Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

February 11th, 2018

Father Shawn Hughes


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

“If you choose.  You can make me clean.”  It is a cry of the heart, with which we all turn to the Lord, especially as we begin Lent this Wednesday.  “If you choose.  You can make me clean.”

It is the same cry of King David in Psalm 51 “Have mercy on me Lord in your steadfast love.”  (Psalm 51:1)

Jesus immediately responds to the leper…and to each one of us:  “I do choose.  Be made clean!”  Immediately the leprosy was gone.

God waits for us…As I have said many times…the Lord proposes, he never imposes.  He waits for us.

We could rename the season of Lent, The Season of God’s Proposing…The Season of God’s Waiting for our Response…The Season of Great Spiritual Opportunity…Opportunity to refocus our spiritual lives and to deepen them.  Those who take Lent seriously tend to live Lent the way we should live our entire spiritual lives throughout the rest of the year…Be that as it may…it is so important to not let Lent slip you by…I encourage you to take it very seriously.

It is a season for us to sit back and ask ourselves:  “What and who is our God to us?

We have restless and searching hearts?  We search and search for things to fill that restlessness.  We go about our daily lives with a restlessness that sometimes feels like an emptiness, an existential longing…It is part of who we are as fallen human beings…our hearts are restless.

St. Augustine searched and searched in countless worldly pursuits,… power, position, pleasure, entertainment…he, and all of us, eventually come to a point of knowing that our hearts will always be restless until they rest in God.

Lent is a time to ask ourselves:  “What is my emptiness being filled with?”…“Is my emptiness being filled with distractions or discernment…is my emptiness being filled with material things or spiritual graces…blessings?  Is there something or someone other than God that I think will fill that restlessness?  Is my emptiness self- focussed, …inward on myself or do I see the restlessness around me and respond to their need.  Is my emptiness being filled with things of the world or things of God.”

Lent begins this Wednesday. It is a time for us to stop and remember.  Remember all that God has done for us.  We remember that the Father has given us his Son Jesus.  We focus more deeply on our Saviour who has shown us the way to His Father and who was crucified for our sins.

In our restlessness it is important for us to focus on the fact that we are never alone.  That we have the Holy Spirit with us…who enables us, gives us the grace, the spiritual strength, to fill that restlessness with holy things …with God Himself.

Lent is responding to God’s gentle invitation to make more room for Him in our lives.  Lent is about growing from being closed in on ourselves to being true disciples, giving true witness and growing in love for others.

I encourage you to take Lent seriously.  No matter what your age, no matter what your state in your spiritual life:  “Don’t let the opportunity of this wonderful season slip by!”

Traditionally there are three classical spiritual practices that we undertake more vigorously in Lent:  Prayer, Fasting & Almsgiving.

Prayer: Deepening our relationship with the Lord,  raising our minds and hearts to God more regularly…Fasting:  Making room in our lives for God…especially by removing what is not of Him…in Fasting we suppress certain desires so that the deeper ones, those of God, can come to the surface… Almsgiving:  giving of our time, our talent and our treasure.

There are over 70 suggestions in the Bulletin… it’s a 12 pager this week…take one home with you, reflect on it, and between now and this Wednesday prayerfully map out your Lenten program.  I would strongly suggest at least two or more practices from each of the three practices: Prayer, Fasting, & Almsgiving.

The Bulletin also contains the Holy Father’s Lenten Message.  Make it part of your spiritual reading this Lent.  He says Lent is a time we are called to peer into our heart to see if we are falling prey to the lies of false prophets; to see if our hearts are being confounded by the “father of lies” (John 8:44), the devil himself…not only peer but to do something about it.

Whatever it is you do for Lent I encourage you to attach an intention to what you are offering and it becomes a prayer of its own. E.g. You might offer your Lenten sacrifice in the following way:   I am not eating between meals on Monday for the good of my spouse. On Tuesday I am not eating between meals for the good of my children…the grace is commuted to them.  Your prayer is not only self-sacrificial but the grace you would receive is given to another.

At the doors of the Church there are copies of the “The Word Among Us” …They have all the Lenten daily Mass readings, with a daily meditation, and other great spiritual reading as well.

Also at the doors of the Cathedral is the usual Examination of Conscience for you to prepare for your Lenten Confession.  I would strongly encourage you to begin and end Lent with Confession. As you know there is a priest in the confessional before every Mass that takes place here in the cathedral.  On Ash Wednesday; there will be a priest in the Confessional before every Mass and additionally from 1 pm to 7 pm.  There is no excuse for not getting to confession this Lent.

We begin this Wednesday, Ash Wednesday.  Start your Lent right. Get out to the 7:45 am, 12:10 pm or 7 pm Mass and receive the blessed Ashes.  We repent during Lent.  You will hear either the traditional formula…remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return…Reminding us how short and fleeting this life is.  Or you will hear the very challenging “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”

It is a great season, an exciting season …a season of self- examination, prayer, fasting and giving.  Don’t let this Lent just pass you by.  Don’t miss this opportunity!!!

The leper in the gospel to Jesus:  “If you choose you can make me clean.”  He does choose us.  He waits for us to choose Him.

The Opening prayer to the Father summarises the goal of the Season of Lent:  “that we may be so fashioned by your grace as to become a dwelling pleasing to you.”

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.