St. Philip Parish Celebrates its 200th Anniversary Year!Find out how the Parish is Praying, Loving and Celebrating during this momentous year!
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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?

Fr. Bob Writes – January 20, 2019

Our gospel today tells the story of Jesus’ first miracle on earth.  Interestingly enough, it is not a dramatic story of a miraculous healing, or exorcism, or raising from the dead.  But it is fairly prosaic: Jesus intervening at the intercession of his mother, to save a bridegroom’s family from embarrassment, by turning 25 gallons of water into wine. 

However, there are some basic lessons to be gleaned from this reading.  Mary’s intercessory prayer for the groom’ s family was essential as is our intercession for one another.  Jesus is waiting to be invited to make a difference in our lives …. prayer is the key.  When Jesus works in our lives he brings greater blessings than we would otherwise have known.  Marriage and all other aspects of life are improved by turning to Jesus.

Beyond this, there are other aspects to be explored for those familiar with the Old Testament scriptures.  The miraculous provision of a tremendous quantity of wine, fulfills the prophecy of Amos 9:13, that when the Messiah, the long-awaited Savior of Jewish hopes and longings, appears, “the mountains will flow with new wine”.  The miracle is therefore a sign of who Jesus is; it is the first of seven such “signs” that Jesus will perform in the gospel of John, leading to the greatest sign and proof of his divine identity, his resurrection from the dead.  Therefore, the little chronological note that John provides at the beginning of this passage, that the event occurred “on the third day” (i.e resurrection day) is full of significance.

That the miracle takes place at a wedding points to the relationship between God and his people, so often described as a marriage covenant relationship in the Old Testament (as in our first reading from the prophet Isaiah), as is the relationship between Christ and his Church, cf Ephesians 5. The return of Christ at the end of time for his bride is described in terms of a wedding banquet invitation, so this miracle points to an end-time fulfilment, when God will pour out on his people, the fullest of blessings, and joy will reign supreme.  

Come Lord Jesus!!

Fr Bob Writes – January 13, 2019 – Baptism of the Lord

This Sunday we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord Jesus.  I always love doing baptisms, because it gives me the opportunity to speak about all the graces and blessings that are released into a person’s life when they are baptized.  Sadly, many people these days choose to delay having their child baptized, until they are of an age to make the choice for themselves.  But consider this: does any parent wait until a child is of an age to decide for themself, before giving him or her food, clothing, shelter, education.  NO, they realise that these are good thing that every child needs, and they make the decision to give these things to their child straightaway, without waiting to have a debate with them about it.  It should be the same for having a child baptized.  Once you are aware what blessings being baptized brings, it should be a no-brainer to have the child baptized.

So let us remind ourselves with the help of our second reading this weekend, from Paul’s letter to Titus, what graces are released into our lives through baptism:

(a) Rebirth and renewal – we are reborn as a child of God and given a new, holy, nature, that of Jesus. 

(b) The Spirit is poured out in us richly – the Holy Spirit makes us children of God, makes us sharers in the divine nature of God, releases gifts of grace in our life

(c) We are justified by his grace – in other words, we are cleansed from the stain of original sin, inherited by our first parents, Adam and Eve, and all sins we have incurred before our baptism are also forgiven. Plus we are given a new grace not to sin in the future

(d) We become heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ, and our inheritance is life forever with God in heaven

(e) We have the hope of eternal life- no earthly creature or power could ever give us this, only God

These are only some of the graces and blessings provided by our baptism.  Doesn’t it make sense that we should cherish our baptism, be so grateful to those who had us baptized, and seek to grow in the life of our baptism, and have our children baptised as well?