Saturday, August 29, 2009

hallelujah

i remember at the seminary, so many moons ago, a few of us had a heated discussion on which version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah was the best. he wrote this simple and powerful song, but others cover it very well - better them him, some might think. i always enjoyed his music, so i'm biased a bit. however, i do enjoy this version too. anywho.

the Ottawa priests are off on retreat this week, Monday 31 August - Thursday 3 September. we are off to pray, meditate and continue our own journeys of holiness. i'm going to go work on my own broken hallelujah.
"now i've heard there was a secret chord
that David played, and it pleased the Lord."
actually, i'm going in search of something specific. i'm in search of this secret chord! sometimes i doubt the work i do. the very work i am called to do and wonder if it does please You, O Lord. it's hard to know sometimes. but like all Christians i persevere and continue my journey forward and upward.

last week we celebrated St. Augustine and St. Monica, his mom! she prayed so hard for his conversion, and now we know him as Saint Augustine. she prayed, begged, everything so he may turn to the Lord. indeed, her spiritual director once said, "surely the son of so many tears will not perish." now both are in heaven praying for us! Amen. Alleluia! i'm glad they are praying for me, especially as i begin my retreat on Monday. this led me to ponder the saying, "behind every great man there is a woman." i'm not sure if this is true always, but i'm leaning on the positive. if that's true for the married man, what about the celibate priest? Blessed Virgin Mary. of course, Mary is praying for us, and for me too. Mary is part of every Christian's life. the question is not what one should do, but how one should do it. my relationship with her is also developping.

of course, one needs to surrounds themselves with family and friends too. thanks to Katheryn + Greg, Colette, Mireille, Julie, Daniel, Pierre, for the friendship in the past couple weeks, the many emails and calls of encouragement, and of course, the holy men and women at Annunciation that continue to impress me! they encourage me to be holy.
"i'll stand before the Lord of Song
with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah."
indeed, i thank the Lord for all of you, and please know you will all be in my prayers this week! one last thing before i sign off though. the great and beautiful Archdiocese of Ottawa is now offering monthly reflections on the priesthood. His Grace asked me to do the first one, so here it is, in English and French. i forwarded this on to my parents of course. they are my biggest supporters. and my sister, Elizabeth, makes me proud once again, as i am now an uncle for the second time. she gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Gabrièle! Hallelujah!!!

Friday, August 14, 2009

ob-la-di, ob-la-da


indeed, life does go on. sometimes i feel like i should post something everyday, since i have too much on my mind and in my heart today. there's not enough internet space to describe it all. no exaggerations. that's what i like too.

i've always loved chess. i remember my aunt teaching me way back when in the early '80s when i was a wee child. she taught me the basics - setting up of the board, the names of each piece, what everything did, etc. well, the etc. part is what takes a lifetime to learn. i've played on and off over the years, including a few heated months at the seminary. it helped me, and it also proved to be an obstacle.

i'm reading The Way of Perfection, by St. Teresa of Avila, in which she helps hers sisters live and move forward in the spiritual life. and, anytime i see analogies using chess, i love it! therefore, the reason for the emphasis on chess today is because of my friend Teresa. this paragraph is from a section where Teresa is introducing a new section on prayer and humility.
"I hope you do not think I have written too much about this already; for I have only been placing the board, as they say. [...] But you may be sure that anyone who cannot set out the pieces in a game of chess will never be ablt to play well, and, if he does not know how to give check, he will not be able to bring about a checkmate."
she continues on, and a warning to me,
"Now you will reprove me for talking about games, as we do not play them in this house and are forbidden to do so. That will show you what kind of mother God has given you - she even knows about vanities like this!"
ouch! not only do i know about this game, but i'm very terrible at it, and thus have practiced - somtimes much too long, to improve! anywho, she continues on, and i do enjoy the book very much. the line that struck me though was the first. it seems that for the past six years, at the seminary, i have been merely placing the board. i've studied this and that, this thought and the other, familiarized myself with multiple commentaries, etc. now what? just like in chess, i agonize over my opening move. i over analyze it. i try to see 20moves ahead, looking at all possible angles, details, etc. it's not healthy. the Lord, has given me the grace to know Him. and now, all i must do is follow. what if i move the wrong pawn or something? impossible! there are multiple opening moves in the game of chess. and the victory already belongs to Our Lord Jesus Christ, so why do i analzye each and everything i do to death?! [seems like i've reflected on this before - stop worrying already, and just play!] again, the etc. is what takes a lifetime to learn. there's no rush, so i'm taking my time trying to integrate this new reality of the priesthood.

now that i'm moved into my new parish assignment, people have begun to know me and vice versa. let us just let the board unfold as it will. God has called me to be faithful, not successful. i continue to trust in Him who has led me for all these years. if you are reading this, though, 1.d4, now it's your move.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

the first time ever i saw Your face


wow! here i am, in my new parish, Annunciation of the Lord! the transition has begun, and this past weekend was a great start! i introduced myself to everyone by quoting Dorothy, "there's no place like home, there's no place like home." don't tell anyone, but i still haven't seen the full movie. i have been ordained and helping out at the Cathedral this past summer, but there's something different now ... i can't quite explain it yet. but i think i like it.

anywho, i continued, as is my custom now, with: "i'm your new baby priest, the new kid on the block." this brought up an image in my head, which you now see! i was thinking it would be best for all if this was put in the window of the parish, just for safety precautions. i am new and i've asked all to be patient with me as i begin my new life as a priest, and more importantly, as the new associate pastor of Annunciation of the Lord parish. i'm honoured to be here with you all!!!

today we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Saint John Vianney - the patron saint of all priests. i had the opportunity to celebrate mass this morning and was particularly moved by the whole celebration with all of the parishioners. there's a great story of him beginning his ministry as well. after three years of ordination he was called to be pastor of Ars, a small village in France. he set out for this village and got lost. he lost his way. therefore, on the country road he asks a boy the way to Ars. the boy responds, "that way". thankful, St. John responds with, "you have showed me the way to Ars, i will show you the way to heaven." powerful! that's what i said to the taxi driver who took me to Annunciation. [not really]. this story has been preserved in a statue depicting this moment in history. as a new priest, and associate pastor, i'm asking St. John to pray for me, and all the new guys, in a special way.

this brings me back to the title. indeed, that which i cannot describe, as previously alluded to, can somehow be seen in our cry to see God! wanting to see Him face to face is what prayer is all about. when we take time from our busy schedule, taking time in silence, we get a glimpse of who God is, who we are, and what He has in mind for us. i experienced this in a very real way 6years ago when i left everything to follow Him who was calling me. the journey since then has been full of joys and sorrows. it has been anything but smooth sailing. however, after ordination to the priesthood i had forgotten all my past sufferings. and now, i am at peace, in my new home. i have met the face of God, for the second time, through the parishionners of Annunciation and their welcome of the new associate pastor. i'm not overexagerating. in fact, the joy of Jesus Christ, never comes out quite right in words. i feel i need to say more, but i cannot. i pray that all can share in my joy one day - the joy of Jesus Christ.

i now continue my journey with all at Annunciation. i played Ultimate frisbee with the youth last night, celebrated the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconcilation, trying to move into my new office, getting my voice message just right, unpacking my books, and as St. John used to do, trying to stay rooted in prayer through out it all. united in prayer. peace out.