Beloved: God For Us

Lenten Reflections with Br. Michael Perras, ofm

St. Francis of Assisi composed a beautiful prayer entitled: The Praises of God. In this pray he prays: “You are love, charity; You are wisdom, You are humility… You are our hope… You are beauty, You are our eternal life.” These select lines from his prayer come from his heart as he heaps praises onto God. It is as if he can’t contain himself and must tell God all these great things God is for him.

This Second Week of Lent begins with powerful scriptures which invite us to also heap our praises onto God. With Abraham we can heap praise for the gift of courage, strength and trust. Where in our life has God been offering these gifts? With the Psalmist we can give praise for faith and life-giving places. How has our faith been steadied or challenged during this Lent? With St. Paul we join in praise for the gift of the Incarnation and the Cross for they are reminders our God is for us. We can ask ourselves the same question St. Paul did to the Romans, “Who can separate us from the love of Christ?” With Peter, James and John we can give praise for vision, transformation and hope. How are we being transformed by love and hope and given new vision this Lent?

The Transfiguration of Jesus has long been one of my favorite gospel stories. It isn’t about the dazzling clothes, it isn’t about Elijah and Moses appearing, it’s not even about this utopia of being on the mountain. It is always about the voice of God, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” These few words are not only praiseworthy, but they are also balm, encouragement and speak of the depth of “him (Christ) who loved us.” I can almost imagine St. Francis pouring out his praises to God as he considered the Transfiguration because his prayer speaks the words the disciples couldn’t find. I too give praise to God because this gospel reminds us the words of Jesus are truly what we need to listen too. In them we find answers to our questions, fears, and doubts. I also give praise to God because Jesus being beloved is then transferred to us as the children of God. Jesus is our sibling, so if he is beloved so are each of us. Each of us beloved because we are claimed by our God who is for us! As Lent Week Two unfolds spend time pondering the gift of being beloved and transformed by the love of God and give praise to our God being for us.


Lord God Living and True Guide our Lenten Steps This Week.




Photo Credit: Mayur Gala






“Rebuild My Church!”

 Br. Michael Perras, ofm



Rebuild My Church

Charism, Commission, Mission


From February 16 – 19, Friars from across Canada along with two Franciscan Sisters and several lay men and women gathered for a weekend of Synodal listening and sharing at Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre. Varying in ages and backgrounds this diverse group leaned into what it means to be church today and to dream for the church. We considered the charism of the church, how we are called into communion and sent forth in mission. The following is the summary shared with the group.


We the church,

we a reflection of the church; the church we love, know and desire,

we have gathered these past four days,

to listen, to respond, to dialogue, to be present to the Way.


We the church

have prayed together and sung together,

we have broken bread together at The Table (of the Eucharist) and at table,

told stories and shared ourselves trusting the support is stable.


We the church

who are diverse and unique reflections of the gospel,

for some of us have been longer on the journey,

while others are short on the journey.


We the church

hearing the heartbeat of God,

hearing the voice of Jesus,

hearing the invitations of the Holy Spirit.


We the church

have questioned where we are within the church

and what we are hearing on the road,

to notice how we bear each other’s load.


We the church

paid attention with compassionate hearts

to the truths of our brothers and sisters

how the Spirit can be heard through tears and whispers.


We the church

have pondered what it means to be synodal,

and how we are being promoted by the Spirit to be

allowing us to be open, honest and to keep Christ as key.


We the church

have cried in joy and cried in sorrow,

we have shared photos and treats

all while being at Mount St. Francis Retreat.


We the church

have played new games and snacked,

and have enjoyed the diversity of language

each of us called to be on pilgrimage.


We the church

have walked the land and breathed in the fresh mountain air

the richness of creation speaking gospel truths too

holding on to what is beautiful, honest and true.


We the church

female, male, laity, religious, straight, gay, prophets and mystics,

old friends or new friends found,

we build up together on fertile holy ground.


We the church

sisters and brothers have spoken of age and life,

have heard the church and her cries

for life, dignity, hope and to rise.


We the church,

challenged and celebrating,

seeking and serving,

know the Spirit is always surging.


We the church

vulnerable, the story of humanity

community, the story of belonging

one body, one heart seeking and longing.


We the church

humble, tangible, welcoming, walking together

discerning, open, grace-filled, creative and willing,

bold, courageous with Christ in the journey thrilling.


We the church

with St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi

and countless women, men and children are

rebuilding the church

filled with grateful hearts,

renewed in faith, hope and love,

we will not be afraid

because we are

loved by God,

centered in Christ,

inspired by the Holy Spirit,

sent out in mission.


We the church say Amen!

We the church say Amen!

We the church say Amen!



Ubi Caritas Et Amor, Deus Ibi Est.




Vulnerable with Gratitude


There is a deep, profound joy to be found being vulnerable before Christ.


This was one of my most impactful takeaways from participating in the Franciscan Synod at Mount Saint Francis in Cochrane, Alberta this past weekend.


This gathering marked the first time that lay people had been invited to join the Franciscan Holy Spirit Province in synodal discernment. Lay and consecrated men and women, totaling 49 of us from across Canada, gathered to discuss where the Spirit was leading the Church and just what exactly “synodal church” means to us.


By filling our day with prayer and being intentional with our discussions, we cultivated an atmosphere of welcome that inspired people – many of whom had just met for the first time – to share thoughts and opinions from the deepest reaches of their hearts.


I was starkly taken aback by the depth of sharing that everyone engaged in, and I was overwhelmed by the love that the rest of the group showed in response. From sexual orientations, to addictions, to childhood traumas and fears, our conversations reached every conceivable topic, and from there, our conversations wove our life experiences into our perceptions of our faith and church.


Focusing on the theme of “Rebuild My Church!”, we reflected on three topics over the weekend. First, Charism: where we were in our own personal faith journeys? Where and how do we hear God’s voice? Second, Communion: What does it mean to be a synodal church? Where are we going – individually and collectively? And third, Mission: What is our vision for the Church, and where do we see the church and the Holy Spirit calling us to go?


Some thoughts were idealistic, while others were concrete; and while we did not agree on everything, we did reach some kind of agreement on all topics through prayer and discussion.


While our day was filled with prayer, Mass, and discussion, our evenings were left open for fellowship. The Franciscans are well known for their sense of devoted fraternity, and they spared no effort in welcoming us with open arms, loving hearts, and don’t forget the nature walks, board games, karaoke, and plenty of snacks!


On our last day in a large circle, we shared what we were taking away from our experience and what we were grateful for. The most resounding sense of gratitude was for each other, but also for our experiences this past weekend, our trust in each other, our love for our Church, and our one true Faith.


It was through our vulnerability before each other and our vulnerability before Christ that we realized we are intrinsically to each other’s journey of walking together in the Church. Together, we lived firsthand the Synod church we had imagined in our discussion groups, and we left feeling empowered to bring our new perspectives to our own home parishes.


This synod was transformative in our understanding of what we are called to do as a church. We are called to be inclusive missionaries of Christ. We are all distinct voices blended into the symphony of the Gospel composed by Christ.


I am so thankful to have been invited to participate in this synod and to all those who organized it. I am grateful for the friends I made, and for all the laughter, tears, and love we all experienced this weekend. Most importantly, I am thankful to my God who saves, and my God who loves.


Veni Spiritus Sanctus.


– Noëlle M


Covenant: Good News Bearers

Lenten Reflections with Br. Michael Perras, ofm


The beautiful story of the promise made to Noah launches us into the first full week of Lent. It is good to be reminded our God has made a promise to us and we are held in a covenant with God. During this first week of Lent we are invited to pay attention to the promises we make and who we are in covenant with in our daily living. To be in a covenant calls us to relationship, not just a transaction. As a Franciscan Friar I live my life in a covenant with my fellow Friars and with the church, those who are married are in a covenant with their spouse, and all of us are in a covenant with each other and creation. If we consider the covenants we are currently in during this first week of Lent by the time we arrive at the Easter Vigil the readings from the Old Testament and the Resurrection of Jesus make perfect sense. For God’s covenant with us is about relationship, continually calling us into God’s love and to ensure this love is made known in the world. In other words, to be Good News Bearers. This is at the core of the gospel for the First Sunday of Lent.


The gospel story about Jesus in the wilderness and being tempted often leads only to focusing on what tempts us. When we pay closer attention to the gospel (Mark 1.12-15 – read it again!) we see the temptation of Jesus is simply noted as a passing statement. What stands out is the length of time (40 days), who surrounded him (wild beasts and Angels) and what Jesus did following this time (proclaimed Good News). During this first week of Lent let us investigate our life and consider: How I am intentionally spending these 40 days? What wild beasts do I need to face this Lent? Who are the Angels who are guiding me? How will I journey during this Lenten pilgrimage as a Good News Bearer?


As our hearts are transformed, as we pray, fast and give alms, as we take note of the covenant we hold with each other and with God we come to see how our lives speak of the kingdom of God. Every covenant has times in which they need to be evaluated, in which forgiveness must be sought and repentance must be made. Lent is the perfect opportunity to renewal our promises to be covenant people and bearers of the Good News. Our baptismal promises demand this of us.


Peace and Goodness in Week One of the Lenten Journey.


Photo Credit:  Jorge Fernandez-Salas





Ambassadors: Marked for Lent

                                           Lenten Reflections with Br. Michael, ofm


This year marks the 800th anniversary of Saint Francis of Assisi being branded with the wounds of Christ. Several months after celebrating Christmas at Greccio in 1223 Francis received the stigmata (the five wounds of Christ) while praying at La Verna (a secluded place) in 1224. We may never receive the stigmata; however, each of us are branded with Christ in baptism. This coming season of Lent is a reminder of our baptism and how we live out our baptismal mission and duty as ambassadors of Christ. Saint Francis of Assisi was caught up in both the incarnation and passion of Christ. His attention to these frameworks of the life of Christ are an invitation for our Lenten mission. We must consider again how we birth Christ in our actions and how we meet Christ in the wounds of our lives and of the world. Our baptism is activated in the ways we carry out this mission and encounter the promise of the resurrected new life of Easter in our life, church and community.


On Ash Wednesday we will be marked with the cross reminding us of the fragility of our life (another point St. Francis knew well). We will also be reminded through scripture we are ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20—6:2). What do ambassadors do? They give witness to their mission. We will also be reminded our Lenten mission is to pray, to fast and to give alms (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18) in purposeful ways. These are guideposts for the 40-day mission and each year we are reminded to refresh our mission.  How can we do this in a meaningful way this Lent? It will look different for each of us, but by the duty of our baptism there are no excuses to not act as ambassadors on our mission. Make a plan! Do one thing well! It will be worth it, and it will make a difference for the Lenten journey and beyond. Don’t let the season slip by unnoticed.

The time is now!


Peace for the Lenten Journey.




Photo Credit: Annika Gordon

Seek – Find – Go – Serve

                                            – Br. Michael, ofm


“Everyone is searching for you.” – Mark 1.37


This plea from the apostles to Jesus stands out. It speaks to what is woven into our hearts, this longing for Christ to be present, known, found for, with and in our living. Security.


And yet what is Jesus’ response? Not come and sit and be quiet with me. No, there is an assumption we are already making time for quiet in our living. The security of going to a deserted place to pray is an expectation of discipleship (and it need not be exotic or very far). The response of Jesus to the apostles is, “get ready we have places to go and people to see.” Jesus invites them into mission. Jesus empowers the apostles to be bearers of the good news in word and in service.


This invitation is also for us. We move from our prayer and quiet into the encounters of life. We are made for mission. We must ask ourselves:

How and am I making time for quiet and prayer?

How and am I sharing the gospel message of hope?


Christ Jesus,

we meet you in the quiet

and we meet you in our neighbors.

You invite us to come and be

and to also go and serve.

May this double invite

be woven into our hearts and daily living,

for they are strength for the journey

and draw us closer to you.




Photo Credit: Aron Visuals

Message from Director of Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre

January,  2024


To all friends and supporters:
With news that the Mount is searching for a new Executive Director, some have wondered whether I am still here or not. Yes, I am still very much here! Last year I asked to have a change in my job description, wanting to step back from administration in order to focus on retreats and a few other projects I want to pursue outside of Mount St. Francis. I, however, did not want to give up retreat work, spiritual direction or listening to Step 5’s. The Franciscans have been more than accommodating to my request and used the timing to finalize the steps they were taking to ensure the long-term future of the Mount. It was decided that I will remain here as Director until August 31, after which I will continue to be a member of the Retreat Team. The Executive Director will be hired before that date and will focus first on the new aspects of the position that are not in my current role description. The new position is an exciting step toward our future and I look forward to supporting the successful candidate. Please continue to pray for all those who are involved in discerning this important changeover.
Thank you for all your support.
Susan Campbell, Director

Posting:  Executive Director of Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre

January 29, 2024


Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre and the Franciscan Friars are looking for a charismatic faith leader with strong business acumen who will guide the implementation of the mandate to adapt, build and continue to develop one of the most attended retreat centres in Western Canada as it continues to grow as a Franciscan Spiritual Centre.


In this redesigned role, the Executive Director will be responsible for the effective administration of the Retreat Centre. They will support the Franciscan Holy Spirit Province Saint-Esprit of Canada and its Board of Trustees in fulfilling its governance and strategic functions and will be responsible to implement the agreed plan ensuring the strategic priorities of The Mount are accomplished in alignment with the mission statement and the basic principles of the Franciscan way of life. Additionally, they are empowered to fundraise while building relationships within the communities served.


The successful candidate will have a vivid track record of fostering teamwork, building trusting relationships, and achieving strategic goals.  Strong communication skills are essential.  The Executive Director will work closely with the Franciscan Provincial Council and its Board of Trustees, the Franciscan Friars, and the administrative team; experience in governance is an asset.


The office and staff are based at the Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre in Cochrane, Alberta.  We offer a comprehensive compensation package that is commensurate with experience and aligned with similar roles in similar organizations.


A more detailed role description is available upon request.


We invite qualified people who are interested in this leadership position and embrace the principles of the Franciscans to apply by sending their résumé to  by February 22, 2024.  All applications will be held in confidence.

The Power of Being Called 

– Br. Michael, ofm

                                               The gospels for the Second and Third Sunday of Ordinary Time are about call. The Second Sunday of Ordinary Time gospel is from John 1 and the Third Sunday is drawn from Mark 1, both speak of the first disciples called to follow Jesus. This sense of call is woven into us. We call and have been called. The invitation of Jesus must have come with a power in his tone or depth in his inflection for the first four to follow immediately. No questions, no guarantees, no policies to be explained and no forms to sign – immediate response on their part. This speaks to a deep trust, a willingness, an openness and a sense of awe.

The poet Mary Oliver is quoted as saying in life she learned three things.

  • Pay attention.
  • Be astonished.
  • Share your astonishment.


Is this not what the first disciples did?

They paid attention to Christ.

They were astonished in being called.

In their astonishment they trusted and learned and shared the good news. Which in turn

caused others to pay attention, were astonished and the message of Jesus touched lives and continues to do so. I believe we are astonished because love is powerful. To be called in love calls us to pay attention.


How are you being called?

Who are you paying attention to?

What astonishes you?

Blessings on your week.




Photo Credit: Annie Spratt

Where Are You Staying? 

– Br. Michael, ofm

Based on the Gospel of John 1.35-42


Where are you staying?

I have always found this an interesting question poised to Jesus. I find it interesting as well when it is poised to us over the course of our travels and journeys. It invites a conversation about place and being. It invites us to pay attention and maybe even to see again or see with new eyes. As I pondered this question and the simple response of Jesus, to “come and see” I had a sense of closeness.


I ask:

Where are you staying?

Jesus responds:

It is closer than you think,

sometimes it feels too familiar to you

and yet there are so many rooms.

I ask again: Where are you staying?

Jesus responds:

This place I am staying

is transformed again and again

with clarity and tenderness.


Come and See.

I respond by doing so.

It is a familiar and yet mysterious place,

there is warmth and depth to it.

I say:

I will remain here Jesus,

there is much here

and this familiar place feels new.

Jesus says:

Come and See

I respond:

Here, I find you, my Messiah,

I know I am taught here,

taught to see, speak, be and do things anew.

Here, you see me for who I am.

You call me to truth and to life.

You ask me to trust what you see.

Jesus responds:

I am staying here in your heart.

Photo Credit: Nsey Benajah

Epiphany 2024: Light Revealed in the Journey

– Br. Michael, ofm

Epiphany 2024: Light Revealed in the Journey

– Isaiah 60.1-6; Psalm 72; Ephesians 3.2-3a, 5-6; Matthew 2.1-12

January 7, 2024

Glenavon, SK


2024 Moveable Feast Days


In keeping with an ancient church ritual from a time when calendars were not readily available, at this point in the Liturgy for Epiphany one of the rituals was to announce the dates for the upcoming Liturgical Year. In times past it was necessary to make known the date of Easter in advance, since many celebrations of the liturgical year depend on its date.

Although calendars now give the date of Easter and the other feasts in the liturgical year for many years in advance, the Epiphany proclamation still has value. It is a reminder of the centrality of the resurrection of the Lord in the liturgical year and the importance of the great mysteries of faith which are celebrated each year (USCCB) and like we are reminder into today’s feast of Epiphany how Christ is reveal to us in all the seasons of the year.


Announcement of Easter and the Moveable Feasts:

Know, dear brothers and sisters,

as we have rejoiced at the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ,

so by leave of God’s mercy

we announce to you also the joy of his Resurrection,

who is our Savior.



On the fourteenth day of February will fall Ash Wednesday,

and the beginning of the fast of the most sacred Lenten season.


On the thirty-first day of March we will celebrate with joy Easter Day,

the Paschal feast of our Lord Jesus Christ.


On the twelfth day of May will be the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ.

On the nineteenth day of May, the feast of Pentecost.

On the second day of June, the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.


And on the first day of December, the First Sunday of the Advent

of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom is honor and glory for ever and ever.




It is good to be reminded our story is part of a bigger story. Our living through the days of this liturgical and calendar year are woven into the Christ story and we are called to take note of where he is manifested in our lives along the journey.

The Feast of Epiphany is one of the most ancient feasts of the church year, it has long been celebrated to remember Christ being revealed to people from all walks of life. It also serves as a reminder of how our lives are changed or transformed because of an encounter with him. We hear in today’s gospel, how the magi after meeting the Christ Child, “left for their own country by another road.”

Epiphany is a not just a bleep on the church year calendar, it’s not just a nice way to wrap up the Christmas Season, it is an opportunity for us to look at how the Light of Christ is woven into our story as we look back on the first six weeks of this new church year and this Christmas Season and to ask ourselves some important questions as we consider the other roads we are called to travel. Where have I encountered Christ? How has wonder and awe filled moments of my living? Am I allowing the true Light to be my guiding way or am I being caught up in the same fears as Herod? Where and how do I readily share my gifts?

Epiphany has long captured my imagination and my thoughts. Maybe because the questions I have just poised have filtered through my living. Or maybe because of the mysteriousness of the magi trusting a star – a star – to guide them to the “shepherd of Israel.” Or maybe because it is a moment to see Jesus – our Emmanuel – God with us – born for us – all of us; people from all walks of life, with our own interesting stories, moments marked throughout a year, with our baggage, our hopes, and our dreams.

The prophet Isaiah (60.1-6) reminds us, “arise, shine, your light has come, the glory of the Lord has risen upon you, lift up your eyes and look around you.”

As we journey into the days and months of this year; we too are the magi. It’s not simply about getting on our “camels” and reaching the next destination or the next feast or the next moment to numb ourselves. It is about being attentive to wonder and awe. I was reminded of this gift just the other day as I spent a day building Lego and going for a walk with my two youngest nephews. Wonder and awe, delight, and light… called to look up seeing light filtering in. The glory of the Lord has risen upon us, but if we keep drudging along with our eyes downcast and mumbling about the long journey, we will never see the stars, we will never be caught off guard by how close the Child born for us truly is in our lives. Let us consider: How has wonder and awe filled moments of my living? Am I open to wonder and awe being a guiding star for the months ahead?

Pope Benedict called the magi “men with a restless heart… filled with expectation… seekers of God.”

All journeys come with restlessness. Like many of us, St. Francis of Assisi was a restless person. He was always seeking the Christ, and in this seeking his restless heart was met with deep encounters and realities. When he went to the caves to pray – it was with expectant hope of meeting Christ. When he went out about creation preaching to birds, or picking the earthworms from the roadways it was his restless heart seeking God. When he was unpredictable in his actions it was because he was trying to pay attention to his heart and how it was creating a space for Christ. Each of us have these moments in our unfolding stories. We must ask ourselves: Where have I encountered Christ?

Pope Francis notes the “Magi personify all those who believe, those who long for God, who yearn for their home… they reflect the image of all those who in their lives have not let their hearts be anesthetized (numbed).” St. Paul in his letter to Ephesians (3.2-6) reminds us we are all “members of the same body and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel.” This hope-filled declaration speaks to us: a community of believers. As we long to know and see God, we each must continually invite our hearts to the truth and depth of the gospel for this is a beautiful, personal encounter and relationship with Christ. Unlike the magi who only had a brief encounter with him and then had to carry this as a guiding light for them on the rest of their life journey, we encounter Christ again and again: in each other, in serving others, in sharing our gifts, in praying together and in each Eucharist. In pondering this we ask ourselves: Am I allowing the true Light to be my guiding way or am I being caught up in the same fears as Herod? When do I readily share my gifts?

As much as we would like it to be Christmas every day of the year, we like the magi must set out on our journey. This journey filled with uncertain roads and mystery where Christ will meet us in the Ash Wednesday moments, the Triduum pathways, the joy of Easter, the refreshment of Pentecost, the time spent in ordinary living and then again in the reminder of how God chose to become one of us, when we will again remind ourselves as we cry out next Advent: “Come, O Come Emmanuel.” Our lives will look different 365 days from now, what will matter is how we journeyed from the crib of Christ by another road because of how we let the wonder and awe of Christ revealing himself to us impact us and in turn how we shared our gifts.

I would love nothing more than to stay here by the stable for next few months, but the time has come, for me, for you, for all of us, like the magi, like Joseph and Mary to now carry forth the promise of Christmas – Christ born – Christ our center. We are bearers of his light and hope for we are nourished with this Eucharist. In being nourished by Christ who is our light and center we serve as heralds for the world to look up for our light has come.

Creator of the heavens,

who led the Magi by a star

to worship the Christ Child:

guide and sustain us,

that we may find our journey’s end in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(The Daily Office SSF)