This Most Sacred Season

Dear Families, Faculty, and Friends,

 Our school community has a richly established tradition of participating in these most sacred days. The Holy Triduum begins this evening at the Mass of the Lord's Supper, and then continues as one prolonged re-presentation of Jesus' salvific act. It has always struck me that we begin this evening with the sign of the cross, and then we do not do so again until Easter Sunday. This symbolic gesture signifies the union of the Paschal events, which together accomplish the magnificent plan of restoring man back to God.

 We are so very thankful that during the Easter Vigil, two students of Mount Royal Academy will be initiated into the mystical body of Christ, receiving the Holy Eucharist for the very first time as adolescents. A true indicator of our mission success has always been leading children to a relationship with Christ, especially in the reception of the sacraments. I often recall the customary catechesis on sacraments: an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace. And as our sacred communities gather to literally make present anew the moments in time when God made effective these sacramental divine encounters, it ought to give us pause for how much we mean to each other.

 As Pope Emeritus Benedict so passionately remarked:

The Eucharist is never an event involving just two, a dialogue between Christ and me. Eucharistic Communion is aimed at a complete reshaping of my life. It breaks up man’s “I” and creates a new “we.” Communion with Christ is necessarily also communion with all who belong to him. It means that I myself become part of the new bread that he is creating by the transubstantiation of the whole of earthly reality.

 The Eucharist is thus a tremendous binding force that unites us with all who believe in Christ, including the heavenly communion of saints who have our back. There have been so many in the recent years who have gone before us, and who we now rely upon to fully activate all those graces that will accomplish God's plan for our families and school community.

 Below you will find two items to help us remember the graces God has given us: first, a traditional prayer based on the Seven Last Words of Christ, authored by the students of Mount Royal Academy. Reading these heartfelt reflections yesterday during our final liturgical celebration before Easter break really struck me, as they demonstrate the faith of our students. Secondly, I have composed a list of our beloved deceased who hopefully work on our behalf in the communion of saints. If I have forgot anyone, please do let me know so we can keep them in our school's prayer intentions.

 I will leave you with the final prayer offered by Pope Francis at yesterday's General Audience on the Holy Triddum:

Dear brothers and sisters, let us dispose ourselves to live well this now imminent Holy Triduum — it begins [today]–, to be ever more profoundly inserted in the mystery of Christ, dead and risen for us. May the Most Holy Virgin, who followed Jesus in His Passion — She was there, looked, suffered . . . was present and united to Him under His cross, but was not ashamed of her Son, a Mother who was never ashamed of her son! She was there, and received in her Mother’s heart the immense joy of the Resurrection –, accompany us in this spiritual itinerary. May she obtain for us the grace to be interiorly involved in the celebrations of the next days, so that our heart and our life are really transformed.

 Most Sincerely In Christ,

 Derek Tremblay

Seven Last Words of Christ

"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

 These powerful words have changed the hearts of many people. As Christians we are called to follow Jesus all year long. But during Holy Week, we walk side by side with Jesus. We recall the events of the Passion, Jesus’ suffering and death for us. Jesus is perfect and wants us to live by his example. Jesus forgave His enemies while dying on the cross. This passage from the Gospel of Luke reminds us to forgive and ask forgiveness from our friends and family members. Mercy is stronger than sin.

"Truly, I say to you, this day you will be with me in Paradise."

 These were the words that Jesus said to the good thief while dying on the cross. The good thief recognized his own sinfulness and the innocence of Jesus. The good thief had faith in the kingdom of heaven and is an example for us of how we should handle our own sin.
 Both thieves were guilty of similar transgressions, but the good thief repented, while the other thief mocked Jesus. God’s mercy is always available to us, if only we have the faith to ask for it. The good thief teaches us that no matter how terrible our sin is, God wants us to come to Him. With these words from the cross, Jesus teaches us that when we say we are sorry and truly mean it, He will always welcome us to be with Him in Paradise.

"Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your mother."

 Jesus said these words to his Mother Mary and to the Apostle John, who are standing at the foot of the cross. This is a great act of love. For Jesus is looking to protect his mother from pain and sorrow, even as he himself was undergoing excruciating pain. He is also showing us how to care for those who are mourning and distraught. Family ties are not limited by blood alone. Mary is the mother of the Church and we are her children. We must take her into our home as the Apostle John did. Mary will mother us. She will bring our prayers to Jesus and bring us his graces.

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?"

 Jesus, you must feel totally alone. Many are staring at you and mocking you. Your closest friends deserted you and you are dying. And yet, you know that God your Father will never truly abandon you. This psalm that you quote ends in triumph just as your death will end in triumph for all who love and follow you. Death will be defeated and your complete gift of love will endure forever.

 If I ever feel alone or abandoned please help me to remember you on the cross and your undying love for me. If I ever see anyone else alone or suffering, help me to remember to bring them comfort. I want to see your face in those who suffer. I want to bring your Spirit to those who are in need.

After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said "I thirst." 

 Jesus was arrested Thursday night. He was kept awake all night enduring trials, questions, and beatings. Then he was scourged and mocked and condemned to death. Now, hanging on the cross, Jesus was exhausted and thirsty. But is that all Jesus was saying? The soldiers thought so and that’s why they gave him a sponge soaked in wine. Even at the moment of his death, Jesus gave them a chance to be kind.

 But what else did you mean? Do you thirst for our love? Do you thirst for righteousness? How can I help you Jesus? More than anything, you desired to do your father’s will. Your one hope, your one longing was to save us from sin and death. Do I desire you more than anything else? Do I thirst for the grace to be a saint and be with you in heaven? Help me find you thirsty in the poor and outcast that I may give you a drink of kindness. Help me to desire goodness and truth above everything else.

When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.” 

 All power is given by God. Since Jesus is God, He was in complete control of the situation. He knew all along that the plan was for Him to die in order to save humanity from sin. This process was much more than an obligation. Jesus did everything out of love for us. He acknowledged that the plan reached fulfillment, and the time of darkness ended because the hope of redemption arrived; humanity could start anew. Jesus lived his entire life as a pardon for humanity. All of his teachings and actions were laid down as conditions of the salvation which were promised. Having written his letter of reprieve through the efforts and exertions of his persecuted lifetime, he sealed the pardon in his holy blood spilled upon the cross.

 The statement "it is finished" is endowed with multiple meanings: the end of Jesus' life, the fulfillment of God's providential plan, and the liberation of humanity from the prison of sin and death. This double-completion so to speak, is finalized when Jesus hands over his Spirit, simultaneously sending the Holy Spirit to guarantee true freedom.

Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, Father, "Into Thy hands I commend My spirit."

 Not my will, but thine be done. Jesus prayed this in the Garden of Gethsemane and now we see he did his father’s will to the end.
 Psalm 31 says: For you are my rock and my fortress... Free me from the net they have set for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, LORD, God of truth. This is the prayer Jesus uttered as he breathed his last. It shows his complete trust in his father. Jesus knows that God will receive him and bless all of creation through him. His offering was complete and he returned to the Father.

 Jesus help me to always seek God’s will in every detail of my life and follow you obediently even unto death. Please give me the grace to accept God’s will in my life, even when it is very difficult and seems impossible. Knowing that you died on the cross for me, I can do all things in you, who strengthen me.

In Memorandum

Fr. Stanley Piwowar

 Fr. Stanley Piwowar, pastor of St. Joseph's parish in Claremont from 1965 to 2008 passed away on March 20, 2018. Fr. Stan was a supporter of Mt. Royal from its inception. Financially he assisted many families in sending their children to the school. Spiritually, he supported the school by traveling from Claremont to say Mass and hear confessions on many occasions. Fr. Stan spoke highly of Mt. Royal and was always ready to help and truly loved the students here. He gave a wonderful example of the selfless nature of the priesthood to all who encountered him.

Mr. Ed Broom
Mr. John Meehan
Mr. Jack McCarthy
Mr. Steve Cossingham 
Mr. Thomas Ryan

 All deceased relatives of the families of Mount Royal Academy