Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas in Bethlehem 2012

The Christmas story is a universal call to peace and justice making. This is story is told best by the people and images of Bethlehem. Watch, share and spread the message of peace.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Advent 2012 Week One


Advent is now out there on a shelf near you. Advent Calendars are up there with other themed goodies in supermarkets, up market stores, street markets and online. The rush of end of year parties, break-ups, annual general meetings and the hot sticky climate of December in Australia all tend to be exhausting. Yet the liturgical season is one of pensive waiting, reflective awareness and active living in the climate of grace.Al these movements challenge the dominant commercial glitz that can overwhelm us in these wonderful four weeks.

I have decided to practice some of the waiting of the season by doing a gradual decoration of my home for Christmas. I live on an estate of 53 townhouses with a very cosmopolitan community. On Halloween I had a group of mostly Islamic kids knocking on my door to  thrive on the excitement of being cheeky and engaging with their neighbours in a spirit of fun and frivolity. Many of the residents here are from  the Middle East and some from recent refugee experiences.

My Christmas decor is a bit of an attraction for the kids and their parents. As the tree is decorated and the nativity expands they  share with me that sense of anticipation that something wonderful is happening in our lives.

I have gathered some reflections that  will be using each week of the season. I hope you too find them nurturing at this time.  You will find more resources on the Sojourners page here


If Jesus is the archetype of what the gift is and how a gift is given, Mary is the archetype of how a gift is received.

The amazing thing is that the Scripture says nothing especially positive about Mary. No credit rating is stated; it doesn’t say she prayed a lot or regularly went to the temple. No heroic anything. Mary seems to know she is nothing according to her own Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). She clearly knows and fully accepts she stands under the total mercy of God. Mary knows she did not earn this. It was all mercy, mercy, mercy. Divine choice says something about the chooser much more than the one who is chosen. In the spiritual world, all worthiness is given. Our only job is to fully and freely receive. Mary was a supreme receiver station.

From an unpublished talk given in Tucson, Arizona Richard Rohr

Prayer:
Teach me to be receptive


I have come to enjoy Advent more than Christmas. Our seasonal rhythm is to slow down as a family over this time, do less and not more. Each person learns a special prayer to pray at breakfast, we sing carols before I go to work, we tell a special story every night before we put a homemade Advent ornament on our tree, and we end every night with the lights out singing O Come O Come Emmanuel. 

Once the kids are bed Sarah & I spend our nights making gifts for the kids. This year she is knitting them stuffed animals while I write each animal a short adventure story explaining how they came to our house. 

Welcome back to my life Advent, welcome!

Jared Byas

Monday, November 26, 2012

Response to Eureka Street : Dysfunctional Church stares into the abuse abyss


Dysfunctional Church stares into the abuse abyss

MICHAEL KELLY NOVEMBER 26, 2012
Michael KellyFr Michael Kelly SJ, founding publisher of Eureka Street, is the Bangkok based executive director of UCA News and was, in the 1980s, executive director of the Jesuits' Asian Bureau Australia. 


Every day of my working life I encounter men and women who have survived institutional  childhood abuse. Many are victims of clergy and religious. I walk alongside those who carry deep scars of pain and alienation. I work for an NGO which was founded in the heart of Catholic spirituality and a sense of biblical justice as the work of God. The organisation is now independent of religious affiliation and many of its staff are women who also carry the scars of the pain of betrayal of an institution that nurtured a childhood belief in the grace of love and beauty but is seen now as a patriarchal relic of a bygone era. I come from a family where Catholicism was our culture and now look at a younger generation where this culture has little attraction or meaning. I spent some years in a religious community of men and have been privy to the ambiguities of those who crave power and status from their clerical collars.I grieve the loss of so much promise I was offered by the era of the Second Vatican Council. I sit uneasily in the back pew now watching the passing circus of relics and WYD parades that do not speak  to my soul.The cross of lost dreams and betrayal  weighs heavily on my almost 60 year old shoulders.I do not wish to join the chorus of the bitter and the angry that flood cyberspace from the left and the right. The back pew is close to the door where I can still hear the joys and hopes the grief and anguish of humanity. It seems that their cries are calling me rather than the  "spiritual" language of the sanctuary. Quo Vadis?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Royal Commission into Child Abuse Australia

I have published a page with up to date links to news coverage of the Royal Commission into Child Abuse Australia. Items will be updated weekly.

Current headings are:

  • Catholic Bishops Respond
  • George Cardinal Pell Statements
  • Responses to GCP
  • Legal Status Of the Catholic Church
  • Religious Leaders respond
  • Commentary
  • Social Media

Friday, November 09, 2012

Redfern Jarjum College


Redfern Jarjum College is an independent Catholic, Jesuit school for children of families in the Aboriginal community of Redfern and its surrounds. The College is located in the historic presbytery of St Vincent's Parish.
This  new Jesuit initiative has also been promoted by the Church Mouse, an online history of the Redfern Catholic Parish. This site includes some wonderful images of the work of Bill Clements honouring Shirley Smith (Mum Shirl) and Fr Ted Kennedy. Bill's  sculptures will be  installed in the area between the presbytery and the Church. 
The website of the College is still in development. However it alreadyis a great resource providing educators and the general public with access to college information as well as excellent material on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. The blog style presentation allows for  comments and opportunities to engage with this exciting venture in  contemporary education for  young Indigenous students.
This project deserves wide community support and I suggest a visit to the donations page  on of your Christmas shopping list.


Thursday, November 08, 2012

November Memories

The life cycle of a Catholic is measured in religious language and  liturgical patterns that have colour,imagery and myth to nurture the connection to community and the Divine.

During November, churches often provide memorial books to record the names and memory of those who have died. For the devotional Catholic  November is the "Month of the Holy Souls" which is often celebrated in more public rituals of the dead with processions and graveside visits.

The "soul" language is introduced on the 2nd November with the celebration of All Souls Day. I have vivid memories of my life as a young altar boy with multiple Masses being celebrated "back to back" in my parish Church in Geelong West. This culture has also left us  an extraordinary musical heritage of Requiems.

November carries so many memories for me as it is the month my father died 20 years ago. This year for the first time I will write the names of both my father and my mother in  a memorial book at my local Cathedral. RIP my loving parents.

At my Dads Funeral one of the songs we played was Bing Crosby's Irish Lullaby. It is romantic, nostalgic and  tells me so much about the world that influenced my parents.

Fair Trade Artisan Market in Brisbane


The Cathedral of St Stephen Art Group  hosted the Fair Trade Artisans Market  Hands of the World  from 1st-4th  November  at The Francis Rush Centre, 227 Elizabeth Street Brisbane .

The Fair Trade Artisan Market featured  textiles from 19 countries. Purchases at the market  increased opportunities for education, shelter and medicine for  skilled artists.

COSSAG is  not only a very classy looking acronym, it even sounds impressive. This group is one that I am proud to promote and support. The people behind the group are not just lovers of art and creativity. They have a passion for justice and fair trade which is reflected in their exhibitions.

Images from the market can be viewed here.

For further information please contact COSSAG email: cossag@bigpond.com


Monday, November 05, 2012

Sexual Harassment is a Church Issue

I wonder how many diocese or parishes will carry this images in their bulletins  over the next few weeks?

The 2012 sexual harassment national telephone survey shows that sexual harassment is widespread in Australian workplaces. The survey also shows that progress towards addressing sexual harassment has stalled.

The figures are alarming and if you consider the number of faith based schools, hospitals, welfare centres and local parishes employing staff the message demands attention by all people of good will. It also challenges some of the culture of clericalism that continues in Church circles.

Our history as Catholics should remind us that sexual harassment is written large in our story. The acclamation of Mary McKillop as a a Saint is also the story of a woman who experienced workplace sexual harassment


Monday, October 29, 2012

Prayers for Kaduna


At least seven people have been killed and dozens injured in a suicide bombing during Mass at a Catholic church in northern Nigeria, officials say.
An explosive-laden vehicle drove into the church and detonated its load, ripping a hole in the wall and roof. St Rita's Church is in the Archdiocese of Kaduna.


The archbishop of Kaduna Diocese, Matthew Man-Ndagoso, visited the injured at St. Gerard Catholic Hospital,  "I feel more pained in my heart over this unfortunate incident as 90 percent of the victims are children. We pray for their quick recovery and fortitude to bear the loss of those who died in the process. My appeal is to the Christians, especially the Catholic youths, not to consider reprisal as an option as this will rather create more tension and add to the already bad situation." (Full report from  UPI )

The attack happened in Kaduna, which has been targeted by Islamist militant group Boko Haram in the recent past.
This report has a particular impact here in Brisbane as we host a number of young Nigerian men studying for Catholic priesthood. While there is still  debate about the cultural tensions that have emerged as  Australian Diocese welcome seminarians and clergy from  overseas, this incident should unite all people of good will in a commitment to nonviolence and  cross cultural sharing.

CathNews Reports on Church in Nigeria

Saturday, October 27, 2012

JURIST - Paper Chase: UN rights expert urges promotion of freedom of religious conversion

October 25 2012

A United Nations independent expert today urged the international community to consistently respect, protect and promote the human right to freedom of religion or belief in the area of conversion.
“The right of conversion and the right not to be forced to convert or reconvert belong to the internal dimension of a person’s religious or belief-related conviction, which is unconditionally protected under international human rights law,” the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, said in a news release, issued as he presented a report on his work to the UN General Assembly.
In his report, Mr. Bielefeldt analyses the patterns of abuses that are perpetrated in the name of religious or ideological truth claims in the interest of promoting national identity or protecting societal homogeneity, or under other pretexts such as maintaining political and national security.

JURIST - Paper Chase: UN rights expert urges promotion of freedom of religious conversion
Vatican Declaration on Religious Freedom 6 December 1965

Amazing Stuff from the CathNews Facebook Page

If you want a good afternoon of religious provocation and reflection you should brew a coffee or pour a stiff drink and scroll around the CathNews Facebook Page. This is a selection of some my responses to  material they have published. My responses are no longer available on the CathNews FB page and I have been "banned" from making further comment. Must be a sensitive mob over there or maybe this is the ripple effect of New Evangelisation lapping our shores.

Perhaps this is a sad reflection of the current state of Church practice. Violent men who like wearing silly costumes have no valid place in the ministry of the gospel and cannot command respect or obedience.




I really object to the publication of this macho violent image being used to promote religious messages. The history of clergy sexual abuse and the associated violence should be enough to deter Church publications from this model

Just wondering if the people in this image are a same sex couple?

Blessed Andy Pray For Us! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andy_Warhol



Friday, October 26, 2012

"One G-d, Many Voices" ~ Abrahamic Faiths Concert



Thursday, 8th November 2012
7pm for 7.30pm

Annual Evening of
 Jewish, Christian & Muslim
Sacred Voices and Music

Kosher-Halal Supper from 9.30pm

Free entry, all are welcome.
Free parking after 7pm.

RSVP: by 29th October to 3735 7052 or email: mfc@griffith.edu.au
(parking maps, Nathan campus, Building N35 at grid N6)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Give Me Google Mass Anyday!!

As the late beloved Australian Icon,  '"Big Kev" would say: "I'm Excited". Google Translator is  available in Latin to  lead us into New Evangelisation.!!

So I typed in my favourite Mass text to check the Latin and look what I got:

So, it's Googlemass for me. They can stuff their "And With Your Spirit" up their woolly ermines. I'm sticking to the Latin translation from Google!!!

For those on foreign galaxies wondering why this post is of interest, I refer you to the exciting news that the boys in the Vatican  decided that those who speak English in Catholic worship don't know how to do it properly so they have produced a better translation for us to use.

Ite tollentes Romanes cursum luddites saltu

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Vatican II

These clips are my celebration of the spirit and direction which the Second Vatican Council offered the Catholic Church in a changing world of the late 1960s.

The National econference  for this anniversary sponsored by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and the Broken Bay Institute is an excellent resource of local Australian content.

The role of women in the contemporary Church cannot be underestimated and I  invite you to listen to their voices and stories. I have included the Janet Mead "Our Father" as a significant moment not just in Australian Music History but also as one of the most powerful public religious experiences for many of my generation  outshining Billy Graham crusades and Papal visits.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

The Blake Book Comes to Brisbane

In 2002 Rosemary Crumlin was described by a journalist as Australia's Sr Wendy Beckett.. Ten years later on October 7 2012, Brisbane priest, Tom Elich also made reference to this similarity when welcoming Rosemary to the Francis Rush Centre in the grounds of the Cathedral of St Stephen to speak about her most recent work, The Blake Book, Art Religion and Spirituality in Australia.

Rosemary Crumlin has published her own 'four gospels" of Australian Art::
Images of Religion in Australian Art, 
Aboriginal Art and Spirituality, 
Beyond Belief 
The Blake Book, Art Religion and Spirituality in Australia.

I can claim three as "read" in my Goodreads collection. As a responsible social media practitioner I will be using this blog post to promote  these works which I believe are essential reading  for anyone exploring issues of art, spirituality and that enigmatic "Australian Character".

Rosemary Crumlin is an educator at heart. Her presentation to an appreciative audience in Brisbane was  an engagement in expectations of those attending and a generous respect of people's ability to "read" art and explore layers of meaning in a work.

The Blake Book, Art Religion and Spirituality in Australia. is a beautiful book at many levels. The pages reveal a chronological history of Australia's major  prize for religious art. The illustrations of works by those who have won the award throughout its history provide a personal exhibition of the art that has made the Blake Prize a dynamic presence in art history in this country.

The biographical details compiled for each winner  are largely the results of personal interviews by Rosemary.  In each interview she explores intentional questions of the artists' motivation and response to the prize. Tracking down the artists would have tested the best skills of Miss Marple and Jessica Fletcher combined.Throughout the text there are quotable quotes both by artists and commentators. These gems are like  the "pearl of great price" imagery found in the Gospel of Matthew.

The Blake Book, Art Religion and Spirituality in Australia. also contains a "book within a book", which is Rosemary's description of the glorious foldout pages of  non-winning works submitted for the Blake Prize during the first 50 years of its history. The genius of these pages is that they provide a visual social history of Australia from 1951 to our present day. The first panels of the 1951 contributors are immediately recognized as dominant themes of the Christian Story. The names of artists as well as being exclusively masculine are associated with major art schools of the era. The final panels from  the most recent awards are images that reflect the cultural and religious diversity of contemporary Australian artists.

Any history is fraught with personalities, perspectives and passion.The Blake Prize has its fair share of these and the book is divided into six sections. As with any creative venture you would expect the first section to deal with  "Beginnings". As each section  ushers in a new era  the tension  mounts through the Art/Religion/Spirituality  divide. The fifth section points to new horizons in "2007-2010 Breaking Boundaries, Youth Justice and the Marketplace". The sixth section  features  an extended interview with Rosemary about the foldout pages. Each section concludes with informative and useful notes for both general readers and  art historians.

The scope of the images provided in this book is obvious in the list of plates index which runs to 7 A4 size pages. Readers should  be grateful for the extraordinary work of obtaining permissions and copyright to publish these images. The selected bibliography is offered as " invitation and resource for those who choose to continue engaging with diverse ways of seeing, and with the questions, influences and concerns  opened up and entered into by the Blake"

This is not just another coffee table book although it would be worth having  at hand for quiet moments of reflection and wonder as the art works invite regular viewings. After the presentation with my newly signed copy of this valuable book under my arm I sat down in  a classic Australian shrine, my local pub to  prepare this review. This choice comes from an inspiration more than 20 years ago when I saw Rosemary's inclusion of John Perceval's Christ Dining at Young and Jackson's in her first publication.I could not imagine a better place to ponder the mystery of art religion and spirituality in Australia.

The Brisbane visit of Rosemary Crumlin was an activity of COSSAG , the Cathedral of St Stephen Art Group.

 The Blake Book
By Rosemary Crumlin
$69 paperback (incl postage)
Blake book e order form.pdf [

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Andrew Gills, All Hallows Alumni

All Hallows Chapel (Tony Robertson)
"When I attend my old high school past pupils' mass this month, I will be the only man there who has the privilege of saying he is also an All Hallows Girl.I no longer see this  as a lack of "normality" or a point of my difference. And I am looking forward to honouring my gender history"
Andrew Gills

In 1996 Adinda Gills graduated from All Hallows School in Brisbane. On October 27 Andrew Gills will join his old classmates for the Past Pupils Mass. It will be Andrew's third reunion gathering  as a transgender person who sees this event as an opportunity to "honour my history as a girl".

Andrew writes of the welcome and hospitality he has experienced as a transgender person among his old classmates. I have no doubt that this comes from the lived tradition of the text which appears as a welcome message on the school web page:

All Hallows' is a large centrally located school, which caters for students from a wide variety of socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. It offers an extensive range of excellent academic, cultural and sporting opportunities. In its spiritual, pastoral and academic life, the School seeks to promote personal growth, the development of an informed conscience and commitment to work for social justice in the wider community.

Andrew's public announcement of this celebration challenges the language of the Catholic Church as well as the limits of its teaching on sexuality.  The authoritative  Catechism of the Catholic Church has no  entry for Transgender, nor even for Lesbian. Such people do not exist in the minds of the men behind this text.

So, thank you Andrew Gills, your classmates and other alumni of All Hallows Brisbane. Your witness to the rich grace of human identity and its diversity is a testimony to the  education of young women provided by the Sisters of Mercy. May other transgender persons who live in our Church and community also find  welcome and hospitality.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Why All The Good Men Come from Geelong!!!


21 September 2012
Media Release
Australian elected as Columban Superior General

Fr Kevin O'Neill from Geelong, Victoria was elected as Superior General of the Missionary Society of St Columban at the Columban General Assembly in Los Angeles on the 20th September, 2012.

Fr Kevin was born in Geelong on 23rd November, 1962 and is one of six children, including a  twin brother, Peter, who is also a Columban Priest. His parents, John and Ruth, reside in Geelong.

He was educated at Our Lady's, Manifold Heights and St Joseph's CBC, Newtown and  studied chemical engineering at RMIT  before entering St Columbans Seminary, Turramurra, NSW in 1984. He was ordained in 1992 by Bishop Peter Connors at Manifold Heights.

Fr Kevin has worked in Taiwan and Ireland, and is currently working in China. In his new appointment he will reside in Hong Kong where the Columban headquarters are situated.

Fr Ray Scanlon
Acting Regional Director
Australia  New Zealand
St Columbans Mission Society
info@columban.org.au

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Travelling Bishops: Peter Elliot, Melbourne

The St. Louis Chapter of the Latin Liturgy Association is pleased to welcome liturgist Bishop Peter Elliot to St. Louis Saturday and Sunday, September 29th  30th, 2012 for a public lecture and Holy Mass at Historic St. Mary of Victories Chapel downtown. 

Chapel Trivia: The chapel has two choir lofts. At one time, a convent of the Sisters of Saint Mary, a religious hospital order, was adjacent to this church. The Sisters were constatly exposed to infectious diseases—before antibiotics. They could sing in the choir without coming in contact with lay parishoners in the upper loft.

His Excellency is an international authority on liturgy, and on the Anglican Ordinariates now authorized by Pope Benedict XVI. The public is invited; free of charge.

The lecture is titled “Benedict XVI and the Liturgy: Vision and Practice” and will take place Saturday evening, September 29th at 7:30 PM.

Bishop Elliot will celebrate Holy Mass in the Ordinary Form in Latin at 9 AM on Sunday, September 30th.

Both will take place at historic St. Mary of Victories Chapel 744 South 3rd Street, in downtown St. Louis 

Relics, Bodies and Grace


I often wonder why Catholic saints  never seem to have RIP appended to their titles as we do to other mere mortals who have died. Perhaps it has something to do with the process of canonisation which usually involves the exhuming of the remains and then, if bits can be found, relocating them in  elaborate mausoleums or if fully intact, a glass case for viewing. Whatever, it seems that these heroes of the faith are never allowed to rest in peace.

The latest restless saint to grace the Land Downunder is Francis Xavier, of Jesuit fame. We don't get all his bits, just his right arm. Most of his bits were on public display in Goa in 2004-2005. The right arm has been dislocated from the rest of his body as a religious act of reverence for his ability to bless and baptise. One wonders if the same effect would be gained had the poor man been left handed?

The national tour is now underway and those who have more time than I do for such things have taken to discussion forums with weird and wonderful insights. Over at Catholica the discussion even explored  a relationship between the relic and  the poplar TV sitcom character, Thing. Perhaps the most unexpected support for this tour has come from the "ethical burr in the national saddle", Frank Brennan. His homily at the arrival of the relic in Canberra has been published in Eureka Street. It will be worth watching the comments on this one as he is certainly "out of left field" this time.

I am too busy working with the broken bodies of survivors of institutional abuse to look at a touring relic.

Many of the people I work with lost their childhood in Church run institutions where bodies and souls were beaten, isolated, assaulted and  dis-graced by those who represented  religion and faith.

Many of these Forgotten Australians would give their right arm to have  their childhood back. The damage has been done and many of them are relics of a dark and  evil history which haunts them.

When I look for images of amazing grace, I don't need religious corpses to inspire me. I get my inspiration from the  beauty and grace that shines through the lives of these people who have been betrayed by  the custodians of faith.

"Through the story of sexual abuse and the church's response, I came to the unshakable belief that within the Catholic Church there absolutely must be profound and enduring change on the two subjects of power and sex" 
Bishop Geoffrey Robinson

The travelling right arm of St Francis Xavier will be visiting my Archdiocese of Brisbane during November. On November 16 it will be "on display" at the Cathedral of St Stephen. This day also happens to be the International Day of Tolerance. Imagine if the Cathedral was surrounded by survivors of institutional abuse holding up their right arms pleading for tolerance and understanding from a Church which failed them in their childhood.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

In Our Lifetime : Aboriginal Christians Talking

Is the Latin Mass part of your practice as a Catholic?

Despite predictions that time had passed for the Latin Mass, the rise of the EF is a phenomenon in the modern church. Does it represent a deeper, underlying cultural change? What do you think? Is the Latin Mass part of your practice as a Catholic? - 

For those who may not be familiar with the EF I suggest a visit to New Liturgical Movement for a textual and visual feast of this phenomena.

My childhood liturgical life was firmly grounded in the EF. I was an altar server who had mastered the best of the Latin tongue twisters and had perfected the ritual logistics including bell ringing down to a fine art. It never occurred to me at that time to wonder why no girls or women were allowed into the sanctuary. I didn't bat an eyelid at the ornate  vestments and the intricate hand woven lace patterns on the albs and surplices. I was too busy getting the movements right and the auto responses out to wonder if this was the way God wanted to be worshiped all over the world.

I was in grade six at St Pat's Primary School in Geelong West when the English Mass was introduced. It was such a climatic shift that we had class sessions reading out the new texts as if it was a foreign language. Churches suddenly began to echo with the voices from the pews who had been mostly silent. The  priest began to face the people and his actions were more public as we saw bread and wine offered blessed, and broken in our midst. Rosaries were left in pockets and handbags for private devotion as we needed to be ready to turn pages, shake hands and receive communion like adults.


The EF is back in town and some will find consolation in the home coming of the lost child. However, the family has migrated and things are different now. I left that lost child behind so I could mature and grow into a better person of faith and service. I don't mind my liturgy done "ad orientum" and bits of Greek, Latin, Hebrew and a host of other languages are good reminders  of our universal connection.  In the quirky way of Catholicism I will stick to my Latin Novus Ordo rather then the English Extraordinary Form!!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Looking for a personal priest: apply now!!!


In a breath taking report from CathNews I have discovered a new role for Catholic Clergy. It seems that the UK singer, Charlotte  Church has a personal priest. Fr Richard Reardon has  now gained some celebrity status. I expect part of his workload may include advising Ms Church on her relations with the Vatican.

How does one get a personal priest? My Archdiocese doesn't have an application process and I can't afford to fly over to Cardiff where Fr Reardon has launched this exciting ministry initiative. 


Does  one get appointed the same way as spiritual directors? I wonder what the criteria would be  for such a role? Obviously the priest would need a mobile phone so I imagine that  texting  pastoral suggestions and quotable quotes would be standard. 


Would your personal priest be available for Home Masses? (remember them from the good old days). 


I am taking applications now and invite interested clergy to send me a copy of their CV, preferred social media, two passport size photos ( one with vestments please) and their hours of availability.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Alcohol, Bishops,Controversy The ABC of a Drinking Catholic


All around the religious blogsphere this weekend  people are posting about the  colourful Archbishop Elect of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone who managed to collect a DUI ticket after  dinner with his Mum. Cardileone has apologised for being caught over the limit with the usual references to family, Church and himself.

Wherever the Catholic sun does shine,
There’s laughter and music and good red wine.
At least I’ve always found it so.
Benedicamus Domino!
Hilaire Belloc 


Drinking clerics of pre and post Vatican orientation have always been part of the structure. Some have more colourful and public exhibitions of their lack of temperance. The colonial history of Australia includes many legends of the life around the pubs that Catholic families established. I remember going to a post ordination celebration of a mate in Koroit Victoria. The  local pub was the only venue that could cater for the numbers and its furnishings included an old confessional stall under the stairs.

In 1979 as a young seminarian in Melbourne I was assigned to work at an inner city parish. One of my regular chores was to  go to The Perseverance and pick up  the grog supply for the clergy card night on Fridays. A couple of years later and having handed in my soutane I dropped into the old watering hole for a beer with a friend. Culture runs deep and the manager recognizing me, gave us "drinks on the house"  remembering my good custom.

So,  here's wishing Salv Cordileone "good health" as he takes up the reigns of episcopal bohemia in San Francisco. He seems to like  parades and fancy dress and is a fan of the "Cappa Magna" set. He may need to brush up on his  sexuality statements and pastoral skills if he wants them to have him lead the 2013 Pride Parade.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Catholic Acronyms for the 21st Century

http://peopleforothers.loyolapress.com/2010/06/14/special-bonus-tattoos/
Acronyms have always been part of Catholic Culture for much of its colouful history.As a young student at St Joseph's College in Geelong I discovered that ABC had nothing over AMDG written at the top of every page of work from Maths to Geography. Even our college "tag" was SJC.

Religious Orders have built their marketing and attraction on impressive acronyms. The various Franciscan Orders of men managed to move from a plain OFM to OFM Conv, OFM Cap and in more recent times  CFR,  FMC FSF ,LBF and  SA (not to be confused with the verdant fields of South Australia)

Then we have the women who embrace full strength Nuns to congregations. Probably best known in Australia are the Sisters of Mercy, not to be confused with the acronym free rock band. The good Sisters who administered schools hospitals orphanages and corporal punishment were probably not too keen to promote their acronym, RSM In lesser numbers but a genuine  Australian made product,we have the popular  "Brown Joeys". Their full title is Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart which is condensed down to RSJ.

The acronym trend took off during the pontificate of  John Paul 11 with HH dashing around the world to  teen cries of " JPII we love you". The trend spread to Brisbane where the Archbishop of the day, +John Bathersby was renamed ABJB. His successor is is not encouraging the trend as he runs the risk of becoming ABC.

So here is a new contemporary list  for trivia buffs and those who like to drop an acronym into their next parish council meeting. This is a work in progress and reader contributions are more than welcome!!

  • CCC Catechism of the Catholic Church. Available online or if you have room on your bookshelf,  in hard cover with lots of nice piccies or the easy read soft cover. Everything you need to know to be a good practicing Catholic. When typing this title beware of the keyboard inclinatino to prefer the V rather than the C leaving you with a Vatechism.
  • EF Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite is Mass celebrated by lots of priests and servers in lace and brocade gear facing east (literally or metaphorically) spoken in Latin, well at least the bits anyone on the front pew is allowed to hear.
  • EWTN Eternal Word Television Network was founded by the jolly old Mother Angelica. MA is swathed in  more habit than a Thomas Aquinas could define.
  • FTTM Faithful to the Magisterium a popular acronym for the self appointed guardians of truth and right practice in the Church. They included the Temple Police as well as contributors to various web sites offering a "true" Catholic perspective.
  • NE New Evangelisation is an all expenses paid trip to Rome for higher clerics to discuss strategies for improving the collection of Catholics.
  • OF Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite which was popularised by Vatican II with local languages, lots of lay participation and an opportunity to greet those around me midway
  • PF Public Figure is a new category of clergy on Facebook popularised by Brisbane cleric Fr Paul William Catchlove
  • SM Sancta Missa a good bit of Latin about the various and colourful ways Catholics worship. Well, we all know Catholics don't "worship". It's such a "proddo" term. Real Catholics 'go to Mass'
  • VC  Vox Clara is not a new Italian singing sensation. It is a group of older men who like to please the Pope by providing  poor translations of religious texts.
  • WYD Wordl Youth Day  is Catholic Woodstock held as often as possible according to Papal travel schedules. The next one  in 2013 is in Rio where the relics of Peter Allen will be carried around for veneration.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Ten Days For Peace

Ten Days for Peace is an initiative of the Catholic Church in Japan that runs from August 6 to August 15. It has its origins in the "Appeal for Peace made by Pope John Paul II when visiting the Hiroshima Peace memorial in 1981.

In the 2012 Letter launching the Ten Days for Peace, Leo Jun Ikenaga SJ said:
"This appeal called upon everyone in the world to abolish nuclear weapons, denounce nuclear wars, and commit ourselves to peace. Responding to this, the Catholic Church in Japan defined the days between August 6 and 15 as “Ten Days for Peace”, a special period to think of our responsibilities to peace, to learn about peace and to work for peace."


I invite you to join me in a time of solidarity with the Church in Japan as we pray these ten days. The following themes are suggestions you may like to use as a focus for each of the days.

Day One August 6: Prayer for the abolition of Nuclear Weapons
Day Two August 7 Prayer of World Religions for Peace
Day Three August 8 Prayer for Syria
Day Four August 9 Prayer for the ANZACS from  the Sisters of St Joseph
Day Five August 10  Prayer for Peace in Sudan
Day Six August 11 Prayer for Sri Lanka
Day Seven August 12  Prayer of St Francis
Day Eight August 13 Prayer for Palestine
Day Nine August 14 Prayer of Micah the Prophet Today is the feast day of the prophet)
Day Ten August 15 Prayer for Christina Peacemaker Teams

Suggested Readings for the Ten Days For Prayer



Saturday, July 21, 2012

Wilgefortis Comes To Brisbane

On Friday July 20 a group of Brisbane artists launched an exhibition titled "Wilgefortis"  at The Art Factory Gallery in South Brisbane. Even a well rounded Catholic like myself was surprised to discover that my cultural inheritance included this legend  of a bearded woman on a cross.

St Wilgefortis in keeping with any decent legend also went by various aliases: Liberata, Kummernis,  Uncumber, Ontkommer, Debarras and Livrade. None of these have made  the list of "popular name choices for your new baby" in ancient or contemporary sources.

She gets a decent coverage in a google search and her story can be told  in contemporary genre  using easy read dot points:

  • A happy virgin is promised in a traditional marriage transaction by her father to some equally patriarchal character.
  • Being a good Catholic girl she prays for a non violent  bit of divine intervention.
  • Her prayers are answered and she wakes up one day sporting enough facial hair to scare off any suitor.
  • Her dad does the only thing any honourable a chap could do in the circumstances and had her strung up on a cross.
There is also a youtube version for the  visually inclined:


The Brisbane Exhibition is not so much a hagiography as a reflection on the themes and images that this story tells of the human condition  The Church has eliminated devotion to  Wilgefortis along with other legendary characters as part of its quality control in the Second Vatican Council. However, it cannot eliminate the stories of exploitation,  abuse and the control of women's live and bodies that it has endorsed and supported for generations.

To really explore the creative vision that our local artists have brought o this exhibition I suggest you  visit the album I have created and read the bio notes. At the launch of the exhibition the costs of  refreshments were donated to the Ozcare Womens Refuge. This gesture speaks volumes of the artists commitment to their role as agents of social change.

 I am particularly thrilled to note that this exhibtion is on show as we celebrate another great medieval story, Christina The Astonishing, Virgin.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Islamic Tartan Launched

http://www.islamictartan.com/gallery.php
Azeem Ibrahim is a Scot. He is in fact more Scottish than St Andrew having been born in Glasgow. Ibrahim's name does not feature much in our local media yet he is a regular name in listings of contemporary global thinkers. The latest news from this extraordinary young man is his launch of an Islamic Tartan.

What a bold and innovative approach to Dr Ibrahim's dream of: "the perfect symbol of the future generation in particular, for the younger, educated Muslims caught between two cultures — East and West, traditional and modern. Instead of conflict, the tartan represents a tightly woven blend of tradition and heritage. By bringing together the strands of two cultures, a symbol is created of something more meaningful than assimilation or accommodation. The tartan represents the new fabric of society, where Muslim Scots with a sense of history and a commitment to the future of Scotland have become an integral part of the New Scotland."

The Scottish Islamic Tartan is intended to weave the diverse Muslim identity into the fabric of Scotland and provide an enduring symbol of the deep connection between the two cultures. Dr Azeem Ibrahim, who just last week launched the Scotland Institute think tank, consulted leading tartan designers and Islamic scholars to produce a unique design based on the following:
- Blue to represent the Scottish Flag
- Green to represent the colour of Islam
- Five white lines represent the five pillars of Islam
- Six gold lines the six articles of faith
- Black square pattern represents the Holy Kabah.

Dr Ibrahim has stated that  part of his intention is to "  interest, challenge and provoke discussion among people who have Scotland’s interests at heart." That has certainly begun online with Amanullah De Sondy asking Which Islam does this tartan represent? Is it a Sunni Islamic tartan? Does it represent other denominations, such as the Ahmadiyyas or the variety of Shi’ia colors? If this tartan is to strengthen diaspora Muslim identity then which Islamic civilization does it represent? It is wonderful to see Scottish Muslims being proud of their Scottish identity, but let’s not take steps backward to strengthen those age-old generalizations. Islam and Muslims are not a monolith and so weaving everything ‘Islamic’ and ‘Muslim’ into one tartan may ultimately cause more harm than good.(reference)

The official site for the new Tartan includes references to the history of Islam and Scotland. The relationship between the cultures goes back as far as the early Middle Ages with the first signs of Muslim settlement in Scotland traced to the 18th and 19th century seafarers from India.

Although I carry my ancient Scottish heritage in my Father's surname I do not share Dr Ibrahim's immediate connection to place. However, at last I may have found a  Tartan that I can wear as well as my usual Caledonian Tartan. So it's off to  one of the local suppliers now to see about getting a Kilt done in this new and exciting tartan!!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Musical Theology for Our Day








Wherever little children are hungry and cry,
Wherever people ain't free
Wherever folks are fightin' for their rights
that's where I'm gonna be, ma...
...that's where I'm gonna be
                                         .....Woody Guthrie


Today July 14 commemorates the 100th anniversary of Woody Guthrie. He isn't listed among the great theologians of his age yet he sang gospel truth about the human condition. His song, Jesus Christ which I have featured in this clip still stirs the possum among those Catholics who like being "right". Who would expect to find and article titled "Woody Guthrie versus Joseph Ratzinger"  Some of the comments from those last two links should be read while holding a good stiff drink if you have any familiarity with Catholic Social Teachings

In an article celebrating this anniversary  Larry Guthrie writes of Woody's Catholic connections. These aren't the sort of connections that attract a postulator. They are more like a series of dots that remind us of the universal character of Catholicism at its best.

Woody married a Catholic woman, Mary Jennings as a teenager and their seven year marriage ended with the strain of a young singer constantly on the move. Woody then married a Jewish woman, Marjorie Greenblatt, the mother of Arlo Guthrie. Arlo has a colourful Catholic heritage including membership of the Secular Order of St Francis. While 12th century Francis heard a call to "rebuild my Church" Arlo has heard a call to  literally buy a Church and found the Guthrie Centre.

"The Guthrie Center’s mission is to bring individuals together for cultural, educational, and spiritual exchange. The Center is dedicated to meeting the ongoing needs of the community by working together with other non-profit agencies to serve those in need. In doing so we hope to create an environment where individuals can come together to cultivate a deeper awareness of culture, humanity and the environment of which we are all a part."


Larry Guthrie  writes of Woody Guthrie's Social Gospel:

"Woody’s words were a social gospel. Although Woody did not seem to like participating regularly in an organized religion, he did develop a great concern for social justice. Social justice evolved from the “Social Gospel,” a movement in the early 20th century. It developed from Protestant to Baptist to Episcopal and on to Catholic. It believed that all Christians should work to improve social conditions for the poor, the sick and the downtrodden. Many of these who supported the Social Gospel supported the New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt in 1933, and later the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s."

Woody Guthrie was one of my musical mentor's. Today I  also honour his memory as a  man of faith and courage who sang the Gospel truth outside the sanctuary..