Homily – December 21, 2014

December 21st, 2014

Today’s gospel tells of that moment in time when God intruded into the lives of a young engaged couple living in a backwater village called Nazareth. Theirs was a simple life. The engaged Mary was probably making plans for her upcoming wedding. It would be a simple affair. Her future husband probably 16 years old, was an apprenticed carpenter and like Mary a person of limited means.

Luke’s telling of the angel’s visit to Mary and the consequences of that visit, that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and the power of the most high would overshadow her and her child would be holy and called the Son of God teaches us that the history of Jesus does not emerge out of the stream of ongoing history but tells us of the transcendental origin of the history of Jesus. God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, one is being with the Father.

Gabriel promised Mary her son would be great, and would be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever and his kingdom will have no end.’

Mary’s answer to Gabriel’s mysterious message was, ‘be it done to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed and Mary’s life began to be complicated. When she returned home after going to help her aged cousin Elizabeth with the birth of John the Baptist, Mary’s pregnancy was obvious. Young Joseph was at his wits end. He decided to divorce Mary quietly, there would be no scandal. Then God intruded into Joseph’s life too. Trusting in the mysterious ways of God Joseph took Mary as his wife.

This Thursday we will be celebrating the birthday of Mary’s first born child.

Pope Paul V1 described Mary as ‘she whose life was available to God.’ She never took back her words,’ be it done unto me according to your word.’ Those words would cost Mary. She endured the long journey to Bethlehem and gave birth in stable. At Joseph’s insistence they fled to Egypt to protect their child’s life. After years of what we know as the ‘hidden years’ Jesus began to preach to the people that the kingdom of God was near. Mary must have worried about him as reports came back to Nazareth that Jesus was upsetting and making enemies of powerful people in Jerusalem. Then Mary was brought the startling news of Jesus’ arrest, his quick trial and his death sentence. Mary rushed to be with her son. We can’t imagine what went through her mind as she stood at the cross and looked at the beaten and naked body to which she had given birth. We can wonder if she remembered the words we just heard in the gospel; he will be great and the Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever and his kingdom will have no end.’ Such a memory would test her faith. How can this be – be it done unto me according to your word. Mary was ever faithful to these words even as she helped lay the body of Jesus in a borrowed tomb.

If we think about it, every time we say the Our Father we echo Mary’s words, be it done to be according to your word. Every time we say the Our Father we too make our lives available to God as we say ‘thy kingdom come, thy will be done.’ These are easy words to say but not easy words to live especially when things go wrong in our lives. Thy will be done may challenges us to accept an unexpected illness in our life or a death of one we love. Thy will be done will challenge us to struggle with living Christ’s great commandment, ‘love one another as I have loved you or forgiving someone who has really wronged us. Be it done to me – these were no easy words for Mary to live – thy will be done – are not easy words for us to live, but we try and as always, some days we win and some days we lose.

As we come closer to the birth of Jesus we ask his loving and faithful mother for the help we need to say, with as much generosity as we can – be it done to me according to your word and like Mary try to make our lives available to God as we pray, thy will be done.

Bulletin – December 21, 2014

December 21st, 2014

O God,
whose mighty Son was born in Bethlehem
those days long ago,
lead us to that same poor place,
where Mary laid her tiny Child.
And as we look on in wonder and praise,
make us welcome him in all new life,
see him in the poor,
and care for his handiwork, the earth, the sky and the sea.
O God, bless us again in your great love.
We pray for this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Christmas Schedule 2014

MASSES

CHRISTMAS EVE – Wednesday, December 24th
No 9:00 AM Mass
7:00 PM: Family Mass – Carol Singing
9:00 PM: Contemporary Group
12:00 AM: Midnight Mass – Adult Choir, Carol Singing
Office Open 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM only

CHRISTMAS DAY – Thursday, December 25th
10:30 AM
12:30 PM
Office Open 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM

BOXING DAY – Friday, December 26th
No Mass, Office Closed

NEW YEAR’S EVE – Wednesday, December 31st
No 9:00 AM Mass
Mass at 4:30 PM for the Feast of Mary the Mother of God
Office Open 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM only

NEW YEAR’S DAY – Thursday, January 1st
FEAST OF MARY THE MOTHER OF GOD
10:30 AM
12:30 PM
Office Closed

Parking

While parking at ground level is limited to 51 spaces, there is plenty of space in the underground parking lot. Please follow the instructions of the attendants. Do not park in front of the Church since this is a fire route and must be kept clear.

Additional parking is available on the east side of Elkhorn Public School and in the bus loop. Again, please follow the instructions of the attendant. The school requests that we do not park on the grass. Many thanks to Holly Richards, the Principal of Elkhorn Public School, for allowing us the use of the school property.

ANNOUNCED MASSES

December 22nd to December 27th, 2014

MONDAY – UMBERTO INTINI – Requested by Chiara Intini & Family
TUESDAY – ROY CELIS – Requested by Maria Lourdes Luz
WEDNESDAY – CHRISTMAS EVE
THURSDAY – CHRISTMAS DAY
FRIDAY – BOXING DAY – No 9:00 AM Mass
SATURDAY – MAURICE TEMPLO – Requested by Monica Cheng

CHRISTMAS PAGEANT

Dress Rehearsal: Sunday, December 21st at 1:30 PM

The Christmas Eve Pageant is a tradition at our church we hope to continue with again this year. But we need volunteer children to play the parts of Mary and Joseph, wise men, shepherds, angels and of course, the star. If you have a young child who would like to be in the Pageant at the 7:00 PM Mass on Christmas Eve, there is one mandatory practice for about an hour on Sunday December 21st after the 12:30 Mass in the Gabriel Room.

FAMILY MASS CHRISTMAS EVE CHILDREN’S CHOIR

Rehearsal: This Sunday, December 21st 2:00 to 4:00 PM

Each year, young people, Grade 3 and up, form a special choir for the Family Mass on Christmas Eve. Children must be at the Church by 6:00 PM. One rehearsal, which is mandatory, will be held this Sunday, December 21st from 2:00 to 4:00 PM.

Please call Marilyn Calderone at 416-618-2041 for more information.

ADVENT-SOLSTICE REFLECTION: “Shifting from Darkness to Light: Not by Passive Hope.”

This Sunday, December 21st from 7:30 to 9:30 PM

The hopeful expectation of the Advent season requires our active participation to effect change; it is not a passive hope.

By examining the recent typhoon in the Philippines, we will seek signs of active hope and reflect on the Church’s calls for ecological justice.

Please contact Elliott Allen Institute for Theology & Ecology at eaite.contact@utoronto.ca or Dennis O’Hara at dennis.ohara@utoronto.ca or 416-926-1300, ext. 3408 to register or for more information.

BLUE HYMN BOOKS

Many parishioners have been asking what happened to our Blue Hymn books. They were too large to fit easily into the pew racks. Many ended up on the floor especially at the very crowded Masses. This was a safety hazard. We are having racks made which will accommodate these hymnals in the new year.

CASSEROLES FOR THE GOOD SHEPHERD CENTRE

Your prepared casseroles (frozen please) will be collected at the Masses on the weekend of January 3rd/4th for delivery to the Good Shepherd Centre.

More volunteers are needed to help feed the hungry in our city. Please get a copy of a casserole recipe from the Parish Office and a pan and give it a try.

For more information, contact Irene Albrecht at 416 221-2791.

FINANCE CORNER

The Parish’s 2014 budgeted operating expenses average $14,550 per week.

Offertory Collection for last weekend:
Envelopes 442 $10,234
Loose Change 1,048
Weekly Portion of Pre-Authorized Giving 164 3,058
Total 606 $14,340

OFFERTORY ENVELOPES FOR 2015

The 2015 Offertory Boxed Envelopes are available in the Gathering Space. Please pick yours up as soon as possible. If you have a PAG or Donate Now account, you will still receive a smaller green box of envelopes since these include Initial, New Year’s, Christmas, Easter and Maintenance envelopes. You may contact the Parish Office if you do not have envelopes but would like a box for 2015.
Please note: All donations for 2014 must be received in the Parish Office by Tuesday, December 30th 2014 or they will not be included in your 2014 Tax Receipt.

Homily – December 14, 2014

December 14th, 2014

Every now and then we may struggle through a time of crises in our lives. We may be dissatisfied with the way things are going in our marriage or a relationship or have a sense of unfulfilled possibilities in our careers. We may wonder if there is any meaning to our lives at all. What’s it all about, who am I anyway? What’s it all for? It’s all called identity crisis or midlife crisis. It can be a difficult time in our lives.

We meet John the Baptist again in today’s gospel. John the Baptist had no identity crises. He knew who he was; a voice crying out in a wilderness of doubt and uncertainty at that time. John knew what he was to do with his life, he was to ‘prepare the way of the Lord, and make straight his paths, get rid of all those barriers that hinder the growth of God’s life and love in people’s lives. John knew his vocation in life was to make way for some else, someone greater that he was, someone whose sandal strap he was unworthy to untie.

John the Baptist knew who he was and he knew who he was not; I am not the Messiah and he wouldn’t pretend to be. John’s job was to point to another and so he pointed out Jesus to his followers telling them, there is the Lamb of God, follow him. John was not the light he was to bear witness to the light. Referring to Jesus John said, I must decrease and he must increase and that’s what happened. John was beheaded in prison for telling King Herod it was not lawful for him to be married to his brother’s widow. With John’s death, his decreasing, Jesus was free to state his identity. He was anointed by God to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and set the downtrodden free.

‘I must decrease, he must increase.’ There are those who say that it was these words of John that brought the church to decide on the birth days of Jesus and John the Baptist. On June 21st we celebrate the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. From then on the days shorten. June 24th is the feast of John the Baptist and the days of the sun’s decreasing begin. Next Sunday we have the winter solstice, the shortest day of the years. Then the days begin, although very gradually, the days begin to lengthen. December 25th we celebrate the birth of Jesus and his increasing.

I must decrease and he must increase. That is the challenge of Advent and of all our lives. Our self-centeredness, our selfishness, our ‘me first’ mentality must decrease so that we may be graced with thought fullness for others, care for others, respect for others. We must decrease and Christ must increase in us so that such sins as bigotry and prejudice and racism and homophobia have no part in our relationships with others. We must decrease and Christ must increase so that our lives and hearts are with those who work for social justice, a living wage, adequate housing for all. We must decrease and Christ must increase so that we become more and more sensitive to the environmental issues of our age and make every effort to live simply that others may simply live.

As we spend these next weeks preparing materially and spiritually for the birthday of our savior, Jesus, son of God, son of Mary, may our mantra be – I must decrease, Christ must increase.

Bulletin – December 14, 2014

December 14th, 2014

Lord Jesus,
Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.
We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.
We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.
To you we say, “Come Lord Jesus!”
Amen.

ADVENT-SOLSTICE REFLECTION

“Shifting from Darkness to Light: Not by Passive Hope.”

Sunday, December 21st from 7:30 to 9:30 PM

The hopeful expectation of the Advent season requires our active participation to effect change; it is not a passive hope. By examining the recent typhoon in the Philippines, we will seek signs of active hope and reflect on the Church’s calls for ecological justice. Please contact Elliott Allen Institute for Theology & Ecology at eaite.contact@utoronto.ca or Dennis O’Hara at dennis.ohara@utoronto.ca or 416-926-1300, ext. 3408 to register or for more information.

CHILDREN’S CHOIR
FAMILY MASS – CHRISTMAS EVE AT 7:00 PM

Rehearsal: Sunday, December 21st 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Each year, young people, Grade 3 and up, form a special choir for the Family Mass on Christmas Eve. Children must be at the Church by 6:00 PM. One rehearsal, which is mandatory, will be held on Sunday, December 21st from 2:00 to 4:00 PM.

Please call Marilyn Calderone at 416-618-2041 for more information.

CHRISTMAS PAGEANT

Dress Rehearsal: Sunday, December 21st at 1:30 PM

The Christmas Eve Pageant is a tradition at our church we hope to continue with again this year. But we need volunteer children to play the parts of Mary and Joseph, wise men, shepherds, angels and of course, the star. If you have a young child who would like to be in the Pageant at the 7:00 Mass on Christmas Eve, there is one mandatory practice for about an hour on Sunday December 21st after the 12:30 Mass in the Gabriel Room.

Christmas Schedule 2014

INDIVIDUAL ADVENT CONFESSIONS

Day of Confession:
Wednesday, December 10th from 10:30 AM to 12:00 Noon and from 3:30 PM to 6:00 PM
Saturday, December 20th from 10:30 AM to 12:00 Noon

MASSES

CHRISTMAS EVE – Wednesday, December 24th
No 9:00 AM Mass
7:00 PM: Family Mass – Carol Singing
9:00 PM: Contemporary Group
12:00 AM: Midnight Mass – Adult Choir, Carol Singing
Office Open 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM only

CHRISTMAS DAY – Thursday, December 25th
10:30 AM
12:30 PM
Office Open 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM

BOXING DAY – Friday, December 26th
No Mass, Office Closed

NEW YEAR’S EVE – Wednesday, December 31st
No 9:00 AM Mass
Mass at 4:30 PM for the Feast of Mary the Mother of God
Office Open 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM only

NEW YEAR’S DAY – Thursday, January 1st
FEAST OF MARY THE MOTHER OF GOD
10:30 AM
12:30 PM
Office Closed

Parking

While parking at ground level is limited to 51 spaces, there is plenty of space in the underground parking lot. Please follow the instructions of the attendants. Do not park in front of the Church since this is a fire route and must be kept clear.

Additional parking is available on the east side of Elkhorn Public School and in the bus loop. Again, please follow the instructions of the attendant. The school requests that we do not park on the grass. Many thanks to Holly Richards, the Principal of Elkhorn Public School, for allowing us the use of the school property.

ANNOUNCED MASSES

December 15th to December 20th, 2014

MONDAY – CAROLINA CAETANO-MACDONELL – Requested by the Family
TUESDAY – MARGARET KANG – Requested by Wai Chin, Paul & the Hwang Family
WEDNESDAY – EVELYN DYSANGCO – Requested by Maria Lourdes Luz
THURSDAY – BARRY BRADBURY – Requested by Peggy Pusaka & Family
FRIDAY – MARTIN SMEE – Requested by the Family
SATURDAY – KATHI WATTS – Requested by Kathi Leah

THANK YOU FROM FR. RICK & FR. BRANDO

Fr. Rick Frechette and Fr. Brando wish to thank you for your very very generous response to the Advent Day of Reflection and Fr. Rick’s homily at the weekend Masses. To date, almost $36,500 has been raised for Fr. Rick’s Mission in Haiti.

If you did not get a chance to donate and wish to do so, you may still donate at the table set up in the Gathering Space. Please make any cheques payable to the Passionist Missionaries.

GIFTS FOR CATHOLIC CHILDREN’S AID, ROSALIE HALL & ST. VINCENT DE PAUL

Thank you so much for your wonderful response to our appeal for gifts for the Catholic Children’s Aid “Hope for the Children campaign, Rosalie Hall and St. Vincent de Paul. This weekend is your last chance to bring in gifts. Please include the mitten, stocking or gift tag with your gift.
Toys for Hope for the Children may be left in the large box in the Gathering Space. Items for Rosalie Hall and

St. Vincent de Paul may be left under the Christmas tree. If you were unable to get a tag, you may still contribute. Just bring your gift and place it in the appropriate place.

FEED THE HUNGRY

There but for the Grace of God…..

Please help feed the hungry and homeless this Christmas by participating in the St. Gabriel’s annual Christmas Food Drive. Please check the expiry dates before donating since we cannot pass on food that has expired.

Food collected will be sent to the Good Shepherd Centre and Rosalie Hall. Thank you for your generous support.

JUST COFFEE

Fair trade organic coffees will be on sale after all the Masses next weekend.

Regular ground coffee: $5.50
Decaffeinated: $6
Whole Beans: $5.50
Chocolate Bars: $4 incl. Taxes
Hot Chocolate and Cocoa: $4.75
Teas: $4.25

DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE

A Humanitarian Voice For Syria

Tuesday, December 16th at 7:00 PM
Our Lady of Lourdes Church, 520 Sherbourne Street

Please join Development and Peace in welcoming Fr. Nawras Sammour, Country Director of Jesuit Refugee Services, Syria who will speak about his experiences in managing relief efforts for a refugee crisis of over 3 million people, a crisis which continues to be perpetuated through ongoing violence.

For further details or to RSVP, please contact Sam Jeffrey at sam.jeffrey@devp.org or by phone at 416-922 1592, Ext. 242.

ST.GABRIEL’S SCHOOL ME TO WE SALE

Weekend of December 13th/14th
St. Gabriel’s Church

The St. Gabriel’s School Me to We Committee will be selling rafiki chains for $10 in the Gathering Space after all the Masses on the weekend of December 13th/14th. In Swahili, the word rafiki means friend. Every rafiki friend chain is handmade by a “mama” in Kenya. $5 will go back to the “mamas” to help their families. The rest will be donated by the school towards clean water. Rafiki chains make great gifts for Christmas! For more information, please visit www.metowe.com

There will be catalogues available in the Gathering Space for those who wish to make a larger donation. The catalogues offer options such as buying a goat, which would provide milk for a family or a source of income to buy food and necessities.

A FESTIVAL OF NINE LESSONS AND CAROLS

Tuesday, December 16 at 7:30 PM

St. Gabriel’s Church

The Vocal Department of Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts presents A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on Tuesday December 16th at 7:30 PM featuring 170 voices from grade 7 to 12. This service of scripture and carols is based on the annual service held at King’s College, Cambridge and includes a candlelight procession, traditional hymns, contemporary anthems and special arrangements of all your favorites like Silent Night and O Holy Night. General Admission is $15 and can be purchased at the door.

FINANCE CORNER

The Parish’s 2014 budgeted operating expenses average $14,550 per week.

Offertory Collection for last weekend:

Envelopes 413 $12,176
Loose Change 1,302
Weekly Portion of Pre-Authorized Giving 164 3,058
Total 577 $16,536

If you are a regular Parish member and you do not contribute to the Offertory collection, the Finance Council reminds you that “the financial burden of the Parish is the responsibility of each and all parishioners to the extent that your means allow”.

For those parishioners who contribute to the offertory on a regular weekly basis, we thank you for your constant support.

Have you considered using PAG or Donate Now?

OFFERTORY ENVELOPES FOR 2015

The 2015 Offertory Boxed Envelopes are available in the Gathering Space. Please pick yours up as soon as possible. If you have a PAG or Donate Now account, you will still receive a smaller green box of envelopes since these include Initial, New Year’s, Christmas, Easter and Maintenance envelopes. You may contact the Parish Office if you do not have envelopes but would like a box for 2015.

If you are moving out of the Parish or have a change of address, please contact the Parish Office at 416-221-8866 so that we can update our records. Thank you.

Homily – December 7, 2014

December 7th, 2014

Cardinal Collins has designated Dec. 10th as the Archdiocesan Day of Reconciliation. Here at St. Gabriel’s the Sacrament of Reconciliation were be available from 10;30 -12;00 and from 3:30 til 6:00.

Any priest ordained for a number of years will tell you that confessions have dropped off over the years. Many of us seniors remember lining up on either side of the ‘sin bin’ to tell the priest pretty much the same sins we confessed the last time we confessed. The emphasis in those days was on ‘confessing’ and the numbers of times. It was for many people so mechanical. There was little emphasis on why we did or said things that were sinful. The whole experience was thought to be unsatisfactory.

For a number of years now the sacrament has been called the sacrament of reconciliation. The emphasis in not on the telling of sins and the number, the emphasis in on our desire to be reconciled to God, to mend the brokenness of our relationship with God caused by our failures to live our lives in Christ-like ways.

We are good people but we are also mistaking making people. We keep letting our wants get in the way of what Christ calls us to be and do. We let our wants for instant gratification take over our lives and so we use people to satisfy our needs for pleasure or power or things. St. Paul said it so well in these words,’ the good that I would that I do not and the evil that I would not do, that I do.’ We can’t solve this struggle on our own. We need to open to open our lives to the grace and power of Christ. We need the example of his love, his mercy, his care and concern for others, his example of forgiving, his openness to other people and his sense of justice to be our motivation to love as we’ve been loved, to respect other people as we’ve been respected, to forgive as we’ve been forgiven.

It is a day by day struggle to live up to the example Christ has given us. Some days we win and some days we lose. But always we keep trying. Always we keep depending on Christ to help us be the kind of Christian person Christ calls us to be.

There can be times when we just get so discouraged with dealing with our struggles to be good persons. We need to hear the encouraging words of our second reading, ‘The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting you to perish, but all to come to repentance.’ Through this gracious gift of Christ, this sacrament of reconciliation we come by his grace to restore and strengthen our relationship with him whether it has been shattered or weaken by our selfishness.

Our first reading and our gospel tell of mountains brought low, valleys filled in, croaked ways straighten to allow the grace and life of God to enter and transform our lives so that Christ’s peace, patience and goodness can find a home in our lives. The sacrament of reconciliation is an opportunity to make this happen in our lives. If you have been away a long time and have forgotten what to say or do, don’t fret your confessor will fill in the blanks. This sacrament of reconciliation is Christ’s gift of pardon and peace to you. After his resurrection Jesus appeared to the apostles. St. John tells us, ‘he breathed on then and said, receive the Holy Spirit, for those whose sins you forgive are forgiven, for those whose sins you retain, they are retained. Accept this gift, unwrap it and enjoy it.