Reservation system for Sunday masses

July 5th, 2020

In accordance with guidelines established by the Province of Ontario and the Archdiocese of Toronto, individual mass attendance at St. Gabriel’s Passionist Parish is limited to 110 people (respecting the 30% capacity limitation as well as the physical distance requirement of 6 feet / 2 metres) including the celebrant.

You are required to either use the Eventbrite reservation system (St. Gabriel Sunday Mass Reservation) or else telephone (416-221-8866) the parish office to reserve your mass time. We require the names of the attendees, phone number, email address. If the number of attendees exceeds the space limitation, there will be a short wait list.

To make a Sunday Mass reservation, please click on the red button to the right. You will be taken to the parish reservation system. Please click on the picture of the church altar and a new page will open and then click on “Select a Date” in the red bar. Choose the mass time you want to reserve for and click on “Tickets”.

Protocols for Sunday Mass celebrations

July 5th, 2020

Welcome back to S. Gabriel’s Parish! We missed seeing you at church and are so happy that the church is now open for Sunday masses, albeit on a limited capacity basis.

We recognize that things may not look or feel the same as they did before. Some may find this awkward or uncomfortable. Others may wonder why we have these new measures at all.

We want to assure you that these temporary measures are only in place to make sure you stay healthy. We also want to assure you that we have done everything we can do to protect your health while you are at church.

The church is thoroughly sanitized before every Mass thanks to a team of volunteers. More volunteers, especially for the 4:30 pm and the 10:30 am and 12:30 am masses, are needed to ensure the cleaning process is quick and effective. If you are willing to help after this, or any other Mass, please contact the parish office.

A few notes about Mass attendance for some time to come:

  • While not mandatory, we strongly encourage you to wear non-medical grade masks or face coverings to church. If you are unable to wear a face covering for the entire Mass, please consider wearing it when entering and exiting the church and while lining up for Holy Communion.
  • Where possible, please maintain six feet (two metres) of physical distance from other parishioners who are not members of your household.
  • Although we do have a cantor and organist, we will not have communal singing during Mass at this time – so no singing!
  • All children’s ministries during Mass are cancelled.
  • The offertory basket will not be passed around. If you are able, after Mass please leave a donation in the marked baskets as you leave the church. Also, please consider signing-up for Pre-Authorized Giving which is a convenient way to support the church whether you are present or not. Signup forms are available from the parish office. Thank you for your generosity!
  • At the Sign of Peace, please nod or bow to your neighbours rather than shaking hands.
  • If you suddenly feel sick during the Mass, please leave the church for the safety of all parishioners. If you were to learn that you or a member of your household has tested positive for COVID-19 within 14 days of attending Mass here at St. Gabriel’s, please contact our local public health agency and also the parish office. We will protect your identity, except in conversation with public health officers to stop the spread of the virus.
  • At Holy Communion, we ask that you follow direction of the ushers. You can use the lines on the floor to maintain physical distancing. Please stop at the mark that is six feet (two metres) from the priest or Eucharistic Minister.
  • If you are receiving the Eucharist, when you have stopped at the six-foot (two-metre) spot, the priest or Minister will say “The Body of Christ” and you will reply “Amen”. With your mask on, approach the priest or Minister and receive the Eucharist in your hand only. Move to the spot marked on the floor to your left or right, remove your mask and consume the Eucharist. Then put the mask back on your face and return to your pew.
  • If you are receiving a blessing only, please cross your arms and receive the blessing from the original six foot (2 metre) spot and then return to your seat.
  • After extensive consultation with medical professionals specializing in pandemic management, Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, has decided that Holy Communion on the tongue will be temporarily suspended to stop the spread of the virus. We will return to this practice, for those who wish to receive in this way as soon as we are safely able to do so.
  • We will not distribute the Precious Blood at weekday masses.
  • At the end of Mass, we ask you to promptly leave the church, while maintaining six feet or two metres of physical distancing where possible. Please follow the instructions of the ushers. When everyone has left, cleaning volunteers will close the church doors so they can ensure this sacred space is thoroughly sanitized before the next Mass. They need as much time as possible to do this job properly.
  • To reduce the amount of cleaning required we ask you to please refrain from venerating or touching the church’s statues and the tabernacle.
  • All other Mass events and programs are cancelled at this time. We hope that these chances to meet with one another can resume when it is safe to do so.
  • And thank you for returning to our parish! The recent months have been difficult for all of us, so we hope this celebration of the Eucharist was a comforting and uplifting sacred experience. As Catholics, the Mass is the source and summit of our life in Christ. We thank God that we could celebrate this Mass here – with you – again today. Have a wonderful day! After months away from our parish, these temporary measures allow us to celebrate together once again in a way that we can protect one another. We thank you for your understanding and cooperation. It is great to see you all once again.

Homily – August 2, 2020

August 2nd, 2020

People brought word to Jesus of the brutal death of his cousin, John the Baptist. Think of the comparison of the banquet Jesus provided the 5000 people and the banquet that led to the murder of John. Herod’s was at the royal court and his guests were sycophants, hangers on. To impress his guests he promised his dancing daughter whatever she wanted. She asked for the head of John on a platter. Herod would look foolish and weak if he didn’t keep his promise.

Jesus was aching with grief. The news of John’s brutal death made him want to be alone to feel his great loss. But things didn’t work out that way. The crowds found him. We have no idea what he told them that day, we only know his disciples presented him with these facts, it was getting late and there was no way they could provide food for all these people. Let them shift for themselves.

This offends Jesus sense of hospitality. He gets the people to sit in the open field and takes the limited resources of five barley loaves and two fish and satisfies the hunger of the people.

Everything Jesus said or did was meant to bring people to closer to God and one another.

These men, women and children who followed Jesus to that deserted place were not stupid people, they were practical people. They knew that at some point they would need to eat. The families had their own hidden stashes. Jesus’ willingness to share the little he with all of them challenged them to share what they had with those around them. And they did and all were fed because all of them followed Jesus’ example of sharing the little he and his disciples had with others. No one went hungry.

Everything Jesus said or did, his parables, his miracles and his inter-action with lepers, the blind, the deaf and dumb, the outcasts and the sinners, are meant to challenge we, his followers to take one step forward toward being a more loving person, a more just person, a more forgiving person, a more compassionate person, a more loving person, even if our movement is something like baby step, it moves us closer to being the kind of person Jesus would have us be.

Today’s gospel calls us to be willing to share, even the little we have for the well-being of those around us.

Will we take that step forward?

Homily – July 26, 2020

July 26th, 2020

In our first reading we hear of young king Solomon and his encounter with God. God made Solomon an unbelievable offer, ‘Ask what I should give you.’ What if God made you that promise –ask what I should give you. What would ask for – what do you most want?

Young Solomon knew his limitations and his problems. He had an older brother who should have been made king but was passed over by King David. Solomon wasn’t sure of the loyalty of his generals and advisors. In the face of the many things Solomon could have requested he humbly asked for an understanding mind, another translation is a listening heart. He asks for listening heart so that he is able to discern between good and evil. This young king wasn’t interested in wealth and power and expanding his empire. He just wanted to be a good ruler blessed with a listening heart to hear the needs and the hurts of the people and do what was right and just for those God called him to lead.

A listening heart to help him to know what is best for the people, especially the poor, the widows, the orphans. A listening heart to appreciate the struggles of the poorest of his people. A listening heart to grasp what was right and what was wrong. This young and inexperienced king knew in his heart that great wealth and power were not what he needed to govern God’s great people. A listening heart, this was Solomon’s pearl of great price.

Through the ages writers and thinkers claimed that the root desires of the human heart are the pride of power – think of the mess the supposedly most powerful man of the most powerful nation in the world has created for his own people, the mess he has created for the family of nations.

The second driving force of the human heart is the accumulation of wealth, greed is good. The third driving force is the unbridled experience of pleasure. Experience shows us time and time again that all these drives put us on a one way street to nowhere. Powerful people come and go, wealth is accumulated and lost and even the most intense of pleasures become jaded.

We’ve all heard people say, ‘I’d give anything for… good health, a better job, a mortgage paid – whatever. They are searching for their hidden treasure, their pearl of great price.

Think on this for a moment. We are God’s hidden treasure, God’s pearl of great price. When God found us God bought us, not with gold or silver but with the precious blood of Jesus.

What is the hidden treasure we seek, what is our pearl of great price? Could it be in the eureka experience of realizing ‘not that we’ve found God but that God first found us’. Grasping such a wonder we are willing to let go of everything that we thought of importance and value and gladly respond to God’s loving movements in our lives. The farmer and the merchant first had to find the hidden treasure, the pearl and then sell everything to purchase then. It was the finding that started the whole process. It is our finding, our grasping the wonder of John’s teaching when he tells us, this is the wonder, this is the treasure, this is the pearl, not that we love God but that God first love us and sent his son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.’

As we continue this Mass we can pray for ourselves and for each other that we be blessed, as Solomon was, with a listening heart, a heart that listens to God’s word, a listening heart that hears the cry of the poor and the hurts of family and friends.

Homily – July 19, 2020

July 19th, 2020

I think a general feeling among all of us is impatience. We’re all ancy with all these restrictions about social distancing. We’re getting tired with mask wearing. There are so many restrictions on where we can travel and going to bars and restaurants and beaches. It hasn’t been a fun or relaxing summer.

Those in authority whether in government of the medical field keep asking us to wait, wait til things are safe, think of others wellbeing. If we want any proof of the need to be patient, our need to think about the whole picture we have only to look south of the border and see the growing number of those with the virus, the growing number of deaths all because of the mentality that ‘no one can tell me what to do.’ The resistance to be patient.

The basic message of today’s gospel is a call for patience. Sure the farmer is angry that an enemy has spread weeds in his new sown field. Who wouldn’t be? The solution is not to start tearing out the weeds, the solution is the farmer’s wise decision to let weeds and wheat grow together and then, when the time comes he’ll reap two harvests – one of fuel, the weeds and one of food, the wheat.

Let both grow together until the harvest. There was a picture of a scruffy little guy with what looked like a black eye and a band aid on his knee and a caption that read; God’s not finished with me yet.’

God’s not finished with any of us yet. When we try to root out the weeds we see in other people we’re like those anxious workers who want to get to work on the weeds, dig them out and throw them away. God tells us wait. Our righteous judgemental way of doing things could do more harm than good. As Jesus warned us; with the same severity with which we judge others, we will be judged. When have the honesty to admit our own weeds of impatience, resentments, pride, self-indulgence, bigotry and racism, our indifference to the needs of others, we know these are the weeds we need to uproot. If you have any experience of gardening you know that weeds can be persistent.

We have to remember this; our many weeds don’t really agree with your inner self. None of the weeds growing in us are wonderful, but they are only a part of who we are. Our urge to impress others falsely, to get what we want no matter what, to be lazy, petulant, or whatever, these are not the full description of who we are. There is strong and healthy wheat growing in us.

We all live with the reality that the good we would do we do not and that the evil we would not do that we do. It’s our human condition. Our consolation is that God is not finished with anyone of us. As our first reading reminds us;

With great forbearance you govern us – that our righteous must be kind “Your sovereignty over all causes you to spare all” We must never tire of the difficult task of weeding.

Homily – July 12, 2020

July 11th, 2020

Jesus was a great teller of parables, stories. His listeners knew his stories had a message, a teaching beyond the story.

We can just imagine this farmer walking in his field. He has a sack of seed hung around his neck. He takes a handful of seed and flings it into the air and a breeze scatters the seed. It falls where it may. The farmer takes a chance; some seed may fall on hard rocky ground with no chance of taking root. Some will fall among weeds and as they take root will lose the battle for survival with the weeds. Other seeds will end up in the belly of a bird. Other seeds, hopefully the majority, will fall on good ground and bear a rich harvest. But the reality of the way the seed was sown is that if 20% of the seed flourished that would be a good harvest.

Modern planting leaves nothing to chance, everything is mechanical. The seeds are planted just so far apart and all in straight rows. But there is a fly in the ointment, Mother Nature. Farmers today are desperate for rain, the fields are bone dry, these hot, hot days don’t help. Then as now there are no guarantees in sowing or planting..

Jesus travelled from town to town in Galilee and Judea teaching the people, thru stories such as the one we’ve heard today, about the love of God for each of them. A love flung out on the world with total abandon, a love and a forgiveness meant for everyone. Jesus embodied that love as he gave sight to the blind, as he made lepers clean, gave sight to the blind, mobility to the lame and paralyzed. Jesus embodied God’s love as he lifted the burden of sin from the shoulders of those oppressed with the guilt of their past lives. St. Paul claims that the crucified Christ was the love of God made visible.

Day after day, town after town Jesus flung the seed of God’s love and care and healing out to the hearers of the stories he told, his teachings and his deeds of wonder.

So often the seeds of his teachings he tried to sow fell of the hard ground of the hostility of the religious authorities of the day. How dare this nobody speak of God, how dare he intrude on their domain? Or they fell among the brambles of people threatened by his teachings of justice and acceptance of men and women different from themselves, like the Samaritans.

There were times when many found his teaching hard to take and walked with him no more, carried off in the wind of resistance to change. But Jesus continued to fling the seed until that day when they nailed his hands to the cross.

Today the sower is our Church, for all its failings, as it puts before us the demanding teachings of Jesus the sower of justice, love and peace. We, the soil, are no different from the people of the time of Jesus. We’re caught up in the concerns of our lives. We enjoy the good life. We don’t like our lifestyles challenged, we can resist a change for the better, we don’t want to be the keeper of our brothers and sisters, We don’t want to face the truth of which today’s events remind us; in one way or another we are all racist in that, unconsciously, we see men and women different than ourselves as less than ourselves.

May we pray for ourselves and for each other that the Bread of Life that nourishes each of us at this Mass will strengthen us to be fertile soil to receive and nourish the seed of Christ’s teachings into our lives and that we bear a bountiful harvest.