Father’s Weekly Message

Fr Bob Writes – Feb 18, 2018

A Message from Development and Peace:

Share Lent 2018 Address

Sisters and brothers, may peace be with you! It is with a similar greeting that millions of our sisters and brothers greet each other every day on our Earth, our common home.

These greetings invite us to cultivate peace. They express that we recognize the presence of the other by our side and that we welcome them; that we wish to live in peace and that we choose dialogue as our means of communication.

Together for Peace is the theme of this year’s Share Lent campaign, which really speaks to people. Why? Because we all wish for peace to reign in the world, our world. Because it is an appeal that resonates with the events happening in our world today and is a rallying cry that brings hope to the generations of today and tomorrow.

Together for Peace invites us to promote dialogue as the primary way to build peace; dialogue between you and me and between peoples. Intergenerational, intercommunal, and interreligious dialogue. Dialogue for conflict prevention and resolution. Dialogue for forgiveness, reconciliation, and to live more harmoniously together.

We all need to ask ourselves this question: How am I, on a daily basis, an instrument of peace for myself, for the people I’m in contact with, whether it be those in my family, my community, or my workplace, and for my sisters and brothers in the Global South? This question is especially relevant during the Lenten season, a time of preparation for Easter; a time for introspection, for getting in touch with others and with God; a time for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

We rightly say, that we are “Happy to be artisans of peace!” This declaration makes us realize that peace is an endeavour that must be built from our own hands. It is a vocation that requires commitment, passion, patience, and perseverance, and must be lived out daily through our gestures of welcome, compassion, service, dialogue, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

Peace on a global scale begins by first growing in our hearts, minds, and attitudes. It is through our small everyday actions that world peace is made possible. Development and Peace partners take such

fruitful actions. They are instruments of peace and beacons of hope in our world. These partnerships and the work achieved through them are made possible thanks to our solidarity, our donations, and our generosity.  The following examples testify to this rich collaboration:

In Lebanon, our partner Adyan contributes to peace in the Middle East. The organization helps foster cultural and religious tolerance by offering conferences, training sessions, and workshops on peace, reconciliation, and coexistence. Adyan’s work is essential in this part of the world, wounded by past and present wars.

In Cambodia, the Indigenous Community Support Organization (ICSO) is a partner organization that works with the country’s minority Indigenous communities to help them have their rights recognized by the government, defend their land from corporate interests, and develop economic activities that are sustainable and allow them to live in dignity.

In Peru, the Bartolomé de Las Casas Institute runs the Hugo Echegaray leadership school, which trains community leaders. Students strengthen their capacity for creating dialogue, consensus, participation, and consultation so they can exercise ethical and responsible grassroots leadership in their communities.

In Nigeria, Development and Peace partner SERAC, (the Social and Economic Rights Action Center), works with communities that are victims of forced evictions. They train community leaders from some of the most marginalized communities on human rights and political issues so they have the knowledge and tools to engage in effective dialogue with the government and political authorities.

The Share Lent campaign Together for Peace invites us to show solidarity with our sisters and brothers who, like us, participate in building peace in the world.

So that Development and Peace and its partners can continue to be artisans of peace in the world, we appeal to your generosity.

I thank you, on their behalf, for your donation. Together, let us support Development and Peace partners.  Together, let us be proud to be artisans of peace!


Fr. Bob Writes – February 11, 2018

Lent is almost upon us once again. Next Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, when we receive ashes on our foreheads as a sign to God that we wish to regard our past sins as “dust and ashes” and rise, “like Phoenix from the ashes” from the death of sin into new life in Christ.

It means recognizing that sin, like the disease of leprosy, which corrupts the body and causes us to become “unclean” and separated from community, has corrupted our souls and caused us to become unclean in the sight of God, and separated from the community of the Holy Trinity.

The only one remedy is to turn, like the leper in our gospel story, to Jesus for healing from the leprosy of our sin, and, like the Psalmist in today’s Responsorial Psalm, to no longer “hide my Iniquity” but to “acknowledge my sin” to the Lord.

There will be ample opportunity during the Lenten season to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation. Let us turn to the Lord at this time and say, with the leper in the gospel, “if you choose, you can make me clean” and hear him say to us “I do choose.  Be made clean.”

Fr. Bob Writes – Feb 4, 2018

You have probably seen in the last couple of weeks the growing furore over the federal government’s attempt to change the rules for applying for summer jobs grants.  Many churches and other faith organizations rely on these grants to enable students to help with their summer youth and children programs.  But henceforth, these grants will only be available to those who agree to the government’s stances on abortion, same-sex marriage and transgenderism.  This new policy is one that officially discriminates on the basis of expression, conscience and religion, rights protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

LifeCanada strongly encourages us to join the growing campaign against this policy change by writing respectfully to the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and to Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour and expressing your opinions to them.  The following are talking points that can be used in your letter:

-I want to express my great dismay at this discriminatory application process

-It is the government, not these charitable organizations, who are contravening the Charter

-There is no Charter right to abortion, but there is a Charter right to freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion

-If you believe in a pluralistic society in which all views are respected, you need to respect the right of millions of Canadians who object implicitly to abortion

-Law abiding citizens of all stripes who pay taxes, work hard and who individually and collectively contribute to our society should not be forced to think as the government does on these important matters of conscience.  Mandated belief is draconian and an affront to democracy

-I urge you to reconsider this policy.  It is anti-democratic.  It flies in the face of pluralism.  You are marginalizing your own citizens for daring to think for themselves

-I would appreciate a response

There is no postage required in writing to Ministers at the Houses of Parliament

For further lines of possible action, go online to LifeCanada’s website: www.lifecanada.org

Fr Bob Writes – January 28, 2018

Despite what a superficial look at our second reading this weekend might suggest, Paul is not being anti-marriage. Paul is following on from his earlier remarks, quoted in last Sunday’s second reading, to the effect that “the appointed time has grown short” and “the present form of this world is passing away.”  In the light of this, Paul is advising the Corinthians to be living for an imminent return of Jesus, not with a “business-as-usual” attitude.  He believed that the normal responsibilities of caring for a wife and family could cause anxieties and compromise the attention and focus one might otherwise give to God.  Why be intent on such things if Jesus would be returning before the kids were even old enough to go to school?  Had Paul known that the second coming was not so imminent, would he have been less emphatic in his encouragement to remain single? Maybe.

Nonetheless, there is still great value to be had from Paul’s comments.  Despite the fact that the greater majority of people in our world no longer seem to be at all concerned about the possibility of Christ’s return at the end of time to bring the “present form of this world” to a definitive end, it is a matter of clear Catholic Christian belief that this will happen.  Simply put, there are simply too many references to Christ’s return in the New Testament, not least on Christ’s own lips, to brush the matter aside as unimportant.  The Church dedicates an entire season, that of Advent, to reminding us of Christs final coming lest we forget and we become immersed in the delights and allures of this world, and forget that “the present form of this world” is due to pass away one day.  “The Son of Man is coming at a time you do not expect” is a major theme of some of Jesus’ most important teaching.

St Paul urges us to “fix your eyes on things above” in his letter to the Colossians 3:1 because your true life, he says, is “hidden with Christ in God, and when Christ is revealed, you will be revealed in all your glory” (ibid 3:3).  In his letter to the Philippians, he asserts that we are “citizens of heaven,” which means that, while we are on earth, we are actually exiled from our true and lasting home.  Every death we read about, every funeral we attend, every sick person we visit, reminds us of the truth that we are simply passing through this life on the way to the next one.  But how we live this life here on earth, either completely for oneself or for others, will determine where we will live in the world to come, hell or heaven.

Fr Bob Writes – January 21, 2018

All is not always what it seems.  A look at the first reading this Sunday from the book of Jonah would seem to suggest that the prophet Jonah is an intrepid messenger of God, readily obedient to God’s command that he walk into the capital city of one of Israel’s biggest enemies and call them to repentance.  But in fact as we read all of the book of Jonah, we discover that this is far from the case.

To begin with, this passage in our first reading is not the first time God calls Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh and preach repentance to the people there.  Right at the beginning of the book, we read that Jonah is called to do this, but initially balks at God’s command and runs away from it.  It takes God working through a storm at sea, a near ship-wreck, Jonah being thrown into the sea by the terrorized sailors and a large fish (note: not a whale!) who swallows Jonah, to bring the prophet to the point we reach in our first reading this Sunday . Only then, when Jonah realizes that resistance to God’s will is futile, does he reluctantly do what he is told and goes to Nineveh, where, incredibly, his message is received with overwhelming belief and repentance, leading to God rescinding his decision to destroy the city.

You would think that Jonah would be overwhelmingly delighted that his mission has been so successful.  But again, this is far from the case.  In the last chapter of the book, we learn that the reason for Jonah fleeing from God, was not because he was afraid to carry it out, but because he did not want to carry it out.  He knew that, if he was successful and Nineveh did in fact repent, that God would forgive them.  Because God is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and always ready to relent” as countless references in the Old Testament point out.  And Jonah simply does not want Nineveh to be saved.  He wants them destroyed because they are Israel’s enemy and he thinks they should be God’s enemy as well.

The book of Jonah is thus a satire, a caricature on a particular tendency within the nation of Israel to a certain xenophobia, a judgement and contempt on other nations who do not have the same kind of covenant relationship as they enjoy with God, and so are inferior to them.  That God may have a heart for the pagans just does not sit well with this kind of mindset.  Jesus will run into it as well in his ministry (see for example Luke 4: 18 ff) as will the early church as they reach out beyond the borders of Israel to preach salvation to the pagans (cf Acts 13 ).  To be honest, even amongst Christians, it is possible to find those who have no love for non-Christians and who are only too ready to consign them to hell because they do not have an explicit faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  It is also, sadly, not unusual to come across Catholics who feel the same way towards non- Catholic Christians.  To such as those, the book of Jonah makes salutary reading.

Fr Bob Writes – January 14, 2018

The gospel passage from this weekend is taken from St John’s gospel, and it presents a different slant from the other gospels, on how Jesus went about recruiting his disciples.  In the gospels of Matthew and Mark, Jesus first encounters Peter and calls him to follow him while Peter is putting his nets in order down at the lakefront of the Sea of Galilee. Luke presents a similar lakefront call, but has the initial encounter take place at Peter’s house where Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law.  Here, John’s gospel gives a different scenario as Peter comes to Jesus only after his brother Andrew had spent time with Jesus and, believing Jesus to be the long-expected Messiah, brought Peter to Jesus.

“Where are you staying?” Andrew asked, letting Jesus know he wanted to spend time with him, more than just a quick interview on the spot.  In addition to study, prayer is essential.  The gospel says it was about “four in the afternoon.”  The hour would have been particularly significant if they were approaching the beginning of the Sabbath which began at sunset.  Since Jewish people were not to do unnecessary work on the Sabbath, Andrew and his companion would spend the day in prayer and conversation with Jesus…a wonderful encouragement for us to honor the Day of the Lord by spending time with Jesus in prayer.

Faith is more than just having the right beliefs based on accurate information.  Faith is a way of life which comes through spending time with Jesus.  How will you be spending your time after Mass today?

Fr Bob Writes – January 7, 2018

Fr Bob writes:  This Sunday, Lift Jesus Higher community will be arriving at St Philip’s for their first 12.30pm Mass.  Lift Jesus Higher is a small charismatic community operating in the diocese of Ottawa with the permission of the archbishop of Ottawa.  It was founded by Fr Ed Wade, a member of the Companions of the Cross and myself , back in 1997.  When Fr. Ed was moved to Houston in 1998, I became director of the community and have been ever since.  When Archbishop Marcel Gervais retired as archbishop of Ottawa diocese in 2007, he issued a decree designating Lift Jesus Higher as “a private association of Christ’s faithful” according to Canon law no. 301 (1).  Recently, Archbishop Prendergast gave me permission to bring the community to St Philip’s, in part to prevent me having to travel continuously between Richmond and LJH’s home in Vanier, which I had been doing over the last six years.

The mission of Lift Jesus Higher community is, as its name already suggests to “lift Jesus Higher in Ottawa and the nation, to see Ottawa and Canada transformed by the love of God in Jesus Christ through the revival power of the Holy Spirit” (Lift Jesus Higher statement of mission, vision, values).  Anyone familiar with the kind of language used here will know that the community is a “charismatic” one.  “Charismatic” indicates that the “charisms” or gifts of grace of the Holy Spirit are encouraged and practiced throughout the life of the community, especially in its liturgy and prayer meetings.  Charismatic renewal, always present in the Catholic Church since its inception, cf Acts 2: 1-4, 1 Corinthians 12: 7 – 11 received renewed recognition and encouragement following Vatican II, cf document on the Church, article 12, and Pope St John Paul II encyclical, Christafideli Laici.  St Philip’s and St Clare’s have already been exposed to charismatic renewal in recent years, with the Life in the Spirit seminars that have been held there, and there is now a charismatic prayer meeting that gathers at St Philip’s church on Thursdays at 7.30pm.  Back in October, Lift Jesus Higher moved its own prayer meeting, Oasis, to join with the St Philip’s prayer group, a move which has been a blessing and boost to both communities.  Now LJH will start to celebrate Mass on Sundays at 12.30pm, and this, as well as providing another opportunity for Sunday Mass to St Philip’s and St Clare’s, will add to the growth of spiritual activity already happening in our parish communities.

Everyone is welcome to come along on any Sunday and join with the Lift Jesus Higher community for its Mass at 12.30pm.  Be alerted, however, to the fact that this is a charismatic mass, so you will witness things you have perhaps not seen before, such as the use of the gift of tongues in praise, of words of prophecy and healing ministry.  Also, the mass goes on for somewhat longer than usual, between one and a half hours to two hours.  However, don’t let that put you off.  Lift Jesus Higher is a very loving community and you will be assured of a warm and friendly welcome.