Fr Bob Writes – December 28, 2013 and January 5, 2014

Merry Christmas to all!  Please enjoy this Christmas Message from Archbishop Terrence Prendergas, SJ –

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year and the longest night. In such a cold and dark setting, we naturally seek out fire and warmth, light and company.

A few days after the solstice—on December 25th—the daylight period begins to lengthen. People look forward to spring. And we Christians look forward to the rebirth found in the Paschal Mystery celebrated at Easter!

This era is also a time of transition. The election of Pope Francis is a ray of light. He embodies the new evangelization with his concern for the poor and needy. The civil war in Syria, the devastation in the Philippines from Typhoon Haiyan, and the poor in our midst remind us that the call on our hearts to a generous response is constant.

There is a profound message in the Church’s decision to celebrate the birth of Our Saviour Jesus Christ in the lengthening days of late December.

God’s Eternal Word, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, determined to enter into our world when all was dark and without hope.

Jesus Christ determined to share our human condition to the full and become “incarnate,” taking on human flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary. He even experienced death out of love for each of us. He redeemed us from the darkness of slavery and sin. He brought us into the light of God’s Kingdom.

Living in the Holy Family with Mary and Joseph, Jesus’ vocation was nourished by the loving attention of his earthly parents.

The Church has always sought to encourage and protect the family. Indeed, your family was your first experience of Church, where you learned the love of Jesus, your image of the Trinity, and a life of charity. The family now faces unparalleled strains as marriages are torn apart and children have less contact with their parents for financial and social reasons.

Pope Francis has called for an Extraordinary Synod in Rome next October to discern the Church’s pastoral response to families in crisis. The eighth World Meeting of Families will take place in Philadelphia in 2015 to seek to strengthen the sacred bonds of family in the face of today’s challenges.

Those sacred bonds start with your family, the Church in your home.

Today, our world—with all its complexities—still needs the Good News that God became one of us to show us how to live.

During this holy season of Christmas, take to heart Our Lord’s message of hope to overcome the darkness.

Let us turn from darkness to the light of Christ and reflect His light to all around us!

Merry Christmas!  God bless you all!

+Terrence Prendergast, S.J., Archbishop of Ottawa

Fr Bob Writes – Dec 22, 2013

Of all the gospels, only Luke and Matthew tell us any details about Jesus’ conception, birth and early life.  Since we are in the year of Matthew (year A in the liturgical cycle) the gospel reading comes from Matthew and tells us about Joseph’s reaction to finding that Mary is pregnant and how God uses a dream to reassure him.  We are told that Mary was “betrothed” to Joseph.  Betrothal does not mean our concept of “engagement.”  Betrothal was already “marriage.”  A year -long betrothal was the first part of an official marriage for Jewish couples.  Infidelity during this time was considered adultery.  In the male-dominated Jewish society, a woman pregnant by another man could be publicly condemned, sent back to her parents to remain unmarried for the rest of her life, or even put to death.  No similar penalty fell to the man involved.  Joseph waived his rights to such actions in taking Mary as his wife.

Matthew wrote his gospel for a Jewish audience.  Luke wrote for people raised and educated in Greek society.  Jewish society was more male-dominant than the comparable Greek society of the day.  Thus the angel communicates only through Joseph in Matthew’s gospel while appearing to Mary in Luke’s gospel.  But in both cases the message is the same: the child to be born of Mary is unique, the result of the Holy Spirit of God infilling Mary’s womb with the DNA of God.  Thus Jesus is the Son of God Himself!!

It is always helpful to know to whom something is written to understand more clearly what the message intended by the writer might be.  That is true of the bible as it is of so many other works.  Our being mindful of such things can enable the bible to be what God intends it to be for us today.  God’s living word to bring us to faith and strengthen that same faith.  May the hearing and  reading of the word of God for you this Advent and Christmas be “not just some human message, but what it really is, the word of God , a living power among those who believe”! (Thessalonians 2:13)


Fr Bob Writes – December 15, 2013

Following the death of his father Herod the Great in 4BC, Herod Antipas was appointed tetrarch of Galilee by the Roman emperor.  Some years later he married Herodias who had previously been married to his brother Philip. John the Baptist had preached against Herod doing do, for which John was thrown into prison at Tiberias, Herod’s capital city on the Sea of Galilee.

John’s disciples were apparently allowed to visit him in prison.  Realizing that he would not be released, John knew his work was over, his mission completed.  But who was the one God was sending, the one for whom John had been called to prepare the way?  John wanted his disciples to both check out Jesus, and, if Jesus were the one, to become his disciples.  He had been preaching that when the Messiah, God’s chosen Saviour, came, he would come in a very striking, powerful and judgemental way, and he was bewildered  that Jesus wasn’t carrying out his mission in the way John had anticipated and prophesied (note that even the best and holiest of us can have doubts and lapses of faith!).  Jesus responds to the disciples of John by quoting from Isaiah 35:5-6, which is today’s first reading.  By that moment in history, the signs from Isaiah 35- the eyes of the blind being opened, the ears of the deaf unstopped, the lame recovering their mobility and the mute being able to speak – were considered indicators of the coming of the long-awaited Messiah, which is why the gospel writers go to great lengths to include such miracles in their portrayals of Jesus’ ministry.  Jesus basically tells John’s disciples, “Go tell John what is taking place.  He’ll be able to read the signs.  And tell him from me:” Don’t lose faith in me.”

One might wonder why John the Baptist receives so much attention in the gospels.  His ministry, though relatively brief, had made a tremendous impact not only in the local vicinity but also in Jewish communities distant from the Holy Land. Paul will encounter people as far away as Ephesus and Antioch who had been baptized by John (see Acts 18:25 and 19:3).  Years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, many people who had received John’s baptism or had been influenced by his ministry had not yet made the transition to be followers of Jesus.  Rather than turn these people away, the scriptural writers applauded their commitment to God through John by emphasizing the important role John and his ministry played in God’s plan…but bring them from John to Jesus by showing how even John saw himself as one preparing the way for Jesus.  When we reach out to help people in need, they may sometimes get fixated on us and see us as their “saviour.”  It is important that, like John the Baptist, we can lead them from dependence on us, who can fail them, to faith in Jesus, who will never fail them.

St Philip and St Clare Christmas Schedule

Christmas Eve: Dec 24th, 2013

  • 4:30 pm – St Philip Church
  • 4:30 pm – St Philip Hall (Children’s Pageant)
  • 7 pm – St Clares Mission
  • 9 pm – St Philip Church
  • Midnight – St Philip Church


Christmas Day – December 25th, 2013

  • 10:30 am – St Philip Church


Boxing Day – December 26th, 2013

  • 11 am – St Philip – Special Mass for Altar Servers.  Reception to follow.  All are welcome.


New Year’s Day (Solemnity of Mary) – January 1, 2014

  • 10:30 am – St Philip Parish


Regular weekend schedules are in effect for December 21-22, December 28-29 and January 4-5.


Note the following schedule of our regular events during the holidays:

Monday Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament:  Will be held on December 23rd but not on December 30th.

Monday Night Mass at St Philip:  Will be held on both December 23rd and December 30th.

Monday Night Bible Study at St Philip:  Will be held on both December 23rd and December 30th.

Tuesday Night Mass at St Clare:  No Mass on December 31st.

Wednesday Night Euchre:  No euchre on December 25th.  Resumes January 8th.

Thursday Night Prayer Meeting – No prayer meeting December 26th or January 2nd.  Resumes January 9th.

First Friday Mass:  Will be held January 3rd at St Philips at 6:30 pm followed by Adoration from 7-8pm.


Our regular weekly schedule resumes the first full week of January (January 6th, 2014).

The Office will be closed from Friday December 20th to Monday January 6th inclusive.  Call 613-838-2314 for more information.


Hey Kids! The Knights of Columbus will be hosting ‘Lunch with Santa’ on Sunday December 15 from 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm. Santa is expected to arrive around 12:30 pm and will have a special loot bag for all the children. Admission is a food or cash donations to the Richmond Food Bank. Parents – please mark this special day on your calendar!

Father Bob Writes – December 8, 2013

Below is an excerpt from a letter by Archbishop Prendergast for Advent

Advent begins this weekend and with it an opportunity for our Church of Ottawa to experience the joy of the Lord as we turn to Him to be lifted up and encouraged in our journey through life.  Pope Francis has expressed this longing for joy among God’s people in his recently-released apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel).

I encourage you to take up a prayerful reading of this document during this coming season of grace in preparation for the celebration of Our Saviour’s birth.  For our people, I suggest quoting or making known to them the following expression of the need we have for spiritual renewal, as we invite our people to experience the grace of being renewed in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and as we prepare for our own celebration of sacramental confession for Christmas:

“I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day.  No one should think that the invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord” (Paul VI, Gaudete in Domino).  The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that He is already there, waiting for us with open arms.  Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you.  I need you.  Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace.”   How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost!  Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking His mercy.  Christ, who told us to forgive one another “seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22) has given us His example; He has forgiven us seventy times seven.  Time and time again He bears us on His shoulders.  No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love.  With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, He makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew.  Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus, let us never give up, come what will.  May nothing inspire more than His life, which impels us onwards!” (Evangelii Gaudium, #3)

A reminder that confessions are available every Saturday evening in Advent from 3.30 pm – 4.15pm or by appointment (just phone the rectory office) There will also be the opportunity to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation during our Penitential Service at our parish mission, Wednesday 18th December , when several priests will be available for confessions.