First Sunday of Advent

December 1st, 2019


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


There is something about Advent I just love.  I think because it truly describes us.  We are Advent people…Awaiting the coming of the Lord.

Advent has a twofold character.  It is a four week time of preparation of our hearts to truly celebrate the Solemnities of Christmas, when we remember and celebrate the First Coming of the Son of God to humanity in history.  And likewise it is a time when, our minds and hearts are directed to look forward to Christ’s Second Coming at the end of time.

For these two reasons, Advent is a season of devout and expectant delight. A season of hope and joy.  A season of peace filled longing.

The Words of our readings today indicate the quality of heart we should have in Advent.

Be prepared

Awake from your sleep

Throw off the works of darkness

Put on the armour of light

Be ready

The very last line of the Bible, the last line of the Book of Revelation sums up the spirit of the season of Advent in preparation for the celebration of  Christmas……. these two comings of Christ that we celebrate.

The Final verse says:

Come, Lord Jesus!

Come Lord Jesus! The Last words of the whole New Testament.  Come Lord Jesus!  We are a people who wait in anticipation of the Lord’s Coming into the day to day events of our lives and ultimately at the end of time.

The purpose of our spiritual lives…to deepen our interiority so that each day we pray…Come Lord Jesus!   A good prayer for us to pray many times throughout our very ordinary days. In Advent each Sunday’s  Scriptures have a distinctive theme:

This Sunday our minds are directed to the Last Day, to the Second Coming of Christ at the end of time, to the Day of Judgement.  Our Second Reading from St Paul tells us how to live in the meantime: ‘be fully awake and cast off the works of darkness.  The Second & Third Sundays will focus on the prophet John the Baptist, and the Fourth Sunday focuses on the events immediately preparatory to the Lord’s birth.

In our gospel today to describe what happens ‘when the Son of Man comes’, the story of the Flood is presented as the model.  It is essential we ensure we get the precise point of this teaching. It is not that the people were bad or immoral – that is not the point Jesus is making. He is stressing only the suddenness and unexpectedness of the coming.  Six times in the 9 verses he repeats :  “Of that day and hour no one knows.”    “Watch for you do not know. (24:22)…if the householder had known…(v. 43)…you also must be ready.  For the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (v.44). The Lord is not condemning our ignorance but he is underscoring the fact that we will not know.  When he says that “in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage until the day when Noah entered the ark” (v. 38). Jesus is not reproaching men and women for anything.  He is simply laying before us the normality of daily life.  The rightness of daily life.

Two Advent questions arise in light of this:  Do I believe in the possibility of something wholly unexpected and transcendental suddenly entering the scene of my life and forever changing its destiny and that of the whole world?  And…Do I believe that every ordinary moment of existence is already infused with extraordinary mystery and vitality?

The extraordinary, the overwhelming and unexpected are continually irrupting into the middle of the most humdrum of human days.  The end of the world is happening now, every single day.  At the most practical level, our everyday lives as Christians are continually being pierced by a thousand second comings.  This we do know for certain.  And yet these veiled and intimate comings of the Lord are all leading to and are the dress rehearsal for, the great second coming at the end of time.

In the season of Advent the crucial question becomes:  What ought we to do in our everyday lives in the face of this inevitable ignorance concerning the tremendous, awe-inspiring Event that will determine our eternal fate?   The reality is...the time of Christ’s coming is always now.

Be prepared

Awake from our sleep

Throw off the works of darkness

Put on the armour of light

Be ready

The outcome of the pilgrimage of our lives at the judgment at the Second Coming of Christ at the end of time will solely depend on how well our daily interior preparation has been for the King’s arrival,

We pray so often in the Hail Mary…Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners, NOW  and at the HOUR OF OUR DEATH.

The two most important moments in each of our lives.  Now and at the hour of our death.  Our everyday lives are a series of well lived nows…our interior preparation for that moment of death.

In the case of the coming of Christ. Only the heart that has grown in love for Him will be able to perceive His approach…

Two men will be out in the field;
one will be taken, and one will be left.
Two women will be grinding at the mill;
one will be taken, and one will be left.

Side by side…doing the exact same everyday thing…The one whose sole hope is in the things of this world will be left.  The one whose interior preparation, whose heart has grown in love for the Lord will be taken.

God has something to say to each one of us this Advent, but in order to hear it, we have to listen: we have to tune in.   God has something he wants to do in each one of our lives this Advent, but in order for him to do it, we have to be willing to let him work: we have to work with him.

How do we work with him?  How does that patient expectant  hope filled; longing develop in our hearts?

Spending a little more time in prayer this Advent….. perhaps picking a gospel and prayerfully reading a chapter a day…choose Luke and you will be through it by Christmas.

Get to Confession at least once but preferably now at the beginning of Advent season and sometime during the  Christmas season.  Reviews of How to go to confession and Examinations of Conscience are available at the entrances of the cathedral…

The Word among Us is at each of the entrances of the cathedral…has the daily Scripture readings and great meditations to deepen the interior preparation of our hearts.

Take a bulletin…this week’s highlights  several Daily On line Meditations that will be sent to your email to help you to draw closer to Him this Advent.

One of my favourite places in the world used to be the Trappist Monastery in Oka, Quebec.   I would go there often and I particularly enjoyed it in the Season of Advent. They had a statue of Our Blessed Mother that I think truly captures the interior spirit of the heart we are all to have in Advent.  The usual standing statue of our Lady was removed and replaced with a life-sized seated statue of her pregnant…with her hands extended… everyday life pierced with Hope filled, expectant longing.  Yearning…proclaiming…Come Lord Jesus! At Christmas the statue of the baby Jesus would be placed in her expectant arms.  Expectant longing…fulfilled.

Will we allow this beautiful season to truly prepare us for Christmas?

Come Lord Jesus!


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.