Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

This is the day the Lord has made;

let us rejoice in it and be glad.

For to us is given the beloved child most holy,

born for us along the way

and placed in a manger

because there was no room for him at the inn.

– Psalm 15, Psalms of St. Francis



The Friars and Staff

at Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre

send greetings of peace and good to all.

May Christmas 2021 be filled with joy

and may many blessings be yours in 2022!


Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Advent Hastening

Br. Michael Perras, OFM

As we move into these final days of Advent, we turn our attention to Elizabeth and Zechariah, to Mary and Joseph and to their stories. Each of them offers us an insight into our journey of faith and our relationships with others.

Elizabeth reminds us to be bearers of promise. Zechariah calls us to listen well. Mary calls us to ponder. Joseph reminds us to be courageous. All four remind us to trust and to not let fear over take us. As companions on the journey, they also invite us to live with the conviction of a life rooted in Emmanuel – our God with us. Our God who has come to us and dwells here among all people, restoring us (Psalm 80) and filling us with peace (Micah 5.5a).

“Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country…” (Luke 1.39). As she went, she must have pondered what had been told to her, for her and of her. She must have considered Elizabeth and Zechariah and how they were adjusting to unforeseen circumstances. She must have thought of Joseph and all that was going on in his heart and story. She must have contemplated her people and their desire for the long awaited Messiah. She must have pondered how the Messiah was close at hand, so close, hidden in plain sight.

These final days of Advent can often disappear and become a blur. Let us take a cue from Mary and ponder. Let us ponder the journey of the year that has been and reflect upon where we have hastened to and where we have avoided hastening. May this pondering awaken in us to where our steps need to hasten to this Christmas and in the coming year.


In a year which has seen the unsettling of our so-called collective past

where have we hastened to build bridges?


In a year which has seen even more environmental crises

how have we hastened to honor and protect Mother Earth?


In a year which has seen tensions rise between nations

how have we hastened to be a voice of peace?


In a year which has seen innocent people die because of ignorance

where have we hastened to be an advocate for justice?


In a year which has seen families and communities divided

where have we hastened to listen well and heal wounds?


In a year which has seen the need for truth and reconciliation to be honest

where have we hastened to rise up to this work?


In a year which has seen more fake news

where have we hastened to speak the truth?


In a year which has seen attacks on humanity from all walks of life

where have we hastened to be witnesses of human fraternity?


In a year which has seen… … …

where have we hastened to… … …?


In a year, in a month, in a day which has seen so much,

where have we hastened to Christ?




God of the Journey,

you are with us in our steps

no matter how quickly

or how slowly we hasten.


Remind us that you dwell here

in us and among us.

Stir up in us the hope and love

which is infused into our very core,

so that in turn we may hasten

to that one place which needs

your presence in this last Advent week,

this late December day, this very moment.




Photo Credits: Arūnas Naujokas and Priscilla Du Preez















































Dear Friends of Mount St. Francis,

We invite you to check out our Annual Event:

Greccio: A St. Francis Christmas Pageant

We decided again this year to offer it as an online pageant

Beginning December 12 until January 9.

Click the link below to enter into the pageant

and to also check out retreats in 2022.


We invite you to share the link with friends and family.

It can also be found on our Facebook page.

As always, we encourage you to make a donation

to a local Food Bank or Safe Shelter.

May the peace and goodness of Christ

born among us and for us be yours this Christmas.

The Friars and Staff at Mount St. Francis
















































Encountering Advent Light

 – Br. Michael, ofm

Poet and scholar J. Philip Newell shares a story of a presentation he made in Ottawa years ago, where a Mohawk elder was invited to make comments and reflections after a presentation on spirituality. Newell recalls how the elder responded, “As I have been listening to these themes, I have been wondering where I would be tonight. I have been wondering where my people would be tonight. And I have been wondering where we would be as a Western world tonight if the mission that had come to us from Europe centuries ago had come expecting to find light in us.”[1]

“Expecting to find light in us,” is this not a powerful truth serum? Does that ring in your ears and pound in your heart? God created us with a piece of Divine light in each of us. Echoing the elder’s wonderings, “Where would we be as humanity if we expected to see light in each other?” This would be a world shift, a what Isaiah prophecies as the peaceable kingdom shift, a beatitude living shift, which would only increase the light that we each hold and the light in the world.

As we enter this Third Week of Advent the light of our wreath is growing brighter. The first letter to the Thessalonians states: “You are all children of the light and children of the day” (5.5). Is this not what we should expect to encounter in each other? The Light of the world illumines our darkness, brings light to our areas of living which are in need of radiance, and is beckoning us to look for light instead of differences in each other.

This Advent week of rejoicing or joy; is often obscured by false rejoicing: Christmas parties to raise our spirits, more Christmas movies than the day has time for, sales on boxes of chocolates and so on. These quick fix, boredom-sorrow busters often leave us feeling empty and still seeking joy; still seeking light. The light we carry is only brightened when we encounter the light of another. As Edith Wharton said: “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle, or to be the mirror which reflects it.”

Countless gospel stories capture the light Jesus exuded: from the blind seeing; to the woman touching his cloak; to the calling of the apostles and so on. Like Jesus and like the Mohawk elder, we have to wonder why we don’t expect to meet an encounter with that light. Is it because we are afraid that it may reveal truths about our living? Is it because we may encounter a transformation? Is it because we may need to live forth rejoicing in a new way? Is it because we might see the light of Christ in someone we don’t want to or least expect it?

This season of Advent is growing short but the encounter with Light is only beginning to grow. It is an invitation to see beyond the countdown and allow the Light to penetrate our living beyond this season of giving. As Saint Clare of Assisi said, “We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become.” We are children of God, we are loved and so we must let the light of God shape us as we encounter the light in each other.

The reflection of the Mohawk elder shared above is also a message for us as December 12 marks the National Day of Prayer in Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples. This day has been recognized for many years in the Catholic Church, but now more than ever it must be about the light we see in our First Nations, Inuit and Métis sisters and brothers. As we continue to work for truth and reconciliation the only way it will become life giving is if we approach it with the wonder in discovering the light carried by our Indigenous sisters and brothers. When we can be a mirror for these communities, we will see the light reflected back on to us and we will be able to rise up together with greater respect, honoring the Divine light we all carry. What actions can we make to be light bearers this week? It is time for the shift to happen and for rejoicing to arise among all peoples.


God of Light,

you created all light

and in light we see light itself (Psalm 36.9).

As we journey forward

clear the blinders from our eyes

so that we may see the Divine Light

in all peoples.


May unexpected encounters

of light this week

cause us to rejoice

in your drawing near to us

and see how you still dwell

here among us in peoples

from all cultures, creeds and places.




[1] J. Philip Newell, The Rebirthing of God, 2015, Skylight Paths Publishing









































Advent Dreaming

 – Br. Michael, ofm

John the Baptist is a dominate figure in Advent. His call to “prepare the way of the Lord” based on the prophets before him is the whole premise of the season. He awakens us to the work of this preparing: aligning our paths with God, smoothing out what is not right in our living and being aware of the abundant generosity of our God. These are great guides for our Advent days which are far too often consumed with a lot of noise, over indulging and empty commitments. If the work of Advent or these realities feel all too much, may I suggest dreaming. Scripture is full of dreams from Moses to Jacob to Daniel. Think of Isaiah and his dreams of a peaceful kingdom – the wolf with the lamb together, this is an awakening to Advent dreams.

We can also consider Jeremiah capturing God’s words as a promise of this season and also dreams of this season fulfilled: “I have plans for you, plans for your well being, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29.11). John the Baptist had to dream about what he was proclaiming and foretelling. Mary and Joseph had to dream about what would be next and how would their lives would unfold? As a fellow Friar recently shared, “We can’t lose our capacity to dream. The word dream is a verb, it calls us into living.”

Now our dreams can lead us into fantasy and emptiness if we let them. However, this is not the dreaming of Advent. Advent dreaming is rooted in the promise of John the Baptist: forgiveness, filled valleys, smooth ways and salvation. These are dreams which are woven into the very heartbeat of God and God’s dreams for all of creation. The beautiful gift of these dreams is that we are invited into making them a reality. This means we can not stay in our comfort zones. Dreams call us beyond the current and offer us a new vision. Do we still know how to dream? Have we lost our capacity to dream in our instant world? Have our comfort zones become too encompassing? Do we allow new visions to inspire us and call us to smooth paths or is it easier to stay on the rough road because it feels more comfortable?

This Advent we must allow ourselves to dream and we must be brave enough to say to God: “I am listening to you, O God, and how I am part of your dream! You, O God, are welcome here in my dreaming!” Our generous God, who dreamt of being one with us and made it happen, continues to dream with us inviting us to pay attention to what is being whispered in our dreams and proclaimed in the wilderness. Are we paying attention? That is what this season is about. What are we waiting for?


God of dreams,

you continue to give us messages

through prophets of long ago and prophets of today.

May we attune our ears, eyes and heart

to our dreams and how you speak in them.

Move us beyond our comfort zones

to the valleys which need to be raised

and the paths which need to be made smooth.

Fill our minds and hearts with your message

so, in turn we may share it with those on the journey.





Photo Credits: Sharon McCutcheon and Daiwei Lu