Thursday, August 21, 2014

MASS INTENTIONS - Catholic sharing in the Communion of Saints

Excerpted from Mass Intentions By FR. WILLIAM SAUNDERS

An individual may ask a priest to offer a Mass for several reasons: for example, in thanksgiving, for the intentions of another person (such as on a birthday), or, as is most common, for the repose of the soul of someone who has died. One must never forget the infinite graces that flow from the Sacrifice of the Mass which benefit one’s soul.

Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical Mirae caritatis (1902) beautifully elaborated this point and emphasized the connection between the communion of saints with the Mass: "The grace of mutual love among the living, strengthened and increased by the sacrament of the Eucharist, flows, especially by virtue of the Sacrifice [of the Mass], to all who belong to the communion of saints. . . . .Faith teaches that although the august Sacrifice can be offered to God alone, it can nevertheless be celebrated in honor of the saints now reigning in Heaven with God, who has crowned them, to obtain their intercession for us, and also, according to apostolic tradition, to wash away the stains of those brethren who died in the Lord but without yet being wholly purified."

In his encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, our beloved late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, taught, "In the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the Church prays that God, the Father of mercies, will grant His children the fullness of the Holy Spirit so that they may become one body and one spirit in Christ. In raising this prayer to the Father of lights, from whom comes every good endowment and every perfect gift, the Church believes that she will be heard, for she prays in union with Christ her Head and Spouse, who takes up this plea of His Bride and joins it to His own redemptive sacrifice" (No. 43).

. . . . the tradition of offering Masses for others, particularly the dead, originates in the very early Church. Inscriptions discovered on tombs in Roman catacombs of the second century evidence this practice: for example, the epitaph on the tomb of Abercius (d. A.D.180), Bishop of Hieropolis in Phrygia, begs for prayers for the repose of his soul.

Tertullian (c. A.D. 200) attested to observing the anniversary of a spouse with prayers and sacrifices, i.e. the Mass: "Indeed she prays for his soul, and requests refreshment for him meanwhile, and fellowship with him in the first resurrection; and she offers her sacrifice on the anniversaries of his falling asleep" (On Monogamy, X). Moreover, the Canons of Hippolytus (c. 235) explicitly mentions the offering of prayers for the dead during the Mass.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem (d. 386), in one of his many catechetical discourses, explained how at Mass both the living and dead are remembered, and how the Eucharistic Sacrifice of our Lord is of benefit to sinners, living and dead.

St. Ambrose (d. A.D. 397) preached, "We have loved them during life; let us not abandon them in death, until we have conducted them by our prayers into the house of the Lord."

St. John Chrysostom (d. 407) stated, "Let us help and commemorate them. If Job's sons were purified by their father's sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them."

St. Augustine (d. 430) recorded the dying wishes of his mother, St. Monica in his Confessions: "One thing only I ask you, that you remember me at the altar of the Lord wherever you may be."

We find not only the origins of this practice dating to the early Church but we also clearly recognize its importance. Given this understanding, we can add some specifics. When a priest offers Holy Mass, he has three intentions:

First, to offer the Mass reverently and validly in accord with the norms of the Church.

Second, to offer the Mass in union with the whole Church and for the good of the whole Church.

Third, to offer the Mass for a particular intention, such as the repose of the soul of someone who has died.

Therefore, the effects of the Mass bring certain benefits or fruits. The general fruits of the Mass are the effects upon the whole Church — to the living faithful as well as the poor souls in purgatory. For this reason, in the Canon of the Mass (the Eucharistic Prayer), a special mention is made for both the living and the dead.

The special ministerial fruits of the Mass are applied to the particular intention of the Mass, i.e. "for whom the Mass is offered."

The special personal fruits of the Mass benefit the celebrating priest who acts in the person of Christ in offering the Mass and to the people who are in attendance and participate in the offering of the Mass.

These fruits are both extensively and intensively finite, since each of us is finite.

The intention of the Mass is also determined by various factors: The Church may stipulate the particular intention; for example, all pastors are required to offer one Mass on Sunday for the intentions of the living and deceased parishioners of a parish.

A priest may also have his own particular intention in offering a Mass, such as the repose of the soul of his parents.

Finally, a person may ask a priest to offer a Mass for a particular intention; usually, a stipend is given to the priest for offering the Mass, which thereby in justice creates an obligation which must be satisfied.

We find not only the origins of this practice dating to the early Church but we also clearly recognize its importance. When we face the death of someone, even a person who is not Catholic, to have a Mass offered for the repose of his soul and to offer our prayers are more beneficial and comforting than any other sympathy card or bouquet of flowers. To have a Mass offered on the occasion of a birthday, anniversary or special need is appropriate, beneficial and appreciated.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Protestant Pastor's account of coming to Catholicism

Excerpted from a 'Catholic Herald' article by Ulf Ekman, Pastor of a Swedish Charismatic Megachurch.
Our conviction that we needed to become Catholics grew slowly, over a number of years, but the actual decision to take this step came rather late. Our question was: how should we communicate it? It could really not be done over a longer period of time, step by step. That would have caused great speculation and confusion, nationally and internationally in our great network of churches. Over the last couple of years our friends and co-workers realised that we were more and more attracted to Catholic theology, morals, liturgy and culture. Few of them, though, perceived that we would actually make the step and convert. In the months and weeks before we announced our decision we involved the board of the church and some other colleagues to be prepared to help us in the process of communicating this news to the congregation.

. . .  there were many in the congregation who actually understood. They were thankful that a new pastor had been in place for more than a year. These members respected our decision and understood that it was based on what we perceived as a call from God. We were not deceived, but led by God in this matter, even though they didn’t understand why and how. We received many encouraging letters from both Protestants and Catholics.
We also encountered an interesting, and somewhat postmodern approach from some. They where ready to accept that God could call us to the Catholic Church, but they could not accept the doctrines of the Church. One preacher expressed it this way: “OK, you became a Catholic, but for sure you don’t believe what they believe, do you?” They spoke as if I really had a choice or could be selective in my choosing. When I answered that I do believe all that the Catholic Church believes and teaches, it seemed very odd to many of my Protestant friends. It was hard for them to understand that to be Catholic actually means to believe as a Catholic, even for me.
For us, truth was the very thing that mattered. We have always believed in the Word of God and that there is an absolute truth, revealed by God. Now, more and more, we had come to see that there is a concrete historic Church founded by Christ, and a treasure, a deposit of both objective and living faith. This attracted and drew us into the Catholic Church. If we believed that the fullness of truth is embedded in and upheld by the Catholic Church, then we did not have any choice but to fully unite with this Church.
When the time finally came to be received into the Church we felt more than ready, anxious to leave no-man’s-land. It felt like finally becoming who we really were. At last the longing for the participation in the sacramental grace came to an end.
We have tried to explain to our friends that we are not rejecting that which God gave us in our Evangelical and Charismatic environment but, as the saying goes, “Evangelical is not enough.” It is not wrong in its love of Scripture and upholding of the basic truths of the Gospel and its fervent evangelising. All this is necessary, but it is not enough. The Charismatic life, with its emphasis of the power and the leading of the Holy Spirit is necessary, and it is an amazing gift. But it cannot be lived out in its fullness in a schismatic and overly individualistic environment. Understanding this opened us to the realisation of the necessity of the Church in its fullness, with its rich sacramental life.
So we do not reject our background and the rich ministerial experiences we have had over the many years as founders and leaders of Word of Life. We are forever thankful to the Lord, for all He has done. But we are immensely happy and grateful that we now understand that we really need the Catholic Church in our continued life and service to the Lord.
So now, as we begin this walk there is so much to explore. Now that all our former duties, obligations and positions are gone, we can, at least for now, live at a pace that allows a more reflective life. We have been used to constantly upholding the ministry, our church. Now the Church lifts us up. The sacraments have become a tangible reality in our lives and they sustain us in a concrete way. Something – grace, I am sure – is here in a way that it was not before. A fresh breeze is blowing through our lives. We look forward to exploring and fully identifying with all that we now are a part of. It is very exciting to live fully for Jesus Christ – in the Catholic Church.

Ulf Ekman is the former pastor of the Word of Life church in Uppsala, Sweden.

NOTE:  Discussion continues at a number of levels about the possibility of a Lutheran Ordinariate and about other ways of welcoming Protestants and others into full communion.

The significant growth of the Catholic Church in Korea which has been remarked on during the Holy Father's visit may offer some lessons in how to evangelize those in highly advanced technological cultures. Along with those who have worked in Megachurch milieu there is much to consider. 

Friday, August 15, 2014


Parents with students in Public, Private or Separate Schools may have their children 
(Gr. 3 - 8) audition for the Choral Programme being offered this Fall at STM Baldwin Academy after school.

Children will learn English Choral singing including the classical Anglican repertoire.  

All children are welcome to audition.

Applications at

Saturday, August 9, 2014

An Urgent Call to Prayer and Action for Iraqi Christians

Following are excerpts from message sent by Fr. Tom Rosica:

Dear Colleagues and Friends . . .

In light of the growing crisis for Iraqi Christians, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in Geneva, spoke with Vatican Radio and expressed his perspective on an effective response of the international community.

“At this moment, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, and other members of the Christian community, including the World Council of Churches, are taking a strong stand in defense [of the Iraqi Christians] and their right to survive and to live in peace in their own home, which for the last 2,000 years has seen them active and contributing to the development of the region.”
“However, we are faced with a certain indifference at the practical level with the international community. It is difficult to convince—because of false modesty, I would say—the Western powers to take a strong stance in defense of the Christians.”

“Now there is action beginning on the part of the international community. We are talking about a special session here in Geneva with the Human Rights Council. There has been a special meeting of the Security Council in New York and some governments are beginning to express their suggestions for practical action in defense of these populations in northern Iraq and the United States has decided some military action.”

“I think, in the long run, what is needed is a dialogue of reconciliation and the acceptance of diversity in the different political and cultural contexts of the Middle East, so that a person is considered a citizen with equal rights and equal duties for the states, free to associate with other people who are of the same faith without being catalogued as a minority.”

“At this moment, we hope the voice that is surging from different Christian and religious communities, from moderate Muslims, from people of good will around the world, may find the response of concrete humanitarian assistance that is provided for the Christians in northern Iraq as well as some political and even effective military protection.”,_protection_for_iraq/1104260

Pope sends plea for peace via Twitter

Displaced Iraqi citizens take refuge at St. Joseph Church in Ibril, in northern Iraq.

In a renewed plea for peace, Pope Francis sent the following message through his Twitter account today at 10:00 am: "I ask all Catholic parishes and communities to offer a special prayer this weekend for Iraqi Christians." #prayforpeace.

The pope sent a series of three message yesterday to urge Catholic faithful to pray and work for peace, in particular during this difficult time in Iraq and the Middle East.

Rev. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B.,
English language assistant to Holy See Press Office

Friday, August 8, 2014

Virtues Education

At the Toronto conference "Faith in the Public Square" this week at the Munk Centre (sponsored by St. Augustine's Seminary and the Archdiocese of Toronto) the importance of both the language of virtues and education in the cardinal and theological virtues emerged as a focus for understanding much of what has happened in public discourse. 

Whether in the political, social, academic or economic arenas, the paucity of virtue in discourse, practice and education illustrates the growth of intolerance and the growth of prescriptive or convergence pluralism. 

Dr. Iain T. Benson highlighted this focus on virtue in his concluding address, summarizing the contributions of Catholic thinkers from around the country to the question of how we may move forward with the presentation of faith and genuine dialogue in a true pluralism which allows for many voices in what has become an increasingly "naked public square" in Canada. 

Using the seminal description of the late John Neuhaus of FIRST THINGS, the conference began by highlighting his prodigious contributions at various levels of social discourse and engagement in civil society.

In the secularized public square the language of "values", "choice","tolerance" and "diversity" has dominated communication to the detriment of civil society. This language articulates the intolerance of the dictatorship of relativism towards people of faith as it seeks the silencing of the authentic Catholic voice and of other voices of faith in the public square. 
[Dr. Benson has noted that he does: "endorse toleration as a key aspect along with accommodation to living together with DISagreement."]

The mainstream media, however, are often intolerant of any who do not subscribe to the liberal or "progressive" agenda which is, in fact, set by an elite who are very much out of touch with civil society.  Those in government and increasingly in the legal and economic spheres summarily disallow the language of, and the nurture of,  the cardinal virtues (wisdom, justice, prudence and courage) much less the theological virtues (faith, hope and love).

The nebulous language of "values" which is plasticine in the hands of politically correct elites allows them to forward their agendas of sexual license, abortion on demand, euthanasia and open relationships of all kinds.  Most prominent currently is the demand that all conform to the secular "same-sex and gender identity" agenda with respect to marriage and family. The dismantling of the traditional family is at the forefront of this agenda being advocated by use of the "values" Newspeak that pushes aside the language of virtue, the nurture of virtues and education in the virtues.

Calling for a new "tri-alogue" between the Law, Government and Civil Society, Dr. Benson indicated a way forward to true pluralism which allows, once again, a voice to those with religious convictions. Civil discourse allows for and requires civil virtues to provide an interchange between conflicting views as we work out common ground, respecting the legitimate positions of other world-views.

Eschewing the "values" monologue which seeks to foreclose debate and discussion, Catholics and others must re-frame discussion while discovering and developing the tools of civil discourse common to all.  A re-orientation of the debate to shared principles of natural law which are accessible to all regardless of faith or commitments is necessary. Dr. Benson insists that all have faith of one kind or another, including atheists who place their faith in various mental constructs. The challenge is to allow for civil discourse without the totalitarian control of the debate by a politically correct establishment.

As David B. Hart has so ably pointed out, the Christian revolution needs to be reasserted in the current age: 

Innumerable forces are vying for the future, and Christianity may prove considerably weaker than its rivals. This should certainly be no cause of despair for Christians, however, since they must believe their faith to be not only a cultural logic but a cosmic truth, which can never finally be defeated. 

( p. 241, ATHEIST DELUSIONS: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies, Yale U. Press)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Be sure to inform your home educating friends in the Toronto region of this programme offered on Thursdays beginning this September.  It is a great opportunity to supplement a home education programme and to give children the gift of singing and appreciating sacred choral music.

More information and application forms at: 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Inside the Monastery

St. Benôit with our genial host, Dom Charles (Fr. Chip)

Some final Pilgrimage Photos

With thanks to Deborah Gyapong for photos of our pilgrimage to the Holy Door in Québec. 

 The Altar of Relics after entering the Holy Door. 

 Preaching at Mass in the Chapel of St. Louis, Notre Dame de Québec

 At the Ursuline Convent and Shrine of St. Marie de L'Incarnation.

Dom Charles (F. Chip) Gilman OSB is our gracious host at the Monastery St. Benoît-du-lac