Fr. Bob Writes – Feb 24, 2019

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given you ” (Luke 6:36)

We are all aware that there are physical laws governing the universe.  The law of gravity, the law that says “To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction,” and so on.  It does not matter if you believe and accept these laws or not; they do not depend on your acceptance to operate.  Whether or not you believe in the law of gravity will not stop you feeling the effects of its operation if you were to step off the roof of a tall building!

The same is true of spiritual laws.  There are spiritual laws that govern the way our lives are run.  They are invisible, but no less real for all that.  In our gospel today, Jesus sets out some of these laws: see the quotation at the top of this essay.  Others are found at different places in the Bible: “Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long and that it may go well with you in the land” (Deuteronomy 5: 16) – with the implication that, if you do not honor your father and mother, it will not well with you.  Also “As you sow, so shall you reap ” (Galatians 6:7), and “You sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind” (Hosea).

Again, it does not matter whether or not you choose to believe these laws, they will still operate in your life. If you are experiencing negative situations in your life, frustration that things are not going as well as you hoped, or a lack of joy or peace, etc, try looking at these spiritual laws and see if you are in fact transgressing them in some way and reaping the consequences.  If so, bring your judgements, lack of forgiveness, etc to the sacrament of reconciliation and receive in return the promise of forgiveness (another spiritual law, see above) and a return of peace and joy in your life.

Fr. Bob Writes – February 3, 10 & 17, 2019

Love never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:7)

These words of St Paul from our second reading this weekend remind us that we are in the “Love” part of our tripartite “Pray-Love-Celebrate” theme for St Philip’s 200th anniversary year. Paul’s description in that reading of love as “a more excellent way” also reminds us that, as I read once somewhere, “the Catholic Faith is a way of life, and the only thing that should dominate is love – love of God and of our neighbour.”

As part of that effort to show love and to bring love to others, each year, for the last 14 years, I have led a group of parishioners on a two-week mission trip to Peru. Our next mission trip begins on 7th February and continues onto 19th February. Eight of us from St Philip’s, St Clare’s and Lift Jesus Higher will be travelling at our own expense, and bringing a couple of suitcases each, containing shoes, clothes, toys, toiletries and bibles for distribution to the people of the three shanty communities we have been supporting for 14 years. This year, we will be bringing close to 60 people, children, youth and adults to Camps of Faith and Prayer (CFO) in Peru. CFO provide a safe, friendly environment, wherein the participants receive 3 meals a day (in itself a luxury for most of them), plus lots of good Christian teaching to provide them with a sound spiritual, moral basis for their lives, again something they do not receive normally, as there are not nearly enough priests or catechists to provide this. There are a number of activities arranged during the week also. The CFO experience is truly a life-changing experience for the participants, as, indeed, IS the chance to go on mission to Peru is also for those able to join us on mission.

We have a saying about the Peru mission: “Who is going on mission? – WE ALL ARE !!”  Yes, even those who are not able, for one reason or another, to join us on one of these annual trips, are a part of the whole experience of mission, which is truly part of the New Evangelization, called for by our most recent popes. By your contributions, in money and other things, by your prayers, and sufferings offered up for us, you are part of the whole endeavour. The annual Peru fundraiser, which this year raised almost $4000, is a great example of that. All those who came, or bought tickets, or were part of the entertainment, or the meal, or the raffle, or helped sell tickets  or helped with the set up and clean up, all of you can see your efforts as enabling these 60 people to experience something they normally would never have a chance to do. 

Please keep us in prayer during these two weeks we are in Peru. And, on our return, we will hold a presentation to show you how your contribution has brought so much joy and hope to the poorest of the poor in Peru. On their behalf, I say to you: “MUCHAS GRACIAS” (THANK YOU VERY MUCH)!!

Fr Bob Writes – January 27, 2019

We are now entering into the “Love” part of our tri-partite “Pray-Love-Celebrate” theme for our 200th anniversary year at St Philip’s.  Parishioners are invited to participate by thinking of ways of carrying out various acts of kindness and charity, and to enter them (anonymously) in our “Love” book, so that we can present a spiritual bouquet to God of the ways we have blessed others during the anniversary year.

I remember reading somewhere that “the Catholic Church is a way of life, and the only thing that should dominate the picture is Love – love of God and of our neighbour.”  Quite recently I came across this exquisite teaching on the virtue of love from St Clement, third pope after St Peter. This is what he has to say about love:

“Who can express the binding power of divine love? Who can find words for the splendour of its beauty.  Beyond all description are the heights to which it lifts us.  Love unites us to God; it cancels innumerable sins; has no limits to its endurance, bears everything patiently.  Love is neither servile nor arrogant. It does not provoke schisms or form cliques but always acts in harmony with others.  By it all God’s chosen ones have been sanctified; without it, it is impossible to please him.  Out of love the Lord took us to himself; because he loved us and it was God’s will, our Lord Jesus Christ gave his life’s blood for us – he gave his body for our body, his soul for our soul. 

See then, beloved, what a great and wonderful thing love is, and how inexpressible its perfection.  To God we must turn, begging of his mercy that there may be found in us a love free from human partiality and beyond reproach.  Those who by God’s grace were made perfect in love have a dwelling now among the saints, and when at last the kingdom of Christ appears, they will be revealed….Happy are we, beloved, if love enables us to love in harmony and in the observance of God’s commands, for then it will also gain for us the remission of our sins…This is the blessing given those whom God has chosen through Jesus Christ our lord. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

What will you do this year to increase love in our world?