Encountering Advent

 – Br. Michael, ofm

In a reflection given earlier this year, Jesuit Peter Bisson described vowed religious women and men as “artisans of encounter,” I believe that this easily describes all believers. It is an image which has stayed with me and I would like to offer it as launching point for this Advent.


The very fact that this season is marked each year to give us time to reflect on and remember that God transcended the heavenly realms and chose to be with the created world is in itself enough to sit with for the twenty-seven days of Advent. God desired the perfect love of the Trinitarian community to continue to expand. We are the privileged ones caught up in this overflowing gift. We receive this gift so freely and in so many ways and yet we resist it, give it parameters and make rules for it, trapping it, so that it feels caged and guarded, not soaring and joyful.


In the new movie “tick, tick… BOOM!” the life of musical theatre artist Jonathan Larson is captured in song. In the finale song he sings, “Cages or wings, which do you prefer? Ask the birds. Fear or love, baby? Don’t say the answer. Actions speak louder than words.” The invitation of Advent for all the people of God can be heard in this song. Are we going to remained caged and fear-filled with our guarded images of God or are we willing to find our wings and truly encounter God?  Are we willing to break free allowing our actions to show forth that God’s love wasn’t just in a yes of a woman centuries ago, in a stable one night, in a message by a beatitude toting preacher or on a cross and empty tomb one weekend? God’s love transcends these moments for God is again and again made known in our daily living (no matter how ordinary).


Joy is relational and communal. Our actions this season and in each season of the year should attune us to this truth. Advent is a good time to evaluate how we have done over the course of the past year. New year resolutions are useless if we don’t look to what we have done, failed to do and what we can still do. Advent, as the start of the liturgical year, is a great opportunity to reflect on our living. How has joy been a part of my life this past year? Have I been an artisan of joy? Have my actions built community? Where do I need to be a community building artisan? What parts of my relationship with God have I left caged and locked down? How can I soar to new heights with God on the wings of hope? Am I an artisan of prayer (this is always a good way to build community)?


Advent will never grow old if we allow ourselves to be caught off guard by wonder, joy and community. We build community in little ways; with the kindnesses this season has come to know but beyond these kindnesses into the living of the hard parts of life. This past year has had its challenges and obstacles we can’t deny this reality. We have seen the definition of community broaden and maybe even redefined. This may have left us reeling or allowed us to finally trust that we don’t need to be caged. God has never thought we were any ways.


Let’s dare to be artisans of encounter this Advent. Like those artisans before us such as Isaiah, Zechariah, Elizabeth, John the Baptist, Mary, Joseph, the magi, the shepherds, angels, saints known only to us, people who blazed the trail or soared on wings for us and so on; let us be encounters of the Divine. With the wonder of this season, the story of God’s desire to be one with us, and with people from all walks of life willing to be community builders, how can we not lift up our heads and be artisans of joy and artisans of encounter this Advent? The choice is ours. How will we walk in Advent light?


God of Encounters,

You invite us into relationship,

desire for us to build community,

and encourage us to be artisans of joy and life.

During this Advent we accept these opportunities

as we “lift up our soul” (Psalm 25)

to you who are our Truth, Way and Life.

Our eyes and hearts are open to encounters with you

no matter where our Advent steps may lead.


Photo credits: Robson Hatsukami Morgan and Ole Witt





































The Kingdom of Christ the King

 – Br. Michael, ofm

“Your kingdom come…”

we pray this line many times,

and yet we wonder

where your kingdom is.


If we pay attention

to message of Jesus

your kingdom is

yes, in our hearts

yet it is encountered

with the poor,

with the homeless,

with the hungry.


Your kingdom is

where heartache is,

where recovery begins,

where forgiveness is known.


Your kingdom is

when we listen to each other,

when respect is given,

when life is honored.


Your kingdom is

what calls us to community,

what causes us to see anew,

what our foundation is built upon.


Your kingdom is

not about majesty and prestige,

rather it is about humility and tenderness;

two valuable qualities we often overlook.


Awaken your kingdom in our hearts again

for it seems we may have lost sight of it.

Awaken your kingdom in our hearts again

so, we may build it up

with the dignity, beauty and truth it is.

Awaken your kingdom in our hearts again

here and now,

among all peoples,

in all of creation,

now and forever.





Photo Credit: Youssef Aboutaleb





































Words of Life for Us

by Br. Michael, ofm

There is an interesting line in the gospel of Mark in which Jesus says: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Mark 13.31). We can often focus on the endings of things or the uncertainty around us but Jesus reminds us to focus on his words which are everlasting. As we continue to navigate the challenges of our times let us be reminded of some of his life-giving words.


Do not be afraid. (Luke 12)


Peace I give you. (John 20)


I am the bread of life, living water, good shepherd, gate. (John 6, John 4, John 10)


I am the vine you are the branches. (John 15)


I am the way, the truth and the life. (John 14)


Blessed are the children of God. (Matthew 5)


Love God and love neighbour. (Mark 12)


Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there. (Matthew 18)


Our Father.. your kingdom come… your will be done.. give us this day our daily bread…forgive us… (Luke 11)


We need to be reminded of these words and how they are infused into our living. It seems to me that the words of Jesus offer us hope for our time and encouragement for the challenges we face. It seems to me that Jesus assures us with his words that he will indeed “be with us until the end of the ages” (Matthew 28.20). It seems to me that when we feel discouraged or fear tries to creep in, we are offered courage, light and peace for the journey.


Wherever we are right now on the journey; whether it is joy-filled, burdensome, draining, or content, Jesus is right here with us and is constantly speaking his words of life to us.


Are we listening? It’s easy to be distracted. Maybe it’s time to put down the phone, turn off the television and stop doing so we can hear his voice.


Which words of Jesus are speaking to you this day? Spend some time with these words (read the passage once, sit with it for several minutes, pray with it – there are countless ways) let them be nourishment and life for the days ahead. They are meant for us, for our well-being, soul health and our life. The best part is they will remain always.



Photo Credit: Priscilla du Preez





































Peace. Let There Be Peace

by Br. Michael, ofm

When war ravages,

when nations dissolve,

when countries turn on each other,


Peace. Let there be peace.


When cultures clash,

when peoples see only skin color,

when communities divide,


Peace. Let there be peace.


When families separate,

when homes fall a part,

when dignity is destroyed,


Peace. Let there be peace.


When friendships breakdown,

when dialogue is shattered,

when hurt runs deep,


Peace. Let there be peace.


When my heart is anxious,

when my living feels violent,

when my ways cause brokenness,


Peace. Let there be peace.


When I am entrenched in sadness,

when I stand alone,

when I can’t hear the truth in my heart,


Peace. Let there be peace.


Jesus said: Peace I leave you,

my peace I give you,

not as the world does.


Peace. Let there be peace.


Jesus said: do not fear,

do not let your heart be troubled,

not let it be afraid.


Peace. Let there be peace.


Our world, our nation,

our communities, our homes,

our heart, ourselves



Peace. Let there be peace.


As Remembrance Day 2021 draws near let us be attentive that peace is the desire of all people.

As we remember those who faced the tragedy of war and those who still do today;

as we remember those who deal with the outcomes of war – the poor, refugees, migrants, children;

as we remember those who hurt now because of wars past, wars now or wars within;

let us pray for peace. Peace in hearts, in homes, in nations, in the world; let there be peace.


We are offered this peace each day in ways far greater than we may ever know. Let the words of Jesus which promise us this peace settle into our living, let us be attentive and work for peace in the ways we can in our part of the world. Let it arise with gratitude and respect.


Peace. Let there be peace.



Photo Credit:  Laurentiu Iordache

November 2021


































Upcoming Advent Retreats

Mount Saint Francis Retreat Centre

Invites You to Register for any of these

Upcoming Advent Retreats…


Advent is a time for us to review our journey, renew our vision and return to the message of love and hope woven in our heart. At Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre, we provide space for you to come and be, for prayer, for peace and for healing during this season. We invite you to register for any of these Advent Retreats by contacting

403-932-2012 Monday-Friday, 9:00 am – 4:30 pm.


It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken

in all of us memories of goodness and

thus to open doors of hope.

– Pope Benedict XVI

Advent Twilight –

“Prepare Your Heart”

Tuesday, November 30                               $30

Registration at 6:00 pm Supper at 6:30 pm

A delicious homecooked supper followed by a guided reflection to help you enter into the season of Advent, time for quiet and moments of shared prayer to close off the evening.

Consider gifting this Twilight Retreat to a friend or family member.


Advent Retreat –

“Prophets, Mystics & Storytellers”

December 3-5                                  $195

with Pastor Matt and Br. Michael

God is the great storyteller; history has proved this and our place in history continues to show how God is still writing the message of Good News for all people.

The Advent Season is filled with great stories and great people from scripture. It also invokes in us our stories and often brings to mind the people who we have journeyed with and those we share the journey with now.

Register with Linda and Russ Nicol           403-932-1804 lindamnicol50@gmail.com



Day Away – “Living the Resurrected Life”

December 8      9:00 am – 3:00 pm

$30        ($40 for private room)

This Day Away is part of the monthly series for the year.

Winter Stillness Retreat

Friday, December 10 – Sunday, December 12     $195

A quiet weekend entering into Advent silence. Come and rest.

Delicious meals to nourish your body, quiet and nature to nourish your soul.

Advent Twilight

– “In Thy Dark Streets”

Wednesday, December 15                                        $30

Registration at 6:00 pm      Supper at 6:30 pm

As we enter these final Advent days enjoy a hearty homecooked meal

followed by a guided reflection, time for quiet and moments of shared prayer.

Consider attending as a family (ages 12+)


Greccio: A St. Francis Christmas Pageant

December 12, Sunday, 2021 – Virtual Event

 St. Francis of Assisi started the popular tradition of re-enacting the Christmas story in Greccio, Italy. Mount St. Francis has held the Greccio Christmas pageant since 2006, to continue this tradition,                                                                       this year we again offer a virtual event.

               Check our website beginning December 12.

               Please consider making a donation to a local food bank.