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Around the Arch
Jun 08
Food for body and soul at St. Ann’s

​At St. Ann's Parish in downtown Toronto, visitors receive spiritual nourishment – and food, should they be in need.

Since 2005, the parish has run a community food bank under the coordination of parishioners Carlos Carreiro and his wife, Colette. Supporting this husband-and-wife team are 46 volunteers – family, friends, fellow parishioners, students from the Newman Chaplaincy Centre at the University of Toronto, Holy Name Parish and groups from local elementary schools.

At present, the St. Ann's Food Bank serves 700 clients every month – but that number is rising slightly, says Carlos. He cites housing costs as one of the key factors affecting families.

"(The food bank) takes some of the pressure away from being able to afford to feed yourself or your family," adds Carlos, who works in the property management industry and volunteers about 12 hours per week to help keep the food bank running. "We also provide a stable source, so that people can count on us being there for them on a regular basis."

Located in the parish basement, the food bank receives donations  from multiple sources, including Daily Bread Food Bank, Second Harvest Food Rescue, St. Francis Table, Bridgepoint Health Centre, school food drives, local neighbourhood drives, individuals and volunteers.

The food bank is open every Saturday from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., or until the last client leaves. (Every week, clients go through a brief screening process, he adds.)

Looking forward, Carlos hopes there will be a day when the food bank won't be needed. "However, our goal is to continue to be able to provide food and an equitable place for those who need our services."

To get involved and volunteer at St. Ann's Parish Food Bank, please contact Carlos at

May 31
A Catholic’s guide to voting in the provincial election

​With the June 7 provincial election on the horizon, there are resources available to help parishioners in the Archdiocese of Toronto make an informed choice as they head to the polls.

In recent weeks, Cardinal Thomas Collins issued a letter on key issues related to the sanctity of life for Catholics to keep in mind when casting their vote.

Cardinal Collins has appealed to parishioners to consider their candidates' positions on palliative care, conscience rights and the protection of faith-based facilities.  

Here are some fast facts:

- Only one-third of Canadians have access to palliative care
- In Ontario, while doctors and nurses are not forced to provide a lethal injection to patients, they are required to provide a referral, which can be equally offensive to those who object for religious reasons
- Many faith-based hospitals and treatment centres do not wish to participate in euthanasia/assisted suicide; no health care facility offers every procedure, so it is alarming to suggest we would start with one that will kill those who are sick

To learn more about euthanasia and conscience-related rights issues, please visit

As well, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Toronto has issued the Catholic Charities Ontario Election Guide 2018 to help Catholics assess their candidates' positions on a wide spectrum of issues.

The Guide focusses on our responsibilities as citizens and government's responsibility to respect and support life. The Guide looks at tough issues facing the most vulnerable families and individuals in society and the Catholic social service agencies providing support, as well as highlighting Catholic Social Teaching. Additionally, there is a handy Candidates' Report Card with suggested questions for candidates in your riding.

The Ontario Election Guide looks at 10 key areas:

1. Social Services
2. Poverty (Focus on Children and Families)
3. Income Security (Precarious Employment and Poverty)
4. Employment Justice (Precarious Work)
5. Basic Income
6. Homelessness (Adequate, Accessible, Affordable Housing)
7. Healthcare (Improving Core Health)
8. Vulnerable Groups
9. Indigenous
10. Palliative care

To view the guide, please visit

Voting is our civic duty, yet voting rates are notoriously low. About half of all voting-aged Ontarians vote in elections: 48 per cent voted in 2011 and 51 per cent in 2014.

Ontario's Catholic Bishops remind us that "Catholic Social Teaching continually keeps before us our responsibility for the common good and for the poor with whom Jesus identified in a preferential way; that is why elections are conscience moments for people of faith" and "it is inconceivable that people would consciously decide not to vote."

St. Thomas More, patron saint of politicians, pray for us! 

May 25
Reflections on the Month of Mary

Given that May is the month of Mary, Fr. Peter Galadza, Director of the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies in the University of St. Michael's College, shares insights on our Blessed Mother.

1. Why do Catholics place such a strong reverence on Mother Mary?

Luke 1:48 recounts how Mary herself said, "All generations will call me blessed." This is because her connection to the living God is so intimate. You can't bear in your womb for nine months the very Word of God and not be special. Paradoxically, we moderns have sometimes lost sight of this. For Christians, the biological is of immense importance. God works concretely in the here and now of human bodies. But what ultimately makes this special is Mary's life-long response to this honour – her humility. In that same verse from Luke, she specifically says that the Lord has regarded – taken notice of – her "lowliness." This characterizes her whole life. In this she is like her Saviour, who raises us up by lowering Himself to the depths of Hell. And so, Mary is revered because she constantly points to salvation. In my own Ukrainian-Byzantine tradition, Mary is almost never depicted without her Son. A very common Byzantine icon that most Roman Catholics know is the "Hodigitria," – "the one who shows the way." Mary's hand points to Jesus – the Way. "It's not about you," she is saying. "It's not even about me, even though I have been blessed in such a miraculous way."

2. Why do we honour Mary in the month of May?

In the Latin West, May's connection with the renewal of nature was baptized, as it were. Springtime associations with the divine go back to pagan times. Latin Christians took this fecundity (fertility) theme and transformed it to celebrate the one who brings forth everlasting life. This happened during the mediaeval period and the entire month of May began to take on prominence in the 17th century. But Catholics of the Byzantine Tradition – and not even all of them – adopted this custom only in the 19th century. In the Eastern Catholic Tradition, the period of focus on Mary is in the run-up to the feast of the Dormition (Assumption) on August 15.

3. What can Catholics do to celebrate the Month of Mary?

Allow me to suggest something different – coming from my own Eastern Catholic tradition. In addition to everything else you might customarily do to focus on Mary this month, go to the website, where you will find "The Akathist Hymn to the Blessed Virgin Mary." The theology is amazing, and the poetry is exquisite. On several occasions St. John Paul II – not to mention other popes – had the Akathist chanted at special events in Rome.

4. How can Mary help us in our daily lives?

So often even the best Christian loses sight of God's tenderness. Mary, who has fully become a "partaker of the divine nature" (II Peter 1:14), envelops us in this maternal "facet" of the Divine. When I experience such tenderness and mercy on a daily basis, I can't help it but share with those around me.

May 15
The call to Consecrated Virginity

​First, Mary Bastedo got to know Jesus through the L'Arche community. As a result, she followed a call to celibacy – not through a religious order, but rather, through the Order of Consecrated Virginity.

Bastedo is one of 10 women in the Archdiocese of Toronto who has been consecrated to the Ordo Virginuum since the first local consecration in 1983. Across Canada, about 50 women are following this call, says Bastedo, who assists locally with the formation and discernment process for women contemplating this ecclesial vocation. France and Italy have the highest number of vocations to the order, with 620 and 600 respectively.

Unlike most orders of women religious, according to the Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity for Women Living in the World, there is no particular service or spirituality imposed upon the consecrated virgin's time. They live and work in the community as members of general society, rather than as part of a religious community. They are guided to spend time in works of penance and of mercy, in apostolic activity, and in prayer. As well, they are strongly advised to recite the Liturgy of the Hours daily and are committed to praying Morning and Evening Prayer. The Code of Canon Law states: "She is betrothed mystically to Christ and dedicated to the service of the Church." Outwardly, this bond is symbolized by a ring that she wears.

"I find it a privilege to be walking with other women who are discerning the call to consecrated virginity," says Bastedo. "I've experienced the peace that's given through the consecration and the fruitfulness, too."

In the Archdiocese of Toronto, the rite is celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop John Boissonneau, who meets with the women twice per year. In addition, the women also attend a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Thomas Collins every year and meet with him afterwards.

"At our gatherings, after Mass, the women have an opportunity to share with other members of the order aspects of their life and any significant developments in their vocation," says Boissonneau. "I mostly listen and enjoy with them a cup of tea or coffee. They are guided by their spouse, Jesus Christ, and their individual spiritual directors."

Consecrated Virginity does not have an apostolate or activities or an agenda other than the women being in love with Jesus Christ as His bride, says Boissonneau.

"Its witness is mostly hidden and their presence mostly unnoticed. There are few human metrics to measure its importance, except to proclaim in faith that first and foremost it pleases God and in our culture – when it becomes known – offers an alternative vision. The purpose of the order is the former."

For Bastedo, part of the beauty of the Order of Consecrated Virgins is that the women can live out missions that are unique to the individual areas to which God is calling them. Her own mission involves assisting those with intellectual disabilities, who can't walk or talk, after studying occupational therapy at the University of Toronto. Over the years, she lived her call within L'Arche. But other consecrated virgins work in parishes and in fields ranging from nursing and accounting to teaching.

"The experience of the Order of Consecrated Virginity is one of holy simplicity and with little need for organization, strategies and planning," adds Boissonneau. "When you are deeply, exclusively and contemplatively in love with Jesus, that is the end in itself."

May 02
Celebrating service during Catholic Education Week

​The call to service is a key element of Catholic education in Ontario, recognized during Catholic Education Week from May 6 to 11. This year's theme, "Renewing the promise," is based on the scriptural theme in Acts 2:39: "For the promise is for you, for your children and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him."

This heart for service was at work recently in the Archdiocese of Toronto through the Service Week pilot project, run through the Archdiocese of Toronto's Office of Catholic Youth and ShareLife. Over the course of one week, 20 students from three parishes in the Archdiocese of Toronto – St. Patrick's Parish in Markham, St. Francis Xavier in Mississauga and St. Marguerite D'Youville in Brampton – spent five days living together at St. Joseph College School in Toronto.

The days were devoted to volunteering at various ShareLife agencies. The students spent time learning about the social teachings of the Catholic Church and going out on street patrols to deliver food and supplies to the homeless. Participants were also able to support a self defense workshop at the Loyola Arrupe Centre for Seniors, sort clothing and food at Canadian Food for Children and make beds at Good Shepherd Ministries.  

"The mission trip was such an amazing experience – not only to meet so many blessed people and be humbled by seeing those with less, but also to be able to talk with them and see that they're just like us," says Kaila DoCouto, a student participant from St. Patrick's Parish. "I hope I'll be able to do this again, as it was a truly moving experience."

There are countless opportunities for the 300,000 Catholic school students in the Archdiocese of Toronto to serve their local communities. Thousands of these young people eagerly take up that call to service during Catholic Education Week and throughout the year, actively "renewing the promise" passed down to us all through the traditions of our faith.

We are grateful for their service hearts and the other benefits they receive through their Catholic education.

Apr 18
Behind the Bench: John Paul Farahat

​For generations, music has had the power to stir people's faith.

According to the Church teaching in Sacrosanctum Concilium, music is "more holy in proportion as it is more closely connected with the liturgical action, whether it adds delight to prayer, fosters unity of minds, or confers greater solemnity upon the sacred rites." (112)

Throughout the Archdiocese of Toronto, we're blessed to have many organists (as well as music directors and cantors) who give of their time selflessly to ensure our liturgies are full, conscious and active.

This new series in Around the Arch will profile several organists and musicians from our four pastoral regions within the Archdiocese. These artists will share their diverse backgrounds, as well as interesting stories and personal highlights of their important work as musicians in the life of the Church . In this edition, we feature John Paul Farahat, a seasoned organist and musician in the Central Region.

1. Tell us about your musical journey and how it led you to where you are today as an organist.

I attended Saint Michael's Choir School for 10 years, from Grades 3 to 12. In my last year of study at the Choir School, following nine years of piano, I made the decision to take private organ lessons. From the first lesson, I was certain that the organ would always be a part of my musical life. I continued my studies at the University of Toronto Faculty of Music, first as a harpsichordist, and then as an organist, acquiring the degrees of Bachelor of Music in Performance and Master of Music in Performance in organ. I'm now completing my Doctor of Musical Arts degree in organ, through which I am researching and writing about the life and improvisations of world-renowned Canadian organist Victor Togni (1935 - 1965). 

I've been blessed with incredible mentors, and incredible opportunities over the years. Among them are playing solo organ recitals at Saint Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey in London, England, Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, and Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. All of them deeply spiritual experiences, which will stay with me forever. 

My day-to-day life, I think, is quite exciting, fulfilling and spiritually enriching. I am the Director of Music & Principal Organist of Saint Basil's Catholic Parish at the University of Saint Michael's College, and I also play occasionally at Saint Michael's Cathedral Basilica at the 9 p.m. Sunday Masses.

2.  Where do you continue drawing inspiration from as you continue your vocation as a church organist?

I draw immense inspiration from two sources: the people I encounter, work with, and minister to through music, and the traditions of the Church. Knowing the ways in which music ministry allows and facilitates deeper worship for the people who I minister to - that is important to me. And we are so blessed with such rich and diverse musical traditions in the Church. 

3. Why should the everyday Catholic have an appreciation for the organ and/or anyone who plays?

The Second Vatican Council, in the 1963 document Sacrosanctum Concilium, spoke beautifully of the importance of the organ in the life of the Church. Indeed, the organ is uniquely equipped to support congregational singing. Because of the way organs are built, the sound does not dissipate or decay until the organist lets go of the keys. So it's very natural for sustaining singing, whether it be with the softest melody or the most exuberant and joyous chords. Not only that, but the huge range of the colours in the sound of the instrument - that is something very special, and uniquely different in every pipe organ. 

4. What is your all-time favourite piece on the organ?

That's a difficult question. I have a new favourite piece almost every week, but…there's an organ symphony by the French composer Charles-Marie Widor entitled Symphonie Gothique. It was completed in 1895 and is based on the Gregorian chant Introit (or Entrance antiphon) for the Mass of the Day on Christmas: Puer natus est nobis. It is absolutely sublime, transcendent music.

Apr 12
Post-season Passion and Prayers

​In the Archdiocese of Toronto, we have entered the time of year when we can celebrate the true joy of the Easter season and with renewed excitement watch some of our favourite athletes start growing their playoff beards.

Toronto's Maple Leafs and Raptors are both set for the first round of the NHL and NBA playoffs and, as you'd expect, hopes are high for the hometown fans. Both teams enter the post-season with solid seasons behind them, healthy star players and high expectations that they will fall firmly in the mix after the initial rounds are over.

The Leafs and Raptors have fan support behind them and the perennial question has surfaced again this year: Shouldn't we add the weight of our prayers to the effort? Is it OK to pray for our teams to win?

It should be a surprise to no one that faith has a prominent presence in sport. Hundreds of players in many different sports have symbols of their faith tattooed on their skin for us all to see. Teams often pray before a game and the Lord is often given first credits when the star of the game is interviewed post-win. And, front and centre in this year's March Madness NCAA tournament was the loveable 98-year-old chaplain of the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers, Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt.

At its best, sport is a celebration of our creation (remember that our human bodies are 70 per cent water the next time you see a rim-rocking dunk or a clean bone-rattling body check), of our God-given talents and the call to excellence in all we do. Athletes often show us the best of ourselves as a society through excellent performance, friendly-yet-competitive behaviour during the game and kindness and generosity outside the arena. Barriers and boundaries are broken down through sport to strengthen us as a community.

You need to look no further than the overwhelming international reaction to the Saskatchewan bus crash that took the lives of 16 people associated with the Humboldt Broncos hockey team to see how sport connects us. While they begin in sport, those connections are seldom isolated to the sport itself – we are called to demonstrate our faith in all aspects of our lives; on the ice, on the court and throughout our day. Sport brought the Broncos family together. And the connection through hockey has increased the attention this tragedy has received. But the thoughts and condolences that have been sent to those involved have little to do with any actions on the rink. We pray for peace for the souls of those young athletes and the others who died, for solace for their families and friends, and for the recovery for those injured and healing.

With such sombre prayers in mind, is it OK to pray for the Raptors and Leafs to win? Church teachings suggest we can, in a way. The Book of Blessings includes a prayer before an athletic event (Thanks for the tip Jimmy Akin []):

Strong and faithful God,
as we come together for this contest,
we ask you to bless these athletes.

Keep them safe from injury and harm,
instill in them respect for each other,
and reward them for their perseverance.

Lead us all to the rewards of your kingdom
where you live and reign for ever and ever.

Response: Amen.

So, the suggestion is that we pray for the athletes to do the best to their abilities, that they are kept safe and that they are good examples for us all in competition. Really, as we know we have two of the most talented rosters in their respective leagues, that would be enough on its own.

May the best Maple Leafs and Raptors teams win!

Mar 29
Only Christ fulfills humanity’s desire for eternal love and life

The below post is the Easter homily of Fr. Michael McGourty, pastor at St. Peter's Church in Toronto.

Have you ever noticed how we as human beings talk to one another when we are in love with another person? Once we realize that we are in love with a person, we usually try to get the courage to tell the other person about this love. After we have said it once, we usually want to tell them over and over again. As these words lose their strength, we start to add adverbs and adjectives to describe our love. We say: "I love you very, very much," or, "I will love you for all eternity." 

I have always thought that this reality about ourselves, that when we love someone, we want to love them forever, is one of the best proofs for the existence of God and the fact that we each have an eternal soul. Because we are made in the the image and likeness of God, who is love, we are all of us made for love. The fact that when we do love, we usually wish to love a person for all eternity, points also to the fact that we have an eternal soul, one which was created to live and love forever. This is why when two people are in love and one of them dies, they can still feel such attachment and such a strong desire to continue in relationship with the person with whom they are in love.

There is a movie in the theatres these days that deals with the power of love and many of the themes of light and darkness that are a part of our Easter liturgies. The movie is the Walt Disney movie called A Wrinkle In Time. This movie is about a scientist, by the name of Dr. Murray, who believes that people can "think" themselves across the universe if they are just able to put their minds in communion with the great energy source that governs the universe. He spends years trying to figure out what is the proper frequency of the energy that governs the universe in order that he might put his mind in communion with this force. Eventually, he is able to discover that the force governing the universe is ultimately love and as he places his mind in communion with this energy of love, he is transported across the galaxy millions of miles away. Sadly, however, we learn that there is also another force at work in the galaxy and that is the force of evil and darkness. 

The forces of evil and darkness have the capability of taking people prisoners by making them focus on their selfish ambitions and turning them in on themselves. As Dr. Murray succeeds in transporting himself across the universe, his pride kicks in and he becomes a victim of his desire to be famous and discover something great. The forces of darkness overtake him, he turns his back on his family and he becomes a prisoner of these dark forces. Because his heart has been overtaken by the powers of darkness, he is unable to transport himself back to his home, because the frequency of love that transported him is not a frequency that can be accessed by those who have given their hearts over to the powers of darkness.

The plot of the movie develops as Dr. Murray's daughter, Meg, and son, Charles Wallace, encounter three celestial messengers who are sent to help them rescue their father. These three female figures can only operate in the light of love. They have no power over anything when they encounter the forces of darkness, which in the movie is referred to as "Camazotz." The Camazotz are represented in the film as a black dark hole that consumes all that it encounters. The Camazotz are governed by an evil entity known as the "IT," which devours all that it comes in contact with and turns anything or anyone that falls under its power into a selfish creature that is turned entirely in on itself. As Meg and Charles Wallace set out on a mission of love to rescue their father they are initially accompanied by the three celestial beings known as Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which. However, as they eventually encounter the forces of evil, the three celestial beings are no longer able to accompany them and they must rely on their own efforts. The brother, Charles Wallace, eventually falls to the power of evil and is taken over by the evil "IT." He tries to entice his sister also to enter the darkness and be tempered to become what she could be if given over entirely to selfishness. Meg, however, resists and shows the power that love has to save everything and everyone from the powers of darkness. Because of her love, she rescues her father and brother from the power of the evil "IT" and they are transported back to their home and reunited as a family. As I watched this movie, I was amazed at how it built upon so many of the truths that are at the heart of our human existence— the power of love, the struggle with evil and our desire for communion with one another and the forces that govern the universe. The story has appeal because it builds upon what we as humans know to be the truths of our lives. Yet, at the same time, I could not think how pointless the story was, because it missed the fundamental reason why all these things are part of our human experience.

Easter is the only reason any of the themes that are dealt with in the movie A Wrinkle in Time make sense or appeal to the human condition. In fact, I would like to suggest that Easter is the only story that can make sense of our human experience and existence. The whole story of Easter is told most perfectly at our Easter Vigil. At the Vigil, we begin in darkness. This is our human condition without Christ and it speaks of the struggle that takes place in our world between the forces of good and evil, or real authentic love and selfishness. The Easter candle is lit to announce that Christ has destroyed the darkness of death to become the light of the world. We are each given a candle at the Easter Vigil to symbolize the fact that at Baptism we received the light of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit and are called to resist the darkness and allow His light to illumine our hearts. 

The Easter Vigil also presents us with a beautiful summary of the history of salvation. In it we are reminded that we were created in God's image and likeness. This means that we were created for love. However, as this story also tells us, there are many occasions in our lives that the power of darkness and sin overtake our desire for love or we fall under the spell of the same false god's that entrapped the Israelites in the desert. Just as in the movie A Wrinkle in Time, the Easter story tells us that there are three persons at work in the universe to bring about our good and our salvation. These three persons that are at truly at work governing our universe are revealed to us by Jesus Christ as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We recall on Easter Sunday that we were baptized into the Holy Trinity as we profess our faith in the Trinity and baptize in the "name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit," as Jesus taught us to do. As we celebrate the Eucharist this Easter Sunday, and every Sunday, we too overcome the division of time and space as we are established in a Communion with the Holy Trinity and the Church in Heaven at the sacrifice which Christ has asked us to do in memory of Him.

The Easter story proclaims to us that love did come into the world in the person of Jesus Christ to destroy death and sin. Because of the Easter story, the love of God has destroyed death and every aspiration of the human heart will be fulfilled for those who turn to Jesus in faith and accept His message of salvation. Jesus has come not just to save us in the present moment, but to give us the gift of eternal salvation and eternal love. Because of His victory, our mortal longing for love will be eternally fulfilled. Jesus promises us eternal life and because of His victory the confines of time and space will be destroyed for all eternity in the Kingdom of Heaven that He has won for us. Because Jesus has died and risen, love will live forever, and so shall we, in the Father's love.

There is another movie in the theatres these days that explains why it might often be so difficult for some of us to see God and the Easter story at work in our lives and why it might be tempting to take movies like A Wrinkle in Time more serious than the Easter story. The movie, Paul, Apostle of Christ, deals with the struggles of the Roman Church in about the year 67. In this movie the forces of darkness and light are at war as the early Church is being persecuted by Nero as he attempts to blame his burning of the city on the Christians in Rome. At the time, the Church of Rome was made of up many persons, who like us, had not met Christ, but had only heard of His message. These Christians cannot understand why they must suffer and how the forces of darkness remain so powerful. They think it should be easier to see Christ and that He should come more visibly to their rescue in the face of their struggles. In the face of these trials and struggles, Paul speaks to this early community of his faith and confidence that Christ has conquered death and that His victory over death will be experienced by all who persevere in faith with Him. 

The message of Paul's writing to the early Christian community is that because of His resurrection Christ has conquered death and by His love has secured the gift of eternal life and love for all people. The Christian message is also that Christ has entered our world and become one of us. Because of His incarnation we must seek in faith to see His face in the ordinary and real events of our lives. Their is no romance in Christianity. Christians are called to live in reality, not fantasy and movies. The Christian people must have faith and persevere in the trials of life confident that God is with them. We have been saved, but we must also believe in this salvation enough to allow the power of God's grace to strengthen us. It is up to each individual to open his or her heart to Christ to allow His power to strengthen and transform each individual's weakness. Until we let go and let Christ, the powers of darkness will and can dominate our hearts and make us prisoners of sin. Christ has conquered death and the forces of darkness, but we must act in faith to allow His Holy Spirit to act in us and set our hearts free. Without faith, the powers of darkness will overtake our hearts and we will never see the Lord present to strengthen us and allow us to open our hearts to the power of His love and the victory that He has won for us over death.

Movies about love are so powerful for one reason: you and I have been made in the image and likeness of God— who is love. We are made for love, love will always be at the heart of our human experience. Love is a part of our quest for meaning in this life. Any story that attempts to quench that desire for love without taking into account who we really are as human beings will be entertaining and provide us with an emotional fix. There is, however, only one story that can quench and satisfy who we are as God's people. Made in God's image and likeness only the Easter story can bring fulfillment to the human person. In the Easter story, we celebrate that God has made us in His image and likeness. This story tells us that even though we often turn towards the darkness of sin and are overcome by it, Christ's love and grace can set us free if we allow Him to do so. To be saved we need only have faith in the Son of God and his victory over death and persevere in our faith in His power over death and sin. The Easter story celebrates the fact that the desire which we mortal human beings have for eternal love will be fulfilled because the Son of the Eternal God, who is love, has died and risen so that we might live and love for all eternity.

This Easter, as we celebrate the story of our lives, may the Son of God, who came into our world to destroy death, grant all of us the grace of accepting and sharing in His life giving victory over death and sin.

Happy Easter!

Mar 07
The power of prayer

​As Catholics, we believe in the power of prayer. We pray when we're happy, we pray when we're sad or worried – and we pray when we're feeling the gamut of emotions in between.

We pray because we know it works and because we want a deeper relationship with God. But there is another benefit to praying, as well: it is also good for our physiological health. 

A study from the University of Pavia in Italy found that balance between our various body rhythms – heart rate, blood pressure and blood flow to the brain – is an indicator of good physical health. As part of his research, Dr. Luciano Bernardi tracked the conditions that lead to a temporary disorganization of these body rhythms – and then examined the ways the body then recovers its "equilibrium."

Since his subjects lived in Lombardy, a very Catholic region, he had them recite the rosary in order to attain this balance. The result? The smooth, harmonious pattern of praying the rosary resulted in a perfect synchronization of the biological functions being studied.

This is good news for the faithful. When we're stressed and our body rhythms are out of whack, we can centre ourselves spiritually and from a physical perspective, too – through prayer.

As we strive to pray more this Lent, let's keep in mind the words of St. John Paul II, who said: "The rosary is my favourite prayer. A marvellous prayer! Marvellous in its simplicity and its depth. In the prayer, we repeat many times the words that the Virgin Mary heard from the Archangel, and from her kinswoman, Elizabeth."

We can all find greater balance this Lenten season, spiritually and physically, through prayer.

Feb 16
Medal Metals: Bronze, Silver, and Gold

​Below is a post from The Archivist's Pencil, the blog of the Archives of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto. 

The Olympics are here again! During this time, 2,952 athletes from around the world are competing for bronze, silver, and gold medals in 102 events in 15 disciplines such as curling, figure skating, and ski jumping. 

Olympians have been receiving medals since the first modern Olympics in 1896, but the bronze, silver, and gold tradition started in 1904. The top competitors in the ancient Olympic games received an olive wreath. 

Thinking about the different medal metals made us wonder what we had in the archives made of the three. Turns out there were some interesting finds!

Let's start with third place bronze: 

This cross and chain came from the estate of Cardinal Carter. Not too much is known about it other than the fact that it has been corroding. We hope that storage in a climate-controlled environment will mitigate the damage!

Now for second place silver:

Two silver trowels presented to Cardinal McGuigan for laying cornerstones for St. Joseph's High School in Etobicoke in 1947 and St. Michael's College in 1935.

And in first place, gold!

A pair of 10k gold Birks cufflinks belonging to Archbishop Pocock with his coat of arms.

For a wider selection of images from the archives, please check out the original blog post at

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