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

Be vigilant! Be prepared! The Lord is coming, when you least expect it!

If you have been keeping up with the daily readings, you will notice a common theme that keeps cropping up. Be vigilant! Be prepared! The Lord is coming, when you least expect it! We get these readings each year at this time of year as we approach the end of the Liturgical Calendar, we get into “End Times” readings. Are you ready for the coming of Christ in your life? In Paul’s letter to the Romans, 7:19 “For I for I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing”. This is my constant fight. Daily, I find that I have failed yet again to live a perfect life, as Christ wants us to live. Daily, I find myself lacking in my own abilities to be that perfect Christian, despite my desire to be perfect. Jesus challenges us to “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” Matt 5:48 all the while he knows that we cannot live up to that perfection by ourselves. We are not ready to receive Christ into our lives.

Christ within us can strengthen us through the Holy Spirit to live that perfect life but only if we allow ourselves to be led by him. Are you willing to allow Christ into your life? It may cost you something that is precious to you at the moment. Perhaps it will cost you an hour a day of time you would otherwise dedicate to watching TV or looking at your Cell phone. Perhaps it means you allow yourself to be led to volunteer your time and energy in places you would not otherwise have considered. I think first, it means admitting to ourselves that we are not doing a very good job of being perfect when we rely only on ourselves. Our relationships suffer, our work can suffer, our own self image and emotions can suffer when we allow our fleshly urges to guide us.

We are approaching the end of the year now and we need to remember that to rely on God, we first must stop trying to rely on ourselves. But, Here’s the thing. God has given us the greatest gift of all. He gave us the freedom to choose. We have the freedom to decide to go it alone, all by ourselves, but we also have the freedom to choose to empty our-selves of our emotionally charged, selfish motivations and allow Him to enter us and guide us. I know that each of us can offer up a prayer now to promise God our hearts and lives. Many Christians do this regularly. An Ignatian practice involves a nightly examen. A daily stock-taking of our lives, before we have forgotten what happened that day. Each night, before we’re too sleepy, we need to take a few minutes to do our nightly examen. The Jesuits do their examen twice a day, at noon and again at night. I have found over the months of doing these that I often cannot even recall what I did that morning so I understand how twice daily might be a good idea but at least once, as a part of your nightly preparations before heading off to bed (not after you get into bed because by then you will be too sleepy to complete it) you might consider performing an examen. Here is a brief outline of how to do a nightly examen.

  • Ponder God’s presence in your life right there and then. Let the day’s events pass through your mind, both the good and the bad.
  • Take time to count all the various blessings you received through the day. Did the sun shine? Did someone smile at you? Did you eat well today? Did you have success in any of your endeavors, at work or at home? Make sure you bask in the awareness of all that God did for you today.
  • Go back through your day again, this time recalling all the times when you did not accept the graces God was offering. When did you choose to follow your fleshly desires rather than doing His will? When did you not smile at someone and say “Hi!”. Did you speak poorly of someone? Did you lust after someone or something, even if only in your heart? Did you waste time watching a screen (big or small) when you could have been doing something productive?
  • Now, resolve and ask the Lord to help you with your resolution to not do the same sins again tomorrow. Ask the Lord to let you make a perfect contrition and give you the graces you will need to be better tomorrow.
  • Finally, end your time in joy and hope, recognizing that God will continue to bless you with his presence, his Grace and will continuously be offering to guide you out of your sin and into a loving relationship with Him and others, if you allow him to.
  • God bless and sleep well, knowing you are once again justified in your relationship with God.
    ……….
     

    Once you have become familiar with doing a nightly examen, you will also become more aware of why you need to partake in the sacrament of reconciliation, something which was instituted by Christ himself Matt 16:19 “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” The Church has this sacrament so that we can partake and hear those words “Go in peace, your sins are forgiven”. This wonderful gift of knowing Christ himself, through the priest has spoken forgiveness to us is something we should partake in joyfully on a regular basis. The church wants us to partake at least twice a year but recommends we do it monthly. When is the last time you went to ‘confession’? For me, it was a few weeks now and I am feeling the need to go once again. The Pope goes every week to his confessor. If he needs to go weekly, then clearly, you and I, sinners, need to go at least that often too.

Vivat Jesus!

Michael Mombourquette
Grand Knight

Welcome Brothers to a new season

Welcome Brothers to a new season. Summer is unofficially over with the coming of Labor Day weekend, School is starting, the nights are getting cooler and we are looking at a the Autumn racing towards us. There are many things in life that signal a change in our routines, birth of a new child, death of a family member, a new age-related ache we just noticed. How many of us recognize when God is calling us to a new life? How many of us are able to see God in our day-to-day events, in the people we meet, in our own family? As most of you know, Cynthia and I have three Children, Matthew, Sean and Amy and each of them is embarking on a new life, starting now. Matt just left, heading back to Western university to finish up his Degree, Sean, who just finished this spring is hoping for a call back on one of the applications he has submitted for a new job and Amy is heading off to start Grade 12. Wow, I distinctly remember being the young couple in the parish with a 20 month-old Matthew and a brand-new baby (Sean). Now, I’m just past my 62nd Birthday and all pretenses at being a young man, given my many aches and pains, are gone.

OK God, No Fair! I wasn’t looking. I wasn’t ready! I clearly missed that one. What am I supposed to do now? How am I supposed to behave? In the Sunday Gospel for 22nd Sunday (Sept. 1), we read a few things about how we should be living. In the First reading, Sirac 3:17 I read “My child, conduct your affairs with humility”. In the psalm (ps: 68), I read “The Father of orphans and the defender of widows is God”. The second reading tells us to keep our eyes on the things of Heaven and finally, in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells us that we should place ourselves last so that our Master can honour us.

So, When I look on my life as it stands now, How do I live those things? I see quite a few places where I still have a ways to go to live up to those guidelines. I really do like being recognized and I do find myself doing things in the hopes that others will see how much work I put in, or what a good person I am. I need to remember that I am a good person only as God enables it, and God can only enable me to be good if I cooperate with him, if I conduct myself with humility and not seek the glory and recognition of others. As a Knight of Columbus, I need to seek ways to help in the good works we do for the sake of the Body of Christ. With Christ guiding my gaze, I can more confidently step out to accomplish all he asks. If I forget Christ I may also be forgetting the graces He can bestow on me when I cooperate with him.

A good friend brought to my attention a prayer for humility. You can find it on the EWTN website at
https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/devotions/litany-of-humility-245
I suggest you look up the prayer and repeat it often.

Here are a select few lines. Wherever I cut a few lines out, I replaced them with an ellipsis (…).

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart,
Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,

Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others,
Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the desire of being approved,
Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated,
Deliver me, O Jesus.

That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

Vivat Jesus!

Michael Mombourquette
Grand Knight

Thoughts on the coming Fraternal Year – 2019-2020

Well, another Fraternal year is past and we are pondering what we will be doing this new year. Some of us will remain in our roles as Knights in various executive positions. Others are looking at whole new positions and activities in the upcoming year. I will, as you may know, be remaining in my two roles, as Purser for the J.V. Cleary Assembly 0857 and as Grand Knight for St. Paul the Apostle Council 9652. So, what will this year entail? How do we go about improving our involvement and our lives in general?

In the reading from 13th Sunday in Ordinary time, Jesus admonishes the young man who is contemplating following him with

“No one who sets a hand to the plough and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.” Lk 9:62

We need to keep moving forward and not spend our lives looking backwards at all our past troubles, failures or misadventures. The analogy is an apt one. In the days of plowing using an oxen or a horse to pull a blade through the soil, it required both hands on the plow and both eyes on the row ahead in order to keep the furrow straight and true. Turning one’s head to look backwards generally results in accidentally turning the whole plow and messing up the furrow in progress.

This Fraternal year, we need to step up and move forward. Let’s make sure that we can see our potential in the future. Let’s focus on developing our life in Christ and on how we will be living out the Christian life. As Knights of Columbus, we have a particular challenge to live our Catholic lives in a rather public way. We do our work best when we are seen doing our work. Take, for example, the ad-vert in the recent Kingston Whig, giving thanks for all the sponsors and help for the charity work that Council 9652 did in its annual Charity Golf Tournament. Works like this, and so many others need to be visible and out there so that others can know what we do.

We are also “out there”, day to day in everything we do. Keep in mind our witness to Christ in all that we do. Always remember to set an example for those around us, both our brother Knights and the people at large. We are modelling Catholic, Christian behaviour for all the people we meet on a daily basis. Let’s all trust in the Grace of God to give us the courage to step up boldly, knowing that while our goals may seem more than we can handle as individuals, they are not so great that we and God cannot succeed together.

All Glory and Praise to God our Father in Heaven.

Vivat Jesus!

Michael Mombourquette
Grand Knight

Alleluia, He is Risen! Indeed, He is Risen!

This is the traditional greeting and response of Catholics at this Easter time. How many of us have actually used this greeting “out there, in the street?” Personally, I have to admit, “not very often”. It seems a bit ‘out there’ to make such proclamations, Yet Jesus was willing to be tortured, stripped and nailed to a cross for us. He was slain for us, so that we might be able to be saved and be with him forever in Heaven.

On Passion (Palm) Sunday, I was the second reader and I had a powerful, spiritual experience while I was at the Ambo reading. When I got to the part where “He humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross”, I found myself standing, not at the Ambo but at the foot of the cross in Calvary. I looked up and saw Jesus looking at me and I said “Why? You did all this? For ME?” and then I was suddenly standing in front of the ambo again. I picked up where I had left off and finished the reading. But when I tried to walk away, back to my place, my legs didn’t quite work right. I had to grab the ambo for balance. Shaun Tymchuk noticed; he asked me if I was OK – did I need to sit down. I think he thought I had a medical issue and was about to pass out. I have heard it said that some call this kind of experience “Slain in the Spirit”. While I didn’t collapse, I certainly stumbled.

The answers to my questions were slowly revealed me the rest of Holy Week through the Easter Weekend. “Why? All this for me? I’m not worthy. What have I done to deserve this?” At the Chrism Mass, I saw the Holy Spirit working in all the parishes through the bishops, the priests and deacons and so many lay people. On Thursday, He washed my feet, on Friday, He opened his arms to show me how much he loved me. And on Easter He rose up and spoke love.

This past week after Easter, there were several Gospel versions of the story of Mary [the] Magdalene finding the empty tomb and meeting Jesus. There are several historic meanings to the word Magdalene ranging from Curly-haired beauty to, well… did you know that one of them means, essentially Prostitute? Mary was a woman who was (in her mind) unworthy, yet Jesus saved her, despite her previous life (some scholars say she was the woman he saved from stoning, others, the sister of Martha, the one who poured out perfume on his feet). She had finally found a man who loved her as a person, not for what she could do for him but just because she was a person who deserved to be loved. He appeared to her first, not Peter or John, Mary! I finally realized that Jesus loved me too, despite my not being worthy, just because I was a person He loved. It all came together for me.

You too are that person whom He loves. We have all just journeyed through the season of Lent. We had been focusing on our sins and how they contributed to the separation between us and God, between us and our brothers and sisters in Christ and on a wider scale, to the separation, even between peoples on earth. That was hard!

Now, we can see that Jesus loves us despite our unworthiness. He took upon himself all our sins and we are free. We do not need to carry that burden any more. We are free of the sins that kept us from being able to love Christ. Free from the sins that kept us from being able to love each other. We are free of the habits and attitudes that enslaved us for so long. Let’s not go back there. Remember, before Lent, I suggested you consider giving something up for life? Well, now, let’s not go back. We found, instead of burying ourselves in TV or Facebook or sports or other things, that we could be more available to love our wives, our children, to pray, to renew ourselves spiritually. Let’s continue that renewal but now, with the knowledge that we can be free of our sins forever and that Jesus Loves us into holiness, despite what we may have believed about ourselves.

Vivat Jesus, the traditional greeting for Brother Knights means Long Live Jesus (in your Hearts).

Long Live Jesus. May He forever be the centre of your hearts and lives, and may you forever be free of all your past sins to love and worship Him and each other. In Jesus Name, I pray this, Amen.

Vivat Jesus!
GK Michael Mombourquette

A Reflection on Lent

Brother Knights,

With Lent fast approaching, we need to draw our sights towards this new liturgical season. But what are we supposed to be doing in Lent that is different from the rest of the year? Lent can be a time to throw off the things in our lives that have been weighing us down and preventing us from giving our Lord and Savior his due Praise and Glory. What is holding you back? What can you let go of that has been keeping you from loving your God, your spouse, your kids? Do you spend a lot of time watching TV? Do you spend your time or money at endeavors that you could be better spending as a good Catholic Man, Husband, Father?

I have noticed over the years how often it seems that people can go through life with their faces in a screen somewhere. It’s been one of my biggest time/money wasters. I have to check my phone regularly to see the weather network app, the latest update from the CBC news app, check how many ‘likes’ my latest post on Facebook or Twitter just got. For the longest while, I would sit in my La-Z-Boy with my laptop on my lap while the family watched a movie or a show on TV. I was there with them, wasn’t I? Only after several years of that did I realize I was in fact so far from my family, even while I was in the same room that I didn’t see how much I was missing. I was two screens away from everybody, the TV and my laptop. The TV was doing a pretty good job of separating us all from each other but that at least would have been a shared experience even though we were not really communicating. Alas, I was only half sharing in that as I sat there playing my “Castle game” as I called it. Building an army, defending and attacking other players, joining in a league and growing our ‘community’. What a waste. All that time and effort into something that was damaging my real community, my family.

A few weeks ago, I started on a new Journey called Exodus 90. The goal of this journey is to help us develop new habits, ones that are free from the burdens that have been holding us back. You may have heard of some of them, cold showers, no alcohol, no snacks between meals. Pfft. Those are easy things. The real challenge is giving up my screens and even more than that, trying to develop a habit of prayer that builds me spiritually into the Catholic Gentleman, Father, Christian, I should be. Since giving up my screens, Cynthia and I have spent hours talking, sharing, praying and playing together in the past few weeks. We have gone out on dates, had celebrations, laughed and cried tears both of joy and frustration. I have never felt closer to my wife and children now than at any time I can remember in the past many long years. I have fallen in Love with Cynthia all over again. Instead of sitting together in the living room, watching the latest episode of whatever show we were following, we are sharing our lives with each other again. I have learned new things about my wife these past weeks and after almost 28 years of marriage, it was surprising and thrilling to find out how much more there is to learn about her.

Gentlemen, you don’t have to do “Exodus 90” or any other particular program but you do need to make some changes in your lives. We all do. My Lenten journey really began a month ago and I will graduate at Easter as a free man, no longer burdened by as many things in my life, more able to live and love as God meant me to do. You too can grow this Lent. We are quite familiar with the concept and are familiar with the question “What are you giving up for lent?”. But it’s not about what you’re giving up for Lent. It’s about what is holding you a slave and preventing you from being free to be the Catholic, Christian Man. You can. You may know what it is now that is enslaving you, or you may need some time in prayer; honest, soul-searching prayer, to discern what these things are. Make a vow now to give them up, not for lent, but for God, for your wife, for life. And don’t just give up these things. Replace them, with prayer, play, family, service to Church and each other.

May God Bless you all this coming season!

Vivat Jesus

Michael Mombourquette
Grand Knight