Sunday, May 29, 2016

Celebrating Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi Brisbane 2016
On the last weekend in May 2016 Catholics celebrated  one of the most flamboyant of days, Corpus Christi.. It rivals Easter and Christmas for sheer energy and presence.Thanks to Google we can also get an idea of the rich diversity this day breathes into the Catholic community life. Some celebrations are full on formalities with every bit of clerical fashion on display. Others are a more casual affair with whatever props and costumes happen to be on hand.

In 1246, Bishop Robert de Thorete of the diocese of Liège, at the suggestion of St. Juliana of Mont Cornillon (also in Belgium), convened a synod and instituted the celebration of the feast. From Liège, the celebration began to spread, and, on September 8, 1264, Pope Urban IV issued the papal bull "Transiturus," which established the Feast of Corpus Christi as a universal feast of the Church, to be celebrated on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday.

Digression: I have an absolute fascination with everything in Liege. The city is the hometown of my favourite saint, Christina the Astonishing, Virgin (always pronounce the comma as she wasn't just an astonishing virgin)

Back to the history lesson: At the request of Pope Urban IV, St. Thomas Aquinas composed the Divine Office (the official prayers of the Church) for the feast. This office is widely considered one of the most beautiful in the traditional Roman Breviary (the official prayer book of the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours), and it is the source of the famous Eucharistic hymn "Pange Lingua Gloriosi" From this classic hymn we also have another  "Tantum Ergo Sacramentum." The tune popular in Australia has been given a beautiful contemporary setting by Matt Maher. In this pic of the era you can see Tom  and Urban discussing a fishing trip. Waiting patiently to the side is the learned St Bonaventure who missed the boat that day.Image source

Digression 2 Dear old Google has managed to cause great confusion among traditional Catholics. When you do a Google image search for "Corpus Christi" you don't actually get the cool religious images unless you choose the "Feast" tab. . The default choice includes  scenic views from the City of Corpus Christi. 

The traditional Corpus Christi Procession is a full on parade of various clerics,religious and members of lay associations watched by the loyal laity. They still take to the streets in some cities but others as my home city of Brisbane now just make do with a few laps of a school oval. Don't you love this pic of Pope Benny XVI doing wheelies as part of the ritual in Rome (more links)

The last Sunday of May in Brisbane this year brought a good number of Catholics into the public square for the feast of Corpus Christi. In recent years this event has happened in the suburban quiet of Nudgee Junior College.  But in keeping with its more flamboyant expression in Europe the procession this year took to the streets doing a lap of honour “around the block” from the Cathedral of St Stephen in true Australian style.

This was a religious event Western style. Solemnity and lots of men featured in bulk. However as happens with religion, those on the sidelines also feature in my photo documentary  from a sleeping patron in Anzac Park to a Big Issue vendor  who sells outside the Cathedral. The procession also walked past some of the great temples of commercial worship as a political statement of other values.

The feast and its procession provides a platform for a particular feature of Catholicism that has a strong sense of nostalgia for life when Bing Crosby was everyone’s favourite priest and Archbishop Fulton Sheen swooned around the old black and white TV sets. By a strange irony Hugh Mackay was down the road at St John's Anglican Cathedral at the same time reflecting on his new book, Beyond Belief.

See the Brisbane Corpus Christi Procession 2016 here.

To leave you with a woman's insight of what the feast of the Body and Christ is really all about I suggest you sit with the image and text of Laura Facey

I dedicate this page to the brave people and Bishops who protested at the  1981  naming of the USA attack submarine, Corpus Christi. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Our Lady Comes To West End

Not too many people make the connection between West End and Catholicism. The local Catholic Church of St Francis sits above the river in Dornoch Terrace within walking distance of the Hardgrave Road hub. Keep your eyes open for the brown robed Capuchins who care for the local community and can be spotted shopping at a local supermarket.
Catholic legends of the suburb include the late Mick Sardie, last of the old hawkers in Brisbane. Irish Catholics have left their footprints of protest and a whole community of Catholic Workers operated out of the old Justice Products in Boundary Street.
There are many more of course worthy of a blog post, a book or even a mini series.
I thought of them today as I walked down Boundary Street and popped into a local shop to check that the statue of Our Lady of Fatima was still on the floor.
Back in the old days when we were really Catholic a statue of OLF would tour houses in the parish for a week at a time and neighbours would gather to recite the rosary and have a cuppa. This was way before social media and even predates TV. You were allowed to invite " non Catholics" as it was also a bit of a cadre recruitment drive.
So here she sits in West End no longer on the dining table but carefully watching over zombies and other artefacts.
Way back in 1917 on the 13th May three unsuspecting kids in Fatima were rudely interrupted by this sight and as they say the rest is history. Catholic tourism boomed the kids became religious superstars and statue makers had a product in demand for every Catholic Church, Chapel, Convent Monastery and Shrine around the globe.
So do pop in and see our very own Lady of Fatima as May is the month of Mary for a limited time only!!!

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Mothers Day Prayer Appeal 2016

The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce is calling you to join a National Day of Prayer on Mother’s Day, the 8th of May, for mothers of people who are in detention. Find out more, and register your interest.

As we celebrate and spoil our own mothers this Sunday, let’s pause together to pray for mothers of people who are in detention, particularly people on Manus Island at this time of great uncertainty. Most of us know how worried and anxious our mums can get! Let's also remember mothers who themselves are in detention.

Mothers and families – who may be across the other side of the world – are the forgotten victims of detention. The uncertainty of knowing when your child will we be free, or safe, or healthy is a debilitating burden to bear.

World Labyrinth Day 2016 Brisbane

Labyrinth St John's Anglican Cathedral Brisbane AU

On this World Labyrinth Day I walk the sacred path acknowledging that this is sovereign land of the First Peoples. This land always was, always will be Aboriginal land. I pay my respects to Elders, past, present and emerging.

I walk this sacred path united to my ancestors whose DNA I carry in my body.

I walk this sacred path with a commitment to walk gently on the earth.

I walk this sacred path in solidarity with all who seek refuge and asylum from war, exploitation and terror.

I walk this sacred path as I walk with the poor and hungry to a place of justice and welcome.

I walk this sacred path united to my sisters and brothers around the globe who seek a spirituality that nurtures life.

Images of the Walk