As you will already have heard, the provincial government has announced further restrictions to minimize the transmission of COVID-19. The new measures will have a direct impact on churches as part of an extended stay-at-home order. As of Monday, April 19, we will return to a 10 person limit in the church.
We received further direction from Cardinal Collins that all public Masses are to be temporarily cancelled, but that churches are encouraged to remain open for private prayer.
Our Lady of Lourdes will be open for private prayer Monday to Saturday from 10am to 6pm and Sunday from 1pm to 6pm. During those times, there will be Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on the main altar and there will be a Eucharistic Minister available for those who wish to receive Holy Communion. Confession will be available Monday through Saturday from 11am to noon and 4pm to 5pm and Sunday from 4pm to 5pm.
Facing a third shutdown can feel defeating and frustrating, but as people of faith, we know that that there is a deeper, richer hope and joy that we are rooted in. We want to take a moment to say how incredibly blessed we are in being able to open up for Easter and how truly grateful we are to everyone in the Lourdes community for your ongoing support during this period of great uncertainty. It has been wonderful to see so many of you at Mass since we reopened. Indeed, even during the last shutdown, as we were able to remain open for private prayer, the church was never empty. It is a beautiful witness to our love and faith in the Lord's mercy. We are especially grateful to all of the amazing volunteers who have helped ensure our church is a safe place to gather -- they have done an incredible service!
Below you will find, a full schedule of our hours, our live-streaming and Zoom Mass schedule and opportunities for service. We will continue to update you as the situation evolves. We pray that you and your loved ones remain safe and healthy. Take good care and stay safe!
12:10pm Mondays through Saturdays
12:10pm Mondays through Saturdays
April 8, 2021
To the faithful parishioners of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish,
Happy Easter! We wish to thank all parishioners for their assistance in implementing our Return to Church health protocols. It is very much appreciated.
I would like to make you aware that in the past 24 hours, we have learned that one of our parish volunteers has tested positive for Covid-19. The individual was present at church on both Holy Thursday (April 1) and Good Friday (April 2). The volunteer was physically distanced, wearing a mask and followed the extensive health and safety protocols that we have in place. The individual is currently doing well and self-isolating at present. Both Toronto Public Health and the Archdiocese of Toronto are aware of the situation.
While the risk of transmission is very low, at this time, we ask that all parishioners continue to self-monitor for symptoms. If you are not feeling well, have a compromised immune system or other medical conditions or if you are experiencing Covid-19 symptoms, please stay home, consult with your family doctor or consider getting tested for Covid-19.
A self-assessment tool can be found by visiting: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/self-assessment/. You can also contact the Toronto Public Health Hotline at (416) 338-7600 between 8:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. if you have questions about Covid-19. Translation is available in multiple languages.
Thank you for your continued co-operation as we pray for all those who are sick and those who are caring for them.
Please be assured of my ongoing prayers during this Easter season.
May God bless you,
Fr. John Sullivan, S.J., Pastor
The Transfigured Lord makes manifest and clear his Divinity. The glory of God radiates through him. Mark writes, “And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became a dazzlingly white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.” Jesus Christ is “perfectly God and perfectly human” as the Nicene Creed teaches. His Transfiguration before Peter, James and John is for them and for us today. On the one hand, he reveals his full person both human and Divine. He also, in God’s glory radiating through himself, gives to us an indication, a hint of the promise offered to his disciples, to us. As his disciples, through his grace, we too in our Christian lives can radiate the glory of God. St. Paul describes this in another passage from Galatians: “I have been crucified with Christ, and I live now not with my own life but with the life of Christ who lives in me.” If this is his promise offered to us, then how do we receive it?
At the end of this week’s gospel, Jesus “ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.” This is the clue for us and how to receive the promise the Lord has given to us in the Transfiguration. In order to be a disciple who radiates the glory of God, we must first observe, understand and receive the gift of his crucifixion and resurrection. To understand with mind and heart his crucifixion and resurrection is to understand in one’s being the incomprehensible love of God. It is to know what the words of St. Paul mean to our hearts: “If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else?” The love of God becomes for the Christian the single most important, most influential and most foundational power in one’s life. It is his love that opens or hearts to believe our significance for God, to see our place in God’s vision. The joy of the follower of the Lord and his/her generosity flows from this incomprehensible gift.
I think it is more helpful to receive Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross not as “because of us” but rather “for us.” In this way the giving of his love is most tangible and understandable for us. Peter thought that the pleasure and gift God was giving in the Transfiguration was to be owned and possessed by him and the two other disciples. But the Lord began to walk down the mountain, began to walk to his Passion and Resurrection. He left the mountain to do who he is, he left to love us. To receive his love is to radiate God’s glory. We live our faith when we share his glory, that is, his love, with the world. “’Which is the first of all the commandments?’ Jesus replied, ‘This is the first: Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You must love your neighbour as yourself.’” To be his disciple is to radiate his glory, to radiate his love.
God Bless and Take Care,
Since I was young, I have understood Lent in a very particular way. Lent is about making one’s life a little less pleasurable, a little less enjoyable by depriving oneself of something one really enjoys. In school or at Catechism classes, we were encouraged to give something up. Maybe it was chocolate for those with a sweet tooth, or potato chips for those (like me) who like to snack, or maybe for the adults, to deprive themselves of their precious coffee. The list could certainly go on. The whole point, though never articulated, was that Lent equalled less pleasure and enjoyment in life. No wonder we would track the season’s progress on our calendars – forty, then thirty and finally just ten days left! Thanks be to God! Chocolate, chips, coffee await. I don’t think this is the understanding the Church intends with Lent. It may be ok for children but not helpful as we seek to grow in our maturity in our faith. I think it’s good to give something up for Lent but the reason we choose a particular thing or behaviour must be clear to our minds and hearts.
Writing 500 years ago, St. Ignatius of Loyola said that,
Human beings are created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by means of doing this to save their souls. The other things on the face of the earth are created for human beings, to help them in the pursuit of the end for which they are created.
Here, in just two lines, we are given our Lenten motivation and focus. Lent, it seems, isn’t about making our lives less pleasurable or enjoyable, rather it is, as always, about God. The Church gives us these forty days to focus on the depth of our discipleship. We are not content to be a Christian in name only. We desire and want to be a Christian, a follower of the Lord Jesus, in word and deed. And we desire and want our faith to continuously grow and deepen. We think of the above teaching of St. Ignatius and apply it to Lent. What are those things and behaviours that limit my response to Christ’s call of “Follow me”? Can I give something up or change a pattern in my life that makes me more free to be generous in my discipleship? I no longer want to be on the sidelines Lord, or even on the periphery. I want to be beside you and I want you to be beside me. I want the words you spoke to Peter after your Resurrection to be spoken to me: “I tell you most solemnly, when you were young you put on your own belt and walked where you liked; but when you grow old you will stretch out your hands, and somebody else will put a belt around you and take you where you would rather not go.” This is what I want Lord.
Lent isn’t about making one’s life less pleasurable or enjoyable. It’s about gaining freedom to love more and serve more. To follow the Lord more closely. The Church gives us the practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving to help us to be a more loving disciple. Our discipleship is of Him and so we need to converse and be in relationship with Him (prayer). But sinfulness has its claws in us, so we need God’s grace to be more free to do what we really want, that is, to follow Christ (fasting). And to follow the Lord more closely is to labour with Him in building the Kingdom of God, to be people of mercy and justice (almsgiving). Lent indeed is a beautiful and holy time. It is about expanding God’s goodness within us, of deepening his love in our hearts and of proclaiming him to our world.
God Bless and Take Care,
Today marks the end of the Christmas season and provides another moment for us to reflect and receive the gift of the Incarnation. When I was in High School in the late 1980s, everyone searched for and clung to an identity within the school community. Maybe it’s the same now, but back in the 80s there were the athletes, or “the Jocks,” the good students, or “the Nerds,” those who liked Heavy Metal music, or the “Head bangers,” those who dressed in the newest fashions, or “the Preppies,” and those who liked Punk music, or “the Punks.” Certainly not an exhaustive list, but what is clear are two things. First, we all search for an identity, and second, once we find it, we cling to it with great tenacity. This is because every human being yearns to belong, to have a sense of community and a place within it. If this desire is so universal within our hearts, then it must be from God. At the same time, however, while we may have particular identities, some short and other long lasting, no identity articulated in this world is ultimately who we are. Who we are can only be found in and through God.
With the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord, God reveals and gives to us our true and eternal identity. After Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and he came out of the water, the scripture tells us that a voice from the heavens spoke. God the Father proclaimed that “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” We may think that it makes perfect sense for God the Father to say this of God the Son, but how do these words affect us? The Church teaches that through the humanity of the Lord, through his Incarnation, we are drawn by the Son into the relationship he shares with the Father. This means that the words the Father spoke to and of the Son, so too are those words spoken to and of us. Through Christ we have become the children of God. Through Christ it is revealed to us that God is “well pleased” by us, that we are his delight. Here then is our identity. It is not given or confirmed by others, it is given eternally to us by God. It is an identity that may be denied by us, but can never be lost. God is the guarantor. This truth is of the utmost importance for us. As God tells us in Isaiah: “Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live.”
God Bless and Take Care,
Recently, I was tossing-and-turning in bed thinking of the lead story from the news I had just watched. It was, of course, about the pandemic - rising case counts in most Provinces and the presentation of the “rollout” for the vaccine in Ontario. I couldn’t sleep because I felt scared which always results in my becoming angry. I was angry with those faceless people who seem to act recklessly and thus endanger everyone else. I was angry with the government for its apparent slow “rollout” of the vaccine and I was angry with policy makers who have placed people my age without other health conditions more towards the back of the line. I felt sorry for myself. These thoughts turned and turned in my mind. Slowly, however, I began to think of something different. Should I not seek to understand why people do what they do instead of jumping to the most critical opinion? After all, it isn’t easy to be without the company of friends. Relationships and affection make us human in many ways. Should I not be happy for others when they receive the vaccine rather than envious? So many people are particularly vulnerable to the effects of the virus. My good health is a blessing and those whose health is not as strong and those who care for them need to be protected. Should I not wait for my turn trying to live the words of St. Paul – “Love is patient, love is kind.”? As I thought over these questions, I realized I want to be a Christian all the time. Even as I anticipate some return to the lives we use to live and enjoy, such as, the freedom to give and receive a hug, and for the Lourdes Community to be together to celebrate Mass, I must wait and collaborate as a Christian.
Our faith is not restricted to one compartment among many which together constitute our life. On the contrary, our faith is to be present and impactful in every part of our lives. The pandemic hasn’t changed our “marching orders,” it hasn’t altered our mission as given to us by the Son. That being so, how do we proceed, how do we live our faith now? A passage and image from the Gospel have been helpful to me during these moths. The passage is from Matthew’s gospel (Mt. 14: 27) where Jesus walks on the water during a storm. When the disciples see him they think it is ghost but the Lord tells them to “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” In the original text, Jesus says something closer to “I am” instead of “it is I.” The Lord’s use of “I am” reminds us that this is the name God gave to himself in response to Moses at the burning bush in the Old Testament. In the face of a storm and fear, Christ was and is saying, “Be not afraid. God is here with you.” The image comes from Jesus’ frequent reference to Israel and the world as “the vineyard.” While I know that God in his goodness, God is all-Perfect and all-loving did not create the suffering of the pandemic, but God has permitted it to continue. There are things we cannot know with regard God’s action or apparent inaction. Even though we do not understand, our call as his disciples to labour in the vineyard remains constant. And so it seems that our current mission is to labour in the vineyard the Lord in his perfect wisdom has given to us – the vineyard marked by a global pandemic.
As we seek to labour in the vineyard of the Lord in this new year, we do so with his compassion and his love. As we walk the troubled and pained paths of our world we do so with him. When he told the disciples “’I am,’ so take heart and do not be afraid,” the Lord was speaking to them and to us. We begin this new year perhaps with confusion, uncertainty and fear, but we also begin it with renewed love, generosity and hope. And we do so because our God, our Lord, our Saviour, our Brother is with us.
God Bless and Happy New Year,
We are so excited to re-open the Church very soon, and we can't wait to see you.
Our Parish team is working hard to get you all of the information about re-opening at Our Lady of Lourdes, including what social distancing measures will be in place, so that we can protect everyone's health and safety.
For now, this is just a brief note to say "stay tuned" for further information, and share some brief "headlines" for now:
Also, we will be conducting a drive for new volunteers so that we can better accommodate the additional social distancing measures for Sunday Masses (e.g. welcomers/ushers) - more details to come.
Thank you and God bless!
Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Team
Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life.” Until preparing for this Sunday, I always understood these words in a straightforward manner. They were like three chapter headings in the manual of Christian discipleship. If I did the things implied in “the way” and “the truth” then I would be rewarded with “the life.” I thought Christ’s words were addressed to my hands and head. Just in the past few days, however, I have come to understand his teaching as aiming not for our hands and heads, but for our hearts.
When the Lord speaks of “the way” it is easy for us to think he is targeting our behaviour. As such, his “way” is to become our path, that is, we are to act as he acted. We can reduce the Christian life to a life of imitation. It is like the popular slogan of many years ago – “What would Jesus do?” With this understanding, the Christian life feels similar to a costume, that is, “the way” is external and different from ourselves. I need to learn the actions in order to fit in. When he speaks of “the truth” again, it is easy for us to think it’s all about what we believe. If one believes correctly then one can belong to the Christian flock. But believing the Christian faith to be true and acting accordingly is not merely a conviction of our minds and will, of our heads and hands. It also involves a conviction of our hearts. And that “the way, the truth and the life” is a plea to our hearts is given with the full meaning of “the life.”
The Lord is offering with “the life,” a more basic and vital human need. He is telling us this most beautiful desire of God the Father. “The life” that the Lord gives is a life of communion with the Father. We are being asked to let the Father have what he desires. To let our Father have us forever. Or as Christ said to the disciples, “I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.” We are offered through the Lord the free gift to be loved eternally; to be judged mercifully and compassionately always; and, to be “dandled” with joy on the Father’s knee. In “the way” and “the truth” Jesus gives us access to the Father and reveals him to us. As he says in response to St. Philip, “[w]hoever has seen me has seen the Father.” It is extraordinary to realize that the desire of God and enacted by his initiative is to be in eternal communion with us. Jesus Christ is indeed “the way, the truth and the life.” His is not primarily a teaching, it is rather an offer. God is offering God’s very self out of love and thoroughly in love with you. How blessed we are.
God Bless and take care,