What will be our response?

Brother Knights,

I heard recently that certain people close to the Lord have been receiving a word, telling us that the Church will suffer great persecution. Certainly, if we listen to the news or follow certain people on social media or even certain of our family members, we might feel like the Church is in deep trouble. There have been scandals over the abuse of Children by priests, financial scandals, even calls to boycott the Church over lack of payment of the recompense monies due from the agreement with the Truth and Reconciliation commission. Lately, the news has been filled about graves being identified on the properties of various residential schools, many of whom were run by Catholic Orders for a period from the late 19’th century to near the end of the 20’th century.

What are we to think of all this? I have heard some people jump in with energetic defense of the Church in various ways, and I’ve heard those chime in on the attacks, even certain people who I thought were faithful Catholics have gotten caught up in the rhetoric against the church. So what is the truth? How are we to respond?

I think our response needs to depend on who will be receiving our response. If the person listening is among those many who have been injured then argument is useless and will only serve to divide more. If the person listening is caught up in false claims about things, perhaps they can be reasoned with, but emotional engagement tends to make impassioned discussions of the facts hard to do. For these people, due respect is needed, allow the injured their story, allow the angered their anger and do not respond in kind, but be kind instead. Love and compassion for those who have been wounded is the only response that has a hope of working.

But what of our own personal thought processes? What of discussions among ourselves or others, who are all struggling to make sense of these things? First of all, in this discussion, I want to accomplish two things. I want to try to guide us to a recognition of the truth and I want us to recognize the path forward.

There is a good summary of resources that Father Shawn has been collecting and is listed on the Cathedral web site at https://stmaryscathedral.ca/residentialschools/
Much of what I am writing here uses references from that list.

The news media unfortunately writes headlines with the words “Discovered … and … unmarked graves” when it refers to the grave sites being identified at various locations. These two things together make many people think that no one knew about these graves and that they were “mass graves”, like we might imagine was done if someone had been deliberately trying to hide the graves. Dr. Scott Hamilton, in a report to the Truth and Reconciliation commission “Where are the Children Buried?” offers several scenarios as to how the grave sites arrived at the condition they are in now. Some of them are part of community grave yards and are still maintained. Others were lost to time as schools burned down or were abandoned and the properties re-verted to nature. There is one report by the parish priest in one community (Ft. St. James, B.C.) during the Spanish Influenza pandemic, where most of the children and all the teachers and principal got sick. 78 people dies, including some children, some teachers and some from the surrounding community. The priest describes the situation where by people were dying so fast, they finally resorted to digging a single large grave for the growing numbers of bodies.

So were those graveyards proof that someone tried to hide them? Are they proof that there was some evil plot by the Church? Are they proof that the children were buried without any sense of decorum or respect. Dr. Hamilton’s report makes it clear that most of them were originally marked by wooden crosses, since they were buried by the Orders who were running the residential schools. So, no. They were not hidden, just lost to time and nature. They were not mass graves of a large numbers of children dying together in some atrocity, although there were times that because of disease or pandemic when multiple people were dying at the same time. Generally, they were grave sites of the deceased children whose numbers built up over the decades those schools were operating. The death rates dropped off precipitously in the years after WWII when public health standards were much higher, to the point that death from then on in the schools were rare. So, in the early years, when public health standards were pretty poor, there were high death rates at some schools, especially due to disease sweeping through the children. Several cases of such horrible times are described in Dr. Hamilton’s report.

Another issue that comes up is the issue of students being abused. I have heard people recoil in horror and anger and others completely deny it. Did abuse happen? I can clearly recall times in my own school where teachers did things that I thought were abusive but I was too scared to “tell”. So if abuse was happening in my “white” schools, where the teachers were the same ethnic grouping as the students, it’s impossible to imagine that somehow it was not happening in those schools. Moreover, in those schools, the teachers came were mostly “white” and the students were all from various indigenous bands. Prejudice was far more prevalent and acceptable back then, especially, prejudice by the white population against anyone who was not white. We, as a people, thought we were better than they were. We thought we were doing them good by teaching them to become more like us. Even those teachers who had genuine compassion and love for their charges were, in essence, doing them harm by their very act of telling those children that their heritage was no good, that they were inferior and needed to adapt to better ways. Now, imagine a teacher who, in a regular school might have been prone to abusing children. That teacher, in a residential school, would have felt very little restraint keeping them from abusing the children.

So, was every child who went to those schools abused? Some people have tried to deny that abuse happened, except in rare cases. I don’t think that is correct. Was every child sexually assaulted, or criminally physical-ly assaulted? I doubt it but I don’t know. I like to believe that most people are good and would not have engaged in such criminal behavior. However, I would like to point out three things:  1) By today’s standards, most forms of corporal punishment that were used, even in my own childhood, would be considered criminal now. 2) Those Children came from a culture where that form of punishment was not done so even teachers who did not bend the rules when applying punishment, from the children’s perspective, were abusive. And finally, 3) We had parents and community support if we felt wronged. Those children had no one to turn to and even when they returned home, they had been told that their community was somehow “Less” than ours. So, in essence, yes. Every one of those children was abused in one way or the other.

Some will defend the Church by saying that it was merely trying to evangelize those people, to save their souls. Well consider that the early Church converted people individually, by showing them Christ’s love in their lives and their actions. I’m pretty sure many of those Children did not see Christ in the teacher who was “correcting”, nor in the whole system that did them so much harm. We need to show them Christ in our lives. We still need to evangelize but NOT by trying to force an entire population. We need to convert them by ex-ample, by showing them Christ’s love in our own lives. By looking forward at how we can better understand them and by respecting them where they are.

So, what now? What can we do? We have inherited a mess. And we need to take humbly accept our own historical guilt but we also need to take courage as we look to the future.

There was an interview on CBC with the Chief of the Cowessess first nation, Chief Cadmus Delorme, where the discovery of over 751 graves near Regina was announced just recently, which came after a multi-year re-search project, partially funded by the Regina Catholic Archdiocese. You can find the recording on the Cathedral home page or directly at this link. It’s not easy to listen to but it’s good. https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1914227267751. If someone has a right to be angry, Chief Delorme and his people do. Yet, that is not the message he is portraying. He is looking to the future, to reconciliation, not backwards, for revenge. “I love living in Canada… There is an accidental racism and ignorance in this country, when it comes to history… We are not asking for pity. We’re asking for understanding. We’re asking for you to stand beside us as we are gaining our control again, as indigenous people in our treaty relationship… This country would be some much more well off when indigenous ideology and understand was welcomed in and not just brought in on certain days of the year”

Are you ready to try to understand what we all inherited? And to work together to make this a better country for everyone?

As a follow up comment, Remember my opening statement about the prophecies of tribulation for the Church? Those same prophecies about the hard times coming include prediction of a rebirth of the Church, of a re-invigorating of Christ in the lives of the faithful. Let’s pray for this outcome. I think we have been suffering from the tribulation now for a while. We need to remember that we have hope. Hope in Christ.

Vivat Jesus!

Michael Mombourquette
Grand Knight

Elections, a Draw and Looking Forward

Dear Brother Knights,

We are coming up on our Council elections this month. I am hoping some of you are going to step up and join the executive. We are looking to fill a few positions for this coming fraternal year. Let me know if you are interested, please. Call me GK Michael @ 613-650-7530.

As you may know, since COVID hit us last spring, we have been unable to raise funds for any of our charity commitments. Last year we had collected some money (and distributed it) from revenue we received from the Ontario State Raffle, for which we traditionally sell paper tickets in person and in the mall. We had actually made most of our sales before the first lock-down happened last year. Howard Gallivan has been doing a great job of running this (with Dale Tupah’s enormous help and also the help of so many other members). This year, we have no money to use to help our various charities because all events have been cancelled until further notice. While a few of these charities themselves are on hiatus and don’t need the money, many of them are actually in a desperate state because their own revenue has dropped too, and they still have expenses. We want to continue to help them.

This spring, we started participating in a new fund-raising venture, an Ontario-state on-line 50/50 draw. We started selling in early April and so far, we are in first place provincially by nearly a 25% margin over the second-place council. Keep up the good work. For any of you who do not know what this is about, let me explain briefly. The Ontario-state Raffle has been transformed into an on-line 50/50 raffle. We will get a larger percentage of the revenue from selling 50/50 tickets than we would have by selling the paper tickets because there is much less overheat cost to the on on-line program. So this is actually a more efficient charity event with a higher fraction of proceeds going to charity. Please support our council and by extension, its charities by purchasing a few tickets and by promoting sales to your family and friends. The link to buyCode to scan tickets that will get credited to our council is found on our web site http://kofc9652.com. Scroll to the bottom of the page to see the poster advertising the draw. Or, keep a copy of the link on your cell phone or print a copy of the QR code (right) and keep it in your pocket so you can show and your friend can point his cell-phone camera at it to get instantly transported to the site where you can buy your tickets.
Or type the link directly into your browser
https://ontariokofcraffle.5050central.com/?olc=9652.

This year has been tough on all of us with so many new kinds of pressures we have never faced before. Our council has been facing these as best we can and has continued to carry out our mission using remote technologies, like Zoom and the good old telephone. Our zoom meetings are the first and last Tuesdays of the month at 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm with some socializing afterwards. If you have zoom, you can start it and use meeting ID: 948 3988 0913 with passcode 834615. You can even join us by regular telephone if you don’t have a computer, smart phone or network access. Just pick up any phone and dial
1 613 209 3054. Then use the meeting ID and passcode to log into the meeting and voila, we can all hear you and you can hear us all. Hopefully, the pandemic restrictions will be lifted soon (once we are all vaccinated) and we can resume meeting in person.

I pray for you all and I am looking forward to the day we can all meet and share a snack, a drink, shake hands and hug again. Maybe by the fall. May God bless you all.

Vivat Jesus,

GK Michael

A trial and a blessing

Hello Brother Knights.

Well, March is here, and we have come full circle on COVID-19. There is a light at the end of the tunnel but it’s still a long tunnel. This year has been both a trial and a blessing. Everybody knows the trials this year has presented, isolation at home, loss of security, missing friends and family, tired of seeing the inside walls or our own little homes. But there is also great blessing in our trials. We have seen people rally to help others all over the place. We have established a new live-stream capability at our masses. This will help many shut-ins to still attend mass, long after we stop needing to isolate because of COVID. Baptisms and Funerals can now be attended by far away relatives and friends who otherwise could not be here with us.

Our Council 9652, has risen to the challenge and we have not missed a meeting this year but we did have to switch quickly to doing our meetings virtually. Our on-line zoom meetings have been a lot of fun and a great relief from the monotony of staring at our own four walls. It has been so good to see the faces of friends, brother knights, fellow social-distancers. We have shared many a laugh and gotten serious work done too. I am blessed to be a member of such a good council. Our meetings are still at the usual times, Last Tuesday of the month is our Planning meeting, where we set the agenda and work through the details for the coming general meeting, the first Tuesday of the month. Both meetings are at 7:00 pm on the respective Tuesdays and both can be found on Zoom using the Meeting ID: 948 3988 0913 and Passcode: 834615. If you don’t have a computer, tablet or smart-phone, you can call into the meeting using 1 613 209 3054. Then, you can type in the same Meeting ID and passcode and you will be able to join into our discussions, our work and our fun.

This lent, have you made it to confession? I know that sometimes it may feel like a chore and there are times when I shy away from confession, particularly when I have something to confess that I’m particularly not proud of. I have been able to attend about once a month for the past while and It has been such a relief each time I do. This past confession, Fr Shawn caught me off guard. I was leading up to confession a certain sin and I said something like “I’m feeling pretty bummed right now…”. He interrupted me and said (with a humorous tone in his voice). “You know that’s a sin too!” Great! I had not even started my confessions and I had already ‘fessed up to another sin I didn’t even realize was one. Fr. Shawn explained that despair means we are not trusting in the Lord. It means we don’t have faith in those moments. We read about Abraham in the readings on the Second Sunday of Lent. Abraham must have had some internal misgivings when he led his only son Isaac to the high mountain because he had been told to sacrifice him as a burnt offering. What kind of thoughts went through his head? Yet, despite the almost inevitable misgivings about the mission, he headed out with his son, made the altar and was fully prepared to carry it out, Knowing that somehow, God would make it right. Are we so sure that God can make things right for us? Are we willing to have faith in the Lord that will sustain us in our times of doubt and fears. This year has certainly put that kind of faith to the test for me. Yet, I know God is here with me now. I know he will be there for you all too.

God bless everyone and Good spring (Lent).

Vivat Jesus!

Michael Mombourquette
Grand Knight

God is with you

Dear Brother Knights,

We are rapidly approaching the end of the calendar year and what a year it has been. There are so many ways in which we are hoping next year will be a better one. Let’s make sure that it is better spiritually for us as well as all the other ways we want 2021 to be better. The Lord loves us and wants us to love him as well. As we read in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

With that love and grace from God in our hearts, we can do anything. We are tasked with becoming the ‘movers and shakers’ in our world. We often think that the only things that get done are initiated by the “big impersonal governments” or by those un-named “They”, who do things. It’s the small little actions of the world that make the biggest changed in our world. Saint Theresa of Calcutta (aka Mother Theresa) didn’t start out as some high-powered person with all the right contacts. She was a member of the Sisters of Loreta, in Ireland and was quite happy in her life there. It was on one of her missionary trips that she first heard the call to ministry to the poor. And, like we heard of Mary at the annunciation, she said yes to God’s call. That yes, made all the difference.

Are you ready to say “Yes” to God? He may not be calling you to give your life to the poor like St Mother Theresa but until you say Yes, you won’t know, will you? Most of us can say “Yes” to god every day in little things that don’t turn out to be global news, but which can make a huge difference to individuals around us. Does your spouse need your attention? Is a co-worker feeling a need? Does a parishioner feel alone or distant from God and others? When you are presented with these situations, that may be God giving you an opportunity to say “Yes” to a need He is presenting to you. Don’t be afraid. God is with you. He is waiting for you, just as we are waiting for him in this season of advent.

On another note, I want to bring a few things to your attention.

There will be a new format for our meetings going forward. We will discuss this and implement the new format in the new year. There are not too many big changes, but I’ll go over them in January with the members.

This month, instead of an executive meeting on the last Tuesday of the month, we will have a Zoom social. Join us on Zoom or by phone, Tuesday, December 29 at 7:00 pm for a gathering of friends and family (all are welcome). Do you have a talent you want to share? Can you sing a song? Can you tell a story? Are you good at jokes? Let me know and I’ll make sure you get your moment to share your talent with the rest of us. So, rosin up that bow, tune that guitar, warm up your singing voice (or your story-telling voice), dig out those dancing shoes. Let’s all share in the joy of the Season of Christmas this year virtually.

I will send the link next week by email to all the knights so you don’t have to type in all those letters and numbers. Or you can just open up zoom, click “Join a meeting” and enter the meeting id and passcode.

Vivat Jesus!

Michael Mombourquette
Grand Knight

Let’s all dream

Hello Brother Knights,

Well, this has been a tumultuous early autumn already. Our Pope made some statements in his new biography film that left some people shocked and others rejoicing. The elections in the US have done similar things, both here and in the US. COVID’s second wave is hitting us much harder than the first, also leaving many of us shocked and creating division and anger. There seems to be a lot that is happening that is tearing us apart from each other. I don’t really want to focus on any of those things in this letter. There is so much more in any one of these than I can address in a few paragraphs, but I do want us to keep all this division and stress in the back of our minds as I proceed.

Our goal, to quote a famous current-day evangelist, is to become the “best versions of ourselves”. Matthew Kelly has been using this talking point for many years now. So, how do we become the best version of ourselves. In a retreat (virtual) I attended this week, Matthew gave us some advice I like and wish to share with you. First of all, we need to recognize the world we are living in. The big trends currently happening in our lives (like some examples I gave in the first paragraph) are soul destroying. We are dehumanizing each other (think of how you or your friends have spoken about “the other” in any of those scenarios I mentioned above) We need to re-humanize history, our past, our present and our future.

Jesus is the expert with all the guidance we need. It’s written in those four books we call Gospels. We need to remember that we are all Human beings. Not so different from each other. We all have our hopes and dreams. But what are your dreams. How were they formed? What will happen to them? Many of us have already stopped dreaming and are merely existing day-to-day. To regain our hope, our dreams, we need to face our past, our present and our future openly.

Our past needs healing. There isn’t even one person reading this who doesn’t have some hurt or pain from the past that still needs to be healed. We need to remember to make a distinction between want we did in the past and who we were/are. I can look back on many incidents in my past and feel regret over my decisions. There are two ways I can look back on these. Shame or Guilt. They may sound similar, but they are not at all the same. If I look back on some incident and feel shame, I am experiencing what St. Thomas Aquinas called a soul-destroying useless emotion. We are essentially some mistake we did with who we are. That’s shame. Guilt, on the other hand is the acceptance of the wrongs we did. It allows us to recognize where we need to improve without the attached feelings that we are Bad.

Our present is in trouble too. We need to re-engage our present, fully experience the moment. Today, it seems one of the points we are often proud of is how ‘busy’ we are. We have so much to do, we cannot even stop to enjoy the day. Ye shall know them by their fruits. The Fruits of busy is Stressed, Burned out, Feelings of inadequacy and anxiety. Tell me, if you had a friend who made you feel all those things would you consider them a true friend? “Busy” is not our friend either. Slow down. Spend time in prayer, pray the rosary, read scriptures, read a good book, or just silently meditate. Actually, that last option is one of the least used prayer methods but also one of the most important ones. Saying the rosary can be a bit like that, in that we repeat the same prayer over and over, as a form of centering prayer. I use it as a meditative prayer itself, allowing me to focus my reflections on specific moments in Christ’s life (Mysteries).

Finally, our future. We need to dream again. We need to realize that With God, we can do lots of things that by our-selves seem impossible. How can we dream? When you dream, don’t prejudge them. Don’t discount them before they even got formed. Like, “I want to go to see Rome”, followed by “Ya but I’ll never be able to afford it or I’m too busy”. Let’s dream, let’s write down all our dreams. It’s amazing how just writing them down can make them seem possible.

Let’s all dream of a future where we get to live life to the fullest, in Christ, with God and with all our family and neighbors together as fellow dreamers. Dream on Brothers and Sisters. Keep that list of dreams and watch. You’ll be amazed at how many of them you will actually be able to reach.

Vivat Jesus!

Michael Mombourquette
Grand Knight

Questions, Blessings and Awe

Dear Brother Knights,

This has been a difficult few months for us all. There have been so many adjustments and changes to our lives as a result of COVID-19. We certainly would never have believed it if someone had told us last September that we would have spent half the next year in our own houses. As we begin to peek out from hiding, we are encountering a rise in the number of cases that threatens to drive us back into our cubbies. What are we to make of all this? We did try a few ways to get together. We had some of our meetings by zoom to continue to encounter each other, at least visually and eventually graduated to hybrid meeting whereby some people came to my back yard (with social distancing) and others joined by zoom. It was largely a success in that we were able to meet but Still there were quite a few people shy at coming out in public again. And, I don’t blame them for their concern.

In all this, How does God fit in? What are we to make of all this death and disease? Has God abandoned us? Is this a plague from God for having sinned (and boy have we sinned as a people), or at least, a message from God telling us to “Straighten up” and get our act together? A recent survey by Chicago School of Divinity suggested that 1/3 of Catholics believe that and nearly half of Evangelicals.

It’s a common question we have been asking in one form or another for millenia. It’s the question of Suffering. Natural suffering has confounded us since the dawn of time. Why is it here? Why are we as a people facing this tribulation? In Numbers, Chapter 21, we read of the case of the Israelites griping against the Lord and suddenly they find they are being invaded by serpents, who bite them and they die. At God’s instruction Moses fashioned a bronze Serpent and put it on a staff.

Symbol of Healing

Anyone who was bitten would look on it and live. We still use that same symbol in our medical profession as a symbol of healing.

So, God does allow us to encounter suffering. He may even will it when we are not following His way. But, is this what is happening now? Unfortunately, we may never know ourselves. In the generations to come, revelation may indeed show our descendants that we were being punished but I believe this Suffering is not the hand of God, that he is not killing his people for being sinners. I believe it’s up to us to use this opportunity God has given to us to change ourselves and to come to recognise the ways we have been living that are unhealthy, both physically and spiritually.

For example, we are now looking at how our stores and our church is being cleaned fastidiously to prevent the spread of the contagion. How we are all keeping watch over where we put our hands and how long it’s been since we last sanitized or washed them. We are wearing masks to protect others (evidence shows that’s the biggest effect, the protection of others from us, not the protection of us from others.) We are recognising ways that we may never be the same again and hopefully we will be a safer and healthier society for it.

We are also seeing dramatic changes to our spiritual lives as well. Now, here is our biggest opportunity to see a positive outcome. Many are longing for the Eucharist, Treasuring the hope of being able to return to Church and receive Holy Communion once again. Yet, how many of us took it for granted and for how many years? How many of us took Mass for granted, and for that matter God? Suddenly, we are confronted with the realization that these things are not mundane, to be just expected. No longer can we just ‘show up’ on Sunday and get our fix for the week. We must seek out ways to gather in the Lord, seek out the means to attend confession and to participate in Mass.

Many of us have been able to attend online. Thanks to the super efforts of a few dedicated people, we have been able to feel some of that togetherness in the chat alongside the video screen. How I loved to see the Baker wish me a blessed Sunday or see prayers we had sent in by chat actually being pronounced on the altar! The few times I have been blessed to actually attend Mass these past 6 months left me with a profound sense of relief and awe at receiving the Eucharist. That first time, after Cynthia and I had sung for one of the virtual masses, Father Amato, told us we could come to the altar and carefully slide one host off the patten and take it. It was awe inspiring. I was almost in tears of joy. How many times in the past have we felt so truly grateful for the ability to receive? To pray with others? To listen to the homilist in person? There are so many blessings I have been taking for granted for so long. I think it will be an equally long time before I ever do again. How about you?

Vivat Jesus!

Michael Mombourquette
Grand Knight

Moving Beyond

Dear Brother Knights,

I seem to have caused quite the controversy among some of our brothers when I penned a letter to our Supreme Knight Carl Anderson pointing out this his politicizing of our order is not a good thing. I ask forgiveness for inadvertently dragging you all into this fracas, especially those of you who support Mr. Anderson’s (and Trump’s) actions and who clearly did not appreciate my letter. I wish to move beyond this controversy and not bring it up again.

This month, I have been struck with the readings of the day. Now, in Ordinary time, we have seen a change in tone from the last few weeks of the Easter season, which coincided so much with our early days of lock-down. We are getting used to this new normal and things like standing 2 m behind someone, stepping back so someone else can pass without brushing too closely and wearing a mask in public. The readings have shifted as well. They are reflecting things we can relate to our every-day, normal lives.

On Sunday 28 June, we saw a Jesus telling us “Whoever loves his Father or Mother more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me… Whoever loses his life for my sake, will find it.” Paul tells us “We who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death.”

Those readings sound hard and confusing. How do I not love my own family? Does this mean I should forsake them and turn only to God? When I was baptized, was I then to avoid all things that seem to give life to me, food, drink, friends, And only accept suffering and death? Not in my reading of things.

The psalm refrain says “For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord”. We do have to die to ourselves and our own selfish natures. We do need to give up relying exclusively on the comforts of home, family, life itself so we can rely instead on Jesus’s love and support. By relying on Jesus, we can still love our families, but now our love will be strengthened by Christ’s love with us. Our now unselfish love will be more fulfilling, more rich than what we could give without Jesus. Jesus didn’t tell us not to love our Mother or Father or son or daughter. He told us to love him first. Then we could love others much more powerfully than we could otherwise.

If we are truly loving Jesus, then our love will not be one that seeks return. We will not be loving only those who might return that love to us. We will not be showing love solely for our own benefit. We will be more like the Centurion in Saturday’s (Gospel MT 8:8), who said those famous words “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed”. My favorite line in the whole of the liturgy of the Mass is based on that quote.

We are to act and live as if we are unworthy. And, without Jesus, we are unworthy. Through loving Him, we are raised up to become worthy to enter Heaven, worthy to enter into the Life of Jesus himself. We are to show the faith of the leper, who approached Jesus and said “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean” (MT 8:2).

When we go to confession next time, we need to think… What ways do I seek to further my own glory? What ways do I only love those who will show me love? What ways do I not humble myself and accept the Graces of God first? Our daily lives are filled with moments where we will need to choose. Will we choose to follow God’s will? Or, will we choose to do what we want?

Vivat Jesus!

Michael Mombourquette
Grand Knight

ABC. How easy is that?

Sunday 19th April was Divine Mercy Sunday, a day to celebrate, instituted by Pope Saint John Paul II. Sister (Saint) Faustina of Poland was inspired by God to deliver the message of divine mercy to us all and was also inspired to paint the, now famous image of Divine Mercy I have included here. The message of Divine Mercy is quite simple and three-fold:

• Ask for his Mercy
• Be merciful to others
• Completely trust in Him.

ABC. How easy is that? That last one is perhaps the hardest for us to implement, especially in this time of COVID-19 self-isolation. We are all feeling cooped up and perhaps even imprisoned in our own homes. How can what we are going through be related to divine mercy? Shouldn’t God, if he was showing us mercy have eliminated this coronavirus before it started killing so many people? Why is he letting us all suffer like this?

Those are tough questions and I think we need to go back to history to see how these kinds of queries played out before. In the early days of St. Faustina, there was not even an actual country called Poland. It had been wiped off the face of the earth in the 19th century, as it had also been erased in the 18th century for a while as well. St. Faustina watched several poor attempts at independence rise and get crushed. She saw a new Poland rise from the ashes of WWI, only to become the first country consumed by Hitler in WWII. Yet, It was this poor, 3rd grade educated woman from war-torn Poland whom God inspired to write about his Divine Mercies and who painted this image of Christ’s heart pouring out blood and water in a showering of Mercy.

We may be going through tough times but it’s in these tough times when we most often come to recognize that we cannot manage on our own but that we need to rely on God’s mercy. “Jesus, I Trust in You”. Those words are the hardest ones to put into action sometimes. Now, more than ever, we need to do just that, trust in Jesus.

Part of the divine mercies comes through our own actions, inspired by God. How are we doing at following the inspiration Our Lord offers to us? The Knights of Columbus are offering some suggestions in their “Leave no neighbour behind” campaign (http://kofc.org). We need to refocus our efforts these days to making sure that our brother Knights, families, and neighbors are all taken care of. There is so much uncertainty and potentially so much need now, because of our unprecedented situation. Our Council has been forced to suspend or outright cancel most of the remaining activities we were planning for the coming year. The Golf tournament is cancelled, Steak bbq, all meetings and any gatherings of our brothers for meetings or otherwise are on hold for the foreseeable future. We, as a council, have decided to continue to offer our support to the St. Vincent de Paul society for their outreach program of feeding the poor and the homeless. But even that is now in peril. The Golf tournament was to be our big fund-raising even this year and it was to be done on their behalf as our charity partners for this year. Their expenses have not disappeared as a result of self-isolation, it may have increased in fact but their revenue has not gone up as fund-raising possibilities have dried up. We are encouraging our brother knights to offer individual support to St. Vincent de Paul (http://www.svdpkingston.com/) in place of the monies we might otherwise have donated to things like the golf tourney. They need our support. Additionally, as is proposed in the Knights Leave no Neighbor Behind campaign, we should be looking out for our neighbors. Some of us may be in need of help, others are able to offer that help. Either way, let us know. If you know a neighbor who needs help but you are unable to directly support them, let us know. Perhaps we can help. If you’re fit and healthy, let us know. We can use your help.

Cheers and May God, in his infinite mercy, bless you all.

Vivat Jesus!

Michael Mombourquette
Grand Knight

Note: The image above is a representation of the first image of Merciful Jesus painted by Eugeniusz Kazimirowski in co-operation with Sister Faustina in 1934.

A new Lenten question

Brother Knights,

We are at the beginning of the Lenten season and the traditional question we ask and are asked is “What are you giving up for Lent?” Lent is the season of preparation for Easter, when we, by our actions and prayers, come to realize how much grace and love God pours out on us. So, to help prepare us, we often ‘give up’ something, chocolate, TV, Music, meat on Fridays. These are all good things and they can help us prepare for the glorious resurrection feast when we celebrate with abundance.

The contrast is striking if we observe the fasting and penance of Lent faithfully. But, I think James has a point I would like to highlight.

James 4:24,26 See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25And in the same way, … For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.:

James is telling us that we need more than simply saying “I believe” if we expect to be saved. We need to demonstrate our faith by our works.

James 4:16 I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.

I propose a new Lenten question. “What are you going to do extra to draw closer to God?” What new task can you take up this Lent by which you may show your faith? Not just show but grow. For by working in faith, we can in fact increase in faith as well. Saying “I believe” is good but doing something because “I believe” will strengthen our own commitment to that faith and allow us to grow in faith as our lives become steeped in Christ in our prayers and in our actions as well.

So, what can we do extra that will help us grow in our faith?

We could take up a new study. I have chosen to do some more learning on the meaning behind our Catholic Faith. I want to be able to explain our faith to others who challenge and question my almost daily in my life and work outside the church. I want to be able to encourage others to come to the faith or to come back to our faith, who may have left for one or another reason. I want to learn more about what it means to be Catholic. I have chosen a book “Salvation: What every Catholic should Know” by Michael Patrick Barber. I am looking forward to learning more about my own faith.

There are many other resources for learning something new this Season. The web site/ministry service Dynamic Catholic is offering a daily video reflection you can have delivered to your inbox every morning. It is a wonderful way to take a few minutes each day and grow in your prayer life.

We are Knights of Columbus. We can become more involved in our own council, parish and community. There are lots of opportunities to put in some ‘action’ that will enhance our faith. The Knights are a great group of guys who are deeply faithful and spiritual. Working with my Brother Knights over the years has afforded me many opportunities to grow in faith and to experience God’s love through these men. I am a better Husband, a better Christian, a better man, because I am doing work with these men. Come see what you can do. Come to Demonstrate your faith, as James Challenges us all, with our works.

I pray you all find a way to grow in your own faith and show to the world the strength of God’s Love for you and for all of us with your works. I pray you have a faith-full Lent so that you can rise with Christ in a Glorious Easter season to come.

Vivat Jesus!

Michael Mombourquette
Grand Knight

Happy New Year!

Fellow Brother Knights. I wish you all a Happy New Year! OK, check that…. I really mean to say, “I’ll be praying for you all this New Year that you will become closer to God and that His blessings flow abundantly to you”. I’ll leave the ‘wishes’ for fairy tales and Disney movies. The Second reading we heard in Mass today was from the letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians. It tells us that we have heard of God’s grace through revelation. Paul takes it as his personal responsibility to pass that knowledge on to others, the Church in Ephesus in particular but in general to the whole world. We too now know that all peoples (the gentiles too) are “coheirs, members of the same body, and co-partners in the promise in Christ Jesus”. That means we too have to go spread the word to others, both in our words and actions.

The Church has taken that role onto itself over the centuries largely as a consequence of history. In times of mass conversions, where whole countries were ‘converted’, the citizens often didn’t have much actual knowledge of the religion they were following. They were simply following it because everyone else did too. Only the educated and knowledgeable people actually had the time and expertise to study and know what they were believing in. As a result, it was often up to the Church to re-educate the faithful on the true practice of Catholicism. Many times, incorrect teachings had to be weeded out. Many of those incorrect teachings came from outside the Church and influenced how people believed within the Church. Many heresies had to be weeded out over time. Today is no different.

I believe that one of today’s greatest heresies is the belief that the “Church” will maintain our faith for us, that we have only to attend mass weekly (if that often) and all will go well. Unfortunately, that is wishful thinking again and holds no more water than Cinderella expecting some woman she never met before to give her a chance to go to the ball. To be a Christian, and a Catholic, we need to practice. I remind you that I have al-ready told you that thinking that we only need to go to church once a week is wishful thinking. It will not, in and of itself, save us. In fact, I believe this is the root of what is amounting to the greatest crisis our church has faced in a very long time. Our parent’s generation were likely the last generation that could just count on the Church to do these things for us. People had limited access to the greater world and competing messages from other sources didn’t influence us the way we are not inundated with information from all sides. They just knew that their kids would be taught ‘the faith’ and that they would follow the ways of the Church. Yet, maybe not even then… In my family, I’m the only one who still is practicing. My parents were deeply religious and very faith filled, yet I’m the only one left. My brothers, one by one, bought into the idea, I think, that they only needed to ‘go to church’ and then that became old and they stopped.

I think the Devil’s greatest ploy to destroy our faith it to make us believe that we don’t have to do anything. That the Church will do it all for us. Our Parish, unfortunately, is declining because of this belief. We still have a very active parish and a very active Knights of Columbus council, but both the parish and the Knights are in essentially a holding pattern. By that, I mean that we are merely doing the same things with the same people over and over again. But those people all have a limit. Their ability to keep on doing what they do is not infinite. As one member steps down from their duties, few step up to replace them. Our numbers of active members are dropping rapidly now, as some of the members get older and can no longer participate as they once did. In our parish, we see many gray heads in the pews but fewer and fewer children and young families. We cannot maintain this holding pattern any longer. We need to step up and realize that our full participation in the faith life of our parish and our Knights of Columbus council is absolutely necessary if we expect to be able to reap the rewards of their continued works. Please, brother knights, especially if you are thinking you don’t have anything to contribute or if you are thinking there’s somebody already doing ‘that’. I bet a lot of those “somebodies” would gladly welcome the help or even would welcome having someone else take over. We need you all to participate fully in our council to keep it functioning. We need you all to help bring new young members into the fold so they can eventually take over from us. To put it bluntly, We need your help. We cannot just maintain. We must grow.

I hope you can make greater participation in your Church, your KofC Council, your faith life in general the first and most important New Year’s resolution this year. I pray you all have a great and faith-filled new year and that you all find deep and lasting joy in actively participating in our Church, Parish and Council.

In Christ,
Grand Knight Michael