Fr Bob Writes – Pentecost Sunday, May 24, 2015

This Sunday we celebrate the feast of Pentecost- the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Jesus which birthed the Christian Church. Below are some remarks by Pope Francis on this event:

“The Holy Spirit is the soul of mission. The events that took place in Jerusalem almost two thousand years ago are not something far removed from us; they are events that affect us and become a lived experience in each of us. The Pentecost of the upper room in Jerusalem is the beginning, a beginning which endures.

The Holy Spirit is the supreme gift of the Risen Christ to his apostles, yet he wants that gift to reach everyone. As we hear in the Gospel, Jesus says: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to remain with you forever” (cf John 14:16). It is the Paraclete Spirit, the “Comforter”, who grants us the courage to take to the streets of the world, bringing the gospel!. The Holy Spirit makes us look to the horizon and drives us to the very outskirts of existence in order to proclaim life in Jesus Christ. 

Let us ask ourselves: do we tend to stay closed in on ourselves, on our group, or do we let the Holy Spirit open us to mission?”

Happy Birthday, Church!!

Fr Bob Writes – May 17, 2015

When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32). The Bible speaks of three ways in which Jesus is “lifted up:” in his death on the cross, in his resurrection, and in his ascension. This Sunday, we focus on the third “lifting up” of Jesus, his ascension into heaven. Our first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, describes Jesus being “lifted up” and our gospel, from Mark, says that Jesus was “taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.”   Paul’s letter to the Ephesians tells us that God “raised up Jesus from the dead and made him to sit at his right hand, in heaven, far above every Sovereignty, Authority, Power or Domination, or any other name that can be named, not only in this age, but in the age to come” (1:20-21). “He has put all things under his feet, and made him as the ruler of everything, head of the Church,” Paul goes on to say in the very next verse.

So on this day, we not only celebrate the finish of Jesus’ earthly life and his return to the Father, but we also celebrate his exaltation: the fact that, in his risen and ascended humanity, Jesus has been “lifted up ” and given the name “which is high above all other names, so that all beings in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus, and that every tongue should acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). There is no scope here for saying that Jesus was a good man, but only on the level of other “good men”, such as Mohammad, or Buddha, or Socrates, or Gandhi. In fact, St Pope John Paul II, in his book Crossing the Threshold of Hope, states clearly that Jesus Christ “is not on the same level as a Mohammed, or a Buddha or a Socrates, but is totally unique and original.” Neither Mohammed, nor Buddha, nor Socrates, ever died for the forgiveness of sins of the whole world. Neither were they ever raised from the dead into a totally new life which they then imparted to their followers. Nor were any of them raised up into heaven and seated at the right hand of God. With reason, Peter affirms in the Acts of the Apostles that “of all the names in the world given to men, this is the only one by which we can be saved.” (4: 12).

To affirm that Jesus is the unique Savior of humanity, that He alone is Lord of all creation, and that in Him alone, are we given the hope of eternal life, is to “lift Jesus up” in a fourth way, one in which we continue to “exalt” Jesus and to be His witnesses “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1: 8).

St. Philip Temporal Affairs Council Issues its Latest Quarterly Report

The St. Philip Temporal Affairs Council has issued its latest report for the three months ending March 31, 2015. A hard copy of the report will be available in this weekend’s parish bulletin.

The quarterly report can also be viewed here.

To view previous reports, please visit the St. Philip’s TAC page and look for it under the heading, “TAC Reports to Parishioners and Other Reports.” Parishioners will find links to past TAC reports starting with the quarter ending September 30, 2013.

Fr Bob Writes – May 10, 2015

On February 6th this year, the Supreme Court of Canada effectively allowed assisted suicide and euthanasia to be legal in this country. The Court struck down section 241 of the Criminal Code which forbids assisted suicide and section 14 which forbids euthanasia. In so doing the Court reversed its 1993 judgement in Rodriguez v British Columbia which had upheld the ban on assisted suicide, and also went against the expressed democratic will of Canada’s Parliament which had refused over and over again to declare assisted suicide and euthanasia to be legal. It also ignored successive opinion polls over the years which had underlined that most Canadians are opposed to these practices.

Recently, a parishioner took me to task, rightly for not speaking about this Supreme Court decision either in the bulletin or in a homily. I confess I dropped the ball on this issue. But as we approach our annual March for Life on May 14th, with its usual associated flurry of life-related events and activities, I want to pick up the ball on this and run with it. Interestingly, at two public events recently, a Knights of Columbus Clergy Appreciation Dinner and a Catholic Women’s League Convention, Archbishop Prendergast spoke about the ramifications of this Court decision and urged all Catholics to strongly protest to our MPs against it. It is still possible for the government to circumvent this decision by invoking the constitutional “notwithstanding” clause. Let us pray that they will make use of it. Let us pray also for a change of heart in our justices so that they do not feel they can “make new law” against the stated intention of a democratically elected government and the wishes of the greater majority of Canadian citizens. And which, by the way, ignores the sinister reality of open mercy killing in countries like Holland and Belgium who started down this slippery slope of allowing assisted suicide and euthanasia, while claiming that legal restrictions were in place to prevent any abuses.

Archbishop Prendergast took the opportunity to re-state Catholic teaching on issues of death and dying. Contrary to many people’s understanding, the Church does not ban the giving of medication, such as morphine, which is administered primarily to help ease a patient’s suffering in a terminal illness, but which incidentally may also advance their death. A patient, or a patient’s family, is not obliged to request medical treatment which would be burdensome on them and which would not materially advance their chances of improvement. Allowing a person to die of natural causes is not the same thing as euthanasia. Neither is respecting a patient’s refusal of treatment or request to stop treatment.

Euthanasia is deliberate killing in order to put an end to a person’s suffering, with our without the person’s consent. In assisted suicide, people take their own lives with the help of someone else. For example, a doctor assists by providing pills, an intravenous drip, or other means that they use to kill themselves. Both euthanasia and assisted suicide are clearly against Catholic teaching. We need to be ready for this new stage in the battle for life in Canada, and use prayer and legal action to fight to reverse this appalling Supreme Court decision. Make a commitment now to come out on May 14th for the National March for Life on Parliament Hill to show your protest against this latest assault on our most vulnerable members.


N.B. EWTN will be filming a pro-life roundtable on Wednesday May 13th and they are looking to assemble a live audience of 500 people. Admission is free. The event will take place at St Brigid’s Centre for the Arts in downtown Ottawa from 5pm to 6.30pm (please arrive at 4.30pm) Archbishop Prendergast and Alex Schadenberg of Euthanasia Prevention Canada are among those taking part.