Fr Bob Writes – December 20, 2015

This year has not been a great one for those who respect the sanctity of life from conception to natural death.

In February of this year, the Supreme Court of Canada went against the expressed will of our Parliament and abolished a portion of our Criminal Code that prohibits euthanasia and assisted suicide. In other words, they declared a new constitutional “right” to suicide. The Court gave the federal government a one-year period to draft legislation to put this so-called “right”  into the law books. Instead of invoking the Notwithstanding  Clause that would have extended this timeline to five years, the federal government recently requested that the Supreme Court give an additional six months instead. Despite this, the government is unlikely to do anything more than hedge the right to euthanasia and assisted suicide about with some so-called “protections against abuse.” The example of countries like Belgium and Holland, and of states like Oregon, where euthanasia is already officially sanctioned, shows how weak these restrictions are likely to be. Already the government of Quebec, who legalized euthanasia in June 2014, calling it “a medical aid to dying,” have put pressure, through the Quebec College of Physicians, on doctors to falsify death certificates, in cases of euthanasia, to represent the cause of death as an underlying illness or condition, rather than say it for what it is, the deliberate taking of life.

Now, we have just elected as the government of this country, a party whose leader has expressly forbidden its members to vote against any of its pro-abortion and pro-same sex marriage policies. We face a renewed up-hill battle to get the issue of the sanctity of life taken seriously by the government and the country.

Despite these setbacks, I find incredible encouragement and hope from our Christmas story. This coming Sunday we will hear how John the Baptist, in the womb of his mother Elizabeth, leaps with joy at the presence of his Savior, Jesus, in the womb of Mary. In other words, here we have Scriptural proof that a child in its mother’s womb is sensitive to the presence of God. Already, in Psalm 139, we are told that God sees us when we are being “knit together in our mother’s womb.” There is a dialogue, a co-knowing, between God and the child in the womb. Then we will be told how king Herod, with all the forces of state at his command, seeks to destroy the new-born Christ. But God warns Joseph and they flee from Herod’s soldiers into Egypt, and remain there until the persecutor of this vulnerable new life is dead. We are being told here that God is the defender of all life, especially those who are most vulnerable to attack in our society.

“In the world, you will have tribulation,” says Jesus in John’s gospel, chapter 16, “but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Despite all that comes against us, we who seek to protect life in all its forms will have the final victory.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all our parishioners!!

  • Please note that the next ‘Fr Bob Writes’ will be on Sunday January 10th.

Fr Bob Writes – December 13, 2015

Below is an excellent commentary by Fr Denny Dempsey on this Sunday’s gospel

“Whether people’s going out to see John the Baptist was motivated by curiosity or faith, many of them experienced conversion with a desire to live more in order with God’s will. Thus we hear groups of tax collectors and soldiers asking what they should do to live more in accord with God’s will All of us are called to seek and follow the general will of God for everyone. Yet each person, given his or her specific life situation, will have some specific aspects of God’s will to which he or she must be particularly attentive. What particular things would John point out for you, were you to be there asking as were those tax collectors and soldiers?

John makes clear that he is not the Messiah. He is the messenger announcing the imminent coming of the Messiah who will baptize with the “Holy Spirit and fire.” While we relate that image specifically to the Pentecost event, the significance of the holy Spirit and fire here is more generic. Fire is a symbol of purification or refining, representing the need for repentance and reform. Accepting the call to reform, the crowd has been asking John for clarification of specifically how to fulfill God’s will. Divine inspiration and guidance is the work of the Holy Spirit. In our Advent time of preparation, may we take this to heart, accepting the call to reform, orient our lives to God’s will more perfectly, and present ourselves as more perfect offerings in thanks to Jesus at his coming.”

Pastor’s note: The sacrament of reconciliation is available from 3.30pm – 4.15pm each Saturday afternoon in Advent, at St Philip’s church, by request , and during the healing and reconciliation service on Wednesday 16th December at 7pm at St Philip’s

Fr Bob Writes – December 6, 2015

Last April 11th, Pope Francis officially announced the opening of the extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy which is to begin on December 8th, 2015. During this year, in the words of the pope, the entire Church is called to rediscover how ”Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life.”

Pope Francis received this call to mercy himself when he was nearly seventeen. One day he was on his way to meet up with his friends, when , on passing his parish church, he suddenly felt the need to go inside. Upon entering, he noticed a priest there that he did not know and felt an indescribable urge to have the priest hear his confession. Following the confession, he was overwhelmed by God’s mercy and tenderness. This feeling of love and mercy, combined with the powerful sense of God’s providence in bringing him to church and confession at this time, moved him deeply. It was then that he decided that he was called to the priesthood.

This definitive experience of mercy had a profound impact on Pope Francis, deeply influencing who he is. Mercy has become the theme of his entire papacy. It is his primary means for communicating the Gospel to others, not just because of his personal experience , but also because of his conviction that it is through mercy that God wishes to reach all people. As he stated in a homily on March 13th, 2013, “I think – and I say it with humility- that this is the Lord’s most powerful message: mercy.”

Below are some of Pope Francis’ messages about God’s mercy, drawn from his talks and homilies.

“This is important: the courage to trust in Jesus’ mercy, to trust in his patience, to seek refuge always in the wounds of his love…Maybe someone among us here is thinking: my sin is so great, I am as far from God as the younger son in the parable; my unbelief is like that of Thomas. I don’t have the courage to go back, to believe that God can welcome me and that He is waiting for me, of all people. But God is indeed waiting for you; he asks of you only the courage to go to him.”

“Let us not forget this word: God never, ever tires of forgiving us!…The problem is that we ourselves tire; we do not want to ask; we grow weary of asking for forgiveness. He never tires of forgiving, but at times we get tired of asking for forgiveness. Let us never tire; let us never tire! He is the loving Father who always pardons, who has that heart of mercy for us all. And let us too learn to be merciful to everyone. Let us invoke the intercession of Our Lady who held in her arms the Mercy of God made man.”

Note: Fr Bob will be available for celebrating the sacrament of reconciliation from 3.30pm – 4.15pm each Saturday during Advent in the confessional, or by appointment. Also there will be a penitential service on Wednesday 16th December at 7pm with several priests available to hear confession.

Musical Advent Vespers – Sunday December 13, 3:20pm

St. Philips Catholic Church will host a delightful ‘Musical Vespers’ featuring Andy Duffy and ‘Gracenote’ vocal trio.  Unlike any vespers you have experienced, this is an hour of scripture readings, prayers and reflection with an Advent theme, set to contemporary Christian music. Freewill offering. For information visit  Come join us for this seasonal event that is sure to get you in the Christmas Spirit!  Prelude begins and 3:20pm;  vespers service begins at 3:30pm.

Click here for the Advent Vespers Poster