This blog offers an Australian perspective on faith, religion and spirituality. It invites you to join the joys and hope, the grief and anguish of a middle aged Aussie Catholic.
The material reflects my interest in global as well as local issues.My perspective is probably more quirky than orthodox.
Today is Earth Overshoot Day, when humanity’s demands for ecological resources (including fish, forests, fresh water, etc) exceed what the Earth can renew in a year.
Over seven Anglican Cathedrals and many other churches across Australia have marked this day by tolling their bells for the 12 minutes until midday and holding a short liturgy to pray that collectively we can recognise our broken relationship with God's creation, and restore and renew all life on the Earth.
No man is an island, Entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, A part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less. As well as if a promontory were. As well as if a manor of thine own Or of thine friend's were. Each man's death diminishes me, For I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know For whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee.
17th Century English poet and Anglican Dean, John Donne.
[pics: St Johns Cathedral (Brisbane), Highfields (Toowoomba) and Good Shepard (Bundaberg) other Churcheslisted here]
What can I do to help on Earth Overshoot Day?
Pray for people to see the ecological crises in our midst and for “ecological conversion”.
Tell others in your church and online communities about this day, share theFacebook page,
In the autobiographical fragments of Mary Ward’s retreat writing, it is delightful to find out how she addresses God. Hers is in an all-inclusive way and it speaks to her image of God.
“O parent of parents and friend of all friends, thy intent inthus disposing was different from those: for here – without entreaty thou tookest me into thy care, and by degrees led me from all else that at length I might see, and settle my love on thee…
Inspired by Mary, I am drawn to sayJesus’words to the disciples out aloud; this time with her wonderful way of addressing God at the beginning. Praying with these archetypal images of Divine friend and parent before me seems simple but also helpful in a way as it adds a freshness to the Gospel passage. It draws me closer to my God of love, wisdom and protection.
Fr Malcolm P. Fyfe msc writes on the 6th Anniversary to the Prime Minister
“It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.” Prayer of St Francis.’An open letter to our political leaders by Fr Malcolm P. Fyfe msc, Vicar General of the Catholic Diocese of Darwin.
The Honourable Mr Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia.
Dear Prime Minister,
Today is the sixth anniversary of PM Kevin Rudd’s announcement that no person seeking asylum by boat would ever be resettled in Australia.
Every single person arriving after that date was to be subjected to indefinite detention on Manus Island, PNG, or in the Republic of Nauru, under ‘processing’ arrangements between the Australian Government and those Pacific states.
Six years on, roughly 800 refugees and people seeking asylum remain trapped on Manus Island and Nauru.
I am writing to every Member of the Australian Parliament from the Diocese of Darwin, on behalf of many, many well-informed and thoughtful Australians who are deeply concerned, indeed appalled, by that component of Australia’s current Border Protection Policy.
The offshore processing regime is claimed to be essential as a deterrent to ensure there are no more asylum seeker or refugee arrivals by boat.
Regardless of that claim’s validity, this is actually a classic and clear case of legislation that is immoral in the most basic of ways: an evil act is engaged in for the purpose of achieving some good outcome.
How far can one go inflicting suffering on one group of people to prevent unrelated others from acting in a certain way?
Why stop at indefinite detention, which is already just a slightly civilized form of torture? Indeed, in my opinion, it has similarities with the use of “human shields” in warfare.
But back to 2013. The fact that the “stop the boats” slogan featured strongly during the 2013 federal election campaign should not at this point in time prevent changes being made to Australia’s Border Protection Policy to achieve a more humane treatment of people who have committed no crime.
Earlier legislation should not be so set in concrete as to justify a stubbornly maintained policy of keeping hundreds of fellow human beings locked away in our Offshore Detention Centres, with scant hope of reprieve in sight.
With relentless regularity, Government Ministers have blatantly repudiated and debunked the raft of concerns raised by United Nations personnel, the Human Rights Commission, Church Leaders, Medical and Legal Experts, Children’s Welfare Organisations and other highly principled members of the public. Our elected leaders simply take cover behind a Jericho Wall of total secrecy regarding Operation Sovereign Borders, the treatment of persons intercepted at sea and those in immigration detention centres generally.
The crippling cost of maintaining the current detention arrangements is also a very real concern, putting huge pressure on the budget. Is this unnecessary outlay to go on and on unchecked?
Here is the first and preferred proposal I would like to make:
Operation Sovereign Borders involved from the start a two-pronged strategy, characterized by (1) a deterrence policy (“Don’t attempt to come here by boat or you will face the unbearable treatment we are meting out to our detainees”) and (2) by the diligent efficiency of our Australian Defence Forcesmonitoring and controlling the seas surrounding us.
Has not our experience over recent years shown that the Australian Defence Forces are quite capable by their own resources, of achieving the goal of “stopping the boats” to the point that we no longer need the deterrent factor associated with our costly and inhumane detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island?
We should henceforth guard our shores by military skill and effective intelligence and discreetly dismantle our offshore detention centres, re-assuming responsibility ourselves for on-shore processing as swiftly as possible.
As regards the detainees still on Nauru and Manus Island, why not consider the feasibility ofa carefully planned, once and for all AMNESTY, with cross-party support, for as many of them as possible?
What an innovative and laudatory move that would be! Our international standing would be greatly enhanced by such an act.
If the above is rejected out of hand and an objective appraisal of it simply vetoed, then I would make the following (fall-back) proposal:
It was back in August 2012 that the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers delivered its Report. I believe it is time for another “Expert Panel” to be set up on cross-party lines to review the situation and to indicate what changes can now be made to the conclusions and outcomes of the earlier Report.
Australia is capable of something a lot savvier and more generous than our current harsh and mean treatment of asylum seekers and refugees. The majority of people I encounter are most uncomfortable with this ongoing reprehensible phenomenon and there is a growing sense that, as Australians, we are better than this.
As an elected representative with good moral principles, can you stand aloof and make no effort to achieve a more positive and humane future for these already damaged and hapless human beings?
Instead of subjecting them to even harsher Medevac arrangements, let’s bring them out of their current confinement into the realm of freedom and opportunity that we Australians inhabit and so put an end to this ugly and unnecessary 6 year episode.
With appreciation for the many good things our elected Members are doing,
(Father) Malcolm P. Fyfe msc
Catholic Diocese of Darwin“
“It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.” Prayer of St Francis.`
Feature photo courtesy of: Benita de Vincentiis, the Diocesan Youth Worker.
Safeguarding the integrity of the Creation requires us to walk lightly on the earth in more ways than simply reducing our carbon footprint. Our need to do this is highlighted by the marking of what is known as Overshoot Day.
Overshoot Day is the day when humanity's demands for ecological resources (fish, forests, fresh water etc), exceeds what the Earth can renew in a year.
It is driven by our attitudes and disconnect towards the Earth, our common home. We are collectively over consuming and overexploiting our resources.
Last October the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that we have just 12 years to avoid catastrophic climate. In May, another United Nations report suggested we are heading towards the extinction of one million species.
Climate change and biodiversity loss are the tragic warning signs of our broken relationship with God's Creation, of our loss of understanding our interrelationship with all living things.
And Australians are some of the biggest contributors. If everyone behaved like us, humanity would consume the equivalent of 5.2 earths a year. As Christians, we want to mark this event, to raise it in the public consciousness and create a call for transformation. Ultimately, as both Pope Francis and Rowan Williams have said, we need an 'ecological conversion.'
To mark Overshoot Day, one of the Cathedral’s bells will toll from 11.48am, for 12 minutes until midday, Monday 29 July. At Noon we will hold a short service.
Other actions you might like to consider: Pray - for people to see the ecological crises in our midst and for 'ecological conversion'. Tell - others in the community why Overshoot Day is important. Act - as Christians we need to examine and commit to how we Live the Change that we proclaim in the world.
Will you declare what you want to see (and possibly help make) happen in order to #MoveTheDate of Earth Overshoot Day to December 31 or later before 2050? It’s as easy as posting your 15-second video selfie on your favorite social media! See details here.
In recent years I have adopted a patron and spiritual mentor whose feastday falls on July 24. In keeping with my heightened sense of the "feminine", my newly adopted patron is a woman saint. Christina the Astonishing, Virgin (1150 - 1224) (when read aloud the word "comma" should be pronounced as she was not just an astonishing virgin, but astonishing in other ways!!)
Christina's bio reads like the script from a Dan Brown and Steven Spielberg collaboration. This is definitely a PG rated text. It is best read, seated with all lights on and the children safely in bed.
This image depicts the first recording of Christina's public appearances when she was believed to have died, but managed to soar from her coffin during her funeral Mass. Not surprisingly, such behaviour saw a quick exodus from the Church with only the dutiful priest and her distressed sister left to witness this amazing resurrection. And yes, there was more: while presumed to be dead, she had in fact been "on tour" to Hell, Purgatory and Heaven. Upon this return visit she decide to dedicate her life to a sort of public pyschodrama performance where she acted out the downside of the nasty behaviour she saw around her.
For the next forty years Christina managed to cause alarm and anxiety in her local community by performing Olympian spiritual exercises which included extreme prayer balanced on poles. She had no dress sense, ignored any protocols about workplace health and safety and refused to be tamed by doctors priests or any other men of the town.
Yet, the records of the time also note that her advice was sought by both civic and religious leaders of her day.She was even summoned to the death bed of a local Count to hear his confession.
Like other popular residents of the celestial realm Christina had been provided with w series of patronages to keep her busy. It may not surprise readers that the list includes:
Christina has her own entry in Wikipedia and appears prominently in a Google search. She has been the subject of art, study and even song:
So, I invite you to join me on her feast day as we celebrate Christina, a parable of the reign of God. The eccentric grace that drove her to extremes is the spirit in which I now invoke her as patron of "Holy Irritants". In this age, the mere example of nonconformity, the mere refusal to bend the knee to custom, is itself a service. Precisely because the tyranny of opinion is such as to make eccentricity a reproach, it is desirable, in order to break through that tyranny, that people should be eccentric. Eccentricity has always abounded when and where strength of character has abounded; and the amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage which it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric, marks the chief danger of the time. On Liberty John Stuart Mill