Remembrance Day - "Lest We Forget" - Nov. 11, 2020 - S+L Mass at MQW Cathedral downtown Montreal

Gospel & Homily MP3file           Homily PDF file     


Hello. I’m Father Gilles Surprenant. We gather together on the Memorial of Saint Martin of Tours to offer this Daily Mass from Mary Queen of the World Cathedral in downtown Montreal. On this Remembrance Day, we offer Holy Mass for Monica Keating requested by her sister Sheila, for Donna Côté and the Rizzo & Reed Families requested by Flora & Martyn. Donations have been made by a friend.

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What for most of the British Empire in 1919 began as Armistice Day to celebrate military victory after WWI changed in 1931. At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month on Remembrance Day we remember those who have fallen in military conflicts.

Remembrance Day is also a call to remember the horror of war and to embrace peace. The human heart longs for peace and would rather not have to go to war. In the controversy over war and peace, we Christians are guided by Jesus’ answer to a question about paying taxes to the Emperor: Jesus said:  “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” Jesus’ words help us understand that it is honorable to perform our duty to our country in time of war as well as in time of peace.

In 1915 Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae wrote a short poem I had to learn by heart in grade school. The sudden death of a young comrade on the battlefield inspired him to write the poem. Hardy poppy seeds had lain dormant in the soil. When disturbed by bombs and grave digging they sprouted and bloomed into their bright blood-red flowers.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie
        In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe: 
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high. 
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.

Born in Guelph ON,
John McCrae served as a physician in Toronto and Montreal. He was 45 when he died of pneumonia and meningitis in France where for 3 years he treated wounded soldiers from nearby battlefields. His poem is a call to arms in solidarity with the fallen.

So, whom am I remembering today? Whom are you remembering today?

Every November we remember our deceased loved ones. Today we also remember victims of aggression and inhumanity throughout the world. For those who die, we believe that in his mercy God provides a time of purification for them if they are not ready to endure the intense happiness of God’s love in his company in Heaven. While we are still here on Earth, the courage of the soldier encourages us to face the shadows and dark secrets that may weigh down our souls.

Like St. Martin of Tours, the soldier leaves family, home, & country to go into the unknown to resist the powers of evil and fight the atrocities of violence and war. In the Beatitudes Jesus calls us to leave bad habits and unhealthy preoccupation with ourselves to go without fear into the days and nights of our lives and give loving attention to others who suffer, are helpless, or forgotten. Whenever we give our loving attention to others we are blessed indeed.

A Prayer for Remembrance Day

God of love and justice, lest we forget them; 
today we remember all men and women who died in defense of our country and its freedom.

Help us to honour their sacrifice
through our prayers and actions for peace in our world.

By your Holy Spirit, let our neighbours not be invisible to us.

Let your Spirit help us to let go of misunderstandings, 
hatred and prejudice;
so that we may grow together as one family. 

Guide our steps towards neighbour and enemy alike in the way of peace.
As we pray thus, in our walk with Jesus Christ, 
          the Prince of Peace;

May we experience your deep blessing and healing – 

O God, the Father, + the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.  

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November 11 

Saint Martin of Tours, Bishop 


(Taken from Divine Office . org)

“Our thoughts turn especially to Martin of Tours († 397), the soldier who became a monk and a bishop: he is almost like an icon, illustrating the irreplaceable value of the individual testimony to charity. At the gates of Amiens, Martin gave half of his cloak to a poor man: Jesus himself, that night, appeared to him in a dream wearing that cloak, confirming the permanent validity of the Gospel saying: ‘I was naked and you clothed me… as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me’ (Mt 25:36, 40).” [1]

St. Martin of Tours was born in the 4th century. His father forced him to become a soldier like himself and forbade him to practice Christianity. While Martin served in the Roman army, he showed charity to a beggar, cutting his cloak in half and offering it to the man. This event, and the ensuing vision of Jesus, caused Martin to seek baptism. He lived for a time as a hermit, then gravitated to Poitiers, where he knew St. Hilary and founded a monastery at Ligugé, which still exists. Around 372, he was elected Bishop of Tours, despite his objections. As bishop, he lived in the community he founded. Also, he spent much of his time evangelizing to the rural poor. He died in 397. His life, written by Sulpicius Severus, became a model for saints’ lives.[2][3]

Written by Sarah Ciotti
Reviewed by Fr. Hugh Feiss, OSB, STD

[1] Benedict XVI, “Deus Caritas Est,” 40.
[2] Fr. Hugh Feiss, OSB, The Martyrology of the Monastery of the Ascension, 2008.
[3] F.L. Cross and E.A. Livingstone, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (London: Oxford University Press, 1974), 879.

© 2006-2021 All rights reserved Fr. Gilles Surprenant, Associate Priest of Madonna House Apostolate & Poustinik, Montreal  QC
© 2006-
2021 Tous droits réservés Abbé Gilles Surprenant, Prêtre Associé de Madonna House Apostolate & Poustinik, Montréal QC

Jesus is calling us... you... and me... "Be ready!" - Sunday Nov. 8th, 2020 - MQP - JLW Parish

 Homily MP3 file                     Homily PDF file    

Good day dear brothers and sisters! There is no doubt at all that today the Lord Jesus, the Eternal Word of the Father and his beloved Son, is giving us a wake-up call. His word to us today is not only about the end of the world – the end of human history – but it is also about the end of our individual and personal lives. We are all going to die, and there’s nothing we can do to stop that from happening.

The good news is that what Jesus is telling us is not morbid or depressing; rather it is very good news. What is so good about dying or the end of the world you ask? The good news is that God our Father loves us so much that He is constantly offering us the gift of his only Son, Jesus, the One who has overcome death. It is this Jesus, Risen from the dead, who now invites us to do what it is that we can do to be ready for these two final days, whichever will come first.

The day of my own death may come first; on the other hand, the final day of human history may come first, while we are all still alive on Planet Earth. Either way, we need to be ready.

We can’t possibly understand what we need to do in order to be ready for the moment of our own death or for the moment of the end of human history; unless we begin to understand who God is. We need to personally come to know God, our Father, and his Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit because at the moment of our death – when our soul will leave our body behind in death – our soul will be brought into the radiant presence of the Most Holy Trinity.

If the end of human history comes first, as Saint Paul described it to the Thessalonians, we will be brought body and soul into the radiant presence of the Most Holy Trinity.

Either way, when we come face to face with our God, the Creator of the Universe, his face – which is the human face of Jesus Risen from the dead – is radiant with the life giving power of divine love. The light radiating from God will appear to us, for the first time, to be so radiant that our own self – body, mind, heart, and soul – will become transparent for all to see.

On that day there will no longer be any secrets, not even from our own self. If today I am hiding the truth about me from my own self; on that day all my secrets will be revealed and be visible in the light of day and in the light of God’s love.

If we don’t want to spend eternity in embarrassment, regret, and despair; then we need to face the truth about ourselves together with the truth about everyone else and also about God.

The truth about God is that the Father loves us so much that He sent his only begotten Son into our world to become human, a man, with the cooperation of Mary – Myriam of Nazareth – his Mother. Joseph of Nazareth took Myriam to be his wife and loved Jesus as his own son.

We human beings have a lot of strange ideas about God. Because of the original sin, our damaged human condition, we find it difficult to trust in God. It is so hard for us to be good and kind, to put the interests of others first, ahead of our own interests. It seems impossible for us to get rid of bad habits and to really love others, even strangers and enemies.

That is why God’s plan to save us let Jesus be falsely accused, condemned, tortured, and put to death on a cross, the cruelest death imaginable. This was the only way the Son of God could demonstrate the authenticity of God’s love for us, for every human being, even for those who were his accusers and executioners. Jesus’ last acts in this life were to ask the Father to forgive his accusers and executioners – He even gave them an excuse – “for they know not what they do.” Then he entrusted his Mother Mary to his beloved disciple and apostle John, and He also entrusted John – and all of us – to Mary and her love for us.

Mary has been very busy over the last two centuries – appearing to Saint Bernadette in Lourdes, France in 1858, to Saints Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta at Fatima in 1917, and in many other places – and in every apparition our Blessed Mother Mary pleads with us to stop sinning, to repent and stop offending the love God has for us. This was also the message that Jesus proclaimed: “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the good news.”

This is not rocket science… it is not mysterious or impossible to understand. All we have to do is stop, be quiet, and listen to the interior voice of our own conscience. The Holy Spirit is within us to shine the light of God in our mind, heart, and soul to help us see the truth about ourselves and the way we are living, thinking, speaking, behaving, and acting.

We are called to love everyone – beginning with our own family – with genuine love that puts the needs and the good of the other first, ahead of my own needs and good. We can only do that by first putting our trust in God, that God is taking care of us, and that we have nothing to fear; no matter how bad the news may be in the world around us. Come and see two posters that show us by art how Jesus and Mary suffer with us in all our trials, difficulties, and sins.

If you haven’t been to confession in a long time, maybe now would be a good time to do it while we are still alive on this Earth. Jesus waits in the person of the priest to give us his mercy.

So let us continue to pray for one another that we might accept the encouragement and grace of the Holy Spirit to open wide our heart, our mind, our spirit and even our body to the presence and the love of God: the Father, + the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Let us take a few moments in silence to reflect on this Good News spoken to us by the Lord.

© 2006-2021 All rights reserved Fr. Gilles Surprenant, Associate Priest of Madonna House Apostolate & Poustinik, Montreal  QC
© 2006-
2021 Tous droits réservés Abbé Gilles Surprenant, Prêtre Associé de Madonna House Apostolate & Poustinik, Montréal QC

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