Beatitudes During a Demanding Time

Br. Michael, ofm


Blessed are the times

when words feel flat and empty

meaning and depth will arise again.


Blessed are the moments

when we feel separated from life

wholeness will again prevail.


Blessed are the moments

when being quiet is tough

peace will make its way known.


Blessed are the times

when creating is challenging

new ideas always emerge.


Blessed are the times

when energy is drained

rest and restoration are gift.


Blessed are the moments

when loneliness seems constant

remember that we are not alone.


Blessed are the moments

when things begin to align

step gently into new beginnings.


Blessed are the times

when being awaken and truth are known

God is always here.


Photo Credit: Marvin Meyer


Psalm of Praise

Br. Michael, ofm


Blessed are you, O God,

Creator, Artist, Inspiration

you weave together all of life

telling the story of your great love.


From prairie vistas and large skies

to mountain tops and forest paths,

from creeks flowing and oceans roaring

to wheat fields and a single flower,

you constantly display

your goodness,


and joy.


Your love flows like a waterfall,

it is as strong as the boulders,

as delicate as a lady bug’s wing.


Your love is made known

in creative ways not just once in time

rather over and over again

you infuse your love

in creation,

in humanity,

in me.


Your love is painted in every sunset,

stitched into each pinecone,

carved into each shell.


Your love awakens us to new life

stirs us in our ideas

speaks to us of hope.


From the birds of the air

to the fish of the seas,

from the dog at my side

to the giraffe on the Sahara,

from the polar bear of white

to the gecko color changing,

you show forth your creative ways

which inspires us to the same.


Blessed are you, O God.




Photo Credit: Benjamin Davies


Season of Creation: A Home for All

Br. Michael, ofm


A Home for All

This is our prayer Creator God

as we begin September and the Season of Creation.

A Home for All

where the dignity in which you created us

is respected, upheld and celebrated.

A Home for All

where creation too is given its rightful dignity

and appreciation for how Mother Earth sustains us.

A Home for All

where those fleeing terror and destruction

are welcomed and embraced.

A Home for All

where the common good is seen as a gift

not privileged for a few.

A Home for All

where we can appreciate cultures and creation

in our small corner of the world and beyond.

A Home for All

where the goods of the earth are seen

as our sisters and brothers.

A Home for All

where we work together for the care of creation

and the care of each other.

A Home for All

where we listen to stories of each other

and the story of creation.

A Home for All

where we remember that your love and mercy

are ever present and always generous.

A Home for All

where we are part of the renewal

of your oikos-household.

A Home for All

this is our prayer to you

our Creator God.

* From September 1 – World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation to October 4 – the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, is known as the Season of Creation in which the Christian family celebrates the good gift of creation. The Season of Creation is a time to renew our relationship with our Creator and all creation through celebration, conversion, and commitment together. The theme for 2021 is A Home for All: Renewing the Oikos of God.



Photo Credit: Greg Rosenke

Bright Guide: Feast Day of Our Sister Saint Clare 2021

Br. Michael, ofm

In the middle of summer, we come to the feast of our sister Saint Clare of Assisi. Fittingly the name Clare means “bright.” I see this as a gentle reminder that in the brightness of summer we have a companion who always wants us to dwell in the brightness of the Godhead and contemplate the love of Christ.


We have very little writings of Clare’s which survived but the pieces we do have offer rich nuggets for us to sit with and ponder. As we continue on in this summer time and celebrate this remarkable woman let us ponder some of her thoughts for our own journey.


Keep gazing at your image reflected in the mirror (Christ) so that you may be clothed and adorned with the flowers of all virtues.


In this mirror by the grace of God you will be able to observe… love beyond the power of words to describe.


As you mediate on the indescribable delights and riches and enduring honors Jesus offers you, and as you sigh and long with all your heart, cry out to him with love: Draw me; we will follow you eagerly, heavenly bridegroom. I will run and not grow weary till you bring me into the banquet hall, until your left hand is under my head and your right embraces me.         

– from the Letters to Agnes of Prague


These three quotes are food for thought and challenge for us to consider where we are making time to spend with Christ this day and in the summer days ahead. We can use this Feast of St. Clare as summer reset and step forward delighting in nourishment of quiet moments with our Savior.


St. Clare

lover of Christ,

defender of contemplation,

embracer of beauty,

guardian of awareness,

sister-friend of Saint Francis,

pray for us

as we seek to draw nearer to Christ.


A Trinity of Summer Suggestions and a Top Five for the Great Four

Br. Michael, ofm

The summer months of July and August often allow for time to unwind a bit, linger a bit longer or at least have a change of scenery; if only for a few hours. Sometimes the heat just gets to us and we need a recharge. Sometimes the beauty of summer captures of us and we try to capture it. Sometimes we need a break from the gatherings and BBQs to focus on our own journey. With that in mind I would like to offer to you a trio of summer goods – books, songs and movies for you to consider in the mix of your summer plans. There is something beautiful about sitting outside and reading. There is something enticing about a good song for a road trip and there is something wonderful about getting cozy on a super hot day (or a rainy one) with a movie. These suggestions come from my recent eclectic findings, maybe they will be an encounter of the living God for you too!

There is more notably the great gift of creation all around us and we are called to appreciate it with fresh eyes during the summer. Creator God continues to work in amazing ways showing forth beauty and inviting us to be aware. Below are some ways to honour the four elements of creation this summer. Let us be attentive to the handiwork of God!

Three Reads for Summer 2021:

Painkiller: A Memoir of Big League Addiction – Brantt Myhers

If you want an insight into the world of addiction to alcohol and drugs and the illusion of making it big in the world of NHL hockey – this read is for you. Warning: reading this book is like sitting in a locker room. Brantt holds nothing back. It is a story of perseverance, redemption and transformation.

Nourishing Love: A Franciscan Celebration of Mary – Murray Bodo, OFM

This small book is filled with stories, poetry and teachings. Bodo invites you to use your imagination, to listen with your heart and to think more broadly as he recounts the life of Mary – Mother of Jesus. Bodo’s creative take is alluring and he also offers a collection of Marian prayers at the conclusion.

Peace by Chocolate: The Hadhad Family’s Remarkable Journey from Syria to Canada – John Tattrie

The first time I heard of Peace by Chocolate was when my parents ordered boxes of this chocolate goodness into their store for Christmas (It is good chocolate). I was intrigued by the story of this refugee family. This book recounts the trials of leaving Syria but also the gift of new beginnings in Canada. It is a story of hospitality and hope. It will soon be released as a major movie.

Three Bonus Reads:

Embers: One Ojibway’s Meditations – Richard Wagamese

An inspiring book from a wise First Nations Canadian storyteller which will encourage broader vision. Wagamese is the author of Indian Horse (which is also a must-see movie).

To the Heights: A Novel Based on the Life of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati – Brian Kennelly

A delightful book capturing the magnitude of the heart and generosity of one of the young and inspiring saints of the church.

I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You: A Letter to My Daughter – David Chariandy

A personal gift to his daughter, Chariandy invites us into the reality of having to address race in Canada while encouraging a hope-filled future.



Three Songs for Pondering during Summer 2021:

The Spark – William Prince

Prince is a Winnipeg songwriter. A song about the challenge of relationships but the light which bonds us whether lovers, friends or family. The video version with fellow Canadian Serena Ryder from the 2021 Junos is worth a listen.

Shoreline – Corey Hart with Dante Hart

Corey Hart has been a favorite singer of mine since I bought my first cassette – Boy in the Box. This new song with his daughter is about the value of forging ahead in the journey remembering we are not alone.

Fighting – Tyler Joe Miller

A powerful song about the challenges of addictions and mental health, it serves as a reminder that we are supports for each other. The video happens to feature my cousin Thomas.

Three Bonus Songs:

Anyone – Justin Bieber, One Voice Children’s Choir

Imagine – Ben Platt

Great You Are– Jordan Smith


Three Movies for Summer 2021:

David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet

A powerful documentary about the environmental crisis we face but also the hope we carry and the challenge to rise up for the good of our sister Mother Earth.


A beautiful telling of the story of the three children who saw the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1917. A story of faith and trust.

In the Heights

An upbeat musical which speaks of the value of relationships, the strength of community and the importance of adjusting our dreams.

Three Bonus Movies:

Penguin Bloom

What They Had

I Still Believe

Top Five for the Great Four

Not into reading or movies this summer? Have a good playlist already? Looking to connect more with creation? I suggest these great ideas built upon suggestions from W.I.S.E. and The Pilgrims Companion.

Unplug from technology, connect with Creator God and celebrate the four elements during the summer with these top five activities.


Swim in a lake

Dance in the rain

Walk along a river

Water the flowers slowly

Enjoy a glass of cold water in the middle of sunny spot


Work in the garden

Build a sandcastle

Paint with mud

Make and enjoy a garden salad or fruit salad

Sit on the grass to pray


Gaze at the night sky

Have a bonfire – sing and pray there

Enjoy a meal by candlelight

Watch the sunrise or sunset

Hunt for fireflies


Fly a kite

Blow bubbles

Sing in the wind

Make pinwheels

Write a prayer in praise of the gift of air

May Summer 2021 be blessed, be healthy,

be filled with time for

good reads, good tunes, good shows

and lots of good, good, good summer days just to be!


The heavens, the earth, and all of creation are telling the glory of God

and we get to delight in this glory. We give thanks and praise to Creator God!


God bless you and your summer!


Please note this will be the last post for several weeks. Look for fresh reflections in later summer.


Photo Credits:

Garreth Paul

Tom Hermans

Adrian Korte

Denise Jans

Tegan Mierle











Litany of St. Joseph for Father’s Day

Br. Michael, ofm

Litany of St. Joseph for Father’s Day


On this Father’s Day, let us be mindful of St. Joseph the patron saint of fathers along with so many other areas and causes in life. Let us be mindful of his trust in God, his faithful witness to love, his awareness of God’s divine plan for love and how he witnessed to respect and honour. St. Joseph pray for all fathers, grandfathers and those who are like fathers in our world today. St. Joseph pray for all of us that we too may trust with abandon, witness to love and be bearers of good news.




St. Joseph,

faithful guardian of Christ,

we ask your prayers for all guardians:

for guardians of our families and communities,

for guardians of our stories and languages,

for guardians of countries and peoples.


We also ask your prayers for those who have no faithful guardian:

for children without parents,

for children separated from their parents,

for children who long for a faithful guardian.


St. Joseph,

model of workers,

we ask your prayers for all workers:

for workers working two jobs to make ends meet,

for workers going above and beyond,

for workers seeking work and those struggling with their job.


St. Joseph,

example to parents,

we ask your prayers for all parents:

for parents who parent in amazing ways,

for parents who struggle to be a parent,

for parents who feel caught in between.


We also ask your prayers for those who don’t know their parents:

for foster children who feel isolated,

for children abandoned by their parents,

for children who live in homes where they are not seen by their parents.


St. Joseph,

pillar of family life,

we ask your prayers for families:

for families hurting and broken,

for families united and strong,

for families yearning for life.


St. Joseph,

hope of the sick,

we ask your prayers for all those who are sick:

for the sick who are alone,

for the sick trapped in terror,

for the sick waiting for diagnosis.


We also pray for those who offer hope to the sick:

for hope-bearers who are nurses, care aides and doctors,

for hope-bearers who work in research and community development,

for hope-bearers who are simply present to hold a hand and listen.


St. Joseph,

patron of the dying,

we ask your prayers for all those who will die this day:

for the dying who are at peace,

for the dying who are afraid,

for the dying who seek God.


St. Joseph,

foster father of the Son of God,

we ask your prayer for all fathers:

for fathers who love freely,

for fathers who are guarded,

for fathers who struggle with this role.


We also ask your prayers for all who are like fathers:

for the uncle and grandfather who takes us under his wings,

for the teacher and coach who guides us to deeper truths,

for the community member who encourages our gifts.


St. Joseph,

patron of Canada,

we ask your prayers for our nation:

for respect and dignity of all people to be upheld,

for inspired ways to tear down walls and build community,

for creativity in the ways we care for this land we call home.


Good St. Joseph,

you are our patron and guide,

we ask you to bring our prayers to the heart of God,

the very God who trusted you with his only Son

as you cradled in him in your hands,

showed him how to create,

and taught him how to listen.

We trust that you companion with us this life journey.

We ask these prayers in the name of the one

who you were guardian for here on earth,

Jesus Christ our Lord.


Father’s Day Blessings to All Dads!

Photo: St. Joseph and Child Jesus – Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre, Cochrane, AB

Artists: John C. Nugent and Al Gerritsen





In the Midst

Br. Michael, ofm

In the Midst

In the midst…







when it doesn’t make sense

overwhelmed and burdened

of community







we are always

in the midst

of something

and in

these somethings

we are

in the midst

of God.




your light

fills me each day

for it is greater

than my shadows

and the world’s darkness.

Your light

awakens me

to living in you,

with you, for you.

Your light

a lamp unto my feet

a guide for my path

a consistent presence

calling me

to truth,

to life,

to fullness

to beauty,

to see you.


you are always

here with me

in the midst.


Photo Credits:

Ryoji Iwata

Hasan Albari



Do you need a retreat this summer?

Do you need a retreat this summer?

Mount St. Francis is offering:


Brother Sun – Sister Moon Pilgrimage Retreat – July 17 Saturday

A full-day outdoor retreat beginning at 9:00 am. This retreat includes a walking-pilgrimage, an outdoor Mass, eco-friendly reflections, and evening bonfire. Please dress and prepare for the weather and terrain. Bring a water bottle and small day pack.

$60.00, includes packed picnic lunch and BBQ dinner. Registration is limited.


My Soul Thirsts for You – 7-Day Silent Directed Retreat – July 18-25
Psalm 63 reminds us that our whole being thirsts for God. Throughout this retreat in the stillness and quiet, and through scripture and prayer the retreatant will be refreshed.

Suggested contribution: $650.00. Registration is limited.


Seeking Wholeness and Holiness: Our Spiritual Journey – Women’s Silent Retreat

August 6-8

As we continue our spiritual journey, we reflect on what brings us wholeness; how are we invited to a greater depth of character and purpose. We journey following Jesus as our model.



Soul Care – Women’s Retreat with Guest Presenter: Cathy AJ Hardy

August 24-26

This retreat for women includes both group time and space for the individual.

Come as you are and receive an invitation into soul rest, grace, mercy, and love.



Servant Leadership in Gospel Living – Young Adult Retreat (Ages 18-30)

August 27-29

A unique retreat for young adults. Includes bonfire, adoration and small group discussions.



As summer draws to a close help us launch the Season of Creation

Laudato Si’ – World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation
Wednesday – September 1, 9 am – 1 pm

Pope Francis declared September 1 as the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.

This half-day prayer retreat includes stations of prayer, eco-friendly reflections, Mass and a hardy lunch. Please dress and prepare for the weather. Bring a water bottle and small day pack.

Cost: $20


For more information or to register –  403-932-2012


The Body of Christ

– Br. Michael, ofm

The Body of Christ

broken and shared

for you, for me and for all.


The Body of Christ

broken and fragmented

hurting and grieving.


The Body of Christ

215 names we don’t know

families left broken.


The Body of Christ

bombed out again

broken hearts and pieces.


The Body of Christ

tired and broken

pandemic stricken.


The Body of Christ

left alone because I’m different

broken in my inflicted shame.


The Body of Christ

two sides of a country

broken by false promises.


The Body of Christ

stolen and held captive

broken homes left in tatters.


The Body of Christ

on foot across many miles

broken in the search of freedom.


The Body of Christ

discriminated because of color

dignity robbed, broken by force.


The Body of Christ

deforested and polluted

our sister Earth so broken.


The Body of Christ

you and me

us and them.


The Body of Christ

gift for all people

healing and remedy.


The Body of Christ

hope never ceases

rising up from the ashes.


The Body of Christ

stronger than our despair

feast for the hungry.


The Body of Christ

source of all goodness

holy and worthy.


The Body of Christ

balm for our heartaches

ointment for our wounds.


The Body of Christ

many shades of holy diversity

a refuge and a shelter.


The Body of Christ

here and now

back then, in steps ahead.


The Body of Christ

love is present

even if unseen.


The Body of Christ

our brother and savior

with us in our brokenness.


The Body of Christ

broken and shared

for you, for me and for all.




Photo Credits:

McKenna Phillips

Jon Tyson

Rui Silva






















Actions of Solidarity: Where is Your Voice?

– Br. Michael, ofm

Ethan Bear is a defenseman on the Edmonton Oilers who happens to be from Ochapowace First Nation in Saskatchewan. I don’t personally know Ethan; I have never met him and probably never will and yet something that happened to him this past week continues to echo in my mind. He was the subject of racist behaviour as the Oilers lost their first round of the NHL playoffs. When I first heard this news, I was disgusted. I still am disgusted. It amazes me how we seek shelter behind our phones and screens to make ignorant comments about someone and their race. It is never okay to do this, it is even worse to think we have a privilege to this because of the power of technology we hold in our hands. Our phones can become loaded weapons which seek to destroy another person. A person who more often than not we have no sense of their life.

Ethan along with his partner Lenasia responded to the racists remarks in a video statement. They responded with grace and dignity. They challenged us again to consider what it means to be part of community and how love and kindness are our core actions which lead to healthy relationships and tearing down walls of racism. Ethan and Lenasia ask us to be a part of the change and are rooted in the hope that we can get to place where racism does not exist. Something he said which really struck me is that he is not doing this for himself, but for others. I can imagine that the sports world can easily have an athlete turn in on themselves only thinking about themselves. Ethan could have stayed in his own world and become bitter about it all and let it destroy him and his future. Instead, he is taking this moment to again draw our attention to the big issue of racism and how it remains prevalent in society as it impacts many lives. Ethan is challenging us to face this reality and do something about it. What can we do? It’s too big of an issue, we say. Yes, it is a big issue but there is something each of us can do. Each one of us has a voice and each one of us can use that voice for the good – for love and kindness. Using our voice on social media platforms, in our circle of family and friends, at community events and supporting those who deal with racism every day. We have to ask ourselves how are we doing this in our communities and in building relationships with First Nations communities, Peoples of Colour and all people? The other question we must ask ourselves is: Why does another generation have to endure the immaturity of not seeing the value of each human being?

As I read about Ethan and this latest stint of racist remarks he has faced, I was taken back to a year ago when much of the world was horrified by the death of George Floyd in the US. A year later with race related deaths on both sides of the border we clearly still have a long way to go. George Floyd’s death sent shock waves and called for change. Small steps have begun. We however must ask ourselves have we continued to raise our voices for justice with love and kindness as we strive for a world where the God-given dignity of each person is respected (no matter their life journey)? Through the racist remarks that Ethan faced this past week, which do indeed kill part of a person, Ethan is again calling to our attention the reality which First Nations and Peoples of Colour face. Yet he is calling us to move forward with hope. I choose to stand with Ethan and be a person of hope, using my voice to condemn hatred. I choose to use my voice to expand the circle of love and kindness our world desperately needs. How about you?

In the Catholic world this past Sunday (May 30) was Trinity Sunday, where we celebrate God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Here is a perfect community where love is the dominate feature, kindness is an outpouring of this love and a collective self-emptying (as in not doing it for self) is the norm. Seems to me that if we remember that we are made in the image and likeness of God, who is love and functions in a community of love then we could tackle the ugliness of racism and move towards eliminating it. Together we can stand along side Ethan and Lenasia with hope for a future where love and kindness are the norm because we have done our work and raised our voices for the common good. That time is now, the future is this very next minute, and then the next hour and so on. We have a choice to make. As St. Francis would say: let us begin again.


Photo credits:

Jon Tyson

Andrew Thornebrooke

Priscilla Du Preez

Sharon Santema