It Is Finished!

IMG_6229But really, it is just the beginning of a new chapter!

We joyfully marched the last 5 km of our pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela this morning. Having anticipated a large crowd for the 12 noon Mass, our group took an early start to make sure that we would arrive at the Cathedral an hour before the Mass in order to have the front row seats.


While our group sat for an hour Praying and Meditating in the Cathedral, Fr. Scott and I went to the Sacristy to prepare for the Mass. I was asked to be one of the two main con-celebrants at the Mass, and coincidentally, I was also asked to come forward to help charge the Botafumeiro, the famous thurible (censer) for which the Cathedral Church of Santiago de Compostela is well known. I was very humbled and yet very happy to have been given the special privilege of not only con-IMG_6186.JPG (4)celebrating at the Mass, but also to have the opportunity to help with the Botafumeiro.

The thurible (censer) is so big and heavy that it takes eight men to swing it, from one side of the church to its other side, almost touching the ceiling. Once it reaches its maximum velocity, the thurible travels at around 100 km/h. The Botafumeiro was used as early as the medieval period and especially on those days when the pilgrims travelling the great distance didn’t have the luxury of taking a shower and to be quite frank, usually stank. Thus, the Botafumeiro not only blessed the pilgrims, but also helped to deodorize and get the stench out of the Cathedral.IMG_6230

I believe that then, and now, it still gets rid of the stench, not the physical odour kind of stench, but the stench of sin and corruption.

Do you remember after Lazarus died, and having been buried in the tomb for four days, Jesus commanded Lazarus to come out!? As Jesus asked people to remove the stone, the people warned Jesus that Lazarus had already been dead for four days and that the decomposition process had already begun. In other words, Lazarus is dead and the tomb stinks, so why bother?

People were discouraging Jesus and counselling Him not to do it. He insisted.

He can get rid of the stench; He can raise Lazarus from the dead and give him brand new life!

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As the Botafumeiro swung from one end of the Cathedral to the other, I could not help but ponder that Jesus still has the power to remove the stench from our lives. The question is, will we keep putting on cologne or perfume to just cover up, to mask the stench, or will we let Jesus take away the stench of sin so that the fragrance of God’s Kingdom can spread?


St. Andre Bessette ParishFor a couple of weeks in June, I will be away on pilgrimage to Rome. I hope to be able to pass on some reflections along with a few images while I am on this journey. As I prepare for this retreat, here are some thoughts I would like to share.

A few years ago I met a pastor of a Baptist Church down the street from where I used to be and we went out for lunch. After introducing ourselves to one another, we shared our insights as well as the challenges in our ministry. We were both admitting how busy we were, and that we often had to multi-task in order to get things done. Making phone calls while checking emails and replying to text messages while in a meeting, etc. And he taught me a lesson that I will never forget.

Before he became the pastor of his church, he had worked for a major corporation. While working for this company, his CEO hired a professional consultant to help increase his productivity. For an entire week, the consultant followed him everywhere, including a conference he was attending, he flew first class right beside him. At the end of the week and tens of thousands of dollars of professional consulting fees later, the consultant presented his report. A very short and concise report that said: “Do one thing at a time!”

I think we all fall into this trap. We are expected to multi-task, but we do so at the expense of dividing up our attention as well as ourselves among many people and tasks. While we may have increased productivity, we have done so at the expense of quality.  We divide our attention into such small portions when really we should be giving our total and undivided attention to one person and one task at a time.

I am sure we can all relate to Martha, who was busy with many things. It is when she complained to Jesus about how busy she was and that her sister Mary should be helping her, that much to our surprise, Jesus praised Mary for sitting by His feet to listen and ponder His words, saying that she had chosen the “unum necessarium,” or the “one thing necessary,” and ends up scolding Martha for being anxious and troubled over many things.

During His public ministry, when the disciples became overwhelmed, He would take them aside to retreat from the crowds and would tell them to rest for a while. When our own schedules fill up and we are anxious and troubled by our many tasks, it is necessary to retreat from our busy lives and to retreat with the Lord. I pray and hope that this summer we will take that time, the time to retreat from our lives in this world and to turn to Christ as Mary did and feast on His words and His teachings.

The Churches we will be visiting while in Rome, the cobble stones we will walk upon, the monuments we will see, they all have stories to tell. They were built by people who wanted to serve God by giving the very best of themselves. It is hard to fathom but some of the Cathedral churches took over a century to build. Talk about enduring faith and hope! So as we embark upon our respective retreats, whether in a foreign land or here at home, I pray that we will all be inspired by those great examples of faith and love for God and also that we will seek to give the very best of ourselves to God in faith and love.

Upcoming St. Andre Bessette Events!

Golf Tournament

Our Golf Tournament is just around the corner! Mark your calendars: September 12th at the Cardinal Golf Club in King City. Tee Time is 8am so start practicing your swing. More information to follow.

Contact Person: Gaetano Barrila at 416.460.9595 or email gaetano@barrilalaw.com

Annual Gala Dinner

Date: Friday, November 13

Venue: Fontana Primavera

Ticket Price: $100 per person

Tax receipt of $500 will be issued for those purchasing a whole table of 10 people