Fourth Sunday of Easter

April 17, 2016

Father Stéphane Pouliot

In order for us to stay secure in the Father’s hand (cf. John 10:29), we are provided with shepherds because the Father’s heart does not want that any of his sheep should perish, deceived into wrongly thinking that He does not care about our ultimate salvation (cf. John 10:27-30).  On this Good Shepherd Sunday, also known as the World Day of prayer for vocations, let us be clear that unless we are aware of our need for some specific vocations, we won’t even be nurturing and encouraging the vocations the Lord is providing His people.

 

“While appreciating all vocations, (most especially sacramental marriage who is the cradle where every other vocation is nurtured), the Church concentrates its attention this day on vocations to the priesthood, to the Religious life in all its forms (male and female, contemplative and apostolic), to societies of apostolic life, to secular institutes in their diversity of service and membership, and (to a particular missionary life where one leaves everything to serve the Church’s mission of proclaiming Jesus into a new land, people and language chosen by God to experience the powerful joy of the Gospel)”[1].

 

The Church chooses to encourage us on the fourth Sunday of Easter to pray for those particular vocations which signify powerfully that Heaven is our ultimate destiny, so that those who desire marriage, may not only choose a spouse for an earthly lifetime, but enter into a sacrament which makes God’s love visible to those generously welcomed as family, to the world, and even beyond death.  Imagine a world without priests, as well as without consecrated celibates in religious life and other forms of religious consecration.  Would not the horizon of any of you married couples be reduced to the here and now of your relationship?

Would this reduced horizon ever be able to satisfy your desire as husband and wife for infinite love?

 

This is then the reason to pray for an expanded horizon of vocations bringing this heavenly perspective.  The fourth Sunday of Easter is chosen to be the World Day of prayer for more priests, as well as more men and women responding to God’s call for them to embrace one of the various forms of consecrated celibacy.

 

The Word of God proclaimed this Sunday provides us the healthy context in which vocations to the priesthood and other forms of consecrated celibacy grow.

 

The Catholic community of the early Church prayed for Paul and Barnabas, affirmed their celibate and missionary vocation, supported them with its prayer, and was eager to hear their testimonies about what God had done through them to build the Church upon their return to their home base.

 

Paul and Barnabas’ priestly vocation grew in a community who was eager to know Jesus, to love Him and to serve Him.  The consecrated celibacy of Paul and Barnabas was esteemed by the community who sent them as missionaries.  While commissioning them for a particular mission abroad, the growing community of disciples after Pentecost stimulated everyone to invite family members, friends and coworkers to put Jesus at the centre of their lives.  This culture of evangelization stimulated a missionary mentality who called forth those who, like Paul and Barnabas, were called to evangelize abroad.

 

In the harvesting of the multitude of men and women prophesied in the book of Revelation (cf. Rev. 7:9), those who choose to accept the vocation of chaste celibacy are told that their commitment exudes a unique beauty which inspires because “it is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes (Revelation 14:4), the Lamb referring here to Jesus whose bloody sacrifice saves those who surrender their sins to Him.

 

Speaking to consecrated virgins, saint Augustine writes: “The masses of the faithful, unable to follow the Lamb to this blessing, will rejoice with you; but they will not be able to sing that new song which is for you alone”[2].  What does he mean?

 

Recognizing that not everyone is called to embody the blessing of consecrated celibacy, saint Augustine encourages every husband and wife to rejoice with their children that God has given and will give to the Church priests, religious sisters and brothers whose lives sing the truth that, already on this earth, only God truly satisfies the human heart.  While this truth can only be sung by consecrated celibates, husbands and wives will love each other more selflessly if they recognize that only God can give them the love they first need to receive before they can give it away to their spouse and children.

 

Jesus is the Good Shepherd who need some to follow Him “wherever He goes” in order to gather a multitude and thereby preserve them from perishing.  Where does Jesus choose to go, what does He become in order to save us?  Jesus, who as God owns everything, as man chooses to become poor.  Jesus, who as God is Creator, as man chooses to forego marriage and children.  Jesus, who as God has supreme authority, as man chooses to obey Joseph and Mary.

Therefore this day calls us to enter into the heart of God who desires us to pray for existing and future priests, religious, and consecrated men and women who through poverty, chaste celibacy, and obedience to an earthly superior, follow Jesus wherever He goes.

 

Make no mistake: all are impacted by this day.  Priests are not born priests.  Neither religious sisters nor religious brothers are born as such.  Priests, and other consecrated celibates are always the sons and daughters of men and women.  Many of these men and women gave and continue to give their children who became consecrated celibates the testimony of a generous and faithful marriage where God always comes first, because no one deserves to be loved more than God who first loved us (cf. 1 John 4:10).

 

Prayer is needed for the redemption of every marriage and every family.  Priests, as well as religious sisters and brothers, dedicate their lives to pray for married couples and their children, as well as for every man, woman, and child, experiencing the pain of a broken marriage and of a divided family.  What an honour to be reminded once a year to pray daily for those who have dedicated their celibate lives to the service of God’s people!

 

How beautiful that we commit ourselves this day to sustain in prayer those who feel right now in their childhood, teenage years, or university years, the first stirrings of the Spirit calling them to dedicate their priestly and their consecrated celibacy for the redemption of every marriage and family!

 

I have spent my entire young life being aware that I would never have become a priest if many of you had not prayed for me, without knowing me, and so many of us would not know the blessed witness of religious brothers and sisters were it not for those who prayed long before us for the generous response of their hearts to God’s call upon them.  Let us now pray for the harvest of a multitude of marriages and families consecrated to God as well as for many young men to become priests, for many men and women to become consecrated celibates, accepting thereby to be prophetic harvesters for the Kingdom of Heaven:

 

Father of mercy, who gave your Son (Jesus) for our salvation

and who strengthens us always with the gifts of your Spirit,

grant us Christian communities

which are alive, fervent and joyous,

which are fonts of fraternal life,

and which nurture in the young

the desire to consecrate themselves to you

and to the work of evangelization.

Sustain these communities

in their commitment to offer appropriate vocational catechesis and ways of proceeding

towards each one’s particular consecration.

Grant the wisdom needed for vocational discernment,

so that in all things the greatness of your merciful love

may shine forth.

May Mary, Mother and guide of Jesus,

intercede for each Christian community, so that,

made fruitful by the Holy Spirit,

it may be a source of true vocations

for the service of the holy People of God. Amen.[3]

OR:

 

 

“O God, Father of all mercies, Provider of a Bountiful Harvest, send your Graces upon those You have called to gather the fruits of Your labour, preserve and strengthen them in their lifelong service of you.

 

Open the hearts of Your children that they may discern Your Holy Will; inspire in them a love and desire to surrender themselves to serving others in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ.

 

Teach all Your faithful to follow their respective paths in life guided by Your Divine Word and Truth.  Through the intercession of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, all the Angels and Saints, humbly hear our prayers and grant Your Church’s needs, through Christ, our Lord.  Amen.”[4]

 

[1] Partially quoted and inspired by the post on April 14th 2016 from the USCCB website to mark the 53rd anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

[2] St. Augustine, On Holy Virginity, 29, quoted in Ignatius CAtholic Study Bible New Testament, Second Catholic Edition RSV, © 2010, p.509.

[3] Prayer which Pope Francis gives us for this day, found on www.kingstonvocations.com

[4] Prayer found on « Roaming Catholics with Onyebuchi Victor Awazie and Isidorus Amandi Triangga » on April 14th 2016 at 9 :07pm via their Facebook page.



The Chief medical Health Officer of Kingston has ordered that Masks must be worn at all places we gather indoors. That includes us here at the cathedral. We can’t supply everyone with a mask so please come with one. We would have a limited supply available for a loonie at the entrance of the cathedral.
Please read and observe the six key principles outlined below.

1) The key principle is that we come to Mass to worship God. Out of justice and exercising the virtue of religion we must give God what is God’s due. That quite simply is worship, adoration and praise. Thus, the absolute essentials of Mass will be included so that the Sacramental praise of God will take place and we will be exposed to one another for as brief a time as possible.

2) The second key principle is that the health and safety of parishioners, staff and clergy here at St. Mary’s are essential and require our utmost concern and attention. Therefore, the dispensation from the obligation to come to Sunday Mass by Archbishop Mulhall continues to be in effect. Those who are sick, elderly or have other critical health concerns should not come at this time. However, that is left to your discretion. Should you make the choice to come, knowing the risks, you are most welcome.

3) The underlying principle of all of our restrictions in isolating, physically distancing, wearing masks etc. is the common good as we live out the Lord’s commission to “love one another.” We are to care for each other and at this time we are called to be as prudent and careful as we can to protect the health of everyone else and ourselves.
4) The principle for the next few weeks will be brevity. The received scientific wisdom is that the virus spreads within groups who spend a prolonged period of time together. Therefore, we will be reducing the Mass to the bare essentials.
5) Singing is considered more dangerous than speaking so you are asked to please not sing at all throughout the Mass. I will not be singing either.
6) If you have any sickness, are elderly or have a critical illness you should remain at home. The dispensation from the obligation to come to Mass continues through this time of 30% capacity. Of course, if you choose to come you will not be turned away. We will continue to live- stream the Masses until we are back to a more normal arrangement.
PROCEDURAL NORMS FOR
THE NEXT FEW WEEKS

The Chief medical Health Officer has ordered that Masks must be worn at all places we gather indoors. That includes us here at the cathedral. We can’t supply everyone with a mask so please come with one. We would have a limited supply available for a loonie at the entrance of the cathedral.
Brevity
We will pray a shorter Penitential Rite.
The Gloria will be said not sung. There is to be no singing by the congregation during the Mass. Only by a cantor or as we have today a physically distanced choir in the choir loft…3 metres apart.
We will only have one reading followed by the Psalm
The second reading will be omitted.
The choir will sing the Alleluia on Sundays. During the week it will be omitted. Please do not join in.
The Gospel.
A very brief (3-4 minute) homily will follow.
The Creed will not be prayed.
There will be no petitions. Please prepare your own petitions and offer them in your heart during the Mass.
There will be no procession of the gifts.
There will be no regular collections at this time in the Masses. It will happen later. Ushers will be at the doors to receive your offering as you leave.
The Eucharistic Prayer will be prayed. This is the Most Important Part of the Mass.
The Our Father
Sign of Peace. This is a time when we won’t shake hands. Please do not wave to each other or give the two finger sign of peace. Neither of these reflect what is the intention here…You are recognizing the presence of God in the other person and praying they know God’s peace. The most appropriate gesture is a slight bow or nod of the head to the other person. You have seen me do this at the sign of peace to all of you at every Sunday Liturgy.
Please be seated.
Then the ushers will direct you to the place where you will receive Holy Communion. Please do not leave your pew until an usher has indicated you should do so.
Another usher will be close to the Communion Station to receive your Sunday Offering.
When it is your turn to receive Holy Communion. You will stand 6 feet away on the red line. The person distributing Holy Communion will say “The Body of Christ”. You will say “Amen”. Then move forward within arms length and receive the Host. Once you have received go straight out the nearest exit and make your Thanksgiving on your way home.
Aisles 1 & 5 will come forward to receive Holy Communion and leave by the side doors.
Aisles 2, 3 & 4 will go to the back to receive Holy Communion.
Aisle 2 will exit by the exit closest to the rectory.
Aisle 3 will exit out the centre door which you came in
Aisle 4 will exit out the door by the washrooms.
You are strongly encouraged to receive Holy Communion in the hand. Receiving on the tongue endangers the person giving Holy Communion and yourself, the person receiving Holy Communion. If you wish to insist on receiving on the tongue please wait until the very end as the person giving Holy Communion should sanitize their hands after each communicant. The usher will pass you by and will come back to you after everyone else has received. Please don’t leave your pew until that has taken place.