Holy Week: In Our Midst – Mary, Mother of Jesus

– Br. Michael, ofm

And standing by the Cross of Jesus was his mother, and the sister of his mother, Mary, the wife of Clopas, and Mary, the Magdalene. John 19.25

With Mary the mother of Jesus we remember those who are unjustly condemned and made out to be a scapegoat. We remember those who are ladened down with burdens heavy from this pandemic or illnesses or relationships or from abuses or fears. We remember those who are alone and afraid. We remember those who are stripped of their dignity. We remember those who die each day because of who they are and what they believe. With Mary we make our way to the cross of her Son remembering all those whose cross has been very heavy this Lent. With Mary we must stand with them to be signs of hope.

With Mary the mother of Jesus we are called to return to the journey of this season with a pondering heart. Reflecting on where we have journeyed and what has changed or shifted in us. Where has new life sprouted up in us? What sorrows have called us to return to the heart of our God with a desire for clarity and healing? This Holy Week with Mary and her companions we return to the cross. We bring all we are – our hurts, our joys, our hopes, our yearnings, our blessings and our pains entrusting them again to her Son; knowing he will transform us.

With Mary the mother of Jesus we recall those who have journeyed with us, not only in this season but in all the seasons of life. We recall those who have supported us when we are weak, those who have encouraged us when our cross has felt life-crushing, those who have remained by us when all others have deserted us. We recall that in the journey we also may have cried “God, why have you forsaken me?” Mary too must have felt this way when Jesus cried those words. Her son, taken from her and from life unjustly, leaving her feeling forsaken. This Holy Week let us recall those times of feeling abandoned and entrust them to Jesus. These sacred days call us to move from the feeling of abandonment into the awareness of eternal life. We are a people who with Mary walk with hope, stand by the cross with courage and trust in a love stronger than the pain of the cross.

Blessings during this Holy Week.

Blessed Mary, Mother of Jesus

walk with us and pray for us.


Icon: “Holding onto Hope”

Mother Mary near the Cross

by C. Ziprick – Soul Sibling Studios ©



Lent V: In Our Midst – St. Joseph

– Br. Michael, ofm

Silence is a companion that we often forget about. It is regularly viewed in the negative as something awkward when there is nothing to say or there is a lull in action. However, silence is a companion which encourages us to go into our heart, to go to the depth of who we are. Silence invites us to listen not to the noise of life but rather to the voice of life. Silence can be a gift if we allow ourselves to enter into the sacred space it offers. What I have I learned over the past few years is that the gift of silence is where I hear the promptings for what I am being called to do in the next steps of the journey and where I hear truths which I often negate. Silence invites me into an awareness of God. Like the still small voice which Elijah encountered (1 Kings 19.11-13), when I am silent, I begin to hear differently. This then helps me to see differently and maybe even with a fullness. Silence can be a companion for the remaining days of this season of Lent if we allow it the space it needs. It is an invitation to be in the season and not simply do the actions of the season.

Lent provides the opportunity to allow silence to stir us to new realities and new life. A companion saint who knew the gift of silence is St. Joseph. There are no recorded words of his in scripture and it was in the silence of dreams where he encountered God and what God was calling him to do. When he slowed down enough to be, silence gifted him with the greatest task for which he was destined. We often leave Saint Joseph standing by the manger as the rest of life moves on. This is unfortunate. Let us invite Saint Joseph to be our companion this Lenten week, let us invite him to guide us as he guided Christ to listen with his heart and to be in tune with God. Silence invites us, like the icon before us, to be held to the heart of God.

Saint Joseph’s life says remember what God declared: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46.10) Where can you incorporate stillness and silence into this Lenten week?

St. Joseph invites us to return to the source of goodness and give praise for this goodness. “I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever” Psalm 89.1 states. The love of God is our inherent goodness which is continually offered to us. Over the journey of this Lent where have you experienced God’s goodness and steadfast love? Where have you shared it?

The life of St. Joseph recalls for us the invitation that with silence comes deep trust. “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid…” (Matthew 1.20). Joseph listened and trusted, abandoning his fears into God; trusting that God was equipping him for his role in the story of salvation. Do you trust God with how you are being called to your role in the story of life? Why or why not?

Blessings on the reaming days of the Lenten journey.

St. Joseph walk with us and pray for us.


Icon: “Held to the Heart of God”

St. Joseph with the Child Jesus

by C. Ziprick – Soul Sibling Studios ©



Outdoor Way of the Cross

Many people have come in pilgrimage over the years to pray the Way of the Cross during Holy Week, especially on Good Friday. We have produced a virtual Way of the Cross to use at any time during Lent and Holy Week. Please see the link below.

Individuals and small groups who wish to come to the Mount during the Triduum (Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday) are advised that, following guidelines from Alberta Health to restrict all indoor social gatherings, the building will not be open and therefore public washrooms will not be available. If you do come to pray outside, please dress appropriately, especially wearing proper footwear. The trails are icy and snow covered in places.

We wish you a prayerful and safe Holy Week.

We wish you a prayerful and safe Holy Week.

Lent IV: In Our Midst – St. Patrick

Br. Michael, ofm

The parish church I grew up in has a statue of St. Patrick. I was fascinated by this statue. A bishop standing with his staff looking right at you (his eyes seem to follow you), with a snake squirming at his feet. I was fascinated by his green garment, golden shoes and mitre (headgear for bishops). This statue portrayed St. Patrick as strong and heroic and yet approachable. It is because of this statue that I have had a life long fascination with St. Patrick, his feast day and Ireland (and whenever I’m home I do check in on the statue). St. Patrick is a good saint for our Lenten journey for he reminds us about bravery, trust and binding ourselves to Christ.

St. Patrick’s story is quite the adventure from a kidnapping, to slavery, from prayer, to ordination, from becoming bishop and returning to Ireland. There is so much to go into but I want to focus on the three qualities mentioned above that can encourage us in our Lenten days ahead. They seem to be the base of his prayer known as St. Patrick’s Breastplate. If you are familiar with the song “This Day God Gives Me” you are familiar with the premise of his beautiful prayer.

“I arise today through a mighty strength,” St. Patrick prays. He is saying remember it is the Triune God who is at work in you. It is God who is with you in the valleys low and mountains high. It takes a mighty strength to enter into each day as a witness of God’s love, bearing the presence of Christ and being a vessel of the Holy Spirit. This is the bravery required to face the chaos of the world, to arise knowing that the mighty strength is not our own but God with us. This is being brave enough to know that “once you were in darkness, “but now in the Lord you are light” (Ephesians 5.8).

St. Patrick knows all about what it is to return and with that to trust. He returned to Ireland, to the place where he had been held captive because he trusted God was calling him back. God was calling him to be a witness of the gospel and to light the fire of God’s love in the people. I believe he returned to truths that he knew were beyond the trappings of the world and even the church to deep truths of how God desires nothing more than to be our Anam Cara (Celtic for “soul friend”). St. Patrick placed his trust in God the Creator of all, in Jesus the Beloved and in the life-giving Spirit to guide him. He asks us to do the same on our Lenten journey and life journey. He asks to be trust that God is indeed our Anam Cara.

St. Patrick’s Prayer has some of the most beautiful lines of prayer ever penned. He prays, “Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me” and so on. St. Patrick asks us to recall that our Savior who was born, lived, died and rose from the dead is with us now. Christ dwells here and now and not just in some village in Judea thousands of years ago. The lines of this prayer have been assurance for countless people. I know for myself as I have navigated moments of fear and worry, I have asked Christ to be present. In moments of gratitude and rejoicing, I have acknowledged Christ present. This is binding myself to Christ. I fasten myself to Christ, because as Psalm 23 says, “the Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” I would also like to think that in the journey of life when I feel alone or uncertain or unaware that Christ binds himself to me. Not in the same way that I bind myself to him, rather in the fulfilment of his promise to be with us until the end of the ages (Matthew 28).

As we journey in this Fourth Week of Lent, let us ask St. Patrick to be our companion. A true companion, not just a fascinating statue like the one from my childhood, rather a guide who awakens us to the closeness of our Triune God. A companion who also awakens us to how creation shows forth the beauty of our God (the shamrock comes to mind). St. Patrick says to us be brave in your daily living, trust that God is with you and bind yourself to the One who is life eternal.

Blessings on the Lenten journey.

St. Patrick walk with us and pray for us.


Icon: St. Patrick

by C. Ziprick – Soul Sibling Studios ©

Lent III: In Our Midst – Saint Oscar Romero

Br. Michael, ofm

When I was a teenager, I attended several Youth Conferences or Rallies sponsored by the Archdiocese. Each one had a theme with speakers, sessions and activities based on that theme. As I recall one of the themes was Micah 6.8, “The Lord requires you to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.” We were awakened to harsh realities that youth from around the world were experiencing. We were also introduced to people that had or were doing something about it. In an odd activity for a youth conference, they had us gather in our small groups and watch a movie. This was not the norm for these types of events. I believe the movie we watched had just been released in the preceding year. I remember watching in awe the brutal reality of people being persecuted by their own government. I was in shock by the way the church was tormented and innocent people killed. Even as the movie ended and the main character was killed, there was not a sense of hopelessness rather one of promise, of a better way, of doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with God.

The movie we watched was called Romero. It is based on the life of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, El Salvador, who was martyred well celebrating Mass in March of 1980. The movie was made just some 9 years later. This powerful movie introduced me to a man who has challenged me to consider how I serve those in need, how I defend truth, what is justice and how do I sacrifice so others may have life. (If you have not seen the movie it is worth watching.)

I think of Saint Oscar Romero each Lent. He seems to be a good saint for the Lenten journey and sneaks in and says “how are you doing? do you hear the cry of the poor? will you risk a change of heart like I did? will you walk humbly with our God today?” These are all good questions for this season.  This season of wake-up calls and reality checks on my living. It’s also not only during Lent that he seems to whisper in my heart. At other times in the year, I can seem to hear his words trying to awaken me to the plight of so many people. At times I feel paralyzed with what I should do and say and yet I try to find simple ways to rise up with God’s people calling for justice. Even learning about the plight of others is a starting point.

Oscar Romero is a good companion for our Lenten journey, for he too had a conversion of heart as the bishop of San Salvador. His conversion caused him to rise up and be one with his people. As this Third Week of Lent unfolds and we mark the one-year point of Covid-19 pandemic, Oscar Romero stands next to us. He asks us to be present to those suffering. He asks us to do something for the good of all people. He asks us to turn to the Crucified One and know he is our strength. I am always grateful for that movie as part of the youth conference. Today I am grateful that the voice and wisdom of Saint Oscar Romero challenges me to look at my Lenten actions and also my living beyond this season.

Saint Oscar Romero says remember “Let us not tire of preaching love, it is the force that will overcome the world. Let us not tire of preaching love… love must win out; it is the only thing that can.” This is still the call for justice, kindness and walking humbly with our God in our time. Let us preach love in word and deed in the Lenten days ahead.

Lent is a time to return to our baptismal call of priest, prophet and king. Oscar Romero puts it this way: “You must be God’s microphone, each one of you must be a messenger, a prophet.” This is a clear message that we each have a role to play in building the kingdom of God, let us return to our true calling.

“The church will always exist as long as there is one baptized person. And that one baptized person who is left in the world is responsible before the world for holding aloft the banner of the Lord’s truth and his divine justice.” With this thought Oscar Romero asks us to recall the dignity and the challenge of our baptism. Lent is a time to be renewed but also a time to step up for justice.

As we journey in this Third Week of Lent, let us ask St. Oscar Romero to be our companion. Let us rise up and be a church of true justice, of loving kindness and humility to make known the generosity and mercy of our God.

Blessings on the Lenten journey.

St. Oscar Romero walk with us and pray for us.



Icon: St. Oscar Romero

by C. Ziprick – Soul Sibling Studios ©

Lent II: In Our Midst – St. Clare of Assisi

In the Catholic cycle of readings for Lent, the Transfiguration is always the gospel for the Second Sunday of Lent. Jesus is seen in brilliant glory with Moses and Elijah, Peter wants to build tents, God declares Jesus as his beloved, it’s all over quickly and then they head down the mountain into a new reality.

Lent is the climb down the mountain. We are on this journey going deeper and exploring what is transfiguring in us, what is changing and what we are being called to in new ways. We can not do this alone. It is good for us to have others to journey with, to encourage us and to help us see the light we carry and the ways we are transforming.

St. Francis of Assisi knew the value of the journey and the value of having companions for the journey. Not just the brothers that joined him forming a fraternity, but also the wisdom of a woman. Clare of Assisi was intrigued by Francis and his conviction to live the gospel. She gave up her riches to follow him (and ultimately Christ) and live the gospel in the way she could for her time and place. To some extent St. Clare was the confidant of St. Francis. He trusted her, he turned to her in times when decisions needed to be made, he saw in her a purity and depth that he continually strived to incorporate into his life.

St. Clare was the wisdom that helped Francis come down the mountains of his life. He would often go away to the caves in the mountains for days and months and at a time for prayer and contemplation. So much so that he thought that maybe this is what he should do with his life. He turned to a few brothers and Clare to seek their input. It was Clare who said not “either or” rather “both and”, yes spend time in quiet but also preach the good news, live the gospel with your life and help others to encounter Christ. In the time from Francis’ conversion to her joining the brothers that late Palm Sunday night in 1212, to their journeys unto heaven – they maybe spent together a total of twelve times and yet their mutual affection for each other spurred them on to the greatest of their life journey. They let their light shine and claimed that they are also the beloved of God. They encourage us to do the same this Lent.

St. Clare (her naming meaning “clear, bright”) is a companion for this Lenten journey. She helps us walk down the mountain and calls us to go deeper for she knows Christ is there and desires nothing more than for us to shine our light and be one with him. St. Clare is a woman of light and strength. She led her community of sisters into deeper communion with the Trinity (where genuine love and mutual affection is the norm) and she encourages us in our relationships this Lent.

St. Clare, in her second letter to Agnes of Prague says to her:  “O most noble Queen, gaze, consider, contemplate, as you desire to imitate your Spouse (Christ).” St. Clare offers us a way to prayer. She says remember to focus on Christ, consider the mystery of his love, contemplate this love and imitate him who is love in your words and deeds.

St. Clare asks us to return to our convictions to live the gospel by being attentive to our actions. She says of our relationship with Christ, “Love him totally who gave himself totally for your love.” How else do we do this but in our relationships with one another? Love must be our calling card, not just this season but always.

St. Clare says to us recall that being transfigured leads to a sweetness and delight. She writes in her third letter to Agnes of Prague, “Transform your entire being into the image of the Godhead, so that you too may feel what friends feel in tasting the hidden sweetness that, from the beginning, God has reserved for God’s lovers.” We are indeed that close to God. So closely and intimately is our God with us delighting over us.

As we journey in this Second Week of Lent, let us ask St. Clare to be our companion. Let us trust that she is shedding light on your path down the mountain and reminding us that even now in this chaos of life, “it is good to be here” (Mark 9) for we “walk before the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 116).


Blessings on the Lenten journey.

St. Clare walk with us and pray for us.


Icon: St. Clare of Assisi

by C. Ziprick – Soul Sibling Studios ©