Second Sunday in Lent


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


Homily: Second Sunday in Lent, March 8, 2020


What a scene? Jesus’ physical appearance changes such that His face shone like the sun.


Imagine being up on Mount Tabor with Peter, James and John?

Imagine experiencing Jesus appearing in all his heavenly glory.  Imagine hearing the Voice of the Father!  Imagine how they must have been in awe!


Imagine the revered Giver of the Law Moses and the Prophet Elijah alive in Glory with him. Here in this scene of transfiguration they are both alive in Glory with Jesus.  Dramatically demonstrating that Jesus, the Christ, is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament.


In the gospel today Jesus’s face shines brightly as does his clothing and all his being…he Father’s voice is heard. “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!”  In Jesus something greater than Moses is here…Something greater than Elijah.  Moses and Elijah reflected the Father’s Glory.  In the Transfiguration Jesus’ face, the Son of God’s whole being, shines with His Own Glory.  Jesus reveals his true identity…He is the divine Son of the Father…Jesus gives Peter, James and John an opportunity to see his Glory in order to prepare them for the supreme trial of their faith when they will see the Master betrayed, arrested, condemned and crucified.


The Transfiguration reveals the Son of God in all His divine splendour and says to these three…remember this when darkness comes, when the Son of God will suffer and be killed on the hill of Calvary. Remember the Glory when all else seems to be in darkness.   In many ways he is saying the two are equal…My Glory will fully be seen in my self-sacrificial love on the Cross and in my Resurrection.


What does this mean for us?

Jesus’ Transfiguration reveals to Peter, and to James and John and to us the goal.  The target.  We pray something very beautiful at every funeral:  To God the Father we say: “To all who were pleasing to you at their passing from this life, give kind admittance to your Kingdom.  There we hope to enjoy for ever the fullness of your glory, when you will wipe away every tear from our eyes.  For seeing you, our God, as you are, we shall be like you for all the ages.”  To all who are pleasing to God at their death…we won’t be God, but we will be like God for all the ages.  This is the promise. This is the target, the goal of all our lives.


But how do we get so that we will be transfigured?


In the verses of Matthews’s gospel just before the Transfiguration Jesus tells his disciples:   “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?” Matthew 16:24-26


Take up your cross and follow me.  This is the route to Glory.  In His Suffering and Dying on the Cross Jesus modelled the route to Glory.


How do we do this?  We do this by embracing the crosses of our lives.


Recently I was reading a very interesting book by Dan Burke on Spiritual Warfare and the Discernment of Spirits.  He highlights four foundational truths that lead to the path of healing and peace.


These are simple foundational truths…You all know them…The key question is…do you do them?


The first foundational truth is that we must have an authentic yes in our heart to God.  We must have an authentic relationship with God.  It is not enough merely to know about God or even to practice our faith. – we must know Him intimately.  We must be constantly aware of our need for God and therefore for the conversion of our lives that will draw us ever more closely to Him. Our trust and confidence in God must inform our every thought, word and action…and reaction.

The second foundational element and what most supports our yes of the heart to God consists of two sacraments, the Eucharist and regular Confession.  Dan Burke says Confession once every two weeks.  I would say at least once a month.  The Church has always taught it is a mortal sin to miss Mass on Sunday.  We need the Eucharist.  So we can’t miss it.  The Eucharist is the most powerful sustenance of our Faith and we should participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as frequently as possible. Daily if possible…daily Mass is a very good habit to implement during Lent if at all possible.


We absolutely need the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession to support our yes. I need it first and foremost.  We all need it.  Not only is it a remedy for sin, but it is a great grace to strengthen us in our efforts in fighting sin when we cooperate with it.  If we are not reconciled with God and not living in a state of grace we are cut off from the life of grace and will not be able to properly discern the difference between the inspirations and influence of God and the temptations and false lies of the Devil.  Living in a state of grace means that we have no unconfessed mortal sins and we are following the teachings of the Church.  If we do have unconfessed mortal sins or are not following the teachings of the Church we must go to confession before receiving the Eucharist.  If we have unconfessed mortal sins on our soul we cannot benefit from the Grace of the Eucharist without Confession.  That is why the Lord gave it to us.  He wants us to receive the Eucharist worthily.


The third foundational element is daily prayer.  The most powerful daily prayers are twofold: mental prayer and the Rosary.  Mental prayer is taking some reading…Either the Scriptures or some spiritual reading and then contemplating it at the core of our being before the Father. Our Blessed Mother has revealed the Rosary is necessary both for our salvation and that of the world.


The fourth foundational element is ascetical practices such as the ones we have undertaken in Lent…ascetical practices are…daily…intentional…that is deliberate…efforts away from sin and selfishness and toward self-giving to God and our neighbour…our prayer…our fasting and other penances…and our almsgiving


Is transfiguration possible?  Is becoming a saint possible?  I think many of us think it is not.  But if we follow these simple four foundational elements…Not only know them…But actually, do them…we will be well on the way to holiness.


  1. An authentic yes in our heart for God.
  2. The Eucharist on Sunday and more often if possible.
  3. Regular monthly confession.
  4. Mental prayer: reading the Sunday Scriptures or the Daily Scriptures and spending at least 10 minutes, or more, prayerfully mulling them over before the Lord.
  5. The Rosary.
  6. And finally taking on regular self-sacrificial ascetical practices: spending some time in prayer…some form of fasting and almsgiving…self sacrificially giving of your time, your talents and your treasure


Jesus’ Transfiguration was to reveal to the disciples how he would be in Glory.  If we follow this simple path we can be sure that…According to that beautiful prayer  we pray at funerals…we will be pleasing to Him at the time of our death…we will be admitted to His Kingdom…and there enjoy forever the fullness of His glory…seeing Him, Our God, as He is,…And being like Him for all the ages.


Transfiguration is the goal.  Transfiguration is the target…At the moment of our death hearing the words spoken by the Father to Jesus spoken to each one of us. “This is my son/this is my daughter, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”



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.