Chaplain's Blog


April Message

Dear Brother Knights,

On March 1 we set out on our Lenten journey filled with enthusiasm and hope. We were on our way walking with Christ through the desert experience of the temptations, fasting from our own desires and willfulness, finding ways to reach out to those who are most in need of our assistance, and making a daily effort to maintain our close connection with Christ through a rich prayer life. But like a lot of journeys, we can get a little side tracked on the way. Something off to the side may seem more interesting, or there is a notion that perhaps we don’t have to be as serious about lent as we thought we did. Or we may simply feel we’ve done enough and just go back to what we thought was our normal life.

But this is not the time to quit. There are two weeks yet to go and these are the most intense and meaningful weeks of the whole Lenten season. First, you may notice a change in the church décor as there will be a lot more purple – coverings for the cross and statues. We put aside those images for the time being, so we are able to be fully present in the here and now. Where are we on our journey with Christ. Do we see ‘Jerusalem’ in the distance? Have we understood what Jesus meant when he spoke about death and resurrection? Have we come to understand that my Lenten journey is not just about Jesus’ walk to Jerusalem and his cross and death, but it also our own life journey to our own Jerusalem where, in the appropriate time, we shall have to face the reality of our own cross and death.

Holy Week, the final week of our journey, takes us into the very heart of the Paschal mystery. We are there when Christ institutes the Eucharist. We are there for his Passion, death and burial. If this was the end of the story, it would be a sad ending indeed, and we would wonder why we made the journey.

However, as we know, it is not the end of the story, but rather the beginning of the most wonderful story the world has ever known. On the third day Jesus did rise from the dead just as he had told the disciples he would. The good news is that then we, too, shall rise with him, for just as his cross and death led to resurrection, so, too, our cross and death lead to the same resurrection. Could anything be more glorious than that?

Brothers, if your enthusiasm for Lent has flagged a little, don’t worry. Take these last two weeks and give it your whole heart. Christ gave us His whole heart. Let us give ours in return.
Have a blessed Holy Week and a most glorious Easter.

Fr. Francis Hengen


March Message

Dear Brother Knights,

It is that time of year for us to once again give praise and thanks to God for the wonderful season of Lent that is such a gift to us as we prepare for the even more wonderful celebration of Easter and the glory of the resurrection.

Oh, we may not feel like praising and giving thanks for Lent when we first begin the season. After all, we are quite well conditioned to think of Lent as a time of penance and prayer, fasting and giving up things. It is true that these are, without a doubt, some of the characteristic activities of the season. However, need to look at a couple of examples of the Lenten experience that are given to us in scripture to see what it was originally about and how we can follow those examples and grow from the experience. Then as we see ourselves all the better for what we have received from Lent, we will indeed give praise and thanks to God, and our celebration of Easter will be all that much better because our Lent was so good.

The first real story of a Lenten experience is from the book of Exodus. In fact, almost all of that particular book is Lenten in a way – the desert experience, the time of test. It is in Exodus that we hear God declare, “I have brought them into the desert to test them to see if they will be faithful.” Most people don’t really care that much for a test. We fear failure. Yet when we have been put to the test and have succeeded, we rejoice because we have a new appreciation of who we are and what we are capable of doing.

The Israelites did not fare too well in the desert. Their unfaithfulness brought them many hardships.
But the desert experience isn’t just about ourselves and whether we can survive the test. It is also about God – a God who is with us all the way to be our strength and sustenance; the one to lift us up when we fall, the one to comfort us in our time of grief. God is the one who walks with us so that we never need to walk alone.
Jesus’ experience of the desert comes immediately after his baptism in the Jordan River. “He was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tested.” But the Spirit did not abandon him there. Jesus gave the true response to the temptations and showed us that we, too, can respond with strength – the strength of the word of God. He came out of the desert prepared for his mission of ministry, strong in the knowledge that his Father, who acknowledged him at his baptism, would continue to show his favour for his beloved Son and would not let death prevail over him.

So let us, then, enter into the season of Lent with enthusiasm, ready to grow and learn from the experience; ready to find those strengths in our inner being that are really the presence of the Holy Spirit in the temple of our bodies. Then we too will have the answers for and temptations that come our way. Lent is the training ground for those people who will go forth so joyfully at Easter to tell a skeptical world, “He has risen, indeed!”

Fr. Francis Hengen


February Message

Dear Brother Knights,

We are one month into the new year. For those of you who made a New Year’s resolution, or thought about making one, how well have you done with it? One survey showed that many resolutions don’t make it much past the first month. From my own experience of trying to quit smoking I found that to be true. In fact, I hardly made it through the first week. The problem with resolutions is that the issue becomes a matter of our will power. “I can do this!” But unless there is some ‘radical’ change to the situation we are in, we find ourselves struggling to maintain our resolution in the midst of a life that is the same as before we made the resolution, and all the ‘temptations’ are there to lure us back into the old habits. So, do we then not try to change things? Of course not. But we take a different approach; one that clearly puts God’s will front and centre in our lives. “Your kingdom come, your will be done.” “Let it be done to me according to your word.”

Most of our resolutions have to do with a habit we would like to break, or a change in life style, but when we want to change we have to ask ourselves ‘Why?” Why do I do the things I do? If we are honest we will find that many habits are associated with our response to specific situations where our emotions have become involved, and especially in our relationships with other people. Frustration, anxiety, fear, anger, embarrassment, shame, failure and other feelings can play a big part in those actions we choose to do: eating, drinking, smoking, gambling, spending money. We want to do something that will satisfy us and give us peace of mind because our will has been thwarted. The important point being ‘our will’!

However, if we can stop for a moment and say a quick prayer like “Thy will, not mine, be done!” or “Father let me find in you and your will what I am trying to find in this habit.” there will be a change in our life because we have given up seeking control over people, places and things and have taken the stance of the good steward who listens attentively for his master’s voice and joyfully carries out what he asks of us. We will also know a freedom and serenity in our lives because our trust in God’s will for us assures us that we will have the best for ourselves and others because God’s plan for is to have life and have it to the full.

So let us give ourselves a break from resolutions and struggling with our will power. Keep it simple. In the morning ask God to show you what he wants of you that day, and in the evening thank him for all the opportunities you had to be of service.

Fr. Francis Hengen


January Message

Dear Brother Knights,

I hope you all had a good and meaningful Christmas. Although Christmas Day itself has passed, the season of Christmas goes on until January 9th and ends with the Baptism of the Lord. This is important for us to remember. Christmas, December 25th, does not stand alone as the day we simply celebrate the birth of a child. That child was born to fulfill a mission – a mission that would show us exactly how much our Father in heaven loves us.

Jesus’ Baptism is the beginning of his public ministry – a ministry of word and action; a ministry of healing, comfort and life. It is also a call to discipleship. In the Gospels we hear about Jesus talking to the crowds, but that usually meant those people who had come to hear what Jesus had to say, but were not necessarily ready to make a commitment. Then there are the places where Jesus speaks to the disciples. These are the people who have taken his message to heart and are ready to follow him in their way of life. Jesus’ words for them have become their words for life.
In our Christmas celebrations we have welcomed the Word of God into our lives and responded to the call to discipleship. As we move forward into the new year, it will be will be our vocation to see how that Word we welcomed will become more deeply entrenched in our lives and guide us into a discipleship of actions and words, of support and comfort, of fraternity and community.

As Knights of Columbus we have a ready-made fraternity in which to practice our discipleship skills and to learn together how we can serve others. The fraternity of a Knights of Columbus council gives each knight the support and camaraderie he needs to carry out all the activities of the various program under the guidance of the Program Director.
The Word of God was the greatest gift we received at Christmas. Don’t put it away with the Christmas decorations, but let it be a dynamic force in your life throughout the coming year and help you to be a strong Knight striving to attain the vision of our founder Fr. Michael McGivney.

Happy New Year to you all. May God bless you each day.

Rev. Fr. Francis Hengen


Christmas Message

Brother Knights,

    “Prepare the way of the Lord!”

How many times have we heard that message? This call of John the Baptist to the people of his day, to prepare for the coming of the Messiah, has echoed again and again throughout the centuries. It is always the same, “Prepare!” Perhaps we have heard it too often, and it has simply become the routine liturgy for this time of the year. Of course we know what it means to prepare for something. Over the next couple of weeks there will be a lot of preparations taking place: decorating, shopping, baking, house cleaning, etc. But we do have to ask ourselves, “Do I really know what I am preparing for?”
     We have moved from the Feast of Christ the King right into the season of Advent and into our journey through the holy days of this season to that humble stable in Bethlehem, there to greet Christ, the child, who has come to be our Lord and King. He has come to us that through his death and resurrection we will be saved from death. How do we get ourselves ready for this journey and our personal reception and welcome of Emmanuel – God is with us?
     This year, instead of using the Advent wreath, there will be a special symbol for each week that we can reflect upon as we wend our way to the manger/bed/throne of our glorious king.    The first week will focus on light. “Walk in the light of the Lord” the prophet Isaiah tells us. What does that mean? Are we in the dark? Do we recognize the darkness for what it is and do we desire to walk in the light instead?
    The second week speaks of the promise of the Messiah to come from the family of Jesse. Through one generation after another God has prepared His people for his coming, as a man, into our midst. His is our relative. Our God is not an alien, but is of the house and line of David.
    The third week sends us out into the wilderness to encounter the prophet and to hear the word of God. This is a really important week for us as we are usually so bombarded by words and earthly noises that it is good if we can find a wilderness space so we can listen for the word of God.
    The fourth week gives us the name of our Messiah – EMMANUEL - GOD IS WITH US!
Is there any greater news than that which will be for all people?
    I hope and pray that you will have a grace willed Advent journey so that your Christmas will indeed overflow with wonder and joy at the marvelous things God has done for us.            

Fr. Francis Hengen