Fr Bob Writes – October 2, 2016

Last weekend, a group of parishioners from St Philip’s and St Clare’s left on pilgrimage to Quebec City. Our intention was to pass through the Holy Door at Notre Dame Basilica in Quebec City, one of only seven Holy Doors officially designated for the Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis, and the only one outside of Europe.

We first arrived at Cap de Madeleine and booked into the Hotel de Madone, just across from the Shrine of Cap de Madeleine. On Sunday evening, Deacon Mark led us in a meditation before the Blessed Sacrament, designed to prepare us spiritually to pass through the Holy Door the next day. On Monday we travelled to Quebec City and Fr Bob celebrated Mass for us at the Cathedral. The event was made even more special for us as it was the feast day of the Jesuit Martyrs Jacques de Brebeuf, Isaac Jogues and their companions, whose shrine is at Midlands, in Ontario, and who were martyred while evangelizing the Indians in Northern America between 1642 and 1649.

After Mass, a priest from the Cathedral showed us a video explaining the Year of Mercy and the significance of the Holy Door. Then we each passed through the Holy Door which shows a carved figure of Jesus with his right hand extended , inviting us to enter into a an experience of His mercy. That evening, back at our hotel, Fr Bob and Deacon Mark led us through a biblical meditation on the five Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, before we went into the Shrine Park to pray these mysteries before the statues depicting each mystery.

On Tuesday morning we celebrated Mass at the old shrine in Cap de Madeleine, marking the feast of St Vincent de Paul, patron saint of the poor, before traveling to the Church of Saint Anthony and Blessed Frederic Jansoone in Trois Rivieres. There we visited the museum of Blessed Father Frederic, which contains many artifacts of his person and ministry, from his time in Israel, as custodian of the Holy Places, and at Cap de Madeleine, where he built up the shrine there as a place of pilgrimage and performed many wonderful miracles of healing.

On our arrival back at St Philip’s on Tuesday evening, Fr Bob blessed all the religious articles we had purchased during our trip and we gave thanks to God for blessing us so richly on our pilgrimage. Special thanks to Deacon Mark for organizing our journey and to all those on his team who helped bring it about!

Fr Bob Writes – September 25, 2016

Last weekend, we had the joy of seeing Mother Teresa of Calcutta canonized by Pope Francis. Saint Teresa was known, even during her lifetime as “the saint of the poor.”

Latin American theology often speaks of seeing God in the eyes of the poor. St Vincent de Paul said that to serve the poor is a true form of prayer. The poor, whatever may be said of the deprivation they experience, are a privileged people in God’s plan.

This Sunday’s readings remind us to keep that vision before our eyes. Many people do. They always find time to assist the poor; they give generously of their time and resources; some serve directly in leaving home for other cultures. The history of the Church is rich in its expressions of outreach.

But the poor still suffer. They are crushed not only by neglect but by exploitation. The causes of poverty today are more elusive, more difficult to label. It frequently involves complex economic systems. But it is as merciless and cruel as the conduct of the rich man in this Sunday’s gospel eating sumptuously with a starving beggar at his gate.

We have God’s assurance that the lot of the poor will one day be altered. The unconcerned affluent will not have the final say. But we cannot wait for the final day. The rich man paid the price for not alleviating Lazarus’ pain while he lived, while the chance was there. We cannot ease our conscience by saying that one day the record will be set straight. “Now is the acceptable time.”  “Carpe diem!” “Seize the day.”