Second Sunday in Advent

Father Shawn Hughes

December 10, 2017



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



Are you ready?  Are you prepared?


This question is on the lips of so many this time of year.

Usually this question means…Have you got your shopping done?  Is the decorating done…the baking?  The question usually has that desperate tone that implies that there is just not enough time to get it all done!!!!


The Advent Season plays with our notion of time.


I came across a very interesting meditation as I prepared for this homily…The author posed the question why does the Lord tell us over and over again, to be awake, to be ready, to be prepared for his Second coming? Why doesn’t he just tell us the day or the hour when he is returning?

His response to this question?  Original Sin.  Original Sin has produced in us the tendency to procrastinate – that is, to prefer the immediate pleasure of some diversion to the hard spiritual work that produces some good in the future.  We would rather spend time on the internet, or net flicks, watching our favourite shows or on facebook or other forms of social media … often just putting in time …than pray, or than spending time doing some of the corporal or spiritual works of mercy…or even for that matter doing some practical thing around the house that needs doing…We procrastinate.


Human Nature would procrastinate…correction…Fallen Human Nature…


Would we be any different with the Lord’s coming?  If we knew the precise day and hour of His coming would we be striving to grow in grace on a regular basis in anticipation of His arrival?  Probably not.  If we knew the time of His coming most of us would most likely leave our repentance and prayer for the day before…at the earliest.

In this light St. Augustine has warned us: “God has promised forgiveness to your repentance, but He has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination.”   The Lord keeps the day and hour hidden from us so that we will always be on the watch and, one hopes, always be prepared,…always preparing.  We are kept ignorant of the time of his coming so that we are always preparing for it.


He could come any time for any one of us.  That frees us from absolute slavery to our schedule, our calendar and our time clock.  It puts into perspective all the things of this world, which are all good in and of themselves.  …It reveals Him as Lord of All Time.  Time, the first thing He created, only has meaning in relation to Him and should be arranged with Him in View.  Our vigilance for the Lord’s arrival puts the world’s schedule in perspective.  That is why Deacon Blaine emphasised last week and I reiterate… Advent is a time to re-evaluate our use of time…. Working into our daily routine set moments of prayer…praying our Morning Offering, the Rosary, the Angelus… maybe even the Liturgy of the Hours, or other daily reading of Scripture…doing the daily meditations that many took home with them last week and I see a few are still left if you didn’t get one last weekend…Getting to confession on a regular basis…at least once during Advent…and happily I see many more attending daily Mass as their way of living out their Advent preparation for Christmas …These pauses in our day allow the Lord to break into our time, and they remind us that the world’s schedule does not rule us.  These are ways of putting time in its proper place – in service of Him.


This really struck me profoundly this Thursday morning just passed, one of our parishioners here at St. Mary’s, actually our eldest parishioner, Irma Hogan, died.  Irma would have been 100 in February.  She was at Mass last Sunday and for most Sundays before.  She lived on her own and was as clear as could be.  She was even out to Lessons and Carols last Saturday evening because, in her words, our choir and “those young people from Queen’s” would be singing, and she knew it would be beautiful.  Her brother had their daily visit by phone about 9 am Thursday morning.  One of her nieces called to check in at 11 am to tell Irma she was on her way over to drop by…when she arrived…There was Irma in her armchair… rosary  and her prayer books right beside her on her prayer table…the Lord had come for her sometime between 11 am and 11:30 am Thursday morning.


“Of that day or that hour, no one knows.”  Now Irma was almost 100…That day was expected sooner than later…but this is true for all of his…The sober awareness of our Lord’s sudden and unexpected return curbs our procrastination and frees us to live for eternity…Irma didn’t procrastinate… she attended to her spiritual life on a daily basis…Of course, we continue to schedule appointments, keep the calendar and observe our routines… But as Advent people…Awaiting the Lord’s promised return…remaining free from time’s tyranny, ready to put all else aside to be prepared for that most important appointment – the Moment of His return


The moment of His return for each of us personally…when each of us as we close our eyes on this world…hopes to hear those words from the Lord spoken through the prophets Isaiah and John the Baptist in this Sunday’s readings…“Here is your God…Comfort, O comfort my people… Comfort my son…comfort my daughter…you have served your term, you have paid the price of your sins…You have prepared the way of the Lord, making straight every highway; you have brought low every obstacle and filled in every gap.”


We live in the hope that at that moment the glory of the Lord shall be revealed to us.


Living the Hope of Advent transcends all time.


Are we ready?

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.