Homilies are never the creative act of one person.  Thus, in posting this homily 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


The key question  prompted by the Scriptures this Sunday is:  “Are you a fan or a follower of Jesus Christ?  Fan? Or Follower?”  Only Followers can be Holy as God is Holy.


Fans know the faith, earnestly study what it means to truly be a disciple of Jesus Christ.  Get to Mass on Sunday… maybe even every day.   Can quote Scripture, chapter and verse.  But their day to day lives after they leave the Church do not witness to the love Jesus calls us to in the Gospel today.


Followers/disciples fully strive to live out the bold, abundant, Christ-like self-sacrificial love  we’re called to live by today’s Scriptures.


Fans are on the sidelines, cheering.  Followers are in game. Witnessing by their lives that they know the love of Jesus Christ and are doing their very best to act on it.  And…a very important end…when they fail, they repent of it and begin again.


Fans never see the need to repent…Because they don’t see that they have failed.  They’ve done the absolute minimum…why repent?    But interestingly they, in light of wrong…their own or someone else’s, they do stop cheering.  Mere outward observance of the law does not produce love.  Imagine a married man and woman that merely kept the ten commandments in their marriage, saying: “Our marriage is wonderful.  We don’t steal from each other.  We don’t lie to each other.  We don’t cheat on each other.  And…We haven’t killed each other…yet!”  Not exactly an ideal marriage.  Spouses are not simply to avoid hurting one another.  Our God, our Father, wants more…He wants our hearts…he wants them to grow in self sacrificial love.


And that is what God desires for each of us, his disciples.  The Scriptures are very paradoxical and very challenging this weekend.  We are called to the holiness of God. That is the extraordinary claim made in both the First Reading and Gospel this Sunday.  Yet how is it possible that we can be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect?

Jesus explains that we must be imitators of God as His beloved children (Ephesians 5:1–2).  Beloved children imitate their Father…just as Jesus did.  Today’s Scriptures call us to love as God does, without limit—with a love that does not distinguish between friend and foe, overcoming evil with good . (see Romans 12:21).


True followers of Jesus need to cultivate the inner attitudes and dispositions that transform the heart and build up love, such as what he teaches in the Beatitudes just a few verses prior to today’s: the inner attitude of  humility, patience, gentleness,  the desire to right wrongs,  peacefulness,  purity and mercy that Jesus teaches in the Beatitudes…and when we fail to repent and begin again.


The love to which Jesus calls us is beyond the capacity of our fallen human nature, but the gift of the Holy Spirit that we receive through faith, our prayer life and the sacraments make it possible.  Jesus summons us to a heavenly way of life; be perfect as your  Heavenly Father is perfect.  That’s the goal to which we are all to aim.  Basically, he is saying, don’t be a fan…be a follower…aim for the perfection that is like the Father’s perfection.  Make perfection your goal. As the first reading stated it: “Be holy, For I, your  God am Holy.”

And when you fail? Repent!  And begin again!


As you know Lent begins this Wednesday.


In the gospel that you will hear this Ash Wednesday,  the Lord warns us that if we are going to pray , to fast , and to give alms like the Pharisees, it would be better to forget the whole endeavour.  Basically, the Pharisees were  fans on the sidelines.  The gospel of Ash Wednesday exhorts us to be followers.   Get into the game!  Give your heart to the Lord.


That is exactly what Lent is…a season to work on becoming  a more committed follower.  Lent is to be a season of transformation, of joyful purification;  its fundamental attitude is one of self-forgetfulness…“Let your right hand not know what your left hand is doing.”  (Matthew 6:3)  It is a season to create an interior emptiness:  “Lose your life for my sake and you will gain it.” (Matthew 10:39).  Lent asks of us nothing less than receiving in an open and fruitful heart the grace of reconciliation with God.


In his second letter to the Corinthians St. Paul calls us not just to be fans, but followers of Christ…He says  “we are ambassadors for Christ…we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  For our sake the Father made Christ Jesus to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the holiness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:20 -21)


This Lent I encourage you to take up St. Paul’s challenge seriously, enter into the joyful purification of Lent…become the holiness of God.


This weekend’s bulletin is packed with many ideas how you can do just that…Many online programs, many programs on….chose one of them and follow it throughout Lent…


Hopefully you prayerfully reviewed  the suggestions regarding prayer, fasting and almsgiving that were in last weekend’s bulletin…They are in the bulletin again…just in case you didn’t… choose three or so from each category:  3 from prayer , 3 from fasting, 3 from almsgiving and joyfully enter into the purification that will provide you.   All your hearts to be transformed.


There is a new  Examination of Conscience at each of the entrances to the Church.  Take it with you, prayerfully prepare and start Lent off with a good confession…it doesn’t matter if it has been a long time… recently someone said it has been 60 years since their last confession…did I scold?…did I condemn?…No!…my breath was taken away and holding back tears, I said “Praise God” and “Welcome home!”  Confessions will be heard all day on Ash Wednesday…before each Mass and from 8:30 am to 12 noon and from 1 pm to the 7 pm Mass.


The Tuesday before Ash Wednesday is known as Shrove Tuesday.  To be shriven is to be absolved…It is a day to make a special point of self-examination, of considering what wrongs from which I need to repent, and what amendments of life or areas of spiritual growth I especially need to ask God’s help in dealing with…and to taken it to confession and be absolved…be shriven.   Shrove Tuesday  is also known as Pancake Tuesday…a day we indulge in those things we will be fasting from throughout Lent.


Also start Lent off well by coming and humbly receiving the blessed Ashes.   Masses will be held at 7:45 am, 12 noon and 7 pm…all here in the cathedral.  As the ashes are placed on your forehead you will be exhorted to  “Turn away from sin and follow the gospel”…That is what Lent is all about.  Joyful purification and transformation of the heart.


There are copies of The Word Among Us and the Magnificat Companion to Lent at each of the doors.  For only a toonie you will have the daily Scriptures readings,  with daily meditations and other great articles to feed your prayer as well.


Allow the great traditions of prayer, fasting and almsgiving to transform you this Lent.


The season of Lent overflows with powerful graces for those who prepare and are ready to receive all the Lord has to give them.


This Lent:  Don’t merely  stand on the sidelines, cheering!  Get fully into the game!


You may already be a full follower of the Lord.  Praise God.  However, if the Lord doesn’t have your heart in every part of your life…Take Lent 2020 very seriously…Fans, become Followers when they undertake Lent seriously.




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.