Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Sunday Obligation

You know you are getting to people by the number of responses you get to a Facebook post.

A post announcing my support for the objections to the inauguration of former General Peter Cosgrove as Chancellor of theAustralian Catholic University indicated that the day would not be one of "rest".

The Catholic Worker Movement organised protests at the Catholic Cathedrals in Sydney and Brisbane to raise awareness of the issues surrounding this appointment. Read Jim Dodrill’s statement . Watch Sean O'Reilly's video clip about the protest.

The Catholic Worker Movement claims Peter Cosgrove should be one of the last people to be given such a position, after he clearly ignored Papal appeals and the declaration of his own bishops in 2003, by leading Australian forces into a bloody and immoral invasion of Iraq.I stand by them on this one as well!

“Where is the intellectual honesty in appointing such a person to lead the Catholic Universities?”, asked Catholic Worker Sean O’Reilly.(pictured above) “Peter Cosgrove demonstrated clearly that when it comes to war, he has ‘No King but Caesar’. He ignored the pleadings of the Pope, and the declaration of Australian Catholic bishops that this was not a just war."

In an interview with the ABC News Cosgrove stated "I wasn't particularly conscious that the church was taking a very strong position". It's hard to believe that the then Defense Chief was not aware of public opposition to the War from the Vatican and the Australian Catholic Bishops. How well informed is the man who has just been inauguirated as Chancellor of Australian Catholic University?

Sean said" "The war caused massive suffering which continues today, especially among Cosgrove’s fellow Catholics in Iraq.”

Sean said: “One worries about the militarisation of Catholic schools and institutions when the ACU appoints a General as it’s Chancellor, and not just any general, but one who made a mockery of the Church’s Just War teaching.”

One of my Facebook friends was more concerned about Peter Cosgrove's lack of serious academic credentials than military background. Another journalist friend noted that Cosgrove is seen by many in Timor Leste as a peacemaker. Sadly, his local reputation as a "folk hero" is dwarfed by his shameful military participation in Afghanistan and Iraq.

See images of the Brisbane protest here

You can voice your concerns about the appointment of General Peter Cosgrove as ACU Chancellor by contacting the members of the Senate of the Australian Catholic University. See this link for contact.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Upsizing the Rosary!!

I was strolling through Brisbane Markets today when I noticed a stallholder offering rosary beads that would "fit small ladies up to XL men". The stock on display seemed to be the conventional "one size fits all" I imagine the made to order set would be arranged in a discrete booth where appropriate measurements would be recorded.

When I was growing up in Geelong the evening rosary was as regular my Mum's trifle. It (the rosary, not the trifle) was a strange ritual involving us burying our heads deep into a chair with our backs to each other as we rattled off the required Paters and Aves to complete the regulatory decades of the day.

It became more challenging when we bought our first TV set. In those days you wouldn't turn the TV off for the rosary as it took a while for the valves to warm up again. We used to turn down the volume and cover the set with a rug. This provided another great distraction as each of us kids positioned ourselves at the edge of the rug to see if we could glimpse a bit of the black and white colour image of Sunnyside Up or perhaps a scene from Peyton Place.

I'n not sure when the ritual began to die but I suspect it happened as we moved into secondary school and our engagements with extra curricular activities took us out of the house soon after tea on some evening.

My other strong childhood memory of the Rosary was the incredible passion of the Ladies of the Legion of Mary. My grandmother was a member of the Geelong Praesidium and I remember hitting the streets with her and Kit Corbett as they did the rounds of local homes with the fervent door call: "Are there any Catholics in this household"? They were as passionate as JWs and Mormons in full flight weeding out recalcitrant Catholics and other unsuspecting "lapsed" with a fierce determination and sense of purpose.

On Monday evening The "Legion Ladies" would lead a rosary at the home of one of the locals who was hosting the statue of Our Lady of Fatima which did the rounds of the parish. Neighbours would come around for a good dose of Marian Hymn singing a few decades of the rosary and a hefty supper.

I still carry beads with me as a reminder of prayer that binds me to generations and a spirituality of mantra prayer. The beads I carry are coloured in red. black and yellow, the colors associated with Australia's First People. I also have a larger set that I have carried with me in memory of my days as a Capuchin friar when they were my constant companion as part of my habit. I am reminded of this tradition now as I see young people who wear rosaries around their necks.

In a news item earlier this year the Catholic Womens League denounced young people wearing rosaries as "disrespectful to the beliefs of Catholics" I mix with young people who wear rosaries most Sunday nights at The Fox Hotel in South Brisbane. None of them have shown any disrespect to my faith and in fact we have had some great conversations about life and spirituality when discussing the rosary wearing fad.

So, rosaries are everywhere it seems from the necks of the Sunday nights party people to the boutique stall offering designer size for the hip or the pocket. I am happy to see
anything that points beyond our consumer culture and calls us to meditation and prayer.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Review of A Divine Society

Extended version of a Review published in TearAustralia Issue 4/2010

Where would you read a book titled, A Divine Society The Trinity, Community and Society? It almost begs for a quiet corner in a church or at least a discrete bedside table. However, my suspicion is that when Dave Andrews wrote this refreshing text he was hoping it would get some public airing.
I usually travel on public transport, a perfect setting for a good read. My copy of Dave’s most recent work was my traveling companion in the Roma Street Transit Centre, on local buses and trains and even on a Qantas flight.
This is one of those books with a cover you can’t ignore. The beautiful Icon of the Trinity by Andrei Rublev provided a visual contrast to the public transport advertising for personal satisfaction, economic wellbeing and social status. Dave’s theology of the Trinity contrasts these consumer values with an understanding of the divine as Creator, Liberator and Sustainer.
Throughout the book Dave invites the reader to explore a new language of community. He even reclaims an old aussie slang word, “Trey” and gives it new currency when exploring the dynamic that builds the base for community.( Anyone under 50 years of age may have to look up Google to understand this one!!!)
Dave Andrews is a storyteller and he brings his skill into theology making the often abstract and illusive Christian belief in the Trinity an invitation to live a commitment that builds community and transforms society. His modeling of these ideas at St Andrews’s in South Brisbane is a rich example of his innovative skill and pastoral sensitivity.
Dave’s theology, wisdom and practical advice are encouraging and challenging. He encourages good theology and praxis. He challenges our comfort zones if we believe we have found community.
A Divine Society The Trinity, Community and Society deserves a wide readership not only within faith communities but also among those who work in community development with people of faith. The text of the Declaration Towards a Global Ethic concludes the book and invites people of good will to build a new experiences of community in our fragile global village.
Tony Robertson is a blogger, photographer and community jester in Brisbane. He has lived in faith communities in Australia, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea. In recent years he has joined the L'Arche Community in Brisbane and is involved in school retreats and justice reflections.

Learning from The Waiters Union


‘This book celebrates the learnings of people who journeyed a week, a month, a decade, or more with that small network in West End. It’s a celebration of many ordinary everyday people living in and working with communities where not everyone has enough to eat, or a safe place to live, or access to a good education or adequate health care. It’s a celebration of an authentic struggle to live grace and hope and love into the world. It’s a celebration of a successful people’s movement and a life changing community immersion experience. I hope it is also an encouragement to help you move from where you are now to where you want to be.’

Foreword Introduction Reviews

A Tribute to Roberta Sykes 1944-2010

The passing of Roberta Sykes A statement from Bev Manton, Chairwoman of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC)

In 1998 Roger Riordan read Snake Cradle, the first volume of Roberta Sykes’ autobiography. She had been attending a convent school, but when she reached the age of 14 (then the official school leaving age) she was summarily told to leave.

This precipitated a whole series of disasters, and it took her many years to retrieve her life. Roger was appalled by this story, and resolved to try to do something to save other aboriginal children from similar suffering. He contacted Roberta, and at her suggestion, in 1999 he endowed the Koiki (Eddie) Mabo Fund at the University of Newcastle. This has in turn inspired several other scheme

Rights campaigner Roberta 'Bobbi' Sykes dies ABC Report

Bobbi Sykes Wikipedia entry


Roberta Sykes Trinity College

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Australians Forgotten by the Churches

We pray for those who experienced childhood abuse in Church and State Institutions. May they find justice, healing and redress. (Prayer from the Jubilee Mass of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commision, Archdiocese of Brisbane November 2010)