Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Christmas Mass times

Mass times over Christmas

Times for Latin Masses over the Christmas period are the same as they normally are; but just to make sure here is each day listed:

Sun 25 Dec 8am St Monica's and 5pm Sacred Heart, Hindmarsh
Mon 26 Dec 8am St Monica's
Tue 27 Dec 6.45am St Monica's
Wed 28 Dec 8am St Monica's
Thu 29 Dec 8am St Monica's
Fri 30 Dec St Monica's
Sat 31 Dec 8am St Monica's
Sun 1 Jan 8am St Monica's and 5pm Sacred Heart, Hindmarsh

Christmas greetings and blessings to all!

4th Sunday of Advent 18 Dec 2011 Sermon

4th Sunday of Advent 18.12.11 Time

Our Lord once prophesied that when He would return the people would be as in Noah’s day, eating and drinking, buying and selling, marrying and giving in marriage. In other words they would be unready for Him because too preoccupied with everything else.

It appears that He expects us to be looking out for Him at all times, no matter what other activities we may be involved in. He knows there are many things we have to attend to. A lot of them would themselves be religious obligations, in no way incompatible with waiting for Him.

He is not asking us to do nothing but look out the window for His return. What He is asking for is that we have a clear sense of priority in our desires and expectations.

That no matter what we do in this life it be our paramount concern to do the will of God, to be on good terms with Him at all times, to be ready to meet Him, either in death or in His second coming.

From our point of view the difficulty arises that the longer things go on the more accustomed we become to our own routines and patterns. We may be aware of the Last Judgment and all that goes with that but in our hearts we are far more interested in the everyday comings and goings of life. Who wins the football, what the stock market is doing, preparing for the daughter’s wedding, planning the next holiday and a hundred other things.

If we get too comfortable with our routine we start to see any intervention of Our Lord as an interruption, an unwelcome intrusion into what we have come to see as important.

This is the attitude we must avoid. No matter what projects we have on hand, what ambitions or plans we may have formed (even good and legitimate things) – we must be ready to give it all up at a moment’s notice. If it be God’s will.

And further to this that we would not see any unusual activity from God as an interruption or a nuisance. So if your daughter is getting married the next day and the world suddenly ends you say, that’s fine with me.

Whose time is it anyway? We think it is our time to dispose of as we wish, but all of it belongs to God.

So whether we ignore God or we fit Him in somehow – these are both the wrong attitude.

What should we do instead? Give Him first use of our time. Begin and end all things with prayer, and some more in between.

Give Him first choice on all our plans and ambitions. The phrase ‘God willing’, which itself can be just a formality, needs to be re-established in its original force. I might be planning to go to Europe tomorrow, God willing. If He does not will it, I do not will it either.

There is a wrestling match going on here. His will or mine. His time or mine.

How do we yield gladly to him? If we draw close enough to Him we start to see things His way. This is what prayer does, and the sacraments. This is preparing the way, as St John the Baptist tells us. So that the way is always open, the way from God’s heart to my heart.

We have a long way to go to get this right. To live in daily closeness to God’s will, that we are ready no matter what we are doing, to get up and change course, and that without complaining or arguing.

It must be this state of mind in which we find Mary and Joseph who were both able to adapt so easily to the unusual requests made of them regarding the birth of Our Lord. How would we go if an angel appeared to us with a direct request from Heaven?

We can be sure that God’s plans for us will bring us to a much happier state than anything we could achieve by ourselves.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

3rd Sunday of Advent 11 Dec 2011 Sermon

3rd Sunday of Advent 11.12.11 Emerging joy

Whatever our age we have never seen the world looking as it should – according to the prophecies - swords turned into ploughshares, lion and lamb playing together etc.

Instead we have suicide bombers, murders, cruelty, and all manner of such things. It is fairly obvious the world is not what it should be.

Yet we are told to rejoice! How can we sing the songs of the Lord in a strange land, as the Israelites once asked? How can we be happy when so much is wrong around us?

We have never experienced the world the way it is supposed to be. The crucial point of decision is do we despair of things ever being better? Or do we believe it really is possible to have a better world and we work towards it? Despair or Hope? Which way do we go?

To believe in something we have never seen is difficult, but with sufficient grace and signs along the way it is possible.

We may never have seen such a world but it does exist already: in Heaven. Fine, we might say, but that is out of our reach.

No, the life of heaven intermingles with life here. We can claim some share of heaven whenever we pray. If we pray, thy kingdom come, some of it does come.

Also it is comforting to know that there is a place which is all good and only good things happen there. This tells us at least on principle that goodness can exist unopposed.

There is not some law of nature that a certain amount of things must go wrong, or that a certain number of people must be bad.

Our task then is to bring more goodness into this world. There is no shortage of it; just a shortage here.

We are not just wishing for better things. We have the means to make it happen, the power of Christ working in us and through us, transforming us within, changing the way we think; giving us the capacity to love, to suffer, to persevere.

We can claim the joy in two ways:
One, by getting the little things right. By seeking to do everything according to His will. We might think this is a very slow way of healing the world, but it is a good thing to do anyway, and if it caught on there would be massive transformation.

Take the simple example of voting. One vote does not mean much but millions of ‘one votes’ do. Everything we do, for good or evil, affects the whole world. We make the world better every time we get something right according to the will of God.

The other way we can claim the joy is to realize that God holds all the aces. He has the power to make things right if we will not do it first. So He reserves the right to come again and claim His creation. He will come to judge the living and the dead. All evil will disappear before Him. All good will be rewarded.

He will return either way, with or without public support. If we do welcome Him He will probably come sooner and much more happily for all concerned.

Meanwhile the crucial thing for us is to believe, hope, and trust no matter what the present circumstances.

If we have hope we have joy. Not the joy of grinning from ear to ear or dancing in the street, but a deep-rooted joy that will enable us to persevere through difficulties, ironing out our faults, encouraging each other – a serene joy that will sustain us until things actually do get better.

Come, Lord Jesus. Come into our hearts; come into our world.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

2nd Sunday of Advent 4 Dec 2011 Sermon

2nd Sunday of Advent 4.12.11 Repentance

I recall from my childhood that we had parish Missions, which were a concentrated set of talks given to a parish over two or three days. In those days the topics of the Mission were very much on the need to repent, the danger of hell, the suddenness of death and the like.

You might think that from such ominous topics the crowds at these events would be down, but no, they were overflowing. I recall at one time the church itself was full so they had to broadcast the talks to the overflow crowd in the classrooms of the adjoining school.

So many people wanted to hear about hell and their own chances of going there!

And in today’s Gospel we have a similar phenomenon in regard to John the Baptist. People would flock to him out there in the desert, mainly to be told they were a bunch of sinners who had better look out for themselves if they knew what was good for them.

And they loved it! Even the soldiers would ask him, what about us, what must we do?

What is it with human nature that we are so interested in finding out what is wrong with us?

It really indicates a belief that we are capable of better than we presently have achieved. We aspire to higher things, a better way of life, a higher standard of morality; to breathe cleaner air.

We sense in our hearts that it is possible for the world to be a better place, and we also sense that the people in the world could be better.

The environmental movement wants to clean up the rivers and the atmosphere. We all want that much, but one step better still would be to clean up the moral atmosphere, to cleanse the hearts and minds of people of all trace of hatred, malice, lust etc.

This is what St John the Baptist was offering to people. If he tells them how bad they are it is only so that they can see the way clear to being good. The same with the people who flocked to the parish missions.

Twenty years later when I was a priest, I heard the same religious order giving a Mission in my parish, only this time there was no talk of sin or hell, only how much God loves us. The crowds were down this time!

We cannot survive on a diet of love alone, or at least only talking about love. Love is the ultimate thing after all, but it has to be real love, and this can be achieved only when we remove all the falsehood from our lives.

So today we gather here, and I won’t say that you are bad people only fit for hell, but I know that every one of us here could do with a greater share of God’s grace, that we all have bad habits that could be turned into virtues; and that even what is good about us could be better.

We need to know what is wrong with us so we can fix it. And if we can fix it we will be much happier than we were before.

Today’s world - and much of the Church as well - deals with guilt simply by denying it. Don’t let your mind dwell on negative things. Just look at the positives.

But that is like saying, if you have an arrow in your back, don't think about it, just dwell on how healthy the rest of your body is.

No, we have to get the arrow out; remove the poison of sin, repent, confess, and experience the joy of being forgiven and the new confidence that comes with that of being able to live a better life: better in both senses of morally better and of being happier.

This is what we have been hungering for all along; what all the world wants if they only knew where to look.

As John the Baptist puts it, so must we do: "You offspring of vipers, who has showed you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of penance (Lk 3,7-8).

No Mass Monday 5th

There will be no Mass at St Monica's Monday 5th December. Other times are the same.