At this busy time of year, give yourself a break and spend a few minutes with our December newsletter.
We journey in Advent towards the Star of Bethlehem, which leads us to the light of the world, Jesus Christ.
At all this weekend's masses you are invited to take one star home. It has a magnet so place it on your fridge or at another suitable place.
On each star is a theme of each week in Advent: Hope Peace Joy & Love.
May your star guide and inspire your thoughts and hearts. May you be given and graced with what you pray for. May you be guided toward Jesus, the Christ child.
A blessed and bright Advent journey to you.
“Songs of Christmas” Returns
This weekend we celebrate the end of the football season with the Grey Cup, Go Bombers, oh and also the end of the liturgical season culminating with the great celebration of Christ the King! This year we have followed the writings of the Gospel of Luke and next week will begin anew with writings and teachings of the Gospel of Matthew.
The Feast of CTK presents a unique peek on the crucifixion. Found only in Luke is the dialogue between the criminals and Jesus on the cross. The criminal said “Jesus, remember when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus replied “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Jesus did not ask what the criminal did or why, he simply accepted the man’s faith in him and rewarded him with a forever relationship in Paradise. Jesus is also looking to us for our faith in him. No questions asked. Paradise assured.
As we honour Christ our King this weekend, we look to him on the cross, crowned and crucified as he looks down on us with eyes of love. The celebration of CTK recalls the difference between the Kingdom of God and the Thingdom of earth. That Christ the King does not amass armies and territories and great wealth. Christ the King just asks us to listen and look to him and for his sake respond to the needs of one another. Christ doesn’t force us, but he simply invites us to his mercy, to love... and relies on nothing other than to look to him with faith and a response of the human heart.
A Walk to Discover the Symbolism in Blessed Sacrament Church by fellow parishioners Carol Engstrom and Jim McCoy
Etienne Gaboury, renowned Winnipeg architect designed Blessed Sacrament in the early 1960's containing countless symbols. If you notice the exterior outline of the Church, you will see that the building itself seems to be reaching up to the heavens. Just as we strive to be closer to God, the Church, our place of worship, also seems to be straining to reach God.
Although most parishioners use the parking lot entrance to Blessed Sacrament, the main entrance on Roanoke Street was intended to be used most of the time. Come to mass a little early some Sunday and walk in through the main entrance and you will find yourself at the end of a long, tunnel-like room. The darkness and length of the room has a prison-like feel to it. As you go forward, look up. You will notice a grid of steel bars, where we will restore the red stained glass in the sky light. The early Christians were prisoners and martyrs and met in underground cemeteries for worship out of fear of the authorities. This window is meant to emphasize the feeling of being in a prison cell. Whenever we are out of relationship with God, we are walking in darkness and we are in a prison, but one of our own making. Using this entrance reminds us that we are entering into the Community where we can renew our relationship with God.
From this standpoint under the red hue, if you look up and ahead, you see the bright blue window of Baptism which displays symbols of water, oil, Eucharist and life. Through Baptism, we enter into relationship with God with the Blessed Sacrament Community and Church around the world. The baptismal area is set lower than the main area of the Church, symbolising that we are lowered into the death of Christ so as to rise and share his resurrection. The Holy Oils are found in the font area.
From the baptistery, gaze down the main aisle and you will see the tabernacle and the altar and ambo (lectern) stand out. Look up at the roof; you will hardly notice the roofline. Designed at the University of Manitoba, this parabolic shape is supported only by exterior walls; there are no pillars to obstruct our views as worship takes place. What makes a Church a Church? God and God’s people. Nothing should stand in the way of dialogue with the Lord and our fellow parishioners. The fan shape of the pews fosters the feeling of being surrounded by the love of our Church family.
The whole Church is designed to be modest and uncluttered. It symbolises that we need only to focus on our relationship with and the love of God to lead fulfilling lives. All of the frills and extras that we surround ourselves with are not necessary. There are no rich carpets and valuable paintings and expensive statues, because the architect Etienne Gaboury believed, as do we, that a pure and simple faith and belief in God is all that we need.
There is a large stained glass window in the Tabernacle area. It represents the Prairie wheat with our dark local soil as well as the Canadian Shield country of Manitoba. The wheat is not only representative of the staff of our lives, but it can also be seen as the broken bread at mass. As the wheat grows each year, and feeds us and sustains our physical bodies, so the Eucharist feeds our inner spirit and helps us sustain our loving relationship with God. The small red window behind the Tabernacle reminds us of the traditional red lamp that burns in the sanctuary and always indicates the presence of Christ. The light coming from the roof at the highest point in the building evokes a sense of the resurrection.
The Stations of the Cross are built into the walls and they seem to be climbing upwards and their placement indicates a journey. It is a journey of Jesus' faith in God. The colours in the stations are symbolic in themselves. Symbolizing holiness and his death, Jesus slowly becomes whiter as he journeys towards the cross. At the very top of the Stations, Jesus is shown in glory, resurrected. Red is the sign of blood and martyrdom while Gold is the sign of our hope. In all of the Stations but one, we see only one arm on the images of Jesus, indicating that He is in the process of becoming whole, but in the Resurrection Station, Jesus is shown with two arms as his mission has been fulfilled!
Look around our Church the next time you come to mass. The roughness of the walls indicates our own roughness-God is still working on us and through us! Etienne Gaboury designed the Church as a building that would be a simple, yet a loving and accommodating worshipping space, where we are, like the building itself, always striving to reach up to the heavens.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Here is our newsletter for the month of October.
Truth and Reconciliation: A Reflection by Connor Sarazin
What is the meaning behind Truth and Reconciliation? It is all about discovering and revealing governments’ past wrongdoings. With the truth revealed, repairing and establishing a respectful relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada can move forward.
The legacy of the Indian Residential Schools lives on for Indigenous Peoples. In 1870, the Canadian government partnered with numerous churches to assimilate, civilize and make everyone live a European lifestyle. For the First Nations people, this meant giving up their traditions, beliefs, and complete way of life that didn’t align with the new settlers.
Many people say that it wasn’t them, their children or their parents who were responsible for the Residential Schools so why are they being made to feel guilty about it? I believe the point is being completely missed. It isn’t about blame or guilt it is all about shedding light on the truth. The truth of what the Canadian government in partnership with the churches did to an entire nation of people. It is education for newcomers and settlers alike. So they can better understand and empathize with a group of people who struggled for generations, and continue to struggle, to simply be who they are, find their true selves and the balance between living true to the authentic traditions of their culture and living in today’s society.
So many people are completely unaware of what happened. Unaware that these so-called schools only taught up to grade 5. It was claimed that the practical training of cleaning, farming and maintenance gave necessary life skills but in actuality it was simply free child labour. Many children, once they turned 18 were merely sent away from the school with a grade 5 education.
There is a lasting impact from my great grandparents and grandparents who attended residential schools. My grandparents fled their home, the safety of their community and all that was familiar to save their children from being forcefully taken. To save their children from the atrocities of the abuse, violence and neglect they themselves endured, they lived their lives hidden from society. Little did my grandparents know, all they sacrificed wouldn’t be enough to save their own children. The shame of being “Indian”, the abuse they would inflict on their own children for being who they are, the substance abuse, emotional, mental and physical abuse would be carried on from their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great, great grandchildren. The legacy of the Residential Schools lives on and is thriving to this day.
It wasn’t until 1960 that “Indians” were recognized under Canadian Law as people. My dad was in his late teens. I don’t imagine life was easy growing up in the ‘40s and ‘50s. I couldn’t imagine growing up knowing that the world I live in doesn’t recognize me as even being a person. For my grandfather, I can only imagine what his thoughts were being called to serve during World War II knowing he was not recognized as a person to the people he fought for.
Some days I wonder if the world has really changed all that much. I don’t hear “The only good Indian is a dead one!” as I did growing up. The comments are said more under breath now. Yet our health care system is mandated to notify Social Services if an Indigenous woman is there to give birth. The threat remains as real for our children to be removed now as when they were placed in Residential Schools. There are more Indigenous children removed from their homes and placed in the system today, than at the height of the Residential Schools.
How can we reconcile if you deem me to be less-than because of my nationality? Why do you perceive me to be less competent, less educated and less deserving to have all that life has to offer simply because I am First Nations?
The ‘truth’ in “Truth and Reconciliation” to me, really means that I can stand up in front of the settlers and newcomers and decide what is best for me. It is not for you to remove my choice and decide as the government does, what is best for the Indigenous people. Everything that the Residential Schools took from generations of my people stripped them of their culture, way of living and in a lot of cases their dignity. They never managed to “kill the Indian” inside. We are a resilient people and are asking that you stand aside and support our efforts to regain who we once were as a nation. Hold a mirror up and take a good look at who you are and ask yourself, “How am I contributing to the problem instead of being a part of the solution?”
The ‘truth’ in Truth and Reconciliation” is there for all of us to be aware of our truth and the truth of others. Stop allowing the systems that hold the Indigenous people down and keep them there. Stand beside or behind the Indigenous people to support the recovery of all they have lost: spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically. Stop standing in front and saying “I am sick of hearing about this, why don’t they get over it already, I had nothing to do with it?” You are a part of the problem.
The Indigenous people are asking for equity and respect. To be an equal doesn’t mean you have to lose something. This is a Canadian issue. Take responsibility and action to repair the damage done. “Truth and Reconciliation” is Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples walking together towards an equitable, fair and just country that we all can be proud to call home.
What a super weekend we had Sept 17/18 for our Come and See Weekend. The Eucharistic Celebrations were dynamic and joy-filled followed by food and friendship.
Here is our newsletter for the month of September.