Sacraments of First Reconciliation and First Communion – 2016-2017 School Year

For all students entering Grade 2 next year!  Parents, please book these dates on your calendar now so that your child can attend all the necessary sacramental preparation dates. Thank you.

St Philips School Students-Save the Date Letter, June 22, 2016 First Communion-Reconcilication

All Other School Students-Save the Date Letter, June 22, 2016 First Communion-Reconcilication

Fr Bob Writes – July 17, 2016

Both our first reading and gospel this Sunday show great examples of the gift of hospitality.  Hospitality was and is so much a part of the Middle Eastern culture.  It is engrained in the people.

In our first reading, Abraham invites three strangers to a meal and his offer is accepted.  To refuse hospitality would have been an insult.  Such was the culture of Abraham in which a man’s reputation was measured more by his generosity and hospitality than by his wealth or status in society.  Consider the amount of food set before Abraham’s three visitors.  Three measures of flour is the equivalent of a half bushel or 30 pounds of flour.  That’s a lot of rolls in addition to a whole roasted calf set before the visitors.  Such was the culture of hospitality in which Jesus would provide 150 gallons of choice wine for a wedding feast and feed 5,000 with twelve baskets of food left over.  The leftovers would not go to waste, but placing far more before the guests than they could eat was a mark of generous hospitality. What are some indicators of a person’s character or importance in our Canadian society?  Abraham did not show hospitality so as to get anything in return, but, through the visitors, God promises to be generous to Abraham in return by finally granting him a son through Sarah.  God is never outdone in generosity!!

Martha, in our gospel story, is in the same tradition as Abraham in showing hospitality.  Her sister Mary also shared the same basic attitude of showing hospitality to visitors, but she had different priorities than her sister in making Jesus welcome to their home.  The two attitudes are meant to be complementary, not in opposition to each other.  There is a time to be active in service of the Lord, as last week’s parable of the Good Samaritan shows, and there is a time to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen.  The trick lies in knowing when is the right time for what.

How would you show hospitality to Jesus should he come to your home?  How do you show Christian hospitality to others?

Fr Bob Writes – July 10, 2016

The familiar and much-loved parable of the Good Samaritan which Jesus tells in our gospel this Sunday has timeless value.  Countless individuals and groups have interpreted and re-interpreted the story to suit their own culture and times.  The wounded man, left for dead and ignored by the priest and Levite in turn, has been cast and re-cast to suit each generation’s example of the marginalized and despised: ethnic minority, AIDS victim, leper, tramp, take your pick.  Which category of society inspires us most with dread and revulsion?  They become the challenge to the Christian of the day to show mercy on them, as the Samaritan does on the half-dead Jew in the parable.

Behind this story is the culture of animosity felt between Jews and Samaritans in the time of Jesus.  Occupying the same country, they nonetheless despised each other.  They had their own creed, their own place of worship, their own expectation of a Savior, and rejected their fellow country-men’s version of these.  Only a couple of Sundays ago, Luke’s gospel told us the story of Jesus and the disciples making their way to Jerusalem and being chased out of a town in Samaria because the people there knew they were going to worship at the Temple in Jerusalem, instead of at their own place of worship.  The apostles James and John want to call down fire from heaven to destroy the town, yet it was they who are rebuked by Jesus, not the Samaritans.  Jesus shows time and again his openness and welcome to Samaritans which would have upset and challenged his disciples in their Jewish xenophobia.  And this parable of the Good Samaritan would have been the icing on the cake as far as they were concerned.  Note how the lawyer in the gospel passage this Sunday cannot bring himself to even say the word “Samaritan” in answer to Jesus’ question as to who proved the neighbour in his parable.  He can barely get out the words :The one, I suppose, who showed him mercy,” no doubt through gritted teeth!!

And so this parable of the Good Samaritan challenges us, once again, to re-examine our deeply-ingrained prejudices and ask ourselves, ‘Which group or individual do I instinctively shy away from , in disgust or fear or suspicion?  In this Year of Mercy especially, Jesus invites us to move beyond the limits of our own cultural discrimination to prove neighbour to those in any kind of need.

Bulletin of July 3, 2016

Happy Canada Day!  Thanks be to God for this amazing country.

Did you know…there are three bible verses etched in the stonework of the Peace Tower (on the arches, over the main entrance to the Parliament Buildings)?  They read:

“He shall have dominion also from sea to sea” – Psalm 72:8

“Where there is no vision the people perish” – Proverbs 29:18

“Give the king thy judgements O God, and thy righteousness to the king’s son” – Psalm 72:1

Here is this week’s bulletin:  July 3, 2016 Bulletin

Fr Bob Writes – July 3, 2016

Last week, the United Kingdom, in a referendum, made an historic decision to leave the European Union, of which it had been a part since 1975.  However, the countries of Scotland and Northern Ireland voted in this referendum to remain a part of the EU.  It appears likely that, in the near future, those two countries will vote to leave the United Kingdom which has existed for over 400 years as a union of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland (the Republic of Ireland separated from the UK in 1921, leaving Northern Ireland as part of the union).  Suddenly, the entire political map of the United Kingdom is being reconfigured.  Further, other countries in the EU are considering whether to hold a referendum to decide if they also want to leave.  We are facing seismic changes in the whole continent of Europe, which will undoubtedly have repercussions on the world stage.  Nobody knows what the future holds as we transition to a very different world than we knew before.

Transition always has its uncertainty and consequent anxiety.  Last Friday, I attended a graduation ceremony at St Philip’s and watched as the grade 6 students were awarded certificates and awards and prepared to transition to a new era in their lives, in which they would no longer be big fish in a small pond, but small fish in a big pond.  Behind the smiles, I am sure there were a few fluttering hearts as well.  On Saturday, I attended a wedding, in which the happy couple exchanged vows and made their own transition into the unknown of being married.  I’m sure that here also, behind the smiles, both were wondering what the future held for them.

Finally, last Friday, I carried out two funerals, and here was the greatest transition any of us will ever make, from this earthly life into the unknown of whatever lies beyond.  For those with faith, we are assured that beyond this life, there is a better, more beautiful life, the life of heaven.  For those without such faith, there is only uncertainty and fear.  Even those with faith can face this final curtain with a great deal of anxiety.

A great English saint, Blessed John Henry Newman, once wrote:  “Here below, to be human is to change.  And to be perfect, is to have gone through many changes.”  All the transitions, all the changes in our lives, are but ways in which God brings us to perfection.  The people of Israel, returning from exile to their devastated capital, Jerusalem, faced uncertainty and fear about the future.  The prophet Isaiah, in our first reading this Sunday, paints a picture of a restored Jerusalem, in which abundant peace and prosperity would be theirs.  It was a word of comfort to them in the midst of their profound anxiety, to remind them that God had not abandoned them, and would bring them through this time of transition into a time of restoration and glory.

Whatever transitions you may be facing this summer, be assured that God has all our lives in his hands, and will bring us through this time of uncertainty and anxiety, and use these new changes to continue perfecting us.