Saturday, April 10, 2021

Edward Cardinal Cassidy RIP


Edward, Cardinal Cassidy passed away on 10 April 2021 after a distinguished life of service to religion and the International community.

As a photographer I met the Cardinal in 2006 at  the National Aboriginal and Torres StraitIslander Catholic Assembly. It is an honour to share these images from that event.

 Edward Idris Cassidy AC (5 July 1924 – 10 April 2021) was an Australian Roman Catholic cardinal priest. He was the President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. He headed the Commission of the Holy See for Religious Relations with the Jews. He was made a cardinal on 28 June 1991, and  spent most of his career in the diplomatic service of the Holy See. (Source)

In a wonderful Aussie online tribute on the Facebook page of Archbishop Anthony Fisher one poster wrote:  RIP Cardinal Hopalong. He will forever be remembered in Woy Woy parish (Broken Bay Diocese) as he blessed the bells in the bell tower of our then new church years ago. He is remembered on a plaque attesting to that fact.

The Parramatta High old boy and broke the mould of the young seminarians of his era having divorced parents and no official Catholic education. 

Jordan Gratham produced a great interview with Edward Cassidy in 2017 which featured in Catholic Outlook

In 2004, he created controversy with his comment that Dominus Iesus, the conservative declaration issued by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) did not faithfully represent the Catholic Church's position on ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue.

"If on judgement day the Lord asks [me] what [I] did, if nothing else, [I] can say that [I] signed the Joint Declaration on the Doctrineof Justification."

 – Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy, as reported in LutheranWorld Information (1999-10-29): “Joint Declaration” is a “peace document”

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Hans Kung RIP

Hans Kung RIP

Hans Küng , one of the world's most renowned theologians and founder of the Global Ethic Foundation, died on Tuesday afternoon at the age of 93 in his home in Tübingen. The Swiss, who taught in Tübingen from 1960 to 1996, played a key role in shaping the Catholic Church. The books of the fundamental theologian became bestsellers. In the past 30 years he has been particularly committed to the dialogue between world religions , particularly in the "Global Ethic Project". (Full statement here)

50 years ago as a young 18 year old I had a passion for politics and religion. There were plenty of resources to stir my political imagination and in 1971  my religious imagination was launched and nurtured when I attended a series of public talks in Melbourne by Hans kung.

I was probably the youngest person in the audience at the Wilson Hall, University of Melbourne and I came away with a treasured copy of Theology and Freedom.

Rest in Peace my first theology teacher.


Roger Haight SJ

Friday, April 02, 2021

Easter Greeting 2021

Welcome to the Season of Easter  Yes, it runs much longer than a long weekend and the Easter sales.  Thanks to joy filled Christianity there are 50 days for the greetings, the chocolate, the hot cross buns, and the 'Alleluia" refrain that will echo with hope in worshipping communities right up to Pentecost Sunday on May 12.
Thanks to our colourful history and diversity our sisters and brothers of the Orthodox communities  will celebrate Easter on May 2nd.Their celebrations of the season will continue for 40 days until the Feast of the Ascension on June 10.
In the midst of our religious festivity the Islamic community will begin Ramadan on April  12. 
Truly this is a season of new life, peace among peoples and universal hope for the future of our planet, May this time of renewal and peace find a home in our hearts.

A Song of Cosmic Praise to welcome this Easter Morning and wish you all the blessings and wild adventure that this season invites us to commit to again.
Text: James Phillip McAuley and Music: Richard Connolly.

Chorus: Sing a new song, sing a new song,
And wait upon the promise of the Lord.
Sing a new song, sing a new song,
And wait upon the promise of the Lord.
1. Creation sings a new song, to the Lord;
The universal energies rejoice;
Through all the magnitudes
of space and time
Creatures proclaim the grandeur of Christ:
2. The mountains and the valleys
and the plains,
The cattle and the wild beasts
and the birds,
The shadows and the clouds,
the rain and snow,
Praise and reflect the bounty of Christ.
3. The ocean deeps,
the currents and the tides,
The diatoms, the fishes, and the whale,
The storm, the reef,
the waterspout, the calm,
Praise and reflect the wonder of Christ.
4. The fruit-trees in their seasons
and the vine,
The sycamore, the cedar, and the palm,
The lotus and the orchid and the rose,
Praise and reflect the beauty of Christ:
5. The human eye, the shaping hand,
the mind,
With number and with symbol and design,
In work and play and artistry and prayer,
Praise and reflect the wisdom of Christ:
6. The love of man and woman clear as dawn,
The will for truth and justice broad as day,
The wisdom of the heart profound as night,
Praise and reflect the glory of Christ:
Sing a new song, sing a new song,
And wait upon the promise of the Lord.
Sing a new song, sing a new song,
And wait upon the promise of the Lord.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Holy Week 2021

Laughing Christ no.10 Noel Counihan
This week  is different for those who share my community of faith. This is a dramatic week dominated by the colours of blood red, regal purple and dazzling white. This is the week of donkey riding, foot-washing service, breaking bread and drinking wine with the discovery of an empty tomb as the peak moment of belief and solidarity.
This is the commemoration of a moment in history that has defined values, fired the imagination and plunged us into the joys and hope, the grief and anguish of human life.
These are days of storytelling, dramatic recreations of passion, suffering and life, and music that finds the crack in everything; that’s “ how the light gets in”
Today our religious observance and language will be meaningless if we refuse to confront the powers of empire .
Our cries of "Hosanna" must echo the cries for freedom and liberation of those detained  because they seek refuge and asylum in our land.
This week will not be Holy unless we refuse to crucify the innocent.
This week will not be Holy unless we break bread and drink wine with the poor and abandoned of our community.
This week will not be Holy unless we walk the passion of the earth.
This week will be Holy if we commit to act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with all that is sacred. 

The image I have selected for Holy Week 2021 is the Laughing Christ no.10  by Noel Counihan 1972

 In his series of the Laughing Christ Counihan makes a strong statement expressing what he saw as institutionalised religion’s support of the Vietnam war. Counihan’s Christ laughs in derision at the charade of Vietnam and the Church’s participation in supporting the military intervention.

Counihan’s Christ is an Australian. He sits upon the cross, arms folded across his body like a wharfie at a union meeting. He wears his crown of thorns indifferently, even jauntily. The bulky figure exudes apathy and indifference, the mouth wide with cynicism and condemnation.

Today this Christ will grimace at a Church that has become a byword for shame and disgrace. This Christ will  grimace at a clerical culture that has valued power over service, status over transparency and wealth over stewardship.

May this distorted  image of the sacred shake us from religious apathy and indifference to live this Easter renewed with a re-imagined faith with the vision of the women who first proclaimed the Resurrection.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

The Annunciation of the Lord 2021

Today across Catholic culture, embracing diverse Christian communities is known as the feast of the Annunciation of the Lord. 
This festival which has been celebrated by Christians since the 5th Century marks the Incarnation of the Christ. It is also a celebration in the community of Islam.

The featured art work for this feast is The Annunciation by Australian artist Garry Shead 
I discovered this work when it was featured on the cover of Liturgy News, a publication of the Archdiocese of Brisbane in March 2005.
In his commentary on Shead's Annunciation Rev Dr Tom Elich notes that this art "enters into dialogue with the Scripture event and embellishes the melody of the narrative with a kind of counterpoint."
Shead's work is not about Palestine 2000 years ago.It is about us today. In a typical irreverent Australian spirit of the larrikin Shead invites us into the angelic conversation where as Elich suggest we face the questions:
'I wonder what it would be like if it happened to me?What kind of experience is this angelic visitation that I would know the embrace of God in the greeting "Rejoice favoured one". How intimate this intervention of the divine that of my own flesh should begin to grow a child conceived by the Holy Spirit"
Special feast day greetings to my neighbours at the Church of the Annunciation Anglican Church Camp Hill

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Celebrating St Joseph


Quirky #Catholicism101. Today is another great Saint day  for Catholics. And it proves you don't even need to be  Catholic to be recognzed as a saint.

Yes, today is the feast day of one of the Bible's most amazing Jewish figures, Joseph of Nazareth. We know very little about him apart from being married to Mary, the mother of the Christ. He is not your everyday saint. He gets a solemnity in the Roman Calendar which means smells and bells with all the whistles. This despite never having gone to Mass on Sunday, weekly confession or even saying one decade of his wife's rosary!!!

Yet he gets a cameo appearance in every Catholic Church and building either in glass s or stone. And like all saints he is not allowed to rest in peace but as with members of the royal family is expected to take on patronages and causes.

St Joseph is the Patron: of the Universal Church, unborn children, fathers, workers, travelers, immigrants, a happy death, Belgium, Canada, Carpenters, China, Peru, Russia, Social Justice, Vietnam. There is no record of him getting days off!!

You aren't really Catholic unless you have been to a "St Joseph's" of some sort. I did my secondary education at 
St Joseph's College Geelong
 and worked at St Joseph's Parish #Collingwwod for a few years.

So today is a great day for all those who carry this name and all its variations across language. Greetings and blessings to you all on this day, especially our Aussie and New Zealand Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart.

The artwork for this feast is St Joseph Patron of Fathers by 
Jen Wojtowicz's Art & Jewelry

Saturday, March 06, 2021

Singing My Way Through Catholicism

Monday   March 8  this year marks the 68th  anniversary of my baptism at the Church of St John the Evangelist in 1953.

Part of Catholic culture at the time of my birth was to name children after great saints This was my parents choice rather than dedicate me to Troy Donahue or even "Bing Crosby" one of my father's idols. Family lore tells that I was entitled to be called "Alexander" in the custom of my father and grandfather as a first born son. However, Irish Catholicism won the day and I was named in honour of St Anthony (of Padua) and St Gerard Majella. Both these men have been associated with working among the poor and being pretty passionate about most things in life except sex. Pity most of the popular images of such men portray them as insipid blokes with total disinterest in the world around them.

My parents initiated me into a Catholicism that continues to be a core community of faith and challenge in my life. At the heart of this community are relationships that have nurtured and sustained my questions, my passions and my spirituality. Finding these relationships has been a life long journey from the Irish clericalism that dominated my  education through the machismo of life at a Christian Brothers College  and finally the exposure to a global vision in a community of Capuchin Friars.

Much of this journey is now available as a digital version of my Catholic life.

This anniversary also falls on International Women's Day. I acknowledge the women in my family history, those who educated me, my friends and work colleagues. My women mentors in faith have included  Margaret Oats, "Mum" Shirl and, Dorothy Day.

Star of the Sea, West Melbourne 1984
I have been Catholic across three countries three states, four Archdioceses one religious
order, numerous professional associations, groups and everything Catholic!!!

I remain in the Church because I cannot be elsewhere. I have a right by baptism to membership and participation in this community. Its ambiguity and its weakness are part of my reality and give me a context for personal conversion and commitment to maturity

Peak experiences include:
  • Suffering Catholic Trauma at my first communion mass with the anxiety of the host getting stuck in the roof of my mouth
  • Endless childhood confessions admitting to sins I could barely pronounce
  • Induction into the Guild of St Stephen by the famous Guilford Young at our first National Conference for Altar Boys (as we were in those days !!)in 1964.
  • Taking vows of poverty chastity and obedience  with the Capuchin Friars and then discovering that two  out of three wasn't a pass.
  • Falling in love with Bing Crosby instead of Julie Andrews
Acknowledging my  Catholicism is made with some trepidation in the current climate. However, there is a spectrum of Catholicism. At one end you will find George Pell and at the other, Andy Warhol You will find Mary Queen of Scots, but you will also discover St. Mary MacKillopTony Abbott and Barnaby Joyce carry membership cards as did Mum Shirl. and Fr Ted Kennedy of Redfern. Scoundrels, saints and sinners , have filled the pews,  written our history and taken us on the highs and lows of human experience.
I grew up in a era of Catholicism that nurtured a love of music and singing. The popular Hymn, "How Can I keep From Singing" is rarely sung in Catholic Churches but it captures a sentiment that some of us will identify with as we scroll our social media and watch the reports of clergy abuse dominate our screens.:
Thro' all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul—
How can I keep from singing?

Each year I publish a list of hymns and music that I have sung in Catholic communities from childhood to my adult years. The list now runs to 68 pieces to commemorate this anniversary. If you are Catholic you might enjoy a trip down memory lane. If you have never sung with Catholics, you will probably be amazed at the clips you can find on youtube!!!
I hope the sharing of this post nurtures hope for all of us who live in these days of "tumult and strife"
Readers are welcome to sing-a-long to their favourites and add comments and stories of their memories of these and similar hymns that nurtured the Catholic baby boomers.

All Aboard The Ark by Australian singer.songwriter Peter Kearney has a particular significance in 2020.The song celebrates the L'Arche Communities around the globe. However as the new year begun  news of the disturbing and abusive  practices of Jean Vanier regarded as the founding father of the community in France have shaken many

All Creatures of Our God and King is one of those majestic pieces that sounds best in great Cathedrals and is usually dragged to death in the local parish. Naturally this comes from the Franciscan influence in my Catholicism and I got to sing it in Capuchin and other parishes all over the country.

Allelu Folk Mass is part of the work of Ray Repp who was one of the first 'folk" style church musicians beginning his publications in 1966.His settings and songs were a regular feature of my weekly singing at Nazareth House Brisbane in 1973. This clip gives you access to hours of happy listening to an era now lost in the archives of most parishes. if you haven't done so go back and read the bio. No wonder I felt the vibes singing his songs!!

Amen was one of those great anthems that we never really got the swing of. We played it twice with no hand clapping and quickly moved on to the Our Father. The 70s could have been so moving!!

Ave Verum I  last sung with the parish choir at the  Church of St Joseph's in Collingwood.

Be Thou My Vision  Rop tú mo baile in its original Gaelic.It remains one of those stirring  hymns where the old English phrasing sits comfortably.

Bring Flowers of the Fairest is one of those songs from my primary school days. Once a year the girls got to have their 15 minutes of Church fame with the crowning of the statue of Our Lady. This somewhat romantic ritual included the less than workplace health and safety practice of the lucky lass. wrapped in yards of coloured cloth climbing a less than sturdy ladder to plonk a wreathe of flowers on Mary's head.

Carry The Dream John Coleman held a benefit concert for L'Arche Seattle at St. Ignatius Chapel, Seattle University on June 15th. 2012 He was returning to Australia after the L'Arche International Federation Meeting in Atlanta. This video, set to the theme song of the Federation meeting which John composed, was put together by his friend, John O'Donnell.

Christ be Our Light has been one of the standards at St Mary's in Exile.

Christ The Lord Is Risen Today One of the great numbers form the Living Parish Hymnal that made up my choral work in Geelong.

Come Back To Me This became a classic in my collection for for Lent from  the days when Gregory Norbett was a member of the  Monks of Weston Priory

Come To The Water A beautiful clip of a choral movement. A classic John Foley hymn from the St Louis Jesuits. It was the gathering hymn for my Dad's funeral mass. 

Dominique. Long before Janet Mead rocked the charts, the anonymous Singing Nun was in the charts. Jeanne Paule Deckers  life is one of tragic love and  the upheaval that marked the 60s. Stay on this channel to check the 1982 release of this one.

Dona Nobis Pacem. My first public performance of this great piece from the pen of Mr Mozart himself was at my first profession ceremony in the chapel of Nazareth House Brisbane in 1974

Dream Lady No collection like this would be complete without a reference to St Mary of the Cross,.  This piece was written by another Australian hymn writer, Kevin Bates SM. He gets included because he also comes from my birth city of Geelong in Wathaurong Country.

Faith of Our Fathers  Bing Crosby was the second most important man in our house after Dad. His "White Christmas album was a sacred relic brought out for the season. Among the tracks was this version of the classic patriarchal hymn. Local Catholics will of course recognize this tune as the popular O Bread of Heaven from the Living Parish Hymnal.
 The mothers, sisters, aunts and parish housekeepers were all left in the back row for this one. Testosterone  with incense. Watch this rendition of Faith of Our Fathers from Dublin carefully. You will notice the nice young man behind Mr Patterson does not open his lips once. I bet the producers had a word or two to say to him. In his defense he may have been a Presbyterian!!

Filipino Mass Songs In 1979 I spent a month in the Philippines where the music and passion of a people living under a repressive martial law sang boldly and loudly of their faith.

Frank Anderson msc is here because almost every Australian parish has sung one of his songs at some stage.

Glory and Praise to Our God is now one of the standards that we sang even though it was canned by Thomas Day when he wrote Why Catholics Can't Sing.

God of Mercy and Compassion was in the Lent  pages of  the Living Parish Hymnal

God Gives HIs People Strength A choral version of a folksy tune!!!!

Hail Glorious St Patrick comes from my six year stint as a primary student at St Patrick's in Geelong West.

Hail Mary Gentle Woman comes from the great Catholic warbler, Carey  Landry. From 1972 his songs became a staple in schools parishes retreat centres and I bet the members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference even sang along at one of their gatherings.So, what happened to Carey when the St Louis Jesuits arrived? Well, he upped and married his travelling companion, Carol Jean Kinghorn and they have been singing happily ever after as hospital chaplains.

Hail Queen of Heaven is one of those "Are you really Catholic" hymns. You can tell that young Regina singing in this clip failed the test. She is reading the words!!! 

Hail Redeemer King Divine is another one of those "real men" hymns from the Holy Name Society. My Dad used to take me along to this religious testosterone gathering every month at Ss Peter and Paul's Church in Geelong West. Love this version with its images of Christchurch Cathedral  prior to the 2011 earthquake.

Here I Am Lord is one of those contemporary obligatory songs for major events. To be sung properly it should alternate between a soloist and the community. However most Catholics like to be God in this one.

Holy God We Praise Thy Name is another great anthem that rang out from the Holy Name Society gatherings in my childhood parish.

I'll Sing A Hymn to Mary probably rubs shoulders with O Purest of Creatures for the most sung Marian hymn from the Living Parish Hymnal

Jesus In Your Heart We Find comes from the Year of Faith collection of James McAuley and Richard Connolly.

Jesus Remember Me from the Taize Community.

Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All Another great sing-a-long from the Living Parish Hymnal

Joy is Like The Rain is one of the now archived songs of the 60s that most of us have agreed never to inflict on unsuspecting congregations again. However, listening to the story behind the song from one of my favourite feminist theologians gives me second thoughts.

Kyrie Eleison One of the beauties of Catholic singing is that you get to learn several languages including Greek.

Laudate Dominum I have thrown in a few of the Latin chants from the Taize community

Lead Kindly Light was rarely sung in my youth but it is a standard as an adult from the  inspiration of John Henry Newman.

Let Us Drink From the River Another John Coleman song from the L'Arche Australia collection.

Litany of the Saints is a chant that has featured in all my choral experiences from the plainchant to the newer settings such as this.

Lord of the Dance gets a mention not only because it comes from the great Sydney Carter, but also because it featured in Travelling to Freedom, the 1971 replacement for the LPH.

Love is His Word, Love is HIs Way Usually belted out with full voice this recording is a gentle solo work

Make Me A Channel of Your Peace was never written by St Francis, but lets not let the facts get in  the way of  the Peace Prayer of St Francis. I've sung it in lots of places and sang along  with the TV when it featured at Diana's funeral.

Missa Luba One of the great musical discoveries of my youth was this mass Setting. I still love singing it

Music from Papua New Guinea For two year I worked as a volunteer in the Diocese of Daru-Kiunga in Papua New Guinea. here is a set of images and hymns from their 2012 anniversary celebrations.

Now Thank We All Our God  was there in  the Living Parish Hymnal but I couldn't resist  giving the Mormons a chance to feature.

Now the Green Blade Rises A wonderful Easter song which I learnt from the Travelling to Freedom collection

O Sacrament Most Holy Another one where the Living Parish Hymnal opens automatically.

One Bread, One Body a contemporary standard loved and sung in many parishes.

Only A Shadow The Catholic version of shadow boxing religion from  Carey Landry. 

Our Father:  How could I not include the  song that still crops up in the most unexpected liturgies. And I got to meet the good lady many years later but didn't get her autograph!!
 The Aboriginal Our Father sung at the 2015 National Aboriginal Torres Strait Island Catholic Council Assembly in Darwin July 2015

Pange Lingua Gloriousi It usually only got an airing on Holy Thursday but that was enough to have it firmly planted in the memory bank.

Peter Kearney  has been called a pioneer in contemporary religious song. His earliest hymns 'Fill My House' and 'The Beatitudes' published in 1966 became internationally known. From 1982 Peter made music his work. As well as writing and publishing he has toured in all Australian states and overseas in Ireland, the United Kingdom and the USA to present his workshops and concerts. I have sung Peter's material for years in many settings.  See his bio.

Priestly People For a brief time before SLJ (St Louis Jesuits) everyone in Catholic parishes sang the music of the gifted Lucien Deiss.

Shalom Chaverim got in as the most popular Hebrew text in Catholic parishes in the 1970s.

Sons of God is one of those 60s songs that most of us have left behind in the archives of  forgettable songs of the era.

Soul of My Saviour is in the top ten selection from the Living Parish Hymnal

Spirit of God was blown all over Churches and schools in the 60s and 70s. I just love the reference to Sr Bubble .

Sr IreneO'Conner also predated Sr Janet Mead, but never broke into the charts. Irene was a member of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary with an aunt, Majella Tracey.I sang some of Irene's songs in my days as a Capuchin Friar.

Who remembers Leo? Answer Go Now You Are Sent Forth

Sweet Sacrament Divine Concert performances of these classic hymns from my childhood days overwhelm the memories of our local parish choir.

Take Our Bread has been sung to death and should now be quietly put in the dusty cupboard in the sacristy or vestry if you are reading from the USA.

Tantum Ergo That pre-conciliar Latin just gets in you and  every verse comes back from Sunday arvo Benediction.

The Lourdes Hymn Another great classic that sorts the real from the wannabees. If you need to read  the words you aren't really Catholic.

The Rose A Catholic hymn? It's presence in the list is again personal. In  the late 1970s a friend's sister was tragically gunned down by her police co-workers in an accident. The rendition of The Rose sung at her funeral haunts me to this day.

The Spirit of God From the work of the great Lucien Deiss.. Check out the other examples of his work on the sidebar of this clip.

Ubi Caritas another beautiful chant form Taize.

Veni Creator Spiritus The haunting Gregorian chant that I was taught as a young member of our parish choir in Geelong West. 

We Stand for God Another one of those "if you are really Catholic" hymns. Another anthem of the old Holy Name Society from our family parish of Ss Peter and Paul's in Geelong West.

Wherever You Go A lost treasure from the Monks of Weston Priory.

Yahweh, I Know You Are Near is now consigned to the "naughty corner" of Catholic hymns. See this instruction from  Rome in 2008.

Edward Cardinal Cassidy RIP

  Edward, Cardinal Cassidy passed away on 10 April 2021 after a distinguished life of service to religion and the International community. A...