Thursday, 16 November 2017

Weekday Mass changes

Due to continuing renovations in St Monica's Church, Walkerville, there will be no weekday Masses there from Friday 17th November to Monday 4th December, inclusive. If there are any changes to this I will update on this blogsite.

Weekday Masses will be at Sacred Heart, Hindmarsh at 7am on all these days (Monday to Saturday).

Sunday Mass will still be at St Monica's, 8am. and Hindmarsh 5pm.

23rd Sunday after Pentecost 12 Nov 2017 Sermon

23rd Sunday after Pentecost 12.11.17 Persistence in prayer

In childhood we hear stories which have happy endings. Then, as we grow older we learn that happiness does not come so easily.

This is part of the painful process of growing up, when we discover the jagged edges of reality, and experience various disappointments in our lives.

We learn that we cannot have everything we want.

We can, however, overdo this ‘growing up’, to the point of becoming cynical about life, rejecting happiness in all its forms, as even being possible.

Thus we lower our expectations, of how happy we can expect to be. We are glad for any improvement, but not daring to hope for much.

This can have an adverse effect on our faith, and our prayer. If we have only a limited expectation of how good things can be, we will not ask for much when we pray.

The Bible is full of exhortations for us to pray: Pray constantly…If there is anything you need ask for it in prayer… Ask and it shall be given to you … But we can be too much weighed down by ‘reality’ to pray. We have lost the childlike wonder that enables us to believe in miracles.

Things may not be perfect, but we are still allowed to want them to be perfect; in fact we are supposed to want it.

When we ask for things to be as they should be, we are doing no more than asking that God's kingdom come among us… and that is something He taught us to pray.

God wants things to run as they should, even more than we want it.

He wants us to be happy in this life as well as the next; to experience the happiness that comes from living in union with Him; from cooperating with Him in establishing His kingdom in the world.

Happiness, or God's order – it comes to the same thing.

The Kingdom of God: where every sickness is healed, every injustice is set right, peace reigns everywhere.

Never say it is no use praying for these things. Prayer is precisely the way to bring them about.

This leads to another point of disillusionment – that we are tempted to blame God for what goes wrong in the world; or at least for not doing more to fix things.

People who are angry with God for some misfortune are not likely to pray to Him, or at least not with much conviction.

We have to re-assert at such a point: God never changes, or loses any perfection. He is always the same; always available to help us. No misfortune can in any way subtract from His goodness and glory.

So we train ourselves to focus on God as He is; not on our misfortunes, but His perfections.

If we would trust Him more we would behave better, commit less sin, and a sense of order would return to our world, meaning less things going wrong, less suffering.

If our faith were strong and straightforward enough we would simply ask and receive (Mt 7,9-11). Bread not stone, fish not serpent, egg not scorpion.

We should be asking Him for blessings all day long (Pray without ceasing, 1 Th 5,17).

It is the discouragement that allows the problems to continue. Lack of vision, lack of hope, lack of prayer. So we languish.

We can still believe in miracles. The more we want, the more we pray, the more likely to see miracles happening.

Our Lord responded simply and directly to requests for miracles. He invites from us the same simplicity and directness. So we can be like the woman who reasoned that any contact with Our Lord would be enough (Mt 9,21).

All we can do is pray, as the saying goes. And that is doing a lot!

Thursday, 9 November 2017

22nd Sunday after Pentecost 5 Nov 2017 Sermon

22nd Sunday after Pentecost 5.11.17 Readiness for death

Certain people, we say, are alive, and other people are dead. The ones still walking around are alive.  It may be debatable just how alive they are.

Physically yes, spiritually maybe not.

In terms of knowing what is really going on, beyond what we can physically see, the dead probably know far more than we do about the true state of things.

The one thing all the dead could tell us (the saved and the lost) is that God is supremely important. Having Him or not having Him is the difference between life and death, happiness and misery.

We, the living, can be distracted from the main event.

We can learn a lesson, from contemplating death, that we should not wait till we die to discover how important God is. Why not discover that now, and apply the knowledge to our present lives?

We have the gift of time. The dead have no time; they cannot add or subtract from whatever they did in their earthly life.

But we can add a great deal to our lives while the time lasts.

Thus we prepare for death, so that it will not take us by surprise. We might be surprised physically by death (accident, sudden illness etc), but not spiritually. We will be like the wise bridesmaids keeping their lamps lit; or the servants who were at their post when the Master returned.

So it does not all flood in on us when we die, we can start doing these things now - like valuing the people around us, forgiving consciously those who have offended us, developing our prayer life, using our talents in God’s service, generally seeing the urgency of the task.

There will still be things that surprise us at death, but we will at least be familiar with the main points.

The more actively we pursue a life of holiness, the more likely we can be comfortable with the idea of dying, and of making the transition from one state to another.

Thus death will not be seen as an ‘interruption’, rather a fulfilment.

Time passes so quickly. We get used to certain events coming and going, and one rolls into the other – Christmas, New Year, Easter, various sporting events, and memorial days…and around we go again. We can just barely keep up with the way things whizz past.

Many things we can ignore, but the one thing nobody can afford to ignore, is the certainty of death and judgment.

Every person has to stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and answer this question: did you take Me seriously or not? (or words to that effect).

Every day of all the seasons He is supremely important. Every day of our lives.

He is our first thought, obligation, hope, destination. First and Last.

This is normal. The people who do not do this are the strange ones!

So we do not let death take us unawares. We come to terms with the Master now (cf Mt 5,25), seek His mercy for not doing it better, or earlier, and we pray that His grace will move as many people as possible to the same state.

Death does not have to be as mysterious as it presently seems. We can take the sting out of it. The sting of death is sin (1 Cor 15,56). Remove the sin, and we become like the saints.

The saints could teach us much about death. Far from fearing death they longed for it; not out of depression, but out of joy, wanting to be with God.

The saints, and the holy souls, probably all wish they could have their time again to do more. We still have the time. Let us use it with the help of the saints and holy souls, to be as ready as we can be for the next phase of our lives.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Feast of Christ the King 29 Oct 2017 Sermon

Feast of Christ the King 29.10.17 Dominion

A certain priest has suggested that same-sex ‘marriage’ should be allowed civilly, but not in the Church. This is an example of exaggerated distinction between Church and State.

That Church and State should be kept separate is actually a false idea. We can separate things for the sake of order and efficiency. The Church does not have to be visibly involved in every activity. We do not expect the Pope or Bishop to be running the Treasury or the Law Courts.

However, no part of the universe is outside God's authority, and no one who is running things has the right to act in a way contrary to God’s laws.

He rules it all by virtue of having made it, and keeping it in being. It is His universe!

It may look like things run themselves, but that is only because God has designed them so well. Being infinitely intelligent, the processes He puts in place are naturally very efficient. Still He has the right and the power to intervene at any point, and in any way.

Therefore no law of the state can go against the law of God. Same-sex ‘marriage’, abortion, euthanasia, IVF, and all similar issues are answerable to God, not just the civil authorities.

Today is the Feast of Christ the King. On this day especially we acknowledge that God the Son has dominion over all creation. All authority has been given to Me (Mt 28,18).

As God, He is creator. So He has complete power in that capacity.

As Man, He has changed the whole script, re-fashioning the human race in Himself. This gives Him far more right to rule the world than winning an election, or inheriting a throne would do.

It falls to those who know how important He is to proclaim that importance; to worship Him (that is, to express His worth, which is infinite).

At least someone is taking Him seriously on this crazy planet! While others are saying He does not exist, or does not count; or that He has no say in this or that part of the world - we uphold His importance, and will proclaim it. Most of all, we will live by it.

It is vital that we who profess to be His subjects must obey Him ourselves.

Our disobedience has done great damage to the cause. This has enabled so many errors to take hold; and so much disenchantment with the true faith. Rival religions and philosophies have sprung up everywhere, which just makes it harder for the Truth to be discovered.

(On the matter of false philosophies, we note the hundredth anniversary of Communism, a massive evil, based on the denial and hatred of religion.)

The power of Christ is infinite but it can be impeded by human resistance. Our Lord respects our freedom of will, and will not necessarily override us when we choose wrongly.

He wants His people to be His disciples, friends even; to obey Him in all things, but not grudgingly, as though it were a burden, but willingly and joyfully. He wants us to rule with Him, in a derivative way, to make the earth better than it was at Eden. And with still better to come in Heaven.

He waits on our free response. He could easily override us at any point, even to bring the world to an end.

He holds back, to give us time to repent (cf Mt 13,24-30 the wheat and the tares).

And if we do repent, then to give us time to build up His kingdom.

Eventually, He will come to claim what is His. Everything is His but He will claim only that which acknowledges Him. Those who reject Him to the last, will be themselves rejected.

We want to be in the right state to receive Him then; but we receive Him already insofar as we align with His will.

And meanwhile we pray for the conversion of those who presently oppose or ignore Him.

That they will see Him whom they have pierced (Jn 19,37), and proclaim Him Lord of all creation; not just of Church property, but all places and all times.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

20th Sunday after Pentecost 22 Oct 2017 Sermon

20th Sunday after Pentecost 22.10.17 Incarnation

The nobleman’s son was healed instantly, and from a distance. The word, or even the thought, is enough for Our Lord.

As the centurion in another story realised, Our Lord did not need to be in the same room to heal someone. Just give the command and that will do it (Mt 8,8).

More frequently though, Our Lord does work miracles close up. He touched the sick, placing hands on them; or spoke to them directly. He did not have to do this. He could have healed everyone from a distance.

We pause to consider the extent of this power, and this goodness; to let ourselves be overawed.

Why then does He come to us physically? The physical is to be taken up into the spiritual, and thus enriched.

We might wish sometimes we were like the angels, and did not have frail bodies. However, to translate the spiritual into the physical domain is a great achievement, and is why Our Lord did exactly that Himself.

If we can achieve spiritual glory in our physical condition we give more glory to God, and we will be rewarded with a glorified body (Ph 3,21).

Our Lord wants to bless us in our humanity, body as well as soul.

This is why the Sacraments were established.

Many say they do not need sacraments. They can just think about it, at home and that is enough (so they say). But it is not enough. We do not possess the faith or charity or other related qualities. We are simply not strong enough to do this on our own.

In any case it is God's will that we come together to support each other as in today’s epistle – singing psalms, mutual encouragement etc.

We need as much help as we can get.

God can always act outside of His own structures, but generally He wants us to respect those structures and practices, thus to make the Church stronger by our participation and enthusiasm.

Many Catholics have fallen away from sacramental practice. It could be they do not think they need any extra help. Or that the Church and its processes cannot help them. Or just loss of faith and clarity of thought.

Whatever the reason anyone who refuses to engage in the sacraments is likely to fall into one or other of the many snares that are possible.  And the longer they stay away the more ensnared they can become.

It is vital that we keep close to the Church, and thus Our Lord. We keep the beliefs and the practices.

We know the Lord can heal us from far off but that does not mean we can stay far off!

We need to be in there, as close as possible, realizing His infinite power, but respecting also His will, that things normally happen in a certain way.

For example, Holy Communion is the normal way we receive him most strongly. He may come to us some other way, but we do not presume on that.

We want to keep all the entrances open as far as letting God intervene in our lives - the normal, the unusual, the everyday, the once in a lifetime, the public, the private, the individual, the communal - we will take it all. We receive with gratitude and with expectancy.

Many do not put themselves in the way of God’s blessing. What’s the use, they say? A great deal of use if done consistently and humbly.

So we bring our frail mortal flesh into submission to the great healing power of Christ, and we hope with due humility to share in His glorious Resurrection. 

Thursday, 19 October 2017

19th Sunday after Pentecost 15 Oct 2017 Sermon

19th Sunday after Pentecost 15.10.17 Miracles

The age of miracles is not past, despite advances in human knowledge.

Many would say that only primitive or uneducated people believe in miracles, and that everything can be explained by science.

However, science only describes what usually happens. Science does not itself make things happen, nor can it stop them happening.

If God decides to intervene in some way in His own creation He has perfect liberty to do that!

It seems He usually abides by the normal processes of things, but He can make exceptions.

When He causes things to happen outside of the normal range of experience, that is what we can call a miracle.

(Every Mass contains a miracle, when the bread and wine change substance to become the Body and Blood of Christ.)

God will work miracles according to His plans, not necessarily ours. However, He will listen to our requests for miracles. Sometimes He will work them, sometimes not.

He will do whatever is best according to His infinite wisdom.

The overall principle is that God desires our salvation, and all His actions and plans are geared to that objective. He will grant or refuse our requests according to whether or not it helps us (or others) to final salvation.

At Fatima God decided to show His hand in a very dramatic way. The miracle of the sun may be the most spectacular miracle since the time of Christ.

People have still managed to ignore it, however, in a world so submerged in its own limited vision, seeking only what this life can offer.

Miracles indicate the great power and goodness of God, who is their Source.

If we experience a miracle it is meant as an invitation to look more closely. Where does this power come from? What must I respond? How can I reject such obvious goodness?

If we do come closer it amounts to accepting the invitation to the wedding banquet (today’s Gospel).

If we accept, we must do so on His terms not ours.

This is the ‘wedding garment’ which has to be worn. We have to conform to whatever demands made of us as disciples of Christ.

We cannot be dictating to Him what He should be doing. Today, as then, people think they can tell God what to do.

What we should be doing instead: be awestruck in His presence; keep reverent silence; do not argue or complain. Wait upon Him while expressing gratitude for past miracles and mercies; reaffirm our absolute loyalty to Him, no matter what does or does not happen.

And stay in that state permanently, awaiting further instructions.

Those who do not argue we call saints! It takes a lot of discipline to control our words and thoughts.

A big miracle like Fatima calls us to these attitudes. The response of our generation has been very lukewarm, as with other generations before us.

The same old sins keep coming.

And the same doubts, objections, and the constant demand for another miracle, because the last one was not enough.

An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, said Our Lord (Mt 12,39).

He could make the sky turn upside down every day – that is easy for Him. But He is hoping for another ‘miracle’ – that His children will have enough wisdom to submit to His will and so discover great happiness.

He wants us to accept the wedding invitation with full commitment; to become the ‘new man’ (epistle).

May He continue to show His great power in whatever way He chooses; and may we have enough humility and wisdom to respond to the signs.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

18th Sunday after Pentecost 8 Oct 2017 Sermon

18th Sunday after Pentecost 8.10.17 Life to the full

Our Lord restores the young man, spiritually and physically.

He said once: I have come that they have life and have it to the full (Jn 10,10).

It is commonly said of people who have died that they ‘lived life to the full’ - usually meaning they were adventurous and had lots of experiences.

But Our Lord was not referring to physical activity. He meant life in the spiritual sense – being and doing good; good as defined by God, not merely human wisdom.

The spiritual measure of life is very different from the physical. One could be elderly and unable to move, yet have more life than a young person in the bloom of physical health.

It is not something we can see or measure. We do not even know our own degree of life. We can talk about ‘more’ alive or ‘less’ alive.

How alive am I at this moment? It is the same as asking: how much do I love God? Or, how much am I in union with God? How much do I let God achieve His will in me? Do I belong to Him totally, or am I a part-time visitor, or a stranger to Him?

All this we cannot answer exactly, even for ourselves, and less still for others.

We do not need to know precisely. We can just look for ‘more’ rather than ‘less’.

Every time we do something which yields more grace then we are more alive. Every time we sin we are less alive.

This life (grace) can be lost or gained in one action. Lost through mortal sin. Gained through contrition and confession.

Knowing what can happen will help us make the right responses. We are less likely to throw it away if we have given the matter enough attention. We are more likely to make progress into further life if we are aware that such a thing is possible.

When we are in a state of grace we will be more likely to ask for the right thing, to seek the spiritual element, because we recognise that is where the essence of life is found.

If we are alive, we build on it; if dead, we come back to life (through repentance), and then build on it.

We live ‘life to the full’ in this redefined sense.

The more we are alive the greater glory we are giving to God; the more we are getting to His purpose in creating us.

We reject the minimalist mentality, that seeks to do only what is necessary to avoid hell. We are not trying to sneak into heaven, just making the cut.

No, we run for the prize, while yielding forth a harvest of good works.

We can change for the better. Many will say they cannot get any better, and just rest with their faults.

But any sin can be removed, and any bad habit can be overcome, as Christ comes to dwell in us. He had no faults, so neither will we, once we become sufficiently united with Him.

He re-makes us, re-forms us. we are not the same person year after year. We can take on new ways of thinking, of desiring, which will pass into our daily life.

This is to be alive in Christ; we have His nature acting in us. We are copies of Him!

This is really something to hope for.

The gates of Heaven are coming into view. Don’t throw it away.

Abundant prayer is necessary if we are to hold on to what we have, and increase.

Our Lady also came ‘that we might have life’. She came to Fatima 100 years ago. It was a simple message, but not yet sufficiently accepted by the human race. May she move us now to complete that acceptance on our part.