My dear St. Philip Neri Parishioners,

Life is fragile, handle with prayer!

As St. Mary MacKillop of Australia assures us, “Do not let your troubles disturb your trust in God.”

 

May MacKillop was an educator, a pioneer and a leader (a Sister of St. Joseph) who said: “Never see a need without doing something about it” – regardless of their situation or race.

A young fellow in our school was angered and deeply saddened when he saw and heard a group of students tormenting and harassing a Chinese classmate, saying, “It’s all your fault! You brought the virus (Covid) to our school!” This young lady was born in Canada and had never set foot in China, yet she was racially profiled and abused.  In his frustration, the young fellow wondered, “Where is God in all of this? Why doesn’t he do something about it?”

Sometime later, this same young fellow encountered another classmate, of Ukrainian background.  Her father had been born in Russia, but the family had lived all their life in Ukraine.  Neighbours had discovered his background and were violently threatening and abusing him and his family.  The young girl was afraid to go home during the day, when no one else was at home.  She didn’t feel safe being alone!  Again, he pondered, “God, where are you? Why don’t you do something about this mess and all these stupid people?”  But this time, in his frustration, he confronted God, “In school (and in church) we keep repeating that ‘God is good … all the time!’  Why don’t you care about what’s happening down here?”  In a moment of inner silence, he heard God say, “I have been doing something all along – I have been sending you!”

How can we trust enough that God would use me/you, to ”make a difference” in this mess?  St. Francis de Sales gives us the needed assurance – “Do not fear what may happen tomorrow.  The same loving Father who cares for you today, will care for you tomorrow … and every day”.

What is this assurance?  That the “light of Christ” is within each of us.  It’s this “light” that enables us to become and live “as a saint”.

The Season of Advent is a month-long experience to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ”.  As St. Paul encourages us, “Let us lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armour of light; let us live honorably as in the day” (Romans 13:14). Therefore, when we let the Holy Spirit shine through us – as the sun shines through stain glass – we create a spray of colour that will touch the hearts of the broken-hearted, those controlled by anger and inner violence.

The readings throughout these next four weeks extend an urgent appeal for us to challenge our spiritual fortitude, to open ourselves to the mysteries of divine love.  The image that unfolds during Advent is a city on a high mountain.  In the ancient world, high mountains were believed to be the home of the gods.  Jerusalem is built on a high mountain top. The scriptures describe Jerusalem, not as a city known for its political prominence or military might, but rather as the city to be the “dwelling place of God”.  Those who can come to “the mountain of the Lord” willingly comply with God’s instructions.  Hence, we are invited to approach God and to conform our lives to the instruction God has give to us … “Let us walk in the light of the Lord – let us live “as saints”.

On the First Sunday of this new liturgical year, let us seize the day.  Therefore, any good that we can do, to any human being, let us do it now! Let us not defer it or neglect it, for we shall not pass this way again. My invitation to us as the St. Philip Neri Parish is that we, as a Parish Family, become the “New Jerusalem”!  That we reach out to all those who God places into our lives – and invite them to join us as “the New Jerusalem” – a place of welcome, peace and justice, a place where the love of God is reflected in each one of us.  Then we can all see and live that “God IS good all the time”!  Then our “sainthood” becomes real and relevant, life-giving, and dynamic, attractive, and contagious.  Our “New Jerusalem” is where God dwells and where we come together to delight and celebrate one another.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shone.  (Isaiah 9:2). Today true peace has come down to us from heaven.

Something from the Parish:

A New Year’s project for the elders of St. Philip Neri Parish:

  • A request from St. Philip Elementary School – for our elders to read with our students in Grades 4-7, who are struggling with reading and comprehending.  You will be matched with one student – to read with them and then to ask questions of comprehension and understanding … and to make a friend.
  • During the cold months (January – February), the school is also inviting our parishioners to join our students – at lunch time – to teach them to knit … and to make a friend.

See Fr. Mike if you can help out with our “little ones”.  More details to follow.

 

Praise be Jesus Christ … and Mary Immaculate

St. Philip Neri … pray for us

St. Eugene de Mazenod … pray for us

St. Kateri Tekakwitha … pray for us

Wherever you go, go with God … Whenever you go, go make a difference.

Fr. Mike Dechant OMI