Twenty Seventh Sunday In Ordinary Time

Deacon Blaine Barclay

October 2, 2016

Our readings this week tie in nicely together. The prophet Habakkuk is deeply disturbed by the violence, wrongdoing, and destruction that was all around him.  He is awake to the pain of the world.  We also need to be awake to the pain of the world, but we must not despair or be proud in our attitude toward the world.  The prophet tells us that the righteous person who lives by faith is awake to the suffering of others. They have a vulnerable heart, they’re not afraid to experience the pain of the other.  Accordingly, the refrain of our psalm today echoes repeatedly, ‘harden not your hearts, and listen to the voice of the Lord’.

Saint Paul’s letters to Timothy have been called his ‘last will and testament’ because they were written near the end of his life and reflect his mature vision of the faith that he wishes to pass on.  Paul urges Timothy ‘to rekindle’, ‘to stir up’, ‘to fan into flame’, ‘the gift’, ‘the grace’ that has been given to him in the laying on of hands’. He is referring to the grace of Timothy’s ordination by the Apostle Paul. By way of extension however, we can learn a lot from this short selection from St. Paul about how to relate to the grace of our Baptism. We have been given a great gift but it is easy to let it lie dormant within is. We are called to ‘stir it up’, to ‘fan it into flames’, to ‘rekindle’ the gift of our Baptism. To live out our Baptismal vocation takes a certain amount of boldness and confidence in the gift that has been given, in the giver of the gift.  We cannot live this Baptismal life in the Spirit simply by our own efforts.  In our Baptism, God has given us all the courage, power, love, and self-discipline that we will need in order to live the Christian life in all its fullness.

But how are we to remain faithful to this life to which we are called?  Who, what, or, where are we to find a sure guide for this pilgrim journey that we’re on?  We know from St. John that Jesus is ‘the way, the truth, and the life’, but a lot of people have a lot of things to say about who Jesus is and about what it means to be a faithful Catholic Christian living in the world.  There are a lot of voices out there, especially in the age of the Internet.  How are we to know which voices to trust?  St. Paul gives us a clue in our second reading today.  By way of emphasis he gives us the same advice in three different ways.

First of all, he says, ‘Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord’. He is referring to the Scriptures of the Old and, the then germinating New Testament.  St. Paul is writing this letter around the year 67, the same year of his martyrdom.  The gospel of Mark may have already been written, and other apostolic letters and writings would have been circulating in the early Christian communities. So the Scriptures provide us with our first ‘canon’, our first measuring rod for fidelity to the faith that we have been given.  As St. Jerome says, ’Ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance of Christ’.

Second of all, St. Paul says, ’Hold to the standard of sound teaching you have heard from me’.  Where our translation says, ‘hold to the standard of sound teaching’, other translations say ‘pattern’, ‘form’, ‘model’, ‘outline’, of ‘wholesome’, ‘healthy’, ‘accurate’, teaching. Again, where are we to find this pattern, model, form, outline, of sound teaching? St. Paul says, ‘that you have heard from me’.  Referring not only to the scriptures, his words point also to another source of sound teaching, the oral apostolic tradition, the preaching and way of praying, especially of the early church.  As Catholics we believe that Scripture and Tradition are together ‘one source’ of teaching that has come to us from the apostles.

Finally, St. Paul says, ’guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit’.  Other translations speak of ‘protecting’, or, ‘keeping’, ‘the deposit’, ‘the precious truth’ given to Timothy, and by extension, to us.  Catholic tradition speaks of the’ deposit of the faith’, that has been handed on to us, and which we are to faithfully hand on.  This’ deposit’ is not a static, dead thing, but an organic, living word, a Person whose memory we want to make present in our lives and in our world; it is the good news for every generation, animated in a living way by the power of the Holy Spirit.

We are very well situated today in this regard.  We can easily follow St. Paul’s advice.  We have ready access to excellent translations of the scriptures, we have faithful Catholic publishers for a variety of good Catholic books to read, and we have the Catechism of the Catholic Church and various Papal Encyclicals and Apostolic Letters as a sure guide in our current situation.  In short, I would say, be suspicious of the Internet, using the Internet as our primary source for information about the faith is risky. We have Scripture, we have tradition, we have the Catechism and the Teaching Magisterium.  These sources can be read on the Internet of course but with too much ‘screen culture’ we can put ourselves at risk.  The actual texts are more conducive to reading and disciplined study.  In all these matters let us be attentive to the living voice of the teaching magisterium, the Bishops in union with the Pope.  In this way we will follow the advice of St. Paul to Timothy. ‘Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me’.

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.