The View from a Pew
Yesterday morning, my wife and I went to Sunday mass as we usually do. I say usually, in the context that it is something we very much enjoy, but due to a lot of illness over the last 5 1/2 years, we have been unable often to attend. In actual fact, we were only healthy enough to attend regularly and joined St. George's Parish in London, Ontario this past Fall, about the time Jim Corcoran and his partner went to St. Michael's in Cobourg. And that shows you where my mind is at as I attend mass each of the last few weeks.
I find it hard to concentrate at Mass lately, though the music and liturgy are very beautiful, the homilies are thoughtful, and the sacrament is after all the sacrament.
You see, I have been preoccupied with the trials, both literal and figurative of my friend Stephen Boissoin, and of Bishop De Angelis and the parishioners of St. Michael's, Cobourg. But, yesterday, I tried to put it all into context.
My wife and I arrived just before mass started and so we sat at the very back of the church on the side. The Church has a lovely semi circular layout, sloping down to the altar, making the altar visible from everywhere.
As I looked over to the choir area, I saw the piano player, who is a 24 year old young woman, whose father I hired when he emigrated from Sri Lanka before she was born. I remember holding her in my arms when she was a little girl. In front of us was Dr. John Snyder and his lovely wife. Dr. Snyder has taught at King's College at Western University for over 40 years, though he officially retired years ago. He taught me and my not then wife, Theology of Marriage back in the late 60's, and then this past year taught the same course to my 20 year old daughter. I was a very slow learner, through no fault of the good doctor.
There are several Sri Lankans in our parish, as the Associate Pastor Fr. Francis Jeyaseelan is Sri Lankan, and a kind and gentle man. Near us a little 2 year old Sri Lankan girl in a pretty blue dress spotted another little girl along the way, and gradually left her family and worked her way across the back to her new best friend. The innocence of little children. At the end of the mass, the parents of both children spoke together for the first time.
Across the way, a woman training a guide dog to be given to a blind person soon was there with her trainee. There were 500 stories in that Church yesterday at just that one mass.
It was the 17th Sunday in Ordinary time, or as I prefer to call it, Loaves and Fishes Sunday. So, I symbolically laid my concerns for Stephen, and for Bishop De Angelis and the people of St. Michael's, Cobourg on our altar, and entered into the worship of the moment as best I could.
The readings available here, are not just about the multiplication of food that Jesus did, but also what happened when Elisha the prophet multiples the 20 barley loaves to feed 100 people by his faith in God.
The Psalm reading from Psalm 145 had as a response: "The hand of the Lord feeds us: He answers all our needs."
And in case it was not clear to me, there was the reading from Ephesians Chapter 4 with these words: "I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love,
striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace."
Our Pastor, Fr. John Pirt spoke about a homily that Pope John Paul II had given about the gospel reading of the loaves and fishes. The Pope had spoken of the boy coming forward with his 5 barley loaves and 2 fish in humility as his gift. He said that when you present your gifts to God for Him to use in a spirit of humility, and allow him to mould their use, then the results will far exceed your expectations, as they did in this case.
Later, I thought of what this meant in the situations that I have been praying particularly about here.
I thought of Stephen Boissoin, and of his humility and prayerfullness, of how he has been through serious trials these last several years, and yet has continued to stand without losing his faith, or his resolve to stand until the end. he has the services of a very competent lawyer, and I pray that all will go well at the Alberta Court of Queens Bench this September.
I thought of the humble request that Bishop De Angelis made of Jim Corcoran, and of his prayerfullness. I thought too of how difficult it must have been for him to sign the order of excommunication for Fr. Ed Cachia, of his patience with him in offering him time to recant, even though Ed Cachia had done it all to himself.
Then I thought of Jim Corcoran, Fr. Alan Hood and Ed Cachia, and of their fears and sorrows. How many people will be hurt along this pathway? How many people's fragile faith will be harmed by what is happening here?
I feel a great sadness that the innocence and wonder that exists in St. George's, London is currently missing for the people at St. Michael's, Cobourg, due to this unnecessary, hurtful activity going on there. But then, maybe this is the gift that all of these people have to give to the Lord. God wants us to give what we have, including our hurt, our anger, our loneliness, our pride, our sadness, guilt, and fears.