Saturday, May 31, 2008

pebblesfromheaven: Wreay church and Cockermouth & Maryport briefly

St Mary's Chapel Wreay church and Cockermouth & Maryport

Welcome to St Mary's Church Wreay

‘What is best in church architecture
during the years of Queen Victoria?
The first building to call out...
the church at Wreay.’

Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England

I saw this Chapel featured on the ABC Songs of Praise today and fell in love with it. Take some time out to explore the images and savor the story. There are more images here.

International Church Action for Peace in Palestine and Israel

The World Council of Churches is inviting member churches and related organizations to join a week of advocacy and action for a just peace in Palestine and Israel. Participants will contribute to a common international witness for peace in early June 2008. The tragic events in Israel and Palestine call people of faith and goodwill to act on their shared hopes that justice will be done.

Prayer text for June 8 2008

Heavenly Father,

We give you thanks and praise for your gift to us of your only Son, Jesus -- His birth in Bethlehem, His ministry throughout the Holy Land, His death on the Cross and His Resurrection and Ascension. He came to redeem this land and the world. He came as the Prince of Peace.

We give thanks to you for every church and parish around the world that is praying with us this day for peace. Our Holy City and our land are much in need of peace.

In your unfathomable mystery and love for all, let the power of your Redemption and your Peace transcend all barriers of cultures and religions and fill the hearts of all who serve you here, of both peoples - Israeli and Palestinian - and of all religions.

Send us political leaders ready to dedicate their lives to a just peace for their peoples. Make them courageous enough to sign a treaty of peace that puts an end to the occupation imposed by one people on another, granting freedom to Palestinians, giving security to Israelis and freeing us all from fear. Give us leaders who understand the holiness of your city and will open it to all its inhabitants - Palestinian and Israeli - and to the world.

In the land you made holy, free all of us from the sin of hatred and killing. Free the souls and hearts of Israelis and Palestinians from this sin. Give liberation to the people of Gaza who live under unending trials and threats.

We trust in you, Heavenly Father. We believe you are good and we believe that your goodness will prevail over the evils of war and hatred in our land.

We seek your blessing especially on the children and young people, that their fear and the anxiety of conflict may be replaced with the joy and happiness of peace. We pray too for the elderly and the handicapped, for their well-being and for the contribution they can make to the future of this land.

We pray, finally, for the refugees scattered across the world because of this conflict.

God give the politicians and governments responsible for them the wisdom and courage to find suitable and just solutions.

All this we ask in Jesus' name. Amen.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Madonna del Roario Exhibition in Brisbane

The Madonna del Roario exhibition was originally presented by the Wollongong City Council and the Wollongong Italian community in 2006. It takes its name from the Church of the Community of Falerno in Southern Italy. First generation migrants to Wollongong brought the local festival to the city and in 1991 installed a magnificent replica of the statue of Madonna del Rosario in the church of St John Vianny in Fairy Meadows. In 2006 the Wollo0ngong City Council hosted the inaugural Madonna del Rosario Acquisitive Art Award. The exhibition attracts work by some of Australia’s leading artists, jewelers, and designers who contribute diverse and unique representations of a popular Catholic devotion.

The Brisbane exhibition was launched in 2008 at  Artisan Gallery in Fortitude Valley and provided visitors with a graced opportunity to join artists and designers responding to the spiritual theme of the rosary. For local visitors to Madonna del Rosario there is the added attraction of the inclusion of work by several Queensland artists including Rachel Apelt, Madeleine Brown, Anna Varendorff and Ky Curran.
Setting Madonna del Rosario in a gallery with a shop-front display of attractive items for sale will remind many of an older Catholic generation of the piety stalls which were crammed into corners of churches all over the country. While many of the pieces in the exhibition are available for purchase, they are a world away from the cheap and mass produced icons of the Madonna which once graced the bedrooms of our mothers or sat on the fridge in a good Catholic kitchen.

Annabelle Collett’s heavy rosary of tiles, wood and stainless steel is a deliberate statement of the weight of religion and the grand scale of the Church. It reminds me of the beads I once wore as a Capuchin Friar during my young adult life. Sitting on a chord around my waist they were in fact a workplace health and safety risk and spoke more about my status as a “religious” member of the Church rather than the radical commitment to following the teachings of the Christ which inspired my original choice to join the Friars.
Throughout out the exhibition the theme of motherhood and the domestic appears in the materials and the images. Lace, pasta and even an mp3 player all combine to take the artist and the visitor into a sacred space which explores the joyful, glorious sorrowful and luminous experiences of life. Ky Currans’ shrine to the Madonna in 100 vivid icons evokes the Catholic images of Mary’s motherhood celebrated in titles and songs such as “Mother of Mercy”.

A visit to “Madonna del Rosario” is not a quaint retrospective on a forgotten tradition. It is an invitation to engage in the spiritual essence of life as relationship, journey and exploration. When the Italian Choir from Holy Cross Catholic parish in Lutwyche performed at the launch of the exhibition two worlds met in apprehension. As artists guests and visitors mingled and chatted the choir of ten women and three men struggled to be heard singing their traditional and much loved hymns to the Madonna. The exhibition was the choir’s first experience of singing outside a religious setting. Yet in conversation during the evening the memories of Catholic traditions in the “old country” were meshed with the current tales of another younger generation who have chosen a different expression of prayer spirituality and religious affiliation. The rosary mysteries of joy, sorrow, glory and light are the stuff of life across culture and generations.

This beautiful catalogue is a small treasure of information and background reading on the history spirituality and design of the rosary. The images and reflections from each of the artists make the catalogue another form of prayer book and mediation that will challenge and inspire long after visitors have left the gallery.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Irene McCormack 1938-1991

May 21st is the anniversary of the Australian martyr Irene McCormack.

My book collection includes a small volume of stories written in memory of six modern martyrs by Melbourne priest, Gerard Dowling. As the book was going to print the news of Irene's death was breaking across the nation. Gerard Dowling was a able to add an insert to the collection with a biography of Irene.I also have "Irene a Tribute to Sr Irene McCormack," by Margaret Le Breton rsj now out of print.Both books sit in my "honoured" space this week to be re-read.

Much of my adult life has been formed by friendships and ministry partnerships with inspirational "Joeys" across three states.

May Irene's passion challenge us to Gospel dreaming and faith-filled action



Sunday, May 18, 2008

Look What They've Done to My Church, Ma!!

Today's Cath News service includes an item headed "BIngle style bling for Benedict"

I urge you to read the item and see if you share my disgust, dismay and distress at the inappropriate expenditure on liturgical vessels for the Pope during WYD 2008.

This story will do nothing to announce the "Good News" of Jesus. It is about power, status and the betrayal of the Gospel. Once again as Brian so rightly points out: "They don't get it'!!!

Did Cardinal Pell think to ask Mr Cerrone and the private benefactor to also contribute an equal amount of money to a program for homeless young people as a fitting tribute for World Youth Day?

I hope the ghost of St Laurence the Deacon haunts everyone involved in this inappropriate expenditure. Laurence presented the poor, sick, orphans and the widows when he was asked to hand over the treasures of the Church.

I cringe with embarrassment at this public face of my Church which courts the partnership of "society" jewellers. I wonder if the Cardinal will read James 2:1-5 as he hands the precious vessels to the Pope:

My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, "Have a seat here, please," while to the one who is poor you say, "Stand there," or, "Sit at my feet," have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? James 2:1-5