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"One is Nearer God's Heart in a Garden Than Anywhere Else on Earth."

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It’s finally here ... gardening season. How I love to get out in the sun and warmth, listening to the birds singing their songs and feeling the dirt between my fingers! My garden is my retreat house, my place to connect with God in the ordinariness of my life.

I think that’s why these two books here in the Archdiocesan Resource Centre spoke to me in such a deep way...

Pegge Bernecker's Your Spiritual Garden: Tending to the Presence of God is a six-week retreat in daily life designed to release the inner gardener in all of us. Using Scripture, prayers, meditation, physical and communal activity, as well as participation in the Eucharist, Bernecker teaches us to tend our spiritual garden and ultimately cultivate our relationship with our "Master Gardener."

Meditating upon how interaction with the earth opens the heart and embraces the A Mystic Garden by Gunilla Norris affirms the garden as a soulful space where people can take root and experience the changing seasons and the enduring cycle of renewal. Filled with the joy of living, this enchanting spiritual guide will speak to those who yearn to find the holy in the place they call home.

However you spend it--in the garden or not--enjoy your summer for what it is ... God's gift of rest and relaxation!

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My dear brothers and sisters, our Catholic faith has been keeping us busy over this last week and a half. During the last ten days we have celebrated four great Feast Days of our faith in Jesus Christ. We have gathered as the Church to celebrate the Birth of Jesus which gave us the assurance that in every aspect of our life, Jesus is God-with-us. We are never left alone or abandoned.

My dear friends, in my younger days, I used to ask why is New Year’s a holy day of Obligation? Everybody is out celebrating the New Year on New Year’s Eve, so they don’t have time to go to Mass and on New Year’s Day everyone is too tired to go to Mass.  Everyone who went to Confession during Advent to get ready for Christmas finds that within a week they are in the state of sin again because they missed Mass on a Holy Day of Obligation! Seemed strange to me.

My dear brothers and sisters, we continue our celebration of the Nativity of our Lord, Jesus Christ on this Sunday that follows Christmas. As soon as we talk about the birth of a baby, we very quickly begin to think about the family that welcomes this baby. On this Sunday following Christmas we turn our minds and our hearts towards the family of Jesus – to Mary and Joseph and their new child. And of course when we do that we also immediately think about our own families.