January 1st, 2018-New Year’s Day-Archbishop B. O’Brien

Feast of Mary, Mother of God, January 1, 2018


Today, on this New Year’s Day, the Church celebrates the Feast of Mary, the Mother of God, as well as the World Day of Peace.

We see in our first reading from the Book of Numbers that God instructs Moses on how the people are to be blessed.  This passage reminds us that God’s overall desire is for our good – that God’s stance toward us is gracious, desiring our peace.  This peace is not simply the absence of violence from our lives, but peace in the sense of “shalom”, a peace in which we live in harmony with God, with one another, and with the natural world.  It is a peace free from oppression and social injustice.  Certainly, when we look around the world today, there is an absence of such peace in many places.

This year, in his Message for the World Day of Peace, Pope Francis focuses on Migrants and Refugees.  He mentions that there are over 250 million migrants worldwide, of whom 22.5 million are refugees.  In a spirit of compassion, he invites us to embrace all those fleeing from war and hunger, or forced – by discrimination, persecution, poverty, or  environmental degradation – to leave their homelands.

The Holy Father tells us that it is not enough to open our hearts to the suffering of others.  To give them an opportunity to find the peace they seek requires a strategy involving four actions:  welcoming, protecting, promoting, and integrating.

“Welcoming” calls for expanding legal pathways for entry and no longer pushing migrants and displaced people toward countries where they face persecution and violence.  It also demands balancing our concerns about national security with concern for fundamental human rights.

“Protecting” has to do with our duty to recognize and defend the inviolable dignity of those who flee real dangers in search of asylum and security, and to prevent their being exploited.

“Promoting” entails supporting the integral human development of migrants and refugees.  Among many possible means of doing so, the Holy Father stresses the importance of ensuring access to all levels of education for children and young people.

And, finally, “Integrating” means allowing refugees and migrants to participate fully in the life of the society that welcomes them, as part of a process of mutual enrichment and fruitful cooperation in service of the integral human development of the local community.

Many of you, and a good number of our parishes, including St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish community, have already taken this message to heart.  I want to thank you for your generosity and Christian witness.

As we enter a new year, may we look to the example of Mary, whose feast we celebrate today.  The gospel portrays her as always being open to God’s will, even when she didn’t fully understand all that was to happen.  In today’s gospel passage, she is pictured as treasuring the events that surround Jesus’s birth and pondering them in her heart.  Mary understood that God’s desire for our good is made manifest in Jesus, her son.  That is how God has blessed us and turned his face toward us.  Jesus is the full assurance of God’s love for us.

So, on this feast of Mary, the Mother of God, let us invite Mary to be with us in prayer as we reflect on the pattern of our own lives going forward into 2018.  Let us ask her to help us to remain faithful, even when all the pieces don’t come together easily to make a clear picture.  Let us ask that, through her intercession, we may have the gifts of understanding, patience, and courage that we need.

On my own behalf and on behalf of Fr. Shawn Hughes, Deacon Blaine Barclay, and all who serve here at the Cathedral, best wishes for a happy and joyous new year.

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.