To the parishioners of St. Philip Neri Parish, sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints –

“Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”.

If we are afraid to be different, how can we make a difference in the world? (St. Ignatius of Loyola)

Hurting people, hurt people

Jesus made a bold and daring statement when he said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come, not to abolish but to fulfill.” His reference to “the law” was the TORAH, what we know as the Ten Commandments. We have interpreted these “Ten Words” in a language that commands us “not to do” these acts which defile us: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person. (Mark 21-23)

Jesus boldly extends this notion – to obey the Law – to prompt the goodness that is within us. His challenge: “You shall not murder; whoever murders shall be liable for judgment. But I say to you that the one who is angry with their brother or sister, will be liable to the council.” (Matthew 5: 21-22) What I hear Jesus say is not just the action that is committed, but a hardness of heart – an anger that generates a harmful response. In Luke’s gospel, we again hear Jesus say, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who abuse you. (Luke 6: 27-28)

Jesus goes on to say, “So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.”

As we enter this Season of Lent, we are invited to reflect on the challenges that Jesus places before us – as disciples/followers of the Lord. Challenges such as our relationships to others, some attitudes we carry in our hearts that exclude or reject others, our need for control or dominance. How can we be “in communion” with others (at our Parish Eucharist) when we are not in a wholesome, life-giving relationship with the people in our life? Jesus’ challenge – be reconciled, be at peace with one another … then share together the Bread of Life.

May I suggest an even deeper consideration? If your anger, hatred, hardness of heart (intense feelings) restrict you from healing this brokenness, keep you from reaching out to the other, hear Jesus say, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11: 28) See in the Eucharist a profound healing and strength that will empower you to risk, to ask for forgiveness/to give forgiveness. Allow the power of the Spirit, in the Eucharist, to be your spiritual strength and courage to be reconciled, to live in peace and harmony. As we pray in the Eucharistic Prayer, “Celebrating, therefore, the memorial of the Death and Resurrection of your Son, who left us this pledge of his love, we offer you what you have bestowed on us, the Sacrifice of perfect reconciliation.”

Hurting people hurt people! So why do we continue to carry “the hurt” when the love of God can empower us “to love/heal one another”? As we approach this new Season of Lent, may we live these next five weeks of prayer and fasting and almsgiving, as our release of all those attitudes and behaviours that are not of God’s desire for Community.

The Beatitudes – Jesus’ template to all his disciples – then are the “new way” for us to live and respond to everything that life has to offer us. In the mindset, Jesus calls us “blessed” – when we are poor in spirit, meek and humble of heart … and more. All the gifts that are required of us to share are already within us because of the love of God for each of us. Like salt, which brings out the flavor in the food, so to, the Spirit brings out the goodness in us, the best of who we are. Thank you, Jesus, for showing us “the way”, for infusing us with “the truth”, and for giving us “the best of life”.

So … during this Lenten Season, wherever you go, go with God. And whenever you go, go make a difference. Let us pray: Our Father … may you will be done on earth (in us) as it is in heaven (in St. Philip Neri Parish).

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

Fr. Mike Dechant OMI

Something from the Parish:

  • A pastoral insight concerning the dynamics and experience of “feelings”: There is no such thing as a sinful or immoral feeling – feelings are neither right nor wrong. Feelings simply indicate to us what is happening at the moment – that there is something wrong or disorderly about our relationship to another, or that all is well. How we respond to the feeling is most critical. It’s the behavior/action that follows the feeling that is “the sin” – not the feeling.
  • Freedom Friday is taking on a new “Lenten Shift”. Each Friday during Lent, (at 5 pm) you are invited to join us in prayer for the Stations of the Cross … followed by a meatless supper.  (NOTE: The group that leads the Stations of the Cross is also responsible for organizing the food. YOU choose the (meatless) menu. We ask participants to donate a good-will offering; the proceeds go to the organizing group.
  • YAM (Young Adult Ministry) is requesting the help of “Alpha Servers”. We need four people to help (Fr. Bill) set out the food — serve the food – and clean up after the meal. We also invite you to join the group for the meal. The commitment is for a Monday evening, 5-7 pm. A volunteer sign-up sheet with all the Alpha meeting dates is posted on the White Board in the Welcome Area. Thanks for your anticipated help with this!

Sincerely … Fr Mike Dechant OMI