To all our beloved Parishioners of St. Philip Neri Parish,
“I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.
CHOOSE LIFE so that you and your descendants may live,
loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him …” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)
CHOOSE LIFE is a powerful summons to all of us who are believers. We live in a culture that is constantly filled and refilled with images of violence and death, especially in the media and entertainment world. Many people seem to choose options that lead to death rather than life. God calls us to choose life – every time! LIFE is what we are called to - a full life, lived out in God’s presence, listening to His voice calling us to service, to justice and reconciliation.
In the Old Testament, the moral guidelines are described in the DECALOGUE, (the 10 Commandments), the 10 Words that call us into a deep and profound relationship with God and ALL our brothers and sisters – regardless of race, color, creed, sexual orientation or social status. The Decalogue challenges us to exclude no one. To exclude or disrespect any human being is also to exclude and disrespect God.
In the New Testament, the moral guidelines are described in the BE-ATTITUDES … essential attitudes of “BE-ING in relationship with God and all peoples. Jesus said: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” (Matthew 5:17)
To “choose life” according to the teachings and examples of Jesus’ response to everyone who encountered Him can be described in three key attitudes:
- poverty of spirit (for theirs is the kingdom of heaven) means to live in a disposition of humility. Humility is the understanding that all blessings originate from the love of God. Humility brings an openness and inner peace, enabling one to do the will of God, that is, to listen to God’s voice, and not the voice of the world. Humility enables us to recognize and live with our fragilities and vulnerabilities, to heal our hurts and brokenness, and to be an agent of healing and forgiveness of others.
- those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake (theirs is the kingdom of heaven). Jesus said many times to those who were following Him that they would be persecuted. “If they persecute me, they will persecute you.” (John 15:20-21) When we stand in the breach or in defense of the poor and persecuted, the vulnerable and down-trodden, expect to be rejected and reviled and ridiculed “by those in power”.
- blessed are the merciful (they will receive mercy). Mercy is the benevolent nature towards those who suffer; it shows love and empathy, compassion and gentleness – even in the face of violence and hate.
SO …. When we say that “Indigenous and Black Lives Matter” we are standing in solidarity of all those folks who are violated and persecuted because of the color of their skin – with no regard for who they are as a person, as a child of God, given to us in the image and likeness of God. We are saying: “When you suffer; we suffer!” … and we hold you up in our prayers!
What happens when we “choose death”, when we make decisions and live in a way that is not blessing to God or others? The following examples of “unhappiness” are taken from the insights of Archbishop Sylvain Lavoie OMI. Bishop Sylvain had visited St. Philip Neri Parish to share with us our Lenten Mission.
Unhappy are those full of false pride; they will never experience the kingdom.
Unhappy are the arrogant and abusive; they will never feel at home on earth.
Unhappy are those who are stuck in grief, who cannot let go of their losses or feel the pain of others; their hearts are hard.
Unhappy are those who are corrupt, unjust, whose ways are unfair; they will always feel empty inside.
Unhappy are those who refuse to forgive, who nurse anger and resentment and revenge; their hearts will grow bitter.
Unhappy are those caught up in lust, impurity and pornography; they will never be at peace with themselves.
Unhappy are the troublemakers, who always stir up conflict; their lives will always be chaotic. And unhappy are those who have sold out to the values of this world, who do not stand against anything; they will fall for everything.
The Eucharist is an experience of the unconditional love of the One who gave us the beatitudes and fully lives them. Come celebrate the Eucharist with us at St. Philip Neri Parish. Come and experience the sacrament of healing and forgiveness. Come and be empowered to “live as beatitude people” … Choose Life!
St. Philip Neri … Pray for us
St. Eugene de Mazenod … Pray for us
Praise be Jesus Christ, and Mary Immaculate
Fr. Mike – Fr. Ken – Fr. Bill