“I saw that everything within my view which ought to be white, had been white long ago, and had lost its lustre, and was faded and yellow. I saw that the bride within the bridal dress had withered like the dress, and like the flowers, and had no brightness left but the brightness of her sunken eyes.”

God blesses us when we undertake to do good

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Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Year C) Dec. 27 (1 Samuel 1:20-22, 24-28; Psalm 84; 1 John 3:1-2, 21-24; Luke 2:41-52)

Hannah’s fervent prayer had been answered. During a previous visit to the shrine at Shiloh, she had stood before the shrine and prayed to God for a child. Her murmured prayers earned her an unjust rebuke from Eli the prophet, who accused her of drunkenness. Hannah promised that if God blessed her with a son, she would dedicate him in service to the Lord. Now she fulfilled her promise as she brought her son Samuel — who would grow up to be a great prophet — to Eli for training and instruction.

Being ready for Christmas

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Many of us arrive at Christmas tired, running, distracted and already fatigued with the lights, songs and celebrations of Christmas. Advent is meant to be a time of preparation for Christmas; but for many of us it is not exactly a time for the kind of preparation that enables Christ to be born more deeply in our lives. Instead our preparation for Christmas is mostly a time of making ready to celebrate with our families, friends and colleagues.

‘One faith, one destiny, one journey together’

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TORONTO - The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will culminate next month with a final liturgy uniting Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Christians at the Chaldean Cathedral of the Good Shepherd in the northwest corner of Toronto.

Faith, dark nights and maturity

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In one of his books on contemplative prayer, Thomas Keating shares with us a line that he occasionally uses in spiritual direction. People come to him, sharing how they used to have a warm and solid sense of God in their lives but now complain that all that warmth and confidence have disappeared and they’re left struggling with belief and struggling to pray as they used to. They feel a deep sense of loss and invariably this is their question: “What’s wrong with me?” Keating’s answer: “God is wrong with you!”

The sacrifice of self is all that Christ seeks of us

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Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year C) Dec. 20 (Micah 5:2-5a; Psalm 80; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45)

In biblical times Bethlehem was probably not a very impressive “city” — it was more like a small town. There was nothing visible that would hint at future greatness. Its glory was that it was the birthplace of its most illustrious son — David, the king of Israel. The city of David, as it came to be known, had great things in store for it.

In an uncertain world, God is present

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Second Sunday of Advent (Year C) Dec. 6 (Baruch 5:1-9; Psalm 126; Philippians 1:3-6, 8-11; Luke 3:1-6)

Makeover shows are very popular on TV. The theme is always the same: an ugly, broken-down house is transformed into a beautiful dwelling. A shabbily dressed, poorly groomed individual is transformed into an attractive, even stunning, new person. Baruch prophesied the same sort of makeover for Jerusalem. We don’t know who actually wrote this work, and in fact, it is probably a compilation by several authors. It was attributed to Baruch the secretary of Jeremiah, but it was actually written much later, possibly in the second or first century B.C.

Innocence, complexity and sanctity

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Some years ago I officiated at a wedding. As the officiating priest, I was invited to the reception and dance that followed upon the church service. Not knowing the family well and having church services the next morning, I left right after the banquet and the toasts, just as the dancing was about to start. When I was seemingly out of earshot, I heard the bride’s father say to someone: “I’m glad that Father has gone; now we can celebrate with some rock music!”

The stigma accompanying suicide

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Recently I read, in succession, three books on suicide, each written by a mother who lost one of her children to suicide. All three books are powerful, mature, not given to false sentiment and worth reading: Lois Severson, author of Healing the Wound from my Daughter’s Suicide: Grief Translated into Words, lost her daughter, Patty, to suicide; Gloria Hutchinson, who authored Damage Done, Suicide of an Only Son, lost her son, David, to suicide; and Marjorie Antus, who wrote My Daughter, Her Suicide, and God: A Memoir of Hope, lost her daughter, Mary, to suicide. Patty and David were in their mid-20s, Mary was still a teen.

Jesus shows us the nature of true power

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Christ the King (Year B) Nov. 22 (Daniel 7:13-14; Psalm 93; Revelation 1:5-8; John 18:33b-37)

Who hasn’t wished for some supernatural power to come from above and set the world right? In the chaos, fear and violence of our world it often seems that there is no way out. We are faced with numerous crises of every type — political, economic, environmental and religious.

The Lord’s teaching will outlast this world

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33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Nov. 15 (Daniel 12:1-3; Psalm 16; Hebrews 10:11-14, 18; Mark 13:24-32)

Many people have been convinced that they were living through the absolute worst time in the history of the world. The carnage and destruction of the First and Second World Wars, as well as the devastation of revolutions, plagues and natural disasters all vie for the top of the list of horrors. It seemed to those who were experiencing these things that the end of the world had indeed come.