All posts by Fr. Jim

Archbishop’s Message on Christ the King!

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Warm greetings and good wishes of perseverance and hope at this difficult time, when the number of active cases in Saskatchewan have risen dramatically. For many, in the past two weeks, including myself, the pandemic has become real in a new way, as family members, friends, or people we know well have tested positive, are in ICU, or have died. We lift all those who have died and their loved ones, all who have tested positive for Covid and their families, in fervent prayer before the Risen Lord.

As you know, new restrictions have been put in place regarding mask usage, affecting all the parishes of the Archdiocese. The Saskatchewan Health Authority and provincial government have not imposed further restrictive steps on faith communities at this time, but have continued their conversation with faith leaders, and have let us know that there are cases of the virus having spread in worship settings in the province. They have not moved to lockdown, but have arranged a series of urgent meetings, asking what we can do and what we would recommend so that we mitigate risks, encourage adherence to the directives, and reduce movement and duration during worship services. I am grateful for the spirit of consultation which is now prevailing.

As we approach the great feast of Christ the King, I am reminded of all the places in which we are called to allow Christ to be our King: our hearts, wills, societies, the world around us. When the feast was instituted by Pope Pius XI, he wanted to invite the faithful to participate in the challenges and struggles of the societies in which they lived, but to do so mindful of a higher authority. Political structures have a rightful place in our lives, but also limits, and our ultimate authority is Christ the King. When the re-open Saskatchewan plan was first announced in late April and there was no mention of religious groups and how they would be able to safely gather, we joined with faith leaders from across the province to approach our Premier with the hope of beginning a dialogue about the importance of religious gatherings. As Catholics and citizens, we recognize that civic and health authorities have an important role to play, but we also wanted them to hear what faith communities could provide to our society at a time of deep struggle, in terms of hope, of maintaining a safe environment, and of caring for the vulnerable. The fruits which have come from these dialogues and deeper relationships are most evident in the greater numbers that our spaces are allowed than other public gatherings. While more changes are likely to come, it is helpful to remember the words of Pope Pius XI in the encyclical which instituted the feast: “there seems no reason why we should despair of seeing that peace which the King of Peace came to bring on earth – he who came to reconcile all things, who came not to be ministered unto but to minister, who, though Lord of all, gave himself to us as a model of humility, and with his principal law united the precept of charity” (20).

This year on the feast of Christ the King, we will hear the powerful words of Matthew 25 and Jesus’s parable of the last judgement. Jesus our king gives us a word, a word to live by, a difficult and challenging word. The word comes in the form of a question, the last question we are ever likely to hear. The parable tells us that at the end of time, when death is conquered and God is all in all, when we stand before the risen Lord, he will ask: when I was hungry, did you give me food? When I was thirsty, did you give me something to drink? When I was sick, or in prison, did you visit me? When I was a stranger, did you welcome me? The Incarnate Word identifies himself with those in greatest need, and tells us that we encounter him there, in what Mother Teresa refers to as Christ in his most distressing disguise.

The questions ought to make us restless, uncomfortable. They are not new; we know them, we have heard them before. Indeed if we listen closely, we hear them being asked to us daily in a thousand different ways. Sometimes it’s a beggar on the street who asks them to us; sometimes it is a victim of clergy sexual abuse who wants to be heard and respected. Sometimes it is an Indigenous brother or sister who needs help, and sometimes it’s a family member or neighbour who is struggling. Sometimes it is the unborn or those at the end of life who are pushed aside, and sometimes it’s a saint, like John Chrysostom, who reminds us that an afflicted sister or brother is “the most precious temple of all.” Sometimes it’s Pope Francis, who tells us he prefers a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, and sometimes it’s a critic of the church, who points out our lack of integrity.

As we prepare to celebrate the Feast of Christ the King, let us renew our commitment to love and welcome the Lord in all the ways he comes to us. Let us participate in our civic life, work with our elected officials and health authorities, and do all we can to protect the vulnerable. And in all that, let us be guided above all by the Lord, who immerses himself in the sufferings and struggles of humanity and asks us to love and serve him there: Christ our King.

Watch Video Message HERE

Regarding Changes to COVID Protocols Affecting Mass Attendance in Regina

From the Archdiocese of Regina:

As announced earlier this week, a new SHA health order has increased certain COVID-19 restrictions. Effective Friday, November 6, 2020, these restrictions include mandatory use of non-medical masks in all indoor public spaces in Regina, Saskatoon, and P.A. This includes at our celebration of the Mass and all other parish gatherings. All persons attending all parish events within the city of Regina are required to wear non-medical face masks from the time they enter the building until they have exited the building.

For communion, the people should leave their mask on when they come forward, receive communion in whichever way your parish has determined, step to the side, slip the mask up, down, or to the side, consume the host, replace the mask and continue back to the pew.

Changes to gathering sizes included in this health order do not affect the Mass, weddings, funerals, or other religious gatherings at public places of worship. These continue to fall under the protocols found within the Saskatchewan Re-open Plan.

https://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/health-care-administration-and-provider-resources/treatment-procedures-and-guidelines/emerging-public-health-issues/2019-novel-coronavirus/re-open-saskatchewan-plan/guidelines/places-of-worship-guidelines

Archbishop Don’s Weekly Message

Archbishop Don’s Message on Patience

In his letter to the Romans (5:1-5), St Paul speaks a word we need to hear, about endurance, about patience. He notes that “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” When I gathered with my little drafting group to prepare this message, the consensus was that I should speak about patience. It has probably never been easy to live with a deep patience, but it seems particularly difficult today to show patience.

The pandemic is demanding an incredible patience from us, and it is exhausting us.
So many people are experiencing fatigue from the pandemic. One of my confreres said recently, passionately, “I am so sick of Covid.” So many of us are tired of restrictions, tired of masks, tired of not being able to do so many things in a normal way. Yet no matter how frustrated we get, Covid 19 continues to surge around the world, and here in Saskatchewan there has been a big spike in cases. Caring for and protecting the most vulnerable among us requires patient endurance. Looking after our own mental, physical, and spiritual health and provide encouragement and support to others suffering from exhaustion and stress requires patient endurance.

Patience is especially difficult in an age of social media, and in an age of polarization. We see something we disagree with and we respond, we express our frustration. The opportunity that we have in face to face encounters, to say “am I hearing you correctly,” or “what do you mean by that,” or “have you considered this perspective,” those are often absent in social media. And the more controversial or dramatic our statements, the more likely we are to get hits, to have people pay attention to us. But the result is often polarization instead of dialogue, misrepresentation instead of understanding. One friend put it this way for me: patience is “an antidote to the driving force to act with immediacy and respond with urgency and view every situation within the virtual world as though it was the end of all worlds.”

As a people of faith, however, we are encouraged to ask “what is God’s way?” And while there are times when God acts with urgency and decisiveness, salvation history and even modern science suggest that God generally acts with incredible patience. If the universe is almost 14 billion years old, it is instructive that God waited almost 10 billion years before creating the earth, and another 4 ½ billion years before sending a Messiah. When God becomes incarnate in Jesus, it was not the fastest way to communicate or show us the face of God. Mary was pregnant with Jesus for nine months. Jesus waited 30 years for ministry. Just before his public ministry began, he spent 40 days in the desert. He patiently walked with the disciples as they struggled to understand who he was, and how God was loving us into redemption. St Paul exhorts us, “let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5). I am thinking of Star Trek’s ‘mind meld,’ which passes everything in one mind into the brain of another. God could have done it that way, but didn’t. Instead he showed us the slow and excruciating way of giving everything, unto death on the cross. After the resurrection, the Risen Jesus only met sporadically with His apostles and other disciples. The paschal mystery, the sending of the Holy Spirit, come in God’s time, as does clarity in the teaching of the church. God is incredibly patient. And of course each of us has the personal witness of God’s great patience with us, for often, mercy takes the shape of a patience that endures.

Friends, we are about to celebrate the great feasts of All Saints and All Souls. The first shows us many paths to holiness, many ways of adapting one’s life to do it God’s way. The second, All Souls, invites us to ponder those who have gone before us, especially those we have loved, who have died. In the face of death, in the face of God’s promise to transform us, to bring us to new life, the only posture that is open to us is patient trust in the great mercy of God.

So next time you find yourself fretting, full of anxiety, or frustrated or bursting with annoyance, remember and put your trust in the slow working of God, the patient and persevering way of God with us, and try to do it God’s way, relying on God’s patience, and showing that patience to others. Rich blessings along the way. 

Watch Here

Regina Catholic School Board Trustees: Who’s Running

The Civic Election, including that of Catholic School  Trustees,  will take place on November 9th this year.  Because of the difficulties associated with face to face contact and personal conversations during campaigning, we are assisting the candidates through our electronic communications platforms.

This link provides profiles of all candidates.

You may also view video profiles of each candidate here.  

Please familiarize yourselves with the candidates and please be sure to Vote to elect the next Board of Trustees for our Regina Catholic Schools.

The Civic Election, including that of Catholic School Trustees, will take place on November 9th this year

The Civic Election, including that of Catholic School Trustees, will take place on November 9th this year. Because of the difficulties associated with face to face contact and personal conversations during campaigning, we will be assisting the candidates through our electronic communications platforms.

You will find profiles and photos of all the candidates for the position of Trustee posted on our Parish website beginning this week. Their materials will also be available on the websites of the Archdiocese, Regina Catholic Schools and the City of Regina.

Please familiarize yourselves with the candidates and please be sure to Vote to elect the next Board of Trustees for our Regina Catholic Schools.

Archbishop’s Message on Faith and Political Engagement

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ of the Archdiocese of Regina,

In the coming days, the people of Saskatchewan will be going to the polls for both provincial and municipal elections. As you know, Catholics are called to be engaged citizens, and to participate in the electoral process as able, using every opportunity to serve the integral promotion of the human person and the common good. We are all aware of unhealthy developments in our democracy and in the erosion of public discourse about meaningful issues. A few days ago I sat down with a few colleagues to reflect on how we bring our faith to bear in the way we approach the election. These reflections are a result of that conversation.

The first thing we did was to attend to Pope Francis’s new Encyclical on human fraternity, Fratelli tutti, and on the fifth chapter, on “A better kind of politics.” Pope Francis observes that “for many people today, politics is a distasteful word” (176), but insists that it needn’t be so. Our current needs globally and in each nation call for “a better kind of politics, one truly at the service of the common good” (154), one “capable of reforming and coordinating institutions” (177), upholding the dignity of the human person, and putting social love at the forefront rather than economics. Love is not only personal and devotional; it has a civic and political dimension (181). It is an act of love, for instance, “to strive to organize and structure society so that one’s neighbour will not find himself in poverty…. If someone helps an elderly person cross a river, that is a fine act of charity. The politician, on the other hand, builds a bridge, and that too is an act of charity” (186).

Pope Francis offers challenging words to those engaged in politics, noting: “politics is something more noble than posturing, marketing and media spin… we do well to ask ourselves, ‘Why I am doing this?’, ‘What is my real aim?’ For as time goes on, reflecting on the past, the questions will not be: ‘How many people endorsed me?’, ‘How many voted for me?’… The real, and potentially painful, questions will be, ‘How much love did I put into my work?’ ‘How much social peace did I sow?’ ‘What good did I achieve in the position that was entrusted to me?’” (197).

Asking hard questions isn’t reserved for political candidates. At a time of polarization and hardening of political lines, it is also important to think about how we participate in the political process, and to recognize the ways in which our political engagement shapes both our own spiritual health and that of our communities. In addition to carefully studying how our Catholic values are or are not represented in the various party platforms, we need to also attend carefully to the impact that politics has on our souls. Do we find that our engagement with our neighbours who might not share our political commitments builds up our capacity to engage in rigorous but respectful dialogue, our willingness to work together for the common good? Do we ever find it difficult to imagine that a good person might come to a different political conclusion than we do? If we are honest before God in prayer, do we find ourselves more or less charitable, or patient, or honest, or generous, because of our political activities and commitments? As Catholics, we should recognize that the health of our society depends more on our own and our community’s growth in virtue than on who wins the next election. So I invite us all to consider that an election is not merely a matter of deciding who to vote for, but a way in which we grow or fail in virtue, a way to build up or tear down our communities.

With the forthcoming provincial election in mind, the Saskatchewan Bishops have approved a non-partisan resource for voters in our province, in collaboration with an organization called Catholic Conscience. We have set up a website, https://catholicconscience.org/saskatchewan2020/ , which “offers voters an opportunity to ensure that Saskatchewan is guided by leaders who will provide practical and efficient leadership with the good of all in mind – including the unborn, the elderly, the young, families, and those who are too often forgotten by society – as well as workers, farmers, business owners, and all future generations.” The website provides a range of information to assist with your discernment, and most notably, a chart which identifies various aspects of Catholic social and moral teaching, and provides the statements from the platforms of the parties running in the forthcoming election. Political parties have been approached and invited to update or provide new information so that anyone using the website will have as comprehensive information as possible. We are immensely grateful to be able to work with “Catholic Conscience,” and hope that you will find this website helpful.

The Catholic voting process always involves informing ourselves about the teachings of the Church and issues relevant to the election, and looking at what our voting options are. Once the election is over, we are also encouraged to stay actively and respectfully engaged with those who have been elected – whether they are our own preferred candidates or not.

Finally, we are encouraged to bring our own discernment, and those running for office, to prayer. Let’s conclude this reflection in prayer:

Lord, Father of our human family,
Your Son Jesus taught us in the Parable of the Good Samaritan
that each of us is called to care for our brothers and sisters
without concern for our differences or what divides us.

Pour your spirit out upon each and every one of us:
Give us, and all involved in the forthcoming election,
a spirit of humility, to acknowledge our failures,
a spirit of gratitude for each of the gifts that you have given us,
a spirit of wisdom, to guide our actions in accordance with your teaching.
a spirit of fraternity so that we might have concern for the most vulnerable,
and a spirit of love, so that we might abide even more fully in you.

O God, Trinity of Love, from the profound communion of your divine life,
grant each and every one of us a deeper sense of unity.
Give to us a desire to sacrifice ourselves for our brothers and sisters.
Help us live like your family did, with simplicity in Nazareth
and as the early Christian community did, whose charity spread throughout the world.
O Good Shepherd, Christ the King,
you are our guide.
Continue to guide us, then, to your will
in this, and in every moment of our lives.

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.
St Joseph, pray for us.
St Joan of Arc, pray for us.
St Juan Diego Cuahtaltoatzin, pray for us.
St Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us.

Archbishop Don’s Weekly Message – Watch HERE

Archbishop’s Weekly Message

Archbishop Don’s Weekly Message

Watch HERE

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ of the Archdiocese of Regina,

Warm greetings in the Risen Lord. It is now 3 months since my last video message. It was the start of the Summer, and now we are into October. Regarding the pandemic and the guidelines for faith communities, not that much has changed. But I thought it would be helpful to give a quick overview of where we are at, and identify a couple of areas where questions have arisen and where we face challenges.

The protocols for celebrating a Mass in the Archdiocese of Regina remain unchanged. The need to sanitize hands and surfaces and the 2m physical distancing between households continue. The number allowed to attend a Mass can be 30% of building capacity, to a maximum of 150 people, and parishes need to be keeping track of the people who attend each Mass. The way communion is handled is determined locally by each parish priest and his parishioners from a short list of options that have been provided. Singing is only permitted if everyone present is wearing a mask.

The archdiocesan protocol team has recently developed some directions for parishes to hold gatherings outside of Mass. As we enter a season when catechesis and sacrament preparation would normally begin, there are ways for these type of gatherings to be held safely. Attention to detail and pre-planning continue to be important when making the decision to return to any type of meeting or gathering. Staff at the archdiocesan offices are available to assist parishes in navigating the decisions and the details.

As you are likely aware, there are different interpretations about how we as society and as church ought to respond to the pandemic. Are the directives too rigid? Are they too lax? Taking part in the societal debate on this can be fruitful, a good thing to do. Right now it feels as though on the internet you can find experts who take radically different stances. But the church here needs to work with our Saskatchewan civic and health officials, and to be guided by their directives. The working relationship we established gave health officials the confidence to allow faith communities to minister within the parameters just laid out. We continue to raise questions as they arise, and to work within their guidelines.

One question that has arisen internally in the Church concerns the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass, a dispensation which has been widely granted by bishops throughout the world. Of course, bishops have sought to protect vulnerable people from feeling obliged to gather with groups where they might contract a serious and possibly fatal disease. We also recognized that the need to limit the number of people gathering indoors at any one time meant it was simply impossible, in larger parishes, for everyone attend Mass, at least on Sunday. As the pandemic drags on, the question of when this dispensation might end is a legitimate one. If Mass is, in fact, the center of our Catholic faith, the place where we meet Christ in the Eucharist and where we truly become who we are as Church, we dare not give the impression that it is unimportant.

The increasing likelihood of further waves of the pandemic and the continued vulnerability of many in our faith community means that the dispensation is likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future, here and around the world. That said, I would like to remind us all of the immense value of our attendance at Sunday Mass. A dispensation granted for specific legitimate reasons is not an announcement that Mass is unimportant. If you are able to safely attend Mass, I strongly encourage you to join your parish community, to receive Christ’s gift of himself to us in the Eucharist, and, in this time of separation, anxiety, and loneliness, to remember in prayer those members of our community who are not able to sacramentally join in “the source and summit” of our Christian life. It is my fervent prayer that, whether we are or are not able to attend Mass, the Lord might use these trying circumstances to draw each of us closer to Himself, given for us.

One other challenge that we face in our contemporary situation concerns the reception of the Eucharist. In offering different ways in which communion can be received, we worked with the more general guidelines of health officials, and asked questions about what would be safe and what would put people’s health in jeopardy, and we made decisions accordingly, decisions not everyone is happy with. Here, I would like to stress two things. First, the Eucharist is to be treated with reverence. Our deep conviction is that Christ is present in the Eucharist, and we should not lose sight of that. Deep love and reverence for the Eucharist is a good and holy attitude that we want to encourage in the Church. Second, it is also our deep conviction that we see the Body of Christ in the lives of all the faithful, especially the most vulnerable members of our community. Listen to this homily excerpt from St. John Chrysostom in the 4th century, about how we are to revere Christ in the Eucharist and in caring for our vulnerable sisters and brothers: “Do you want to honour Christ’s body? Then do not scorn him in his nakedness, nor honour him here in the church with silken garments while neglecting him outside where he is cold and naked. For he who said ‘this is my body,’ and made it so by his words, also said: ‘You saw me hungry and did not feed me, and inasmuch as you did not do it for one of these, the least of my brothers, you did not do it for me.’… Do not, therefore, adorn the church and ignore your afflicted brother, for he is the most precious temple of all.”

Dear brothers and sisters, may you know God’s bountiful blessings as we walk together as church, both treasuring the Eucharist and caring for the vulnerable. Perseverance to you all!

 

Mass schedule at Blessed Sacrament Church.

We have returned to this schedule at Blessed Sacrament Church.
 
Mass Schedule:
  • 12:05 PM Monday to Friday
  • 5:10 PM Saturday
  • 10:00 AM Sunday

Sacrament of Reconciliation

  • Monday to Friday after Masses (and other times by request or appointment)
  • The north door opens only 30 mins before each Mass (we must sanitize the church before each Mass).
  • You do not need to write or call us to register for Mass but please sign your name on the attendance sheet at the entrance to the Church and social distance at all times.
  • Please bring your own mask which is required to be worn by EVERYONE as you approach the priest or Eucharistic minister for communion in the hand. 
  • It is OK to stay away especially if you are ill or are a vulnerable person health-wise. It is better to be cautious for your own protection and for the protection of others in these difficult times. Remember that the dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass remains in place as granted by Archbishop Donald Bolen previously.
Also note the following:
 
The North door entrance to the Church will be used and will open 30 minutes before each Mass. At the entrance of the church you will be asked:

  • to place/write your name on a list of attendees;
  • if you completed the self-assessment above;
  • if you have a mask for communion (masks will be available for those without one);
  • and not to linger after Mass or in groups.

Upon entering the church you must: 

  • use the hand sanitizer provided at the entrance and in other locations in the church; 
  • not touch your face;
  • sit in designated areas in the church (those of the same household may sit together);
  • maintain the 2m physical distancing, from others not from your household, at all times; and
  • a mask is required for communion which is given only in the hand by the priest or Eucharistic minister (who will also wear a mask).

Your cooperation will allow us to celebrate safely. Our sincere appreciation to everyone in advance.

Fr. Jim and the Blessed Sacrament Parish Pastoral Council
 
Check the Parish website for more information:  http://blessedsacramentregina.ca
 
Blessed Sacrament Parish
2049 Scarth St.
Regina SK S4P 2H5
Office Tel: (306) 522 7422

Regarding Racism in our Society and a Call for Respect and Caring

From the Catholic Bishops of Saskatchewan

As Catholic bishops of our province’s Catholic churches and institutions, we express our great concern regarding racial injustices. We join others in our community who support efforts at addressing racial injustice and respond to the scandal of how people treat one another.

The protests that began over the tragic death of George Floyd in the United States have expanded as protesters raise awareness of widespread injustice. In our own provincial context, people across the province are calling on government, businesses, and all institutions to address inequality and injustices caused by systemic racism. In our context, such systemic racism continues to impact Indigenous Peoples, and those of African and Asian descent, including most recently anti-Asian assaults and offenses in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We also continue to hear of incidents here in Saskatchewan and in other parts of Canada that are of grave concern. As we observe this deterioration of human respect and kindness, we need to affirm the intrinsic dignity of every human person and seek respectful and constructive ways to solve problems and differences, versus spiraling into increasing disrespect and violence. There is far too much at stake to continue down this fateful and destructive path!

There is much to affirm on this issue in our Catholic tradition, beginning in the first book of the Bible, where we read how all peoples are created in the image and likeness of God Himself. (see Genesis 1:26-27) With the privilege of being created fully human comes the responsibility to live and act towards others as God acts towards us. St. Paul affirms this call when he states,

“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus…” (Phil. 2: 1-5)

The privilege of our humanity carries with it the great responsibility of the preferential care of our brothers and sisters – especially those who deal with obstacles, injustices, or other barriers to their human flourishing.

One of these barriers is systemic racism. Racism affects our culture in many ways. Times of crisis – such as the current circumstance of the COVID-19 pandemic – further aggravates racism’s effects as people are under further strain and feel threatened. If not addressed, racism will tear apart human solidarity as it corrupts our minds and hearts.

Let us work together to end the scourge of racism and intolerance by encouraging respectful dialogue that addresses our society’s major justice issues, including addressing obstacles to human dignity, and seeks ways to bring about constructive growth and change. In the biblical tradition, such change always first involves a personal change of mind and heart – an ongoing interior conversion. “Get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!” (Ezekiel 18:31) We can work constructively for systemic change and growth when we are open to this in our own lives.

Such change also needs to address how we engage and dialogue about difficult topics and issues. In all ways – the Christian community and all people of good will need to hold the bar high in how we behave ourselves and as we seek constructive and respectful dialogue versus the way of destructive confrontation or melancholic disengagement. Pope Francis highlights the primacy of dialogue as follows:

“If there is one word that we should never tire of repeating, it is this: dialogue. We are called to promote a culture of dialogue by every possible means and thus to rebuild the fabric of society. The culture of dialogue entails a true apprenticeship and a discipline that enables us to view others as valid dialogue partners, to respect the foreigner, the immigrant and people from different cultures as worthy of being listened to. Today we urgently need to engage all the members of society in building a culture which privileges dialogue as a form of encounter’ and in creating ‘a means for building consensus and agreement while seeking the goal of a just, responsive and inclusive society.”

Let us pray and commit ourselves to this honourable and very needed path! As bishops we join with all of you in expressing the good work of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, completed in 2015. We have only just begun to carry out its vision for achieving reconciliation. The circumstances that we face highlighting racism, injustice and violence in our world remind us that we are at an important threshold. May we choose wisely and walk courageously as we, “… act justly, love kindly, and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8).

CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF SASKATCHEWAN

Archbishop’s Weekly Message – June 25th

One of my favourite prayers – well, it’s really an invitation to prayer – comes from the Proslogion of St. Anselm of Canterbury, and it seems to me very opportune as we enter into the Summer season. St. Anselm writes, “Come now, little one, turn aside for a while from your daily employment, escape for a moment from the tumult of your thoughts. Put aside your weighty cares, let your burdensome distractions wait, free yourself awhile for God and rest awhile in him. Enter the inner chamber of your soul, shut everything out except God and that which can help you in seeking him, and when you have shut the door, seek him. Now, my whole heart, say to God, ‘I seek your face, Lord, it is your face I seek.’”

The invitation to rest a while in God is vital for us to hear. It is Summer, and while we remain in the midst of a pandemic, some aspects of life that we have missed are being reopened. We aren’t back to normal, but we are as close to normal as we’re likely going to be for a while. It’s good to walk by parks and see people having fun, enjoying the beautiful weather, enjoying public spaces in our communities, even if we all stay 2 m apart.

The pandemic has hit each of us differently, but all have been impacted. Some have lost jobs, and some have had their work expand exponentially. Many have been cut off from their loved ones. It has dragged on, and I’ve noticed in recent weeks a collective fatigue setting in. There is a fair bit of anger and irritability in the air. You sometimes encounter a real venting of emotions about something that seems really small, and you think, something else is going on here. Sometimes you encounter that in yourself.

When we read in the Scriptures about keeping holy the sabbath, it’s interesting to see how strong that invitation is from God. We are to rest on the 7th day. When Jesus and his disciples are traveling through Galilee and Judea, he invites them to step away and rest for a while. There are many things in our culture, not bad in themselves, which move us to be busy all the time, to produce, to accomplish, to achieve, to become. There can be a strong moral overtone to all of that as well. That can set us up for burnout, or at the very least, for exhaustion, with a restlessness that keeps driving us. It’s good to remember that the one who created us, who has great plans for us, who is at work in the depths of our being, tells us on a regular basis to step aside and rest for a while.

Sometimes when I go to bed at night and start thinking about the 300 things still on my to do list or the 1100 emails in my inbox, and how I haven’t reached out to people who have asked for help, or I’ve reached out to one and ended up elbowing another in the process, I find it hard to sleep. Pope John XXIII used to pray at night, Lord, it’s your church, you look after it for a while, I’m going to sleep. My prayer is simpler, rising from the heart: O God, let me rest in you. Let me rest in you.

Many of us feel that fatigue and exhaustion, including those who have been cut off from their work. I think we would all do well to hear the Lord invite us to come away for a while and rest in him. There’s a lovely little story from the Jewish tradition that suggests that when God wakes up in the morning, God gathers the angels together and asks, “where does my world need healing today?” Sometimes the answer is, it needs healing from all the busy-ness, the hectic pace, the chaotic pursuits which keep us running all the time. We would all do well to rediscover some of the wisdom and grace of keeping the sabbath, whatever that might mean for us.

On that note, I am going to sign off for a little while from these weekly messages. I will return to them at some point in the next few weeks, sooner if there is something urgent to communicate. But before signing off, I want to extend a few thank yous: thank you for watching or following these weekly messages, and for following the livestreamed Masses and other video resources we have produced during this pandemic; thank you for carrying the burdens that this strange time has placed on you, and for the ways in which you have been able to reach out to others in the midst of it; thank you to the clergy and staff, parish council and other lay leaders who have worked to keep our communities intact over the past months; thank you to those who have worked on the financial front to secure subsidies which keep us from financial crisis, to those who have made possible those subsidies, and to those who have continued to contribute to our parishes despite not being able to celebrate our faith in the usual ways; thank you to the archdiocesan staff who have persevered, and to those who have been creative and energetic during this pandemic, especially in the field of communications; thank you to little groups I have gathered to brainstorm about homilies and about the content of weekly messages, and who have generously allowed me to share their ideas without indicating the source of those ideas; thanks to the many committees who have continued to work over the past months, with special thanks to those who work on policy and protocol and education to prevent sexual abuse and address the painful legacy of clergy sexual abuse; thanks for your understanding to those who are still waiting for a response to emails or letters, and thanks for your patience to those who are frustrated with our efforts to take steps forward as safely and faithfully as possible in our churches.

Wishing you all some time of rest during the Summer months. May we all heed the Lord’s voice to come and rest for a while, to live deeply the life he has given us, and to seek his face. God bless!

Archbishop Don’s Weekly Message Watch HERE

Welcome Back to BLESSED SACRAMENT PARISH

 We are excited to be able to open our doors to our Parish Community.

Please read the following before returning to the church.

Dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass remains in place as granted by Archbishop Donald Bolen in his letter dated March 18, 2020.

Self-Assessment All those attending Mass do so at their own risk. It is important for individuals and families to take responsibility for protecting themselves and others.

The following must stay home for the sake of the wider community:

  • People with COVID-19 or who live with someone with COVID-19.
  • People who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
  • The sick and those with symptoms of illness, especially upper respiratory or flu-like symptoms. Individuals with fever, cough, headache, aches & pains, sore throat, chills, runny nose, loss of sense of taste/smell, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, should remain at home. 
  • Those who have recently travelled outside of Canada.

The following are encouraged to stay home for the sake of the wider community:

  • People who live with someone with upper respiratory or flu-like symptoms.
  • People, especially the elderly, with underlying or compromised medical conditions.
  • Family members who live with elderly people or those who are at risk.
  • Those having travelled to a location with a high number of known, active, cases of COVID-19.

At the entrance of the church (enter by north entrance only) you will be asked:

  • to place/write your name on a list of attendees;
  • if you completed the self-assessment above;
  • if you have a mask for communion (masks will be available for those without one);
  • and not to linger after Mass or in groups.

Upon entering the church you must: v use the hand sanitizer provided at the entrance and in other locations in the church; 

  • not touch your face;
  • sit in designated areas in the church (those of the same household may sit together);
  • maintain the 2m physical distancing, from others not from your household, at all times; and
  • a mask is required for communion which is given in the hand by the priest.

Other notes:

  • Washrooms will be available for emergency use only.
  • Please bring and wear your own mask and bring wipes to wipe down your seating area.
  • Collection baskets will be placed at the entrance/back of the church.

Your cooperation will allow us to celebrate safely.

Our sincere appreciation to everyone in advance.

This document may be viewed and downloaded here – download here.

Archbishop’s Weekly Message June 18th

Expanding Numbers: Blessings and Challenges

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ of the Archdiocese of Regina, and all listening to this message, warm greetings in the Lord Jesus.

As anticipated, at the end of last week, we were informed that the numbers allowed at services of worship, including Catholic Masses, has risen significantly. We are now allowed to gather up to a third of the normal capacity of churches, up to a maximum of 150, but with the following stipulations, which are very important, and have not always been clearly presented in media reports. What is permitted, if our space allows, is up to five groups of 30 people. Each of those 5 groups need to be separated by 5 m. Within each group of 30, we still need to keep 2 m distance between families or individuals. So in fact we don’t actually have a facility that could hold 150 unless we also used halls, auditoriums, and other meeting spaces. But it is good news that we are able to gather to that extent, and is a real step forward. Of course those with health risks, the elderly, and anyone who is not yet comfortable gathering in a public place at this stage of the pandemic, are free to remain at home. The dispensation from the Sunday obligation to attend Mass remains in place.

The government-appointed liaison team that has been working with faith leaders has helped us to interpret the government directives, assuring us that a certain trust has been extended to faith communities, in part because of the work we have done to this point in taking the precautions which reduce the chances of a further spread of the virus. Faith leaders have been invited to make decisions for their congregations, and as Archbishop, I in turn entrust local pastors, in dialogue with their parish councils and drawing on our archdiocesan guidelines, to make decisions and take appropriate steps in each parish. We need to make those decisions with public safety and care for the most vulnerable ever in mind.

From the discussions with the government’s liaison team, here are a couple of cautions that I would identify for all concerned. First, given the physical distancing directives from the chief medical officer and government, it is more helpful and more realistic for us to think in terms of how many groups of 30 (or less in smaller churches) we can safely accommodate, rather than to think in terms of 150 at the outset. Second, have a plan for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces touched by parishioners prior to and after each Mass, a seating arrangement, and a plan for entering and exiting the church. Third, and most difficult of all in terms of giving communion, when people come within 2 m of each other, both need to be wearing masks.

While many have rejoiced in the last couple of weeks at being able to go to Mass for the first time in several months, there has been much discussion and in some circles, no small controversy, about how communion is being given in various parishes within the Archdiocese. We can understand why some people are upset, and feel so passionately about how we receive communion. It is a sign that your faith matters to you greatly. For some who have shared their concerns, the greatest priority is doing things in the most appropriate liturgical way possible; for others, it is doing things in the safest way possible from a health perspective; for some it is being able to receive communion in their preferred way; for others, it is holding everyone in the community together in the midst of an enormously challenging situation.

When we prepared guidelines based on the government’s directives, including several possible ways in which communion could be given, we sought to take all of these concerns into consideration. But these values need to be held in relation to each other. While we are grateful that the numbers allowed at Mass have risen, the current restrictions are indeed challenging. The surge in new cases a couple of days ago is a reminder that we need to remain vigilant.

Thank you for your patience, care and perseverance, including with those with whom you may disagree; these are tangible signs of your love for your neighbours. Thank you to all who have found creative ways to reach out to parishioners and those in need around you amidst the pandemic, ways within the parameters of what is allowed, which are genuinely helpful to others. Thank you for your efforts at maintaining communication with your fellow parishioners, for your care for the vulnerable, for your love for the Eucharist and your patience with us as we try our best to find a way forward, and to remain united as a community as we do so.

May God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – keep us all in communion and in His peace.

Archbishop Don’s Weekly Message Watch HERE