Pastor's Blog

MORE ‘COVIDIAN’ NOTES

            Are you tired of Covid-19?  I am.  Nevertheless we continue to do what we are able to do to prevent the spread of this virus.  Covid-19 has greatly affected many aspects of life including Church life.  One of the most frustrating things for most of us is the ever changing information regarding the virus.  In less than a 24 hour period last week pastors received three emails outlining policies and clarifications of those policies. 

            The following are presently in place:

            Mask use is mandatory.  There are very few exceptions.  All people coming forward to receive Communion are to wear a mask.  The priest wears a mask when he is distributing Communion.  The celebrant (priest) and the readers/lectors are permitted to remove their masks while speaking provided they maintain a 2 metre distance from others while doing so.  Once finished speaking, speaker must put on their mask again.

              Physical Distancing.  Physical distancing between households must be maintained.  (The distance is 2 metres (78 inches).  This includes when arriving at Church, going to receive Communion and returning from receiving Communion and leaving the Church.)

 

         Funerals, interments outside or in mausoleums, and weddings.  The limit is 10.  Contact the parish for further information about who is included in the 10.

 

              Weddings and funeral receptions.  Receptions and gatherings of any type are not allowed under any circumstance at this time. These measures will be in place until further notice.

 

              In-person faith group meetings.  In-person faith group meetings conducted at a place of worship such as RCIA, Sacramental Preparation classes, CWL and Knights of Columbus can continue. The maximum allowable attendance is 10. Physical distancing and public health measures must be followed. Please note that these types of meetings are not permitted in private homes.

 

              Liturgy of Baptism outside of Mass.  At this time, liturgies of baptisms within mass are not allowed. When celebrating liturgies of baptism outside of mass, the maximum allowable attendance is 10. Each baptismal celebration should be limited to the one child (or children) of the family/household. If godparents do not belong to the family cohort, proper physical distancing should be observed at all times. This provision is based on what AHS (Alberta Health Services) sees as the high risk posed to individuals participating in these liturgies.  (We are continuing to celebrate individual Baptisms at Good Shepherd.)

First Sunday of Advent

29 November 2020

Fr. Leo

 

 

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ADVENT 2020

         The last Sunday of the liturgical year is named the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.  This year Christ the King was celebrated on 22 November, 2020.  The new liturgical year begins on the First Sunday of Advent.  This year the First Sunday of Advent is celebrated on 29 November. 

         Advent is a season of joyful expectation.  After the last eight months of you know what, we live in expectation that something great will happen.  We live in hope that this pandemic will end.  We live in hope that we might visit with family and friends as we once did.  We live in hope that many will have jobs to support their families and themselves.  We live in hope that we may gather as we once did in our parish communities.  What a time of rejoicing that will be!  Alleluia!

         Meanwhile we prepare to celebrate Christ’s first coming among us, and it is also a time when we look forward to his second coming at the end of the ages.  It is true that this Advent Season and this Christmas Season will be unlike any of us have experienced or will experience.  No matter how we will be able to celebrate Christmas this year, we are to be prepared spiritually now and always.

         So how might we prepare?  An advent wreath can help create a focal point for family prayer.  The wreath need not be complicated.  I found pictures of wreaths that be coloured with crayons if making a wreath with evergreens and 4 candles is not possible or safe.  Families sometimes struggle with meal prayers.  If prayer at each meal is not possible, how about at supper?  If a meal prayer at supper doesn’t work, then how about at the main meal on Sunday?  (After all, Sunday is the original feast day of the Church.)  A Jesse tree can help family members learn about Old Testament and Advent symbols.  (“Google” or “Bing” the words:  Jesse Tree.) 

         Some people like to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance which is also known as Confession or Reconciliation.  The Sacrament is required only of those who are in a state of mortal/serious/grave sin.  Less serious sins, also known as venial sins, may also be confessed.  The most important act of the penitent is contrition.  This is the ‘heartfelt sorrow and aversion for the sin committed along with the intention of sinning no more.’  Please note that during this pandemic it is not a sin to miss Mass on a Sunday or other holyday of obligation.

 

The times for December 2020 are as follows:

Tuesday, December 2                         10:00 AM  --  11:30 AM

Saturday, December 5                        1:00 PM  --  2:30 PM

Wednesday, December 9                   10:00 AM  --  11:30 AM

Saturday, December 12                      1:00 PM  --  2:30 PM

Tuesday, December 15                       6:00 PM  --  7:30 PM

Wednesday, December 16                 10:00 AM  --  11:30 AM

                                                            6:00 PM  --  7:30 PM   

Saturday, December 19                      10:00 AM  --  11:30 AM

                                                            1:00 PM  --  2:30 PM

Saturday, December 26                      1:00 PM  --  2:30 PM

 

Fr. Leo

25 November 2020

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IT’S A SIN?

            To assist those who wish to attend the Sunday Mass during the pandemic we ask that people sign up on line or call the parish office during regular office hours.  In order to follow the Alberta Health and the Archdiocese of Edmonton regulations and guidelines a maximum of 50 people plus 10 other people (Volunteers and Staff) may be present at a Mass.  The bookings for each Mass fill quite quickly.  It is good that people want to attend Sunday Mass. 

              A problem occurs when people who have signed up on line or who have signed up through a call to the parish office do not show up for Mass.  It is true that emergencies can occur or someone has suddenly become ill.  People who are ill or have Covid-19 symptoms are not to come to Mass. 

              At one recent Mass, 18 people who had signed up did not attend Mass.  This prevented possibly another 18 others from coming to Mass.  So is it a sin to sign up for Mass and not to show up without a really good reason?  This sort of thing shows lack of love of neighbour.  I think that this may be a sin.

 

Fr. Leo

6 November 2020

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THE PRECEPTS OF THE CHURCH

Although we do not often hear about the PRECEPTS OF THE CHURCH, they still exist.  What are the PRECEPTS OF THE CHURCH?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives the following definition:  “The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life.”  The precepts provide a minimum for the practice of the faith.

You shall attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation.  In Canada, in addition to Sundays, Mass attendance is necessary on Christmas and on New Year’s.  Because of COVID-19, Archbishop Richard Smith and many other Bishops have suspended this obligation until further notice.

You shall confess your mortal/grave/serious sins at least once a year.

You shall receive Holy Communion at during Easter Season (or at another time if you are unable to attend Mass during Easter Season.)  This is a minimal requirement only.  Catholic should receive Communion more frequently.     

You shall observe the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence.  In Canada, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fasting and abstinence from meat.  All Fridays are days of abstinence from meat, but Catholics may substitute special acts of charity or piety on this day.  (Certain people are excused from fasting and abstinence due to a number of circumstances.  Check with your parish priest.)

You shall provide for the material needs of the church, each according to your abilities.  This refers to money donated to the church (parish) for its work to spread the gospel and for the operation of the church (parish).  At Good Shepherd, for example, donations may be made by cash, cheque, e-transfer or Pre-Authorized Payment.  Thank you for your financial support.

While the following are not on the official list of the Precepts of the Church, they are to be observed.

To obey the laws of the Church concerning Matrimony.  Catholics are obliged by the Church to be married in front of a Catholic priest and two witnesses.  (There are consequences for not following this teaching.) 

To participate in the Church's mission of Evangelization of Souls. 

 

Fr. Leo

10 October 2020

 

 

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CHURCH MEMBERS NOT GETTING ALONG

Suppose you and another member of the Church are not getting along.  You are having problems.  What should you do?  Should you go right away to the top person to make a complaint? In extreme cases, going to the top right away is necessary.  Most of the time there is another approach.  The gospel according to Matthew offers such an approach.

Step 1.  “If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone.  If the member listens to you, you have regained that one (Matthew 18:15).”  In other words, try speaking with the person at an appropriate time and place.

Step 2.  “But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses (Matthew 18:16).”  This meeting could help clarify a problem that could not be resolved in step one.  There is no longer one person’s word against another person’s word.

Step 3.  “If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen to them, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector (Matthew 18:17).”  In some cases, the pastor is the one to try to resolve the conflict between the two members.  Specific personnel from the Archdiocese assist with very serious conflicts or issues. 

Another name for this type of process is subsidiarity.  One definition of subsidiarity is “the principle of authority whereby decisions are entrusted to the appropriate body and not assumed by a higher authority.  Issues are dealt with at the lowest proper level of responsibility and competency (Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton, Policy No. 112).”  In other words, start at the lowest levels first. 

Try Matthew.  Something good might come out of it.  

(I wrote this blog when I was the Chaplain at St. Benedict Chapel.  Since then I have used it a number of times.  I think it very appropriate during these Covid-19 times.)

Fr. Leo

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MY DESK CALENDAR

            I like my desk calendar.  It is not the calendar with the list of Masses, Confessions, Confirmation Celebrations (one completed, eight more to go), Baptisms (Seven from Sept. 2 through 6), First Communion Masses (Seven), appointments, and meetings among other activities. That calendar is work.

            The calendar that I like has a page for each day.  On each page is a comic.  Sometimes the comics are of the laugh out loud variety.  On other days they are worth a chuckle.  Some mornings I think, “Hmm.”  There are some comics that I don’t get at all and ask out loud, “Huh?”

            During this time in our history we need things in our lives which bring some joy if even for a few moments.  Will cartoons and comics change the pandemic?  They probably won’t.  On the other hand, comics and other things can make us laugh and forget, if even for a moment, the challenges we face.

Fr. Leo

10 September 2020

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THE FIRST TO KNOW!

If you read this Blog you will be the among first to know that effective Saturday 3 October 2020, the Sunday Mass times will be changed.  The Masses will be celebrated as follows:

 

SATURDAY         4:00 PM

SUNDAY             9:00 AM

                        11:00 AM

Please remember to sign up in order to attend Mass.  With the continuing COVID-19 restrictions we ask that you sign up and attend one Mass per month.  If you are unable to attend the Mass for which you have signed up because of illness or a change in plans, please go to SignUpGenius on the parish website and make the change.  You may call the parish office during office hours.  Thank you.

 

Effective immediately, those who have not signed up will be asked to wait outside in a designated area.  This will allow for the orderly intake of those who have signed up followed by those who have not signed up.

 

Effective Saturday 3 October 2020, the Sacrament of Penance, also known as Confession or Reconciliation, is celebrated on Saturdays from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM.  On occasion, there will be no confessions due to a wedding or other event.  (There is wedding on Saturday 10 October.)  The Church must be emptied of all people between 2:30 PM and 3:30 PM to allow for proper cleaning and sanitizing.

 

Masks covering the nose, mouth and chin must be worn in the Church except when consuming the Host.  Readers may remove their masks during the proclamation of the readings.  The priest may remove his mask during parts of the Mass.  He must wear a mask before Mass, during the distribution of Communion and after Mass.

 

Thank you for your sharing and sacrifice during this challenging time.

 

Fr. Leo

6 September 2020

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

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SHARING AND SACRIFICE

Part II

                In the previous blog I wrote about the role of sharing and sacrifice during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Sharing and sacrifice is of particular importance when discussing the Sunday Mass.  I stated that not everyone may expect to attend Mass every Sunday because of the various pandemic precautions. (“In order to assure fair and equitable access to Sunday Mass for parishioners who would like to attend Mass, parishioners will not be able to attend Mass every weekend.”)  The need for safe physical distance at Good Shepherd Parish and at every Catholic Parish has greatly reduced the seating capacity of our worship spaces.

                In order to have fair and equitable access to Sunday Mass, parishioners are requested to register for a particular Mass by 1) using the SignUpGenius logo on the parish website or 2) by phoning the parish office during regular office hours.

1)  What happens if a person who has signed up on SignUpGenius is unable to attend Mass due to illness or a change in plans?  Go to SignUpGenius on the parish website.  Click on SignUpGenius.  Partway down the page is the following:  

       Already signed up?  You can change your sign up. 

       Click on the underlined on SignUpGenius and delete the appropriate attendance

       information.  

 

       Making an effort to change your sign up for Mass allows for other parishioners to

       attend Mass.  Thank you.

 

2)  If a person who has signed up by phoning the office is unable to attend due to illness or a change in plans, please call during office hours to delete the person’s name.  If the office is closed, leave a message on the voicemail.  While the office staff might not receive the message until after the Mass is over, your efforts show concern for others.  Thank you. 

 

             Some ask why registration is required for Mass attendance.  One reason is COVID-19 contact tracing.  The second reason is to make sure we have enough spaces to allow for safe physical distancing.  The third reason is to allow for proper Mass preparation.  I only consecrate the number of Hosts required for the particular Mass.  (A previous Blog explains why using Consecrated Hosts from the Tabernacle for Communion at Mass is a very questionable practice.)

               

                As we continue through these challenging times, please be assured that your sharing and sacrifice is much appreciated.  While people often ask and pray that God will give them Patience, during COVID-19 we have many opportunities to practice the virtue of Patience.

 

Fr. Leo

3 September 2020

Memorial of St. Gregory the Great, Pope, Doctor of the Church

 

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SHARING AND SACRIFICE

One of the things that most parents teach their children from an early age is to share with others.  Children are taught to share food, to share toys and so forth. 

As children grow they learn about others who do not have adequate food, clothing and shelter.  The children are taught about the need to give up some of what they have for the good of others.  In sharing with others, children learn about sacrifice.  Through the rest of their growing up years and right through adulthood, people share with others and make sacrifices for the common good. 

During our present reality, all people are called to share and to sacrifice in ways that are different than before.  Catholics are asked to share and to make sacrifices regarding attendance at the Sunday Mass.   

There are restrictions in place to keep people safer during this COVID-19 pandemic.  As a result all parishes have a greatly reduced seating capacity.  Before the pandemic, some Masses at Good Shepherd had more than 600 people in attendance.  In order to practice safe distancing (2 metres), Good Shepherd Church now has seating for 50 people.  Due to the need for specific volunteers and staff (including the priest) the total attendance may not be more than 60 people.

In order to assure fair and equitable access to Sunday Mass for parishioners who would like to attend Mass, parishioners will not be able to attend Mass every weekend.  This is where sharing and sacrifice regarding Sunday Mass come into the picture.  In order to allow more parishioner to attend Mass on an occasional basis, we ask that during these pandemic times, parishioners sign up for and attend one Mass per month.  For many Catholics setting aside the custom of attending Mass each weekend is difficult.  While Sunday Mass is important, during the pandemic the obligation to attend Sunday Mass has been suspended by the Archbishop.

In a YouTube video entitled, Announcing the Gradual Return to Publically Celebrated Mass (26 May 2020), Archbishop Richard Smith states, “If you are tempted to go to a parish other than your own in search of Mass, please resist the temptation. . . It will be challenging enough for parishes to provide for their own parishioners in these restricted circumstances.”  An updated document from the Archdiocese (3 June 2020) states:  “The faithful are encouraged to limit their attendance to their regular parish church to avoid undue pressure on other parishes and to exercise charity and fairness to parishioners.”

So how does a person sign up for Mass?  There are two ways:  1) go to the Good Shepherd Catholic Church website.  Click on the SignUpGenius logo to begin the process or 2) for those who do not have the internet or who are having difficulty, contact the parish office during regular office hours (Monday through Thursday 8:00 AM—3:45 PM.  Starting September 11, the office will be open Monday through Friday 8:00 AM—3:45 PM.)

Thank you for your sharing and your sacrifice during these challenging times.

Fr. Leo

2 September 2020

 

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SO WHAT HAVE WE DISCOVERED?

Part IV

                 We have discovered, or more correctly re-discovered, the importance of not missing any part of the Mass. 

                Some of us might remember a time when, in order to fulfill the Sunday obligation, a person had to be present for ‘OCC’.  What is ‘OCC’?  This is the abbreviation for Offertory, Consecration and (priest’s) Communion.  So why did people stay for the priest’s Communion?  For a long period of our history most people did not receive Communion on a regular basis.  Staying for the priest’s Communion recognized the importance of Communion even if most people very rarely received.

                While we have moved beyond such minimalism in our approach to the Mass, occasionally I am asked, “How much of the Mass can I miss and still fulfill my Sunday obligation?”  I usually respond by saying that Mass begins with the Opening Song and concludes at the end of the Concluding Rites with the response by the assembly:  “Thanks be to God.”  If a person intentionally misses any part of the Mass without a very important reason I think the person has not really participated in the Mass.  Has the obligation been fulfilled?  I doubt it.

                Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Archbishop has given a dispensation from the obligation to attend the Sunday Mass.  In other words, no one has to come to Sunday Mass until further notice.

                So how have we re-discovered the importance of not missing any part of the Mass we attend?  The guidelines make it clear that latecomers are not allowed.  The 3 June 2020 guidelines for the Reintroduction of the Public Celebration of Holy Mass (Stage One) state the following:   

                Door are to be locked until 30 minutes before Mass begins and shall remain locked throughout the duration of the Mass.

                Entrance doors should be propped open before Mass as people enter so the faithful

                do not need to touch the handles or the doors to enter. They can be closed and locked before Mass begins.

 

                The authors of the Guidelines, in showing concern for the health of those coming to Mass, the Point of Entry Volunteers and the Ushers among others, perhaps by accident have pointed to the principle of not missing any part of the Holy Mass.

 

Fr. Leo

19 August, 2020

 

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SO WHAT HAVE WE DISCOVERED?

(Part III)

         We have re-discovered the principle of not using Hosts from the Tabernacle for Communion at Mass.  At the Sunday Eucharist in many parishes, including ours, during the singing of the Lamb of God, a minister (ordinary or sometimes extraordinary) goes to the tabernacle and brings to the altar Hosts that were consecrated at one or more previous Masses.  (This is not being done during the ‘pandemic’ Masses.)  

         If the tabernacle is not to be used for Communion at a Sunday Mass, what is the purpose of the tabernacle?  The reason the Church reserves the Eucharist outside of Mass is primarily, for the administration of the Viaticum to the dying, and secondarily, Communion of the Sick, Communion outside of Mass, and adoration of Christ present in the Sacrament (see Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside of Mass, no.5).  The reserved Sacrament is not to provide a supply of Hosts to service several Masses.

            Sacrosanctum Concilium says ‘The more perfect form of participation in the Mass whereby the faithful, after the priest’s communion receive the Lord’s Body from the same sacrifice, is warmly recommended (article 55).”

            “It is most desirable that the faithful, just as the Priest himself is obliged to do, receive the Lord’s Body from hosts consecrated at the same Mass and that, in the case where this is foreseen, they partake of the chalice (cf. no. 283), so that even by means of the signs Communion may stand out more clearly as a participation in the sacrifice actually being celebrated (GIRM, no. 85).”

            Liturgy Lines, an online column from the Diocese of Brisbane, Australia, also comments on Communion from the tabernacle.  “The dynamic of the Eucharist is one continuous movement.  In the procession of gifts, the faithful present the bread and wine for the sacrifice, along with the gift of their lives, to be blessed by God and then received back as the Body and Blood of Christ when they come forward for Holy Communion.  To be fed with the Body of Christ from the tabernacle and not from what was consecrated at the Mass being celebrated breaks the connection between sacrifice and Communion.  There can be no Communion without sacrifice, and this is symbolised most clearly when we receive Communion from what we ourselves have offered (17 August 2014).”

            Liturgy Lines quotes Robert Taft, SJ.  “Distributing Holy Communion from hosts already consecrated at a previous Eucharist was totally unthinkable in the early Christian East and West.  The reason for the disapproval is obvious to anyone with Eucharistic theology.  The dynamic of the Eucharist is one continuous movement, in which the community gifts are offered, accepted by God and returned to the community to be shared as God’s gift to us, a sharing of something we receive from God and give to one another—in short, a communion.”

            Think of the dynamics of feasting.  Does the consumption of leftovers from the refrigerator have the same meaning as when everyone sat at the table, offered thanks, and then ate what was on the table?  Leftovers are nutritious and filling, however they are not the same as sitting down, giving thanks, and eating together that which is prepared for that meal. 

             Only if there is a shortage could the minister go to the tabernacle to get Hosts to distribute at Mass.  This should not be done on a regular basis otherwise the Mass could be perceived as a communion service rather than the celebration of the Eucharist.

 

Fr. Leo

23 July 2020

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SO WHAT HAVE WE DISCOVERED? 

(Part II)

            The first part of this BLOG article (10 July 2020) spoke of discoveries made at the parish level as the result of COVID-19.  In the last paragraph of the article, I stated, “There are other discoveries (or re-discoveries) we have made during these ‘COVIDIAN TIMES’.

            So what else have we discovered or re-discovered?

            We have re-discovered that it is necessary to prepare to come to Liturgy.  No longer are we able to drop in at the last minute to any Mass in any parish.  Each parish has to decide how many may attend Mass.  The guidelines on occupancy issued by the Archdiocese and Alberta Health are meant to help keep everyone safer and to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  At Good Shepherd we require persons to register online or by telephone.  A person/family must register for every Mass the person or family wants to attend.  (Registering for one Mass does not mean that a person is registered for every Mass.)         

            We have re-discovered that hospitality is not an option.  The Church building is the domus ecclesiae—the house of the Church.  As we greet people who arrive at our homes (residences), so should members of the Church be greeted when they arrive for Liturgy.  This was something rarely done at Good Shepherd in the months before the pandemic.  With the restoration of public Masses, qualified volunteers carry out various types of hospitality ministry.  While some might find the process of arriving (checking in) for Mass during these pandemic times somewhat bothersome, one thing for sure is that those arriving are being greeted by one or more persons.  The point of entry team, ushers and cleaners all have roles in making sure that coming to Mass is a reasonably safe experience.  Physical distancing (2 metres/6 feet) is a necessary and hospitable part of participating at the Eucharist.  The wearing of masks shows respect for others; that is, preventing the spreading of possible infection by the wearers. 

              We have re-discovered the role of silence before and during the Liturgy.  The silence before the Liturgy begins helps everyone prepare “themselves to carry out the sacred celebration in a devout and fitting manner.”  Silence during the “Penitential Act and again after the invitation to pray (gives time) for individuals to recollect themselves.”  Silence after a reading or the Homily allows for all to “mediate briefly on what they have heard.”  During the silence after “Communion, (all) praise God in their hearts and pray to him.”  (The quotes in this paragraph are taken from the General Instruction on the Roman Missal (GIRM), #45). 

Fr. Leo

23 July 2020          

 

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CALL ME MAYBE

 

 

 

I wish Carly Rae Jepsen would have spoken with me before she wrote the song, “Call me maybe.”  The song has a great beat and interesting lyrics.  All types of people have done lip sync versions of the song.  So why do I wish the composer had called me first?  I would have asked her to write a song with the title, ‘CALL ME NOW!’ 

While it happens occasionally over the years, it has happened a lot more during these last months or as I say, during these ‘Covidian’ times.  What is it?  Quite a few people have started preparations (paperwork) for weddings and have not told us at Good Shepherd that the wedding has been cancelled or postponed.  If you have arranged for your wedding at Good Shepherd or have begun paperwork here for your wedding to take place at another Catholic Church and you have decided to cancel or postpone your wedding, CALL ME NOW.  There is no ‘maybe’ about it.  If you have decided on a new date, CALL ME NOW to see if the new date is available.  If you hope to be married at Good Shepherd in the future and have not yet had an appointment with me, note that the Archdiocese of Edmonton asks for at least one year’s notice.    CALL ME NOW!   Here's my number:  780 487 7765.

Fr. Leo Hofmann

23 June 2020

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COMPLAINING AGAIN!

A young man decided to enter a monastery. He joined one particularly strict order. The Abbot (head monk) told him, as he began his training, that they were sworn to TOTAL silence. The monks could not speak one word at all. However, every ten years, they would be permitted to speak two words.  .After 10 years of total silence, the Abbot indicated it was now time for the monk to speak his two words. The monk said, “Bed hard!” And then he resumed his silent study and work.  .Another 10 years passed and the Abbot again indicated it was time for him to speak his two words. The monk said, “Food bad!” And then he resumed his silent study and work.  Another 10 years passed and the Abbot again indicated it was time for the monk to speak his two words. The monk said, “I quit!”  The Abbot shook his head and said, “I knew this was coming. You’ve done nothing but complain for the past 30 years!”

I must admit that this old joke has been told with many variations.  Somehow it came to mind as I thought about these ‘Covidian’ times.  I am reminded that instead of complaining about everyone and everything, why not try to find three (3) good things that happen to me each day.  How about today?  There are robins singing, hares sitting quietly and not eating my tulips and no rain at this moment.  Thank you God for the little things.

 

Fr. Leo

16 June 2020

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FARMERS DAY

When I was younger the second Friday in June was a holiday from school.  It was more than a holiday from school.  The second Friday in June was Farmer’s Day.  Many rural communities had a parade, softball or baseball games, games of chance, home-made food and all sorts of things to celebrate the importance of farmers.  While many communities no longer observe the second Friday in June as a holiday there are remnants of this important day in some of our rural communities.

Although my Mom and Dad did not farm, farming is very much part of my heritage.  Mom’s parents, brothers and sister all lived on farms.  (I have worked on their farms doing all sorts of jobs in chicken coops, pig barns, cow barns and in the field.)  We grew up knowing how important farmers were to our family’s life and to everyone’s lives.  On this day, in particular, I give thanks for my farmer relatives who often supplied Mom, Dad and us ten kids with wonderful potatoes, strawberries, raspberries, pork and beef.  (In summer, Grandpa always kept us in fresh rhubarb which is a food I personally am not sure I can call 'wonderful'.)

To be a good farmer requires many talents and ingenuity.  To be a farmer requires a great deal of patience and hope that next year will be better.  So whether today is a holiday or not, we give thanks for farmers, ranchers and all who raise food to feed the world.

Saints Isidore and Maria—Patrons of farmers, farm workers, field hands, and ranchers, and rural communities--pray for them.

Saints Isidore and Maria—pray for us.

Happy Farmer’s Day everyone!

Fr. Leo

12 June 2020

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PAGES AND PAGES!!

Pages and pages!  That is how I describe the amount of information received from the Archdiocese regarding the 23 May 2020 GUIDELINES FOR THE REINTRODUCTION OF THE PUBLIC CELEBRATION OF HOLY MASS.  There are almost 21 full pages.  Add to that Alberta Health Services more than seven pages on GUIDANCE FOR PLACES OF WORSHIP (23 May 2020) and we have about 28 pages of rules, regulations and requirements.  More pages have since arrived.  There are the Occupational Health and Safety—Hazard Assessment Analysis pages (2) and the Alberta GUIDANCE FOR WEARING OF NON-MEDICAL FACE MASKS FOR THE GENERAL PUBLIC pages (2).  More pages are sure to arrive. All of this is to help people to be able to attend in safer ways a public celebration of the Mass.  Not everyone is able to come to Mass whenever.  There is a maximum of Fifty (50) people and that includes me.  Please check the website for information.  One thing is for sure:  there will be more and more pages.

Fr. Leo Hofmann

4 June 2020

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THE SMILING POPE

In 1978 we had the ‘Smiling Pope’.  He died after only 33 days after being elected Pope.  Cardinal Albino Luciani chose to be called ‘John Paul’ after this two predecessors:  John XXIII and Paul VI.

Recently Pope Francis approved a foundation promoting the example and works of Pope John Paul.  I must admit that I do not know a great deal about Pope John Paul I.  I own a copy of a book written by him before he was elected Pope and Bishop of Rome.  The title of the book is Illustrisimi:  Letters from Pope John Paul I. Translated by William Weaver. Little, Brown and Company, 1978).

Pope John Paul I said some very profound things in his 'letters' to various people.  Over the next weeks I will give some examples.  For now I will tell a story John Paul I wrote in a ‘letter’ to St. Therese de Lesieux.  The story is about how “public and social charity can also be ordinary (page 151).”

“There is a story about an Irishman who, having died suddenly, approached the divine tribunal and was considerably worried:  the balance sheet of his life looked fairly poor to him.  There was a line waiting in front of him, so he watched and listened.  After having consulted the great ledger, Christ said to the first in line:  “I see that I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat.  Good for you!  Step into Paradise!  To the second:  “I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.”  To the third:  “I was in prison and you visited me.”  And so on.  As each one was sent to Paradise, the Irishman made an examination of his conscience and found cause to fear:  he had never given anything to eat or to drink, he had never visited the sick or the imprisoned.  His turn came, and he was trembling as he look at Christ examining the ledger.  But now Christ raises His eyes and said to him:  There’s not much written here.  However, you also did something:  I was sad, dejected, humiliated:  you came, you told me some jokes, made me laugh, and restored my courage.  Paradise!”

Pope John Paul I goes on to say, “This is a joke, I agree, but it underlines the fact that no form or charity should be neglected or underestimated (page 152).”

Fr. Leo

18 May 2020

 

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THE ‘MARY’ MONTH OF MAY

(From the) Litany of Loreto

Holy Mary

Holy Mother of God

Mirror of Justice

Throne of Wisdom

Tower of Ivory

Ark of the Covenant

Gate of Heaven

Morning star

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Regina Caeli  (Queen of Heaven)

Twelfth century hymn

Queen of heaven, rejoice, alleluia.

For Christ, your Son and Son of God,

has risen as he said, alleluia.

Pray to God for us, alleluia.

Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.

For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.

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Third Century Prayer

We turn to you for protection,

holy Mother of God.

Listen to our prayers

and help us in our needs.

Save us from every danger,

glorious and blessed Virgin.

 

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THE HAPPY LIFE

In 2009, while on sabbatical at the University of Berkeley, I audited a class entitled, “The Happy Life.”  The class covered what different philosophers said about a happy life.

One philosopher in particular caught my eye.  Boethius of Dacia said, “And because the highest possible good for man is happiness, it follows that human happiness consists of knowing the true, doing the good and taking delight in both.”  Every once in a while I remember the underlined part and try to apply it in my life—COVID-19 or no COVID-19.

Fr. Leo

13 May 2020

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OPERA!

Opera!  What images came into your mind as you read the word ‘opera’? I must admit that sometimes I think of the Bugs Bunny cartoons set to classical music with alternate words.  There are some of us who know all or some of the lyrics of the 'Rabbit of Seville' or 'What’s Opera Doc?' There is the aria with Bugs as Leopold conducting an opera singer and an orchestra.  If you are not familiar with these ‘operas’ they are available on YouTube.

Anyway, I digress from my point of this blog entry.  While listening to some of my CDs, I came across one by a group called Pink Martini.  A song from the opera La forza del destino is on the CD.  The music is by Giuseppe Verdi and the lyrics are by Francesco Maria Piave.  The song is La Vierge Degli Angeli.   The version by Pink Martini is available on YouTube as are many other versions.

So why this song you might be wondering?  With May being a month when many people honour Mary in a special way, the words of the following translation of the song might bring hope and comfort in this very challenging time of our lives.

May the virgin of the angels

Surround me with her mantle 

And may the holy angel of God

Watch over and protect me

 

May the virgin of the angels

Protect me, protect me

The angel of God

Protect me

The Angel of God

Protect me

And protect me.

 

While the song uses the word ‘me’, it could also say ‘us’.  ‘Watch over and protect us . . .’

 

Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.

 

30 April 2020

 

 

 

 

 

THE COW IN THE PARKING LOT

As many of you have heard, I have a great many books.  As I unpacked them I found books I forgot I had.  One of the books is, The Cow in the Parking Lot:  A Zen Approach to Overcoming Anger (Workman Publishing Company, 2010).  The authors are Leonard Scheff and Susan Edmiston.  The book comes at anger and life from a Buddhist perspective however, many of the ideas about anger can be used by any person.

So why is the book named after a cow in a parking lot?  Here’s why.

            You are at the grand opening of a new shopping mall on the edge of the town.  You’ve been driving around looking for a parking space for ten minutes.  At last, right in front of you a car pulls out of a spot.  You hit your turn signal and wait as the car backs out.  Suddenly, from the other direction, comes a Jeep that pulls into the space.  Not only that, but when you honk, the driver gets out, smirks, and gives you the finger.  Are you angry?

            Now change the scene ever so slightly.  Instead of a brash Jeep driver, a cow walks into the space from the other direction and settles down in the middle of it.  When you honk, she looks up and moos but doesn’t budge.  Are you angry?

 

With everyone living in such close quarters these days, this book might be helpful.  Even if a person decides not to buy the book, this contemporary Zen parable helps us look at anger from a different perspective.  Yes, there is righteous anger, however most anger is not.  So the next time someone turns into a parking space we might want, we might think of the cow in the parking lot.  The cow in the parking lot might help us while driving on the Anthony Henday, while waiting for the bathroom, while dealing with people who refuse to social distance and other similar realities of this ‘COVIDIAN’ life.

Fr. Leo

 

HAPPINESS

With so many families spending so much, much more time together in their homes than they usually do, I am reminded of this story by Anthony De Mello, SJ.

The story has the title ‘Happiness’.*

 

“I am in desperate need of help—or I’ll go crazy.  We’re living in a single room—my wife, my children and my in-laws.  So our nerves are on edge, we yell and scream at one another.  The room is a hell.”

 

“Do you promise to do whatever I tell you?” said the Master gravely.

 

“I swear I shall do anything.”

 

“Very well.  How many animals do you have?”

 

“A cow, a goat and six chickens.”

 

“Take them all into the room with you.  Then come back after a week.”

 

The man was appalled.  But he had promised to obey!  So he took the animals in.  A week later he came back, a pitiable figure, moaning.  “I’m a nervous wreck.  The dirt!  The stench!  The noise!  We’re all on the verge of madness!”

 

Go back,” said the Master, “and put the animals out.”

 

The man ran all the way home.  And came back the following day, his eyes sparkling with joy.  “How sweet life is!  The animals are out.  The home is a Paradise—so quiet and clean and roomy.”

 

*From Anthony de Mello’s book One Minute Wisdom published by Double Day in 1985. 

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GOOD FRIDAY

Solemn Intercessions

During the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord on Good Friday, we pray the Solemn Intercessions.  For this year (2020) a new Intercession is added.  The intercession is as follows:

 

For the afflicted in time of pandemic

Let us pray also for all those who suffer the consequences of the current pandemic, that God the Father may grant health to the sick, strength to those who care for them, comfort to families and salvation to all the victims who have died.

Pray in silence.  Then the Priest says:

Almighty ever-living God,

only support of our human weakness,

look with compassion upon the sorrowful compassion of your children

who suffer because of this pandemic;

relieve the pain of the sick,

give strength to those who care for them,

welcome into your peace those who have died

and, throughout this time of tribulation,

grant that we may all find comfort in your merciful love.

Through Christ our Lord.

 

R/  Amen.

While designed for the Good Friday Liturgy, I think the intercession and prayer could be adapted for use by an individual or family members who are in self-isolation, self-quarantine or are living some other restricted life.

Fr. Leo Hofmann

3 April 2020

 

 

 

 

 

I AM GLAD!

I am glad!  Why am I glad?  I am glad because I have been able to read some special pages.  So what are these special pages?  I am reading the homework completed by the young people preparing for First Communion and Confirmation.  I can tell that the young people pay close attention to the Church building and to Mass.  They saw things I never noticed or never thought about.  I am impressed that so many thought about the meaning of the homily.  I like the drawings made by the candidates. I am glad that so many people want to learn about the Sacraments.  I am glad that so many want to celebrate the Sacraments. 

I am glad because of the reasons listed above.  I will be gladder when the special times come.  What special times?  I will be gladder when the time comes to celebrate First Communion.  I will be gladder when the time comes to celebrate Confirmation.  I will be gladder when we will be able to gather together for the Sunday Mass.

Fr. Leo Hofmann

1 April 2020

SOME THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

Don’t drink the Holy Water.  Holy water may be blessed, however it is not suitable for drinking.  It is not sterile water.

If you are able to do so, use the hand sanitizer stations near the front doors and the north doors of the Church.  While washing one’s hands with soap and water is always best it is not always practical.  When going to hospitals or care facilities use the hand sanitizer the institutions provide. 

If you are sick, do not come to Church.  It is not a sin to miss Mass if you are ill.

If you are sick or are not feeling well, do not visit people in hospitals and care facilities. People who are ill often have compromised immune systems.  Sometimes visitors are required to wear mask, gowns and/or gloves.  Please follow the instruction of the health care providers.

As to the reception of Holy Communion, the (General Instruction of the Roman Missal) directs that the proper posture is standing, although it does make allowance for those who wish to receive kneeling to do so. While standing before the minister of Communion, the recipient first makes a bow of the head before reception to reverence the Blessed Sacrament. Reception of the Host may be either in the hand or on the tongue. When receiving on the hand, one hand is to be placed over the other, so that the Host may be placed by the minister in the hand. It is inappropriate for the recipient to take the sacred Host from the minister. The Host is to be consumed immediately upon receiving it. When receiving on the tongue, the recipient's hands are to be reverently joined.  (This paragraph is from Archbishop’s Smith’s 2011 letter.)

Persons receiving in the hand and who have physical difficulties (e.g. Arthritis, stroke, serious hand injury, etc.) may receive the Host in a variation of the above instructions as long as they receive in a respectful manner.

Fr. Leo Hofmann

18 February 2020

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SO YOU WANT TO BE MARRIED IN ANOTHER COUNTRY?

Are you a Catholic who lives in the boundaries of Good Shepherd Parish and wants to be married in a Catholic Church in another country?   As with marriages at Good Shepherd Parish there are two aspects of marriage.  There are the Civil and Church aspects.  The Civil laws of the country in which the marriage takes place must be followed.  The Church laws in the Archdiocese of Edmonton and the (Arch) Diocese in which the marriage takes place must also be followed. 

Sometimes people wishing to marry in a Catholic Church in another country tell me that they need something like a “permission for freedom to marry.”  They need more than a permission.  The couple is to meet with me on several occasions.  Forms will be completed.  A new Baptismal Certificate for the Catholic person(s) is required.  A marriage preparation course is required.  If one person lives here and the other lives in the country where the marriage is to take place, some paperwork will be competed here and some in the parish in the other country. The Archdiocese of Edmonton asks for a one year minimum of notice as the process takes time.  If your wedding is less than one year away, call me and we will try to assist you.  The above information does not cover all circumstances.  Please call me as soon as possible.

Fr. Leo Hofmann, Pastor

4 February 2020

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SACRAMENT OF THE ANOINTING OF THE SICK

 

The sacrament of anointing is the proper sacrament for those whose health is seriously impaired by sickness or old age.  Through this sacrament the Church supports the sick in their struggle against illness and continues Christ’s work of healing.  This sacrament should not be delayed until the last minutes of a sick person’s life.  A return to physical health may follow the reception of this sacrament if it will be beneficial to the sick person’s salvation.

 

Who may be anointed?   

            +Those whose health is seriously impaired by sickness or old age.

            +A sick person who recovers after being anointed and then falls ill or if

                       during the same illness the person’s condition becomes more serious.

+A sick person may be anointed before surgery whenever a serious illness

            is the reason for the surgery.

+Elderly people may be anointed if they have become notably weakened

            even though no serious illness is present.

              +Sick children may be anointed if they have sufficient use of reason to be strengthened by this sacrament.

+Sick people who, although they have lost consciousness or the use

                        of reason, would, as Christian believers, probably have asked for it if they

         were in control of their faculties.

+Those who have died are not anointed.  The prayers of the dead are prayed.

 

Not all Catholic hospitals have priests on staff.  Priests are on call to cover the hospitals without a resident priest.  The Misericordia Hospital does not have a resident priest.  If you are going to the hospital for scheduled serious surgery you may be anointed before you go to the hospital.   Call the parish office and ask to speak to Fr. Leo.

 

Each year the World Day of the Sick is celebrated on February 11.  The Anointing of the Sick will be celebrated at Good Shepherd Parish during the 9:00 AM on Tuesday, February 11.  The Anointing of the Sick will take place at Glastonbury Mews, Chartwell-Hawthorne and Touchmark during their regularly scheduled Masses in February 2020.   

 

Fr. Leo Hofmann

1 January 2020

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

 

WHAT KIND OF MASS?

Is it a full Mass?

Is it a short Mass?

Is it a reconciliation Mass?

 

Is it a Mass with Communion?

 

Sometimes I am asked these questions.  I am not quite sure how to answer the person.  If I have the time I like to try to find out exactly what the questioner wants to know.

Asking if a Liturgy is a ‘full Mass”, a “short Mass”, or a “reconciliation Mass” may be the result of a person not having the vocabulary to ask the question in another way. 

 

Mass is a word used to describe the Eucharistic Liturgy.  In addition to readings from Scripture, there is a Eucharistic Prayer in which God is thanked.  The bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ.  Communion—the Body and Blood of Christ—is distributed.  This is a very basic definition of Mass.  (There is more to Mass than what I have described.)

 

Sometimes Liturgies are celebrated which are not Mass.  There are readings from scripture.  There are other prayers such as the Lord’s Prayer.  Communion is not distributed*.  This type of Liturgy is a ‘Liturgy of the Word.’

 

There is no such thing as a ‘full’ Mass, a ‘short’ Mass or a ‘reconciliation’ Mass.  At Mass, Communion is distributed.  The number of readings varies depending on the Feast being celebrated.  Every Mass has some element of reconciliation. 

 

*The liturgy of Good Friday is not a Mass, however Communion is distributed.  This Communion was consecrated at the Holy Thursday Mass.

 

Fr. Leo Hofmann, Pastor

Gaudete Sunday

15 December 2019

 

BLESSED SACRAMENT CHAPEL

The Blessed Sacrament Chapel, which is near the front entrances of Good Shepherd Church, houses the Tabernacle.  The Tabernacle is in a Catholic Church for three reasons: 

            1). Communion for the dying,

            2). Communion for those who are sick and are unable to attend Sunday Mass, and

            3). Private prayer and adoration of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

During Mass the focus is on the Altar, the Ambo, or the Presider’s Chair.  At times during Baptism the focus is on the Baptismal Font.

The Blessed Sacrament Chapel is open for silent private prayer and adoration before and after Mass.

The Chapel is not an overflow seating area nor is it an area for visiting.  The Chapel is not for child care nor is it a play area. 

Thank you for making the Blessed Sacrament Chapel a place of peace and silent prayer.

Fr. Leo Hofmann

26 November 2019

 

 

WHEN TO BEGIN

So when is the Communion chant/hymn/song to begin?  No matter what we call the sung music during Communion it begins ‘while the priest is receiving the Sacrament (GIRM #86).’  The Roman Missal is more specific.  “While the priest is receiving the Body of Christ, the Communion chant begins (RM #136).” 

So why does the ‘Chant’ begin when the priest is receiving the Consecrated Bread and Wine?

The singing during Communion is not simply background music. 

The purpose of the Communion chant is “to express the spiritual union of the communicants by the means of their unity of voices, to show gladness of heart, and to bring out more clearly the ‘communitarian’ character of the procession to receive the Eucharist.  The singing is prolonged for a long as the sacrament is being administered to the faithful

(GIRM # 86).”

What about the music ministers?  When do they receive Communion?  Archbishop Richard Smith’s 2011 document on Specific Directives for the Archdiocese of Edmonton states, “music ministers will receive Holy Communion after all others have received (Number 86).”

 

Note:  GIRM is an acronym for The General Instruction on the Roman Missal.

             RM is an acronym for The Roman Missal.

Fr. Leo Hofmann

7 November 2019

 

 

 

MINIMUM:  ONE.  MAXIMUM TWO.

When a person is baptized in the Roman Catholic Church, there is be a minimum of one Godparent and a maximum of two Godparents.  Church law, also known as Canon Law, uses the word 'sponsor'.

Whether there is one sponsor or two sponsors, a sponsor is to have the qualities outlined in the October 24, 2019 Blog entitled, "GODPARENTS".

If there is one sponsor, the sponsor may be male or female.  If there are two sponsors, one must be male and one must be female (Canon Law #783).

Fr. Leo Hofmann, Pastor

October 31, 2019

 

 

GODPARENTS

If I had a child I would want the very best for my child.  Some things might be limited because of finances, illness or other conditions.  Such is life.

There is one thing that is non-negotiable.  Faith would be non-negotiable.  I would want my child to be the best Catholic.  It is true that my child will make decisions about the practice of the Catholic faith when reaching the age of adulthood.  To help my child make the best decisions possible I would want to give my child the best foundation possible.

One aspect of the foundation is the godparents.  I would want the best possible godparents for my child.  The godparents would need to be good examples of what it means to be Catholic. 

I would ask only those who are fully initiated members of the Catholic Church.  This means they have been baptized and have received Eucharist and Confirmation in the Catholic Church.

They would attend Mass on Sundays and on Christmas and New Year’s.

If married, the godparents would be married in the Catholic Church.  If single, a godparent would not be in a common-law or “living together” situation. 

Because being a godparent is an adult commitment, the godparents would be sixteen years of age or older.  While not required, I would want the godparents to show their own baptismal commitment by sharing their time, talent and treasure with a Catholic parish community.

So why are there many necessary qualities to be godparents?  If a child is to grow up to be the best possible Roman Catholic, the child must have examples of practicing Catholics.  While there are many good persons only Catholics can model and pass on the Catholic religion.

Fr. Leo Hofmann

24 October 2019

 


Each time we participate in the Mass, we pray for change.

In the Eucharistic Prayer, we pray that the bread and wine change into the Body and Blood of Christ. Eucharistic Prayer II, for example, says, 

“Make holy, therefore, these gifts we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall, so that they may become for us the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

We ask God to send the Holy Spirit upon the bread and wine. A word that describes this invocation of the Holy Spirit is "Epiclesis." 

We believe that in the Eucharistic Prayer the bread and wine are changed. In the Eucharistic Prayer, we also pray for another change. We pray that we change. This takes place in the memorial-offering (Anamnesis and Oblation).

We ask the Holy Spirit to come on all those who share in Communion. We ask the Holy Spirit to bring us into unity. This is a second Epiclesis.

Eucharistic Prayer II states this in the following way: 

“Humbly we pray that, partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, we may be gathered into one by the Holy Spirit.”

 Change the bread and wine! Change us too!

 - Fr. Leo Hofman, October 21, 2019