Twenty Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 7th, 2018

Deacon Blaine Barclay


Spiritual Childhood

There is a lot one could focus on in today’s readings, the one flesh union of man and woman in the gift of sexuality, and their one flesh union in the child, or, how Christ and us are made perfect in and through our experience of suffering. But I want to focus on the few verses found at the end of our gospel today.
“Let the little children come to me; do not stop them: for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”
This well known gospel text is frequently read and commented on during the baptism of infants, in part as a kind of built in affirmation of the practice of infant baptism. A kind of, ‘If Jesus welcomed them, we should as well.’ My own choice to preach on this fragment of text was confirmed earlier this week when we celebrated the feast day of that great Doctor of the Church, teacher of the faith, St. Therese of Lisieux? Also known as the ‘Little Flower’, most famous for teaching the ‘Little Way’, or the way of ‘Spiritual Childhood’. Therese says, “To be little is not attributing to oneself the virtues that one practices ,,, it is not to become discouraged over ones faults, for children fall often, but they are too little to hurt themselves very much.”
It is of course possible to misunderstand this little way, this path of spiritual childhood, to use it in such a way as to infantilize the people of God, to reduce the spiritual life to the practice of some kind of pure passivity in the arms of God. But by doing so we miss out on the heroic dynamite hidden in this teaching. Though she died very young, not far beyond her teens, St. Theresa was a spiritual powerhouse, experientially familiar with the way of Carmel, the dark night of the soul, one of God’s warrior saints.
But let’s get back to our gospel and what it says about spiritual childhood.
First of all it tells us that the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. What does this mean? Little children haven’t done anything to enter the kingdom. What little children do have in abundance, is the capacity for wonder and astonishment. The ability to be surprised by their experience of the world. As adults we sometimes lose this capacity. The kingdom of God is in this sense not something that can be accomplished, merited or earned. It is pure gift, a saturated overflow of God’s self-communication in grace. Where Jesus is present, there is the presence of the kingdom. So all we really need, the one thing necessary, is radical openness to the gift of this presence, a kind of playful delight in the presence of God in Christ. One author speaks of the decisiveness of the child and childlikeness, not only for individuals, but for civilization as a whole. Of course, given the plethora, the multitude of distractions, detours, and temptations open to us on every side, and perhaps more so in our pride, such simplicity is difficult for us, especially if we are prone to think of ourselves as ‘spiritually mature’.
We need to receive the kingdom of God as a little child or we will never enter it. In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus holds up the child as the model of discipleship. He says, “Truly I tell you, unless you change (turn your life around) and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. “This is quite the warning to all of us.  Discipleship as the path of spiritual childhood. The disciple as absolute learner, apprentice to the childlike spontaneity of Jesus.
May the good God take away from us any spiritual pride, or sense of superiority and maturity, and fill us with the wonder and astonishment of the child, the capacity to be playful in the presence of God.

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.