Every Easter has special memories of God’s grace at work among God’s people, and every Christian community is an adventure of living the Easter mystery.
One such adventure was in 2011. Merlin was still young, about 10 months old, and still experiencing many firsts in his little-dog life. The trip to Iskut, a small Tahltan village in the heart of the Cassiar Mountains in the far northwest corner of British Columbia, would be Merlin’s first Easter road trip. Even as a young pup he must have known something was up because the delicious smell of chocolate Easter eggs in the front seat of the truck tantalized and overwhelmed his little nose.
We set out early Holy Thursday morning on the 700 km drive from Whitehorse to Iskut. Of course, in early April the far North is still plenty cold, with lots of snow and frozen lakes.
The next day was Good Friday, so I planned to go to the lake nearby where a nice creek trickled in and made a little opening in the ice so I could fish from shore for a trout dinner. Merlin had never seen fishing before and excitedly ran up and down the shore, trying to figure out what that line was doing sitting on top of the water with me attached to the other end. Curiosity can be a good thing!
Then Merlin's little puppy brain convinced him it would be a good idea to go out on the ice and get around to the other side of the opening. He tried to get close to my fishing line, near the edge of the ice, and as he got closer and closer I hollered louder and louder at him to Get back!—as if that would make a difference to a curious puppy.
Sure enough the ice started cracking and then splash! down he went! Of course, all dogs know how to swim instantly—it’s called the dog paddle!—but total shock in freezing cold water is not the best way to learn. Nevertheless, he swam fast, right to shore. It was still minus 8°C, so I grabbed the soaking little guy, who now looked like a big skinny rat, and got him to the truck to warm him up and dry him off.
One of the wonderful little lessons I learned that eventful Good Friday was, Don’t go out on thin spring ice, unless you want a real cold baptism.
After Easter Sunday Mass I brought Merlin to the Easter Egg Hunt. All the kids were so excited to see Merlin the puppy and invited him to run around with them, hunting for chocolate Easter eggs hidden under trees in the snow.
Well. A dog’s nose is just about the best sniffer in the world, and an enthusiastic, sniffer-driven puppy is great at outrunning little kids—so Merlin beat the kids to every hiding spot! Not only did he find the chocolate eggs, but he ate them, wrapper and all, before the kids could catch up.
Soon Merlin stopped running around and sauntered over to our campfire and plunked himself down, while the kids kept looking in vain for Easter eggs. After about half an hour they came back to the Easter fire in front of the church. Some of the little ones were very sad, as they had not found one single egg. Merlin got ‘em all.
Observing this, one of the grandparents suddenly appeared with a big box of chocolate eggs. I got one of the parents to run into the church and hide them, while the other parents were consoling the children. Then with a loud "1-2-3" the grandpa yelled “Go!” and the children ran into the little church with great squeals of laughter and joy. They found the eggs without the help of a somewhat sickened puppy, and we even joined the Elders in saying a little Easter prayer of thanks to Jesus.
What a wonderful Easter adventure with Merlin in Iskut—and what an opportunity for him (and the Bishop) to learn some great lessons. Lesson one: stay off thin ice and learn how to swim when the water is warmer. Lesson two: Easter is way more about Jesus than chocolate Easter eggs.
Merlin got pretty sick eating all those chocolate eggs (chocolate is not good for doggies of any age!)—and that was the last time anyone ever invited him to an Easter egg hunt.
Written by Bishop Gary Gordon
Crises make us face realities about what really matters, but God is pretty clear about what matters most.
What matters most is the relationships that we are in.
When I was a young mom and was preparing my oldest daughter for her First Communion, we were exploring some of the great questions of the Faith. One of the first questions was, “Why did God make me?”
The simple answer of course (much simpler than I was expecting), was: “God made me to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him in this life so that I can be happy with Him forever in the next life.”
I was stunned.
I was stunned at the simplicity of the statement and the magnitude of the call. That statement changes everything. If the reason I was created by God, the gift of my life, was for the purpose of knowing, loving, and serving God, that changes everything. My life isn’t about me.
And how, exactly do I know love and serve God? Through those around me, apparently.
Matthew 25:40 (just read the whole chapter … it’s a ringer): “The King will reply, ‘Whatsoever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’.”
And that’s how we know. That’s how we love, and that’s how we serve. And so, that’s how we get to heaven.
That’s pretty clear. It’s painfully clear. How often are we unkind and impatient and inconsiderate? We aren’t those things in a vacuum, when we’re isolated. We are those things with other people, who are here, in front of us.
We enter into parenthood with a lot of gut feeling rather than experience. We believe there is something true and good and beautiful to be had here. But grasping the basic kindness required is pretty hard, some days. It’s certainly hard to remember at all the right times.
And what is the key, then, to being able to remember at the right times? What is the key to see Christ in others and remember to treat them accordingly? It’s the humility to change, to grow, to convert constantly—to turn our thoughts and actions always towards God.
Jesus matters, and he tells us to be kind to each other, even when the world seems to be falling to pieces around us.
Change is hard, but we get better at it when we practice. We don’t ‘arrive’ at holiness … it’s a process, it’s practiced repetition, and constant movement. It’s a dance from here to there, and it requires continuous editing. We need to rewrite our lives constantly.
Whether the edit is a tweak or a makeover, what I know is this. We are always going to need rewriting. During some phases of life, we have to rewrite every afternoon!
We should thank God every day for the depths of His Mercy. He is patient with us as we grow towards Him. It is necessary that we pay that patience forward to the rest of the human race, (starting with those in our own home) as they wrestle with their burdens, crosses, and weaknesses.
When crisis comes—and it will, in ways large or small—the incidentals in life that we spend so much time fussing about, simply fall away, so that we can see clearly what really matters. Jesus matters, and he tells us to be kind to each other, even when the family, or the world, seems to be falling to pieces around us.
by Bonnie Landry
It kind of took us all by surprise, and at the same time, we should have known it was coming. When it landed on Canadian shores, in our cities, communities, and homes, we were unsure what to do. Normally citizens are called to 'take to the streets' to offer protection, yet we were called to the exact opposite: to shelter in place, to self-isolate, to protect the most vulnerable among us by remaining firmly at home.
It's not our instinct to protect through withdrawal. It's not our instinct to help by staying at home, by not interacting with those who need us. It is our instinct to charge the foe, and vanquish it through head-on combat. But that won't work, and in fact, could be disastrous.
So how do the People of God remain connected through these challenging times?
Technology. It might not be the most familiar method, and it certainly isn't our first choice—but it does allow us to stay connected when we can't physically be in the same space at the same time.
As we continue to journey together during these challenging times, you are invited to join Bishop Gary Gordon as he celebrates Mass and leads us in a Lenten Diocesan Mission, through our live stream from St. Andrew's Cathedral in Victoria. Times are listed here, on our live stream page, through which you can also access upcoming and past videos.
We are grateful for the opportunity to gather to worship through technology, and thankful for all those who stay home to protect the wellbeing of our frontline workers, our families, our communities, our cities, and our country. Sometimes we are called to serve through quietness.
May God bless you as you continue to journey through Lent, arriving joyously at Easter morning, when we find the stone rolled away, and are greeted by our resurrected Lord.
And may you and your families stay safe, healthy, well, and ... home!
Written by Connie Dunwoody
Connie Dunwoody serves as the Communications Coordinator for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Victoria.
Diocesan Measures Currently in Place
Palm Crosses : Instructions to all parishes (April 1, 2020)
Weekday and weekend Masses are cancelled (March 18, 2020)
Suspension of Meetings and Gatherings (March 16, 2020)
Practice Social Distancing (March 13, 2020)
HealthGovernment of Canada: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak update
BC Centre for Disease Control : Latest case counts
BC Centre for Disease Control : Information for the public
Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute
Online Daily TV Mass and ResourcesLive Streaming Schedule for Holy Week (March 30, 2020)
Merlin's Musings (March 26, 2020)
Daily TV Mass and online resources (March 20, 2020)
Please know that you are very much in our thoughts and prayers during these challenging times as we deal with the effects of COVID-19. As we continue to journey through Lent, we recognize that there is a sadness in not having the opportunity to gather as a faith community to celebrate the Liturgies.
Bishop Gary Gordon desires to be remain close to the People of God during this difficult time and we are arranging to have the Triduum live streamed to allow parishioners in the Diocese join him from their homes. The location from which he will live stream has not yet been determined and details regarding how to connect will be made known as we approach those special days. We will continue to keep you informed as details become available.
Please note that the Paschal Triduum will be live streamed on:
As we practice self-isolation to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our community, religious leaders and organizations across Canada have prepared a message entitled "Hope, Gratitude and Solidarity: A Message to Canadians from Religious Leaders in Canada in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic".
The message has been endorsed by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), and the 25 member Churches of the Canadian Council of Churches, together with the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, the Canadian Rabbinic Caucus, the Canadian Council of Imams, the Hindu Federation of Canada, the World Sikh Organization of Canada, and many other faith representatives and religious organizations, some of whom are gathered through the Canadian Interfaith Conversation.
The English and French versions of the message are below. Please share this message with your parish and community.
PDF English: Message from Religious Leaders in Canada
PDF French: Message aux Canadiennes et Canadiens de leaders religieux au Canada
Winter Shelter at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, in Nanaimo, Closes March 31, 2020
To access year-round Shelters and Response services in Nanaimo:
Thank you to all who helped and supported our guests who experience homelessness.
“We are called by Jesus to …. Shelter the poor.”
As we continue to journey together during these challenging times, parishioners are invited to join Bishop Gary Gordon in prayer as he will celebrate Mass, which will be live streamed.
Beginning this Sunday, March 29, 2020, Bishop Gary Gordon will live stream the celebration of Mass as follows:
Please click here to access the live stream
Musings from a different perspective while we stay home, practice self-isolation, and physical distancing.
Stoic, calm, and a big fluff of love, Bishop Gary Gordon's golden retriever Merlin is also spending his days at home due to COVID-19. Lured out of retirement, Merlin, one of the stars of Disney's Spooky Buddies, joins us to share his musings and observations to lighten our day.
Pope Francis announced that he will bestow an extraordinary Urbi et Orbi blessing on Friday, March 27, 2020.
The special Urbi et Orbi BlessingPope Francis announced that on Friday, 27 March, at 6 pm Rome Time, 10 am Pacific Time, he will preside over a moment of prayer on the sagrato of St. Peter’s Basilica, which is the platform at the top of the steps immediately in front of the façade of the Church. The ceremony will consist of readings from the Scriptures, prayers of supplication, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Pope Francis will then conclude with the Urbi et orbi Blessing, with the possibility of gaining a plenary indulgence for all those who listen or watch it live through the various forms of communication. This blessing “to the City [of Rome] and to the World” is normally only given on Christmas and Easter.
This special event will be broadcast live from the Vatican beginning at 6 pm in Rome, 10 am Pacific Time.
To witness and participate in the prayers and Blessing on Friday, March 27, 2020, click the Live Stream Link below to connect to a Live Feed from the Vatican.
Please click here for the Live Stream from the Vatican