Monday, December 15, 2014

Sunday Eucharist with the St. Rene Goupil Catholic-Deaf Community

Pastoral Visitation to St. Rene Goupil Catholic-Deaf Community of Ottawa-Gatineau
Holy Canadian Martyrs Church, 3rd Sunday Advent, Gaudete (“B”)-December 14, 2014

Introduction to the Mass

In preparation for our celebration today, I reread St. Isaac Jogues account of the life and death of your patron, St. Rene Goupil. The first of the Canadian Martyrs to be put to death, he’s a real hero as a man and as a Christian!

As a hearing-impaired person in the 17th century, he was dissuaded from the Jesuit program of formation, but later he volunteered for the Jesuit mission among the Native Peoples of North America as a surgeon.

Recognizing Goupil’s desire to give himself to God, Isaac Jogues received his vows as a Jesuit brother. Days later he witnessed proof of Rene’s love for Christ as he gave up his life for the sake of the joy of the gospel, which we celebrate today.

Let us pray that Rene Goupil’s love for God may inspire each of you and all who are in our church to follow the way of Christ. Now, let us prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries, asking God for pardon and peace so we taste fully the joy of this day of the Lord’s resurrection.

         [Isaiah 61.1–2a,10–11 (Luke 1.46–50,53,55); 1 Thess. 5.16–24; John 1.6–8,19–28]

I am happy to celebrate Mass with you on “Rejoicing Sunday”; it will be a joy to meet with you after Mass.

The celebrants wear rose-coloured vestments when we pass the halfway point of Advent and Lent. Only ten more days before we celebrate Christ’s birth!

Pope Francis has been drawing on the energy and spiritual gifts of members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. The bishops of Canada call the Charismatic Renewal a “close encounter” with God’s Spirit. Charismatics receive the Holy Spirit in a way that stirs up the gifts of the Spirit received at baptism and confirmation, like wisdom, prophecy, and healing. The Holy Spirit sets our hearts on fire for the Gospel [looking towards Peter, as he signs]. Holy Spirit…glory…Gospel. I see similarities.

Pope Francis wrote this in his major writing, “THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ, joy is constantly born anew” [EG, #1].

Pope Francis encourages Christians like you and me to start an adventure of evangelization as missionary-disciples. I am grateful that Fr. Peter, to Deacon André, and to your Pastoral Care Team minister outside the church. But, we can all have Gospel joy. The Holy Spirit can show us all new ways to share the Good News…that we can follow Christ to the loving arms of the Father. I invite you to read the Pope’s inspiring words in The Joy of the Gospel over the next few weeks.

Jesus applied Isaiah’s words, “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me,” to himself in Luke 4:21. But Gospel joy means they also apply to you and me, today.

Mary’s experience of the Spirit (cf. Luke 1.35) led her to speak the Magnificat (Luke 1.46–55). This resonates with Christians who are alive in the Spirit. Like Mary, they can praise God and say, “my soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.”

Mary echoed the reaction of the Servant of the Lord to the calling on his life to share God’s message of hope. Both were overjoyed in God’s salvation. Both spoke as though dressed for their wedding. God’s work of justice and salvation mirrors the joy of a wedding!

In today’s gospel, John the Baptist sees himself, by his making paths straight for the Lord’s coming, as preparing for a wedding feast. God yearns to marry His people, renewed by the Holy Spirit.

In his first epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul describes the power of Christ Jesus at work in His followers as all encompassing. It extends to every aspect of the Christian: “spirit and soul and body.”

Paul speaks of the Holy Spirit as God’s gift to us believers. God has called us to a distinctive life of holiness (1 Thessalonians 4.7–8). His command, “do not quench the Spirit,” tells the forces of this world not to try to put out the fire of God.

The sanctification Paul writes about includes humbly admitting our sins and asking for God’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Pope Francis said, “The forgiveness we receive is not the result of our own efforts, but is the gift of the Holy Spirit reconciling us to God and to each other...we confess to the priest who represents not only God but also the community of the Church that accompanies us on the path of conversion.”

Confession is a gift from God that should be a regular part of your spiritual life, especially as you get ready to celebrate the birth of Christ. Fr. Peter would be delighted to see you a half hour before Mass or by appointment.

I wish you a fruitful time of preparation for Christmas and I encourage you to introduce others to Jesus as the Holy Spirit prompts you. May God bless you.

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