S+L logo

Daily Scripture reflections
by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing

Rev. Anthony Man-Son-Hing is a priest of the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie. Born in Georgetown, Guyana on 23 November 1965, Anthony moved to Canada along with his family in 1974.

He attended elementary and secondary schools in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and received a Bachelor of Arts at Wilfrid Laurier University (1988), He pursued Theology studies at Saint Augustine's Seminary in Toronto (1988-1993) and was ordained to the priesthood on May 14, 1993 for the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie. Fr. Anthony is currently serving as Pastor of Our Lady of Fatima and Ste-Marie parishes in Elliot Lake, Ontario as well as Pastor of Ste-Famille parish in Blind River, Ontario.

— The following content is reproduced with permission of Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing

His Word Today: Novena Day 3

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
19 December 2018, 7:31 am
Good morning everyone,

The stories that are we recounted in the sacred scriptures during this novena of days that precedes the celebration of Christmas all speak of miraculous happenings. Yesterday we heard the story of an angel who spoke to Joseph, the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus.  Today we hear the story of the same angel who spoke to Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist.

The message that was shared with Mary (cf Lk 1:26-35) is shared almost Word for Word to Zachariah (cf Lk 1:11-18). The angel foretells the birth of Zachariah's son to parents who have grown well beyond the years that would normally be considered for bearing children. Here again, we must pause to marvel at the presence of God who works wonders in the midst of his people.

Still, the story is also meant to pave the way for a greater story that is yet to be told.  Yet this chapter opens our hearts, our minds, and our spirits to realize that God is at work in our midst doing wonder-ful things. All we need to do is open our eyes and ask for the grace to be able to see them.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Novena Day 2

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
18 December 2018, 7:33 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the gospel passage speaks of secrets that are imparted and secrets that must be kept.  The gospel accounts of the Annunciation and Joseph's dream speak of a secret that was shared with the betrothed couple in Nazareth.

While Mary pondered the words that Gabriel had spoken to her and kept his proclamation hidden in her heart, her beloved betrothed, since he was a righteous man ... decided to divorce her quietly in order not to expose her to shame (cf Mt 1:19).  It must have been heartbreaking for Joseph to discover that the one he loved had been unfaithful to him: what scandal that would have been for both of them and for their families.

Then, Joseph was visited by an angel.  In a dream, he learned the details of the plan that had been revealed to Mary (cf Mt 1:20-21).  From that point onward, he and Mary would have exchanged knowing glances, even though neither of them could betray the secret that they held in their hearts.  Did they realize the magnitude of their yes?  Did they truly understand that they were taking part in the revelation of a mystery that had been unfolding ever since the creation of the world?

As we draw ever closer to the celebration of Christmas, let us ask the Lord to reveal this mystery to us, and to help us to treasure these truths in our hearts.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Novena Day 1

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
17 December 2018, 7:16 am
Good morning everyone,

In these final days of the Advent period, the Church focuses our attention increasingly on the mystery that is unfolding before us.  Today, the scriptures focus our attention on Jesus' family tree: his genealogy.

The entire history of our salvation has unfolded - beginning with the life of Abraham (cf Mt 1:2) and continuing fourteen generations to the great king David (cf Mt 1:2-6), then another fourteen generations to the time of the Babylonian captivity (cf Mt 1:6-11).  Following the period of captivity in Babylon, there were another fourteen generations which passed, ending with the birth of Jesus (cf Mt 1:12-16).

It is important to notice that there are fourteen generations between each of these significant moments in the history of God's people, and that it is possible to trace the genealogy of Jesus back to Abraham.  In this way, the story of God's steadfast love is traced throughout the time of the Old Testament to the one who we know as the Christ - the promised one of God.

Saint Leo the Great (also known as Pope Leo I) who served as Bishop of Rome from 440 AD until his death in 461 AD, said that: The Conqueror's victory would have profited us nothing if the battle had been fought outside our human condition.  But ... the mystery of new birth shone upon us, so that through the same Spirit by whom Christ was conceived and brought forth, we too might be born again in a spiritual birth by baptism (Office of Readings, 17 December).

The mystery will unfold over the next nine days.  In the meanwhile, let us begin the Christmas novena (nine days of prayerful anticipation).

Have a great day.

Rejoice always

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
16 December 2018, 9:01 am
The third Sunday of the Advent season is traditionally referred to as Gaudete Sunday: the day of great rejoicing.  On this day, the prophet Zephaniah urges us to sing aloud and to shout ... to rejoice and exult with all our hearts (Zeph 3:14).   These are words that speak of joy and excitement about sharing some wonderful news. They make me wonder whether I am excited about my faith, about whether I think of my faith as wonderful news worth sharing with others.

Roman Catholics have not been traditionally very good at getting excited about our faith. Many of us prefer to think of faith as something private, something to be cherished between God and me. However this would be the furthest thing from the image that is portrayed in the words of the prophet Zephaniah.

Saint Luke's gospel also points out the fact that the crowds who were gathering to be baptized by John were excited about something new that was happening in their midst.  Tax collectors, soldiers and other people who met him were all filled with expectation and were questioning in their hearts (Lk 3:15).  If the words of the prophets are true, and if John the Baptist was successful in preparing the ground so that we too might receive the great gift of faith, the next question that we need to ask is: What is this great gift of faith that has been given to us and what are we expected to do with it?

The church defines the process of sharing our faith as something called evangelization.  Pope Saint Paul VI was the first to speak about the new evangelization in his Apostolic Exhortation entitled Evangelli Nuntiandi and all other popes after him have continued their encouragement for us to go out of our own comfort zones in order to share the good news of the gospel with those we meet.

If we want to teach others about our faith, we must first understand it ourselves. We need to be evangelized before we can evangelize anyone else. Many efforts have been put forward, and many programs have been tried in an effort to evangelize, but none of them so far have continued to awaken desires to learn about faith once they have drawn to a close. A few years ago,  I heard about an adult faith enrichment programme called ChristLife. Although I was sceptical at first, the approach that is used has proven to be very effective at evangelization among adults of all ages.

ChristLife is different from other evangelization programs.  Whereas other approaches to evangelization have seemed only to dwell at the surface level of our faith development, my experience with ChristLife is that it goes a little bit deeper. There are three components beginning with seven weeks focussed on discovering the person of Jesus.  Once we have discovered the person of Jesus, the second set of sessions leads us to make a choice to follow Him. Finally, having chosen to follow Him we learn how to share our faith with others.  I believe that this is what truly makes this program attractive: it actually teaches us how to let our gentleness be known to everyone,  how to make our requests known to God, and how to rejoice in peace which is the gift of our God (cf Phil  4:5-7).

We are making plans at the moment for the first seven-week session of Discovering Christ to be offered in Elliot Lake beginning in February 2019. More details will be coming very soon, but even now we can begin to ask ourselves: Is there anything that excites me about my faith?  Do I truly believe my faith is wonderful news worth sharing with others?

His Word Today: Family

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
15 December 2018, 8:28 am
Good morning everyone,

Have you ever stopped to consider how the definition of family has changed in recent decades?  It used to be the case that we all lived in what has become known as nuclear families, but it seems that these days, there are all kinds of definitions for families.  But through our baptism, we all belong to God's family; for some of us, this may be the first time that we are conscious of this reality.

Belonging to God's family makes us all partakers in the history that is recounted throughout the Old and the New Testaments: we can count some pretty amazing people among our ancestors, including Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Elijah, John the Baptist, Mary and Jesus (cf Mt 17:10-13).  In this way, we share a common ancestry in faith with the Jewish people.  The scriptures speak of significant moments that were part of our shared history and we should count ourselves privileged to number these great heroes of faith among our ancestors.

In the same way, the Church has continued to hold up the Saints as models of faith and virtue even to modern times.  Isn't it wonderful that we are united in faith with such bright examples of faith as Mother Teresa, Oscar Romero, and John Paul II?  What about the people we meet every day?  The ones with whom we interact at work or during our leisure hours?  Many people are all united in prayer for us as we make our way along the journey of faith.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint John of the Cross

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
14 December 2018, 7:15 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the liturgical Memorial of Saint John of the Cross (1542-1591), a major figure of the Counter-Reformation, a Spanish mystic, a Roman Catholic saint, a Carmelite friar and a priest, who was born at Fontiveros (Old Castile).

John of the Cross is known for his writings. Both his poetry and his studies on the growth of the soul are considered the summit of mystical Spanish literature and one of the peaks of all Spanish writing. He was canonized as a saint in 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII. He is one of the thirty-six Doctors of the Church.

Today, we ask this venerated Saint to intercede on our behalf so that we may not live our lives like children sitting idly in marketplaces and calling to one another (Mt 11:16) but rather willingly engaged in the work of sharing the good news that we have learned so that others may come to know and to love the Lord.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Lucy

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
13 December 2018, 8:17 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the Memorial of Saint Lucy (also known as Lucia of Syracuse (Sicily).  Lucy was born of rich and noble parents, about the year 283 AD.  Her father was of Roman origin, but died when she was only five years old.  Her mother (whose name was Eutychia) was most probably Greek in origin.  Lucy consecrated her virginity to God, but unaware of this consecration, her mother arranged her marriage to a young man from a wealthy pagan family.

Saint Lucy is said to have convinced her mother to give away some of her wealth among the poor, arguing: ... whatever you give away at death for the Lord's sake you give because you cannot take it with you. Give now to the true Saviour, while you are healthy, whatever you intended to give away at your death.

News that the family's patrimony and jewels were being distributed came to Lucy's betrothed who denounced her to the Governor of Syracuse.  In response, the Governor ordered her to burn a sacrifice to the emperor's image.  When she refused, he sentenced her to be defiled in a brothel, but this too was thwarted.  Bundles of wood were then heaped around her and set afire, but they would not burn.  Finally, she died by the sword (in the year 304).

At one time, the feast day of Saint Lucy was associated with the Winter solstice: the shortest day of the year.  For that reason, her feast became most popularly celebrated as a festival of light.  May this young martyr intercede for us, so that we too might be enlightened by heavenly guidance so that we can live our faith today.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Guadaloupe

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
12 December 2018, 7:21 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the Feast day of Our Lady of Guadaloupe.  To understand this feast, we must go back in time to December 1531.  There were a series of apparitions that took place.  The first one was on 9 December, when the Virgin Mary appeared to a young peasant by the name of Juan Diego at a place called the Hill of Tepeyac located in the Northern part of present-day Mexico City.  During that first apparition, she asked for a church to be built on the sight where she was seen, but it took four apparitions (on December 9, 10, 11 and 12), each one involving more questions which were asked of the Virgin in order to authenticate her validity.

On 11 December, Juan's uncle - Juan Bernardino - fell ill and by the early morning hours of 12 December, his condition had worsened even more. Instead of keeping his appointment to meet the Virgin Mary, Juan Diego set out for Tlatelolco to fetch a Catholic priest who could hear Juan Bernardino's confession and help minister to him on his death-bed.  Our Lady intercepted him and in response to his concern for his uncle, she responded with the words that have become associated with the apparitions of Guadaloupe: ¿No estoy yo aquí que soy tu madre? (Am I not here, I who am your mother?).

The Virgin assured Juan Diego that his uncle had been restored to full health and then instructed him to gather flowers from the top of the Tepeyac Hill, which was normally barren, especially in the cold of December.  Following her instructions, Juan Diego was surprised to find Castillian roses - not native to Mexico - growing there.  He gathered them in his tilma (cloak) and took them to the Archbishop of Mexico.  When he opened his cloak, the flowers fell on the floor and the image of the Virgin remained on the fabric.

Juan Diego's tilma now hangs inside the new Basilica of Our Lady of Guadaloupe - the world's most visited Catholic pilgrimage site - to this day.  Between 18 and 20 million pilgrims visit each year, each of them coming to place their petitions at the feet of their mother, hoping that she will hear their prayers and teach them to do as she did: to respond affirmatively to the Lord's invitation and to set out with haste in search of those who are in need (cf Lk 1:39).

The Virgin of Guadaloupe is the Patroness of Mexico and of the Continental Americas.  May she intercede for all of us and teach us how to grow closer to one another and to our heavenly Father.

Have a great day.

HIs Word Today: Power

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
11 December 2018, 6:42 am
Good morning everyone,

From the very beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis reminded all of us that authentic power is service (Homily in Saint Peter's Square, 19 March 2013).  Ever since the day of his election, Francis has not only been calling us to be a Church that is focused on service, he is also showing us how to do this.

When Jesus encouraged the disciples to follow the model of a shepherd who would leave the ninety nine in the hills and go in search of a stray sheep (Mt 18:12), he was also calling them to be focused on serving others.  If we want to be authentic models of service, we must constantly be ready to leave the other sheep in the hills - even at the risk that they too might run away - and go in search of those who have gone astray.

Pope Francis has gone in search of the stray sheep by continuing his devotion to rebuilding relationships between the Catholic Church and other Churches as well as other faith traditions.  He has travelled the world in order to gather the lost sheep and to strengthen the weakened ones by reminding all of us that we belong to the same family.  He seizes every opportunity to show us that it is not difficult to open our hearts and to be close to those who are suffering.

Jesus is calling each one of us to be people of service, to allow our words and our lives to be authentic signs of his presence, his love, his joy, his forgiveness.  In this way, we can truly experience this time of Advent as a privileged moment during which we prepare the way for his coming.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Conditions

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
10 December 2018, 9:11 am
Good morning everyone,

The gospels describe a series of moments when human beings encountered Jesus.  In each of those situations, those who were present were given a great privilege: to witness miraculous things.   One day as Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there ... And some men brought ... a man who was paralyzed (Lk 5:17-18).

The men who brought their friend - and the one who was paralyzed too - were hoping that Jesus could help him.  How long had this man lived without being able to walk?  How many times had he dared to hope?  Had he grown tired of thinking that one day he would walk again?  And what about us?  Have we given up on the possibility that miracles can be possible in our situations?

Advent is the season of hope, a time for preparing the conditions for us to be aware of God's presence, a time for us to accept God's invitation for us to open our hearts so that we can recognize these conditions ... so that we can dare to rise and walk (Lk 5:23).

Have a great day.

Something different

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
9 December 2018, 8:18 am
One of the distinguishing characteristics of the early Christians was their joy.  The Acts of the Apostles tells us that the disciples were filled with joy (Acts 13:52) as they shared the good news of their faith with those they encountered, but long before Jesus appeared on the scene, others had already spoken of the glory of God that was to come, a robe of righteousness (Bar 5:2) that would make us stand out from the rest of the crowd.

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius (Lk 3:1) another figure stood out as a sign of something wonderful that was to come.  It wasn’t his clothing that made him worthy of note, but rather the words he spoke.  His was a voice of one crying out in the wilderness (Lk 3:4), a voice that may well have been ignored by many but a voice that cried nonetheless, and the message he had to share would also have caused some to take notice: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight ... every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low ... (Lk 3:5).  While many other words spoken during this same time period have long been lost to history, these few stand out.

Some may say that Jesus had a kind of celebrity status, but many other celebrities have faded from the limelight while the words Jesus spoke still remain on the lips of those who follow in his footsteps.  There was something different about Jesus, and since that time, there has always been something different about those who call themselves Christian.  People notice the difference, even if they are not always able to fully understand it.

The difference that has always characterized the disciples of Jesus is the fact that each one of us is deeply and infinitely loved.  It was the realization of being deeply and infinitely loved that ultimately convinced Saint Peter: that made him weep bitter tears when he realized what he had done (cf Mk 14:72).  This same realization, that each of us is deeply and infinitely loved, softens even the most hardened hearts and awakens us to the fact that we are indeed highly privileged.

When we realize the depth of God’s love for us, the only fitting answer is for us to be thankful.  We are thankful to God for the love we have received, and we are thankful for the gift of others who have also been awakened to the joy of knowing that each of us is deeply and infinitely loved by God.  Having encountered this joy, Saint Paul constantly prayed that the one who began this good work in the hearts of his followers would bring it to completion (Phil 1:6).

During this second week of Advent, we pray for the gift of peace: peace in our world, peace in our families, peace among our friends and peace among all those who strive to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.  Peace was the gift that the risen Jesus offered to his disciples (cf Jn 20:19, 21).  Peace is the gift that is offered to us, so that like John the Baptist, like the disciples, and like all faithful followers of Jesus, others will notice in our words and actions that there is something different about us.  May they discover the great joy of knowing Jesus, the one who wishes us the gift of his peace.

His Word Today: the Immaculate Conception

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
8 December 2018, 9:08 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.  The Church has always taught that the Blessed Virgin, the mother of our Lord Jesus was herself conceived without sin - in the womb of her mother Saint Anne.  This was a special privilege that was granted through the merits of her Son.  God granted this favour in order to keep her Immaculate.

No one (except God himself) has ever had the chance to choose his or her own mother.  If we did, would we not want to lavish upon her every gift that we could?  Since Jesus was able to choose his own mother, we believe that God granted her the great privilege of being free from sin from the first moment of her conception.  The Church has held this to be true from the very earliest days, but it was not officially defined until 1854 when Pope Pius IX declared it as an infallible statement (ex cathedra).

The Virgin Mary, herself conceived without sin, would eventually be the vessel through which the Lord Jesus Christ, the only son of God ... became incarnate and became Man (cf Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed).  It is the great privilege of Mary's Immaculate Conception that we celebrate today.  Let us turn our gaze heavenward and offer joyful songs of praise for this great grace that was accorded to our heavenly mother.  May she continually intercede for all of us, her children, and accompany us with her prayer until we stand before her Son in the heavenly hallways to sing our praises in heaven.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Ambrose

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
7 December 2018, 7:15 am
Good morning everyone,

A few years ago, I had a chance to visit the city of Milan, and while I was there, I also got an opportunity to kneel and to pray at the tomb of Saint Ambrose.

Aurelius Ambrosius (c. 340 – 397), better known in English as Ambrose was Bishop of Milan.  He became one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century. He was the Roman governor of Liguria and Emilia, headquartered in Milan, before being made bishop of that city by popular acclamation in 374. Ambrose was a staunch opponent of Arianism (a non-trinitarian Christological doctrine which asserts the belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who was begotten by God the Father at a point in time, a creature distinct from the Father and is therefore subordinate to him.  This belief is contrary to the belief held by the Church: that Jesus Christ is the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father ... (Nicene Creed).

May this holy man of deep and abiding faith continue to intercede for us, that we too might continue to grow in our belief that Jesus, the eternal son of God has the power to grant every one of our desires, if they are for our good, even to restore our sight (Mt 9:27-31) so that we can see as he does.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Nicholas

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
6 December 2018, 8:20 am
Saint Nicholas
by Jaroslav Čermák
(1831-1878)
Good morning everyone,

Saint Nicholas of Myra (traditionally 15 March 270 – 6 December 343), also known as Nicholas of Bari, was an early Christian bishop of the ancient Greek city of Myra in Asia Minor (modern-day Demre, Turkey) during the time of the Roman Empire. Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession, he is also known as Nicholas the Wonderworker. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, children, brewers, pawnbrokers, and students in various cities and countries around Europe. His legendary habit of secret gift-giving gave rise to the traditional model of Santa Claus ("Saint Nick").

Nicholas' reputation for gift giving was born out of his awareness of great poverty and need - and his wish to demonstrate his deep belief that God is always close to his beloved children, always caring for them and for their needs.  Having read the words of Jesus in the scriptures: everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock (Mt 7:24), his deep concern for the wellness of the souls entrusted to his care provides us - even today - with inspiration to do the same.

Let us ask Saint Nicholas to pray with us today, to open our hearts to the needs of God's people and to inspire us to do what we can to lovingly respond to their needs.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Hope

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
5 December 2018, 7:56 am
James Tissot
Jesus heals the blind and the lame on the mountain
Good morning everyone,

During this first week of the Advent season, the scriptures remind us that as we prepare our hearts for the celebration of Christmas, the Lord is already offering us the gift of hope.  Hope is the virtue that is made present when our hearts are encouraged so that we come to believe that something wonderful is being prepared.

Saint Matthew's account of Jesus' encounter with many who were lame, blind, deformed, mute,
and many others (cf Mt 15:30) gives us an opportunity to understand how such encounters were sources of hope for those who otherwise may have lost all hope.  If all of these who had been previously cast aside by their current-day society could have the gift of hope re-ignited in their hearts, perhaps the same can be true for those of our time who find themselves in similar situations.

And lest some of us might think that we are not counted among those who are being offered such precious gifts, Saint Matthew continues with his version of the miraculous multiplication of loaves and fishes (cf Mt 15:32-37).  All of us hunger for hope at some level.  Therefore these words are addressed to each one of us, but they also challenge us to open our eyes and to see that we are no better off than others; thankfully, the Lord is aware of our needs and willingly provides for our needs.

Have a great day.

His Word Today:Saint John Damasene

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
4 December 2018, 8:16 am

Good morning everyone,

Today the Church celebrates the liturgical memorial of Saint John of Damascus, also known as Saint John Damasene.   Born and raised in Damascus (Syria) either in 675 A.D. or in 676 A.D., he died at the monastery known as Mar Saba, located near Jerusalem on 4 December 749.

He wrote extensive work expounding the Christian faith, and also composed hymns which are still used both liturgically in Eastern Christian practice throughout the world and in Western Lutheranism at Easter time.   John of Damascus is considered to be one of the Fathers of the Eastern Orthodox Church. He is best known for his strong defence of icons. The Catholic Church regards him as a Doctor of the Church. He is often referred to as the Doctor of the Assumption due to his writings on the Assumption of Mary.

Today, let us  unite our prayer with the praises offered by Saint John of Damascus. With him, let us make Jesus' prayer our own: I bless you Father, Lord of heaven and earth,  for though you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, you have revealed them two little ones (Lk 10:21).

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Francis Xavier

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
3 December 2018, 7:44 am
Good morning everyone,

If you ever have a chance to travel to Goa - located on the western coast of India - take the time to visit the Cathedral of Saint Catherine.  There, you will find the tomb of one of the most well-known Jesuit saints.  Today, we remember and pray with this great Saint who was born in Javier, a municipality located in the autonomous community of Navarre (Northern Spain).

Francisco Javier was born on 7 April 1506.  In his early 20s, while studying at the Collège Sainte-Barbe, part of the University of Paris, he met Ignatius of Loyola who was a fellow student who was 10 years his senior.  In fact, it was Ignatius who eventually encouraged Francisco to consider becoming a priest.  In 1534, Francisco was one of seven students who met in a crypt beneath the church of Saint Denis, located on the hill of Montmartre where they took vows to go to the Holy Land to convert infidels.  Francois began his study of theology in 1534 and was ordained a priest on 24 June 1537.  A few years later - in 1539, after long discussions, Ignatius drew up a formula for a new religious order: the Society of Jesus (known as the Jesuits). Ignatius's plan for the order was approved by Pope Paul III in 1540.

On many occasions, the gospels recount the fact that Jesus travelled to various locations, including Capernaum, where he met a centurion who pled with him on behalf of one of his servants (cf Mt 8:5).  In response to this need for help, Jesus opened his heart.  Francisco too was willing to open his heart and to respond to the call of the Lord to travel far and wide in order to share the good news of the gospel.  In fact, Francisco led an extensive mission into Asia, mainly throughout the Portuguese Empire.  He was influential in evangelization efforts, most notably in India.  He was also the first Christian missionary to venture into Japan, Borneo, the Maluku Islands and other areas.  He struggled to learn the local languages and faced much opposition in these other lands, and was not as successful in preaching the gospel there.  Francisco was about to extend his missionary preaching to China when he died on Shangchuan Island.

He was beatified by Pope Paul V on 25 October 1619 and canonized by Pope Gregory XV on 12 March 1622.  Even today, through his intercession, we ask the Lord to be present to those who continue the work of evangelization.

Have a great day.

Be alert

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
2 December 2018, 8:23 am
Happy New Year!  This first Sunday of the Season of Advent marks the beginning of a new liturgical year.  Like the secular celebration of New Year’s Day, this moment allows us to look back over the year that has passed, to stand still for a moment, and then to turn our attention to the year ahead.  The scripture passages we have just heard also point to the past, the present and the future.

Human beings exist on a linear plane.  We can easily look backward in time: we could rather easily point out the date of our birth, the date (and sometimes the time) when other significant events took place.  We could map out our entire existence to the present day.  Our story of faith is no different: the words of the prophet Jeremiah resound across the centuries to remind us that God’s people have been longing for His arrival for many centuries.  When human efforts seemed to be insufficient, the words of the prophet rang out: The days are surely coming ... when I will fulfill the promise ... when a branch will spring up ... when Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety (Jer 33:14-16).

These words of hope helped our ancestors in faith to look forward with renewed promise.  In our day, we too need to trust that similar words of hope are being spoken for our sake.  To continue the metaphor of the map, if we took the time, we might even be able to continue the timeline to include some of our hopes and dreams for the future, all the way to the point where our earthly existence will one day come to an end.  Looking to the future is not as easy as looking back at the past.  There is always an element of the unknown and although we may be excited about the possibilities that the future may hold, there is always an element of uncertainty about that which has not yet come to pass.

As Jesus looked into the future, he knew that his disciples would be uneasy: There will be signs, he said, distress among nations.  People will faint from fear and foreboding (Lk 21:25-26) but unlike those who have no faith, we have been entrusted with the great gift of hope, for Jesus has gone before us to pave the way, so we can stand up and raise our heads (cf Lk 21:28).

The secular world is based on living for the present moment.  Everything is based on tangible proofs of success.  According to this way of thinking, those who have more things are better off, but this was not the life that Jesus preached.  The treasure that we have inherited from him is the gift of hope, which cannot be measured by any amount of physical possessions.  The true gift of hope is the secret to this first Sunday of Advent because it is the gift of hope that helps us to look into the future and not be afraid.  Continuing the image of the map, hope allows us to look beyond the point of physical death.  Hope allows us to look through the doorway that leads from this world into the realm of heaven.

With the assurance of heaven as our inheritance, we can make Saint Paul’s words our own: May the Lord make you increase and abound in love ... and may he strengthen your hearts in holiness so that you may be blameless before God (1 Thes 3:12-13).

His Word Today: Beware

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
1 December 2018, 8:36 am
Good morning everyone,

On more than one occasion during his Pontificate, Saint John Paul II cautioned young people not to settle for second best, but rather to dream of a better world and to be courageous enough to be the artisans who would bring about the world that they envisioned.  Such belief in the resilience of the human spirit spoke loudly, especially to the hearts of youth.

Papa Wojtyła's words were not only meant for youth; they were addressed to all people, just as Jesus spoke words which were meant for all people to hear.  His warning, offered to the disciples is equally applicable to us in our day: Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy (Lk 21:34).  In other words, be on guard not to be lulled into becoming too comfortable with the world around you, not to allow your hopes to be dashed, not to grow complacent in the belief that you cannot make a difference.

In fact, we disciples must always be vigilant (Lk 21:36), on the lookout for and attentive to the invitation that is whispered by Jesus for us to be present to His people, to walk with them and to show them the way to a brighter future that is made possible because we have come to know Him.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Andrew

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
30 November 2018, 7:32 am
Saint Andrew, by Artus Wolffort
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of Saint Andrew, the apostle.  According to Christian tradition, he was born in 6 BC in Galilee, in the village of Bethsaida, located on the Sea of Galilee.  The New Testament explains that he was the brother of Simon Peter.  Both he and Simon were fishermen and it was on the seashore that Jesus called them: come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men (Mt 4:19).

After the death of Jesus, Andrew travelled through the region of Scythia, along the Black Sea and as far as Kiev.  He is revered as the patron saint of Ukraine, Romania and Russia.  Tradition teaches that he established the See of Byzantium (later known as Constantinople and Istanbul) in 38 AD.

Saint Andrew is said to have been martyred by crucifixion in Achaea (Greece).  Early texts report that he was bound, not nailed, to a Latin cross of the kind on which Jesus is said to have been crucified; yet a tradition developed that Andrew had been crucified on a cross of the form called crux decussata (X-shaped cross), now commonly known as a Saint Andrew's Cross — supposedly at his own request, as he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus had been.

Whereas the successor of Saint Peter is referred to as the Bishop of Rome, in the Orthodox Tradition, Saint Andrew is referred to as the First-Called.  In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the successor of Saint Andrew is referred to as the Patriarch of Constantinople.  The current Patriarch (since 2 November 1991) is Bartholomew I.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Signs

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
29 November 2018, 8:07 am
Good morning everyone,

In some parts of Canada, this past summer was one of the hottest on record.  The number of forest fires hit a record high.  Even in recent months there has been catastrophic destruction in California.  To some, these might be interpreted as fulfillments of the predictions foretold by Jesus about signs in the sun, the moon and the stars (Lk 21:25).

While such predictions appear at first glance to be dire, Jesus himself offers a word of hope.  He says: when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand (Lk 21:28).

Throughout the centuries since the time of Jesus, Christians have been encouraged to follow these words of advice. In fact, it has been our continuing belief in the promise and the hope of eternal life that has allowed us to look beyond the confines of many other situations in life that might be perceived as tragic.  Instead, our belief in the resurrection of Jesus allows us to look forward in hope, holding our heads high even in the face of unexplainable signs in the skies.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Test

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
28 November 2018, 7:25 am
Good morning everyone,

It was Saint Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits who mastered the art of discerning spirits.  Based on his work, the entire Church now benefits from the practice of listening more closely for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we attempt to seek guidance from the words and actions of Jesus.

One of the characteristics that we can often look for when seeking heavenly wisdom is that the will of God will often open possibilities for us that we ourselves could never plan.  Sometimes, it happens that following in Jesus' footsteps results in a lack of acceptance by others, even to the point where some may persecute you ... hand you over ... and put you in prison (Lk 21:12).

At times when we must face such opposition, we can often be discouraged, yet this can be precisely the time when we should remain resolute, listening ever more deeply for the whisper of divine guidance.  Jesus will always be with us; he will always listen, whenever we open our hearts and pour out our concerns; ... and he will always whisper words of reassurance and guidance as he encourages our hearts and leads us to be of service to his people.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Beauty

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
27 November 2018, 8:20 am
Good morning everyone,

From the beginning of his pontificate, our current Holy Father has continually encouraged all of us to go out.  With these two simple words, he is challenging us not to grow too accustomed to looking around us and marvelling at the things we have already accomplished, but rather urging us to continue looking beyond our own comfort zones to the situations that need our attention, and the people who are in need.

This advice might be considered a modern-day continuation of the outlook that is perceived in Saint Luke's account of Jesus' conversation with some of the people who were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings (Lk 21:5).  In response to this remark, Jesus cautioned: the days will come when there will not be left one stone upon another ... (Lk 21:6).

Today, let us heed this call to not grow comfortable, but rather to remember that we have all been sent out on a mission to go out to those who are in need of help.  It is often in such encounters that we will discover the true beauty of the most precious stones that are part of the Church: the people of God, each of whom has a story to tell.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Abandon

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
26 November 2018, 4:40 pm
Good morning everyone,

Anyone who has been gifted with children knows that they learn many things even before they can speak.  They learn first and foremost by watching and by imitating the example that they see in the people who surround them.  Such impressionable minds can also provide us with inspiration to do as they do.

Were Jesus' disciples surprised by the example they saw in the temple on that day when a poor widow put two small coins into the treasury (Lk 21:2)?  Perhaps there were many others going and coming.  Perhaps they didn't even notice that poor woman until Jesus pointed her out.  That's often the way that life goes for adults: we get far too caught up in what we're doing, or in our own preoccupations to be aware of things around us.

If only we could learn a lesson from the infants we have the privilege to meet, perhaps we might learn to perceive things differently.  Who knows whether we might even learn a lesson or two from the example we see in the actions of others who are able to trust so deeply and implicitly that they are able to give out of their poverty, willing to abandon themselves into the care of a loving God.

Have a great day.

Truth

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
25 November 2018, 7:38 am
On the final weekend of the liturgical year, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe.  On this day, the gospel presents the scene where Jesus was appearing before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate.  This is no ordinary trial, and for this reason, we must look deeper into the scene in order to understand what is truly going on.

Pilate was a notorious figure.  He had a reputation for being particularly cruel to anyone who did not follow his orders.  Jesus stands before him, accused of having the reputation of being considered to be the king of the Jews (Jn 18:33).  It’s very interesting to watch Pilate at work.  He is a very calculating individual.  Outside the walls of his headquarters, where he meets with religious officials, he is a politician in charge of protecting the social order and negotiating with the leaders of the people he governs, but inside, he is an individual.  He meets Jesus, but is reluctant to make a judgment about who Jesus is.

Pilate’s inability to reflect the conviction of his heart in his outward appearance caused great conflict within him.  He ultimately wanted others to make important decisions for him because he was unable to be at peace with himself.  The same is true for us: if we speak one truth but believe another, we will never be able to find peace within ourselves.

Thankfully, Jesus is always willing to help us.  He came into the world in order to testify to the truth (Jn 18:37), so if we follow him, he will always lead us to the truth.  This is not always an easy journey, because we must admit that we need his help, and we must be willing to allow him to help us.  If we can get over our own insecurities, if we can learn to trust him, Jesus will always lead us to situations where we can grow in our awareness of those in our world who are truly in need, and he will always give us the words to speak so that we can comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.

This is what Jesus did.  During his time here on earth, he did not seek any earthly measure of power or prestige.  Rather, he found ways to comfort the disturbed: the poor, the downtrodden, those who were neglected and those who were ignored; and he wasn’t afraid to disturb the comfortable, including the Jewish leaders and even the Roman governor.

Even today, we must bravely continue the work that Jesus began.  It is up to us to comfort those in our world who are disturbed, including those who mourn the loss of their loved ones, or those who feel powerless and unable to influence the world around them.  We must find ways to welcome the strangers who appear in our midst and do everything we can to make them feel at home.  At the same time, we must be courageous enough to dare to disturb those who have been lulled into complacency because they are too comfortable.

This the truth to which the Lord invites us; it is the truth which we must proclaim.

→ Previous posts from Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing