New Years Day-Archbishop B. O’Brien

Homily by Archbishop Brendan M. O’Brien

Feast of Mary, Mother of God, New Year’s Day 2019


On the first day of the new year, the Church’s liturgy celebrates the feast of Mary, Mother of God, as well as World  Day of Peace.  On this eighth day of Christmas, we focus on Mary’s role in bringing the Prince of Peace into our world.

By “being born of a woman”, as St. Paul expresses it in the second reading, the Son of God took on our human nature, and, as a result, our whole status changed.  Because the Word of God from all eternity took flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we now have the capacity to share in the divine life which has been united with our human nature.

What stands out for me on this feast is the way in which Mary approached all that happened.  The gospel passage says that “she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart” and what she pondered, and what she treasured, was all that the shepherds had been told by the angel concerning her son.  In the years to come, during Jesus’s public life and death and resurrection, she would have a lot to consider, and yet she did so in a spirit of faith and with trust and confidence in God.  This is how she was able to live the unexpected, both the marvelous and sorrowful events of her life.

The gospel invites us to adopt a similar approach.  New Year’s Day is often seen as a new start.  A lot of people make resolutions to do better: to lose weight, to become more patient and understanding of others, and so forth.  But a new year also has its unknowns, and this requires that we trust in God’s goodness toward us, no matter what happens.

The first reading from the Book of Numbers reminds us that God’s overall stance and desire is for our good; that he looks graciously upon us and wants to give us peace.  In Jesus, we have the definitive sign that this is so.  But we know that the peace of God’s Kingdom that Christ has come to establish – the kingdom of justice, peace, truth, and love – is far from finished.  It remains incomplete in so many ways.  This is the world in which we live today, and the witness of Christians is needed if it is to advance towards completion.  Just over 50 years ago, the then Holy Father, Paul VI, designated January 1st, the Feast of Mary, Mother of God, as World  Day of Peace, a day for us to pray for God’s gift of peace, as well as to do what we can to work for peace.

Pope Francis, in this year’s Message for World  Day of Peace, spoke of how,

“A hundred years after the end of the First World War, as we remember the young people killed in those battles and the civilian populations torn apart, we are more conscious than ever of the terrible lesson taught by fratricidal wars . . .”  He goes on to say that, “Our thoughts turn in a particular way to all those children currently living in areas of conflict, and to all those who work to protect their lives and defend their rights.  One out of every six children in our world is affected by the violence of war or its effects, even when they are not enrolled as child soldiers or held hostage by armed groups.  The witness given by those who work to defend them and their dignity is most precious for the future of humanity.”

Bringing the subject of peace closer to home, the Holy Father speaks of three inseparable aspects:

– Peace with oneself, rejecting inflexibility, anger, and impatience; In the words of St. Francis de Sales, showing “a bit of sweetness towards oneself” in order to offer “a gift of sweetness to others”;

– Peace with others: family members, friends, strangers, the poor and the suffering – being unafraid to encounter them and listen to what they have to say;

– Peace with all creation, rediscovering the grandeur of God’s gift and our individual and shared responsibility as inhabitants of this world, citizens and builders of the future.

As we begin a new year, may Mary, our patron, who brought the Prince of Peace into our world, help us to appreciate peace within ourselves, with others, and with all of creation.

On my own behalf, on behalf of the Rector, Father Shawn Hughes, the Associate Pastor, Father Paul Mawalla, Deacon Blaine Barclay, and all those who serve here at the Cathedral, I wish you a happy 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.