Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

March 4th, 2019

Father Shawn J. Hughes


Homilies are never the creative act of one person.  Thus, in posting these homilies on St. Mary’s Cathedral’s website I would like to state first and foremost that there will be little 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 and/or the Spiritual Life.


God bless you.

Father Shawn


Lent begins this Wednesday.  It is time to think about our Lenten practices.  Some type of fasting, a way to deepen our prayer life and  works of charity that we will take on.   It is helpful to remember the purpose of Lent.  During this time the church prepares people for baptism and prepares us…those already baptized…to renew our commitment to Christ.

Such a project, renewing our commitment to Christ, necessarily involves conversion.  So Lent has a penitential character. We do things in order to place ourselves more completely before God who gives us the grace to change our hearts.  And changing hearts is what our first reading and Gospel today are about.  The wise sage, Sirach, gives everyday examples to explain how our speech reveals who we really are…Our speech reveals what is truly in our hearts?  Pottery is only as good as how it is fired.  The fruit of a tree shows how well the tree was cared for.  The gospel echoes the same example.  A good tree does not bear rotten fruit.  A good tree is known by its good fruit.  Jesus explains what this simple parable is about. He says a good person …out of the store of goodness in his heart…produces good.  But a person who is evil produces out of the stores that are evil.  As the gospel points out:  “For from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”

Jesus commands us to stop judging others. He asks, “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?” We are exceptionally good at seeing the fault in others, but we are exceptionally adept at ignoring it in ourselves.

That final phrase of the gospel might be a good Lenten refrain for us.  “From the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”  Is our heart full of Christ?  If it is we will speak Christ.

No matter what external Lenten practises we adopt we would do well to make sure that somehow that practice leads us within to discover the fullness of the heart. Don’t let this wonderful season pass by.  Don’t let this wonderful opportunity to draw closer to the Lord pass by.

We take on acts of Fasting, Penance and Almsgiving as an outward expression of our interior repentance, as an outward expression of our desire to radically re-orient our perspective.  On Wednesday as the Ashes are placed on your forehead you will be exhorted to “Turn away from sin, and follow the gospel.”

Our prayer, fasting and almsgiving are a prayer of sacrifice offered to the Lord so that we grow closer to him, make more room for him,  and we offer it for those we know, especially our family so that they will grow closer to him.  Someone once asked me what possible good could prayer, fasting and almsgiving do in conquering their habitual sin.  Our Lenten practices put Christ at the very centre of all we do.  By removing, fasting, from certain things, we are much more focused on him throughout our day.

Our prayer, fasting and almsgiving are each acts of worship.  Acts of self-discipline, acts of humility, acts of growing in accepting small sacrifices that we choose so that we will be strengthened for the big sufferings that we do not choose.

Confession – start with confession

Word Among us



Lent is all about conversion.  Andre Regnier, the founder of Catholic Christian Outreach, CCO in his book Clear & Simple claims “if parishioners and community members are not able to give a clear and simple “yes” to the invitation of the Gospel, then we must ask ourselves if conversion is really taking place.” He goes on to say that as those who spread the gospel “need to look beyond creating positive experiences and commit to a clear intention: to call forth true consent, instead of mere theoretical approval and sentimentality.”

Lent is about committing…committing very clearly to the Lord.  Very simply the Question this Lent is: “Can I give a clear, simple, total “yes” to Christ in every aspect of my life?”

To make that “yes” clear, simple and total we need to take our Lenten spiritual practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving very seriously.

You have ‘til Wed. before Lent begins.  Look over the possible book clubs, online meditations and suggested fasting and almsgiving practices…don’t choose just one…just a few…the more you undertake … the more you are placing the Lord at the centre of your lives:  “As I quoted last week from the Letter of James, 4:8… “Draw close to God, and he will draw close 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.