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.

Fr Bob Writes – June 26, 2016

Fr Denny Dempsey has a brilliant reflection on this Sunday’s first reading from the second book of Kings, in which Elijah appoints Elisha, at God’s bidding, to replace him as God’s prophet or mouth-piece. This is what he writes:

Elijah (meaning “my God is Yahweh”) is called to anoint Elisha (meaning “God is my salvation”) as his successor. Elisha came from a wealth family (only a wealthy family could afford twelve yoke of oxen) in Abel Meholah east of the Jordan river.  He was the chief prophet of the northern kingdom of Israel from around 850 to 790 B.C. The camel hair cloak which Elijah places over Elisha was symbolic of his being a prophet in somewhat the same way as a person today wearing a black shirt with a small white square in the collar is identified as clergy. Several centuries later, John the Baptist would wear a cloak similar to that of Elijah and Elisha, identifying him as a prophet of God. 

Elisha’s sacrificing oxen to God was a sign of his acceptance and commitment to his new calling.   He would henceforth be a disciple to Elijah learning how to be a prophet, a mouthpiece for God. 

In his famous poem “The Road Not Taken,”  Robert Frost wrote : “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and sorry I could not travel both. I looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth.”  Elisha looked down the furrows of the extensive farm he was to inherit and chose another life based on faith in God…and that, as Robert Frost would say, “made all the difference.”  What have been roads you have taken in life which meant other possible options would forever be impossible?  Choosing a college, marriage partner, job, and residence are among the key choices that define a person’s life path.  What did you turn down in making your choices in life? 

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 – June 19, 2016

You may remember that after all the Masses on last year’s Pentecost Sunday, we distributed free copies of Matthew Kelly’s book Rediscovering Catholicism“.  I said at the time that we would be organizing home groups to meet to discuss that book.

If you remember this, you may have been asking :”What happened to that proposal?”

Well, what happened was that various people offered to be pioneers for such home groups and went into several weeks of training to prepare for this.

We have completed this process and now are ready to launch the home groups within the next few weeks.

On this weekend, you will see lists of those people who have agreed to open their homes up to discuss Rediscovering Catholicism ,together with their addresses and the day and time of the

week when they would be available to have the meeting in their homes.

You will be asked to consult these lists and decide which home group you would like to join (Don’t worry if you have mislaid your copy of “Rediscovering Catholicism“. We have plenty more copies free of charge!)

If you are desiring to grow in your understanding of the Catholic faith and to know why Catholicism is at the heart of our deepest longings and questionings, these home groups will be an excellent opportunity to explore such issues. Matthew Kelly is a gifted young writer , who explains the Catholic faith in the kind of language which makes it accessible to today’s world.

If you are unsure whether or not this is for you, why not just come along to one of the groups and see for yourself and then decide ?

We are aiming to begin the small groups in the week beginning June 19th .

Fr Bob Writes – June 12, 2016

Our responsorial psalm this Sunday, Psalm 32, gives a superb depiction of the pathology of sin and repentance. Only a portion of the psalm is given in our readings this weekend, for the full picture you need to go and read the psalm as a whole. Here is what it says:

(v.1):  “Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”

This speaks to the peace and inner joy we experience when we have made the step of confessing our sins and receiving forgiveness

(v3): “While I kept silence, my body wasted away, through my groaning all day long…my strength dried up as by the heat of summer.”

Who has not experienced that feeling of carrying a heavy weight around, of being listless, agitated, simply because we refuse to acknowledge our guilt and seek forgiveness from the Lord?

(v5): “Then I acknowledged my sin to you…and you forgave the guilt of my sin”

This is the moment of breakthrough, when we make the decision to humble ourselves, stop rationalizing away our sin, and go to confess it, and receive the words of absolution from the priest

(v7):  “You surround me with glad cries of deliverance.”

Now, suddenly, we feel peace within, re-energized, able to move forward with our lives

(v8): “I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go…Do not be like a horse or a mule, who has to be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not stay near you”

The Lord promises to guide us through his Spirit in the ways of holiness and righteousness. But something in us seems to want to resist and rebel, and go our own stubborn ways. Going regularly to the sacrament of reconciliation is a sure way to bring our recalcitrant spirits under the control of the Holy Spirit and prevent us languishing in the ways of sin and guilt.

Fr Bob Writes – June 5, 2016

You may remember that after all the Masses on last year’s Pentecost Sunday, we distributed free copies of Matthew Kelly’s book Rediscovering Catholicism“.  I said at the time that we would be organizing home groups to meet to discuss that book.

If you remember this, you may have been asking :”What happened to that proposal?”

Well, what happened was that various people offered to be pioneers for such home groups and went into several weeks of training to prepare for this.

We have completed this process and now are ready to launch the home groups within the next few weeks.

On this weekend, you will see lists of those people who have agreed to open their homes up to discuss Rediscovering Catholicism ,together with their addresses and the day and time of the

week when they would be available to have the meeting in their homes.

You will be asked to consult these lists and decide which home group you would like to join (Don’t worry if you have mislaid your copy of “Rediscovering Catholicism“. We have plenty more copies free of charge!)

If you are desiring to grow in your understanding of the Catholic faith and to know why Catholicism is at the heart of our deepest longings and questionings, these home groups will be an excellent opportunity to explore such issues. Matthew Kelly is a gifted young writer , who explains the Catholic faith in the kind of language which makes it accessible to today’s world.

If you are unsure whether or not this is for you, why not just come along to one of the groups and see for yourself and then decide ?

We are aiming to begin the small groups in the week beginning June 19th .