Ordinary Timemarch

Read Time: 4.5 minutes

After all the Christmas liturgical seasonal celebrations, we are now back in “Ordinary Time”. This is the longest liturgical season in the year and lasts 33 to 34 weeks, in two chunks, one short and the other long.  The first after the Epiphany until the beginning of Lent and then again after Pentecost, lasting until Advent.

So here we are, in Ordinary Time, in the month of February, waiting for Lent to begin. Someone once described February as a claustrophobic month.  We can’t get out of it, just plough through its cold and miserable weather.  Valentine’s Day brightens up the month with love and kindness, but then along comes Ash Wednesday, reminding us that we are all sinners and need to do penance before we die.

But the good news is that right now, before Lent, we are in Ordinary Time.  This liturgical season reminds us that God’s Kingdom can be seen in the ordinary activities of our daily lives.

We are called to be saints in our ordinariness.

Jesus’ ministry on earth serves as an example to each of us that God is ready to use us in our ordinariness as His messengers on earth.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, this liturgical season of Ordinary Time, while not as exciting as Christmas or as penitential as Lent, gives each of us a chance to quietly demonstrate kindness, gentleness and caring in the ordinary moments of our lives and to recognize the gifts given by others in their ordinariness.

There are so many groups in our parish who, by their ordinary actions are calling us all to holiness.  Here are just a few:
The ushers, who are the first people we see upon entering the church on Sunday and who welcome and gently guide parishioners to their place.
All those who plan, cook, do dishes, set up, clean up, etc., for parish activities such as last Friday’s Ham supper.
The Refugee Committee, working quietly, patiently and with determination behind the scenes, to bring and welcome refugees to our parish.
Family & Children Ministries, guiding our children and families to follow God’s plan.
The Quilting Believers who quietly and generously create beautiful, intricate quilts for those who need them.
Cursillo Groups, connecting us in prayer and actions with Christians all over the world.
Youth leaders and Youth groups who give so much of their time and bring energy, sincerity and generosity to our parish.
Music Ministry, helping us to experience God’s love through the beauty of music.
CWL and Knights of Columbus, the backbone of our parish.
Sacristans, whom we rarely see, just the results of their quiet work.
Social Justice Committee teaching us about fairness and justice in the world.
Those who visit the sick, bringing hope, comfort and joy.
Bible Study groups, helping us to understand God’s Word

These are just a few of the many ordinary groups in our parish, doing ordinary things, quietly, often unseen, building up the Kingdom of God.  How many more can you think of?

So, let us celebrate and give thanks for this love and kindness in our parish where we live and move and have our being.
Such concrete ordinary demonstrations of solidarity, love and kindness by so many turn abstract ideas like “The Kingdom of God” into living tangible, visible, ordinary, reality.

Praise God for Ordinariness and Ordinary Time!

No Greater Love

No Greater Love
Read time: 3.5 minutes

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16-17

One night a man had a dream. He found himself standing in front of a judge. On his right, stood the accuser. He was going over and over and listing all the sins that he had ever committed in his life. It was a long list.

In his defense, well there was no defense, only people standing beside him, mostly in silence. Some people were praying. There was a woman with her head bowed down holding a rosary in her hand. At any rate there was no answer to any of the accusations.

The accuser stated that this was an open and shut case, and that he should receive the maximum penalty allowed by law.

Finally, the judge spoke. “Based upon the overwhelming evidence before me, I have no choice but to sentence you to death.” Just as he was going to be taken away, the judge suddenly comes down from the bench and pushes him out of the way and says, “I will take his place, I will suffer his punishment.

“Why?” he cried. “Because I love you.”

Suddenly he woke up and he was in a church in front of the Blessed Sacrament. He knelt and he began to shed tears. Tears of joy and thanksgiving. He didn’t know that he was loved that much.

Just how high, how wide and how deep is God’s love for us. He is always there waiting for us in the tabernacle or on the altar. Waiting, hoping that we won’t forget him. Why? Because He loves us.

The mystery of the Eucharist, the most sublime of all the mysteries shows us how big God is, and at the same time how small God is. We can feed on the Word of God where we can get to know Him – to ponder and meditate on His Word – to let Him change us. We can also feed on His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. The most intimate communion of His entire self with ourselves. We can even spend time with Him, in His Presence, in Adoration.

Why? Because He loves us.

For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him. Deuteronomy 4:7

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come to him and eat with him, and he with me.

Revelation 3:20

Without adoration, there is no transformation of the world.

Pope Benedict XVI

My Brother’s Hand

My Brother’s Hand
Read time 4 Minutes 

Angel of God, my guardian dear,
To whom God’s love commits me here,
Ever this night, be at my side,
To light and guard, Rule and guide. Amen.

Excitement permeated the little village. It was December, 1961; the night of the annual Christmas concert. The nuns of the Congrégation de Notre Dame and students had been preparing for weeks; skits, solos, instrumentals, choir pieces, the pageant and snacks for the “tea” afterwards; coffee was never served. The children, dressed in whatever “finery” a parent could manage, glowed with anticipation. The instruments were tuned and lines were memorized. An impressive evening passed rapidly and it was time to head home. We students would take the bus which “put on an extra run” for this evening to ensure that all children had a way to attend.

Murdock had it all warmed up and ready to go; his calloused hand on the knob of the clutch; the familiar roll ’em cigarette stub between his yellow fingers. A man well known for the little bottle tucked into his jacket pocket, he may have sipped more than a “wee dram” that night!

Nevertheless, off we went over the frozen dirt roads. The lake was beginning to freeze over but Lady Moon, radiating her beams on the ebony waters lit up the night sky with her glimmering glow.

We bounced along, stopping off here and there; Roddie Frank’s, Big Hector’s, the Lighthouse, Mickey Ben’s and finally up the hill to drop off the last 4 families.  Suddenly, the bus lurched and we were trapped in a snowbank. Murdock did his best; rocking the bus back and forth, but it was futile.

He turned to us all and said in a loud voice, “You two!”, pointing at my 6-year-old brother and myself.
“Us?” I thought, I’m only 7 what could he possibly want with us?
“Get out and walk up the road to your farm. Your dad has a tractor. He will need to pull us out.”
“Us?” I thought again. It’s dark and cold. It’s probably 10 miles (it was one!)
But no one ever disobeyed Murdock so out we went … and up the road.

The starry moon-filled night provided light to see, but could not eradicate the fear from our young hearts. I took my brother’s hand.
“Let’s say the rosary and pray to our guardian angels. They will protect us.”
Was it our guardian angels or the strength we found in holding hands? They brought comfort and courage. We were sheltered from the “terrors of the night.”

I can only imagine the fear in my poor father as we woke him that night. He had left the concert early as he had an important date with 20 cows at 6 am.
Off he went with the tractor and pulled the bus out.

I have always been thankful for my brother’s hand that night. Someday, with the angels, I hope to hold my brother’s hand again.                                   ~a true story

The Trees Are Gone

The Trees are gone

A sign of the times… in old age the changes just keep on coming. Lord those two Weeping Birch trees were such a beautiful feature of the property you gave us and now they are gone never to be seen again.  The trees gave us shade from the heat and, some privacy… which we valued in the past more than we do now.  They were beautiful to look at but not so much in recent times.  Sort of like us.  Soon we will be those trees, gone never to be seen again on this earth.
Unlike the trees however we will be resurrected to a new heavens and a new earth where change and loss will be remembered no more.  However, while we are still here there is life to live.  The Holy Spirit is not finished his work in our lives yet.  As he works to make us more like Jesus and prepare us for our homecoming he invites us to cooperate with his promptings.
St Paul says “be transformed by the renewal of your mind”.  In other words change the way that you think.  Transformation, or positive change, has a lot to do with the thoughts that we allow into our minds.  As a general rule if we do not conform our thinking to the thoughts of God (as in the Bible) then transformation is slow and may even cease.
As an example of how important our thinking is, consider temptation.  Temptation comes in many ways but almost always ends up as unwanted thoughts in our minds which, if allowed to stay will lead us to act.

The battle continues
The battle against the devil, the flesh, and the world is constant.  Last night I had to fight again.  I called upon the Holy Spirit and asked Mary to pray for me again.  As I allowed the Holy Spirit to direct my thoughts away from the temptation (to recall moments of grace in the past) temptation left and sleep came.  It really is that simple.
Proverbs 23:7 for as a person thinks (in the heart) so shall they act … the battle ground seems to be the mind. The thoughts we allow to remain deep in our heart define our actions. The Holy Spirit brings us a sound mind (right thinking), and self-control, and courage to fight (2 Timothy1:7).  The thoughts of God will always point out and dislodge the erroneous thoughts of the world, the devil, and the flesh.
This was Brother Lawrence’s secret. He was a 16th century monk who mastered the art of thinking about God all the time.  The person whose mind is fixed upon God all the time will soon be walking with God.  The one who thinks about the things of God will not follow the ways of the devil.  At the end of his life Brother Lawrence said I see that God is so close to me now that I almost don’t need faith.
St. Paul says we have the mind of Christ (Ephesians 2:16)… meaning that the Holy Spirit will give us the very thoughts of God on a matter and show us the way that we should walk (the way out of temptation for example).  Ephesians chapter 2 is an excellent guide for walking with the Holy Spirit.

The Best is yet to come
We may have to deal with a lot of unwanted change as time moves on.  And we will have to continue to fight against the enemies of our soul (the devil, the world, and the flesh), but no matter how bad (or good) things get the best is yet to come for those who love and try to follow Jesus.
Jesus is the reason for the season.  We have all heard this in reference to Christmas.  The truth is he is the reason for hope in every season in our lives.  He came as a man, showed us the very heart and love of the Father, suffered in our place the penalty for sin, and reveled himself to be God … all to give assurance of a better future to all who choose to become his disciples.
It is the name of Jesus that brings hope to the lost and salvation to all who call on that name.  Let us keep the name of Jesus always on our minds and lips.  So that, by his name, and the power of the Holy Spirit, we will fight the good fight and attract others to come and receive the best … that is yet to come.

God Up There

God Up There
Read time: 3.5 Minutes
We offer our prayers to heaven. The warmth of candles and the fragrance of incense rises with our prayers. We look to God “up there”; after all, everyone knows, God is “up there”.
Yet, in the Christmas season, we anticipate the Incarnation of God into humanity. Christmas is about God coming down from “up there”.
The Incarnation is God meeting us, “down here”, as we are, in all our messy humanity, our fumblings and failings, our blunders and bewilderment.
God had been sending teachers and prophets for centuries. We would grasp a sliver of their message, mold it though our human understanding, and enshrine it into unbending Laws. In sincerely believing that would make God happy, we were sincerely wrong.
Jesus came down “from up there” to not only teach us, but to show us — to demonstrate what love is…to live THE Law of Love that God is.
Jesus didn’t descend from on high in majesty on angel’s wings. He was born into this world as all of us are born – through the blood and pain, yet indescribable joy of childbirth.
He grew and learned, and as we believe he was fully human, he ran and played and skinned His knee as children do. Mary and Joseph not only comforted Him, but as with all children, an occasional correction was no doubt also in order. As scripture says, “Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and with people” [Lk 2:52]
He taught, but more importantly, He lived God’s compassion. He embodied God’s redeeming-love. He enacted God’s saving-justice.
The Incarnation is God revealing Godself to us. To “see” Jesus, is to “see” God.
To begin to grasp how Mercy and Compassion walked the earth 2,000 years ago, requires the mind of a child: [Mt 19:14] Jesus said, ‘…do not stop [the little children] from coming to me; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of Heaven belongs.’ That’s not to be childish and immature, but to be open to new things because all things are new to a child.
God is always “new” to us, always revealing a new aspect, a new insight, like the many facets of a diamond there is always a new light reflecting at us.
The Incarnation is God saying that it is not only ok to be human, but we are reminded that in creating humanity “…God saw that it was very good”.
In coming “down from up there”… Eternity stepped into time.
In coming “down here”… God is saying that God IS “down here” with us.


Read time: 6 minutes

After a glorious fall season, with an incredibly warm October, November has arrived with a vengeance, bringing the cold, snow and double digit minus temperatures that we expect at this time of the year!
Apart from the cold, November, for me, is a month for remembering. We begin with All Saints Day on November Ist, when we remember all the known Saints of the Church and how we are all linked together in the Communion of Saints.
There are too  many “known” saints to think of them all on one day, so I like to read the stories, be inspired and pray to my favourite saints on that special day.

November 2nd is All Souls Day, when we remember all those we have known who have died. During this day and all through the month of November I think about and pray for all the beautiful souls I have known in my life. I often look at photographs or keepsakes belonging to them, bringing back great memories. As I pray, I remember and am grateful and thank God for allowing our paths to cross. Some I have travelled with along life’s journey for many years, some only a few years and some only a few hours or minutes. But all have blessed my life in some way and on this day especially, as I pray, I try to catch the memories and be grateful.

After All Souls Day, the next remembering day in November is Remembrance Day, on November 11. This is the day we remember, especially, family members who left home and travelled overseas to fight for peace and justice on our behalf.
In our family, it’s a time when we take out their official army photographs, look at the medals, the service records and read and retell their stories. It is a day of celebration, beginning with the official city Remembrance Day Ceremony.

At every ceremony we hear the words from the poem by Laurence Binyon:

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

We will remember them! When I hear these words, I think about an entire generation, both men and women, who made such great sacrifices on our behalf and I am grateful. Some who left home did not return, some returned, but life was never the same for them after the horrors they had seen and experienced.

So on Remembrance Day I pray for them all, a whole generation of brave and courageous men and women who fought and sacrificed for us, so that we could experience peace and justice.

After World War 1 was over and peace returned to our world, we hoped it would be permanent. Sadly, this was not true.

There have been many wars since. Right now we think about the terrible war in the Ukraine. We think about that beautiful country being levelled and shattered. We think about Ukrainian citizens being killed and tortured. We think of yet another generation whose childhood has been stolen. We think of the courageous men and women who are fighting for peace and justice in their beloved country.

So on Remembrance Day, 2022 we add the Ukraine and its citizens to our prayers.

During the entire remembering month of November, there is a long list of people in our prayers: the known Saints of the Church, the souls we know who have died, the men and women who gave their lives in world wars and now our Ukrainian brothers and sisters who have lost their lives.

It is not easy living in a world where we remember past wars and live in fear of future wars. We hear all around us voices o

f division, hatred, extremism and isolation. Yet we all crave peace in the world. In order to find peace in the world, we must first find peace in ourselves.
In Philippians Chapter 4, verses 8 and 9 there is some great advice on how to counter the voices of division and attain peace:
“Fill your minds with everything that is true, everything that is noble, everything that is good and pure, everything that we love and honour and everything that can be thought virtuous or worthy of praise. Keep doing all the things you have learned from me and have been taught by me and have heard or seen that I do. Then the God of peace will be with you”




A few years ago, I had the privilege of visiting Canada’s second martyr’s shrine. The Bishop Vasyl Velychkovsky National Martyr’s Shrine located in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In the twentieth century millions of people gave up their lives for Christ.  In honor of this sacrifice Pope John Paul II beatified several martyrs for the Ukrainian Catholic Church on June 27, 2001.  Among the martyrs was the Redemptorist Bishop, Vasyl Velychkovsky.

We have an image of him located in the Modern Martyrs room in our church.  For many years of his life during World War I, World War II and under the Soviet regime he was frequently arrested, tortured and imprisoned.  Despite this, Bishop Vasyl was a zealous missionary disciple always eager to proclaim the Gospel.  He preached many missions sometimes lasting up to 10 days.  It seems that the more he was persecuted the more he proclaimed the Gospel to the people of Ukraine.

When the Soviets made the Ukrainian Catholic Church illegal the church went underground and the Redemptorist priest Vasyl Valechkovsky was secretly ordained a Bishop by the Metropolitan in Moscow.

In January of 1969 he was arrested again and charged with writing a book about our Mother of Perpetual Help, for listening to Vatican radio and for baptizing people.  They tried to extract information from him about the underground church but were not successful.

Finally, near death he was released and exiled from the Ukraine and was invited to come to Winnipeg in June 1972.  Overcome by the torture and mistreatment he died on June 30, 1973 and was buried at All Saints Cemetery in Winnipeg.

After Blessed Vasyl was beatified by Pope John Paul II his body was exhumed on September 16, 2002, 29 years after his death. Following Vatican protocol his body was examined by doctors and church personnel.  His body was found to be fully intact with all its muscle mass.  On September 2, 2002, his holy relics were enshrined at St. Joseph’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in Winnipeg.  It is a place of pilgrimage for many people.  He is also the Patron of Prison Ministry for the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

Today with the Ukraine at war again many of the priests and religious, including the Redemptorists, are choosing to remain in the Ukraine to minister and to help the people.  I am sure that with them many more witnesses are testifying with their lives as God always raises up saints especially in times of intense suffering and persecution.  Many families have come to Canada to seek temporary refuge during this time of uncertainty.  Blessed Vasyl’s example has been imitated by many of the people remaining in the Ukraine.

Let us pray for the most powerful intercession of Blessed Vasyl along with all the Ukrainian martyrs for a quick end to the conflict and that peace and justice will prevail.

Blessed Vasyl Velychkovsky … pray for us

Our Mother of Perpetual Help… pray for us


An Rathad – The Road

An Rathad – The Road
Read Time: 5 minutes

The road is deserted now.  No one lives here.  The hay has grown outside the fragmented fence and spilled from the field.   The road tips up into the depths of the midnight sky and gently dips down to a creek.  Then it levels off, followed by a treacherous climb.  Upon reaching the top, during the day, one is regaled with a stunning view of earth and water; the lake spreads out in 180 degrees and the homes dotting the shore on the other side are vaguely visible.  As one continues, the road slides down again into a valley with a river running through.  It is not a straight road, but twists and turns in every direction.
A closer look in the hayfield, reveals the stone remains of a long-gone dwelling.  Ceitadh and Ruairidh farmed this land for many years.  One day in October, he set off in the small boat, to the nearest settlement for some provisions, accompanied by the youngest daughter, Kate.  All went well on the journey, but upon return, the wind picked up wildly accompanied by rain and cold.  Ceitadh watched in fear as the boat was pushed down the lake and out of sight.  The following morning, the indigenous people of Membertou, found them on the shore near Main a Dieu, Kate lashed to the mast and dead.
How low must the valley have been for Ceitadh as the men brought Ruairidh and Kate into the home and laid them on two tables for the wake.  People came from far and wide to mourn her loss and offer comfort and food.  The pain of her valley permeated her life.  She wept to the heavens, but soon after, in spite of her anguish, she went to work raising her family, the 3 remaining daughters.
With the help of her faith, the neighbours and her own back breaking efforts, she continued on her journey.  She healed.  Her road flattened out.  She adopted a little boy, named Arthur, about 12 years old.  Grateful for a loving home, he threw himself into the farm work alongside his sisters and mother.  The children grew up.  Two of the girls, went to Boston to find work in the elegant houses on Beacon Hill.  The girl who stayed, Annie, married a local farmer who provided for them and build a new home as the family grew.  Her 9 grandchildren were a joy to her life.  Her road ascended.
In 1944, her oldest grandson, Rory, left for the battlefields of Europe.  Once again in the valley, she was on her knees with sorrow, pleading for his safe return.  “I do not want to die,” she said, “Until Rory comes home.”  In the fall of 1946, his joyful return, brought her to a new mountain of happiness, peace and gratitude to the power who answered her prayers.
And so, wherever you are on the journey of life, remember that you do not walk alone.  When the road takes you to the mountain top, look around, enjoy the view, inhale, smell the flowers and listen to the birds.  Be grateful.  As the road descends, find solace and surround yourself with those who uphold you as you wander through the valley.  Be grateful; they are a gift.
You are not alone.  Do not allow worry and anxiety overcome you; the valleys are temporary.  That Great Spirit who created your inmost being and knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13) walks on the road with you.  You are precious and loved in His sight. (Isaiah 43).  The road will level off and there will be other mountains and other valleys.  Have courage; keep the faith.

Based on the life of my paternal great grandmother. Inspired by my visit with Arthur’s daughter last week.


The Church of the Book of Acts

The Church of the Book of Acts

Read time: 11 minutes

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit, sometimes called the pentecostal experience in recent times has been experienced by millions of Catholics around the world primarily through the Life in the Spirit Seminars (LISS).  Of course this is not the only way that people can encounter the Holy Spirit.  The book of Acts shows us how important this encounter with the Holy Spirit is.  It is the absolute foundation of the church of the book of Acts.

Jesus taught the apostles through the Holy Spirit … Acts 1:2.  Even Jesus relied on the guidance of the Holy Spirit to give instructions to the Apostles.  As a man, Jesus needed the guidance of the Holy Spirit to know what the right message was, at the right time.  He did not function as God while he was on the earth, but as a man filed with the fullness of the Holy Spirit.  (Phil ch 2)  If Jesus needed the leading of the Holy Spirit how much more do we.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you … to be my witnesses … Acts 1:8.  Even though the Apostles had already received the Holy Spirit in John 20:22 (he breathed on them and said receive the Holy Spirit – it is catholic teaching that they indeed did receive at this time), however they still needed this Baptism in the Holy Spirit described in Chapter 2 to be effective witness.

Their numbers were about 120 … Acts 1:15.  There were more people waiting in the upper room than just the apostles.  Too often the laity thinks that only the priest is to evangelize but it was not the case at the birth of the church and is not the case now.

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.  Act 2:4  Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Act 2:8. So what started in the upper room with up to 120 people ended up in the street where crowds could hear and be engaged.  In one short encounter with the Holy Spirit the disciples went from hiding behind locked doors to acting and speaking boldly in public.  It was not that they were changed into different people.  It is that the Holy Spirit in them and on them defined their behavior and orchestrated the encounter.  This Holy Spirit empowerment is the very thing the church needs daily to fulfill its mission.  Every Christian needs his or her own upper room encounter prior to going into mission.  Without it we are not fully evangelized and will be lacking power to accomplish all that God wants to accomplish through us.

Peter is a striking example … an uneducated fisherman delivers a powerful inspirational message based on the scriptures that results in one of the biggest RCIA classes in history (3000 were added that day).  The man that was constantly messing up becomes the undisputed leader.  Peter did not instantly change as a person.  He was simply empowered by the Holy Spirit to do things that he would not think to do on his own.

Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles … Acts 2:43.  In fact we find out after the deacons are chosen to do the ordinary service, that 2 of them also do incredible signs and wonders as well.  And as their numbers grow people like Paul and Barnabas are also used by the Holy Spirit to do signs and wonders. We also see the active participation of prophets who hear the Holy Spirits instructions and advise the apostles.  This is very different than our current understanding … we think we have to figure everything out by human reasoning and only follow what makes sense to us.  This is the way of the world and not the way of the Spirit.

And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:47.  Through their spiritual and physical works of mercy people were attracted to the early church.  These days we tend to think that it is hospitality and friendship that will bring people in but far more is required.  Only the Holy Spirit can really move people to repentance and service.

As Peter and John pass by the “beautiful gate” they see a lame beggar.  He always sat by this gate to beg.  It is likely then that Peter and John saw him many times.  But this day.  The Holy Spirit prompts Peter to see the man, and see what God wants to do in his life, and, in obedience to the Holy Spirit he speaks new life into the man who is completely healed.  Peter does not speak from power (although it appears that he does).  He speaks from love and obedience to the Holy Spirit who is now leading him into all truth.  The truth of the Fathers love for his children.  Often we tend to think of the miracle of Jesus as a Devine method of spreading the truth of the kingdom instead of realizing that the miracles are the kingdom and the gospel.  For they are the love of a Father for his children.

In Acts chapter 4 the disciples encounter persecution in regards to teaching in the temple and claiming that Jesus was raised from the dead and healed the paralytic.  When they prayed in the face of threats they asked for boldness to proclaim the gospel and they were baptized again in the Holy Spirit who confirmed his presence by shaking the building.  The empowerment of the Spirit is not just a one-time event.  We go from faith to faith and from glory to glory.

The last part of the chapter shows the result of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and that was the sharing of recourses such that there was no needy people among them.  This is often emphasized in teachings but what is often missed in these same teachings is the radical conversion that the baptism in the Holy Spirit brings in the first part of the chapter.  Without the Holy Spirit empowerment the sharing described will not happen.

In chapter 5 Ananias and his wife lie to the Holy Spirit and both die immediately.  This combined with all the miracles earn the apostles great respect both in the church and out of the church.  Notice that they lied to Peter … but Peter says they lied to the Holy Spirit.  So intimate Peter was with the Holy Spirit that he considered the Holy Spirit to be the true leader and the one in charge … not himself.

By the end of the 5th chapter the faith level of the people was so high that they would bring the sick so that if the shadow of Peter would fall on them they would be healed.  It was the presence of the Holy Spirit in Peter that healed the sick according to the faith of the people.  Peter’s shadow and in fact Peter himself had little to do with it.

In chapter 5 they are imprisoned for teaching that Jesus is the Messiah.  Then an Angel breaks them out and then instead of making a break for freedom they go back in the temple and resume teaching again … which was the reason they were imprisoned in the first place.  Of course to human wisdom this makes no sense.  Once again they are lead and not using their own reasoning to determine their path.

The church today does not look anything like the church of the book of Acts.  Not that it should since we are in a different time and circumstance.  However we could really benefit if we could walk in that same relationship that the early church had with the Holy Spirit.

Our Parish is hosting a bible study about the book of Acts.  Dr. Mary Healy is the leader of the study.  She is passionate about the Holy Spirit.  It is the hope of the organizers that the participants will experience the Holy Spirit in an empowering way and begin to walk in His power to become more effective witnesses.  I for one am going to take advantage of this opportunity and seek diligently the Holy Spirit.  Care to join me?

The Descent of Love

The Descent of Love
Read time: About 6 minutes

In distress and want I ask, “Where oh God are you?”
Here, I am as close to you as the warmth of your breath.

But this does not satisfy my mind, and so I ask again.
Here, in the confusions that make you trade life for death.

Still I ask what I have with my questions already said.
Here, in the doubts that rise against my descending truth.

And yet I am undone with deceptions old and new.
Here let me give myself to you with love alone that will soothe.

– Meister Eckhart, OP. (1260-1328)

Have we not all felt that question rise within us – ”Where oh God are you?!“?  Have we not, at some times in our lives, felt alone, abandoned? Have we not feared that we are consigned to fend for ourselves in the seeming randomness that surrounds us?
Yet, is not God as close to us as the warmth of our breath? Is it not impossible to be otherwise?

In the delight of a baby’s laugh that tickles our ear, and the twinkle of starlight that catches our eye, is not God as close as these?
In the soft touch of the one’s who love us, and the beating of our heart within us, is not God as close as these? Is not God the cause of the breath we take? Is not God, invisible as our own breath, the warmth of reality that surrounds and sustains us?

And we are not satisfied.

We are never satisfied… nor can we be satisfied. We are flesh and God is Spirit. Yet, our true moments of joy and fulfillment are not from our material creations, they are born in love. They are of the moments and expressions of love and support and joy that we allow to touch us. They are gifted of Spirit. They multiply from one soul to another.

God is Love. God is everywhere and in everything, and so God’s love is also in our doubts. Our inability to comprehend Spirit and explain the unexplainable, can’t help but lead to our doubts. We know too well our shortcomings. We cloak our failures, lest we be exposed… as human.
We step back. Doubt enters. Certain knowledge of our compulsions, evidenced in our choices, confirm our weakness. We trade life for death. Neither intentional nor even conscious because the choice is so often, not so stark — not so clear that we recoil at what is before us… until it is done, and then we know too well.

The deaths we choose are also the thousand choices to not do something — the decisions of opportunity lost, of love not shared. It is said that the measure of a person is not what we do when we must do it, but what we do when we don’t have to do anything.

Yet God is there. We fear that we offend God because all that we know of love is human love, fragile and easily offended as it is. To believe God’s love is such, reduces the Love Of The Universe to our tiny little box of understanding — a level we fool ourselves into taking for granted, and think we can control.

Our doubt lives and breathes in our attempts to understand and control it because deep down inside, we know that if we can… what kind of God would that be?

Yet God is there, constantly showing us that although we hurt Love in the countless ways we fail to love, God’s love will not fail us. God’s love is beyond offence and cannot be withheld. God’s love cannot be controlled. The Universe itself is the explosion of God’s love that even the Trinity could not contain and hold for Itself, but was compelled to share.

And so God gives Godself to us over and over again and again. Offering what we can neither see nor touch, yet is the only thing we can feel – the only thing that brings fulfillment and peace.

The offering was made visible on the Cross. The unbreakable fidelity to Love was proven in the blood and pain of a broken Man. The truth of God’s inability to withhold God’s love is there for us to see.

As darkness is impossible when there is light, God’s love withheld is an equal impossibility. God’s essence and Spirit is offered for the world to see — not to understand what is beyond understanding, but to make a choice: accept what is freely offered, or turn away — to either allow God to fill the God-size hole in our hearts, or to endlessly evade what is endlessly offered. That offering alone is the truth that soothes.
For God to do otherwise would be an impossible contradiction.