Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Easter Triduum details

For Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday I will be taking part in the ceremonies at Holy Name. Accordingly there will be no Traditional ceremonies at St Monica's on those days.

On Easter Sunday Mass will be at the normal time of 8am at St Monica's,

and 5pm at Sacred Heart Church, Hindmarsh.

The times at Holy Name will be:

Holy Thursday 7pm

Good Friday (Main liturgy) 5pm

Holy Saturday 10pm

Holy Name Church is at 80 Payneham Road, Stepney, Adelaide.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Passion Sunday 17 Mar 2013 Sermon

Passion Sunday 17.3.13 Always hope

We have a new Pope, and we pray for him.

We saw the huge crowd cheering in the square. At one stage they were cheering just the white smoke, without knowing who the Pope was or anything about him. Just the knowledge that there was a Pope caused joy.

There is a certain sense of security in knowing we have a Shepherd to watch over us. We know Popes are human and can have faults, but the visibility and tangibility of the Pope bring home to us that we have another Father, and another Shepherd, who are free of all fault – no less than God the Father and God the Son.

We can have fears and reservations and we know that the future is likely to be difficult, but still there is a genuine basis for the joy of such occasions.

At such times we transcend the merely human and feel a direct link with the Divine.

Despite so many things not being as they should it is still true that God is in His heaven. And all is not right with the world, but at least it is within range of being right.

No amount of trouble can overpower us or displace us. Nothing can separate us from the love of God (Rm8,38).

The election of a Pope brings on a sense of newness, of freshness, a reminder that God is capable at any time of intervening for good in our times.

We feel a renewed desire to be holy, to escape from the bondage of sin; to start again.

There is a lot of work to do, but we sense we can do it, with renewed faith in God.

He has somehow kept the frail vessel of the Church floating through stormy waters for two thousand years.

Through countless external persecutions, continuous internal divisions, and the prolific sinfulness of the Church’s members - we are still here, somehow. Only a miracle could account for it.

Only God could make it so. Knowing this, whatever we think of the current state of the Church, we cannot despair if He is still with us.

The scandals, the loss of faith, the absence of young people – these are big issues, but not big enough to finish the Church; not if God is still in His heaven.

He is the bedrock of our existence. He is all good and only good. And we draw from that goodness whenever we acknowledge or call upon Him.

So we can be confident even against the apparent odds.

The Pope is the Vicar of Christ. He is the visible reminder that we have a Shepherd who is perfect enough to make the flock perfect.

Through all our human frailties we survive. And even those frailties can decrease as we shed bad habits, and take on new good habits.

We do not just survive but thrive; the Church gets bigger and better.

Lately all we seem to do is apologise. We need to do that, but we must also evangelise.

We must make known the reality of this perfect Shepherd, who links earth to Heaven. He brings the perfection of God to the earth (Gospel). And He takes a perfected humanity into Heaven (Epistle).

Christ is both here and there, earth and heaven - both God and Man, and perfect as both. In Him is the link we need. In Him is life.

However much we suffer we can always bring Him down to us, or let ourselves be lifted by Him.

Indeed we do have something to cheer about. We have a Pope, and better still, we have a Saviour.

The world watched the Pope emerge. May they also see the One whom that Pope represents.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

4th Sunday of Lent 10 Mar 2013 Sermon

4th Sunday of Lent 10.3.13 The New Covenant

We have a long religious history, going back to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and other key figures in Old Testament times. God made covenants with these figures at their various points in time.

Then ‘at the appointed time God sent His Son, born of a woman’ (Gal 4,4).

Each time God makes a new covenant with His people He reveals more of Himself and His intentions.

The final covenant was established when He sent His Son. He revealed there all the major aspects of His dealings with the human race.

This final covenant we call the New Covenant. It is not so new in one sense being 2000 years old, but it is very new in the sense that it is still waiting to see the light of day in terms of acceptance by the human race. It is like a work of art hidden in the attic, still waiting to be discovered.

The newness of the New Covenant involves things like loving one’s neighbour, forgiving one’s enemies, trusting in God at all times, not seeking earthly riches, humbling rather than exalting ourselves... things which do happen, but they have never caught on as the mainstream way that people think and behave.

So the new and final agreement between God and humanity is still waiting for one side to ratify it.

Many think that the moral teachings of Christ are set too high. No one, not even God, really expects anyone to live like that, they say.

But God would never command us to do something we could not do.

In fact He does expect us to live ‘like that’ and promises the necessary graces that we can so live. He transforms us in His grace as we commune with Him.

We ratify for ourselves the New Covenant whenever we eat His Body and drink His Blood.

We are being made like Him when we do that.

The Covenant is like a marriage: when we commune with Him we are being strengthened to live out our side of the marriage covenant. In this marriage all the fault is on one side - the bride’s. All of us together make up the ‘bride’, the Church. At the human level we are very blemished, but being purified. If this is a marriage we need marriage counselling!

St Paul is telling us in the epistle to rejoice at our freedom from slavery. He likens the old covenants to slavery and the new to freedom.

Today is Laetare Sunday. If we are not joyful already then the joy is there waiting to be discovered.

We are in this intimate covenant but we don't realize it. We are living like exiles and foreigners when we are already children of the King. [Children as well as Bride – images of intimacy]

Thus we deny ourselves so much happiness that could be easily had. This is not the sort of self-denial we talk about in Lent!

No one is excluded from this offer, from this covenant. It is meant for all people, beginning with those already in the Church, and seeking to draw in everyone else.

The bread multiplied miraculously (Gospel) is a symbol of the abundance of better things to come. If you think this is impressive - just wait for the main event.

The new Covenant is still waiting to break forth in all its power. Lord, open our hearts to see how fortunate we are, and then to live accordingly.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

3rd Sunday of Lent 3 Mar 2013 Sermon

3rd Sunday of Lent 3.3.13 Staying on course

The Gospel message to sinners is Repent! Convert! If you have done these things the message becomes Stay converted!

Many people fall away after a conversion experience. It could happen to any one of us, if we are not vigilant.

We are grateful that we have come from the dark to the light but we must not think we are so strong or so good that we could never fall from grace.

We can, of course, make it certain that we do not fall away but only by the grace of God, and only if we co-operate with that grace. We cannot do it just by our own willpower. We need spiritual help.

So in Lent we are trying to strengthen the foundations of our spiritual lives; putting a bit of iron in the soul; so we are not so easily shaken or deflected from our objectives, but able to persevere to the end of the race.

St Paul in the Epistle puts it in terms of dark and light. Before you were in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Why would you want to go back to the very things you have been set free from? If I have a bath I don't roll in the mud afterwards. Maybe my dog does but I would not!

Whereas we tend to hanker for the sin, even though we know it is a bad thing. But such is the subtlety of the spiritual warfare that we can prefer evil even though we know a hundred times over that the good is better.

Church teaching is routinely regarded as too strict and impossible to keep. But if we put the matter as simply as this: that keeping away from sin is just the same as keeping away from things that would harm us – like spiders or poisons - then it becomes clearer and perfectly logical. Sin harms us; so we do not return to it.

The Gospel gives us the same theme. If we get rid of a demon make sure he is got rid of and don't let him back in, or it might be worse. Once we have tasted the sweetness of the Lord we do not abandon that or allow ourselves to return to captivity.

Many have done so. How does it happen? Complacency, easing off on prayer and sacramental reception; starting to chase false gods (other interests which come before the faith). We really have to work hard to keep the focus; to make sure we are still pursuing the things that matter the most.

We have to work on it but this is not some incredibly difficult task. It is hard in one way not in another. Hard to keep the focus because there are so many distractions. On the other hand it is relatively easy to keep the focus if we do simple things like pray each day, keep good company, stay aware of the main game. It is just a matter of having everything in the right place and proportion.

Staying ‘converted’ could be likened to other tasks that we do - difficult in themselves but manageable if we apply ourselves to the task: eg driving in traffic. It can be done if we stay within our limits, don’t take risks etc.

But these tasks do take concentration and perseverance, and so does being saved.

This is the thrust of what Our Lord is saying. You have been set free; you are on the way to heaven but be aware of the vulnerability of your position because the devil will be back if you relax too much.

Be converted! Stay converted!