Filled with Holy Spirit 

                 – Br. Michael, ofm

 

Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’ – Luke 4.14-21

Jesus, the Anointed One

brings us good news

in the little ways of life,

in his word penetrating our living,

in our connections with one another.

 

Jesus, the Chain Breaker

proclaims release to us

declaring our sins are forgiven,

embracing us with dignity

honoring our worthiness.

 

Jesus, the Sight Giver

opens our eyes

to hope each day,

to the power of love,

to discover his beauty.

 

Jesus, the Freedom Architect

releases us from what is oppressive

with his endless mercy,

with his gentle peace,

with his life, death and resurrection.

 

Jesus, the Celebrating One

proclaims God’s favour in our lives

each day,

in all ways,

with much delight.

 

The Spirit of the Lord was indeed upon Jesus

and he has infused this Spirit in our living

calling us beloved,

showing us authentic living,

guiding us in relationship with God.

 

The power of the Spirit indeed filled Jesus

and is filling each of us;

let us be attentive to the promptings,

allowing holy wisdom to speak

so that in turn we move and act with the Spirit.

 

Jesus,

“filled with the power of the Holy Spirit”

help us to see that we too are filled with your Spirit

for we are vessels of you

bearing good news,

living freely in you,

seeing with clear vision,

releasing our burdens,

proclaiming your goodness and mercy

all the days of our life.

Amen.

Photo Credit: Hasan Almasi

 

 

 

 

             

 

 

 

Day Retreats in February

Tuesday, February 1

9:00 am – 3:00 pm

Healing, Wholeness and Hope

International Day of Human Fraternity

A day of reflection, sharing and prayer.

 

 

Wednesday, February 9

9:00 am – 3:00 pm

Day Away:

As the Father Has Sent Me So I Send You

A day set aside for reflection and prayer.

 

 

Saturday, February 12

8:30 am – 3:00 pm

A Day Away with One You Love

Spend a retreat day together.

Check our listing on website.

Limited spots available.

call 403-932-2012 or email mtfrancis@shaw.ca to register

             

 

 

 

Marvellous Works

                              – Br. Michael, ofm

 

The New Year has quickly taken off. We may still be relishing in the days of cheer of Christmas past. We may be stumbling through how to move forward with goals or resolutions. We may be stuck in a snow drift of uncertainty. We may be sailing along and embracing each day. Regardless of where we are at this midpoint of the first month of 2022 God continues to be present and God’s message of hope and love remains.

 

Psalm 96 says: “Declare the marvellous works of the Lord among the peoples.”

Have we taken the time to declare the marvellous works of this past week? Maybe it was a sunset, a connection with a friend, a delicious cup of tea, a kind neighbour, laughter shared or maybe it was a transformed heart or a fresh insight. No matter what it was, the marvellous works of God seem to come in small ways so that we can take in and begin to comprehend how marvellous God’s love truly is.

 

Each day marvellous works of the Lord take place. Pausing at the end of the day to recall which one touched us is a practice we can carry into the weeks that will become the rest of 2022. It will only encourage our connection with God and will loosen our tongues to declare the many marvellous works of the Lord even if only to ourselves. It will indeed increase our gratitude quota for the year. God delights over us so very much and so often we allow this delight to slip by us; maybe unaware, maybe too busy, or maybe not open to it, regardless, God continues to delight.

 

The prophet Isaiah says, “You shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give… you shall be a crown of beauty… a royal diadem… you shall be called My Delight… for the Lord delights in you… God rejoices over you” (62.1-5). Is this alone not enough to declare as marvellous? Is this not the gift given to us each day? Our God madly in love with us, calling us to life, calling us to let go of the destructive ways and the lures of the world. Our God declaring the marvellous works of creation, the creation of us as delightful, beautiful, royal and worth rejoicing over. In other words, Beloved. Called by a new name: Beloved. Rejoicing over us because we are beloved.

 

Nothing can beat the marvellous goodness of God’s love and the hope it instills in us. We must keep our eyes fixed on our God and the One whom God sent to us. The One who lifts us up in his marvellous love and redeems us and declares the delight and belovedness which is inherently ours from the beginning of time. Our God and our Savior gift us with the Spirit who activates in us gifts – a variety of gifts which we are reminded of in the first letter to the Corinthians. These gifts are expressed and shared uniquely by each one of us, manifesting the goodness of God and the goodness of each other, which in turn causes even more declaring of the marvellous works of our God. God’s glory and love and delight is revealed in our lives. As Saint Irenaeus said: “The glory of God is the person fully alive, but the life of humanity is the vision of God.” Again, a reminder that we are beloved. In little ways God’s glory is revealed and this is grace upon for grace for us. Let us not lose sight of this as we continue the journey of 2022.

 

God of the Journey,

you delight in us,

call us beloved

and walk with us all the days of our life.

As we continue to walk into 2022

may our hearts be awakened

to your marvellous works

which are present each day

in both the grand and in the small.

May we continue to share our gifts

so that goodness may abound

for all people.

May we continue to fix our eyes

on you and the glory of your life

in this journey.

Amen.

Photos: MJP

 

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.

 

Amen.

 

Photo Credits: Arūnas Naujokas and Priscilla Du Preez

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greccio

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.

 

Amen.

 

[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.

Amen.

 

 

 

Photo Credits: Sharon McCutcheon and Daiwei Lu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Amen.

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.

Amen.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Youssef Aboutaleb