismal light and grow in Christ.
January 9 to 16
Welcome Back to a new year filled with the joy, abundance and promise which is manifested in the infant birth.
This weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany. This occasion is a powerful example of Christ's commitment to accompany us throughout our lives. We reflect on the journey of the Magi and their search for the Messiah. Their presentation of gifts, and the welcome from the Holy family biblically illustrates the universal availability of salvation for all people. What an incredible reciprocity of gifting, and through this, we are assured of Christ's accompaniment throughout our own journeys. No matter what we do, where we go, or what circumstances we encounter, the presence of our Lord and Savior surrounds us. He will be found in both miraculous events and in the ordinary routines of our lives. He will never desert us, and we are inspired to live as Gospel Witnesses.
December 19 to 23
In this, the fourth week of Advent, we reflect on the love that is soon to arrive in the birth of the Christ child. Christ accompanies us.
God's love is unconditional, it is filled with grace and mercy. He asks for us to trust and to surrender our anxieties, fears and weaknesses, so that we can grow, thrive and live to the potential that God sees for us. I see similarities when I think about our Division. As a Catholic community we have leaned into one another to create strong relationships where we too are companions in joy and hardship. As Catholic educators we have the unique blessing to welcome each student, staff and individual who enters our school communities as a child of God. We seek to encourage and inspire one another to achieve their potential. I see examples of Gospel Witness as you comfort, celebrate and support students and families in their journeys ensures that all know they are loved, and that in all circumstances grace is extended. They leave our schools knowing that above all they are beloved for eternity.
Our Advent is nearly at its close; we have prepared our schools, our homes, our hearts.
O come Emmanuel- God with us.
December 12 to 16
Let us rejoice as Gaudete Sunday opens the third week of Advent to us.
In this week we are reminded to rejoice, and fill ourselves with joy. During Advent, it seems easy to do. There is so much to do: the hustle and bustle that comes with Christmas preparations fills the hours of our days. However; let's pause, the prophet Isaiah, the Apostle James and Jesus are calling us to prepare ourselves differently as we anticipate Christmas. Emmanuel, God with us, He is coming to accompany the world. As Gospel Witnesses, let us marvel in this mystery, this gift, and let us rejoice as we patiently prepare, quieting the distractions, and letting the joy of our relationships, and the presence of the Holy Spirit bring us closer to Bethlehem.
December 5 to 9
In this the second Sunday of advent we reflect upon Hope.
This is especially important to us as Gospel witnesses, journeying together in accompaniment with one another. The imminent Birth of Christ promises us hope. Just as the disciples on the road to Emmaus had hope, we too will experience that hope in any and all our life circumstances, which is found only in the presence of Christ if we place our trust in him. I share with you a reflection by Mathew Neugebauer, on the power that hope has to change our hearts as we prepare for the coming of Jesus.
November 28 to December 2
I am sharing with you Fr. Hanley's reflection on this important occasion, as it truly impresses Christ's accompaniment of us. He has made Himself present to us, and in this holy season of Advent we, as Gospel Witnesses, prepare our hearts, and lives, with HOPE, LOVE, JOY and PEACE for the celebration of his return.
Advent: The Coming of the Lord
The word “Advent” is a Latin word, “advenio.” What it means is “the coming”… not “he came” but “the coming.” It has a note of constancy about it… not “he has arrived,” but “he is arriving,” he is near, he’s at the door, he’s waiting for you.
The First Coming, of course, is the coming of the Child at Christmas: the coming of the Saviour, Emmanuel, God with us. And he comes as an infant, born in a humble village of Bethlehem. And this is God’s coming into history.
The First Coming of the Lord comes with God coming in weakness. He comes in the quiet of the night. He is born a helpless child, in need of men and women and others to take care of him, to watch over him, to feed him, to do all these things. Unbelievable, when you come to think of it. Mary and Joseph, a poor, poor carpenter and a teenaged girl, are called to raise a child who is God Himself.
The Second Coming: The Second Coming of the Lord is more dramatic, as we read in the Gospel. It is Jesus speaking of the end of the world as we know it.
It frightens people, but Jesus promises us: in the midst of the darkness on the edges of despair, when it seems that all is lost, and the world as we know it has been torn asunder, lightning in the skies, fire on the earth, then Jesus says to us: “On that day, lift up your heads, for your redemption, your healing, is at hand.”
Jesus will come in a cloud of glory with all the angels. The cloud, of course, is the symbol of the Presence of God. He will come to initiate the new world where love finally triumphs over hate, where people turn to each other and embrace each other in joy, for the world that God intended will finally be complete when the Son of Man comes in glory the Second Time.
And that leaves the Third Coming of the Lord, the puzzling coming of the Lord.
This is for us who wait and wonder at what we are supposed to do while we’re here on Earth. Now to celebrate the coming of the Child and then after Christmas put everything back in the boxes and hide them away until next year? Are we then to sit around and wonder and worry about what is the next move? What will happen to us in the meantime?
Not to worry. Something has already happened in the meantime.
What has happened in the meantime?
The little Child of Bethlehem, the helpless little Child of Bethlehem, grew up. And he has come to give to our lives the meaning and purpose that we ourselves thirst for.
On the eve of his departure during the last Supper, Jesus said to his disciples: “I am going away, and you will be sad.” He was talking of his crucifixion and death.
“But I will come back again and be with you!” He was speaking now of his resurrection.
And the Risen Lord is indeed with us, our companion on our journey, just as he promised his disciples: “I will be with you all days even to the end of the world.”
And this Third Coming of the Lord is his word to stay with us, here, now and forever.
The Lord has called us to himself. He has said to each and every one of us in our hearts: “Come follow me.”
And those who answer find the real meaning of Advent and the joy of Christmas in the knowing of, in the loving of, and in the following of the Lord, Jesus, who leads us safely home.
November 21 to 24
Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. This day marks the end of one Liturgical calendar and moves on to the next Liturgical year. There is great meaning to this day. Pope Pius XI, on 11 December, 1925, announced and established this day to serve as a reminder to all of us that Jesus Christ is Lord of the Universe, both as God and Man. This Solemnity is especially important to us as leaders as we reflect on Christ's example of leadership - one of utter humility and servanthood, borne out in love. This summer, Pope Francis modelled this for us, as he humbly reached out for reconciliation.
In Luke's Gospel, we see Christ's Kingship illustrated when Jesus is already nailed to the cross with two criminals, one on each side. One criminal abused him, “Are you not the Christ? … Save yourself and us as well”. Whereas the other criminal, he did not turn to give excuses for his mistake, taking personal responsibility and recognizing that Jesus is God. Jesus could have come down from the cross but that would have shown His power and not His love. But choosing to stay and die on the cross shows us His unconditional love and his Kingship over the universe.
As leaders, we are called, not just invited, but called to be disciples whose servant leadership is rooted in humility, and which dignifies every person we encounter and accompany. As Gospel Witnesses we all must have the opportunity to encounter the person of Jesus, who is our Lord. Life is not about power or wealth but LOVE. Jesus has shown us this over and over again through His Life, Death, and Resurrection.
We are invited today to remind ourselves that Jesus is our Lord, Saviour and King. It is through Him where we can find strength and courage to live our lives. Our King accompanies us in love and He invites us in love to accompany our family, friends, neighbours, the least, and the forgotten.
November 14 to 18
As we enter the last few weeks before the high season of advent, we continue with Luke's Gospel.
Today in Luke 21, no longer defusing the attacks of others, Jesus is alerting his followers to hardships ahead, beyond the time of his journey. The scene of Jesus’ prophetic discourse (21:5-36) is Herod’s magnificent temple, and the Jerusalem temple was revered as a sign of God’s presence, even as the dwelling place of God’s sheltering protection for Israel (see Luke 13:34-35). Jesus uses this symbol, the destruction, then the rebuilding to show us that, symbolically, in our lives today, it is not the s that will sustain us, but the who. He accompanies us in our hardships; while the Holy Spirit provides us with daily guidance.
As Gospel Witnesses, let us spread this message of hope through the lives we live - letting our actions reflect our belief that we are sacred and created for eternity.
In Luke's Gospel Jesus shows the limits of our imaginations when it comes to eternal life. The Sadducees argued against resurrection because of the limits of earthly existence. They did not imagine another possibility for existence and relationship with God. However, Jesus proposes that the possibilities of resurrected life are beyond our imaginations. Jesus’ conclusion suggests something else as well: To spend time worrying about resurrected life is to miss the point. The point is eternal relationship with God is possible, for God is the God of the living, “. . . for to him all are alive.” When we accept that we exist in a relationship with him for eternity, then we are called to take what we have been given and share it in love with all. As Gospel witnesses, may we live and serve our living God through a life lived with purpose and direction.
October 31 - November 4
Luke continues to preach accompaniment through the Gospel of this week: Like Zacchaeus, we hear the Lord calling our names and we respond by gladly welcoming Him into our houses today. We become more aware that at all times and in all places, in your loving presence, the divine is in me and in every person that we meet, and this includes those whom we may find difficult. Zacchaeus’ encounter with Jesus was transformative.
As Gospel Witnesses we must respond with the same joy and generosity to the call of Jesus.
All Saints Day is a perfect opportunity for us to remind our students and staff that they are part of the communion of Saints. As Saint Teresa of Calcutta says “holiness is not the luxury of a few people, but a simple duty for you and me.” We are all called to become saints, and we can accomplish that by striving to follow God’s commands and being united with Him in love. To be holy, to be a saint, means allowing God “to live his life in us” as Mother Teresa taught. This truly is living out our lives as Gospel witnesses.
I love the Gospel of Luke. When Luke recounts the life and ministry of Jesus, he continually challenges us to think deeply about our commitment as a Gospel witness. Through the parables and events he shares, Luke's gospel narrative is focused on the character it takes to be a disciple. Today, he speaks directly to us as leaders, sharing Jesus' words, "For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” This is a challenging invitation in an increasingly secularized, commercialized and "me- focused" society.
However, our book study, Virtuous Leadership, also reminded us of the importance of humility, stating that it is the "habit of living in the truth about...one's strengths and weaknesses... the habit of service. Humility fosters in leaders the ambition to serve unconditionally."
As Gospel witnesses, it is our privilege to accompany our families, students and staff throughout their lives. Through humility we have the opportunity to be the hands and feet of God; letting His will, His Spirit work through us as we share the Good News and bring glory to God.
October 17 - 21
This week in Scripture we are reminded of persistence in prayer.
As Gospel Witnesses, our faith grows through unceasing dedication to Him. Jesus invites us to draw near to Him in a personal relationship and in return He accompanies us, nourishing and blessing us. Luke asked, "When the Son of Man comes will he find faith on Earth?" We will respond, "Yes."
Luke's Gospel this week confirms that there is one true place to give thanks to God: Jesus Christ. Only one leper realized the great gift that was given - the other nine lepers simply did what duty required. Often, our sense of duty becomes routine and we cease to recognize the novelties in our lives. Taking things for granted impedes thanksgiving.
There is no authentic healing without thanksgiving. Our lives will never be fulfilled unless we are thankful. Trust is essential for the first stage on the path of healing and living the lives that Jesus intended - experiencing and sharing in his grace, and love. True healing transforms life into a celebration of praise, like the 10th leper who went back to give thanks. He was the only one to be truly healed. Thus, trust and thanksgiving are the two attitudes that we need live and accompany others as Gospel witnesses. AMEN.
October 3 - 7
The beauty of the weather coupled with the changing of the seasons gives us pause to marvel at our Lord's artistry as He crafts the intricacies of nature as His masterpiece.
Today's readings remind us that the Spirit of Christ dwells within us. It provides us with the courage, and love and self discipline we need to live as Gospel Witnesses. It is through the gift of the Holy Spirit, that Christ can accompany us even more closely in our daily lives, and we in turn accompany others. As Thanksgiving approaches, let our hearts, schools, families and homes be filled with gratitude for all we have been blessed with. Let us without reservation, share those blessings.
This week, Luke's Gospel is timely, as our school communities turn their efforts toward annual social justice campaigns gathering food and funds for those in need.
As in so many other parables, Jesus reverses the usual order in telling the story of Lazarus, the poor man – the rich man remaining anonymous. As we bring our lives before God, let us allow our usual priorities to be changed as God values and cherishes what I may have come to take for granted. As we listen to the parable, let us ask for the grace to hear it afresh and ask, “where is my life like this?” This journey of accompaniment is our mission.
As Gospel Witnesses, when we serve, we are further reminded that when the good works of our hands are coupled with the purity and joy of our hearts the rewards are eternal.
Today I share a reflection from the daily prayers from Franciscan media, Pause and Pray.
Rocks and Stones:
Lord, you are my rock, the psalmist has said.
I can lean on you and you will not fail me.
I may falter sometimes because not every rock sparkles.
Some are jagged. Any rocks I see today—in nature, in difficult people,
in my path of progress—I will respect.
Some I may move.
Some may seem like obstacles.
Help me to deal gently with pea gravel
and with Everests.
As I reflected on our vision alignment, and the division, and school level, our theme of accompaniment resonated
Congratulations! Week one with students is behind us, and I am sure you have many stories of joy, hilarity and celebration as students settled into routines. I am also sure that there were some anxious moments as students and parents settled into a new school year; however, with your guidance, grace and wisdom to ease their stress, they are sure to be looking forward to all this school year has to offer.
The Gospel message this week is a series of three parables, culminating in the parable of the Prodigal son, which is probably the most familiar of all Jesus' parables. As I reflected on these three, the message of Jesus' unconditional love was evident. Each of these illustrates a different facet of the unconditional love that we, as Gospel witnesses, are invited to share
In the parable of the lost penny, we are shown how love equalizes. One penny does not deserve less effort, and so it is with us, God's children; he loves us all the same without judgement, despite our flaws and sins. We are all worthy and divine.
In the parable of the lost sheep, we are invited to love selflessly, and unceasingly; even if the other person doesn't know or acknowledge the gift that we are giving them. Although the shepherd knew the sheep couldn't return the "favour" he loved and served anyway. This is what we are called to do, and our reward will be when we see how those whom we serve live fruitful lives. This accompaniment is not always easy, but it is true discipleship and the rewards are eternal.
Finally, in the parable of the prodigal son, we are entrusted with a mission of accompaniment that is founded on faith. No matter what circumstances we face, we respond from a place of love that desires to serve others even if it causes us to experience suffering. In this way, as Gospel Witnesses we live out the commandments, to love God, and love one another.
"These are the days that the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice!"
The Gospel this week sends us a message about discipleship that seems almost unattainable in today's society- give up our possessions, hate our families. We are asked to, in essence, turn toward Jesus, and give up our desire for the fleeting "things" of this world whether they are material or immaterial. This radical discipleship, perhaps, isn't so radical. It is founded on the two most important commandments Jesus gave us: to love God first, and then to love (and serve) others.
As Gospel Witnesses, our lives are enriched when we surrender all we are and all we have to Him; then we can give each day to our family, our friends and neighbours and strangers from a place of love, mercy and grace. This is the discipleship of today's Gospel. It isn't easy, but it is rewarding, and I also suggest we do see discipleship everyday in the service of our school staff, clergy, parents and community who accompany others with selflessness and joy.
August 29-September 1
Today's Gospel is especially fitting for us, as it reminds us about inclusivity, and humility.
Jesus asks us to consider those who are the least, the lowest, and the forgotten, and bring them to the banquet. We can apply this to our daily lives when we think about our schools, our homes, and the activities or events we participate in- how can we ensure that we continue to give voice to all? We are asked to welcome, dignify and love our neighbours.
As Gospel witnesses, we exemplify Christ when we serve our students, staff and community in this way. Tomorrow, as we officially welcome back our teachers and students, let us give thanks for our blessings and pray for continued guidance and protection throughout the coming year.
Welcome back everyone,
I hope that you have slowed your pace, and enjoyed a restful and restorative summer vacation. I am sure our Lord knew that we needed the blessing of his sunshine, to flood our hearts and heal our souls from the tension, chaos and anxiety we have experienced over the past two years. As we formally open your schools, take a moment amidst the excitement and bustle of a new school year to let the Holy Spirit infuse you and fill you with the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit that flow so freely to us as we open ourselves to receive.
As Gospel Witnesses, our words and actions are inspired by these gifts, and bearing these as our standards, we can accompany any we meet along the way. In today's Gospel, Jesus reminds us of the narrow door. It is paradoxical really; for the more our faith deepens, and the more we show this through service to one another the easier it is to enter through the narrow gate.
When I reflect on Lakeland Catholic's mission and vision, and the approaching school start up, I appreciate the timeliness of this Gospel message. It reminds us that everyday we are called to intentionally model all we do on Christ while we focus on others (all in our care). When we build relationships, (open hearts), create learning opportunities (open minds), and introduce new experiences (open doors) we are truly Gospel Witnesses.
May God bless your students, staff and their families. May God bless your school; may His presence be felt in the halls and classrooms, in the offices and on the playgrounds. Let us declare these places holy, for your deeds are holy.
It is fitting that as we close the school year, the Gospel this week invites us to reflect on discipleship. We can think back to the many times that we were asked, just as the characters in Luke's narrative, to follow Jesus, with sacrifice and service at the core of our decisions and actions. This is the discipleship that Jesus speaks of. There are so many examples of this within our division; over the past year, when staff pushed aside their own needs, and stayed late to assist other sick teachers with report cards, lesson planning or marking, or when staff dropped off weekly food hampers to families in need, or supervised countless hours of extracurricular activities to ensure students reconnected and felt a sense of belonging. It was evidenced in the comfort given to anxious parents, exhausted staff and rambunctious students with a calming smile that hid internal weariness.
As Gospel Witnesses, we are called to a live vocation of discipleship, and the rewards are not only eternal, but are found in the joy of those whom we serve.
Today's Gospel is about the miracle of the five loaves and two fish. As Gospel Witnesses we are invited in every and all circumstances, to take the gifts that we are given (no matter how meager we think they are) and place them in God's care. With His plans, and His grace those small gifts will transform not only our individual hearts and minds, but our communities for His glory. As we finish up this school year, let us reflect on the many "small gifts" that we have shared with others: our family, staff, students, community which have transformed the most challenging of school years, to a year characterized by empathy, support, dedication, and faith. As you reflect, remember, that as leaders and Gospel Witnesses, you are a transformative agent of hope.
Jesus speaks once more of the unique relationship there exists between the Father, the Son and the Spirit, the great mystery of the Trinity. Three persons, who share everything, even the divinity, so that there is only one God. Once again Jesus reminds his disciples that everything they are learning comes originally from the Father through the Son and from the Son through the Spirit. These are not three separate revelations but one message that emanates from each one successively. It is impossible to assimilate in a short period of time all that Jesus has to teach us. As our journey as Gospel Witnesses continues, the Holy Spirit gradually unfolds God’s message so that it speaks to us at appropriate times in our lives. Our capacity to take in what God has to reveal to us is expandable - when we become more open, the “Spirit of truth” will reveal more, and guide us into all the truth.
June 6 - 10
Over the weekend, we received the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is the fire that ignites us to continue our mission despite obstacles that seem insurmountable. It is the whisper in the quiet of the morning breeze as the earth awakens to the majesty of the dawn and we are in awe of the glory of our God.
The Holy Spirit dwells in the hearts of each of us, as we journey toward eternal life. Pentecost is when we are given divine gifts that, through the Christ's grace, help us to bring the holiness of God to others.
As Gospel Witnesses, we are commissioned to use these gifts, and the Holy Spirit becomes our guide, advocate and friend. AMEN.
May 30 - June 3
In this week's Gospel, Jesus is cueing us up for our ministry as Gospel witnesses. Just as he did in his final day with his apostles, where he lifted his hands in a blessing and asked them to trust the Holy Spirit who He was sending to guide them; so today, He is doing the same for us, in our daily lives as modern day disciples. He wants us to trust in His words and to turn to him in prayer. He provides us with the Holy Spirit as a daily guide for inspiration, discernment, and perspective.
He also reminds us that there is divinity and the presence of God within each of us. Though He ascended to heaven, we will find the joy of his presence in the world around us. He invites us to build community, love one another, and through this, He will continue to make his home in our hearts.
As we come into Catholic Education Week, I trust that you have had time to live out this year's theme spending time this weekend in restoration, renewal, and rebuilding of your spirit, relationships and those essential activities that nourish you.
This week, in the last week of our Easter season, Jesus is reminding us to always carry God's love in our hearts. It is this blessing that will continue to carry us through any difficulties we encounter. It is this love that motivates us to serve others. It is this love that inspires us as an example to love others, and it is this love that brings us in communion to a life of eternity.
With this in mind, Jesus further tells us that we can rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us as Gospel Witnesses, as we navigate the complexities of this life into the next. AMEN.
Christ reminds us this week very simply that he is the Good Shepherd. He knows us deeply, intimately, and loves us - without question. This is the reason for his Easter sacrifice, and the gift of eternal life. He reiterates that we know his voice, and no matter what our circumstances, we place our trust in Him alone. His mercy abounds. AMEN!
Finally, as Gospel Witnesses we are given an example as Christ the Good Shepherd, to care for one another especially those who are marginalized, oppressed, or silenced.
May 2 - 6
We truly begin to see the first effects of spring as the sun warms the earth. Green shades colour dry grass, and the leaves bud on tree branches, and the ice melts on our lakes.
This week, in three simple words, Jesus invites us, as shepherd leaders, to live lives that are stepped in his example, and to "feed his sheep." Let us, as Gospel Witnesses, love one another with the love that Christ shows for us.
Divine Mercy Sunday has a beautiful connection to our continuing Easter celebrations during this Spring season.
Mercy is the salvation promise that Easter provides, and we are reminded of Christ's Easter gift of mercy and redemption when we pray the Lord’s Prayer, "forgive us our trespasses (sins)." What makes the words more powerful, is our understanding that His mercy is limitless. This is the unconditional love of the Trinity. In return, Jesus asks us to, "forgive those who trespass against us."
As Gospel Witnesses, we are called to love others unconditionally as God loves us, granting grace, being merciful, and just as the Earth renews in Spring, the Holy Spirit will renew our lives.
April 4 - 8
As we near the end of our 40 day Lenten journey, let us remember the unconditional love waiting at the cross. He beckons us to come forward from the "desert" which encompasses the burdens we carry or the struggles we face, and turn to Him.
Through his sacrifice, our Easter promise is enlivened. As Gospel Witnesses, this is the foundation of our Catholic Christian faith, and our hope springs eternal. Amen.
March 28 - April 1
As we continue our Lenten journey this week, let us immerse ourselves in the understandings from the parable of the the prodigal son. It is a picture of God’s love for us as His children. We are blessed because God’s love for us does not depend on our faithfulness; it is unconditional. He loved us while we were still sinners. God is still our faithful and loving Father.
We are also reminded that everyone is equal in His sight — sinners saved by God’s grace, and His children.
Ultimately, Jesus asks us to "love one another" (John 13:34) with the same love that He shows us. This is our mission as Gospel Witnesses.
Our Lenten journey continues as the warmth of the sun melts the snow, and hints of spring appear, and we make our way closer to Jerusalem.
This week, the mercy of God is evident. It is as clear as the beginnings that mark the rebirth of Spring. Just like the fig tree in the Gospel of Luke, our lives, or parts of our lives may too be dormant. We may be slumbering, going through the motions, and simply not using the fruits of the spirit which Christ gifted us in ways that serve others and better ourselves as Gospel Witnesses. However, God shared his mercy unconditionally on Good Friday on the Cross. He is God of "second chances", and through Him we have a new beginning to use the gifts we are given to share the love that He so freely gives to us.
We continue to see the ravages of war in Ukraine. We are called as Gospel witnesses to lead by example, praying for global leaders to end this conflict, for their decisions to be filled with wisdom and prudence and for protection of all human life.
We pray for an end to the suffering of those displaced, their loss, deprivation and fear. We pray for their courage and resilience. We pray for justice and we continue to pray for reconciliation and peace.
March 7 - 11
As we celebrate the first sunday of lent, consider the escalating international conflict, and reflect on our lives, the messages from the Book of Deuteronomy, the Psalm, and Gospel are especially relevant.
The prophet Moses describes how an entire nation praises God for their deliverance from tyranny, while the psalmist sings out a prayer for God's continued protection. We can relate to this today as we see nations at war, or face uncertainty in our lives. We may feel helpless, or unsure as to what we can do or where to turn. Yet, scripture reassures us of God's power and dominion. We see this promise realized through Jesus. I love this Gospel, because it is so relevant to our modern lives.
Jesus, in the desert, is completely vulnerable, just as we are today, He encounters evil, in the form of the same temptations that we grapple with today - to fully place our trust in God or to reject Him.
Today, let us live as Gospel Witnesses following His example, trusting with confidence in God's word and protection always.
February 28 to March 4
This past week our world has been called to the brink of crisis in yet another way, as conflict in Europe escalates and NATO involvement increases, and as we have learned in our study of virtuous leadership, we are called with prudence and courage to join in solidarity for democratic ideals. We are also called to pray unceasingly for the citizens of Ukraine, the safety of the soldiers fighting in the conflict, a peaceful resolution and the healing between all nations of our world.
Novena for Peace in Ukraine
Father in Heaven, have mercy on us and on the whole world!
You sent Your Son, the Prince of Peace, for the salvation of the world. We pray that the Peace of Christ will reign in Ukraine.
Please protect and send aid to those in Ukraine and all who are at-risk.
We pray for peace - we pray for all who are working towards it and for all who are in danger from this conflict.
We pray for an end to violence and war - we pray for wisdom for all leaders who have a hand in this.
Lord God, please help those in most need of thy mercy.
Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!
Saint Joseph, Protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church, pray for us!
Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace, may your kingdom reign in Ukraine and all the world.
Our Gospel this week (Luke 6: 27-38) centres around love, where Jesus asks us to respond to difficult people and situations in ways that are transformative rather than fracturing.
Jesus' words compel us to reflect on our society: the social, political and economic factors which cause divisions.
In our commitment as Christians, we are called to bring life: to serve, pray, sacrifice, and forgive others, especially those who disagree, criticise, blame or are angry with us. This is not an easy task, but as He gazes at us from the cross, the unconditional love that he shares inspires us to live out the Gospel, for the love we share will be, "a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over."
The beatitudes of today's Gospel also speak of this life giving spirit that comes from building our lives around the commandments and virtues of our faith. The beatitudes are a transformative teaching from Jesus that asks us to reflect on what brings us validation, gratification, and motivates us to act.
Do we rely on God or do we rely on the world to "fill us?"
Jesus speaks of the eternal joy that nourishes us when we root our words and actions: humility, kindness, justice, service, firmly around Him. Discipline is foundational to Discipleship so it is not always easy, but is it permanent.
In the Gospel, Luke goes on to warn us that we will inevitably encounter woes in this world, because rewards of the world: popularity, riches, power are ephemeral. As Gospel Witnesses, our faith in Christ's promise of eternity and his love for us alone provides us with our strength to exemplify the beatitudes.
God places people and situations into your life for a reason—to teach a lesson of some kind. You may be in someone’s life right now having the same impact.
Lord, every moment is an opportunity to teach and to be taught.
Guide our lessons and actions to be rooted in you.
Open our minds to always emphasize you.
Give us the wisdom to learn from mistakes
to lead better lives—but most importantly, to live as a witness.
February 7 to 11
The Gospel inspires us with the power of God. Peter, a fisherman, is frustrated with his weakness, his inability to fulfill his purpose. Jesus, however, uses Peter's weaknesses as an opportunity to build his faith and glorify God.
As leaders, parents, staff, community members, and students, we are all similar to Peter. We have flaws and weaknesses that can divide and isolate us or bring us together on our knees. Jesus saw past the flaws, into the potential of every person He encountered. As Gospel witnesses, we are called to do the same. We glorify God when we look with love beyond our own, and others shortcomings, to share grace, extend mercy and bring hope and celebrate joy.
“There is within each one of us a potential for goodness beyond our imagining; for giving which seeks no reward; for listening without judgment; for loving unconditionally.”
– Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
January 31 to February 4
When we read the Gospel of Mark, it is easy for us to place ourselves in the boat with the disciples as the storm rages around us.
Let us consider the storms of life in 2022: illness, economic and financial uncertainty, isolation, loss, family separation, political and ideological conflict, anxiety, burnout, racism, and multiple other divisive elements that rage. However, Jesus stands before ALL these storms, championing us, with his firm:
"Peace, Be still, and all is calm."
What a reminder for us today. What we can control is limited, but for God, the Alpha and Omega, nothing is impossible. As Gospel Witnesses, let us share this message with our staff, students, families, and community, that our Lord will calm the storms of life and bring peace. We need faith, not fear.
"I am always wary of decisions made hastily. I am always wary of the first decision, that is, the first thing that comes to my mind if I have to make a decision. This is usually the wrong thing. I have to wait and assess, looking deep into myself, taking the necessary time."
January 24 to 28
Scripture this weekend deeply resounded with me. Particularly, St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians caused me to reflect on our role as Catholic leaders in the current time. I read through the scripture multiple times placing myself in the space (as best as I could) of:
- support staff
- Indigenous families
- English Language Learner families
- individuals struggling with differing COVID ideologies,
- families facing financial difficulties
- individuals battling illnesses or grief
- families who are blessed with abundance
We all belong. We belong to the school community, the division, and the Body of Christ. Our unity depends on each member at Lakeland Catholic to feel like they belong, know that they are part of the community where they have been called, and that their contributions are unique and matter. As leaders, it is up to us to create spaces and opportunities for this to happen. We are together in the Body of Christ.
May God bless you this week.
January 10 to 17
I hope you have all had an opportunity to disconnect for at least a few hours, and nourish your heart, spirit, mind and body with non-job related activity, as last week proved to be filled with much hustle and bustle to prepare for the student's return.
We heard how the past week was filled with gratitude for the gift of time, as well as the currents of anxiety regarding uncertainty around what our staff may be facing in the uncertainties of the upcoming weeks. As I reflected on our current context, today's Gospel, and baptism, Fr. Rene's words were deeply impactful as more than ever, we are longing for hope. Baptism and the living water of everlasting life gives us this hope. Today's Gospel reminds us that we are Children of God, guided by the Holy Spirit, gifted with unconditional love, and we are never alone, in any circumstance.
This gives us hope.
January 3 to 7
May you be blessed on the Feast of the Holy Epiphany. As we look into the new year, especially during this time where we long for new beginnings, more pandemic, more restrictions, and uncertainty seems to be a script that continues to replay, but the Epiphany offers us hope. The magi followed a star, and despite their uncertainty in the journey, they held fast in the faith that they would one day meet the Messiah, and all their struggles would be overcome. We too must keep this faith. Today, now, in our daily walk, we may encounter so many personal and professional challenges; but when we rely on our faith, our family and our colleagues, we can and will overcome any adversity. This is like the Magi: they traveled in community, they relied on their faith, and they humbly accepted their journey, knowing that at the destination they would be rewarded.
I share with you this Feast of Holy Epiphany prayer (from Concord Pastor)
were you confused?
Did you wonder
if you'd taken a left for a right
or misjudged the bright star's GPS?
Was it all a big mistake?
Could this really be the street?
The light spills into night, and beckons, calls:
"This way! Come this way!
Let go your thoughts of
what should be or might have been, and
open up to what is here,
to where he is and dwells, he
whose light and presence warm
this chilled and darkened night!"
Teach us wisdom, Lord:
open our eyes to your star above
and our hearts to your glowing presence
living within us, around us
and just across the street,
lighting the paths we walk each day,
lifting us up, out of our darkness
and to your radiant, holy face...
Protect us in the dark of night,
shine bright upon us while we sleep
that awake, we might keep watch with you
and asleep, rest in your peace...