Lenten Reflections: Coming home ..

Today’s blog post is from a regular contributor, our very own Joseph D’Silva!

holy weekLast year, when I was tasked with the opening of Lenten reflection series, I ended up writing that Lent is a season of love (http://www.mcgillcatholics.ca/2014/03/07/lent-a-season-to-love/) , and some of you quite literally took it to heart and the whole thing was close to scandalous …

So this year, I am entrusted with writing about the Holy week, the last week of Lent.

Today I caught up on reading (and some re-reading) all of the lenten reflections from this year, written by our beloved friends. They had done such a wonderful task of delivering the message, that I found myself at a loss for words.

I also wanted to ensure that I come up with a title that won’t cause confusion like last year.

But alas, most of you won’t be going home for the Holy week or for that matter even Easter, neither would I. There’s the semester coming to its end,  with a busy workload of assignments, projects, finals and what not.

So what’s up with the title anyways ? Well its a bit of nostalgic memoir for me.

After I had got my bachelors in engineering and moved a quarter of the country away for work, I noticed that me and my Christian friends quite religiously (no pun intended) went home –  come Christmas or Holy week. It meant a lot for us to be with our family at home during that time. I didn’t pay much attention to it at that time, I was just going with the flow.

Today I am reflecting on that original notion of going home which I took for granted.

What is home ? how is it different from the brick, mortar & wood work that constitute a house ?

Years ago, the priest who came to bless my parents house, reflected on the idea of home vs house. He described home as a place where we are loved, cherished and found comfort. It was more than the physical object. He exhorted on the importance of love.

And some (famous) people most famously said about the idea of home.

Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.

— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

 

Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do… but how much love we put in that action.

–Mother Teresa

Before anyone start scratching their head (or pull hairs) as to what this has to do with Lent or Holy week, let me get to the point.

We ARE the children of God, a God that has been desperately trying to get his disobedient, disgruntled, ungrateful kids back home, where they belong.

One of the defining ways in which the Christian notion of God contrasts with the gods portrayed in the other religions is, where as these religions describe man’s quest to find God, here we have a God that is doggedly following man, stalking and persuading shamelessly for us to return to him.

The scripture is strewn with many examples of this God’s desire to bring man back to his fold. For example, the parable of the prodigal son [ Luke 15:11-32 ] or that of the Lost sheep [ Luke 15:1-7 ]

Sending his beloved son to die on the cross in the most shameful and painful way was the ultimate act of that desire to bring us back home.

In the beginning of the last supper, we see Jesus himself playing the role of the host as an act of welcoming us home, when he was washing the feets of his disciples. The Israelites during the time of Jesus, like most others walked around in sandals outside and went barefoot inside the house. This constituted washing the feet necessary as one came into a home. So it was the first duty of host to give water to the guests to wash their feet.

The past five weeks, we have been on a spiritual journey of Lent.  As we prepare to finish this season of Lent  by reflecting on the passion of Jesus and move on to the joy of Easter, lets us not forget the mission of our Life’s journey.

So Let’s go home this Holy week in our hearts, to the home that Jesus has prepared for us. We have been prodigal sons and daughters, we have wandered far away from the flock and been lost because of our sins, so let’s go home home, back to our loving father and ask for forgiveness. For Jesus died for our sins to bring us back to the fold.

One of my favorite hymns of the season is “Lord, I’m coming home” by William J Kirkpatrick

I’ve wandered far away from God,

Now I’m coming home;

The paths of sin too long I’ve trod,

Lord, I’m coming home.

 

Refrain:

Coming home, coming home,

Nevermore to roam;

Open wide Thine arms of love,

Lord, I’m coming home.

 

I’ve wasted many precious years,

Now I’m coming home;

I now repent with bitter tears,

Lord, I’m coming home.

 

I’m tired of sin and straying, Lord,

Now I’m coming home;

I’ll trust Thy love, believe Thy word,

Lord, I’m coming home.

 

My soul is sick, my heart is sore,

Now I’m coming home;

My strength renew, my home restore,

Lord, I’m coming home.

 

My only hope, my only plea,

Now I’m coming home;

That Jesus died, and died for me,

Lord, I’m coming home.

 

I need His cleansing blood I know,

Now I’m coming home;

Oh, wash me whiter than the snow,

Lord, I’m coming home.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orN88xw119I

Announcing the 2015-2016 NCSS Executive

Announcing the results of the NCSS executive election:

  • President: Angie Empleo
  • VP-Finance: Tim Vuksic
  • VP-Communications: Michael Kourlas
  • VP-Outreach: Ajoy Paul
  • VP-Spiritual: Katerina Leung
  • VP-Social Activities: Charlotte Vester
  • VP-Social Justice: Aaron Machado
  • VP-Saturday Night Suppers: Josephina Lee

Congratulations!

Holy Week 2015

Passion Sunday Mass (Palm Sunday)
Sunday, March 29 at 5:00 pm at the Newman Centre

Easter Triduum
Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Thursday, April 2 at 7:00 pm
Good Friday Liturgy, Friday, April 3, 3:00 pm
Easter Vigil, Saturday, April 4, 8:00 pm

Sacrament of Reconciliation
Our chaplain and visiting priests will be available for Confession at the following times:Tuesday, March 24 to Friday, March 27 4:30-5:30
Tuesday, March 31 and Wednesday, April 1 4:30-5:30
Or by appointment.
The Blessed Sacrament will be exposed for adoration during these times.

For up-to-date mass information, seee: http://newmancentre.org/spirituallife.holymass.shtml

easter

Saint of the Day: St. Dominic Savio

10991207_10155303725765352_1586112564194825571_nToday is March 9, which is the first day back at McGill after reading week but also the feast day of Saint Domenic Savio. Saint Domenic Savio is important to me because he was a student of Saint John Bosco. (Saint John Bosco believed in the preventative system: showing reason, religion, and love to the young and poor. I grew up in a Salesian community here in Montreal where Saint Bosco and Saint Savio are some of our patron saints. Saint Domenic Savio is the patron saint of “juvenile delinquents, falsely accused people, those looking for a deeper devotion to Mary, and choir members”.) Goal of the day: Saint Domenic Savio said, “I am not capable of doing big things, but I want to do everything, even the smallest things, for the greater glory of God”. In this season of lent, try to do something nice today, whether some form of prayer, fasting or almsgiving (even the smallest thing) in God’s name.

Today’s saint of the day was written by Cynthia Psaradellis!

Newman (Yule) Ball

IT’S THE NIGHT THAT YOU’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR.

On the evening of March 21st, the NCSS will host our annual Newman Ball, and this year, the theme is YULE BALL!

Prepare for a night of ballroom dancing, yuletide décor, incredible live music, delicious hors d’oeuvres, and of course, Harry Potter-themed everything!

Tickets are $20 each (and $15 for volunteers!).

So suit up, brush off your FORMAL attire, invite your friends, and come and enjoy our biggest event of the year!!

 

Lenten Reflections: Soap Is To The Baby What Tears Are To The Soul

cross-lent-purple-drape-5I was supposed to go to Quebec City this weekend with some friends. They went; I stayed home. I had been having trouble sleeping, and Friday when it was time to go I realized I had forgotten to pack, and proceeded to break down in tears. I thought I could will myself through anything but when the prospect of packing a few clothes seemed too daunting, I knew something had to change.

That night I slept fairly well. Maybe it was acknowledging I am as human as the next person and require sleep in order to function. I am sure if Dante wrote his Divine Comedy now, graduate school would constitute its own level of hell. With separate sub-strata within the Greater Grad School Level of Hell distinguishing between masters and doctoral stress. But I digress…

There was a difference between knowing I was exhausted, and finally realizing something had to change. That outward bodily experience of acceptance and tears is similar to what happens during repentance. “Repentance” is derived from the Greek penthos, which means mourning. For me, the experience of truly mourning my sins is not merely an intellectual one – it takes place in my heart and is expressed in my body through tears. I know this is not something that only I experience, because “spiritual tradition teaches that whenever we experience repentance in our lives, especially as it directly relates with our relationship to God, it is often accompanied by an outpouring of tears.”(1) Rarely do I go to Mass and not notice someone surreptitiously wiping tears from their eyes.

Mourning our sins is not an end in itself but rather a means to an end: growing closer to God. Staying stuck in feeling bad about our sins is not the point; the point is to move on. But as we grow in self-knowledge, God allows us to see other areas of our lives that stand in the way. Again we repent and again we turn to Him, participating in a “transformative process, one that renews and re-establishes us in our loving God and others.”(2) Self-knowledge and repentance go together, and I picture this process as an upward spiral.

It hurts to acknowledge our sins and human limitations and crying indicates we are actually accepting them, as opposed to being in denial. In one of my favourite books, a psychiatrist who survived Auschwitz wrote that “tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.”(3) It takes courage to accept our human limitations, no matter what they are.

Tears of repentance wash away our sins and are God’s gift to us as consolation.(4) That is why we feel better after a good cry. Perhaps I was able to sleep that night because I no longer had a façade to keep up. Not just to my friends but more importantly, to myself. God touched my heart and my tears washed away my pride.

Maybe we should start a “Humans Anonymous” support group. “Hi, my name is Laura and I’m a human.” “Step One: we admitted we were powerless over our humanity.” Oh wait. We have that already… church. In that case, let me raise my glass to a holy Lent for all of us. May we see and acknowledge ourselves as we really are – the good, the bad and the ugly. May we get ourselves out of God’s way! Happy Lent!

Footnotes: 

1 Kyriaki Karidoyanes FitzGerald, ed., Encountering Women of Faith, 2nd ed. (Brookline, Massachusetts: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2009), 102.

2 Ibid., 101.

3 Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, 5th ed. (Boston: Beacon Press, , pages 78

4 Kyriaki Karidoyanes FitxGerald, ed., Encountering Women of Faith, 2nd ed. (Brookline, Massachusetts: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2009), 103.

Catholic Students Week 2015

Members of the Newman community enjoying one of the Society's Saturday night suppers (photo courtesy of Holly Garnett)

Catholic Students’ Week 2015 will include a line-up of exciting events and opportunities to engage with your faith on campus!

Listing of events:

 MONDAY (February 2nd)

Rosary Walk

Meet at the Newman Centre • 2:00pm

Meet at the Newman Centre and then join us on a walk around campus as we pray the rosary. A great way to kick off the week with prayer!

 TUESDAY (February 3rd)

Movie Night

Newman Centre Main Hall• 7:30pm

Join us for a free screening of the movie “The Rookie”: an incredible true story about a coach who discovers that it’s never too late for dreams to come true. Enjoy free popcorn and refreshments.

 WEDNESDAY (February 4th)

Soup and Bagels Fundraiser

Newman Centre Main Hall• 12:30-2:00pm

Come for your favourite soup and bagel lunch for $3.50. All proceeds from today’s lunch will support Saxum, a retreat centre in the Holy Land. Special guests and Newmanites will share their experiences.

 THURSDAY (February 5th)

Women’s Night & Men’s Night

Coach House & Newman Centre • 6:00pm

Join us in celebrating the Year for Consecrated Life with Women’s and Men’s Nights, featuring special guests! Women will be at the coach house, men in the Newman Centre.

 FRIDAY (February 6th)

Fireside Chat: Gender and Sexuality

Newman Centre Main Hall • 8:00pm

Have questions on the church’s teachings on gender and sexuality? Join us for a cup of tea and a fireside chat with Drs. Richard Bernier and Daniel Cere.

 SATURDAY (February 7th)

Night Fever

Notre-Dame-de-la-Salette (3535 Parc)• 7:00-9:00pm

Night Fever is a semesterly event that welcomes passers-by into the church to light a candle, speak with a priest or go to confession, and pray for their intentions. Need dinner before Night Fever? Join us for an early Saturday Night Supper at 5:00pm at the Newman Centre.

 SUNDAY (February 8th)

Closing Mass and Reception

Newman Centre • 5:00pm

Celebrate the end of Catholic Students’ Week by joining us for Sunday mass, followed by a special reception.

 

Winter Coffeehouse!

If you were at our Fall Coffeehouse, you can relive the laughs, the awe, and the fun! If you weren’t able to make it, now you can! There’s more singing, more dancing, more sweets, and more all-around entertainment. SEE YOU THERE!

Mark Friday, February 20th at 7:30pm on your calendars!

We are looking for ACTS! If you are interested in performing or know someone who would like to perform, please contact angelique.empleo@mail.mcgill.ca. Thanks in advance! Spread the word!!