Sixth Sunday of Easter

May 1, 2016

Father Stéphane Pouliot

Did you hear what Jesus just told us?  “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23)

Jesus tells us today that to love Him means to keep His Word.  To keep His Word means to take what He says seriously, and to do what He says.

Jesus tells us that He really came to earth and became a human being, because He wanted us to know the love of our Father in Heaven.

Jesus wanted us to know that we do not have to hide from God because of our sins.  God wants us to run to Him with our sins and ask Him: “Please God save me.”  Our Father in Heaven loves us so much that He asks His only Son, Jesus, who has always been with Him, to come to earth and show us what His love for us looks like, feels like and sounds like.

Jesus also tells us that his time on earth was too short to be able to meet everyone.  Jesus wants to meet everyone, talk with everyone, make everyone feel loved, and give hope to everyone.  So, in order to do that, Jesus wants us to meet the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is so beautiful and so powerful, because the Holy Spirit helps us to meet Jesus everywhere we are and to find our way back to Jesus when we get lost.

This morning, twenty children are going to receive Jesus who is going to come to them in a miraculous way through their First Holy Communion.

Listen to Jesus’ promise: “Whoever loves me… my Father and I will come to these boys and girls and make our home with them” (cf. John 14:23).  When we were baptized, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit came to us and made their home in our soul.  But that was not enough.  Jesus wanted us to receive Him in Holy Communion when we come to Mass. He wanted to show us that God loves us so much, that He wants our bodies to feel Him coming in every week.  Jesus wants us to experience a taste of Heaven right here on earth.  When we receive Jesus during Holy Communion, Heaven comes down to earth and we are experiencing, by the Holy Spirit consecrating the bread and wine through the priest, the love of the Father for us, and the love of Jesus who stays within our bodies for a few minutes.

I want to teach you the secret of a happy life.  If you do not want to forget Heaven while you live on earth, remember that when you receive Jesus in Holy Communion, Heaven comes down to earth.  At that moment, nothing else matters.  When you have just received Jesus, and you are swallowing the consecrated host, as you kneel, thank Jesus that in the middle of your suffering and joy, dreams and difficulties of any kind, Heaven comes to earth as God meets you.  Then, tell Jesus while you are still kneeling: “I don’t want to forget that you are within me Jesus.  Help me to love you until my next Holy Communion.”

The same children I mentioned earlier who made their first communion this morning experienced on March 6th another sacrament.  They went to confess their sins to a priest for the first time, and their sins were completely, totally forgiven.  They made sure the house of their heart was clean to receive Jesus today.  Some may even have returned to confess their new sins since their first confession.  All of us who are grown up would do well to remember that Jesus does want us to regularly let Him clean the house of our hearts in the confessional through the priest.  Jesus wants us to do that, because He can do so many more miracles in our lives, if we trust Him.  When we sin, we do not trust Jesus.  We trust ourselves and we rely on ourselves.  When we receive Jesus in Holy Communion without first taking the time to let Him clean the house of our hearts in confession, we stop Him from doing miracles in our lives.

In other words, let us take Jesus seriously, and prepare ourselves respectfully to receive Him every Sunday, and even any day of the week when it is possible for us to come to Mass.  We are able to receive Jesus in Holy Communion, because of the Holy Spirit.  It is the Holy Spirit who through the priest is transforming the bread and the wine into the body, and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus.

The Holy Spirit, whom Jesus promised would teach us everything (cf. John 14:26), is always encouraging us to listen to the Church.  That is why our first reading spoke the Truth to us in these inspired words: “For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to impose on you no further burden than these essentials (Acts 15:28)…”

The Holy Spirit and us: the word “us” means the Apostles, and the bishops, with the consent of the whole Church (cf. Acts 15:22).  The whole Church which includes every man, woman, and child who is baptized, is not just the Church in Canada, but throughout the whole world.  The whole Church also means everyone who is a saint in Heaven, and a soul in purgatory.

What an amazing God we have!  Let us summarize what we have heard today.  Not only do the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit come to live in our soul permanently from the moment of our baptism, but Jesus wishes us to taste Heaven on earth for a few minutes every time we receive Him in our bodies through Holy Communion.  We are able to do so, because the Holy Spirit transforms the bread and wine into Jesus through the words of the priest.  We must prepare our hearts to receive Jesus in Holy Communion, by letting Him in confession clean the house of our hearts through the priest. The Holy Spirit encourages us always to listen to the Church, because without the Church, there would be no possibility of having our sins forgiven through the priest in confession and no Mass.  Without the Church, there would be no possibility of tasting Heaven on earth every time we receive Jesus in Holy Communion.  What an amazing God we have!  May we always remember that our sins being forgiven in confession, as well as receiving Jesus during Holy Communion at the Mass are the two most amazing miracles which Jesus does for us every day through the Church

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.

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.
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.