Myrrh Bearing Women

A Homily given by Fr. Michael Smolinski, C.Ss.R. on the 3rd Sunday of Easter

(Mk. 15:43-16:8) In many parishes during the month of December, we hand out calendars for the new year. Most people only use them to see if they get to eat meat on a particular Friday (Ukrainian Catholics abstain from meat on most Fridays of the whole year). Of course, there’s more information on the calendars. We also find the saint or saints of the day listed. The vast majority of these saints on our church calendars are men. This Sunday is a celebration of women, the myrrh-bearing women. We discover the names of the myrrh-bearing women in the Gospel accounts of the Resurrection. They include Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, Mary (Joseph’s sister), Salome, Martha and Mary whose brother was Lazarus, and Mary the Mother of God. Jesus gave these women a more exalted role than most women in 1 st century Palestinian society. Sure, there were no women apostles, but to Jesus, women were not second-class citizens. Jesus was faithful to them and they were faithful to Jesus. They loved him. They stayed with him all the way to the cross when most of the men took off.

What the myrrh-bearing women did for Jesus, they did out of love. They saw the burial place where Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus placed Jesus’ body hastily because of the impending sabbath. After the sabbath, on the first day of the week, the women came to anoint the body of Jesus. Thus, they became the first witnesses of the Resurrection. They did something. They did the right thing.
What they did out of love for Jesus was an expensive thing. Only one of the women was rich, but they spent a lot of money to buy huge amounts of oil, perfumes, and ointments. Ointments were used to dry the body and perfumes and oils were used to honour the body. They used up their rainy-day funds for Jesus, because He was priceless to them. For Jesus, they spared no expense.
What they did out of love for Jesus was a dangerous thing. Jerusalem was a walled city and rightly so. Outside the walls were wild animals and thugs. The tomb was outside the walls. So, the women made themselves vulnerable in going to the tomb. Because they did what they did, the women were the first to ever hear the greeting, “Christ is risen!”
We can fail to act like the myrrh-bearing women when we act out of fear. St. John
tells us, “Perfect love casts out all fear.” We fail to do what is expensive, because we don’t want to give up the cost of our time or freedom. We fail to do what is dangerous, because we don’t take risks. We fail to do what is foolish, because we live more by the world’s values.

When the myrrh-bearing women arrive at the tomb, they found the stone already rolled away so they were not foolish. The young man who greets them gives them three commands: Do not be afraid. Go and tell the
disciples. Go to Galilee. By telling the women to go to Galilee, the angel is telling them go back and start again. The women are commissioned. But, the Gospel ends with the statement, “they said nothing to anyone.” Really. Is that the end? How are we even here celebrating Easter? And who is “anyone”?
Storyteller Megan McKenna explores that question of who “anyone” is in her book, And Morning Came. McKenna says the anyone to whom the good news was not shared includes the following: anyone who had not been with the group since Galilee, anyone who betrayed Jesus, anyone who killed Him, or anyone who
was part of the crowd.

So, the women shared the good news with the group of Jesus’ followers who were frightened and fearful, scattered and shattered. The women shared the good news and gathered the community for the journey to Galilee. The journey was 90 miles long over rough terrain. The group included the 11, the women, and many
of the 72, so about 100 people. On the way to Galilee, they walked it off. They walked that fear off. They shared stories of their encounters with Jesus. They retold the parables. They talked about those who were healed and forgiven by Jesus. They shared their memories. And their hopes rose. The women led the way in sharing the joy of the Resurrection. They build community. They had a voice and used that voice to preach Good News.

The mission of the myrrh-bearing women kept going after Galilee until their deaths. Mary Magdalene traveled the world preaching the Good News of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some of the women died as martyrs.
Some died peacefully. Let us be like the myrrh-bearing women, preaching Good News and gathering community. In the days of physical distancing, we cannot gather as community, but we can still be community. We are bound together as
the Church of Christ by the Good News. Let us continue to connect with one another, care for one another, and help one another. We are bound together and sent as one to share the word and faith in our risen Lord.

Below is a picture from a t-shirt designed and worn by women and their friends.  All of whom are creating community by remaining united in faith during the pandemic.


Virtual Saskatoon Retreat

As we are all navigating during these unprecedented times, we are unable to participate in the retreat in Saskatoon.

However, we will offer the retreat VIRTUALLY!

Begins Monday July 27 (later afternoon/early evening) to Thursday July 30 (late day).
Cost: $100 per person Guiding our retreat experience will be the same:
Sr. Bernadette O’Reilly, NDS and Fr. Larry Gillick SJ.

Registration is open! Please email Sr. Celine directly at

As we are all navigating during these unprecedented times, we are unable to participate in the retreat in Saskatoon.

However, we will offer the retreat VIRTUALLY!

Begins Monday July 27 (later afternoon/early evening) to Thursday July 30 (late day).
Cost: $100 per person Guiding our retreat experience will be the same:
Sr. Bernadette O’Reilly, NDS and Fr. Larry Gillick SJ.

Registration is open!  Please E-mail Céline to register at

Hope to see you there!

Retreat Organizing Committee

Jesus Breaks In

On Holy Saturday of this year, our convent had an unexpected visitor.  A young man kicked in the back door with a loud noise that reverberated throughout our house.  He entered, hammer in hand, mumbling to the FCJ Sisters that met him near the door about needing to find a way through.  He was told, firmly, that he could not get through and so he ran back out the way he’d come in.  The police arrested him a short time after that and we were left with a shattered door to fix and a mixture of feelings to process.

It was with new eyes that I read again the words from the Gospel of St. John the next day.  Disciples in a locked room?  A man appearing unexpectedly in the midst of them?  That sounded eerily familiar, all right.  However, Jesus’ visit elicited very different reactions from his disciples:  joy, reassurance, peace.  Perhaps it was the violence of our unwelcome intruder that prompted me to spend some extra time reflecting on this particular account of Easter Sunday:  How had Jesus breached the locked doors of my home during these days of Covid-19?  Where had the presence of the Risen Christ brought joy, peace and reassurance as I grappled with living in a pandemic-stricken world?

For me, the face of Jesus has appeared repeatedly through the laptop which I use to virtually teach my junior high students from our convent.  These past weeks I have chatted with young people sporting unkempt hair and patterned pajamas speaking to me from cluttered bedrooms with unmade beds.  I’ve had the opportunity to get to know more about the day to day existence of my students than I could have done within the walls of a school:  I’ve heard the hungry cries of baby brothers, the shenanigans of younger sisters, the songs of pet birds and seen some interesting home décor choices.  There is something about working from our homes that seems to give us all permission to put on less of a persona and to present to our friends, colleagues and teachers more of the grittiness of who we are.  It’s unavoidable, really.  To me, there is something lovely and reassuring about this. We are united in our ordinariness and humanity.  There are no Snapchat filters or carefully worded Facebook posts to disguise the genuine Body of Christ.

On another level, our vulnerabilities emerge in ways we may not be used to.  We miss the physical presence of each other, and so we make contact in the ways that we are able.  Students message teachers, just to reassure themselves that there’s someone who will answer.  Colleagues initiate video conferences for no other reason than to chat and catch up at the end of a virtual day of teaching.  These moments where we become aware of our need and reach out, seeking connection and intimacy with each other, but at a distance, have touched me.  In these instances of yearning for human contact, we are the human face of Jesus, the broken Jesus who whispers “I thirst” from the agony of the Cross.  And when we respond to this need for companionship from our students, friends, families and colleagues, we resemble the Risen Christ, breaking through walls and crossing vast distances (via Wi-Fi) to share the reassuring presence of God.

Sometimes, it seems there is so much to fear in this time of pandemic and there are good reasons for us to spend more time in the relative safety of our homes.  Yet, Christ still comes in unexpected ways, breaching our locked doors and bringing us peace and love that shine through in the humanity of others.  Let us pray that we don’t allow our fears to hide these Christ- moments from our awareness.  Alleluia, He is Risen! He is Risen, indeed!

Michelle Langlois, fcJ


Holy Week: A Threshold Time

Threshold spirituality is a meaningful way to sum up our spiritual experience in a time of pandemic. It is also the spirituality of Holy Week.As we wait with anticipation to “cross over” lines in grocery stores, as we long to pass through the dark night of reaching the flattened curve, as we imagine going through doorways to visit those loved ones we have been separated from…We are called into threshold time. May our passings be blessed as we live fully this moment and the crossings it brings.

Written by: Sr. Noreen Allossery-Walsh, OSU

With gratitude to Paraclete Press for providing this reflection and guided meditation.…

What are God’s Plans Now?

My most favourite scripture quotes is Jeremiah 29:11-14, you all know the one… the plans, the future full of promise and the promise of being found and brought back.  I am hanging on to that tightly these days. It is such an unknown time and somewhat scary. We all live in communities with those who are elderly and most at risk. We all have parent(s) who are on their way to being elderly. In my case I also live with a mentally challenged, blind, and diabetic woman in her 50’s. Her day program has been shut down and so I have become the day program. I am also still “teaching” and what a learning curve that is! And, like many of you, have become somewhat of a landing cyber spot for colleagues and parents questioning what does it all mean…

I console myself, too, with either Maslow or Jesus, with outreach to the families most in need in my school community. A group of 8 staff have taken to delivery 30 food packages to our most vulnerable sector. My sisters and I pack 30 bags on Sunday afternoons and then my staff show up Monday and take 4-6 packages. It is a chance to see our students (from a distance) and give families the connections we can’t do over the internet.

Written by: Sr. Connie Harrington, SNJM

For more details about the amazing work so many Sisters are doing please go to: