Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New Year's Day Mass times

New Year's Day, Wed 1st Jan 2014

St Monica's 8am

Holy Name, 8.30am

Happy and Holy New Year to all!

Friday, 27 December 2013

Christmas Dawn Mass 2013

Christmas Day 2013 Dawn Mass

The dawn is breaking. At Dawn it is not fully light but we know the full light is coming. So we have hope that whatever still needs to happen will happen.

Christmas inspires hope in us. But then we are accustomed to having hopes disappointed. Is Christmas just a symbol of goodwill or does it contain real power?

We could say Christmas not only makes us feel good but actually makes us good. God wants to save us and He gives us the power to live as ‘saved’ people should. The coming of Christ into the world can and should be a new start for humanity.

We get the sense that when Jesus freed someone from sin in His earthly ministry those people would not have returned to their previous lives. The woman caught in adultery; Zacchaeus the tax collector; the Good Thief, those set free from demons... These people experienced a major change of direction when the hand of the Lord came upon them. Filled with joy their lives were never going to be the same. They were not just forgiven but transformed.

And Our Lord did this not just for a few people here and there but in principle for all people of all time.

Salvation is not just for the next life but this one also. We begin right now to experience its benefits.

Other events can give us joy but the joy usually fades away. With Christmas we have a different reality; a joy that cannot be taken away. The world has been changed for us even if we ignore it, or deny it.

But why ignore such a benefit?

We can build on what we have and complete the process. We are joyful in anticipation, that what we have not yet achieved is about to be achieved.

We do not allow the cynicism of the world to sweep away what we have.

When parents hold a newborn baby they hold it like it was a precious item, protecting it from the cold or the sun, or any danger. So it is with us and the Christ-child.

We are holding a treasure here. Don't drop it, don't waste it, don't lose it. Carry this child like your life depended on it; and not just your life but everyone else’s.

If we came across a medicine that would cure all the world’s diseases what care would we not take to ensure that it was kept safe?

We protect the spiritual dimension of this feast not allowing it to become just another event that will quickly pass, and leave us as before.

We dare to hope for a better world, where the better side of human nature is evident. Where families are happy, the streets are safe, the world is at peace etc.

It sounds like a dream but it is real if we let it be.

In Christ we have the grace for renewal of our own lives and for the wider society.

We are bearers of Christ to the world. It is not ourselves we proclaim, but Christ.

Always conscious of our own limitations we proclaim that He has NO limitations. The messenger may be humble but the message is irresistible.

Despite obstacles we will not allow ourselves to be discouraged. We will not be moved by just any wind that blows.

We can do this only with His help. So as we celebrate His coming we are also asking that He give us faith, hope and charity, to overcome every obstacle, and to persevere until better times.

He has come and nothing can undo that fact. And once He has come all His other plans must reach fulfilment. This is the source of our joy, a joy which nothing can take away.

4th Sunday of Advent 22 Dec 2013 Sermon

4th Sunday of Advent 22.12.13 Incarnation

There have been many heresies in the history of the Church, distorting some point of doctrine. Most of the worst ones have been to do with Our Lord and denying either His divinity or His humanity. These heresies are still active today in various religions, especially those that deny His divinity.

It seems there is a great reluctance to believe that God could be Man or vice versa.

Jesus was always God and at a certain time became Man without ceasing to be God. So from then on He is both.

He took on full human identity; He was not just pretending to be human. He felt pain; He could be tired and hungry; He felt emotions; He even could learn things in His human nature (such as carpentry).

He was fully human and perfectly human. He was like us in all things but sin and it is sin which keeps us from being what we should be.

The way Jesus lived His humanity is the way we should all be following. When He says, Follow Me, that is what He means – Live as I do.

The new humanity means free from sin; we can be forgiven for what we have done and strengthened not to sin again.

Our Lord is the second Adam. He is re-creating the human race in Himself. He is the prototype of a new kind of humanity, a new way of living.

And He came for all mankind not just one race (Jews) nor just white people, or Europeans, not just women (as the men will say), not just children (as the adults will say); not just old people (as the young will say) but every person. Whether they accept or not is another matter, but He claims them as His own.

He is not just a good man, or one more prophet, coming to make a useful contribution. He is entirely above and beyond any other religious figure. He is God Himself coming to join us in one of the greatest moments in human history (along with His death and resurrection).

This is a major turning point in human history much bigger than any of the usual ways that history is marked (like 1066, or Second World War, or French Revolution etc). This one beats them all.

Yet so little understood, and so much underrated.

Christmas is for many simply a chance to relax with family, a holiday period, nothing to do with ‘religion’!

Even for practising Catholics we can keep the usual observances at Christmas but still not realize the depths of what we are dealing with.

He came to His own and they knew Him not.

He became human so we could become divine or at least share in divine nature.

He not only tells and shows us how to be human but gives us His life to work in us, to motivate us, making it possible to understand and to put into practice what perfect humanity requires.

This is maybe more salvation than we want, but there it is. Not everyone wants to be perfect, preferring to keep a few vices; but if we really understood we would be seeking this new humanity that Jesus brings.

We have to realize the potential. So much of Our Lord’s coming has remained only as potential, still on the shelf. We have to dig deeper and discover the possibility for what this could mean for the human race.

Many hide from Him fearing what He might want from them; but really we should be rushing out to meet Him. There is far greater happiness in being with Him than against Him.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Christmas Mass times

Christmas Mass times
Christmas Day, Wed 25th, Mass at St Monica's: Latin Mass 8am
No Mass at Hindmarsh Christmas Day.

New Year's Day, Wed 1st, Latin Mass: St Monica's 8am
No Mass at Hindmarsh New Year's Day.

Sunday Masses and other weekdays as normal through Christmas, New Year period.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

3rd Sunday of Advent 15 Dec 2013 Sermon

3rd Sunday of Advent 15.12.13 Rejoice always

Today we are exhorted to be joyful at all times (epistle). We would, at first reaction, say that was very difficult when there is so much wrong with the world, and each of us would confront many difficulties at the personal level.

It becomes easier to understand this instruction if we see different levels of joy/happiness.

We can say we rejoice always insofar as the basic truths we believe in are always in place. For example, that God is always the same; that Christ has died for our sins; that He has risen in glory; and that He is coming back to complete His saving work.

These things are true and always true, no matter what else happens. This gives us security that enables us to keep a constant joy (aligned with hope).

On a surface level we always have some emotional turbulence but deep down we are always happy.

Rejoicing all the time does not mean we should never experience sadness, disappointment, grief etc. These things are inevitable insofar as so many things are not as they should be.

We cannot (and should not) ignore the suffering of others – either physical or spiritual. People are being murdered, tortured, abused. Worse still, people are living in sinful ways and in danger of hell.

Being joyful all the time does not mean we have to say that everything is just fine.

We can acknowledge whatever is wrong but then we bring to bear our faith, hope, joy, charity and all related virtues to fix the problem, or at least make things better than they otherwise would be.

So we set about fixing things. What is not already joyful we will make it so, or give everything to the attempt.

We find it is not easy to make everything as it should be. The victory of Christ has been achieved but it is not like a military victory where the winner marches in and takes over.

Christ has taken over but He wants to win voluntarily rather than compel the minds and hearts of every person. He will not come unless He is welcome.

The battle is fought at that level. He could easily win by physical force, but because He is trying to save people it is much more complicated. And a lot harder for us.

It is hard to convert even one person let alone the whole world. And while there are unconverted people around there is a lot of sin and strife in the world – which in turn makes it a harder world to live in.

We are still in the heat of the battle. We look forward to the reward but right now we are in the thick of it.

We fight the battle, not by physical force, but by the witness of our lives (cf John the Baptist) to the grace of God working within us. We must live good lives at all times, no matter what happens around us.

We do not change sides by abandoning our faith. So many Catholics lose their faith simply finding the going too hard.

They might trade the more mature Christian joy for the fleeting joys of worldly pursuits.

Or they might sink into inactivity through feeling overwhelmed.

Calling on our reserves of joy we will always have the energy to continue the battle, that is, to give witness of our faith.

The more fully each of us takes hold of the truth the stronger the Church becomes and the more easily we will convert people.

May the Lord sustain us now and till the end, when our joy will be complete and every tear wiped away.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Feast of the Immaculate Conception 9 Dec 2013 Sermon

Immaculate Conception 8.12.13 Two worlds

Our Lady is known as the Second Eve. God started in her a new order of things, a world without sin.

With her coming we now have two worlds co-existing, the world enslaved to sin and the world re-created, free from sin.

We are born into the first world and have experienced the oppression of sin. If we have come to faith and baptism we are also born into the second world, and begin to experience what it is like to be free from sin (full of grace).

Living in the world of sin makes us cynical about goodness. We doubt that anyone is really good, certainly not good all the time.

It is wise to be wary of pretended goodness (eg shady salesmen) but we should understand that the world we think is normal is actually a distortion of what God intended.

We should believe in goodness, much as we believe in God Himself. He intends the world to be like He is, full of every good thing.

In Our Lady we have the beginning, the restoration, of how it was always meant to be.

We have a chance to move from one world to the other. The world of darkness to the world of light; the world of despair to the world of hope.

Even if we have not been true to our baptism; even if we have sinned again and again - we can still reclaim lost innocence and start afresh.

It is hard when we have sinned to get the poison out of the system. Yet goodness has its power as well as evil, and also its own attractions.

A world without sin offers us a much greater happiness than the world as we now have it.

We find our way into this new world by grace, prayer, sacraments, self denial, good works, learning from experience. We come to see the attraction of holiness. We develop an increasing loathing of sin. (As we say in the Act of Contrition: we detest our sins above all things).

We live in both worlds, but as yet we are far more familiar with the world of sin.

We can claim entry to the world-without-sin at least at the personal level. If we cannot make it universal for everyone we can at least get it right for our own lives.

So we deal truthfully with each other. If the car I am selling you will not get you fifty metres from here I will tell you. We are honest, truthful, generous, and all the other necessary qualities.

There have always been good people around but never enough at the one time to make the new way of holiness the established way. We have tasted enough goodness to know we need a lot more.

We are trying to bring forth a better world, and it is like giving birth. So has Mary been doing ever since she gave birth to the Christ child. She helps and encourages us in every way to join fully with her and do what she does.

She encourages us to give perfect obedience to God; along with homage and trust. ‘Do whatever He tells you’.

Doing the right thing becomes automatic, spontaneous – once our wills have been corrected and fortified; once we have been filled with the zeal of the Holy Spirit.

This is how we need to be, and we find this in Mary. We get used to life in this other universe, first established in her.

We have much to be thankful for that long ago, a certain baby girl was conceived without sin.

O Mary, conceived without sin pray for us who have recourse to thee.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

1st Sunday of Advent 1Dec 2013 Sermon

1st Sunday of Advent 1.12.13 Welcoming Our Lord.

Our Lord has promised that He will come again and it has been the instinctive attitude of the Church ever since the Ascension (when there was a sense of loss at His departure) that we would desire His return.

We want Him back. We want Him as close to us as can be managed. And while we have Him in other ways such as the Eucharist we still would prefer a more visible tangible presence if we could have it.

We understand why He may need to be absent and that He has all this time been leading us in faith; but we still would rather have Him here than not have Him here.

And if we had a choice as to whether He come tomorrow or in a hundred years time we should say, Tomorrow. Of course we realize we are subject to His time scale, but just in terms of what we want it must be that we want Him to be as close as possible and as soon as possible.

In fact it is the constant prayer of the Church – Come, Lord Jesus. This is an Advent prayer but it is always applicable.

If we are to be to Him as brides to the groom then we must desire Him; that is, if we have any sort of love for Him.

We long for His return like the deer for running streams, or night watchmen yearning for the dawn.

What could be more natural than that all His disciples would want Him to return? Yet we find somehow that is not the case.

Somehow we have allowed it to happen that our love or desire for Him is not so straightforward as it should be.

We have sinned against Him and are afraid to see Him, like Adam hiding in the garden. And we have made golden calves in His absence.

Or we have formed other plans which we do not want interrupted.

We have said effectively, Stay away, Lord. Do not interrupt right now. Not many would say this in so many words but it can be our attitude all the same.

Either we fear His judgment or resent His authority.

No, if we love Him we must have unconditional trust in Him. Whatever He decides to do or not to do is fine with us. If He comes early or late, we accept His infinite wisdom. Only, if we are allowed to want something it is simply that He come as soon as possible.

If we have this unconditional trust we can do what the epistle tells us: live in the light. We can be industrious in His service like the servants who multiplied their talents, or who were found busy at their work when the Master returned; or the bridesmaids who kept their lamps lit.

We will have no fear of the ‘end of the world’ which really is just another way of saying ‘the return of the Lord’.

If we fear the turmoil prophesied in the Gospel we can go some way to reducing that turmoil by being ready to receive Him; better still, actively desiring to receive Him. So the Last Day will be a time of joy not of terror.

We express a desire not only to see Him but to be made worthy to see Him.

We confess our sins and we stand ready to abandon any plans of our own.

Anything, so we can have Him close to us. No earthly joy, legal or illegal, could match the happiness of that state.

So we make it our own personal prayer, with the whole Church: Come, Lord Jesus!