Fr Bob Writes – Nov 30, 2014

This weekend is the first Sunday of Advent. During this time, we are reminded to focus, not on the first coming of Christ, at Christmas, but on his second coming, at the end of time. When will this Second Coming of Jesus take place? As the apostles continued staring up to the skies following Jesus’ ascension, angels appeared and told them, “This Jesus who has been taken up from you will return in the same way you have seen him going up to heaven” (Acts 1:11). Early Christians believed Jesus’ return would take place within a few years, if not months. That’s why those who joined the first Christian community at Jerusalem sold what they had and put their money in the common pot. They felt sure that Jesus would return before the money ran out. The passing time was a challenge both to their financial situation and their faith. If Jesus wasn’t returning, something which the early preaching had led them to believe, how true were the other things they had been taught about him?  Paul took up a collection for the Jerusalem community during his missionary journeys. He wanted to support the faith of this community in the return of Jesus. Mark wrote his first gospel, the first of the four to be written, as a member of Peter’s missionary team. The teaching of the return of Jesus undoubtedly was part of Peter’s preaching of the message of Jesus Christ. Twenty-some years after the ascension, however, Christian leaders were wrestling with Jesus’ “delay.” They thought back to any indications Jesus may have given them. What they recalled was included in passages such as today’s gospel selection. We don’t know when Jesus will return, so keep alert on watch and ready at all times.

Father Bob Writes – Nov 23, 2014

Our gospel this weekend gives us Jesus’ parable about the final judgement, in which there is a separation between sheep and goats. This kind of separation at the end of the day would have been common for Palestinian flocks, as goats were more sensitive to the cold than sheep and would need more protection. Jesus uses this idea of separating out to talk about the separation at the end of time between those who will go into heaven and those who will go to hell.

In the assembly of nations before Jesus, the King, not just believers in Jesus but all people, the determination of one’s eternal destination is based on love of others. What about faith? There is no mention of it here as a prerequisite or condition for eternal life, although in John 3:18 we read: “Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned.” Doesn’t that seem to give a different guideline for final judgement? Yet, the same John wrote in his first letter (1 John 3:15): “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer and no murderer has eternal life,” this in a letter emphasizing the importance of loving one another.

The Matthean text follows the passage in which the man who did not put his talent to use for God is cast out into the darkness. Previously, Matthew had presented a number of scenarios in which Jesus was confronted by Pharisees and other Jewish groups. Jesus’ main issue with his opponents was their focus on observing details of the law while neglecting the love and care of others. In this judgement scene, Jesus turns the focus away from orthodoxy (right teachings) to orthopraxis (right living). Does he do so to the exclusion of beliefs?

There was a lot of confusion in the early church about what was essential to receive the gift of eternal life. Paul often spoke of salvation coming through faith (Romans 3) yet also emphasized that , when it came down to the great triad of faith, hope and love , the “greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). The connection between faith and loving service of others was a major theme of the letter of James, written quite clearly as a response to people who thought faith in the head was sufficient.

As with many other questions for which we seek answers in the scriptures, we do best to look beyond isolated texts to see statements in context and in combination with other passages. The Catholic Church considered the topic of who can receive eternal life during the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. Our Church’s official teaching is stated in paragraphs 14 through 16 of “Lumen Gentium, “the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. People have a responsibility of seeking the truth about God and God’s will and then responding by living God’s will to the best of one’s ability.

Fr Bob Writes – November 16, 2014

The Importance of Music and Singing in the Liturgy- Part Three

(The following is taken from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops Liturgical Calendar, pp13-14. Italics mine)

The liturgy is enriched and made more solemn by music and sacred song. Intimately connected with the spirit of the liturgical actions it accompanies, music is a strong aid to prayer and helps deepen the sense of community within the assembly. Singing by the people is essential; they take a more active part in liturgical services by singing the acclamations, psalms, antiphons and responses.

Music at every celebration is the standard. The liturgy committee works with pastors, choirs, musicians, readers and others to choose suitable music for each specific celebration. Music which supports the spirit of each celebration – the liturgical season, occasion, or feast, the liturgical moment, and the readings – will help to complete the work of the liturgy in forming the people of God.

At all times during the year, the congregation should learn and sing parts of the Mass, especially the acclamations, psalm refrain, alleluia, responses and the Lord’s Prayer, for God has called us to be the beloved and chosen people, set aside to sing God’s praise.

Pastors…should realize that valid and licit celebration is only the beginning; it is their duty as well to make sure that the faithful take a full, active, conscious and fruitful part in the liturgy.

Responsorial psalm: The psalm is sung as a meditative response to the word of God in the first reading and reflects its message. Unless the psalm is to be sung straight through, the cantor sings the refrain and all repeat it; the cantor sings the verses and the congregation repeats the refrain.”

St. Philip TAC Meeting Agenda for November 18, 2014

The St. Philip Temporal Affairs Council (“TAC”) will hold its November meeting on Tuesday, November 18, 2014.

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.

St. Philip Temporal Affairs Council Issues its 2014 Third Quarter Report

The St. Philip Temporal Affairs Council (formerly the Parish Finance Council) has issued its latest report for the quarter ending September 30, 2014.  A hard copy of the report will be available in this weekend’s parish bulletin.

The 2014 Third Quarter Report can also be viewed here.

To view previous reports, please visit the St. Philip’s TAC page and look for it under the heading, “TAC Reports to Parishioners and Other Reports.” Parishioners will find links to past TAC reports starting with the quarter ending September 30, 2013.

Fr Bob Writes – November 9, 2014

The Importance of Music and Singing in the Liturgy – Part Two

Below are some comments by Pope Francis at a recent conference (italics are mine):

“Praise is the inspiration which gives us life, because it is intimacy with God, which grows with praise every day. ..Breathing is made up of two phases: to inhale, that is , to bring air inside, and to exhale, to let it go out. The spiritual life is fed , is nourished in prayer and is manifested in the mission: inhaling, prayer, and exhaling. When we inhale , in prayer, we receive the new air of the Spirit and in exhaling it we proclaim Jesus Christ inspired by the same Spirit. No one can live without breathing. The same is true for the Christian: without praise and without the mission he does not live as a Christian- and with praise, adoration. ..Adoration, to adore God. That is part of breathing : praise and adoration.

Praise is not only the prayer of Charismatics but of the whole Church ! It is the acknowledgement of the Lordship of God over us and over the whole of creation expressed in dance,in music and in song.

The prayer of praise is a Christian prayer for all of us. Every day in the Mass, when we sing repeating “Holy, Holy, Holy…” this is a prayer of praise: we praise God for his greatness because He is great. And we say lovely things to Him, because we like to do so…The prayer of praise makes us fruitful. Sarah dances in the great moment of her fruitfulness at 90 years of age ! Fruitfulness gives praise to God. The man and woman that praise the Lord, who pray praising the Lord – and when they do so thy are happy to say so – and they rejoice when they sing the Sanctus in the Mass, they are a fruitful man or woman. We think how lovely it is to engage in the prayer of praise. This must be our prayer of praise  and, when we raise it to the Lord, we must say in our heart :”Arise, heart, because you are before the King of glory”

Praise the Lord always, do not cease to do it ; always praise Him more, incessantly “