You knew it was coming eventually!
You knew it was coming eventually!
Thank you to everyone filling out the Contact Page and asking for more information about coming for a retreat at In Viam Pacis! Thank you also, to those who have sent in some donations! Please visit the “Be a Part of In Viam Pacis” Page on this website and consider becoming a monthly supporter. I think In Viam Pacis is a unique opportunity and a positive initiative in these troubled times. Of course, it won’t last long if it is not financially supported. Even if you don’t think you will ever come on retreat here, I hope you see the value for the Church and for society and, if so, kindly make a contribution, no matter how small.
In order to answer some common questions, I offer this information:
We are not open yet to receive retreatants. I’m sure we’re still at least a few weeks away (probably a bit longer).
This was the second video I uploaded to YouTube and while I see I have lots of room for improvement, I hope you benefit from watching it. I think you have to watch it on YouTube to be able to subscribe, and whether you comment on this blog post or on the actual YouTube site, I will see the comment. The difference is that on YouTube your comment will be seen immediately and potentially to more viewers, compared to this website where the comment isn’t published until it is approved by yours truly first. On this video I set the webcam at High Definition and I can’t remember the frames per second setting, but the result was almost as neat as watching one of those old Chinese movies dubbed into English, if you get what I mean! Oh well, enjoy:
Mass was offered:
February 1st for Kyle and his entire family, by his cousin Maurice.
February 2nd for Anthony on his birthday, by his mother Gisele.
February 3rd for Doris, by Lara and John.
February 4th for Lara’s Mother on her birthday, by Lara and John.
February 5th for Rebecca, by her mother Nathalie.
February 6th for Tonya on her birthday, by her Mom and Dad.
February 7th for Paul, by his sister Jennifer.
February 8th for Paul, by his sister Jennifer.
February 9th for Rebecca, by her mother Nathalie.
The Mass on January 30th was offered for the soul of Fr. Basil Smith.
The Mass on January 31st will be offered for the benefit and intentions of Paul McC. on his birthday, requested by his wife Kathleen.
Since the beginning of Ordinary Time, on January 14th, we are hearing from Year 1 of the Weekday Lectionary, and the First Reading is from the Letter to the Hebrews.
It can be a bit confusing, but Catholics should understand two important things. The author is writing to a Jewish audience explaining why Jesus’ death on the cross is the new sacrifice and that animal sacrifices were always insufficient. So when you hear all about the sacrifices and the priesthood in the Letter to the Hebrews, you should keep in mind that what is being referred to is the Old Testament priesthood with animal sacrifices. Otherwise the letter does not make sense, and can be easily misunderstood.
Jesus is the new sacrifice, offered once for all, and His sacrifice is acceptable to the Father and establishes the new and everlasting covenant. There is now only one Priest and one Sacrificial Victim, who is Jesus Christ. The Catholic priest offers the one sacrifice of Jesus to the Father, in persona Christi, at each Mass. Please understand that there is really only one Sacrifice of the Mass, although in our language we might say things like, “On Sunday our parish has two Masses.” Every Mass is the same Mass; the same One Sacrifice of Jesus Christ! Do not be deceived or let your hearts be troubled if some non-Catholic attacks the Catholic priesthood or the Catholic Mass by using the Letter to the Hebrews. Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they are talking about!
We are going through the Gospel of St. Mark. On Tuesday we heard that Jesus’ mother and brothers were outside of a house were Jesus was, and that they were looking for Him. Please understand that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a perpetual virgin and never had any other children. Jesus’ brothers should be understood as relatives, like cousins. In that same Gospel passage, Jesus looks around and points to His disciples and says, “Here are my mother and brothers, for whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” First understand this: Jesus never sinned. This is not Jesus being dismissive towards His mother. That would be a sin. He never sinned against any of the Commandments. He honoured His mother. Understood correctly, even in this teaching He is honouring His mother, because no human being has ever done the will of God more perfectly than Mary. So she is being praised by Him at the same time as saying that if we want to be in the family of Jesus, that is, the family of God, we can, if we also do the will of God. That, my friends is really good news. Belonging to God’s family is no longer a matter of bloodlines, but is available to all through faith! Of course, to do God’s will requires God’s grace, but He does not refrain from giving His grace to anyone who asks! In Viam Pacis!
In Viam Pacis now has a YouTube channel called “To Prepare His Way” and the home page can be found here:
Here’s a few thoughts I had one day taking Vicar through the woods down the new forest road that I made just before the ground froze!:
Please subscribe and click the notification bell and then you will be notified every time a new video is published on the channel.
I think I will also use this blog to announce the Mass Intentions, edited perhaps to not reveal anyone’s full name or personal information online.
Today’s Mass (January 28th, The Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas) was offered for Lara’s Spiritual Priest Son.
On January 29th, the Mass will be offered for the benefit of John’s Dad.
My friends Lawrence and Marielle came to visit me on Sunday. We had scheduled visits on two previous occasions but huge snowstorms prevented safe travel. Actually last Sunday there was another snowstorm with blowing winds and whiteout driving conditions, but they persevered and it was great to see them. We went for a nice walk through the woods just before sunset. The snow was deep enough that we could have used snowshoes but we decided to just wear our boots. They were kind enough to bring some Mass supplies which I was getting low on, and they also brought a very delicious chili and salad for supper and apple crisp for desert!
Although I cannot yet receive retreatants, I am happy to receive visitors. The preferred day for visits is on Sundays. If you come up on other days, expect to be put to work! In Viam Pacis!
There are different types of Catholic priests. The two broad types are 1) Secular and 2) Religious.
These words might be a bit confusing. Aren’t all priests religious? Secular? Doesn’t that mean not believing in God or outside of the Church or something?
Well, one way to answer these questions is to say that the Church has her own language. Yes, in common language we would say that someone who believes in God and practices a religion is religious. And, again in common language we might think that secular means non-religious and completely separate from any religion or even spiritual reference. But the word secular when it comes to priests really means “to be in the world.” This being, or living, in the world can be easily understood in contrast with living in a cloistered community like an abbey or a monastery, separated from the outside world. But it isn’t quite that simple, because not all religious priests live a cloistered life.
A secular priest is perhaps better understood as a diocesan priest, that is, he belongs to a particular diocese and is under the authority of a diocesan bishop. A diocese is a territory or region with geographical boundaries, just like a city or a regional municipality or a province or territory has boundaries and corresponding governors. A bishop is sort of like the governor. Well, maybe more like a king. Anyway, another way of saying a priest belongs to a diocese is that he is incardinated with a diocese. When a man is ordained a deacon he becomes incardinated to a particular diocese. Every priest is ordained a deacon before he is ordained a priest. Normally an incardinated deacon or priest will minister in the geographical territory of his diocese, but not always. Most priests in the Catholic Church are diocesan priests and they most often minister in parishes, which are of course, in places where people live, whether that be in cities or suburbs or the country. Parishes are not monasteries. We could say, they are in the middle of the world, or better yet, in the midst of the world. They are there, visible and accessible.
As stated above, not all religious priests live in cloistered communities. Many religious priests also work in parishes, in the midst of the world. A religious priest is best distinguished from a diocesan priest by the fact that a religious is not incardinated with a diocese with obedience to the bishop, but rather belongs to a recognized community and he vows obedience to his superior, even though he would need to receive faculties to minister as a priest to the public from the local bishop. A religious priest must of course be ordained by a bishop. Religious make vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. These vows are called the Evangelical Counsels. A diocesan priest promises obedience to his bishop, celibate chastity, commits to the praying of the breviary, and to simplicity of life. A religious priest who lives in a cloister would be considered a monk. A monk might be an ordained priest, serving the sacramental needs of his cloister, or he might be a brother, who is not ordained but still vows the Evangelical Counsels.
A religious priest normally would not earn a salary for himself but any earnings he might receive would go directly into the community, and the community in turn ensures that his basic needs are met for his entire life. There might be certain variations in the details from community to community, but this is more or less how it works. A diocesan priest, on the other hand, is responsible for all his personal expenses and, for the most part, makes his own decisions on how he spends his salary and prepares for retirement or old age. A diocesan priest is paid a salary depending on where he works, which, as already mentioned, is normally in a parish. So, normally a diocesan priest works in a parish and is paid a set salary by the parish. The parish receives money to pay for expenses pertaining to that parish, including the priest’s salary, by the generous donations of the parishioners. A small percentage of parish donations is passed on to the diocese to pay for the expenses of the bishop and all the salaries of the diocesan administrative staff and other expenses related to the running of the diocese.
So where do I fit in with all of this? I am a diocesan priest, but I asked my bishop to be released from parish ministry in order to establish this retreat centre, In Viam Pacis, and he granted me this request, realizing the good in the proposal. I am a priest incardinated with the Archdiocese of Ottawa, but working in the territory of the Archdiocese of Kingston.
The norm for a diocesan priest is to work in a parish, but many diocesan priests may do other work instead, such as hospital chaplains, school chaplains, teachers, professors, psychologists, missionaries, Church diplomats, or all sorts of other things. I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post that although I have left parish ministry and the city, I still minister as a Catholic priest, but in a more hidden way. I was thinking about that word “hidden.” It’s a funny word. I mean, am I hiding? No, ha ha ha. I’m just working more behind the scenes, so to speak. As a priest my primary work is of course prayer, especially the Breviary and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I also continue pastoral work, mostly pastoral counselling over the phone these days. I was ordained a priest in 2005 and since then there has accumulated a good number of persons who reach out to me for my priestly guidance. Rarely does a day go by that I do not offer at least a listening ear to at least one person who needs to talk. And I’m glad to do that. And sometimes I need to talk too, so I have my own friends and priests that I call. When the retreat starts receiving retreatants then I will be of course making available Confession, Mass, Liturgy of the Hours, and pastoral counselling and spiritual direction, for those who want that. Otherwise, a retreatant will be free to rest or walk the woods or spend time in the chapel, or go fishing or go biking or whatever.
I think a good principle to live by is: “Help those who want the help” and let the others be. A good deal of energy of a priest in a parish goes into trying to help those who don’t really want the help, but that’s another blog topic for another day, I suppose. One of the great things from my perspective is that with In Viam Pacis I am free to help those who really want what I have to offer. Not everyone needs help or wants help, and that’s okay! There’s nothing wrong with that. I certainly don’t want to impose help. Plus, I can’t even always help everybody who asks for help either, because some persons need help that is beyond my capacities. That’s just reality.
So, I was thinking about my frustration with myself that the physical building and grounds for the retreat centre is not ready yet, even though I knew I set an admittedly ambitious goal as a timeline. Then I realized that with all the time dedicated to my principle work of prayer and counsel, it is no wonder that the other things are moving slowly! There is only so much time in a day. One day at a time!
I am very grateful to my bishop, Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa, for being open to my proposal to establish this retreat centre. I truly believe it is where I belong and where I can best serve the Church. I am also very grateful to the bishop of Kingston, Archbishop Brendan O’Brien, because this property is in his territory, and without his graciousness I could not be doing this here. Mostly, of course, I am grateful to God, first and foremost for calling me to be a priest, and also for all the education, formal and informal, and life experiences that together allow me to be on this new adventure. In the seminary, the first formal lecture I recall was on the principle that “you can’t give what you don’t have.” And that is true. We can even say it is a truism! But I have another saying which is an inverse of that saying that I don’t think was in that lecture: “Give what you do have.” That is not a truism. That is an imperative! And there’s a big difference. The vision of In Viam Pacis was conceived through what I might call a searching and thorough inventory of everything that I have, material and immaterial, so that, in keeping with Our Lord Jesus’ precept, I might give it all away! In Viam Pacis!
It’s about time I updated the website and start actually blogging to keep everyone up to date.
In reading about Saint Anthony of the Desert (born 251, died 356) in the Breviary today (January 17th) I couldn’t help but think that he is in some way an inspiration for In Viam Pacis Retreats. The first reason I say that is because my name is Anthony, and surely and quite naturally the Saint who is already prays for the saints that hope to be one day who also share his name! Growing up I always assumed that I was named after St. Anthony of Padua, and I’m sure that is who my dear mother had in mind, since I don`t ever recall her mentioning the great hermit, but she often invoked the famous Franciscan. St. Anthony of Padua (b. 1195, d 1231), whose Feast Day is June 13th, is best known as the Patron Saint of lost articles. He is absolutely reliable in finding lost things through his intercession. I think he is underestimated though, or underutilized. I’m sure the great Wonder Worker is just as reliable in finding lost souls, and that is of much greater value than any thing that we might lose! Anyway, today, January 17th, is the Feast Day, or “memorial” to be technical, of Saint Anthony of the Desert, also known as Saint Anthony of Egypt, or simply and affectionately as Abba Antony. Other titles of his include: Anthony the Anchorite, Father of All Monks, and Anthony the Great. Surely Anthony of Padua was named after the first great Anthony! So in that way every Anthony is named after him, right?
In my twenties I was able to get a copy of Saint Athanasius` Life of Antony, from which we know everything we need, and I think reading that some 30 years ago planted some seed in my heart for the desire for more solitude and a simpler life that is perhaps blossoming and will, please God, bear fruit with In Viam Pacis. I think I may have even picked that book up at St. Joseph`s House of Madonna House in Combermere. My time at Madonna House was also a seed, but that is for another post. Back to Saint Anthony of the Desert.
“When Antony was about eighteen or twenty years old,“ Athanasius tells us, “Not six months after his parents`death, as he was on his way to church for his usual visit, he began to think about how the apostles had left everything and followed the Savior, … entering the church just as the Gospel was being read, he heard the Lord`s words to the rich man: If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor – you will have riches in heaven. Then come and follow me. Athanasius reports two more times in short time that this happened to Antony when he went to church. Next he heard these words of the Gospel stand out in the proclamation: Do not be anxious about tomorrow, and then not long after that he heard If anyone will not work, do not let him eat. These three things prompted Antony to sell his inheritance and go live alone in the desert, doing manual labour. There is much more about Saint Antony, but these three things really spoke to me this morning.
In another post, or perhaps a video, I will give you an account of how I have come to live out here in the wilderness as a priest to establish a retreat centre. Times are certainly different in the Church and in the world than they were for Antony, but some things are the same. We have the same human nature, fallen, yet yearning for holiness. Is it possible to literally give away everything today and go live in the wilderness with no money like Saint Antony did? I met a fellow out this way a few months ago who came to the area with his wife planning to live completely off grid. He is quite the interesting character. He told me that they’ve been attempting it for 5 years but it’s not that easy. They raise geese and a certain rare type of pig. He told me that although they want to live simple and even without money, it just isn’t really possible. He drives a really old black truck, almost antique looking, and he needs to pay for a license, insurance, gas, repairs, etc., so he needs money. And I met him at the local general store, a mere 10 km away. He wasn’t there for nothing. Him and his wife are not totally self sufficient for their food or other necessities either. As far as I know the owner of that store is not accepting barter, at least for what he has to offer! No, it is not that easy to just escape into the desert wilderness like Antony did without money. Plus, nowadays we have all sorts of by-laws and zoning restrictions and building permits to navigate. Did Antony have to concern himself with those things? I don’t think so. I am so blessed to be a steward of this property. While legally it is mine, in my mind and heart it is God’s. So, unlike Antony the Great, this Anthony is not liquidating my material assets and giving it away. Rather I have asked myself why it is that God has given me what I have. My answer is In Viam Pacis. Something beautiful for God.
Can I tell you something about this new life that I am just beginning? I have left the parish and the city but I have not left the priesthood. I still minister as a Catholic priest, but in a more hidden way. I am getting a taste of the life of Antony with the periods of solitude and the manual work. Solitude is not lonely. It is not being alone either; not really. Solitude is the opportunity to speak with and listen to God. What joy! It is beyond words! I’m outside in the woods, digging, cutting, building, sweating, muscles getting tired, no one to talk to except God. And I take a pause and I look around at the trees and the sky, and I hear the silence, or perhaps nothing more than a call of a bird, or, if it’s not too windy, the sound of the flowing creek, and I breathe in the fresh air, and deep inside somethings small wells up into something great. I don’t really have the words to describe it. Maybe it’s just the clean country air! Or maybe it’s a tiny bit of a sharing in what St. Antony also experienced, since, he considered “the nature of created things” to be his book that he would ‘read’ to know the words of God. He was known to be very wise, and people sought him out looking for that wisdom. Yet, amazingly enough, he had not learnt how to read the written word. He was illiterate, but he memorized Holy Scripture through hearing. And throughout his whole life he sought out solitude to pray and to listen for God.
In Viam Pacis exists so that you can get away from the busyness or the noise of the crazy world for a day or a bit more and have a taste in some way of the life of Antony. Please pray for the success of In Viam Pacis. It is taking much longer than I thought to get things ready to receive retreatants. I’m kind of embarrassed at how long it is taking me, actually. I could use some help. I have received some volunteer help, and I have paid for some skilled labour too. I have a call out to hire someone next week. A number of good persons are waiting to come on retreat, and I feel obliged to get things ready as soon as possible for them, and for you if you want. Some of you have told me that you would love to come but your health will not allow it. God bless you. I pray that you will get that taste of In Viam Pacis in an even more powerful way through the solitude of your suffering. Saint Anthony of the Desert, pray for us.
What’s with the name “IN VIAM PACIS”?
IN VIAM PACIS is Latin for INTO THE WAY OF PEACE. It comes from the last words of Zachariah’s Canticle in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 1, verses 68-79. Zachariah is the husband of Elizabeth, the natural parents of the child who would be forever known as John the Baptist. I recommend if you are not familiar with the historical facts that you read the entire first chapter of Luke. Here is a link to Luke 1 from the Bible Gateway website: Luke Chapter 1 RSVCE
RSVCE means the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition and is one of many English translations of the Bible. The RSV Bible is regarded as the most literal and accurately translated English Bible from the original languages. The RSVCE is the RSV with the complete canonical texts.
Anyway, the Canticle of Zachariah, also known as the Benedictus, is prayed all around the world every morning by priests, deacons, religious sisters and nuns, religious brothers and monks, and many lay persons.
Here is the English translation we pray in Canada and the United States:
Blessed + be the Lord, the God of Israel; *
he has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty savior, *
born of the house of his servant David.
Through his holy prophets he promised of old †
that he would save us from our enemies, *
from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers *
and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham: *
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
free to worship him without fear, *
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life.
You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High; *
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,
to give his people knowledge of salvation *
by the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God *
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, *
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
For the fun of it, here is the same prayer in Latin from Saint Jerome’s ‘vulgate’ translation:
68 Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel, quia visitavit, et fecit redemptionem plebis suae:
69 et erexit cornu salutis nobis in domo David pueri sui,
70 sicut locutus est per os sanctorum, qui a saeculo sunt, prophetarum ejus:
71 salutem ex inimicis nostris, et de manu omnium qui oderunt nos:
72 ad faciendam misericordiam cum patribus nostris: et memorari testamenti sui sancti:
73 jusjurandum, quod juravit ad Abraham patrem nostrum, daturum se nobis
74 ut sine timore, de manu inimicorum nostrorum liberati, serviamus illi
75 in sanctitate et justitia coram ipso, omnibus diebus nostris.
76 Et tu puer, propheta Altissimi vocaberis: praeibis enim ante faciem Domini parare vias ejus,
77 ad dandam scientiam salutis plebi ejus in remissionem peccatorum eorum
78 per viscera misericordiae Dei nostri, in quibus visitavit nos, oriens ex alto:
79 illuminare his qui in tenebris et in umbra mortis sedent: ad dirigendos pedes nostros in viam pacis.
Notice the last 3 words “in viam pacis” and notice the first word “Benedictus.” In the Catholic Church we often name our prayers by the first word or two. This happens with official documents such as Papal Encyclicals or Exhortations as well.
So there you have it. There is much to reflect on these holy words but this first blog is long enough already!
At some point I will figure out how you can receive notifications as to when I make another blog post. In the meantime, please check back here periodically for more news and information about this new retreat centre!