Fr Bob Writes – April 26, 2015

“See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God” (1 Jn 3:1). These words which open up our second reading this Sunday are very moving. But they receive even greater force when we understand that the word translated as “given” here should instead be rendered with something like “lavished”. Thus : “See what love the Father has lavished upon us, that we should be called children of God.” We get similar sentiments in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, chapter 1, where he talks about “the riches of the grace which God has lavished upon us.”

God is not miserly or stingy in giving out his gifts. He is not some great supernatural Scrooge. St John says in chapter of his gospel, that God “does not ration out his Spirit” and elsewhere in the gospels, Jesus speaks of God pouring into our lap “a full measure, pressed down and overflowing.” The reference is to the market day practice in Jesus’ time when people would make a fold in their tunic for the merchant to pour out a measure of grain into it. In my earlier career as an officer with the Weights and Measures department of local government, I was used to checking the optic measures used for doling out spirits in a pub, or the weighing pans used for ladling potatoes into bags. I became aware of the various underhand means merchants would use to short-change shoppers.

God is not like that at all. His heart is full of such love for each one of us, and St Paul says in his letter to the Romans (5:5), that God’s love is “poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which he has given to us.” Again, the image is of a lavish overflow from the heart of Father – God into our hearts. There is no problem or restriction on God’s part in giving out his graces. The only problem or restriction is on our part in being willing to receive them. If we hold sin or unforgiveness or self-rejection in our hearts, we restrict our capacity to receive fully from God. Jesus says in Luke’s gospel that the best gift God can give us is his Holy Spirit  and in the next few weeks, our readings at Mass will be speaking more and more of this gift of the Spirit and encouraging us to open our hearts to receive more and more of this wonderful gift.

St. Philip TAC Meeting Agenda for April 21, 2015

The St. Philip Temporal Affairs Council (“TAC”) will hold its April meeting on Tuesday, April 21, 2015.

In keeping with the TAC’s desire for transparency and accountability to the parish community and to inform it of the issues the TAC deals with, a copy of the meeting agenda can be obtained by clicking here.

While the TAC does not make public its meeting minutes by publishing them to the parish website, parishioners wishing more information on any of the items raised in the meeting can contact either Fr. Bob or Pat McIver, TAC Chair.

Fr Bob Writes – April 19, 2015

Fr Bob writes: The following is a commentary on today’s gospel passage from Fr Denny Dempsey

“How was Jesus’ resurrected body different from that same body prior to the resurrection?” I asked a group of grade school children this past week. “He didn’t need to come in through the door,” one student responded. “He just appeared,” said another. “He had a glorified body,” said a third who had obviously paid good attention in class. “Did he get hungry, thirsty or tired?” I asked. “No, he only ate the fish to show them that he was real”, another smart child answered.

In paragraph 646, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “Christ’s resurrection was not a return to earthly life” as was the case with the daughter of Jairus, the widow’s son, and Lazarus, who would all die again. “In his risen body, he (Christ) passes from the state of death to another life beyond time and space.” Paul’s letter to the Philippians (2:6-7) tells us that the Son of God “emptied himself” of the divine attributes (all-knowing, unlimited in space and time, etc) while retaining the divine nature, taking on our human nature with its limited attributes. In the resurrection, the divine attributes, which the Son had voluntarily set aside, were returned in a “glorified body.” 

During those days following his resurrection, Jesus “weaned” the apostles off their dependence on him being physically present. He appeared to them only for brief visits. On at least three instances, he had a different appearance and voice than what they were used to. With the Ascension and coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the disciples would come to understand that Jesus was still present with them but in a less limited way in which they had known his presence before.”

Massive Parish Garage Sale May 9, 2015

Massive garage sale – part of the Richmond-wide community garage sale on Saturday May 9th. We have a huge selection of quality goods! All new or gently used items – tools, sporting goods, small appliances, furniture, books, toys and other household goods.

Stop by for a cool drink or something delicious from our Bar-B-Q – the best eats in town, and all for a great cause! All proceeds support the many community projects of the St Philips Knights of Columbus.

Location: St Philip Catholic Church, 127 Burke St, Richmond (at the corner of Fortune St).
Hours: 8am to 3:30 pm

Fr Bob Writes – Divine Mercy Sunday, April 12, 2015

From Fr Jonathan Kalisch, Director of Chaplains and Spiritual Development of the Knights of Columbus, comes this timely reminder of the Feast of Divine Mercy this weekend. He writes:

“In her Diary,St Faustina writes that Our Lord spoke to her, saying: “Tell the whole world about my inconceivable mercy. I desire that the feast of mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of my tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of my mercy.”

In 2002, Pope John Paul II promoted prayers and devotions in honor of the Divine Mercy to Christians around the world, granting a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions. To receive the indulgence, the faithful must also fulfill a set of additional requirements:

* Take part in prayers and devotions in honor of Divine Mercy on the Second Sunday of Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday, in any church or chapel, while in a spirit completely detached from sin

* Recite the Our Father and the Creed in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus.

A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful who, at least with a contrite heart, pray to the merciful Lord Jesus an approved invocation.”

“God always thinks with mercy: do not forget this. God always thinks mercifully. He is the merciful Father! God thinks like the father waiting for the son and goes to meet him; he spots him coming when he is still far off (Luke 15:11-32)” (Pope Francis)

(A reminder: the Apostles of Divine Mercy prayer group meet on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month in the parish rectory, beginning at 7.30pm. Contact Janet Seward for more details)

Fr Bob Writes – Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015

I just love this reflection for Easter by Fr Robert Morneau, taken from his book Not by Bread Alone:

“Lights! Camera! Action! The cry on the movie set cannot compare to the Easter Vigil’s ‘Alleluia! Alleluia!’” On the most sacred of nights, we praise God as we light our Easter candle, bless the water for baptism and celebrate. No camera can capture the Eucharistic action filled with the light of God’s glory.

We praise God for calling our catechumens and candidates into full communion in the church. Over these many weeks of preparation they have been studying God’s word and praying for enlightenment. Now they come to receive the risen Lord into their hearts. Then they are sent forth to go and tell the world the good news of our salvation. “Alleluia!”

We praise God for the renewal of our own baptism. We once again renounce sin, testify to our belief in our triune God, and reaffirm our faith in the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, and the resurrection of the body. Because of Jesus, we are promised life everlasting. “Alleluia!”

We praise God for calling us to be an Easter people, for calling us from darkness into light, from death into life. Our vocation is one of being agents of God’s light and life, sharing with all we meet the graces given. This agency will have its costs, a sharing in the painful ministry of Jesus, his sacrificial self-offering. But in the giving of self, we experience the Lord’s Easter joy and peace. “Alleluia!”

A happy and holy Easter to all our parishioners!!