Emmaus Family Support
One in five families in our parishes and neighbourhoods are affected by mental health challenges. Emmaus Family Support is a peer-led support for mental health caregivers. We are a gathering of individuals who are the primary caregivers of loved ones experiencing mental health challenges who meet on the fourth Thursday of each month to share prayer, mental health resources, and life experience. Our focus is on shared learning, building resiliency, walking together, and moving forward towards a healthier life for ourselves and those whom we care for. If you would like more information on how to take part please contact Deacon Eric Gurash at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advent with the Saints
Advent with the Saints
Join us for Advent with the Saints—a free daily email featuring a short and inspiring Advent audio reflection from the lives of the saints by Fr. John Bartunek, LC.
Each daily 1-minute reflection is designed to help you be encouraged along your Christian journey to be a light and a beacon of hope amidst the reality of your daily life and to help others around you do the same.
Take the first step toward discovering the amazing ways the saints show us how we too can be the light of Christ this Advent —sign up today!
By Alison Bradish
The Prayer Shawl Ministry at Christ the King Parish in Regina is a reminder to those who are struggling that they are not alone or forgotten.
Linda Lucyk is the coordinator of the Ministry of Care at the parish located near three public care homes and numerous private care homes. Many parishioners, due to age and health restrictions, are unable to make it to the pews.
She says the Prayer Shawl Ministry, made up of six to eight parishioners at any given time, is an important part of a multi-pronged approach to bring comfort to those whose lives have become even more isolated and anxiety-ridden due to Covid-19.
Lucyk knows what the ministry means to those who serve and are served by it, and she notes the rich history of the prayer shawl tradition.
Jesus, as a Jewish man, would have worn one. There are numerous passages in the bible which reference the Tallit, the cloak worn, including Numbers 15: 37-41. Jewish men would have worn these shawls while living in pagan cultures to represent being set aside for devotion to God.
In Matthew 9:20-22, the miracle of the afflicted woman who suffered from hemorrhaging for 12 years, the woman in the passage says, “If only I could touch his cloak, I shall be cured.” Jesus turns around and says, “Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you.” From that moment on, the woman is healed.
In modern times, prayer shawl ministry has evolved out of communities of faith to support people of all ages suffering from illness, grief, trauma, life transitions, addictions, and mental illness.
Lucyk says the shawls can represent different things for different people.
“The message we want to communicate is that they are part of our family at Christ the King Parish and that they are loved by God and not forgotten by us and they are valuable to us and that we honour this stage of their journey and their life, whatever that entails,” she says.
The recipients are also requested to offer their prayers and sufferings for the needs of the parish and faith community.
The knitters are empathetic to the struggles of others; many of them have gone through loss and painful life transitions themselves.
“Even through their life’s journey, often very difficult and challenging, they continue to knit. Many of them are motivated through their own suffering to help alleviate the suffering of others,” says Lucyk.
The shawls are gathered and blessed two times a year, usually at the Compassionate Healers Mass or in conjunction with World Day of the Sick. At the same time, the Lay Pastoral Visitors and those working in healthcare are also anointed for their ministry.
The whole congregation sees the care and concern for those not present through the beauty of the shawls during the event. When the work is on display, there are times people ask how to buy the shawls.
“We do have to explain to people that like prayer itself that cannot be purchased, prayer shawls are given freely as an expression of our prayer ministry. As the knitter knits, they will pray for the person who will receive the shawl,” says Lucyk.
Melissa Gurash is an avid knitter and a former parishioner of Christ the King, who now attends Holy Rosary Cathedral, where she continues to knit prayer shawls.
She explains the difference between a knitted prayer shawl and a blanket, is the intention behind the item.
“I remember making a prayer shawl for a man who was going for surgery. He passed away before receiving it, but the wife wanted the shawl. It’s a tactile thing. It’s a prayer you can feel in the item. The Holy Spirit is working through me, or whoever’s hand is making it. The prayers are knit into it, so they feel those prayers,” she says.
Gurash says she is impressed by the continued growth of the ministry at Christ the King and hopes it inspires other parishes to provide similar outreach.
“Some of the feedback I’ve heard over the years is ‘when this person put this prayer shawl on, they said ‘oh I just feel like God is giving me a hug’,” says Gurash.
“On earth, we are God’s hands and feet, and that is one of the ways we can do God’s work, knitting prayer shawls,” she says.
More information about the Prayer Shawl Ministry will be featured during the next episode of The Diocese Tonight which aired on Sunday, November 1, 2020.
All Souls Day
All Souls Day
by Father Ron Rolheiser
Recently I received a letter from a woman asking me to explain the Christian teaching about praying for the dead. Her son had been killed in an accident and she had been dissuaded from attending any special prayers for him. Her question: Does it make sense to pray for the dead?
The Christian answer is unequivocal: yes! It makes sense to pray for the dead and our Christian faith asks us to do so, both in liturgy and in private.
Why? What possible good can it do? To remind God to be merciful? God needs no reminders. To ask God to see a good heart beneath all the struggles of a human life? God doesn't need a lesson from us on understanding. God is already perfect understanding, perfect love and perfect forgiveness. A cynic might ask, "Why pray for the dead? If the person is already in heaven, he or she doesn't need prayers; if he or she is in hell, our prayers won't be of any help!"
So why pray for the dead?
For the same reason we pray for anything. We need to pray. It does us good. Objections to praying for the dead might, with equal logic, be raised against all prayers of petition. God already knows everything and there is no need to remind God of anything. Yet, God has asked us to pray and to pray in petition because prayer is meant to change us, not God. Thus, the first reason we pray for the dead is because that prayer helps us, the living. Praying for the dead is meant to console the living.
Closely tied to this is a second reason: We pray for our dead loved ones to help heal our relationship with them. When someone close to us dies, it is natural, always, to feel a certain amount of guilt, not just because that person died and we go on living, but because, being human, we have had a less-than-perfect relationship with him or her. There is unfinished business between us. In praying for that person, among other things, we help wash clean those things that remain painful between us.
This takes us to the heart of the matter. We pray for the dead because we believe in the communion of saints, an essential Christian doctrine that asks us to believe that a vital flow of life continues to exist between ourselves and our loved ones, even beyond death. Love, presence and communication reach through death.
We pray for the dead to remain in communication with them. Just as we can hold someone's hand as he or she is dying, and this can be an immense comfort to both of us, so too we can hold another's hand beyond death. Indeed, since death washes many things clean, in our prayers for our loved ones who have died, often more so than our conversations with them when they were alive, the connection is more pure, the forgiveness is deeper, the perspective is wider and the distance between us is less. Communication with our loved ones after death is privileged, undercutting much of what kept us apart in this life.
Praying for the dead, our faith assures us, not only consoles us, but also offers real strength and encouragement to the loved one who has died. How? In the same way as loving presence to each other offers strength and consolation here in this life. Picture, for example, a young child learning to swim. The child's mother cannot learn for the child, but if she is present and offering encouragement from the edge of the pool, the child's struggle and learning become easier. Things are more easily borne if they can be shared. This is true even for a person's adjustment to the life of heaven.
By praying for the dead, we share with them the pain of adjusting to a new life. Part of that pain of adjustment (which classically Roman Catholics have called "purgatory") is the pain of letting go of this life. In our prayers for the dead, we offer them our presence and love, as a mother on the edge of the pool, as they adjust to a new life. Purgatory is not a geography, a place distinct from heaven, but the pain that comes from being in heaven, without having fully let go of earth. Love, even as we know it in this life, already teaches us that.
From my own experience of having loved ones die, as well as from what others have shared with me, I have found that usually, after a time, we sense that our deceased loved ones no longer need us to pray for them. Now they just want us to connect with them. Prayer for the dead does that and, even though our prayers might still be formulated as if we are praying for them, we are now simply connecting with them and what was formerly a cold, cutting absence now becomes a warm, comforting presence.
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Thinking Faith: The Catholic Podcast
Religion & Spirituality Podcasts
A Catholic podcast brought to you by the Archdiocese of Regina where we attempt to navigate this winding road of faith in Jesus Christ so that we might know him more intimately, love him more profoundly and together serve him more deeply in our daily lives.