Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 16, 2016

Deacon Blaine Barclay

 

There are two distinct but related themes running through our scripture readings for today.  Perseverance in prayer, as being foundational for the practice of the faith, and the foundational importance of Scripture in our formation as missionary disciples.  I want to connect these two themes.

The people of Israel are on their journey to the promised land, but are meeting with resistance and are about to enter into battle with a rival king and his army.  On the eve of this decisive battle Moses says, ’Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand’’.  This is the same staff that Moses held during his experience of the burning bush, that consumed the serpents of pharaoh, that parted the Red Sea, that now signals their capacity to prevail over the strong forces assailed against them. The same staff that would later be kept in the holy of holies in the Ark of the Covenant.  In our reading today Moses holding up the staff of God is a symbol of perseverance in prayer.  Only with sustained prayer will the people of God prevail against the forces arrayed against them. Only in prayer can we lay hold of our victory which has already been won in Christ. Notice also that Moses does not pray alone.  Aaron and Hur help his weary arms to lift high the staff of God.  Likewise, we do not pray alone.  We’re sustained by the prayer of the church, the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours.  We are sustained by the prayer of our fellow Christians and by the prayer of the Communion of the Saints.

Likewise, the gospel today has to do with the need for perseverance in prayer. ’’Jesus told the disciples a parable about their need to pray always and not lose heart.’’ In the parable, a judge who neither fears God nor respects the dignity of human beings, nevertheless grants the petition of a poor widow because of her perseverance.  The lesson being that if we persevere in prayer, God will not be deaf to our cries.

And so we are called to persevere in prayer.  But, concretely, what does that mean and how are we to do that?  As we may all well know, there are many ways or approaches to prayer, many types of prayer.  Different people at different times of their spiritual journey will be attracted to different disciplines of prayer, but there are classic approaches and core teachings about how to live the life of prayer. In a certain way I would have to say that the backbone of personal prayer is ‘liturgical’, that both the mass and the liturgy of the hours are like the skeleton on which we grow the flesh of our personal prayer life. Prayer has been called a ‘conversation’ with God, but like any conversation, the most important dimension is attentive listening, the capacity to be attentive to the presence of the Other. The ‘Our Father’ is a model of the perfect prayer. Aware that God is present to us in radical intimacy and closeness, it addresses God as ‘Abba’, papa or daddy. It begins with praise for God, ‘may your name be held holy’, and expectation of the coming reign of God, ‘your kingdom come, your will be done’. It is a prayer that calls us to trust God for our daily bread and to forgive those who have sinned against us. In short, it calls us to conversion of life. It seems that prayer, apart from conversion of life, is mere words, empty chatter, a noisy gong, a clashing cymbal. Many other things come to mind when we think of prayer, Praise, Thanksgiving. Petition, Adoration, Mental Prayer, Affective Prayer, the Prayer of Quiet, Contemplative Prayer, the Prayer of the Imagination, and Lectio Divina which is a way of praying with scripture. The Rosary, when prayed well, combines a number of these approaches to prayer including Lectio.

In conclusion, let me connect the two themes from our readings, perseverance in prayer and the foundational importance of scripture in our training as missionary disciples. St. Paul tells us, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the one who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.’’ The life of the disciple is rooted and grounded in Scripture. Timothy, the one St. Paul is writing to, had a Greek father, but he had a Jewish mother who would have formed him in the Torah from his infancy. St. Paul takes it for granted that Timothy had a high degree of familiarity with and love for the Scriptures, and he wants him to pass on this teaching. But how are we to cultivate for ourselves this kind of intimacy with Scripture? We can read the scriptures, pay close attention when the scriptures are proclaimed at Mass, and even join a bible study group. But the best way to study the scriptures is to Pray the Scriptures, or to Pray with Scripture. The Mass itself is saturated with Scripture, and not just the readings alone. So when we pray liturgically, we are already praying the scriptures. This is also true of the other liturgical prayer of the Church, namely, the Liturgy of the Hours, or, the Divine Office, 98% of which is taken from the bible, especially the book of Psalms which has been the prayer book of Jews and Christians for thousands of years. We can’t go wrong with praying the Psalms, and as we build up the habit of praying the scriptures, and praying with scripture, this life giving Word will move from our mouth and our ears, to our head and our heart, and finally to our hands and our feet. A kind of Marian moment when the Word once again becomes flesh and dwells among us.

 



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.