Palm Sunday


Homilies are never the creative act of one person.  So as we begin to post these homilies on our website I would like to state first and foremost that there will be nothing original in the following. My homilies are a result of my prayer, reading and study as it pertains to the particular gospel of the week.  Thus, I beg, borrow and steal from the wisdom of those who have gone before me and together with the Holy Spirit acting in my own prayer considering the needs of our particular parish community here at St. Mary’s, a homily appears by the weekend. If there is something that edifies you I can take no credit for it.  ‘Tis the result of the work of the Holy Spirit and those from whom I have gleaned wisdom over time.  If there is something that you might wish to discuss I am always available and would welcome any opportunity to speak about the Scriptures.  

God bless you.

Father Shawn


Holy Week has begun.  Jesus, triumphant from his many miracles especially his recent raising of Lazarus from the dead, enters Jerusalem as the prophesied Davidic King.  And yet that King will soon be crucified.  Jesus has already foretold his Suffering and Cross.  He knows what lies ahead. And he knows as the prophet Isaiah says in our first reading that the Father is with Him , he knows he will not be disgraced because this is God’s will and therefore He has set his “face like flint” obediently fulfilling  the Father’s will for him. The Cross for Jesus is doing the will of the Father.

What we see in the Cross is the GREATEST ACT OF LOVE.  The Father, out of love, sent the Son all the way into our human condition in the Incarnation. But then even more he sent him into god forsakenness.  Jesus became a friend of sinners…reaches out to the marginalized, to sinners, to the sick and to the hopeless.

He goes even further…He goes all the way into what frightens us the most. He goes into death. In the most dramatic way possible. Saint Paul says he accepted death, was obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Which for someone at that time was the most brutal and most disgraceful  way you could be executed. The Father sent the Son all the way out, to the furthest limit of god forsakenness. Why? To bring to those places His divine light.

Is death a place that God is not? No! God is present to death because of Jesus.

Is suffering a place that God is not? No! Because the Son entered into suffering. God is present to suffering because of Jesus.

Is sin, sickness, rejection, torture a place where God is not? No! God became sin on the cross says St. Paul.

What is going on here? It is the journey of the divine light into our worst darkness. The point of it now is to divinize us, make us like God, even in those places.  If we are willing! If we choose to embrace it.

Very simply…what God wants… is to share his life with us. Sin is the turning away from that. Death is a fearful place…it seems alien to God. God invades all those places, in Christ, and thereby illumines them and offers us the possibility of Divinization…becoming like him! Even though we had wandered as far as we possibly can from God. God goes into even the darkest places.

Jesus did not take away the sin of the world by removing it from our existence, nor by explaining it away, but by accepting it and transforming it by his healing presence.  What does this mean?

Jesus became sin for us, he absorbed all our sinfulness.  He experienced all the pain of alienation from God.  “Eli, Eli, lema sabachtani” “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.”   Jesus accepted all that the world of darkness had to offer him; he took it all into himself, then transformed it in the crucible of his sacred heart into saving grace.  Jesus took in all our hatred, indifference, and bitterness and healed them before he gave them back as love, forgiveness and compassion.


We see in Jesus, the Father’s will, the Father’s love for us.  We see in Jesus’ suffering and death, His obedience to the Father’s will…His love for the Father.  We see in Jesus’ suffering death Jesus’ love for us.


Holy Week, especially Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday, is an entering into the Greatest Act of Love…God’s shining the light of His love into the godforsaken parts of our lives… our various daily crosses…and transforming them…We ask this week…Am I worth such Love?…From the throne of the Cross to each one of us our God shouts a resounding “Yes. I love you this much.”

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.