Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Mass on the Rails

Catholicism thrives on Tradition. In fact it sits next to Sacred Scripture as a hallowed source of faith and spirituality. So it is not surprising that the Archdiocese of Brisbane would publicize the annual Racing Mass as a "popular tradition".

A few years ago the Australian Catholic Bishops published one of heir best document: A Crown for Australia: Striving for the best in our sporting nation As well as producing a readable and powerful document the Bishops released a youtube clip which still has not reached the viewing numbers it deserves:

What I found most interesting in the  video clip is that there is no image or reference to the racing industry. So, why is there an "Annual Racing Mass"  but not an Annual Sports Mass"?

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Can You Can You Celebrate Corpus Christi Without Reconciliation?

On Sunday  3 June 2018 the Archdiocese of Brisbane will host the annual Corpus Christi Procession through the streets of the city.  

June 3 is also Mabo Day the end of Reconciliation Week. Neither of these commemorations are featured in the social media pages of the Archdiocese of Brisbane.

Let us remember the words of St John Paul II who speaking of the presence of Aboriginal spirituality said: " And the Church herself in Australia will not be fully the Church that Jesus wants her to be until you have made your contribution to her life and until that contribution has been joyfully received by others."

Our walking with Jesus in Australia will only be faithful to the extent we have walked in reconciliation with the First Nations Peoples on whose land this procession is held.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Preaching the Gospel to Power

Bishop Michael Curry's sermon at the Royal Wedding in St George's Chapel will be remembered and replayed as one of the great speeches of the 21st Century.

This is the man who added passion and justice to pomp and circumstance.


Friday, May 18, 2018

A Christian Reflection on Ramadan

When I was a young boy in Geelong the weekend was made up of two rituals: footy on Saturday and Mass on Sunday. 

My weekend was bookmarked by two codes with their own sacred space, chants and denominational fidelity. Much has been written about the religious passion of Australian Rules Football.

A new conversation is also emerging about the religion of footballers and their public witness. While some footballers identify with Christianity, there is also a recognition that religious diversity is now part of our sporting culture.

This year I have chosen to use the AFL greeting for Ramadan to  acknowledge the presence of Islam on the footy field and the value of cultural diversity for our community.

During this time of Ramadan may we learn form our sisters and brothers of Islam so that together we can work for the common good locally and globally.

Ramadan is the Muslim month of fasting.  This year in Australia it began on 17 May and will end with Eid al-Fitr (The Feast of the Breaking [of the Fast]) on or around 15 June.

Muslims fast from dawn till dusk.  During this time, they abstain from eating, drinking and sexual activity.  Nothing is to go into the mouth – no food, no snacks, no coffee, not even a sip of water!  Nothing “bad” is to come out of the mouth!  So Muslims are to refrain from backbiting, gossiping and salacious talk.
Fasting during the month of Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.  It is an obligation on every adult Muslim.  However, the elderly, the sick, the pregnant and travellers are exempt.  Those who can are expected to “make up” the days of fasting later in the year; others make compensation by feeding a hungry person for a day.  Children, of course, are not obliged to fast.
Ramadan is not just a physical discipline.  It is primarily a spiritual discipline.  The abstinence purifies the mind and heart.  It is a time of obedience and renewed devotion to God.  Muslims observe the five daily prayers, another of the Pillars of Islam, with extra fervour.  Many read a section of the Qur’an every day, completing the whole book during the month.  There is also Quran recitation in mosques and congregational recitation of devotional prayers.  Thus, Ramadan is a time of spiritual renewal.

Observing the Ramadan fast requires discipline.  At this time of the year, dawn in Sydney is 5.13am and sunset is 5.01pm – that’s nearly 12 hours without any food or drink!  In the northern hemisphere summer, the prescribed hours of fasting are even longer, in some places more than twenty hours!  However, because Muslims follow a lunar calendar, Ramadan “advances” about 10 days every solar year, cycling through all the seasons every 36 years.  Muslims consider this one of the signs of God’s mercy: that no one bears the brunt of the long summer fasting hours every year, but each takes it in turn as Ramadan advances through the seasons.
Experiencing the hardships of fasting is a reminder of the suffering of others: the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the homeless, the refugees, those treated unjustly.  Accordingly, Ramadan is also a time of almsgiving, another of the Pillars of Islam, of sharing a proportion of one’s wealth with those in need.
As the sun sets and the azan (Call to Prayer) signals the end of the day’s abstinence, Muslims traditionally break the fast with dates and water.  After the evening prayer, families and friends gather in homes for the iftar (break fast) meal.  Often they invite people of other faiths to share in the food and friendship.  Muslim organisations host iftar meals for religious, civic and community leaders in public halls, sometimes seating hundreds of guests.  In turn, some church leaders host interfaith iftar meals for Muslims.
We acknowledge the generosity and hospitality of Muslims who host such meals during Ramadan and thank them for the many invitations we have received.  Through their initiative, Ramadan has now become a great season of interfaith relations.
In that spirit, we at the Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations, wish all Muslims in Australia and around the world, particularly our friends whom we have come to know, love and respect, Ramadan Kareem, a generous Ramadan.  We assure you of our solidarity with you at this sacred time in your religious calendar.
We will pray for you daily.  This is in accord with Pope Francis’ repeated exhortations to pray for one another, to implore the gift of peace from the One, Merciful, Compassionate God who is the Creator, Sustainer and Judge of all.
We encourage Catholics and other Christians to offer prayers for Muslims at weekday and Sunday Masses and other church services.  The intercession can be as simple as, “Let us pray for our Muslim sisters and brothers who are observing the fast of Ramadan at this time; that they find grace and favour in God’s eyes.  Lord, hear us.”
Although fasting in Ramadan is obligatory only for adult Muslims – there is no obligation on others, least of all on Christians whom the grace of Christ has freed from the law – we freely choose to fast with you as an act of solidarity.  We might not rise for the suhoor, the pre-dawn breakfast, but we will at least abstain from food and drink during the day.
We encourage Catholics, other Christians and believers from other faiths to do the same, even if only for a day or two. Perhaps the money saved by skipping the midday meal might be donated to a charity of your choosing, thus making a solidarity also in alms-giving.
To all Muslims, we wish you, your families, your mosque congregations, your communities, every blessing from God at this time. Ramadan Mubarak.  A blessed Ramadan.
Rev Dr Patrick McInerney
Mr Ryan Epondulan BA, BEd
Youth & Networking Coordinator, Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Images That Open Your Eyes

Called to Community

What is the Church’s role in the lives of individuals and families who no longer turn to it as the center of their social and family structure? What is the Church’s role in a world that increasingly sees it as irrelevant or even antithetical to human progress? What is the Church’s role in the lives of the people who continue to return to it as a source of strength, inspiration, solace and connection with God? What is the Church’s role in the lives of the people who have never walked through one of our doors and those who have sworn they never will again?

Our answers to these questions matter. Will the Church “die”? What about resurrection? Is there a clear line between the two or are they both happening simultaneously before our eyes?

Please join us at Hold fast Saint Andrew's as we explore the role of the church today.

Each week we will gather together to share in a meal, engage in honest conversation about questions that matter, and finish around the table of our Lord.

Everyone is invited to bring along something simple to share at the dinner table.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Spirituality for IDAHOBIT Day 2018

This painting presents one figure with outstretched arms in an invitational stance - allowing the heart to be vulnerable, open. Draped with an interpretation of the pride flag this beloved symbol has become part of the body, large and inseparable. Here the LGBTQ community is honored for choosing courageous paths to peace and justice over hate, time and again. I was inspired by Joseph’s “coat of many colors” from the Book of Genesis who invariably chose the ethical journey, which the community repeatedly does. Behind this very still figure are doves symbolizing the inherent sanctity and sacredness of this being, something that sadly remains unknown and unseen by those who reject, do not accept and are violent against the LGBTQ community.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

A City Pilgrimage Oz Rosary #53

A National Rosary Campaign  was launched in May by a group in Sydney which includes former Sacred Heart Cootamundra teacher, Jane Chifley. 

The Australian endeavor has an episcopal patron in the person of Bishop Emeritus David Cremin  

On the “Oz Rosary” website, he credits Polish Catholics for having begun the now worldwide national Rosary crusade.  

“I am a retired Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney, and I am more than happy to support the Oz Rosary Around Australia,” Cremin wrote. “This Rosary Crusade started in Poland with over a million Catholics and has spread to other countries. It is very much a lay initiative and a most devoted lay team are promoting it here in Australia.”
“I support very much this good apostolate of promoting the Rosary at this time when there is so much poverty (and) bloodshed and refugee problems in our world,” Cremin continued. “Our Blessed Lady’s intercession through the recitation of the Rosary is sorely needed at this time.”   
The Australian prayer event was originally called “Oz Rosary #53”, as its organizers hoped to establish as many as 53 locations, one for every “Hail Mary” of a five-decade Rosary. However, now more than 200 locations have been confirmed.
While the promotion and response is dominated by those in traditional parish and school communities I invited Catholics and friends who no longer associate or identify in this way to also have an opportunity to witness to this model of popular devotion.

On Sunday 13th May I went on a rosary pilgrimage to reflect on our country, its needs and our mission. I took the highlighted words of Bishop David Cremin's message as a focus. This pilgrimage began  at 3.00 pm at the Sorry Day Plaque in King George Square and concluded at  5.00pm, at sunsetat the entrance to the Botanic Gardens in Alice Street.
1st Decade: Justice for Indigenous Peoples
3.00 pm: Sorry Day Plaque King George Square

Reflection:  And the Church herself in Australia will not be fully the Church that Jesus wants her to be until you have made your contribution to her life and until that contribution has been joyfully received by others. 

Pope John Paul II  Alice Spring (Australia), 29 November 1986

2nd Decade for Peace and Nonviolence
3.30pm: Anzac Flame Ann Street
Reflection: For Christians, Jesus Christ is the strongest example and source of strength in our long journey towards the peace of God. He was the victim of the worst that humanity could do. His response to violence was not more violence but an act of transcendence that set humanity on a new path forever. The mission and resurrection of Jesus are both a message of hope to humanity and a call to conversion: to renounce the sources of violence and to look for new and constructive ways of addressing the pain and anger we see in our world.  2010: Violence in Australia,  Australian Catholic Social Justice Council

3rd Decade for Refugees and Asylum Seekers
4.00pm: Department of Home Affairs  Adelaide Street

Reflection: People who come to Australia claiming protection are not aliens, but our brothers and sisters. If they cannot find protection in their own countries, they are entitled to claim it from other nations, including ours. 2015-2016: For Those Who've Come Across the Seas  Australian Catholic Social Justice Council

4th Decade for Human Rights and Economic Justice
4.30pm: AMP Place 10 Eagle Street Brisbane
Reflection: We see a vineyard in which all are engaged as active contributors to the economic enterprise. We are called to work for an economy that is inclusive and capable of putting the needs of the poor before the wants of the rich. We envisage an alternative to market places that are harsh and inhospitable: the vineyard, lush and green, sustainable in its growth and inclusive in its economy. 2017-2018: Everyone’s Business Australian Catholic Social Justice Council

A pilgrim stop at Loud Fence  Cathedral of St Stephen Brisbane.

LOUD FENCE is a place to show support for those victims and survivors of child sexual abuse: tie ribbons to fences, letterboxes etc. NO MORE SILENCE.Prayer for survivors and deceased victims of institutional childhood abuse in Catholic institutions.

5th Decade for the Environment and Rough Sleepers in our streets and parks
5.00pm: Botanic Gardens Alice Street Gates
Reflection: Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”), Pope Francis, 2013, #53.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Community of St Dimpna

Community of St Dimpna - Providing a special place of hospitality at St Patrick’s, Church Hill, for survivors and victims of sexual abuse.

Each second Saturday at 7pm in The Crypt of St Patrick’s Church in Sydney, there will be a simple paraliturgy. This service will include the opportunity for individuals to be prayed over for healing. We will gather under the patronage of St Dimpna, patron saint of the sexually abused and those with mental or emotional distress.

Kevin Bates SM has written a beautiful reflective hymn for the St Dimpna Community. The hymn gives voice to the pain of those who have been wounded.

The first of these gatherings under the patronage of St Dimpna was held The Crypt at 7pm on Saturday 12 May 2018.

Michael Whelan I have, over the past ten years or so, grown in the conviction that "presence" matters. A lot! If we can provide a loving and healing presence, under the care-full eye of St Dimpna, when we gather each second Saturday evening, we will have done much. And let us be clear: The St Dimpna Community belongs to those who come. The "presence" depends on us all. We are in this together. Your "presence" - whoever you may be, whatever your life experience - is as important as anyone else's. It is occurring to me as I write: Maybe at the heart of the Community of St Dimpna is simply being present to each other in the Presence? Minimal formalities - enough to maintain care and respect - maximum presence. And that could look different each time we meet? I welcome your input. The more I know the more I know I don't know.

All welcome! Just turn up. Participate as you feel inclined.
Michael Whelan SM
Parish Priest

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has today elected Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane as president of the Conference.
Archbishop Coleridge was ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne in 2002 and later became Archbishop of Canberra-Goulburn. Since 2012, he has served as Archbishop of Brisbane.“With few illusions about myself or the task that awaits, I humbly accept the call to serve as president of the Conference at a time that is clearly challenging,” Archbishop Coleridge said.
“Among other issues, we bishops will together have to address the recommendations of the Royal Commission and prepare for the upcoming Plenary Council 2020. I trust I will be able to provide the unifying leadership this will require. ( Source: ACBC Media Blog)

Friday, May 04, 2018

World Labyrinth Day 2018

May we honour and acknowledge the First Nations peoples of the land on which we place our labyrinths.
May we learn to walk in harmony. 
May we find the stillness of the centre of our lives. 
May we remember the footsteps of all who have walked and traveled before us
May our journey in and our journey out be a grace of awareness and healing. 
May the rhythm of life protect us at the edge and nurture us at our centre.

On this World Labyrinth Day I walk the sacred path united to my ancestors whose DNA I carry I 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 will 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.