Sunday, June 30, 2019

Taking Pride to Corpus Christi

You can pick a real Catholic because they know how to spell Corpus Christi and even know what it means. Exception made for the Texans who live in the city of Corpus Christi.

In Catholic tradition the feast of Corpus Christi has pretty good cred. It's been around long enough to have gathered all sorts of customs and public displays that range from the pious to the flamboyant.

In Brisbane the annual Corpus Christi Procession has evolved  from laps around the  oval at Nudgee to a full-on street parade in the heart of the city.  This year it included a GoFundMe appeal to cover the costs that raised only $170 of the $10,000 target. Perhaps the Archdiocese should have hired Israel Foloa as their fundraiser!!!

Having followed recent processions as a photographer, I decided to join he Corpus Christi procession with my Rainbow Flag cape representing my LGBTIQA+ community of faith in a more public statement. This  decision was prompted by a workshop I attended in May at the Catholic Missions 2019 conference. One of the workshop options offered was: Valuing LGBTIQA+ People, How Can We Include All? The workshop provided a safe space for people to reflect on the issues and experience of exclusion and homophobia in the Church.

My colours blended in well with the bright umbrellas of the Syro-Malabar community but proved a strong contrast to the mostly staid  officials providing escort for the procession.

There were a few wonderful moments and encounters. At one stage I was standing by taking pics when a young man asked:"Are you a Catholic?" when I confirmed  my identity he smiled and said" Well done". Towards the end I was taking some pics of people kneeling n the steps of the Cathedral during Benediction.As I stood up to move to another position a lady leaving saw me with my cape and said" You can go in God loves everybody"!!

My Rainbow Flag didn't get a mention in the official report of the procession in the Catholic Leader but I am happy to think I was a little wave of pride in the "sea of  Catholics"!!

Corpus Christi Declaration 2019
Corpus Christi Procession Brisbane 2019
Holy Irritant Corpus Christi posts

Friday, June 28, 2019

Jesus gives his heart to West End.

Nothing quite catches the eye like religious iconography in unexpected places. Today as I was wandering down Boundary Street in West End, Brisbane I saw this Sacred Heart Candle among the bric-a brac in Ecclectica esoteric books & curiosities.

Today in Catholicland is called the feast of the Sacred Heart. It’s day when a couple of religious communities who have this moniker in their name gets to party like there is no tomorrow. Every Catholic building worth it’s salt has a statue or window of the Sacred Heart.

The popular image is probably a bit “out there” for many people as it depicts a Hollywood style Jesus with coiffed curls pointing to or holding his heart while staring hard at the viewer.

Behind the saccharine art work is an amazing bit of theology that says the Divine has a “bleeding heart” as those on a certain side of politics say to deride anyone with compassion. In plain language it means God is on the side of those pushed to the social margins like prisoners, refugees, migrants and so many others.

So here in the middle of West End today I find Jesus Sacred Heart staring out with Divine compassion to those on the street who may be feeling the wrath of a rugby player too keen to condemn and too slow to let his heart become sacred.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Forgotten Australians at the Ad Limina Apostolorum

This is one of the many pics flooding my social media  feed from the Australian Catholic Bishops currently in Rome. They are on what is called the Ad Limina Apostolorum, reporting on the state and condition of the Australian Church to the Pope.
There have been Masses celebrated in the great Basilicas with homilies about history, religion and grandiose calls to humility. Bishops have also posted comments about the intentions and people for which Masses are being offered.
So far, and the visit is almost over, there has been no mention in my reading of prayers of lament or sorrow for the victims of clergy sexual abuse and the crime of concealing evidence and protecting offenders by their peers in a sordid history of our Church.
As I hear so often "these guys don't get it". It 's not just about signing off on a National Redress Scheme for the most affordable outcome.Nor is it about scoring brownie points for good protocols from the head prefects in Rome. It is about restorative justice where relationships need to be healed and forgiveness needs to be sought.
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference really needs to do an Ad Limina Apostolorum with the people of the Church in Australia before it gets too excited about the Plenary Council 2020

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Corpus Christi 2019 Declaration
Yes, let’s honour the presence of Jesus on this land which always was, always will be Aboriginal Land of the Turrbal People and the Jagera People
Let’s honour the presence of Jesus in our streets where commercial exploitation dominates the landscape.
Let’s honour the presence of Jesus on footpaths where homeless people sleep rough seeking shelter and comfort.
Let’s honour the presence of Jesus on streets where people have marched in protest for refugee rights, for worker’s rights, for women’s rights and for peace and justice.
Let’s honour the presence of Jesus not only today with this religious process but in our solidarity and presence with those who process on these streets for a civic and just society.
Let’s carry this sacred Sacrament in gilded glory but let it not distract us from our religious duty to feed the poor, to set the prisoners free, to care for the widows and orphans, to protect this planet, our common home, to welcome the stranger, to proclaim the social upheaval of the Magnificat of Mary.
I will join this Catholic procession as a Gay man wearing my rainbow flag. I will add my colours to the banners of parish and ethnic communities. I will bring the flair of the rainbow alongside the brocade and lace of religious vestments.
I will process in these streets with my Catholic community as I have processed so often on previous demonstrations of my core beliefs with those seeking justice, human rights and liberation.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Celebrating Anthony

One of the significant days of this month is June 13th, my name  day. My parents made sure I would spend my life gaining easy and instant recognition as a good Catholic boy by naming me after St Anthony of Padua whose feast-day falls on this day

Now this saint should not be confused with the many other holy Anthonys who have front row seats in the celestial realm.

My "Anthony" is a one of Catholicism's pin-up boys. He is patron for a number of a eternal chores that occupy most of his working days 

In his spare time he poses for thousand of popular images and statues that adorn churches homes and religious houses.

Somewhere along the timeline he also found time to star in a series of movies. My favourite is this classic from the silent movie era made long before the days inter-religious dialogue.


It's always good to remember that saints are often given to us to admire rather than imitate. Anthony was part of the weird and wonderful world of medieval Catholicism  in the early 13th century. He died at 36 in 1231 and never had an intimate relationship. So far I've outlived him and have not found the queue for the call to lifelong chastity.

Anthony was a great public speaker and had a pretty sharp intellect. Catholicism has a quaint practice of awarding posthumous PhDs to smart cookies and Anthony eventually got his in 1946.

Iconography of the saints is a big business as Churches, Monasteries, Convents,Schools, Oratories, Retreat Centres,Presbyteries and the humble domestic house have all gone shopping for their heavenly personalities to decorate walls. Anthony has quite large choice for the discerning shopper. 

This feast falls within the anniversary of the death and burial of Anthony Foster who won't make it into the Litany of Saints but will be remembered for his  passionate challenge to the Church.and its sad history of clergy sexual abuse.  Anthony Foster's legacy has ensured that the Church has to undergo a shift in culture.  Perhaps it is time to replace the popular 17th Century image of St Anthony with the child Jesus as no longer appropriate. Despite an attempt to theologise the image I suggest it is one that has well passed its use by date. The icon used in this blog is from the work of Robert Lentz OFM. 

Tourism is also part of every saints working life after death. Anthony has inspired a series of Churches and Basilicas. In Melbourne the local Capuchins applied for an extension of their friary chapel back in the 1950s. By the time they finished Power Street Hawthorn was adorned with its very own Italianate Shrine to St Anthony.
I have also discovered that Anthony himself goes  on tour for special events. He last appeared in 2010 when his less than attractive remains were taken for a lap of honour around his home base Basilica. Close up pic here.  However, it seems that  the locals may have been short changed as a bit of his floating rib goes out on tour minus the rest of the bones.

Behind the saccherine hagiography lies the story of a man of faith and service, a man of his time with passion for truth, people and the needs of his era. Yeh, I still invoke him when things go missing and he has been part of my community of faith since my childhood days when his pic used to hang in my parents house over the bathroom door!!!.

So here's a call out to all those who share variants of the name Anthony! Celebrate, eat some good bread, indulge in some Italian or Portugese wine and make a public statement about  your passions

Understanding Islam:The Prophet's Covenants

A growing number of scholars now contend that the Prophet Muhammad made pledges to protect Christian, Jewish and other monotheistic communities and granted them rights of religious freedom. These Covenants contradict the restrictive and discriminatory rules found in texts of Islamic law and challenge long-held beliefs about Islam's teachings on the rights of non-Muslims under Muslim rule. This presentation delivered in Brisbane on 11th June 2019 examined the evidence for the authentication of the Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad and discusses their implication for interfaith relations, peaceful coexistence and our understanding of Islam's original teachings.

Halim Rane is an Associate Professor of Islam-West Relations at Griffith University. His research encompasses the fields of Islamic studies, sociology of religion, media and communications. In 2015 he received the prestige award of Australian University of the Year. His latest publications include the peer-reviewed paper, "Cogent Religious Instruction": A Response to the Phenomenon of Radical Islamist Terrorism in Australia, and the book, Islam and Muslim Communities in the West: Major Issues and Debates.



Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Images That Open Your Eyes

Optimism 101
Two young Mormon Elders door knocking inside St  Mary's Catholic Cathedral,Sydney

Monday, June 03, 2019

Images That Open Your Eyes

The message to Muslims from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue on the occasion of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr 1440 H. / 2019 A.D. It was prepared by Bishop Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, whom Pope Francis recently appointed President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue